Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Hunted’ by A.J. Calvin

Introducing author A.J. Calvin who shares an excerpt of urban fantasy novel ‘Hunted’.

“Follow me. The man who wishes to meet you is waiting.”

Now that I know who this man was, and why he wanted so badly to meet with me, I understand why I was able to follow Trey without hesitation. I was drawn to the caller, albeit unconsciously, because of his own ability—the same ability with which I have been graced.

Trey led me past the entrance of Dark City Hall, to an alley that was perhaps a half block away on the same side of the street. We walked to an unmarked metal door that led into one of the buildings from the alley. There was a woman standing outside, dressed in a full length blue patent-leather jacket that contrasted starkly with her fair skin. Her hair was cut short, falling to her prominent cheekbones, and was dyed a garish red-orange. The street light at the end of the alley fell upon her face in such a way that her eyes appeared almost colorless, though I assumed they must be a light blue. Trey introduced the woman as Carmine.

“So, you’re the girl the boss was trying to contact,” she said in a flat, somewhat smirking tone. “I wonder if you can handle it?” She broke into a harsh laugh that elicited a frown from Trey.

Muttering something under his breath, Trey pulled a ring of keys from his jacket pocket and jammed one into the doorknob. He yanked the door open in an angry manner that startled Carmine from her laughter.

“Was it something I said, Trey?” she asked in a mocking tone. “I’m sure Ms. Chandra Grey will be fine once she’s accepted what he is. It’s the acceptance part of it that will be difficult, as you well know.”

I had the distinct feeling that Carmine had very few friends. She was clearly trying to frighten me, although her words only managed to instill an even greater curiosity within me.

“You must go inside alone,” Trey said, ignoring Carmine and holding the door open for me.

I simply nodded, and did as he said. In that moment, I wanted to understand Carmine’s cryptic remarks; I needed to know more about this man that I had agreed to meet, and why she had wondered if I could “handle it”. Curiosity had replaced my initial fear, and as I stepped through the doorway, I felt no anxiety.

The door closed behind me, and I found myself in an office area. There was a wide metal desk, and a few filing cabinets against the wall opposite the door. To my right was a round table with a few folding metal chairs scattered around it. I noticed that two of the chairs had been pulled into the center of the room, which was otherwise bare. The room was windowless, and the only door leading into or out of the room was the one I had just stepped through.

To my left was a man. He stood slightly taller than I did, and was slender. What caught my eyes—and my breath—was his appearance. He looked to be close in age to me, perhaps a year or two older, but his hair was completely white. It was combed neatly to one side.

When I had first stepped into the room, his eyes were closed, and he kept them that way until I had time to study him. When at last he opened them, I couldn’t help but gasp with surprise—they were not human eyes that looked back at my own. His eyes possessed silver irises.

“Do not be alarmed,” he said in a soothing tone. “Now you understand why I must have you come to me. My appearance makes it difficult to walk about the city undetected. No amount of dye will color my hair, and I have tried upon occasion to use contacts to hide my eyes, but to no avail. I cannot draw attention to myself, so when I wish to meet someone, I must arrange it so that they come to me.”

His voice, so calm, had a relaxing effect on me. “Why did you wish to speak with me?” I asked, surprised that my voice remained steady. My insides felt as though they were doing backflips.

He smiled, and gestured to the two chairs in the center of the office. “Let us sit down, for this may take some time,” he replied. “Are you comfortable?” he asked once we were seated facing one another.

“I think so,” I said after a moment. “I’m not sure what is going on. I don’t know why you called me here, or how you know who I am. And I don’t know what you are either.”

He chuckled then. “Yes, I suppose I do have some explaining to do,” he replied. “I called you here because you possess a great talent, one that you undoubtedly don’t know that you have. I happened to notice you a little over a week ago—you were in this area of town, with some friends, going to dinner I presume. I could feel your power then, and I knew I must take this opportunity to teach you how to use it.” He shook his head slightly, wonder spreading across his face. “You can become very great, Chandra Grey…You do not need to live an average life; you can become so much more than ordinary.”

I was unsure of how to respond to this statement. I don’t know if I had ever considered myself completely ordinary; throughout my life I had managed to excel where my friends could not, but I had attributed this to hard work and dedication. To hear something like this from a complete stranger—one who had admitted to following me for over a week—was a bit unsettling, to say the least. When I managed a nod, he continued.

“I watched you go into the church last Sunday,” he admitted. “It was an opportunity I could not pass up. I sent one of my…underlings to copy down your phone number from the guest book, and bade him contact you. That was a mistake, and I apologize for my miscalculation. I understand that he had you quite scared.”

I nodded again. “Yes,” I replied slowly, “If the calls did not stop, I was going to report them to the police. I thought…Well, I thought I had a stalker. You aren’t really a stalker, are you?” Immediately, I regretted my words. You don’t say something like that to someone you’ve just met! I screamed at myself internally, before thinking, A stalker would never admit to it.

I was surprised when he laughed. “I don’t believe I am a stalker in the sense that you mean,” he said. “I do not intend to harm you in any way, and I did not contact you because you happen to have a pretty face. You have an ability that few humans possess. I must know what your decision will be, regarding being trained as a summoner.”

