Bookbub Ads – an abject failure

Here at the Hall of Information we are always on the look-out for proven techniques that work on the subject of book promotion. Even though this operation is small, we still try our best to pass on all experiences and results, good or bad for the greater good of fellow wordsmiths looking to get their work out into the wider world. Well it was only a matter of time until a bad one came along, or shall we say a ‘not so good’ one. Right now I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed…

This week I took a dive into the complicated, convoluted world of Bookbub advertising. Now first let me determine that this is not the ‘featured deal’ advertising you can apply for which they will probably reject, but in fact another service via their ‘partners’ site. Anyone can pretty much sign up and get advertising straight away or so they say. 

You are asked to fill in boxes with your book’s URL, and the whole thing is pretty standard if you are comparing to other advertisers. But then it gets a little complicated as you are asked to find an audience who will potentially click on what is essentially a thumbnail sized pop up that will appear in their inboxes the next time Bookbub sends them a circular. This is essentially what the advert is, a small pop up of your cover and 60 characters to hook someone into clicking on it. Did I hook someone? Anyone? Just one person? Find out below…

It isn’t really explained whether broad or specific audiences are preferable. Specific would target individuals most likely to buy I suppose? When I reached the green area it suggested I’m on track (unlike the example below) and so after putting a few Darke Blood related author tags and genres into this targeting thing, it seemed to be happy.

borad

Next you are asked about date ranges, budget and then of course more complicated things known as ‘Bid’ which is an impressions based of clicks budget – again very convoluted for the layman author looking to sling a few ebooks. I selected a continuous option because the ambition in me just imagined the sales rolling in…

So after fudging around with the figures – figures I cannot show you because Bookbub have already deleted the campaigns I put on pause – I was ready to go. My first campaign looked a little like this…

Daily Budget $15 

Bid ‘CPM’ Budget $9ish 

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There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness…

(Imagine a jazzy background)

 

 

Buy now

 

 

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I guran-damn-tee somebody who stumbles upon this here post, even in ten years time will click on that buy now button, but when my ad ran for 24 hours, with over 200 impressions, not one person clicked on it…

Ok, so maybe it was me, not being able to navigate the system probably. So the very next day I tried again, and changed a few things. By lunchtime I was done. No clicks and me left wondering what I did wrong, like everyday… I don’t have time to figure out over complicated advertisement algorithms, and maybe you do, but I’ve got books to write.

My total spend on this abject failure was $17.69 and I know for a fact I can get book sales for less than that. In fact I have, with my Bookbub featured deal last year I spent $86.00 and sold 66 books that day. But the many other promo sites I’ve used have given me a way better return.

My advice would be to go elsewhere. Of course my book promo lists/results can be found in the many posts I have put out there previously. Here are a couple of recents:

Book Promo Results March 2020

Book Promo Results September 2019

Final Thought: 

Straight after I was done failing at Book bub ads, I cobbled together this little mock up via an online photo shop site. Seeing as I just got a fresh review, I quoted it and then put it up on the Tweet machine.

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As you can see the results are 3 times better than bookbub ads, and not a dime was spent…

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The moral of the story, not all advertisers work, and neither do I… Be wise with your money and don’t just dive into something…

Weekly Writing Inspiration…

Because if I can do it, anyone can so how about some motivational propaganda to start the month of right! And let us start with some very wise words…

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Darke Blood got it’s latest review via Goodreads; this has been especially rewarding after new marketing idea!

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It’s a bargain, but I’m not so sure about the story….

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AMIRIGHT….

Shout out to S.D McKinley for this awesome review of Open Evening

OE review

Word of the month…

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And Finally, ‘Every Stephen King Book; even the ones that aren’t macabre or supernatural still finds a way to be depraved…’ 

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Have a good rest of the week, and have a good month! Rock and roll man…

Weekly Ramble #75

I’m approaching the finish of my current WIP. Ten to fifteen thousand words remain for a trilogy and wider pentalogy that has defined my indie author efforts. This time around there is no urgent rush to finish, I have taken the slower approach, a gradual effort in taking in every sense that I wish the reader to experience. It’ll be done when it’s done (in a months time worst case…)

Marketing and sales is still a constant struggle. Whether or not the whole covid thing weighs on that, it’s still difficult keeping these books afloat in the deep waters of so many other writers trying to do the same. Sales are few and far between albeit better than last year and the year before. I’m in need of a new tactic to move books.

