How I landed a deal with Bookbub!

Looking back at how I somehow landed a featured deal with prestigious book promo site Bookbub – you never know if you don’t try…

Lee's Hall of information

As an author you probably don’t have to go far from the Google to find out what Bookbub is. For those not in the know, Bookbub is referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of book promotion sites and even more so for readers because it’s probably the most prestigious book connector site out there. And what’s even better is that they near enough guran-damn-tee returns on their investments…

From very early in my indie author career I tried and tried to land a promotion deal with them. Those lucky enough to land a deal report of a good amount of sales and even returns on the investment of a Bookbub ‘featured deal’ promo. Just looking at some of the ‘requirements’ for acceptance is pretty damn intimidating, with some even boasting you need 50 plus reviews, but…

Its all about looking the part and persistence…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-teleporter-promo-banner.jpg

None of my books have anywhere…

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Weekly Writing Inspiration #25

Whoa, its the 25th edition of sharing memes and some writing inspiration. That’s awesome and so are you for supporting it. Let’s dive in…

Doing the best work here

Loved her first album…

‘Flying turtle…’

Caption: Folks who don’t use dark mode…

That’s better…

Hmmmm

Writers will appreciate this..

And maybe this…

Shrek is love…

Ha…

Dogs, they know all…

I should get a dog…

If only….

Thanks for tuning in folks. See you in the next one!

Weekly Ramble #89

November is a strange and long month. I’ve always called it the month of lethargy and it is in some senses. It just keeps going. The sky is normally grey and the weather turns along with the nights that seem endless, much like this year. And what a strange year this has been.

I’m still quite hopeful that quite possibly my best news is yet to appear. One is allowed to be optimistic and of course vague as the ace up my sleeve is paper thin, but it’s still an ace. Perhaps all my efforts have been building to something bigger, that’s the hope and hope is something that has kept me going time and time again throughout the slog that 2020 has been. Keep reviewing books and good things will happen, keep blogging even when everyone was taken over or distracted by fear and good things have happened. It’s turned out to be the biggest period of growth and success I’ve known to the point where others are noticing. Supporters are returning week in week out – this ramble series, the most viewed normally each week. Folks that care and perhaps even want me to succeed, ah the dream. Not once has this writing, blogging and social media-ing deal ever felt like work, although I treat it that way, if something get’s a good reception I just go with it and hope things stick.

All I have tried to do is carry on and support others like I wish to be supported. The give as good as you get philosophy but perhaps flipped around although my expectations are always grounded. We’ll see what happens next because that ace beckons…

Book Promotion Results October 2020

I’ve been promoting books again, or at least one book anyway and so here’s a breakdown of the results, methods and hopefully something a fellow author can use because we all know marketing is hard… let’s dive in…

Introduction/Aim

It’s important to start with some kind of plan or at least something to aim for when it comes to promoting books. For this promotional run, my ghost story novella ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ was going to be free for a few days before and on the day of Halloween via kindle. My aim, to get as many free downloads as possible during that time.

Although this is a great way of generating many downloads, my voice alone isn’t loud enough to tell everyone so I invested in some methods listed below.

Top tip: Promoting a Ghost story over Halloween in theory is a good idea. Some genres work better during different seasons. Another example would be my super hero comedy book which always sells better in summer months (northern hemisphere) as it makes for a beach read. Have you got a Christmas themed story coming up? December is closing in. Timing is important folks…

Strategy – how was I going to do it?

As mentioned I would firstly set the price of my book to free via Kindle Direct Publishing. If your e book is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they allow you so many days every so often to make that book free for promotional purposes. In terms of target market, because it will be free, we were aiming for everyone – free books are more of a blanket approach in terms of targeting. There are some authors who insist they’ll never make their work available for free – you’ll probably never reach a larger scale audience if you think that way, no matter how special you think that book is…

How exactly was I going to reach as many people as possible?

  1. Book Promotion websites that offer paid advertising. Websites listed below.
  2. Via my social media following – 4k twitter followers and 500+ blog followers and 500+ Facebook page followers.