Summoner. This was the first time I had heard of the word, and it sounded strange to me, yet somehow grand and powerful. I was intrigued.

“What’s a—?”

“Summoner?” he asked with another laugh. “I am a summoner, though not a very powerful one. You can become much more than I could ever hope to be—the amount of raw talent you possess is very rare indeed.” He paused a moment, reflecting, before going on. “Are you familiar with demons, Chandra Grey?”

This is an excerpt of urban fantasy book ‘Hunted’ by A.J. Calvin which is out now.

You can find more information about the book here and you can find A.J. Calvin on Twitter.

Building an Algorithm of Trust – How To Get Better Results On Twitter

As of January 2021 192 million people use Twitter. That’s an opportunity to connect and engage with a lot of people. Opportunity is probably the best way to describe the platform which is basically a word popularity contest with the focus on connecting through those words to create meaningful relationships with others.

From my own experience, if you are on Twitter to simply sell something, you might struggle to get any type of decent results. But how do you get better results at Twitter? There is no short answer but this guide will explore and try to answer that question…

Statistic reference via: Oberlo.co.uk

Time and Consistency with Perspective

It has taken me since 2013 and at least one absence from Twitter to finally get any level of high engagement on the platform, but let’s be real here with some grounded perspective. Any number of likes, retweets, comments or follows is good engagement no matter who you are. One or two likes for a tweet is a success in my eyes and anything more is very good. Twitter has a specific psychology that requires some time to figure out.

There is no specific way to measure how long it takes to figure out, some grasp it quicker than others but getting better results will mostly be governed by time and consistency – showing up regularly over a length of time.

For absolute beginners perhaps tweeting ten times a day is too much to start with. Take it steady and let people get used to you being there. Tweet a few things every day, comment on other tweets from folks you follow – show genuine interest but don’t be too enthusiastic or pushy, stay cool and patient.

What should you be tweeting about? We’ll get to that soon but first we need to understand how the tweet machine works and it is very much a machine in my eyes.

Algorithms

I’m not really qualified to say how the underbelly of Twitter works and Google knows the specifics. There are those who regularly mention a thing called algorithms which as far as I understand is a computer based pattern learning thing. Theory is, if you are consistent on twitter it will eventually work in your favour and push those tweets of yours to more followers. My learning comes from experience and all you have to do is go on over to my profile and see how many wonderful followers engage with my tweets regularly.

It took time and consistency to reach that level. There is another algorithm that isn’t computer or tech based and it is also known as trust. Over many years my followers have come to trust me through the content I post and when someone trusts me they are invested in me. If someone invests in you personally they will eventually buy your product or service out of loyalty. I have zero expectation or even an agenda to sell to people in this way, it just happens naturally and mainly through presence (being present, not personality, I don’t have any of that…)

For example take a household cleaning product you buy on a regular basis. You keep buying more because you trust it does the job you expect it to. That’s brand loyalty and that can be achieved on Twitter also.

But what should you shout into that void to earn that algorithm of trust?

It may seem like you are simply dropping those words into a void and it will feel that way for some time but eventually that void will answer if you keep going. Too many folks give up on twitter too quickly. Going from zero to millions of followers isn’t going to happen quickly but you don’t need a huge following to get results. I’ve seen hundreds of authors come and go from Twitter because they feel like they are getting nothing from the platform. Translation: They are not selling any books for the effort they put in. But to me that’s not the idea of being on Twitter for the most part.

I don’t know who said having a Twitter account alone will sell books or sell anything but that seems to be the consensus for some. Of course not everyone thinks this is the case but if you’re an author who gets a lot of Twitter engagement I can near enough guarantee it’s because you tweet less about your work and more about other things which provide value to others. Remember, Twitter users want to invest in you as a person way before they consider buying something from you.

So what are these other things?  

Personally and from experience there is a huge range of content ideas for twitter but as long as it informs, inspires or has value then you are going to get something back – that is broad but also a fantastic opportunity to be creative. I tend to stay away from anything heavily political or even something that divides opinions – there are just other fun things to tweet about and it should be fun.

Sharing links tends to get less engagement as Twitter wants you and others to stay on the platform. My top tip: Drop that link in the comments below your tweet or leave it in your bio instead.

Images and visual stuff is great. From memes to a selfie. Did I mention a real picture of a real person goes a long way?

Sharing positive things is always going to get a good level of engagement. I can’t really remember many authors in the past sharing their sales statistics but I do and because I have a large audience of authors, it gives them hope that they can achieve the same. Give someone hope and you’ll earn their trust – we’re back to that algorithm again but sharing successful moments is inspiring to many others.

Helping someone in any way will always result in positive engagement. For the last three years I have read and reviewed over a hundred Indie Published Books. I support the industry and try to help a fellow wordsmith, there’s nothing more genuine than helping those around you just because I know their struggle. I shout about helping people because eventually it will probably make the literary industry better – a big ambition but achievable over time.

Commenting on other users tweets will push up your algorithm (the actual computer one, if it exists) and spread your presence wider to more people.

Hashtags should never be overlooked. I tend to include one or two in every tweet.

Play the long game. There aren’t many quick fixes. Doing the work will work eventually.

