INFECTED Promo Results (Day Two)

Continued from Lessons Learned from the INFECTED giveaway.

January 9th
PhotoFunia-16f3d2b_smallGood morning, again! Today Book Blast is set to go out and, with (fingers’ crossed) the continued buzz from yesterday’s promotion, this should make for an exciting day. I don’t know about you, but I could hardly sleep a wink. Whattdya say we see how much action happened overnight?

NOTE: CLICK ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE

2686 Downloads as of 0600, January 9th.
2686 Downloads as of 0600, January 9th.
Woo-hoo! Made it into the coveted Top 100.
Woo-hoo! Made it into the coveted Top 100.

Two interesting points of order based on these stats. First, is that I’m still listed in Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure (an old category) as well as Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic (new category). Could this be because my update is still “processing”? I’m not sure. I’ll have to watch carefully as this develops. Second, even though my rank has surpassed the Top 100 free books in the kindle store, I only gave away 450 copies over the course of the entire night. Which leads to…

LESSON LEARNED: Be patient/don’t panic. Within the first two hours of the day, my rank got worse and shot up to #99. If this is a race to #1, that means I’m not doing well… or does it? Amazon’s best seller ranking is elastically flexible and doesn’t necessarily correspond to current downloads. Maybe someone else’s rank simply processed before mine? I could just need some time to catch up. Tough to say. Amazon keeps their ranking algorithm a closely-guarded secret, but it pays to go with the flow. Just keep doing what you know you should be doing, and let the ranking system do its thing.

Here’s a mid-day update, after Book Blast has gone out:

4113 Downloads as of 1400, January 9th.
4113 Downloads as of 1400, January 9th.
Back to "increasing!" Slow and steady wins the race today.
Back to “increasing!” Slow and steady wins the race today.

Interesting to note that the categories are still switching. Could this be a good thing? It’s putting me on several different categories throughout the day (the maximum allowed is two), so I can’t see how it would hurt… Hmm. But the main point is that it’s getting better. From all I’ve heard and read, Book Bub is the behemoth service that’ll push any promotion over the edge. So if I can just keep climbing the charts, no matter how slowly, I should be in for a treat tomorrow.

The snowball is your book promotion. The more people you get to help push it along, the bigger it’ll get until it eventually starts feeding itself.

The afternoon was spent doing more promoting and marketing, of course, which leads to another…

LESSON LEARNED: Set up everything beforehand. I started contacting book sites a month out, but I found a great list of resources I was planning to contact during the promotion. Big mistake. Just going through with everything I’d had planned, to include continued social media marketing, took up all my time. You should have everything ready to go before you promotion starts, so the most work you have to do during the event involves the copy/paste function.

It’s getting late. Let’s do one last look at the stats before bed:

5358 Downloads as of 2200, January 9th.
5358 Downloads as of 2200, January 9th.
Still increasing and -- BONUS -- now it's topping 3 categories!
Still increasing and — BONUS — now it’s topping 3 categories!

It’s getting significantly more difficult for INFECTED to climb the ranks, but at least it still is. And with tomorrow set to be my “anchor day” I’m hopeful. You might also notice 3 more sales of MURDERED in 24 hours. Not exactly the boost I was hoping for, but it’s still early (and I’m thankful for each sale I get). Time to try and sleep and prepare for the exciting conclusion tomorrow…

Continue to INFECTED Promo Results (Day Three) 

INFECTED Promo Results (Day One)

As promised, here are my results and Lessons Learned from the INFECTED giveaway.

What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?” — Count Rugen, The Princess Bride

January 7th
With everything set up to go the night before, one last stat-check. Below you can see my pre-giveaway sales numbers and the ranking for INFECTED. In the spirit of honesty, I’m sharing my less than stellar numbers. Hopefully that means you won’t mind my bragging after the promotion, right?!

NOTE: CLICK ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE

Sales numbers as of 1730, January 7th.
Sales numbers as of 1730, January 7th.

Yowza! Impressive, right?
Yowza! Impressive, right? [/sarcasm_font]
INFECTED has been oddly steady over the past year, garnering almost exactly 2 sales per day (+/- 1). Usually, it’ll jump to somewhere in the mid #40k rankings, then return to the #100k block until the next day’s sales. MURDERED, as you can see, is still building momentum. Hopefully, that should be one of the side-effects of this promotion. INFECTED has never gone lower (higher?) than #19k in the kindle store, while MURDERED made it to mid #12k. Goal is to crush those records in the coming days. Well, time for bed!

January 8th
Good morning! With Kindle Fire Department set to announce me today, as well as a whole slew of free resources (most of them ask for a giveaway window and there’s no garauntee that they will feature your book, let alone when they’ll do it. It is a free service, after all. I’ll assess which ones worked and which didn’t in my final thoughts), we’re ready to kick off the free promotion. Let’s check the overnight stats:

Downloads as of 0600, Jan 8th
82 Downloads as of 0600, January 8th.
Blah
Numbers are already higher than paid numbers, not that this means anything.

