Posts Tagged With: books

My Experience with Amazon Marketing Services

In my continued desperate attempts to get people to read my books, I decided to try out Amazon Marketing Services. For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, it’s basically a marketing service run by Amazon where you create an ad that will show up when people browse related products. You set a CPC bid (i.e. how much you pay when someone clicks the ad), along with a max budget. Then you sit back and hope the people who click your ad are willing to take the next step and purchase your book!

 

My marketing adventure …

I set up the ad for my first book, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, back in January of 2017. The CPC bid I chose was $0.35 — as in, every time someone clicks the ad, I pay Amazon 35 cents. I tried a cheaper CPC bid (25 cents) but it wasn’t getting any views, so I had to up it a bit to make it worth Amazon’s time to actually show my ad.

My max budget was $200 although, SPOILER ALERT, I totally did not run through all that money. Hahaha, can you imagine? That would mean people would actually have to click the ad.

Sarcasm aside, I did see a tiny bit of return for my investment, although definitely not nearly as much as I put in. Here’s the stats on my campaign, which I ran for about 4 months starting in January of 2017:

amazon marketing services results may 2017

 

Let’s break those numbers down …

17,990 impressions: # of people who saw the ad (or the ad showed up while they were browsing Amazon and they ignored it)

199 clicks: # of people who clicked the ad (costing me 35 cents per click)

1.106% CTR: the ratio of clicks to impressions

199 DPV: same concept as “clicks” (not sure why this is a different stat)

$69.65 Spend: amount of money I spent to get people to click the ad

$0.35 ACPC: average cost per click (because I could raise or lower the click price if I found it wasn’t getting enough views)

6 estimated orders: # of sales they’re pretty sure happened because the customer clicked the ad

$15.94 Estimated Total Sales: the amount of royalties I made off selling those 6 ebooks (which doesn’t make sense because I know for a fact I make less than $2.66 per ebook sold …)

 

So what does this mean?

I spent approximately $70 to sell $16 worth of books. It’s possible some people clicked the ad, saw the book, decided to buy it later, and therefore their sales didn’t register with the “estimated total sales” measurement — but my sales have been fairly pitiful, so I doubt that. All in all, an interesting experiment, but a failed one in my opinion. I wish it had turned out better, but ultimately the point was to see if the system worked — and for me, it definitely didn’t.

I think this sort of “cost per click” system would work a lot better if the product being sold had a higher sell price — as in, you’re paying Amazon, say, $1 per click, but you make $20 if the product sells. That would make the initial payout worth it. For a $2.99 book, however, I just can’t see how this kind of marketing makes financial sense unless the purchase rate is much, much higher.

 

Anyone else have experience with Amazon Marketing Services, or something similar? I’d love to hear about it!

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Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Awesome New Imminent Danger Fan Art!

The gorgeous and super-talented Celeste DeWolfe has once again put pen to paper and created Imminent Danger fan art! Check it:

varrin-rescues-eris-celeste-dewolfeThis is of course a depiction of Varrin’s second rescue of Eris and Miguri, post-Chakra Corp. My favorite parts include: Miguri just totally done with the entire situation, Eris literally glaring daggers at Varrin, and Varrin being perplexed as to how anyone could fail to love him without reservation.

SHWOOP!

Categories: My Works | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Cerulean Bound (Imminent Danger #3) Update!

Okay, before everyone gets crazy excited, no, I have not finished the first draft. That remains a work in progress. But I figured you guys deserved an update after many months of silence, so here it is:

Cerulean Bound has officially crested the 70k words mark!

Now, what does this mean for the book itself?

I am about halfway through the story at this point, which means the book is on track to be about 140k words long. That, of course, would be the word count for the first draft. After extensive editing and chopping and revising, that number will hopefully be down in the 90-100k words range. So there’s still a while to go before the book is ready for eyes other than mine to see it.

On the upside, 70k words in and going strong! B&B season is gradually coming to a close, and NaNoWriMo starts in a few days, so I’m hoping to bang out the rest of the first draft by early December. Then the editing begins.

My very tentative hope is to get the book out next year. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect it in the spring — probably more like the fall — but miracles can always happen, right?

So there’s the update! Happy Halloween to everyone, and if you’re going to attempt NaNo this year, happy writing!

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

New Imminent Danger Fan Art!!!

In today’s offering from the beautiful and talented Celeste DeWolfe, we have some fan art from Imminent Danger featuring Eris, Miguri, and Alyra.