My efforts will soon move to the next release. ‘Darke Awakening’ a cross over that ties Open Evening, Darke Blood and Cemetery House together – the Order of the Following series and that pentalogy I talked about. At the moment I’m either reading, running or writing. It could be worse I suppose…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sawyer Shepherd Chronicles: Rites of Passage by Chad Lehrmann – Review

A twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…

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It doesn’t take long for the action to get going in what is a multi genre tale that sits within the fringes of supernatural thriller. ‘Sawyer Shepherd’ takes the lead in this book’s best feature; an ensemble of characters that have depth. He carries the typical mysterious past well even though he just happens to roll into town at the right time – but stories with prophecy and the like justify that to an extent because for me this book worked as an escape.

The setting comes as a strong second and is delivered with a unique style of writing that runs throughout. There is however a lot of cliche moments that some will probably roll their eyes at, but saying that, tropes are there for a reason, because they work and for all the moments that appear to be typical of the genre, most of the time they tick all the right boxes. Saying that I particularity enjoyed the original take on big business developers and how they fit into the threat element of the story and their perception of power.

The dialogue at some points I found to be perhaps a little tongue in cheek along with a romance that felt pushed which then suddenly back tracked. Fans of character driven narratives about ancient evil, secret demon fighting societies and unpredictable action will find plenty to get their ‘claws’ into. There are even some fitting tributes to some of the authors influences which made for a nice touch.

The book breezes by with decent pacing and a few revelations along the way including a double twist in the final stages. Although it was enjoyable, and a wider story is hinted throughout, I’m not sure the ending carried enough weight to interest readers in a potential sequel. Either way new stories about perhaps older tropes deserve to be recognised.

3 Stars – This review premiered via Reedsy Discovery

 

Undertaker: Last Ride – Review

To seek out closure in any aspect of life is a truly rare thing. For any performer to willingly let go of the spotlight and a sold out audience is something rarer. In professional wrestling many have never been able to close the door on their own terms and to be able to do that, to end a legacy and tenure on one’s own terms is something that doesn’t get seen very often. 

For those who know me will know that the pageantry and mystique of professional wrestling has had a place in my heart since before the years I ever aspired to pen any book, or write any blog but still to me wrestling is story telling. When it’s good, it’s awesome and of course many will laud the bad’s of an industry that once upon a time I aspired to get into. We’ve all heard of the premature deaths, or various scandals of new and old, most of us have even done a few laps on the whole ‘fake’ contemplation racetrack. The truth is wrestling is a performance; something I always dreamed of doing.

WWE The Last Ride: Who Should Be The Undertaker's Final Opponent?

Of course I itched my performing scratch big time by swapping out the ambition of stepping between those ropes to treading the boards and taking in the spotlight via theatre instead, and even though my ten years as a performer don’t compare anywhere near to most who have any type of career in pro wrestling, I can fully relate to the addictive nature of what performing is. For me and quite fortunately I had always been eyeing up a way off the stage, to have my day and be done, then to find a way to escape the pressure of learning lines, wearing goofy costumes, dealing with performers who don’t take things as seriously and of course risking my own mental health to stand up in front of strangers. That escape came in the form of script writing and so I haven’t fully turned away from performing but taken a diagonal turn towards new challenges. But most importantly my escape from performing was both peaceful and final. It was the ‘Star Wars’ ending, it was closure.

The Undertaker is a name that sits in the very upper echelons in the realms of pro wrestling. It’s a character that has never really been broken or had any type of backstage lid lifted upon it. There hasn’t been any ‘shoot’ type interviews over the many years by the man behind the ‘gimmick’ Mark Calaway who has operated, since 1990 mind, when the likes of Hulk Hogan headed match cards. Luckily for me I managed to see the Undertaker way back in 2009 when at a Smackdown taping in London where he faced off with the Big Show and yes his entrance is as awesome as it looks, even from the nose bleed seats…

Quite recently the WWE network has premiered 5 special and ever so candid documentary style interviews with the Undertaker in the form of a series called ‘Last Ride’. Each episode follows the Undertaker who, without many realising this really is his final ride and crowning piece to a thirty year career. It goes into depth about the feelings of a man who has gone round and round in his time in the squared circle.