This is before any site announced the giveaway, as far as I know. Interesting that one person bought the book before it went on sale… Thanks, whoever you are! The goal of the promotion is to get your rank as high as possible — it’s a race to #1. If you can make it into the top #20 or #10, then people will start downloading your book just from browsing the top free ebooks on amazon, thus increasing the snowball effect.

In addition to the websites listed on my previous post, it’s also important to do your own marketing. As such, I blogged about the giveaway, tweeted the heck out of it (including a link in my “welcome DM” on @clickyourpoison), and created an event on goodreads and on facebook:

An event is a great tool because it sends a notification rather than risking being lost in the feed. Be careful not to hound your friends too much...
An event is a great tool because it sends a notification to those invited (rather than risking being lost in the feed). Be careful not to hound your friends too much though…

Let’s check the mid-day numbers, after the promotion has been announced:

dfdf
909 Downloads as of 1400, January 8th.
BOOM! Big jump. Off to a great start.
BOOM! Big jump. Off to a great start.

Okay, so from what I’ve researched, these are awesome numbers. Especially for an author with a small fan-base who has never done anything like this before. Which leads us to the first lesson learned. Yup, I’ve already made a mistake.

LESSON LEARNED: Categories. See how I’m already #6 in Horror > Occult? That’s actually not a good thing this early into the promotion. I originally chose this category as “low-hanging fruit” because it’s easy to climb the chart (there aren’t too many books competing for space). Which is a good thing when you’re trying to keep your paid ranking high, but when you’re doing a free promotion, you should shoot the moon. So, I looked up the bestselling books most similar to mine and mirrored their categories. I settled on Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic and Horror > United States. I called Amazon customer support to get them to quickly change my categories, so hopefully within 24 hours the rankings will be fixed. Lesson Learned? Update your “shoot the moon” categories before your promotion.

Okay, took a hike just to get away from the craziness, then spent the late afternoon/evening posting on facebook groups and tweeting. I had joined several “zombie fan” groups on facebook in the weeks prior, and now used the opportunity to spread the word. When you’re offering something free, most people don’t mind.

Let’s check the numbers once more before bed, shall we? Okay!

Downloads as of 2200, January 8th.
2236 Downloads as of 2200, January 8th.
Already updated the categories, nice!
Already updated the categories, nice!

In addition to all the free downloads, that’s also 4 sales of MURDERED in 24 hours. Great first day, see you tomorrow!

Continue to INFECTED Promo Results (Day Two)

Lessons Learned: Free ebook Promotion

[In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution, here’s some info about what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong. First entry in the Lessons Learned category]

First, a quick overview for those not in the know (or wanting a refresher) about a KDP Select ebook promotion over amazon. To be enrolled in KDP Select, an ebook must be exclusively available for sale on the amazon kindle for a period of 90 days. During that 90 days, the book may be offered for free or as a $0.99 sale for up to 5 days. I went exclusive with Amazon last year because, as another perk, readers can “borrow” your book for their kindle for free (while the author still enjoys a royalty) and these “borrows” are still incorporated into sales ranking. My sales from all outside ebook channels were quickly eclipsed by borrows, so I’m very pleased with that decision, but this is my first KDP promotion.

Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free? I’ll admit, it seemed counter-intuitive to me at first. How can you possibly make a living as a writer giving your books away for free? First and foremost, it should be noted that this tool should be used wisely, and in such, promotions should be limited. Give away your book too often, and your sales will fall through the floor. That’s why I chose to promote INFECTED a month after the release of my new book, MURDERED (after it had time to gain a few reviews), and why I’ve made clear that it’s available for free 8-10 Jan ONLY.

It’s all a game. A free ebook promotion should be treated like a strategy game, with free downloads counting as so much monopoly money. The only difference is, if you win, to the victor go the spoils. That is to say, if you play the game right, you can see some rewards in the real world. The first benefit is increasing your standing in the amazon ranking system. You know that section under the product description on an amazon page where it says “Customers who bought this also bought”? That’s you now. With this marketing tool, every free download counts as a purchase. So, with several thousand downloads, your book will now appear all over amazon’s sales rankings.

Amazon is the banker, and it’s your job to make sure your book passes “Go” as many times as possible. C’mon, doubles!

Second, is increasing your book’s presence. As any new author will attest, getting people to discover that your book exists is the hardest part. Giving away your book is a great way to increase word-of-mouth buzz, especially if you have multiple books in a series. People who enjoyed your book during it’s limited free promotion may convince their friends it’s worth it to pay for the experience once it’s no longer free. They may also check out your other books themselves.