Above all being a person and not a link or book link sharing machine on Twitter will get you better results eventually.

You have to build you own…

Over time with consistency and patience you’ll eventually build your own algorithm of trust. Much of what I say may sound easier said than done but I have done it and achieved it. I’m selling a lot more books now through Twitter even though my focus has been more on getting a bigger following and just enjoying the ride while learning from others.

The campfire Analogy…

This has been a kind of Ted Talk but I want to finish with an analogy that I hope anyone on Twitter or thinking of joining the platform can understand…

So you’ve set up a small campfire on the edge of some woods (you’ve created a Twitter profile).

This nice spot is adjacent to a path, that path is then connected to a much wider path where people walk, jog, cycle and appear along frequently. (Basically the wider twitter community, no specific demographics)

You begin to talk to yourself while the small fire crackles away. There is a little warmth but other than the low hum of your quiet voice it’s pretty desolate.

You then talk a little louder (your tweets are specific to your interests, if you’re an author you use the writing community hashtag).

It might feel like you are talking to yourself but that busy path is ever so near. (it feels like you are talking to yourself. This is normal for a while)

A little time passes and someone along that wider path hears you talking (the hashtags amplified that voice of yours).

This person then moves onto the path adjacent to that campfire of yours. (you’ve attract the attention of a specific demographic you’ve got something in common with)

You talk to this person as they have just replied to you. (they commented on your tweet). It was a brief but a pleasant exchange. This passer by then decides to come off that path and sit at your campfire. (congratulations, you’ve just earned a follower)

Because this follower responded to something you said, you now tweet more about the subject you exchanged engagement with. You also talk directly to them (you follow them back).

Other passers-by begin to hear this follower talking to you and some at the very least stroll past the campfire. This one follower has sat at a few campfires before and those who he sat with can see the engagement you are having. (mutual followers of that first follower see your tweets in their feed)

You keep talking and exchange engagements. Some of these mutual followers have now walked by and sit at your camp fire. You talk to them also (follow each other). These folks even bring their own logs and the fire grows in brightness and warmth (more engagements happen, subjects range).

More folks who have been to other campfires see your campfire is a two way conversation and come to sit by it. (Your following steadily increases because you are talking and including them and you are present consistently over time).

The subjects you talk about are interesting and engaging. More passers-by join the congregating people already by your now roaring fire. You’re going to need more seating soon but you keep talking because these passers-by have become important connections. They have invested in you and trust you because your word is good and honest which started literally with you talking to a campfire. How do you know what to talk about everyday – you get better at this the more you do it. It even feels warm inside…

Some of these passers by now want more from you and so they see you have a product or service available that they know will be trust worthy or will at least provide something which will make them feel good. (You’ve grown your own algorithm of trust over time, as an author or content creator these followers buy from you)  

You share with these fellow camp fire members how you got to this point. They eventually take on some of what you have learned and in their spare time they go and start their own campfires and the cycle continues. (you see others being successful at twitter also, they didn’t give up and kept talking also)

Although this is a specific analogy in a perfect scenario, it highlights the importance of being social no matter where you start.

Thank you reading what is a lengthy and quite detailed post. Hopefully it is useful and if you like this there are plenty more guides over in the resources section. I also have a self help guide book coming next month! Peace out, rock and roll man!

‘Nocturnal Salvation’ by Villimey Mist – Review

The Nocturnal series has returned and is better than ever…

Leia Walker faces the implications of her new affliction in this action packed third entry of a series that gets better and better. It’s clear to see Villimey Mist has grown as an author and she delivers this story with tight to the point description along with a style that’s easy to read. That growth and development translates to the diverse cast of characters; some familiar faces while others are still new – multiple characters is a hard thing to get right but for the best part of this book it’s executed well.

We get a front row seat to Leia’s struggle and inner conflict as she tries to adjust to her new reality. ‘Sophie’ although just a vision serves as a stark reminder of a journey that has now taken a different turn. There are sights and feelings not seen before in the series which adds a freshness and new dimension. The lust for blood our hero experiences is part of that conflict which she faces in near enough every direction.

“My blood sings a violent song of brutality. My bloodlust surges through me, and I allow the monster to take the reigns…”

From Amsterdam to London and then over to the US this jet setting story is high stakes, in fact they are the highest they have ever been and its enjoyable. From shoot-outs to car crashes the chase is on to find a cure for the deadly blood of ‘Adam’ a big bad who serves as a calculating sometimes slippery enemy adding to Leia’s conflict. She eventually starts to get used to her situation and takes a responsibility to protect those around her with a desire to be a better fighter. Concepts that are original for the genre are explored further – we see how the likes of ‘Sangues’ work and what it is like to be ‘feral’. There are dramatic turns and even shocking moments that’ll keep those pages turning before a resolve that is both satisfying and even a little emotional.

5 Stars – A great read that caps off an awesome series that represents the genre well. Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads.

Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Heroes Of the Shadow. Blue Scar Indeabinito’ by S.S. Frankowska

Introducing author S.S. Frankowska who shares an excerpt of epic fantasy novel ‘Heroes Of the Shadow. Blue Scar Indeabinito’.

