Monday, June 22, 2015

Bang for Your Buck...Which Promo Sites Have the Driest Powder

There are a lot of sites out there for book promotion. Some are good, some...not so much.  Below is one author's (me) experiences with a number of popular promo sites, number crunched and graphically displayed for your perusal.


All promos were for a perma-free, fantasy/paranormal romance novel with a professionally designed cover and over 125 reviews (now up to 190) with a 4.3 star rating on Amazon.

All promotions were scheduled with at least three days between the next promo to assure a truer evaluation of the benefit of each site. Bang for your buck (BFYB) was calculated by dividing the number of downloads on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Nook and Smashwords from the beginning of the promo out 72 hours by the cost of the promotion .  The larger the BFYB, the more cost effective the promotion.

Promos were conducted between December 23, 2014 and June 17, 2015.


Table 1.  Promo Site Results, Ranked by BFYB, Highest to Lowest

Cost (US$)
eReader News Today
Lendle Book of the Day
Books Butterfly
Free Booksy
Free Kindle Books
BKnight (Fiverr)
Kindle Book Review
Digital Books Today
Best Graphic (Fiverr)
Book Sends
Book Kitty (Fiverr)
New Free Kindle Books
Bindingsauthor (Fiverr)
Indie Book of the Day

Figure 1.  BFYB, by Site (alphabetized)

So, what can one conclude from all this?  The statistically sound way to get a good idea of a site's worth would be to gather this information from lots of authors to establish a mean BFYB with standard deviations.  My data does not have that, but I think it gives a good picture of what one might expect. Not surprisingly, the Bub was da bomb.  Beyond that, there are a number of sites that had good numbers, and some were definite duds. Remember, the results are likely genre-specific, and subject to the vagaries of the cosmic karma that influences indie book sales (e.g., phases of the moon, placement on the site's page or day of the promotion).  

I find Tuesdays, and a waxing gibbous are best.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Grilled Cheese Erotica

For National Grilled Cheese Day, the Huffington Post posted about a study claiming people who love grilled cheese have more sex than non-grilled cheesers.  Here's the article:

As a GC-lover myself, I understand the connection...

I slathered on the butter, because that’s the way I like it.  Its doughy surface morphed from pale to glistening, dark, and I smiled knowing my ministrations were responsible for this metamorphosis.  Furtively, I watched with longing as it sizzled and could barely control myself once I caught the first whiff of its decadent aroma, wafting up in delicious waves as it grew ready.  When I could stand it no longer, I slid it directly onto the counter, not bothering with the normal conventions of dishware.  It lay there, taunting me from its granite perch. 

“Eat me,” it moaned.  “Eat me, now.” 

Grabbing it with both hands, I was only vaguely aware my flesh burned where I touched it. I didn’t care, I only wanted to slake my burgeoning desires.  I pulled the sides apart roughly, mesmerized by the soft tendrils of molten gold that appeared between the moist folds of its now exposed core.  I devoured it, and when there was no more, slowly licked my cheese-drenched fingers in a desperate attempt to make the pleasure last.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

And I thought my life was tough....

I love cemeteries.  The older the better.  They are filled with ghosts of the past.

Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson holds the remains of thousands of gutsy men and women willing to brave the unknown in Territorial Arizona.  A few years back, while wandering through the worn graves I noticed a small, unassuming marker.  I don’t know why it caught my eye, or why I wrote down the name carved into the stone. 

Once home, I did some research.  No one personified the perils awaiting those who ventured into the southwest desert better than the occupant of that plot. 

Larcena Ann Pennington was born in Tennessee and came to Tucson when she was twenty years old.  Two years later, she married John H. Page.  A year after that, she was kidnapped by Apaches while her husband was away doing whatever it was frontiersmen did in 1860.  The day-long march over rough terrain was difficult for Larcena, and frustrated with her inability to keep pace, her captors stripped her to her petticoat, beat, speared, and finally threw her over a ledge.  Some accounts say they also shot her a couple of times for good measure before they left her for dead in a snowbank twenty feet down.  Confident  all the stabbing, punching and plummeting had killed their prisoner, the Apaches distributed Larcena’s clothing and shoes between them, and continued on their way.
Later that day, John returned to discover his wife and many of their provisions missing.  I picture him trying to decide if their homestead had been raided or if Larcena had just gotten fed up with living in the middle of nowhere and took off.  Either way, being a man with mad pioneer skills, he tracked her boot prints to the spot where she had been, just days before, unceremoniously shoved to her death.
However, the plucky Mrs. Page was not so easily dispatched.   Despite her injuries, she was merely knocked out.  When she finally came to, she heard John calling her name.   Three things worked against Larcena:  She was too weak to respond, her husband didn’t peer down into the gully where she laid, and, most importantly, one of the Apaches now wore the boots.  John continued on, following the prints he believed were made by his wife.  