There are many paid and free book promotion sites that do a great job in reaching readers. When running a promo I would recommend using them and in my case I spread them out over the three days the book would be free. This is also a great way of knowing which sites are effective.

Top tip: When paying for anything online make sure you use a reputable payment service such as PayPal. There are also many authors like myself who will share results highlighting who are the better sites so remember to do your research.

Results

As you can see nearly 2000 people downloaded the book across 9 different Amazon territories over the 3 days. Day 2 was the most popular and we even got a number 1 chart position over in the US, so let us look at the methods I used in detail.

Methods in Detail

The following things made this promo a success:

Existing Book Reviews

Let’s face it, getting book reviews is a struggle but the one’s we get help immensely when running a promo as lot’s of traffic will be passing by your book page to see them. If there are just a few reviews that will increase the chances of that book being downloaded. In my case ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ had a healthy number of reviews in both the UK and US markets. This helped.

Book Promo Sites

The engine room of this promo was the sites I invested in to advertise and tell people about the book.

You can near enough pin point which promo sites were effective. Day 1 only got a handful of downloads.

The sites I used for day 1 were:

My Book Place ($25 Feature)

Book Reader Magazine ($10)

I would most likely not use these sites for this type of promotion again. For $35 I expect a little better… lesson learned and recorded for future use…

For Day 2 which yielded the brunt of my results I used the following sites:

Hotstuff Romance Free Friday Promotion ($15)

Book Angel (Free)

Freebookshub .co.uk ($15)

Book Bongo Book Bump ($9.99) 2 Day Promo

E Book Deals Today ($9.99) 2 Day Promo

Freebooksy Paranormal Romance Deal ($99)

From the results we can gather that the Freebooksy deal which was the most expensive and probably did the most work, but combining promo sites is a great way to spread the word. My advice, if you want maximum downloads be prepared to pay for the advertising.

Social Media

For Day 3 I simply relied on the two day promos alongside a blog post on here and utilizing Shameless Self Promo Saturday over on Twitter. On Day 2 and 3 I also put up a post on the Facebook Page. All of these posts included this book banner.

Top Tip: Get yourself a decent book banner to share your works on. I made this myself via Pixlr but you can get a freelancer to put one together over on Fiverr for a decent price and half the time. Book Promo Banners are an essential visual. Visuals result in sales. The same also goes for a professional looking cover. People do judge books by them…

This is all combined with the fact Day 3 was also Halloween. Here’s what my Twitter post looked like:

Top Tip: When it comes to Twitter, hashtags and getting people to engage are key. You can see on this tweet above I encouraged others to drop links while also providing incentive to Retweet and follow back – incentives and having something to offer are a must for successful engagement.

Factors for Success

So how exactly did I get the results I got?

Firstly I had a plan and an aim – to get as many free downloads.

The book had some existing reviews which helped passers by notice it.

I invested money in advertising.

I implemented and used my social media following with a post that included hashtags and incentive to engage,

It was the right time for a Ghost story promo – Halloween

Book Banners helped for the visual factor along with a professional cover.

Results Further

Since the promo ‘Ghost’ has already received two new reviews which is a huge result but the results for a good promotional run will last a while after with page reads being tracked via KDP and possibly further sales. Overall for a stand alone short read that has only been out 10 months at the time of promo, I’ very happy with the results. This was my last promo of the year and a good one to finish things with.

My advice for anyone looking to promo their own work is to consider the factors for success listed above and of course combine that with your own expectation as there are so many other factors that help sell books – genre, what’s happening in the news etc. This takes time and patience, if you have those things, you’ll be okay.

If you promote your books a handful of times a year there’s no doubt your readership will eventually grow. Investment is the most important thing and not giving up. Thank you for reading, there is a stack of more useful information for authoring and blogging over on the resources page. That is until next year when the self help book arrives. Peace out!

Weekly Ramble #86

Reviewing 41 books in just over 10 months is up there with 2020’s finest moments for me. These days book reviews are the anchor of premier content for this blog and they make the whole thing seemingly tick. Not only do they provide content that an audience likes but with book reviews comes a plethora of opportunity.