“INDEABINITO WAS A VERY OLD WORLD. It has existed for millions of years. Over the first centuries, new races were born. After all, the kingdom was inhabited by twelve different races, one being the human race. The other eleven races were characterized by abilities which humans were unable to possess. Still, the position of people in this world was extremely privileged. They have been treated as a race that everyone else should watch out for. A race that others have to look after, with no one allowed to hurt them.
At the head of the kingdom were always human queens and kings. They held meetings in which all races took part. The king and queen were always ready to hear the voices of other races, but ultimately it was up to them to make decisions.
There came a moment in the history of this world when the last ruling couple made a mistake. Worrying about the future of their children, putting their good above the good of the kingdom, they mislaid their trust and irreversibly changed the course of Indeabinito history. With their actions, they introduced into this world something that had never been there before. Magic. A force that allowed humans to measure themselves with the abilities of other races.
Of course, at first no one dared to oppose humans. Everyone knew that their firstborn son embraced to seek the power that did not come from this world, but they remained silent. The second son of the royal couple grew into a wonderful man. Nobody doubted that he would be a worthy successor to his parents. Therefore, after the unexpected death of the king and queen, when their ship sunk because of a storm, all races were glad to welcome the nineteen-year-old king. The second son. Nobody knew what was happening to the eldest son of the royal couple. They were worried about his disappearance, but nobody was eager to find him. The whole kingdom celebrated the coronation.”

This is an excerpt of epic fantasy ‘Heroes Of the Shadow. Blue Scar Indeabinito’ (Chapter 16: Victor’s Story) by S.S. Frankowska which is available now.

You can find more information from S.S. Frankowska on Twitter and via the Heroes of the Shadow website.

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads

Ah, the reading, reviewing and recommending of books. The truth is I haven’t done one of these posts in quite a while and considering it’s Indie April, now would be an awesome time to share some awesome indie books. Let’s dive in…

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen

The first awesome book on our list is a bravely told memoir that highlights the journey of Danielle Larsen while focusing on mental health and her relationship with an abusive partner. These are sometimes difficult subjects to talk about but in this book they handled with grace and the story is ultimately inspirational. To quote my recent reviewThis book acts as guide in some senses to spread awareness while also informing others. The narration style feels natural and relays every moment with dignity and there are some moments when you cannot help but feel for a person who has been through so much…’

‘How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market’ by Ricardo Fayet

We’re moving into book marketing territory now with what stands as a pretty extensive and awesome guide for authors. Anyone looking to seriously make a career out of their words can benefit from this guide which is basically a bunch of Reedsy blog posts packaged together in one place and a whole lot more. I came across this one via Reedsy Discovery as I have been a reviewer for their platform for nearly a year now. This one is definitely worth a look! You can read my full review here.

‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean

The newest release from Brooklynn Dean did not disappoint and according to twitter she is already working on the sequel. Using intimate description and a unique style this tale of apocalyptic proportions will take you places, they might be violent and brutal places but I could not look away. From the obvious symbolism to the lesser visible deeper meanings in this book, ‘Deification’ is an awesome encapsulating read. Here’s my full review.

‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber

From the first line of the blurb I was already hooked and this book was right up my alley as they say. Set in a dystopian type future the story focuses on a small forest town as an aging and sparse population try to get by. They are disturbed when a group of younger Militia turn up and well, the Raven woman works her magic so to speak. I thought it was an awesome read and you can check out my review here.

‘Pestilence’ by Susie Kearley

Now the past year might have felt like the apocalypse to some but this book lays out in detail what could happen if a fungus could really bring the end of days. From the emergence of a new wonder drug to this fungus brought into existence by a warmer climate, Pestilence is a charmingly British but very well thought out read. Susie Kearley had this novel in the pipeline for thirty years and you can tell she has worked incredibly hard to bring it to publication. Although it is a longer book it doesn’t feel that way as the pages fly by. An awesome read and you can find my full review here.

That wraps things up for now. You can expect a new indie book review hopefully by the weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

Weekly Ramble #104

As creators who release our work into the public domain we’re always told to prepare for good and bad reactions but it seems none of us are ever told to prepare for the effects of almost instant and explosive success. The truth is and since my book got thrown in front of a huge main stream audience of 10,000 plus, I haven’t been the same and then this weekend just gone I broke more sales records. Things are growing in a short space of time. My mind is still processing how monumental an achievement it was to get that many people download something that’s mostly unknown and then even more awesome things happened.

Recently I’ve found it difficult to think of new ideas and create new works. The sheer level of attention, reviews and continuing aftermath has been distracting and ultimately foreign to me. I’m just not used to the numbers and this is something nobody has ever talked about or given fair warning of. One day, if your work is out there, it might take off without fair warning. All success comes at a price and while recent times have been hard to adjust to, I’m still sitting in a rather good place. My mind is slowly gathering itself and learning to live with this new normal.

This entry might have started out looking like a complaint but I’m truly loving the fruits of this long journey right now. Its just taking time to adjust to what was a major corner turned. I firmly believe that if you keep going, eventually good things happen and this seems to be my year. What did I do? Nothing special, I just kept going because that’s all I know how to do.