Much of the theme focuses on family. The Undertaker has kids and a wife, Michelle McCool – a name fans of the female wrestling movement will know and you can see the strain it is putting on her concerns for a man who might not know he is at the end of his career. During these 5 episodes we get a roller coaster ride as it covers his final years and matches with have been rare occasions of recent, from his initial ‘retirement’ moment against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania to the few special exhibition matches that didn’t go too well; Bill Goldberg comes to mind. There is even some in depth look at the ‘streak’ where the Undertaker went 21 years without a loss at Wrestlemania – something that should have never been broken in my mind. In a sense it just goes round and round on a somewhat damning repeat for the Undertaker who is either looking for redemption in one match or finality in another. This vicious cycle is something he must break to find some finality.

10 Things We Learned From WWE's Undertaker: The Last Ride (Final ...
Without giving much away because even on this blog spoilers matter, the whole docu-series is well worth watching, even for the casual fan of wrestling, like me I don’t tune in much these days. You’ll see wrestling in a different light and through the eyes of a man who has been there the longest. ‘Taker’s interactions with others backstage is seen for the first time along with his emotional journey of seeking closure, it really is gripping. Those with their ear on the Twitter verse ground will know the Undertaker has used this show to laud his perhaps final retirement, and whether or not he is going to stay away from the spotlight and squared circle, this show has been the vessel for a great ending of a great career in performance, sports entertainment and the culture of wrestling. For the Undertaker it has been closure.

 

 

The stories that inspire us – Skyrim

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Buy The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim® from the Humble Store

I firmly believe that Skyrim may be the greatest video game ever made and stay with me here, even if you aren’t a gamer because there are very few video games that give players their own licence to shape their time in a world that is wholly interactive, beautifully constructed and most importantly immersive.

From the epic introductory music that leads into an ensemble of visual and audio beauty Skyrim follows the typical chosen one trope where you, the player are thrown in to a ‘Tolkienesque’ world of being a second coming who is able to face a returning ancient threat; dragons. How you walk down that path is entirely up to you, via magic, via combative brute strength or perhaps sneakily and stealthily that choice falls upon anyone who takes on this game making every journey unique and different – something all games stride to succeed in and maybe Skyrim does that the best and that is what sets it aside. No matter what action the player takes, the level system is counting, adding exp and shaping your character based on what it does in the world.

You can learn magic in detail, from conjuration to restoration but the real magic is all around. The end of 2011/start of 2012 was mostly a wonderful time in my life and perhaps that romanticizes the memories of when I picked up this game and took my first dive into this genre. Although I came late to the RPG genre at 22 I have certainly made up for it over the years with three Fallout games but for me it all started with Skyrim and I have decided to reignite this blog series because I have been playing the remastered version of the game on PS4 over the past few months and it reminded me of how beautiful this game truly is. Lockdown nights have been a breeze with Skyrim as a companion.

Skyrim Wallpapers 1920x1080 - Wallpaper Cave

Visuals of rolling hills covered in snow, tundras drenched in sunlight, mountains, sea and castle dominated cityscapes. There is no shortage of picturesque backdrops in this open world where anything can happen while the player chooses to do anything they like. Join one of the many factions from a secret sect of werewolves to a guild dedicated to thievery. Many a tomb await filled with the dreaded Draugr or it could even be an old castle filled with undesirable raiders to the ruins of an ancient civilization now populated with those pesky and tough Falmer. The game is a living and breathing work of art all of which can be further crafted by the player.

The actual gaming experience can be anything that player wants, you can pursue the main story line if you so desire or just go anywhere else the path leads you. Eventually destiny of an intricate and layered quest system will pull you in the right direction. What inspires me the most about Skyrim is the freedom for the game to let it be whatever the player wants it to be, the sheer scale of this production is on the grandest of scales and for that and to me it resides in video game greatness.

Can you name a story as accessible and immersive as the one of the Dragonborn? 

American Blasphemer by By John Gillen – Reedsy Discovery Review

A masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… 

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John Gillen has put together a series of life encounters; his own bible you could say or even a modern companion to it. Of course that could be classed as blasphemy through the eyes of some but the many references to God and religion is but a metaphoric vessel used to tell these candid stories. That being said, through all the events that take place its also about his relationship with religion and not once did I find it preachy or overbearing in that sense.

From the title you can probably guess it’s going to take readers to places of a sordid nature and it does, but that’s not for the sake of just telling a story or for the shock factor, its for a deeper meaning that each reader might grasp differently – only a true artist can achieve that. Past the drug taking, the sex and the chaos in these accounts you’ll find the real meaning behind it all and an honesty, a pure and raw poetic honesty. This is a modern reflection of America that highlights violence and a historic thirst for war, it doesn’t sugar coat anything and even touches themes that are happening right now in the world.