Although I’ve said writing more books is probably the best advice I can give for marketing, first of all you have to convince people to invest in you before they’ll invest in any of those books and so comes that opportunity. Reviewing books by fellow authors will get you more personal investment than any marketing trick or tip out there. It proves you want to contribute to the industry and be a part of it. You’ll be seen in a trustworthy light, and with trust comes loyalty. This will take time and all good things do.

Let’s face it, if your an author you know the struggle to get reviews, if your a blogger you know the struggle to get reads, I know it too and so I set out to fight back by helping others as I would wish to be helped – that’s all this is and the road to being taken as a genuine and respected figure in blogging and authoring is paved by giving back. The best forms of engagement rely on being genuine, honest and giving without expectation. I’ll say that word again trust. Commenting on another blogger’s post will sometimes make their day and most of us know how much a good review can help an author’s general mood.

And what do I expect in return – well here’s the wonderful thing, I actually expect nothing back because reviewing and helping authors is done out of mutual feeling so if I get anything out of it, that’s a bonus. This whole deal is a state if mind and importantly above all I’m reading wonderful books – something I have loved doing most of my life. If you can fashion a passion into a worthwhile cause then you are a better person for it. There have even been better outcomes than selling books or getting reviews because now I regularly connect with authors through email, twitter and this blog. Some just want to talk while others run ideas by me, not that I know much but I’m happy to help.

To all the authors I have connected with through reviews and social media endeavours, you were the one’s who got me interested in your work and pushed me to this achievement so thank you. Where do we go from here? Well the year isn’t out yet so you can expect this Hall of Information blog to do what it always does, to review more books!

Are Writer’s lifts worth it?

It’s a polarising subject amongst many writer folks over on the Tweet machine but are the various lifts and self promo posts worth it? Are you going to jump on board the follow train or are you a soloist? That’s what this entry looks to explore so let’s get into it….

What exactly is a writers lift?

Well, in simple terms, a writer/creator will put up a post on Twitter asking other writers and those in the community to share their links or profiles to accumulate more followers with a view to generally boost their presence on the platform. Using the right hashtags might get a huge number of engagements and I suppose this is what the whole deal is about – getting more follows or engagement or even both. Some follow trains can grow semi out of control with a deluge of fellow wordsmiths looking for follows and numbers as opposed to actual engagement so is the concept of a lift just an empty attempt to gain?

And most importantly (for some) does it work?

Many writers and twitter users straight up refuse to take part in lifts and self promo tweets as they believe it just results in empty follows and temporary engagement. To them it appears to be a waste of time and lets face it, procrastination is the demon that comes in many forms. They also tend to clog up feeds and some folks just get sick and tired of seeing them time after time. Me; I’ve put that hashtag on mute a few times just to see more variety in my feed.

The big questions…

What’s the point in just having only writers in my following?

How am I going to sell to people outside that circle if there is nobody other than writers following me?

They are both great and logical questions but my response is simply those who refute lifts and self promo tweets just haven’t used them in the right way to get the right engagement. The ‘right engagement’ is what makes the whole social media success thing tick. Good engagement is also a wholesome nice feeling. Good and right engagement will eventually drive book sales – why? Because the that type of engagement has resulted in plenty of other authors getting those sales including me. Let’s break that down with a worked example.

Worked example – the centrifugal author force carousel analogy!

An author on Twitter who regularly does the self promo Saturday post has a book coming out soon. Their following has increased because of regular lifts but not everyday – this author uses moderation and knows their following/audience. This person always return follows and so therefore have retained most of them.

They decide to put that new book on pre order, it’s stand alone and the genre has a broad appeal.

Because this author does regular promo posts and also engages with fellow authors, they become well known in the community as a supporter of fellow authors. Their renown is what will sell above anything. People choose to invest in a person long before their book.

Some authors agree to help that author or pay them back by pre ordering the new release.

The centrifuge begins to turn – that being authors hopping on the carousel of support for one another , this carousel begins to spin faster accumulating more authors who jump on also and pre order the book. Everyone at this point who is engaging right will be getting more followers. The whole deal starts to gather speed and follows.