In between reading, blogging and having a constantly demanding social media presence I’ve reached a creative plateau but ultimately that’s okay. I’m celebrating books that came out a few years ago and are now finding their success. It’s more than okay to embrace the stuff you currently have published and not worry so much about what’s to come. I have a backlist that I can lean back on and even if I’m not creating anything new right now, the pipeline still has a few more projects. Of course the self help book is just over a month away but right now and probably for the near future I’m just going to enjoy the journey. Truthfully I’m very much enjoying the social element of what has become an engaged social media following. To hear from and speak with so many folks from all over the world has brought so much joy to this journey. Reverting to zero seems like a lifetime away now.

To everyone who has interacted with me recently and those who did buy one or more of my books over the past weekend. Thank you.

Book Promotion Results: April 2021

Alright authors here it is and due to popular demand the results of my most recent book promotion efforts which took place on the first weekend of April 2021. For the sake of helping a fellow wordsmith we’ll be looking into the basics, what I aimed to do, the results, how I got them and of course factors for success. This will be quite detailed but for reasons laid out ahead.

There might be some new faces visiting this here blog for the first time so allow me to introduce myself if you don’t already know me. My name is Lee Hall, I’m an independently published author from the UK. I have several books available and I am determined to persuade the world to read them – that is and always will be my dream. I’ve never given up and slowly over many years I’ve found some success. My readers and following on social media have been kind enough to keep that dream alive by showing amazing support. It is also my belief that authors should help each other because we are on this journey together so this post is for authors to hopefully gain something from. Let’s dive in…

The Basics

If you are published you’ll probably know that an author’s greatest struggle is informing the world their work exists. The next challenge is convincing someone to spend money and actually buy it. I know this pain very well and everyone with a book for sale feels it. Unfortunately just saying your book exists is not enough to sell it mainly because our voices aren’t loud enough on their own, so how do we amplify that voice? Through book promotion.

Book promotion is a rather large umbrella that covers many different methods of marketing and advertising. There are numerous ways to tell the world your book exists while also persuading a potential reader to buy it. Some require long term effort while others are instant, we’ll go into some methods below. Before setting out to promote your work it’s important to decide what you want and how you are going to do it along with setting a realistic expectation.

My aim

My aim on this occasion was get as many sales as possible for my four books which are all part of the Occult ‘Order of the Following Series’. The first book in that series ‘Open Evening’ would be free to download on Saturday the 3rd of April while the other three would be discounted to 99 cents or equivalent on that day also.

If your book is published via Amazon and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they will allow you to set your price to free for so many days every period. Free is an effective, please-all method of getting downloads. It doesn’t guarantee reviews or even reads but that’s the gamble with every book sale.

The main method I would be advertising this sale was through various book promotion sites and across my own social media channels. For beginners, book promotion sites are an effective way to advertise books online. Some advertise for free while the better ones you have to pay for. More info on book promo sites here.

In terms of expectations, I envisioned some paid sales for the discounted books while the majority would be for the free book.

Top promo tip: If you have a series available, setting the price to one book for free and lowering the price for the others will drive sales to all books in that series if promoted well for a short time.

Background information: In February I managed to convince high end Book Promo site BookBub to feature my stand alone super hero comedy ‘The Teleporter’. It was downloaded 10,000 times, became a best seller and has got over 100 ratings since then. This is probably important to note because after that promo a lot more eyes have been on me and my work. The aftermath has been rather incredible. You can read about that here.

The Results

So this is how things went on Saturday the 3rd of April. After what started as a rather slow day soon took a turn for the better…

The free to download Open Evening made its way around the world with an impressive 874 downloads while every other book I have available sold, this included books that were not advertised anywhere! Now lets take a look at the paid sales that day in a little more detail.

176 paid sales in one day is a record breaking statistic for me. Not only did this smash the previous record of 60 paid sales in one day (2019) but also the monthly record that was 120 (September 2020).

‘Darke Awakening’ took the lead and sold nearly triple the amount it sold on release last year. Overall these numbers are something I’ve never seen before!

Let’s take a look at Amazon chart movement.

The highlight was seeing Open Evening beside Dean Koontz’s ‘Odd Interlude’ via the Free US Occult Suspense Chart.

‘Darke Awakening’ did the best in paid charts by peaking at 21 in the US Vampire Thriller charts. ‘An English vampire book in America’ being in the top 25 of the biggest Amazon market is huge! It was in the 1000’s previously!

‘Darke Blood’ just about crept into the top 50 of the US Occult Suspense Chart, again that was in the 1000’s beforehand.

‘Cemetery House’ managed a solid 52 in the US Occult Horror charts. A respectable number for what was my most problematic release back in 2018. Redemption!

For what was a truly fantastic day continued into the Sunday with more paid sales. This time ‘Open Evening’ started selling at 99 cents. Chart movement is an important thing because it throws books in front of new eyes and puts them alongside perhaps more known titles. This drives visibility for passing trade.

On this day my all time paid book sales record for the month was pushed to 200+ which then got further improved the next day…

As of this screen shot taken on the 5th the total for paid sales in April reached 216.

How I did it

This story is only half told because now we need to look into how I got these results and there are so many different factors as to why this sale was so successful. Hopefully this is the part where some of you guys can get something out of this information.

