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Messages - Jonathan C. Gillespie

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Writers' Cafe / KDP Reporting
« on: June 14, 2017, 05:04:17 am »
Okay, is it just me, or has the reporting dashboard been much slower since the change to the new report formats?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Sales Slump
« on: May 22, 2017, 05:33:08 am »
I had my best April ever, but I'm small potatoes, so YMMV.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Steady results!
« on: April 21, 2017, 11:48:08 am »
Forgive the thread necromancy, BR.

I'd love to book a promo a month through these, but in the past all my promo has focused on temporarily-free or permafree lead-ins. I found somewhat mixed results. Do you see those sites being decent for $.99 or higher-priced titles, based on your past experience?

I appreciate it. You're not the first person to tell me that MailChimp is sort of mis-featured for authors.

Why don't you simply integrate your Mailchimp account? Much easier.

Honestly, my publishing effort is just now starting to make headway, and $20/mo = $240 /year.

Bless you for coming in here after reading that subject.

Any way, let's say I have a bunch of folks who agreed to "let the author contact [them] about promos...]" et. al. in the giveaway form's screen. Yay! Now--since I'm not integrated with Mailchimp, am I allowed to just manually add all those addresses to my mailing list? I just want to make sure this is as obvious as it looks, and the green grass isn't concealing landmines.

Much appreciated!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Suspense thriller blurb feedback?
« on: April 13, 2017, 05:36:43 am »
I'm a stickler for this kind of thing, but I don't care for the double mention of "eyes". I think we need to juice up everything in general to bring up the heat a notch. If I may suggest something like this, which will hopefully address Sarah's justified concern as well:

Denny O'Callaghan just got his life back together after a nasty divorce with Kaitlin, and a job search that seemed unending. After years of screwing up, finally things were turning around. Finally he's gotten control of himself. What better way to celebrate than spending a night with the guys?

But now it's the next morning.

And he's in sheets stained in crimson. His body is bruised and covered in cuts. And the phone has rung in the middle of this, and his best friend is asking where he is.

Because someone stabbed Kaitlin to death last night, he says. There was blood everywhere at the crime scene. And the cops are on the way to ask Danny where he was at the time. His friends say he left the bar, raging about her. With murder in his eyes.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Steady results!
« on: March 29, 2017, 12:38:59 pm »
How did you do that? That's the holy grail we all look for.

Just patience and time. Basically, I tried several variances of the same campaign until I saw consistent hits on the keywords. I then watched the individual key word metrics and nudged their per-bid settings up and down until I found the ideal mix of exposure and profitability. I am continuing to do this. The key is reviewing every 2-3 days since it takes a bit for the metrics to show up. I also try to keep in mind that I'm getting page reads off the adds, which the AMS dashboard unfortunately doesn't record.

The other thing I'll say is for cheap books, AMS is largely an exposure-only item. My $.99 lead-in to the Tyrant Strategy, Revenant Man, loses a little money every month. It's mainly there for exposure. On the other hand, my $6.99 boxed set, The Complete Beacon Saga, easily earns way more back than what it costs to advertise. Pricier titles with snazzy advertising blurbs are definitely the magic combo.

I'm not killing it with AMS, but I think I've learned how to conservatively leverage it to bring more eyeballs to my books, while also turning a small profit.

Writers' Cafe / Steady results!
« on: March 29, 2017, 10:55:38 am »
I just wanted to follow up on a rather ancient post I made a while back, in which I bemoaned my lack of progress and momentum since starting to self-publish my books. I won't dig it back up. It was typical, understandable (to be honest) griping that might come from anyone in this business. We all sometimes get frustrated. It was nothing you hadn't seen before.

Advice boiled down to:

1) Write longer books.
2) Chin up and keep on keeping on.

I wanted to let you guys know I've hit a minor milestone of about $50 in royalties a month. This is nothing, honestly, and yet it is something as well: it's momentum. I was hesitant to say this, but said momentum seems to be sticking.