I found myself unable to look away right from a beginning that introduces John among a dysfunctional family, he knows them well although he isn’t like them, he isn’t like a lot of people. The many stories might even represent an ‘anti bible’ because like that text they include similar themes such as charity but with a hope of self gain and even a captivating encounter with temptation and bargaining that leads to something much more sinister.

For everything that is laid out on the surface, the trials, the tribulations and the misadventures all of which could be even be classed as ‘total cinema’, it’s what you’ll find underneath that makes this book well worth taking the time to read.

4 Stars – Here’s the link to my Review which premiered on Reedsy Discovery , thank you to them for providing a copy in exchange for this review. This may be one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. You need to check this one out trust me! 

Let’s talk about… Star Ratings

Book reviews. What do they really mean? Unlike most products out there, books aren’t reviewed for whether or not they function properly, books are reviewed through the opinion of a reader which is entirely different…

The word ‘subjective’ gets thrown around a lot in the literary world, Agents will cling to it when rejecting a query and many other reviewers will use it as an excuse to give good or even bad reviews of stories.

Above the sacred book review is an often overlooked factor of governance, the Star Rating which is the subject for discussion because on at least 3 platforms I know of in the book reviewing world, it differs..

Goodreads

Is Goodreads Free?

Goodreads (the Facebook of the Book world) takes their stance on the star rating system as follows…

More on caveats | lucinda sans

Now I’m pretty satisfied with most of their definitions and let’s face it, the only thing available to review on Goodreads is books so it’s pretty specifically set for them, that is until it comes down to the 2 star and below. To me 2 stars is less than OK for a book…

The truth is, I’ve never rated a book below 3 stars on any platform mainly due to the fact I just haven’t found a read like that yet; I am quite picky and know whether or not I am going to enjoy a book, so I see the star rating as a score out of 5 and anything below three isn’t a pass… (this is just my opinion folks)

Amazon

More Amazon delivery restrictions are coming | TechRadar

Amazon, arguably the most important place for authors to get reviews as it is where their work is sold exclusively from, like me. There appears to be a little difference between their rating and Goodreads, now Amazon have done the Amazon thing and I can’t find anywhere reputable throughout the Google that tells us straight up what each star in their rating system means. This could be because they don’t know, they don’t want us to know or maybe it’s a combo of both. So let us look to the 2 star review as an example:

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This ‘review’ is taken from my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’ and as you can see it’s not only a negative review but a DNF review also which is hardly in line with the Goodreads 2 star review of ‘It was OK’.

When comparing probably the two most important book reviewing platforms they contradict one another and that is without another major factor; personal preference which is what Mr Beam me up decided to do with his/her review because even if you put out guidelines, whether or not they will be followed is another thing and this reviewer didn’t then hop on over to Goodreads.

Reedsy Discovery

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You can expect my very first Reedsy Discovery review tomorrow and it’s a good one trust me! Now their rating system is strict compared to others. They feel that you don’t need to give every book a 5 star rating and of course save that for the truly exceptional reads.

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As you can see from their emoji heavy rating system that it agrees with me in principle. Anything below 3 is a ‘not for me’ but this also makes things tricky going upwards because of their stance of 5 star reviews, one has to find a truly exceptional book to use that rating.

Personal Preference

I don’ think there is one true way to rate a book using the above platforms and their own star rating systems. They differ too much, even without us realising. A four star review from Goodreads could mean something entirely different on Amazon because of the personal preference of a reader or because the guidelines aren’t particularly clear.

Personally I might have been way to generous in the past but arguably the books I’ve read had an effect on me and motivated me to rate them the way I did. The journey these authors have taken me on has led to what I thought of them and I pride myself on the support I give. The 5 star rating I give might not be for a truly exceptional once in a lifetime story but for the effort they put in to write something, to do research or even help me escape this world for just a while.

Authors view reviews as gold dust or even currency these days and it’s big business trust me. If it wasn’t for reviewing books, this very blog would be a ghost town.

What do you think of the star rating system for books? 

Swimming in the sea of self published books…

With the emergence of self publishing or indie publishing the world isn’t short of books right now. Writers everywhere are all looking for the same thing and so the marketing techniques are quickly becoming tired.

The ‘Free to download’ promotion has a shelf life and if everyone is doing it then there’s no value to such a deal. Readers might even see more value in priced books and so the marketing situation spins.