Normally during a promotional run I focus the advertising on one book but this time I spread that advertising across the series using multiple book promo sites. So here are the book promotion sites and the packages I used for each book:

Free Booksy – Horror Series Advertising Package for ‘Open Evening’ with the series linked – Cost $65

E Book Booster – Advertisement for ‘Open Evening’ – Cost $25

Bookrunes – Advertisement for ‘Cemetery House’ – Cost £25

Robin Reads – 99 cents Discounted Thriller Promotion for ‘Cemetery House’ – Cost $40

My Book Place – Advertisement for ‘Darke Blood’ – Cost $10

Total Cost: $165

This might seem like a lot of money to some but if you are serious about advertising then you need to invest money seriously. My recent BookBub featured deal cost around $250. This sale has turned out to be my most cost effective and potentially profitable!

Top promo tip: If you want to know how effective a certain book promo site is, just advertise with them only.

Factors for success

As you can see the paid advertising focused on the first three books in the series but the 4th book ‘Darke Awakening’ sold the most amount of copies. It is usually priced at $2.99 but the 99 cents discounted price is seen as quite a bargain. This was also the same for ‘Cemetery House’ which is usually $1.99 and was also discounted. Price differential, even by a small amount is a major factor in sales. Supermarkets do this all the time. Folks like to think they are getting a bargain and they were in this instance.

But why else did this promotional run go so well? (this is quite a list but here goes…)

The Basics (again)

Different basics this time but I firmly believe people will buy a book if it has the following things:

A professional cover, an enticing blurb, a unique title and a fair price. If your book has just these things, it will sell eventually, trust me.

Further visuals: Book banners seem to enhance the visual aspect of a book’s cover. I made most of mine through online photoshop sites and shared them through my social media platforms.

Some reviews/ratings: All four books in the series have some reviews and ratings. These take time to get but are very valuable when it comes to selling a book. That star rating is sat just beside the cover, people take it into account. Some promo sites will only accept books with a certain amount of reviews.

Open Evening was free: People love free things. Some folks won’t even think about liking the free thing before they grab it and if one of those books in a series is free, that leads into…

Amazon Series Link: If you are published via Amazon and have a series you can now create a separate product page for all the books in that series. This is kind of a no brainer and if used properly, potential readers will land on that page and they will then see all the books available. On this occasion they saw all the books were discounted.

Having more books, sells more books: If you have multiple books published then readers are more likely to buy from you. This is also my number one book selling advice – write more books. Easier said than done I know but authors with just one or two books, keep going because sales will get easier the more books you have published. Then you can do more things to promote them.

Having stand alone books helps also: I also have two stand alone books, one of which did very well a few months back in another promo. No doubt some folks who read it then saw these books were on sale and took the opportunity to buy one or two.

The sale only lasted a day: While over the years I have ran many different promos they all tend to be for a short time. This creates urgency, a one day only deal will push sales because a sense of demand is created.

Timing

The Easter weekend or any holiday weekend is a great time to advertise a bargain book. These days and post pandemic a lot more people are online and more people are reading. Saturday is a prime day for social media traffic and so I used that to my advantage.

The month of April is also a rather special time for Indie Authors because over on twitter there is a thing called #IndieApril where a whole lot of folks come out to support indie books. Which leads into…

A strong and long social media game

For some years I have been slowly ramping up my Twitter game and the chances are you came from Twitter to read this. In very recent times Twitter has brought me extraordinary results simply because I’ve kept going and tried my best to help fellow authors. Every day I show up and do my best to inspire, inform, entertain and hopefully provide something of value to an exceptional group known as the writing community. I know for a fact they came out in droves to support this recent sale and I’m truly thankful for it.

55 Likes for a writing tip – that’s awesome…

There is no quick way to get an engaged following on social media, it just takes time and effort. People have to trust you and that takes time to earn. I basically treat it like a job. As long as you keep going, eventually social media gets rewarding. Twitter in particular has a specific psychology to get right. For anyone who want’s to know more about getting better at twitter, here’s a recent guide.

For this sale I took full advantage of the shameless self promo Saturday hashtag and basically spent most of the day present on the platform sharing book banners and links. I manned the bridge and put all my efforts into navigating the S.S Lee Hall Writer through book promo waters…

While the promotion was unfolding I kept my Twitter following informed how it was going and this stirred even more engagement and reaction leading to sales. This also led to further sales on the days after.

Convince folks to buy into you first

Over the years Lee Hall has become a brand of loyalty that supports fellow authors by reviewing and embracing their works. Yes I just referred to myself in third person…

Last year I reviewed 40 plus indie books. Be a player in the game and the game will support you. I tend to speak less about my work and more about others, people see that I’m not just here to sell books, I am here to do so much more and you are so much more than a book link on social media. Be a person first and book link later.

The back story of my story

Because I have such an awesome audience on this blog and now on Twitter I shared a post about my high school days which were a struggle. That personal struggle is something that inspired ‘Open Evening’ and so a week or so before the promo I shared it on here and via Twitter. It was even my pinned tweet for the week running up to the promo. You can read that post here.