I always believe in trying new things. In the interests of sharing info, I:

1) Experimented with AMS for a few months, losing some money, until I found how to make profitable advertising campaigns.
2) Rolled almost everything into KU. Page reads are not vast, but they are helping, and I find the exposure is bringing in new readers.
3) Began getting my fiction into multi-author boxed sets.
4) Really stretched into multi-author promos and FB sites. I particularly recommend everything the rather awesome Dean F. Wilson is hosting, but there are several other groups out there, many of which cater to multiple platforms and approaches, so you can chase everything from KU page reads to signups.

That's it. I'm treading water now, which is great, but it's on to the next milestone of $100/month. Good luck everyone, and hopefully for those of you currently on the rocks, this will help you shove off of them.

Writers' Cafe / Re: OK, who hacked Amazon?
« on: March 01, 2017, 09:16:52 am »
Complexity of infrastructure is simply a bridge with more beams. Each beam provides additional strength, but all systems are vulnerable to cascade effects, physically or otherwise. The same is true with any IT construct. This is why SLA's are always %99+change, where each decimal point beyond is much more expensive to achieve than the previous.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
« on: March 01, 2017, 09:13:11 am »
The most interesting characters are those who strive against who they are most comfortable being, and those are the kinds of people who populate my stories. I think there's a human tendency to find a comfort zone and an outlook on the world and stew within it, and when something forces that apple cart upside down, I call that plot-worthy.

My personal favorites are thus the anti-heroes and misfits; sometimes even the latent sociopaths who almost blunder into doing good. But "heroes" can be just as compelling, provided they are fighting against the temptation to compromise their values.

The Book Corner / Re: Nineteen Eighty Four vs. Brave New World
« on: January 04, 2017, 10:34:16 am »
The only thing that ever challenged my suspension of disbelief was some of the tech being used, but I absolutely bought everything the characters experienced.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Promotion groups for select authors
« on: January 04, 2017, 06:49:01 am »
Well, it's a ladder, right? The idea is that you're always improving. And I'm still making just peanuts every month. So I'm looking for that next rung up. That seems to be had in group promos--and those seem to be geared toward non-Select authors.

Valid question, though, totally.

Writers' Cafe / Promotion groups for select authors
« on: January 04, 2017, 06:07:55 am »
So there are many awesome promo groups out there where authors work together, but those promo groups seem to discourage authors enrolled in Select. I've had better fortune overall in Select than I did in wide release, but now, seeing some of these groups, I'm starting to wonder if I need to go back wide. Many of these groups leverage Instafreebie, and don't like Select because promos don't in Select don't apply to all Amazon storefronts. Of course my %&#(*# first-in-series novel just renewed automatically for Select on the 25th of December. So I don't even have the chance to go back into wide until March--and that'll be tons of fun to set everything up if I do.

Are there any groups anyone knows of out there that are specific to Select authors? I'd rather see if I can promo in Select for the time being while I figure out my gameplan for Spring, by which time--knowing my luck--everyone will be declaring Instafreebie dead and running to Select  :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is there an A to Z Marketing Strategy?
« on: December 23, 2016, 06:04:38 am »
For starters, search is your friend. Just search for any term like "sales" or "Marketing" or "results" and start reading.

What I've seen is that people tend to find methods that work for a bit, glomp all over them, and then those new methods gradually move from effectiveness to simply "pretty good" or "tossup" (I'm really being scientific here, as you can tell). Years ago, all the rage was free promos and permafree lead-ins. These days? They sort of still work, but it depends. Then everyone was all about Bookbub, which is still great now, as long as you have hundreds of dollars and already have tons of reviews.

Now all the rage seems to be Facebook ads and Instafreebie group promos. If there's one thing I've seen consistently over this whole time, it's that though lone wolves can occasionally hit gold, I see more reliable success among people heavily cross-promoting.

See, but even telling you that, someone is going to come into this thread now and tell me I have it all wrong. And I think that's fine. Marketing our work is tough, in part because there's so many variables. I write military science fiction and space opera, primarily, so as an example what I might say worked for me won't necessarily work for a historical fiction author. To say nothing of all the other darts thrown at the board, like cover quality, ACR's, etc. etc.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is there an A to Z Marketing Strategy?
« on: December 22, 2016, 08:23:29 am »
Are there people who will do all of this marketing for me for a fee?