By the time the book is released, the pre order numbers help it climb the amazon charts where it could hit ‘best seller’ status where a host of non writer people see it and eventually buy it, hence jumping on the carousel also. This centrifugal force started with lifts and promos from an author, then got fuelled by authors with the final resultant being non authors buying a book.

Of course this analogy uses the concept of centrifugal force which is something that is designed to separate things, so eventually the authors who pre ordered separate from the non writer buyers who may possibly come back to buy another title. Fellow writers have played their part and helped another in need. The concept kind of relies on all of us helping one another for it to work… those who refute lifts are just looking at it from just their own benefit…

The big picture is here that if authors work together at the initial stage of a book release that work will eventually break a book past the stratosphere and out into the depths of space where many a meteorite lurk (regular readers). All of this big picture beginning with lifts.

My own case study…

You can probably gauge that I’m in favour of lifts and promo post on twitter but let’s back that up with some actual truth. Back in 2018 I really didn’t have much of a clue about engagement until I stumbled into putting a post up on twitter asking the wider community for book recommendations – this was just when I had started to review indie books on here and I needed books to read. The response was in the thousands… That night I re installed the twitter app on my phone and got to work adding books to my list. In 2019 I reviewed 40 books from that tweet I put out. The numbers for my blog alone rocketed which you can see below… those results came from a lift post! There are authors from that post whom I still connect with today and regularly engage with. They make my social media experience just about bearable sometimes…

The sceptics or yet to do it properly types…

Those who are sceptical and straight up dismissive of lifts and promo tweets probably haven’t used them in the right way. They most probably see this through the eyes of ‘how can this help me’. It can help you but only if you first help others, give it a go and remember the big picture. The only way to find any success as an author on social media is to engage and not be an island. This isn’t just all about the individual getting sales, I mean I didn’t think many of us were in this for the money or sales but instead we’re in this to get better and connect. The word social in social media is there for a reason, go be social and share your links, engage in lifts, follow back, retweet others’ pinned tweets and even do your own lifts. Lean into it and you will be rewarded. Authors together are one hell of a force. Since early August I have gained nearly 600 followers on twitter by doing self promo Saturdays.

But how?

The whole lifts and promo tweet thing is just one slice of the cake. Following through will lead to the right engagement. Take someone’s book that appeals to you from a lift and buy it. Write a review and blog about it. Not only have you read a book, but you have material to blog with and an opportunity to connect further with an author who will appreciate your genuine engagement. You might even make a friend and then repeat the process. That’s what I’ve done over the years to moderate success. As mostly small time authors we are in the business of trying to get anything over zero and lifts might just lead to those book sales even if it is one or two.

It’s an opportunty to vent…

Constantly sharing the link to your books on your own feed doesn’t work. It might take you a while to realise that but as a rule these days I don’t generally share the link to my books on social media on my own feed. Writers lifts and promo posts are a great way to do that instead, so let that urge to share build up and vent it on those lifts!

External intruders

More recently the twitter beginner who may not even be an author or blogger has realised these lifts are a great way of getting engagement. They will normally and emptily tweet ‘any book recommendations’ knowing desperate authors will share their link hoping it drives sales – it normally doesn’t and these intruders are trying to take advantage of that to boost followers. Not only does this put genuine folks into disrepute but it cheapens the whole deal. Luckily you can see them from a mile off and my advice, don’t engage, save the lifts for the real writers.

Concluding thoughts

I used to be a writers lifts sceptic until I tried it and now most Saturdays I will run one. The detail is key in any post, I normally include a promise to follow folks back and RT pinned tweets. Offering an engagement incentive is a great way to get some results along with the right hashtags. Here’s my most recent one as an example.

And here are the results after 24 hours…

Final final thoughts…

Lifts and promo posts are worth it, but moderation is key along follow up engagement. At the end of the day it’s all about what your intentions are? Genuine engagement will win the day! This may have appeared to be an investigation post on the surface but it sides with doing lifts because they can be very beneficial.

What are your thoughts on writers lifts?

Weekly Writing Inspiration #7

Memes and inspiring things to help get us through the week. That’s the hope anyway so here’s a few things that are either funny, fun or have some level of inspiration…

Mixtusmedia is my go to Instagram account for all things book marketing advice.