Momentum

The writing winds of destiny seem to be blowing my way as of recent. I’m not sure if I accidentally sold my soul or something but lady luck is shining on me right now and I’m riding that momentum. First a BookBub featured deal in February and now this awesome weekend of sales that is still aftermathing.

It’s never too late

Even years after its release Open Evening is now being read by my newer following. Books will probably outlast the best of us!

Things eventually align

This journey hasn’t been easy but I’ve never given up no matter the results. Perseverance pays dividends eventually, you just have to keep going. I’ve learned a lot over the years and next month the fruits of such will be published via my self help guide book. I’ll be looking for ARC readers soon.

Concluding thoughts

The true result of a good book promo run will happen long after the actual sales so right now I’m unsure how effective it was apart from the obvious visuals and stats I have shared. Overall I’m pretty happy with how things went.

I’m still getting over the emotional rollercoaster of February’s book promo and then this happened. It’s incredibly humbling to see my books getting sold in the numbers they did. I haven’t done anything special or even clever. Over the years, I’ve just kept going and that’s probably all I am qualified to tell you to do. Keep going. Chase those words and eventually good things come to those who work for it.

I shall leave you with this final graphic which shows royalties that I have never seen before, royalties that have started to turn things towards a profit and for me above all, hope.

Thank you to everyone who supported this recent book promo run and for taking the time to read this. The recent support you have all shown is incredible. You can find plenty of other book promo stuff in the resources section right here.

Peace out, rock and roll man!

Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Wings and Shadows’ by Dominika Pindor

Introducing author Dominika Pindor who shares an excerpt of YA fantasy novel ‘Wings and Shadows’.

“When I turned onto Welling Ave, the crowds began to disperse, and by the time I reached Scott Street, I was alone. At the intersection, I pressed the greasy button on the traffic light pole and leaned against it as I waited for the red circle to turn green.
“I don’t mean to bother you, dear, but could you assist me with these? It’ll only take a moment.”
The voice came from an old woman, who had seemingly appeared out of thin air. She was short, perhaps five feet at most, and stood wearily hunched over her walker. The overflowing bags of groceries she had been referring to were draped over the rails, making the thin pieces of metal strain underneath their weight. I recognized her as Mrs. Riley, my mother’s old college professor. We had met a few times when I was younger, but I doubted she remembered.
“Sure. How can I help?” I couldn’t bring myself to say no. Aside from the large mole on her cheek, she looked just like my grandmother.
“Carry these,” she said, pointing to the three fullest bags, each of which was filled with at least half a dozen cans. I picked them up and she grinned. “Thank you, dear.” The dear came out sounding like deah. Then she coughed, covering her mouth with one papery hand.
“Are you alright ma’am?”
Mrs. Riley chuckled. “Me? Oh no, can’t say I am.”
I raised my eyebrows, expecting her to elaborate. She didn’t. We continued walking, heading towards the assortment of worn-down, brown apartment complexes where I lived. The street was empty, except for a few vehicles parked along the sidewalk—six cars, all different shades of black, and several white trucks.
“Where are we heading?” I finally asked, curious to find out how much longer I would have to carry the bags, which were growing heavier by the minute.
“Over there, dear.” She paused to lift a wrinkled finger and pointed it towards one of the shorter buildings in a nearby alley. “Distance won’t bother you?”
There was a broken wine bottle on the sidewalk, and I had to pause to step over it. “I’m fine, ma’am. No worries.”
“You know,” the woman said, unwilling to lapse into silence, “ you look just like my Lillian.”
“Hm?”
“My granddaughter. She has red hair as well; it’s the most beautiful color, if you ask me.”
“I appreciate the compliment ma’am. I was never too fond of it myself,” I said. That was true. My hair color was one of the only things kids in middle school would laugh about. I recalled the moment—sometime in seventh grade—when I had asked out a boy I liked. His rejection still echoed through my head every time someone brought up my hair color.
We rounded the corner and walked into the alley. It wasn’t a pleasant place. A swarm of flies hovered above one of the dumpsters, which was backed up against the wall a few feet to our left. That explained the nauseous stench.
“Hope you don’t mind the smell,” Mrs. Riley apologized.
I couldn’t reply; the odor was making me dizzy. To my surprise, it seemed to have no effect on her at all. I suppose that’s what happened when you spent your entire life in such a place. The wheels of her walker rattled on the uneven ground, and a single tomato fell out of a grocery bag. I bent down to pick it up, although my own bags were threatening to spill.
“Ma’am, how much longer do we have to walk? These bags are getting awfully heavy.”
She paused for a moment before answering. “We’re almost there,” she told me. I glanced up from the ground and realized we were nearing the short brown building she had pointed out a few minutes before. Of course. I had known our destination all along. The question had been unnecessary. I smiled to myself, hoping to ease the strange feeling that was flaring inside my gut.
There were three doors on this side of the building. The one in the center was the main entrance that likely led to the upper apartments. The others were doors to the ground floor apartments—14 and 15. We stopped at 15. The woman left her walker, climbed up the single step, and began fumbling for the keys. Her hands were visibly trembling.
Arthritis, I thought, remembering one of the lessons Huma’s mother—a doctor—had taught me. The poor woman had arthritis.
“You can put the groceries down, dear. I will take them inside once- oh!” Her keys fell to the asphalt, startling a rat that had begun sneaking in our direction. I picked them up and handed them to her. “Thank you dear. Thank you so much.” She coughed again. “Leave the bags on the ground. I’ll take them inside once I open the door.”
“Got it,” I said and did as she asked. The keys jiggled in the lock, and the door finally swung open.
“Thank you,” the woman said again, a warm smile spreading across her face. “Would you like me to call a taxi cab for you? An Uber, perhaps?”
“No ma’am, I’ll be fine,” I replied, glancing at the bags. Would she be able to carry them in by herself? She would have to unless she was going to call someone to do it for her. I decided not to pry; her business wasn’t mine. I turned around to go…
And then I stopped dead in my tracks.
A large black SUV stood in the center of the road. It was positioned sideways, creating a barrier between the alley and the main road.
More importantly, cutting off my way out.”