They're out there, but I know what you mean--it's overload. I see authors that are doing well and are so plugged in to all of this, and honestly it's so challenging to do so when you can barely cram in time to write as it is. I always feel like I'm three or four steps behind methods people seem to acquire just organically.

If I can give you any hope, it's this: Self-pubbers tend to be remarkably generous folks. Ask questions. Don't be afraid to drop someone a line. To date, I've never had such inquiries ignored.

I think that says good things about your average independent author, by the way.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
« on: December 20, 2016, 10:35:35 am »
I use instafreebie by offering sample copies of my first-in-series (the first 10%). I checked with Amazon and this doesn't violate any of their TOS.

So the first 10% of the first book, correct?

Has that worked out well for you?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Any other authors experiencing a December sales slump?
« on: December 19, 2016, 12:18:41 pm »
I hate to say this, but after spending a couple of years on KBoards I can say that honestly this thread could have been started any month of the year. Some months are down for some people, some months are not. They're not the same months, though, and chestnuts like "December is a bad month" are just as true and accurate as the same sentence with another month plugged into it.

I disagree. Folks in many businesses and lines of work will tell you certain months tend to be worse or better than others; why wouldn't it be true with publishing? Though I agree anecdotal evidence is always difficult to collate.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Any other authors experiencing a December sales slump?
« on: December 19, 2016, 10:44:40 am »
Yes. I'd been doing pretty well since July, when I released a new series, but December has just been a train wreck.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
« on: December 19, 2016, 10:43:02 am »
I was wide, and found Select worked better for me. But lately things have been very, very slow, so it's definitely a YMMV issue.

Also, it's really easy to trip up Select's TOS. For example, I'd love to be able to use Instafreebie as a promo tool, but from what I can tell, I'd violate the Select TOS doing that.

I was at MLCONF, the Machine Learning Conference, earlier this year in Atlanta. I learned a variety of lovely facts of interest, key among these being that all our day jobs are doomed. Seriously.

One of the presenters was from Amazon, and we got a rare peek behind Amazon's ranking system. What I learned is it isn't just actual purchases that go into determining a product's rank. Amazon actually builds rank by weighing a variety of actions a consumer takes against a product. I have no idea if this applies to books, because the examples given were clothing and other products, but I 'd imagine there isn't much difference in the engine's treatment in the bookstore.

Each action that represents greater interest/commitment from the consumer is treated with more and more weight by the algos. So, for example, having a search query just display your product nets you a few "points". When a customer actually clicks on your product, that's more weight. A purchase is, of course, the action carrying the greatest weight. All these factors did--the machine learning expert stated--contribute to a product's actual rank.

If I had thought of it at the time, I'd have asked about reviews and clicking "more" in descriptions, and such, but for some reason that escaped me.

Any way, there you go. Something to chew on.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology - Released 28 November 2016
« on: December 04, 2016, 05:25:17 pm »
All my correspondence went out this week. I've been pleased to see this thing selling consistently, and now we're up to seven reviews. Very nice. You folks are reminding me that I still have a ton to learn on the marketing side of the house.

The Book Corner / Re: Nineteen Eighty Four vs. Brave New World
« on: December 02, 2016, 09:24:19 am »
It's tough to say which is worse. Oceania denies you your life if you step out of line, but Mond's "utopia" controls your thoughts from cradle to grave.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology - Release 28 November 2016
« on: December 01, 2016, 09:46:45 am »

Let me add, also, that your hard work on this has been inspiring to watch. I really appreciate being included in this anthology, and the effort you and others have put behind it so far.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is this a bad cover?
« on: December 01, 2016, 09:45:26 am »
It's bad, in my opinion, in the sense that the main character is clearly a photo. I'd suggest filters that sink her more into the setting. This looks like a composition 2/3 through completion.

I'm not sold on the fonts, either. Nice use of colors, overall.

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