Archive for February, 2012

Goodreads.  Facebook.  Bing.  Twitter.  Countless websites that have varying degrees of dedication to indie authors.  All of these are options for your precious advertising dollars.  And, all of them can be money pits.  Over the course of the next few months, I’m going to try to relay to you which ones work, which ones don’t, and why they have worked or not for me.  The first one on the list is Kindle Nation Daily (“KND”).

KND seems to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, website dedicated solely to books on the Kindle.  They have over 48,000 likes/followers on Facebook, and state the following with respect to their traffic:

“One way or another, we connect with over 84,200 readers every day.

In the past 30 days there have been 158,200 unique visits to our website, totaling over 349,800 page views. Over the past three months Kindle Nation Daily’s website traffic places it among the top 40,400 websites in the world, and among the top 8,200 websites in the U.S.

48,200 of you connect with us through Facebook, 26,700 though our email newsletter, and 2,025 through Twitter.  Between eInk Kindle  subscribers and subscribers to our free Kindle Fire app, over 9,100 of you are subscribers to the Kindle edition of our blog.

In the past 30 days you have visited 646,000 Amazon pages and purchased over 14,500 Amazon items directly from our website — and that’s just the paid items.”

Those are some big numbers.  That’s why I decided to take out an “Option A,” Special Sponsored Post with Facebook Triple Play (SSP-TP) advertisement with them.

When I say “them,” I am really referring to Stephen Windwalker, the founder/CEO and “chief bottle washer” at KND.  He was my primary contact, and from a customer service perspective, he was very good.  He responded relatively timely to emails (would give him an A-/B+ there, but I know he is inundated with correspondence).  From a customer accommodation standpoint, I give him an A+ for two reasons.  First, when I purchased the SSP-TP package, KND sent me three days when my ad would run.  I wanted to change those days a bit due to another event I was in, and Steve was happy to make that change.  Second, there was an issue with my ad not running on one of my days.  I emailed Steve about this and he immediately took ownership, and extended me the benefit of three more days of advertising due to the error.  THAT, my friends, is excellent customer service.

Another aspect of KND which I found to be of superior quality is the sponsorship tracking data provided on their website.  Steve has provided the results of advertisements taken out by authors for approximately the last year in a handy spreadsheet (click here to see).  That level of transparency is ridiculous, and almost unheard of.  You can take those results and do two things.  First, see what authors are using KND, and what their results are.  You’ll find that top selling indie authors such as Richard Bard use KND.  Second, look at the results, and the corresponding pricing during the events, to calculate what type of advertising may work best for you.  This is much better than the Google Adwords trial and error money pit.

For my advertisement, I priced my book at $0.99.  That decision was based on several factors, including the fact that my book would be part of a $0.99 single day event during the ad, Steve’s own recommendation, and my gut.  I made the $179.99 cost of the ad back and then some.  In full disclosure, I don’t think the advertisement was wildly profitable from a purely monetary perspective.  But, you know that profit isn’t everything, especially early in a career (or, you SHOULD know that).

Perhaps one concern I have with KND is that with the mix of free Kindle books they advertise, do those advertisements cannibalize purchases of paid books?  I saw one comment from a reader on KND’s Facebook page, and she essentially wrote, “Thank you KND for these great free Kindle books.  Since I bought my Kindle, I haven’t had to pay for a single book I’ve read.”  Yowch.  I’m sensitive to the fact that readers may start expecting their Kindle books to be free, and wonder how much of KND’s target market expects that as well.  Promotion of increased prices would be ideal.  However, I’m certainly not going to blame KND entirely or even in large part for what may be attributed to market forces.  It is something to watch, and I’m not sure you would have much success advertising on KND at price points above $2.99.

In short, I was very happy with KND’s customer service, very happy with the data available to me before I paid a chunk of money to advertise, and content with the results.  Enemy in Blue has held onto a low 1,000s rank since the KND ad (and the Indie Book Collective event referenced in my last post), and is now a top 10 seller in Legal Thrillers on Amazon.  Will I use KND again?  Absolutely–I intend to with my second book, the release of which is imminent!

Writing can be extremely solitary.  In fact, many authors would argue that solitude is a necessary part of the writing process.  However, there’s no doubt that once you exit the writing phase and enter the marketing/promotion/sales phase, solitude is the last thing you need.

Point in case?  A couple months back, I wrote a blog entitled, “How to Get your Book Downloaded 5,141 Times in Two Days.”  I thought that number was pretty damn snazzy, especially since I went it alone on those two KDP Select free days.  Fast forward the calendar to February 2, 3, 4, and I’m involved in a free event with the Indie Book Collective.  The mastermind behind the IBC is Carolyn McCray, author of several books including 30 Pieces of Silver.  (I almost called her a criminal mastermind, because her level of intelligence and insight is freakin’ criminal, but that’s another story).  She organized an event where approximately twenty-five authors cross-promoted, linked their arms together, and lifted each other to the tops of their respective genres.

My personal outcome?  12,600 books downloaded in just over two days (about 2.3 days).  The outcome of some of the other authors?  Nina Bruhns and Catch Me If You Can reached #1 out of ALL free books.  Ann Charles and her Deadwood  series had tens of thousands of downloads, and the series is now doing extremely well since coming off of free.  The moral of this story?  There is power in numbers, especially for indie authors.

HOW TO BECOME A PART OF THE “NUMBERS”–AND HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR WORK/PROMO BALANCE

Perhaps the most important thing for an author starting out on this journey is to link up with other authors.  Traditionally, I believe the writing group fulfilled this need.  At least for me, the writing group is nice, but not on a large enough scale.  I want to bounce ideas off of 50, 100, 500 authors, and social media is the best place to do that.  So, to become a part of the numbers, start with a few things.  First, join a group like the Indie Book Collective, which not only has an amazing core group of authors, but provides educational online classes and seminars to help you hone your marketing and promoting skills.  Second, go onto Goodreads and join a couple of the writing groups on there.  You can join liking and tagging groups, marketing for authors groups, etc.  I would suggest starting with two, as following more than that can get overwhelming.  Finally, once you get to know other authors, see if any of them will invite you to Facebook groups.  Right now, I’m in three that all serve different purposes, and that all include amazing authors.  (If you’re interested in being invited, send me a message).

A word of caution.  You will need to strike a balance between how many groups you get involved with, and how much time you are able to dedicate to your writing.  These groups can quickly suck several hours out of your day…hours you could have spent writing.  Another potential concern–joining multiple groups and not contributing to them is almost worse than not joining them at all.  Only join as many groups as you can contribute to on an every other day basis.  If you break this rule, I promise you’ll only stress yourself out, and possibly lower your credibility with the people in the groups.

In sum, can you do this writing and sales thing without really getting involved with other people?  Eh…you can, but you aren’t likely to have success.  Team up with people, truly help other people, and your success(es) will be amplified–I promise.