Undaunted by her bad luck and despite the injuries, Larcena eventually managed to get herself moving.  After ten days, subsisting on only native plants and melted snow, she heard the sound of wagon wheel s and climbed to the top of a ridge to get a better look.  Using her petticoat attached to a stick, she tried to signal the people below.  Much to her chagrin, no one noticed and by the time she made it down, everyone was gone.

Did Larcena lose hope?  Of course not!  She was one kick-ass woman; no kidnapping/murder attempt/feeling like crap was going to stop her. A few days later, starving and decidedly under dressed, she crawled into a lumber camp.  At first, the men thought she was a wayward squaw and almost shot her before one of them realized who she was.  Good thing.   How ironic if she’d survived the wounds, the fall, and the wilderness for two weeks only to be cut down because of mistaken identity.

Larcena recovered from the ordeal, but did not escape further tragedy.  When she was three months pregnant with her first child, John Page was killed by Apaches, a fate also suffered by her father and two brothers.  One sister succumbed to malaria, another to pneumonia.  Larcena contracted smallpox but that didn’t kill her either.  In fact, she lived until she was seventy-six, a tremendous accomplishment given the era and her history.

I believe Larcena called out to me that day, knowing I would appreciate her tenacity and indomitable spirit.  Have you ever experienced a message from beyond the grave?  One commenter will win digital copies of the first three books in my Coursodon Dimension series.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Sci-Fi Romance Anthology - Stardust

My short story - Life Companion - is now available in an anthology compiled by Cynthia Shepp and Rene Folsom.  Stardust  is a collection of ten fantastic shorts.

Welcome to a world where space travel by the common man is as normal as getting on a plane, life has been discovered on other planets, humans travel light-years to find their soul mates, technology exists along the lines that we have only imagined, and a passport will take you anywhere.

Stardust... where love has no boundaries and worlds are just waiting to be discovered.

Ten different authors.  Ten tales of fantastical love.  Ten different ways to discover the stars.

Here are two excerpts from Life Companion:

“Cole,” she sighed, with a hint of exasperation. “His name is Cole. And I never said I wasn’t attracted to him; he’s the handsomest man I’ve ever seen, and I love him. I’m just not in love with him. And before you say what I’m sure is running through your mind, let me assure you, I paid for a life companion whom I would love. Great sex is easy to find, and I’ve had lots of lovers. But finding someone who makes your heart smile every time you think of him and your pulse rate dance with a mere touch, that’s much more difficult.”
Somehow, she managed to rein in her libido before something happened she might regret. Mentally flogging herself for her emotional faithlessness, she slid her fingers free and tried to pretend she hadn’t just been fantasizing about ripping the clothes off a virtual stranger and having wild, crazed sex with him in the comfy recliner. And on the desk. And against the wall.

Available on Amazon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Best. Promo. Ever.

My book, Special Offers, is on sale for $0.99 and last week, I ran a promotion on E Reader News Today.  I sold a crap-load of books, both on the actual day of the promo and for a number of days since.  Plus, I got a bump in sales for the other two books in the series.  

And the best part?  It only cost $9.70!  That’s right, $9.70 to sell more books than I have ever sold in one month, much less in twenty-four hours. 

They charge 25% of your earnings—not sales price, but what you actually earn— from books sold directly through their links.  They charged me for 112 copies, but I actually sold a lot more than that.  If you are looking for an inexpensive way to market your work, check into this site.  It is inexpensive and from my experience, you get a lot of bang for the buck.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Tough to Get a Self-Published Book Reviewed - Part II Where Have All the Reviewers Gone?

When I released my first novel in 2012, I sent review requests to almost one hundred bloggers who reviewed in my genre.  Of those requests, about twenty-five agreed to review Special Offers.  By the time my third book came out this December, almost all of the previous reviewers were no longer accepting new books for review.