The Boy On The Sea Of Books

Reviews don’t actually carry much value. I have a liberal amount and even with few reviews my books still sell as much as those with more reviews. Its all about reach.

I’ve been public with most of my marketing efforts but even major companies omit recipes or ingredients. So yes there are few cards I hold to my chest, this ain’t charity. you know…  Many writers come to me and my resource page. They use the info and move forward, sometimes rinsing and repeating. That’s fine for a time but everyone with content must find their own ways of reaching their own market eventually. Find your own tribe.

Much of my advice adopts a ‘help all’ style but this will only take one so far; trust me I’m the first to use this stuff so I know.

Finding new ways to create reach is called innovation. And in the social media world which is rammed full of writers all looking for the same thing it does feel like we are swimming in the sea of self published stuff. My marketing strategy has always remained for as long as I am an indie author and that is to focus on selling one book at a time to one person at at time.

Eventually some of those ones return for another book and another – my next pillar of marketing – create more content which is then galvanised by me being active in the writing arena by reviewing books and giving back. Those three marketing strategies may not sell large amounts of books but they sell a satisfying amount and the circle of books is complete in my eyes.

I read a lot because I want to be able to write well. Professional athletes probably watch their own sport as much as they play it -the ones who want to get better do anyway….

This is an eye of the beholder situation and always has been…. Don’t be disheartened for single figure sales, they all count.

Do you have any unique book selling ideas other than just making your book free to download? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erase history, erase the lesson…

France – June 10th 1944 

On a sunny Saturday in a rural farm village known as Oradour-sur-Glane 642 innocent people were massacred by the German 2nd Waffen SS Panzer division. They just turned up out of the blue that morning. Women and children were herded to the local church and then grenades were thrown through the windows. The men were split up and put in the many barns that surrounded the area. Those barns were set alight and any one trying to escape were immediately shot. The small peaceful village was then practically levelled by German grenades and fires. A harrowing tale of unnecessary violence toward fellow man. War has always been the same and the survivors were less than 10.

Instead of bulldozing the wreckage, it was decided that a new town be built very nearby and the current remains left as a reminder, as a monument of the harrowing destruction and loss of life war brings upon this world. And trust me, I know this because I have been there twice, and it’s poignant, quiet and sombre. You can feel the atmosphere among the silence. The still charred stone of buildings along the high street. A doctors car still left with it’s door open, rusted and sunken into the ground. The church, now without a roof or stained glass in the window frames. Bullet holes in the walls and many more plastered over a WW1 monument. The museum that straddles the monument puts everything into context, without it, maybe the place would be wrongly conceived as just a ruin, because new generations forget, but within those crumbled bricks and a growth covered tram line is the truth of what history really serves, a reminder and lesson of where humanity went once, and a hope that we can learn from it.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France: Remember. – Rick Steves' Travel Blog

Statues fall and so does the lesson…

Every now and then a moment in history moves many people toward a desire for change. As humans we should always be trying to better ourselves. Regimes fall and over time they are forgotten mostly, or at least their context is. Those people who died on that sunny Saturday are forever immortalised by the wreckage of their home which serves as a monument. If the French authorities were to tear down this monument, or if a mob of protesters looking for change suddenly invaded it, then there would be public outcry.

I see the news and what is going on right now. I can only think the same thing when I see these mobs tearing down statues, some of people who serve important moments in our history. There is no thought, just spray paint and tear it down. Of course some of these statues represent people and a time far gone. Slavery or even genocide, people who probably shouldn’t be paraded in public places, but removing that statue and that name entirely is erasing history. Erase the history and you erase the lesson and again we lose our humanity. 

Not for one moment should you think I agree with these statues and what they stand for morally once upon a time, I agree that they should stand as a reminder of where we were and where we are now. Like Oradour-sur-Glane in 1999 they opened that museum and gave everything some context, because people of that age were rapidly passing away, time takes away good people and memories of a certain time.

Put these statues in museums with some context beside them. People have lost reasoning because there is no context and they are desperate to see something done. Why is there a statue of this person? And more importantly why was it re homed to this particular exhibit.

You keep the history, you keep the lesson and eventually you reinstate humanity. I know what happened recently is terrible. And Black Lives Matter very much so, even more now than ever because racism needs to be stamped out and we can only do that via education and history. I’m 100% with everyone who’s feeds have become activist feeds recently, keep flying that flag, keep being proud to call bullshit on racism, but remember the history that got us here and view it in the context of modern day. This year alone has been the true test of humanity and we need it more than ever!