The cornerstone of your strategy is visibility. There are many websites out there dedicated to letting readers know when a great free deal comes along, and it’s in your best interest to use them. Some are paid services, but have proven worth it to many authors. The bigger ones have hundreds of thousands of subscribers who might be interested in your book. It’s likely that many who frequent free book email-blast and announcement websites weren’t out looking to buy anyway, so don’t think of these free downloads as lost sales. Think of them as new opportunities.

Allow me to break my strategy down for you. I went with a “go big or go home approach” and I used a total of 44 websites to announce my giveaway (staggered over the three-day period), only 4 of which were paid services. I also used the model put forth last year by Elle Lothlorian, combined with a few other tricks I’d picked up in my research. Like her, I’ll break down exactly what I did and how it worked out for me.

Paid Services: BookBub, an oft-touted service considered by many to be the #1 way to announce your promotion, was my front line. I contacted them first to check their availability and settled on Friday, January 10th for their announcement. The second heavy hitter is Book Blast, and they were able to accommodate me for January 9th. The third biggie I chose was Kindle Fire Department, who had an opening to feature INFECTED on January 8th. Not that it was my intent, but I ended up being featured by these websites from least popular to most. I think this has actually helped my “snowball effect” greatly. As I’m writing this on day two of the promotion… we’ll see! The fourth paid service was Sweet Free Ebooks, a $5 posting set to go off on January 9th.

Free Services: For the other 40 announcements, I used a list on eBook Booster (you can pay to have your book submitted automatically, but I took a full day to contact them myself) and the list on Author Marketing Club. INFECTED was set to be reviewed by Horror Novel Reviews and I asked if they could time it to coincide with the promotion. I also had reviews set up for MURDERED over at Evolved World and You’ve Got Red On You and asked if they would give a shout out for the promotion as well. All three requests were kindly granted.

So… Ready for some results and numbers? Check out INFECTED Promo Results (Day One)

MURDERED by X-mas!

The MURDERED paperback release is officially upon us, and if you order today, you’ll get the book in time for Christmas!

AmaxmasAs a bonus, did you know that both INFECTED and MURDERED are part of Amazon’s matchbook program? That means if you purchase either Click Your Poison title as a paperback, you can download the kindle edition for only $0.99. Makes a great gift! Give the paperback to a loved one and download the kindle file for yourself (or vice versa).

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
-JS

 

MURDERED Release Date & Giveaway

Mystery Books

Its official.

MURDERED, the second in the Click Your Poison series will be released this Thursday, 5 December 2013.

Could YOU solve a murder? MURDERED is a mystery/thriller unlike any other. As the main character, you must follow clues, interrogate suspects, and piece together the puzzle before the killer gets away. Try a sample here.

For a chance to win a FREE COPY on release day, join and share the following events:

The more people “attending,” the more copies that will be given away. So click “join” and invite your friends!

Could YOU Solve a Murder?
Could YOU Solve a Murder?

Ding-dong, the Witch is Dead

Hey! Amazon deleted that 1-star review written in Dutch!

Haters need not apply

 

It would appear that the 1-star review of INFECTED was deemed invalid by Amazon’s filters, but… Why do you care?

I doubt you do. This post is a blending of narcissistic and cathartic, which I believe comes out to narcotic, and fits the definition of a substance offering a hollow, fleeting happiness that will consume your life if you let it.

But that’s what blogs are for, right? Sharing the good and the bad. Exposing shortcomings.

Like this one: I actually cared about a review written in Dutch that said my book “wasn’t for people with actual zombie experience” (according to google translate), whatever that means. In my dark hours I would see zonder inspiratie flash across my mind and I’d wonder if maybe this was the one guy who had it right. Maybe my writing is uninspired. Maybe he’s the only one with the guts to tell the truth.

The fact that the review was taken down (no, I did not “flag” it or anything of the sort) doesn’t eliminate doubt. Comes with the territory, I guess. But it helps.

I’m in trouble if and when my books ever go wide and–God forbid–thousands of people review it and some small percentage is negative. I realize that will happen, and I’ll be fine. Even if all those negative reviews get to stay up, I’ll know that all the positive reviews are unquestionably valid.

See? That’s what this did. It’s a good thing. Okay, enough narcotic. It’s Halloween! Time for a zombie author to celebrate.

Oh, and if you hear a scratching at your door, you may want to look through the peephole before you open up to give out candy:

    You never know what's lurking out there...
You never know what’s lurking out there…

Lyrical Writing

I believe you write how you read, just as you are what you eat. So as a writer, I need to read well (and often). After perusing this great thread of writing advice on reddit, I found a new writer to consume. I couldn’t help but share.