At first, I attributed this to the increase in self-published releases and tried to find other ways to get honest reviews.  After a bit of searching, I discovered a number of review blog tours.  You pay a fee, and the tour takes care of finding hosts who will review your book.  After I booked a couple of these, I realized that many of the bloggers that had reviewed Special Offers and were no longer taking review requests were now hosting these tours.  Pretty much exclusively.

I can't blame the bloggers.  They get better exposure for their site and they still get a supply of free books to read and review.  I can't blame the tour hosts either, they found a niche for making an buck. But for the authors, what used to be a free service - a book in exchange for commentary - now has a paid middle-man and, in my opinion, is a big reason it's getting harder and harder to find people willing to take a direct request from an author.

So, what's an author to do?  Even when you pay for a tour, there's no guarantee you will get a review at each site.  On my last two tours, three bloggers were flakers - no post at all, and no explanation to the tour host - and one posted information about my book, but no review.  Maybe they didn't like it and felt bad about saying so.  Maybe they forgot to read it.  Either way, I feel like I didn't really get my money's worth. What's more, it feels wrong to pay, even through a tour, for reviews.  That leaves few options for what is the single most important "marketing" strategy for independent authors, the posted review.

Have you experienced this as well?  I'd love to hear from you to get your take.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's Tough to Get a Self-Published Book Reviewed - Part I

I was just reading a reviewer’s blog that describes why they don’t accept self-published (SP) books to review.  Their main reasons were SP authors can have bad manners and argue over reviews, SP books usually have substandard covers and too many plot holes and grammatical mistakes.  These reasons for the policy excluding SP books made me laugh.  Well, maybe not LOL laugh, but it made me smirk a little.

I’m sure that there are SP authors that can’t take a bad – or even less than perfect – review without firing off a heated email. Obviously, that’s extremely bad form.  It’s better to find out where they live and stalk them. Just kidding.  Really.  But I know of traditionally published (TP) authors that have done the same.  Recently, an author of a well-received, TP, first-in-a-series book, ridiculed many reviewers of the second when certain plotting details were criticized.  And this author’s disparaging remarks were in public forums and blogs.

I’ve seen a lot of fantastic TP covers, and many mediocre TP covers as well. You know what I mean, all those covers with the author’s name and the title in ginormous print, surrounding some okay photo or illustration must have taken at least five minutes with photoshop to design.  And while a fantastic cover can help sell a book, it shouldn’t necessarily mean that a less than fantastic one should relegate your tome to non-reviewable.  The reviewer can certainly comment about the cover art as part of the review, but to not review it at all based on their interpretation of the cover art seems a bit harsh.  My first book, Special Offers, had a perfectly hideous cover when I first released it.  Someone even nominated it for Goodread's worst cover.  It still got reviews -- good ones -- even with the grimace-inducing image (but I did change the cover art, eventually).

Which brings me to the final reason why these reviewers won’t review SP work: SP authors can’t write worth shit.  Now, I have read a lot of traditionally published books as well as many self-published ones.  And, for the most part, a fair percentage of the SP stuff is a bit iffy when it comes to plotting, grammar and spelling.  But just yesterday, I was reading a new book from a very popular paranormal romance author where she wrote about one character saving another’s life by establishing an unobstructed airway – in his ESOPHAGUS.  Really?  There’s a reason the procedure is called a tracheotomy.  Because one’s lungs are attached to one’s TRACHEA.  The esophagus is what one’s food slips down en route to the stomach.  And the author correctly calls it a tracheotomy later in the book.  And how did this get passed all of the TP editors, beta-readers and ARC reviewers?  Plus, I already counted three typos, and I’m only 75% through. 

So my point is this.  Rather than an outright refusal to review the dreaded SP book, why not read the first chapter.  If it sucks, then don’t read any more and forget about it.  Or post that you read the first chapter and you wanted to shove a sharp pair of scissors in your eyes rather than have to keep reading.  And it’s not just because I am a SP author.  I think it’s a little snobbish to restrict oneself (and one’s blog readers) to the creations that are brought forth by TP companies, as if they have all the answers and do everything so much better than anyone else. Sure they do.  That’s why Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino landed a book deal with a TP house.