The scene (SPOILER ALERT) is after Eris and Miguri escape Chakra Corp with Alyra’s help, and Eris attempts to recite the “To be or not to be” speech from Hamlet, with amusing results.

fan art celeste dewolfe eris reciting hamlet

I think my favorite part of this drawing is Alyra, because it just boggles my mind how the artist manages to put so much expression on the face of an alien with no mouth and giant, wacky eyes. Thank you, Celeste, for the gorgeous new fan art!

Categories: My Works | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Throwback Friday: Imminent Danger Launch Party Recipes!

A good three or so years ago, the original version of Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It was published one sunny January morning. And to celebrate the publication, I held a launch party!

The attendees were my friends and family (no one else knew about it back then), and we had a blast. We also consumed a number of truly ridiculous foodstuffs, all inspired by the Imminent Danger universe.

I pulled on a jacket yesterday, and discovered a sheet of Imminent Danger recipes in the pocket. Apparently I hadn’t worn it in three years. Whoops. But the blast from the past was very entertaining, and I thought I’d share the recipes here with you, in case you ever want to throw your own Imminent Danger party.

Note: Some of these recipes are good. Some are terrible. Use with caution.

20160519_215842Some of these were big hits — the mini Ssrisk ship blue rice krispie balls, for example, went over very well. The “Approach to Alpha Centauri” layered sandwich was delicious — I think we used about ten different kinds of meat in that thing, and at least five cheeses. The space jelly with cinnamon was apparently quite good, although I don’t eat jello so I can’t confirm or deny that.

The only one I think we didn’t end up making was the “Barlow Collegiate Institute Caesar Salad” — probably because I obviously only came up with that because I needed to serve something healthy, so I stuck a random place name at the front of “salad” to make it thematically appropriate. Sigh. My imagination giveth, and my imagination taketh away.

So, there you go! Recipes for all your Imminent Danger needs. Try them out and report back with your findings.

In other news, this week is my four year blogging anniversary! In honor of that, this weekend (May 21 and 22) I will be giving away on Amazon both Imminent Danger and Chasing Nonconformity for free!!! The ebook version, obviously, not the print version. So if you’ve always been meaning to read one/both of them, and haven’t had the chance yet, now’s the time! I’ll be posting about that again tomorrow to remind you.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend, and stay awesome!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: My Works | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A. Renfro’s “The Dead of Winter” Free Today!

Fellow self-pubbed author Anthony Renfro is giving away his short story for free today. Check it out!

DOW2

A short story about an apocalyptic nightmare in a crisp frozen landscape filled with winter and living corpses.Two men try to find safety in this dead world. Hoping to ride out the night. Hoping to find warmth and shelter. Hoping not to become food for the zombies.

THE OPENING

Eric surveyed the road ahead and behind him. The world was filled with death. The highway was littered with silent, rusting cars sitting on rotting tires, waiting on drivers who were never going to drive them again. Ripped apart, torn open and partially eaten corpses littered the ground in various forms of decay. The corpses ranged from children to elderly adults. The zombies had done a number on them when they went into their “feeding frenzy.” The bodies that weren’t on the ground or pulled from their cars were still seated, and most of them still strapped into their seat belts, like they were still driving to whatever destination they had been going to before the world fell into death’s harsh embrace.

Eric breathed in deep and felt the cold air settle into his lungs. Bitter winter winds whipped at his face and tore at his clothes, trying to get inside the protective layers. Flakes of snow fell from the sky, nothing more than flurries.

“It’s something,” Eric replied, looking down at the white and grey cat in its carrier. He then put his eyes back on the man sitting with his back against a car.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01CR9BLB8

(Note: a couple of his other stories are also free, so check those out as well if you’re a zombie fan!)

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Take Bad Reviews with a Dash of Salt

A few weeks back, I mentioned something called the “Immerse or Die” report — which is basically where this guy gets on his treadmill and starts reading a book. If he finds three glaring errors that pull him out of the story, he stops reading and marks the book as failed. If he makes it all the way to the end of his 40 minute treadmill run, the book passes. Simple enough, right?

I was a bit hesitant about sending in Imminent Danger, since A) harsh criticism makes me sad, and B) the reader is a 50 year old man, and thus not exactly my target audience. But then I thought “what the hell” and sent it in anyway.

Which was an … interesting decision. Spoiler alert: Imminent Danger did not survive the Immerse or Die report. You can read the report for yourself here.