It’s nearly the spookiest time of the year – my favourite time of the year also!

Don’t mention Green Day….

That also extends to anyone working within the hospitality or serving industry, although I haven’t been anywhere like that since February… manners are free!

I’ve had some wonderful interactions with fellow authors and bloggers recently and this is one of them! Check out Henry’s book ‘Deceit of the Soul’ here – it’s a thrilling ride about the outbreak of the pandemic….

Yeah, there seems to be a growing group of folks trying to poach their way into the Twitter writing community by just randomly and emptily asking for book recs knowing desperate writers will interact… I mean you could just be more genuine in terms of interaction… Twitter ain’t hard to master…

And we will finish on this subject. Quite recently I’ve been processing my high school experience, maybe because this year I’ve been able to reflect or because it’s 15 years since it ended for me.

For anyone having to face the daunting idea of going back to school, or those who have been through it, I know how it feels and things do get better. Hang in there!

To everyone who reads and continues to support the Hall of Information, thank you! We’re on the path to August being the best month of the year for this blog in terms of reads and views. Rock and roll man!

Let’s talk about… Bad Reviews

It’s a fantasy to think everyone is going to like your writing and as soon as you become active in the social media arena or have achieved publication, that work no longer belongs to you.

SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP! How to Handle Bad Book Reviews (Hint: Do ...

Dealing with reviews of all types is a letting go exercise trust me and this relates to the coping mechanism I have in place when someone calls bullshit on my work or fixates on something arbitrary that spoiled their reading experience and totally didn’t grasp what I tried to achieve in writing…

I could go on, but you have to accept that firstly be proud of your work but remember it’s up to everyone else to interpret the words, so to cope you must let it go man… 

There isn’t much you can do to stop bad reviews and how exactly does one define ‘bad’?

Again we mustn’t dwell on content of the review but look past it towards coping because this stuff like most publishing ‘success’ is in the eye of the beholder and you’ve gained that review because someone took the time to read your work and perhaps even found it via their own accord.

Criticism is a sign you are a known entity in your field and so let’s look at why someone could have left a scathing review by analyzing the type of review it is… (I may or may not have received some on these…) while also sourcing a solution or at least a way to cope.

The Revenge /Retaliation Review 

This type of review is most probably a direct response to something you’ve possibly reviewed or called out as bad in the past. The person has taken it very personally and so they’ve taken that and converted it into a short but very insulting review. It could even be borderline abusive and compulsive and is highly unlikely that they’ve actually read your work. There’s probably nothing in the review that relates to the story.

Solution: Oh boy, integrity is the word here. That investigative blog post you wrote has backfired a little… or that review for a book you didn’t like has opened a can of worms…

Look at it like this; you have work published which is just a vulnerable outlet for someone to retaliate. Stand strong, take a breath and know the person just left these words to be spiteful. If it is abusive and on Amazon, you can always report it or if you have the tact, maybe take down whatever triggered the review. But as I say, have some integrity, this type of review will stick out like a sore thumb and most likely not be taken into account by readers. Let it be.

 The ‘Fixation Excuse’ review

Every now and then someone will take on your work and deliberately go looking for something they can use to bash it. They will fixate on something that happens in the story and won’t be able to look past it. Maybe you’ve used a slang word or god forbid even a swear word that they just cannot forgive. Did your character do something out of character? How dare they… Even in this world of adults writing books, some reviewers will lower themselves to childish levels just to not like something.

Whatever they’ve fixated their excuse upon means they probably haven’t grasped the story you wrote – they most probably know fuck all about writing either…

Solution: That book bloggstagrammer you gave a free e copy to has backfired big time! But use it to your advantage. Console in your twitter following and watch people come swooping in to put in the save because for every two star review I’ve got and bunch of better reviews came after. These type of reviews make great material to use for marketing trust me…

I even responded to such a review via one of my weekly ramble posts which got a serious amount of views. Of course you want to see that now don’t you? It’s here...