This is an excerpt of ‘Wings and Shadows’ by Dominika Pindor which is available now. You can find Dominika on Twitter.

If you would like to share an excerpt, article or book review then do get in touch via the submissions page.

Free and Discounted Books Today Only!

Book Promotion time… again. Because this whole author deal isn’t going to pay the bills yet but we’re getting closer. You can grab all of my books today at a discounted price but that’s not all…

Open Evening the book where all of this began is FREE to download today only. Its also the opening book in my Order of the Following Series. It might be the oldest book in my theme park, but the line is still one of the longest woooooo!

Links are below. Have a fine day reader!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon Aus

Amazon India

Also discounted…. Best Selling Super Hero Comedy Novella ‘The Teleporter’

And paranormal romance short ‘The Ghost Beside Me’

Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ by A.L. Martin

Introducing author A.L. Martin who shares an excerpt from her book ‘Dancing With a Stranger’.

“Remember to act normal.”
“That’s easy for you to say. My whole life as I knew it changed in a matter of minutes yesterday.”
“The more you act normal, the less he will become suspicious that something is wrong. Therefore, he won’t hound you about what’s bothering you.”
I didn’t want to admit it, but Wyatt was right. Gavin would never leave me alone if he knew something was troubling me. He would keep asking me to the point I would give in and tell him.
“Hey, Sunshine. How are you this morning?” Gavin smiled, wrapping his arms around me in a big hug.
“Morning, Gavin. I’m doing okay.” I smiled, glancing at Wyatt, then turning back to Gavin. “Want to come over after school today?”
“Sure. Want me to bring anything over?” Gavin asked, looking down at his phone.
“I can’t think of anything you need to bring. I will text Mom later to let her know that you will be coming over after school. Maybe I can talk her into making spaghetti and meatballs.” I winked.
Gavin went back to looking at his phone while I opened my locker. In the back of my locker, hanging up, was a necklace. It was a silver crescent moon with a circle dangling from the top of the moon. I leaned back away from my locker, peeking around my locker door at Gavin, who was still scrolling through videos on his phone.
“Did you put this in my locker?” I questioned.
“Put what in your locker?” he asked, not taking his eyes off his phone.
I reached into my locker, unhooking the necklace from a hook that wasn’t there before either. “This necklace,” I said as I closed my locker door.
“Where did that come from? I didn’t put it in there. It’s cool looking.” Gavin took the necklace from my hand to get a better look at it.
“What are you two looking at?” Wyatt asked, moving closer to me. “Where did that come from?” His eyes fixated on the necklace in Gavin’s hand.
“Londyn found it in her locker,” Gavin said, holding the necklace up.
Wyatt moved me over a couple of steps closer to Gavin, then slowly opened my locker door and stared inside. I had no idea what he was looking for, and I couldn’t ask him with Gavin standing right next to me.
“Where did you find it?” Wyatt asked, moving things around in my locker.
“It was hanging up in the back on that hanger,” I said, walking around to the other side of him. I leaned in closer to him and whispered. “What’s going on, Wyatt?”
Wyatt leaned back, glancing at Gavin to make sure he was still looking at the necklace. He put his mouth right next to my ear. “It’s a witch’s necklace.”
I leaned away from him, staring into his emotionless eyes. He backed away from the front of my locker, his eyes shifting from side to side.
“Can I see the necklace, Gavin?” Wyatt asked.
“Sure. Did you give it to Londyn?” Gavin asked, handing the necklace over to him.
“Yeah,” Wyatt said, giving me a quick nod. He unhooked the clasp, then walked behind me, lifting the necklace over my head. As he hooked the clasp, he whispered in my ear, instructing me to play along. I lifted the necklace up as I looked down to get a better look at it. I noticed that the circle had two tiny crescent moons facing the opposite direction.
“It looks good on you,” Gavin said, putting his phone in his pocket.
I lowered the necklace back down. “Thanks.”
“If Sam is here, we have to invite her too,” Gavin said, closing my locker door for me.

This is an excerpt from ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ which is part of the Londyn Carter series by A.L Martin. The next book in the series will be released very soon!

You can find more information from A.L Martin on Twitter , Instagram and Facebook.

If you would like to share an excerpt, article or book review then do get in touch via the submissions page.