So here’s where we get to the “take bad reviews with a dash of salt” part. Obviously, I was bummed out. In an ideal world, everyone would love my book. Not going to happen, of course, but it’s a nice dream. So I was feeling pretty down on myself as I started to read his review.

Then I finished reading the review, and I wasn’t down on myself anymore. In his review, he pinpoints three details in the first chapter that made him stop reading the book. Damn, right? Those must have been some pretty massive, glaring flaws. Except they’re not. Here are the earth-shattering problems he found:

  • fellow high school classmates” is redundant (as in, classmates implies “fellow”, so both words weren’t necessary)
  • high schools start at 9am, not 8am
  • Eris is facing the trees, and then gets dragged in backward (did she turn around at some point? it’s not stated)

Points #1 and #3 are actually really helpful, because he’s absolutely right, and those two things (redundant language and keeping track of where my characters are) are things I will look out for in future books/editing. Point #2, however, is just plain wrong. According to the US National Center for Education Statistics, the average high school start time is 8am. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. But I digress.

Basically, he stopped reading the book because of A) a wording choice, and B) a mix-up in which direction Eris was facing. Which is fine. I, personally, tend to stop reading books due to larger issues, like the plot not making sense, or glaring spelling issues, or an unlikable main character … but hey, different people are different!

So, all in all, I’m content with my decision to submit Imminent Danger to the Immerse or Die Report. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Did his review frustrate me? Absolutely. Will I be reading his books, or visiting his site again? Definitely not. We obviously have completely opposite views on what makes a story good.

At the end of the day, the only thing you can really do when you get a bad review is read it thoroughly and:

  1. Pick out the legitimate criticisms and learn from them, and
  2. Ignore the rest

Now I just have to keep telling myself that!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

More excellent book dedications …

I Am, by Matthew Hubbard

The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , | 36 Comments

What’s the biggest thing you ever cut from a manuscript?

In honor of leap day, today’s theme is leaping. As in, leaping over awkward plot points to get to the heart of the story. During the editing process, writers cut all number of things: useless characters, random sub plots, flowery but unnecessary description, adverbs, etc. So, I put this question to you:

What’s the biggest thing you ever cut from a manuscript?

For Imminent Danger, the biggest thing I can remember is the “descent to Alpha Centauri Prime” scene. Originally, the galactic hub planet was surrounded by a minefield–the remnants of an old space battle. So ships had to line up to be guided through the mines. Varrin, being Varrin, decided to skip that whole tedious process and tackle the minefield himself, resulting in a 1000 word action sequence where Varrin pilots the Nonconformity down through the mines, and Eris and Miguri panic a lot.

When I sat down to chop 20k words off the story, that was one of the first scenes to go. It was fun, but ultimately didn’t need to be in there. Plus, as my brother pointed out, it kind of didn’t make sense that one of the biggest trade hubs in the galaxy was surrounded by mines that no one had bothered to clear out yet. So the action sequence was scrapped, and the descent to Alpha Centauri Prime was cut down to a paragraph.

For Chasing Nonconformity … hoo boy. With Imminent Danger, I did a lot of revising, but the basic structure of the book remained the same. But with the sequel, I pretty much re-wrote it from the ground up. So almost everything got cut and then rewritten–with the exception of Trystan, Sebara, and Fino’jin, who were in the story from day one.

So I can’t really pin down the biggest cut, but certainly one of the large ones was Bax. Bax was a shapeshifting bounty hunter who Fino’jin hired to help track down and capture Varrin. During the original climax of the book, Bax shapeshifted into a jsgarn (big angry monster) and nearly killed Sebara. She did eventually defeat him, although she then had to jump out of the low-flying spaceship they were in at the time (I don’t remember why) and then broke like half the bones in her body upon hitting the ground.

In the re-write, Eris and Varrin’s plotline completely changed, and Bax didn’t work with the new story so he was axed. I don’t regret that one at all–he was mildly interesting, but definitely not a stand-out character. I wrote him as sort of a “blank slate”, in that he didn’t exhibit much personality at all because he shifted forms so frequently that even he didn’t really know who he was. But there wasn’t enough room in the story to explore his character properly, so instead of trying to shoehorn him in, I just cut him.

So, all you writers out there, what’s the biggest cut you’ve ever made? Or the most memorable? Or the cut that absolutely destroyed you, because you loved that particular scene/character and hated yourself for having to leave them out?