The ‘wannabe columnist/scholar’ review

Who Gets to be Called "Scholar of Islam"? | The Muslim Skeptic

this picture makes me laugh

There’s a special place in reviewer hell for people who want to ultra analyse stories and find every possible flaw while also trying to be a scholar when comparing your work to others. They would have read your work in its entirety but would have also dissected it like it were a final dissertation or essay about the themes of an avocado…

Trust me when I say there are people out there who try to out write and even try to look more intelligent than the writer by being rather overindulgent in their words. They might even use the phrase ‘diablo ex machina’ to describe your debut novel – whatever the fuck that means… other words that frequent are: archetype, participles, and apathetic.

Solution: Sit back and laugh at how much effort they’ve put in to try and appear like a scholarly critic. I will say this once and once only THEY ARE JUST BOOKS!

But seriously you will need to look at the star rating to tell if they liked it. Treat it like a one off…

The ‘Did they like it or not?’ Review

Okay so we’re moving into the realms of comedy now which means these types of review are a lot easier to swallow. This review may appear in many types of form but will include an introductory compliment before a ‘not my cup of tea’ type insult before more compliments along the lines of ‘I didn’t like this one, but I will be sure to check out his other works although he’s a pig…’

You’re left thinking ‘did they like it or not’ and well the solution is this…

Solution: At this point who gives a shit if they liked it or not, they left a review which will contribute to your Goodreads stats. Thank you kind or unkind stranger…

Final Thought and The ‘Dont’s’ of bad reviews

It’s cliche to say but don’t respond to any type of review directly. Good or bad stay away. If you are particularly bothered by it then do blog, tweet and shout about it. Reviews are the pipeline to publicity for your work. Embrace them even the ‘diablo ex machina’ whatever that means ones, even the bad ones and remember like a balloon filled with helium, letting it go means it will disappear. 

You just need to find a way to cope and then all reviews will have a positive outcome,

Thank you for reading. How do you face ‘bad reviews’?

No ‘diablo ex machinas’ were harmed in the making of this blog post… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #71

Everything feels boring at the moment. Social media has gone stale and seems to be the same broken record playing over and over again. As an introvert I’ve never had a problem with being confined to just my own thoughts but when you confine everyone else at the same time, there’s the problem. Maybe because the whole flock is bored too it’s started some vacuum of mundane repetitiveness.

Twitter for me right now has hit rock bottom in my opinion, my following and those I follow are saturated by the writing community which is overall good but I need to branch out. I’ve muted so many writing community hashtags to try and avoid the monotonous repeat of every writers lift or follow train. How can a room full of millionaires appear to be individually rich when their numbers are all the same, everyday?

I turned off the Prime Minister’s brief last night and substituted it for a few hours in Skyrim. My opinion of the authority dwindles as we try to navigate these pain in the ass times which need to fuck off. This isn’t some depressive slump or episode, I’m fine, trust me, but it’s like what someone once said to me;

‘It will always be them and never you…’ 

Wise words…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #69

From every shit-uation there are positives and good eventual outcomes. People have a lot more time now. The hustle and bustle of life’s busyness has slowed down and even I can feel people are taking their time to do things they didn’t before.

slales

These are the best sales I’ve ever had outside of Book promo

Book reviews are up. Book sales are up. And social media engagement is up. I’m even writing new stuff. I’ve always tried to justify my place in the arena with both books and a presence and it’s times of struggle like this that people look for reads and people who are carrying on in the face of adversity.

Writers and artists are needed even more so and while the social media socialite types who produce nothing are being starved out of attention, people are looking to genuine content creators and it gets no more genuine than a book or a blog.

We’ll look back on this time as one of invisible pressure and hardship. But take those away and you’ll find it was a period where we all had time to read that book, watch that show or paint that wall. 

All of a sudden this will be over and we’ll be back in the arms of friends, family and even co workers. We’ll forget what it truly means to be isolated and away from groups. We’re a herd species, until recently anyway.  The rat race will resume and it will all be forgotten. Humans have a fickle way of carrying on. Whether it comes from a vaccine or even medication, we’ll beat it, we’re too resilient not to I salute all of those carrying on in the face of this adversity – by carrying on I mean, writing a few words a day, speaking to friends over skype, cooking that meal, staying busy; we’ll get through, we always do!