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Awesome Book Dedications

I’m hard at work writing Cerulean Bound being on vacation and not accomplishing a darn thing, so I thought I’d brighten up your Monday a bit by sharing some excellent book dedications. These were collected on Imgur by PolarBlair924, so shout-out to him/her!

Thus, in no particular order, here are my favorites …

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

How To Add Headers To Your Book

Scenario: You’ve recently self-published your first ebook, it’s doing awesome, and fans are clamoring for a print copy. You’re eager to oblige them, so you start formatting the book for print. But you just can’t figure out how to get those damn headers to cooperate with you!

Never fear, friend. I’ve got your back.

Note: I’m using Microsoft Word. These steps won’t make sense if you’re using a different program. Ye have been warned.

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Step 1: Double click in the Header area of the page 

header1

Now the Header box opens! Huzzah!

header2

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Step 2: Get yo Header settings in order, son!

The Header & Footer Tools tab should appear once you’ve opened up the Header area. Click the Design tab and make sure the following boxes are checked:

  • Different First Page
  • Different Odd & Even Pages
  • Show Document Text

header3

Reasoning:

  • Different First Page > This allows you to make the first page in each section have a different header than the rest of the section. The point here is to avoid having a header on the first page of the chapter, as it looks cluttered. (See this post for details)
  • Different Odd & Even Pages > This lets you have your book name on the left page, and your author name on the right page (or vice versa!)
  • Show Document Text > This one’s just for practicality. If it’s not clicked, your document text vanishes. Which is silly, so keep the box checked.

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Step 3: Set up your sections

So Word has this tricky little function called “section breaks”. To get to it, hit the Page Layout tab and click “Breaks”. At the end of each chapter, click “Next Page” to start a new section on the next page.

header4

How can you tell if inserting the section break worked? On the Home tab, there’s a little backwards “P” button. Click it, and Word will show you all the formatting in the document. Like so …

header5

So you need a different section for every chapter, along with a different section for all the stuff that comes at the start of your book (title page, front matter text, table of contents, etc.), and a different section for all the stuff that comes at the end of your book (acknowledgments, about the author, etc.)

Seriously, you need each chapter to be a different section. I’m not screwing around here. Do it. There are no shortcuts. Just make it happen.

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Step 4: Let’s start at the top …

For the start of your book (title page, etc.), you don’t want any headers or page numbers. So leave the Header blank.

Easy, right?

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Step 5: The first chapter

In the Header & Footer Tools tab, there’s a tricky little button called “Link to Previous”. For your first chapter, this needs to not be active. You don’t want to link your Chapter 1 header to the first section, because the first section is blank. That means your Chapter 1 header is also going to be blank. Which you don’t want. So make sure it’s not active!

header6

Important! You need to deactivate “Link to Previous” for both the even and odd page header. Otherwise one will stay linked to the previous section, and therefore remain blank. Conversely, if you type something in a linked header, it will change all the text for both this section and the previous section. Which you don’t want.

Next up, you need to actually enter text into your header. Woo! Starting on the second page (remember that we don’t want a header on the first page of the chapter), type in either your author name or your book title (depending on which side you want each one). For the sake of this example, let’s say type in your author name.

header7Now pop over to the next page and add in your book title. If you did this right, your name and title should appear on alternating pages throughout the rest of the chapter, but should not show up on the first page.

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Step 6: Time to set up the rest of the chapters!

The rest of the book is really easy. In each chapter, enable the “Link to Previous” button on both the even and odd page. This should copy over the header text from the previous section (i.e. your name and title) and apply them to this section. Do that for every chapter, and boom! Header success!

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Step 7: If you have non-story stuff at the end of the book …

If you have a section at the end of the book that you don’t want to have a header, just click your way into the Header in that section and disable the “Link to Previous” button. Then go into the odd and even headers and delete the text. Make sure you disable “Link to Previous” — otherwise you might delete the headers for the rest of the document.

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But Michelle, what if I want a different header for every single chapter?

No problem! Just make sure “Link to Previous” is disabled. Then you can type whatever the heck you want in the headers for each section.

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That’s it, folks! If you have any header formatting questions or issues, comment below and we’ll work it out. Word is a frustrating and enigmatic program, and will do random s*** to screw with your document, so you might run into problems that aren’t addressed here. For example, right now my Word likes to add a black line to the header when I delete text. Fun! So if you have any problems, let me know.

Happy Friday, and stay awesome!

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Unrelated media of the day:

Courtesy of Imgur …

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

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