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.” — Gary Provost

I’d never heard of this author before, but I’ll definitely be checking him out. If his popular “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing” has any more gems like this, I can’t wait to uncover them.

garyprovost

The Living and the Dead

I was asked by my friend and fellow author, Todd Travis, to write the foreword to his new anthology of short horror/thriller stories. I’m honored to have done so and I think I even managed to say something halfway poignant, so it’s my pleasure to share that foreword with you now:

TLATD FOREWORD
by James Schannep

The short horror story is one of the oldest human traditions. Indeed, one could theorize that we evolved into creatures with language just to be able to tell such tales. Prehistoric man’s first thriller—for which he was rewarded with a warm fire, roast strips of mammoth venison, and ample grunts of approval—was called “The Terror at Black Rock” and told of a brave warrior’s near-death experience with a saber-toothed tiger. You see, these stories and their monsters were real, and by hearing them we could learn to avoid Black Rock, especially alone and after dark. The short horror story kept us alive.

These tales are still important in the modern world; whether it’s still being told around a campfire for the benefit of your fellow hikers or if you’re reading this book in bed, ready to plunge down an emotional rollercoaster before safely drifting off to sleep in the comfort of your own home. But what about the monsters—are they still real?

I’m not telling you that Bigfoot is out there (constantly looking over his shoulder and walking with extra long arm-swings, such as the Alaskan scientists in the story In Season hope to find) but certainly the potential exists. The threat of the unknown is real. There are, without a doubt, things in this world we don’t fully understand that are dangerous, and out to get us.

Recent events have proven that monsters are real. I don’t understand the kind of person who would bomb a marathon any more than I do the kind who would shoot up a school or a movie theater, but I do understand exactly what motivates zombies and werewolves. Ultimately, that’s why we love a good horror story, because all the terrible things that we live with, all the hidden facets of society, become tangible and comprehensible. Whether it’s a simple ghost story or something more complexly metaphysical like in The Living and the Dead, we get to break down and analyze the dangers of evil through the reading of stories. We experience something new and terrifying without needing to go down to Black Rock ourselves.

The true genius in Mr. Travis’s collected shorts is that he manages to do both: delight us with thrilling tales of monsters while showing us that true terror lives in the people and world around us. So sit up, don’t relax, and prepare to be terrified, because if you pay attention—these short horror stories might keep you alive. Just make sure you blame Todd Travis (and not me) if you can’t look at the people around you the same way when you’re done.

Happy reading and sweet dreams.

16 April 2013
Orcutt, California

TLaTLCheck out The Living and the Dead, available now!

For fans of STEPHEN KING and DEAN KOONTZ … author TODD TRAVIS (Creatures of Appetite) has gathered a haunting collection of suspense stories exploring the monsters, both living and dead, roaming our world.

– A brilliant biophysicist on the verge of proving there is no life after death discovers, to his horror, that the dead are determined to stop him …

– An abused small town boy finds a special friend in the woods next to his trailer, but his friend isn’t like other children and cannot leave the woods, not ever …

– A group of determined graduate students seek Bigfoot on a remote Alaskan range seek but discover a monster far more deadly than they ever imagined …

– An elderly store manager, disturbed by a stranger eying the armored truck deliveries to his store, decides to take matters into his own hands …

– A beautiful young woman walks the streets of Manhattan at night seeking men, but for her own dark purposes, because for her, night is for hunting …

– A mysterious little girl somehow “invites” herself along on an abduction, leading her captors to wonder who really is in charge …

Five stories of suspense and terror and a short novel exploring the darkness everyone eventually faces when it’s their time to die, THE LIVING AND THE DEAD is a collection one may want to read with all the lights in the house on …

Penny for Your Thoughts

Why YOU Should Care About Amazon Book Reviews

Please, leave me an Amazon review! It’s the best way you can help a writer succeed!”

See that? It’s the new battle cry of many an author, myself included. Amazon keeps its internal marketing algorithms a closely guarded secret, and thus many authors have tried cracking the code over the years. Somewhat of a ‘no-brainer’ has always been “The More Reviews The Better.” Well, there’s more to it than that, and I think I may have just figured part of it out.

And the primary beneficiary of this new knowledge is you, the reader.

What’s the breakthrough? What do you get by leaving Amazon reviews? Cheaper books. I believe that the more reviews a book has, the more Amazon discounts the price. And–this next part is huge–they’re only diluting their own cut. As in, the author keeps the same royalty and the savings are directly passed onto the reader.

Where’s the proof?

Here’s my book, which Amazon offers at a 10% cut. They only started doing so somewhere around the 30 review mark.

ICYP

Here’s another self-published book written by a friend. You can see, more reviews, bigger discount.

CoA

This is a traditionally published book, but you can see that it follows the same pattern.

SIWbI

And lastly, a mega-hit book. Tons of reviews, tons of savings.

WWZ

Note: This is merely a trend I have noticed. I do not have an inside connection at Amazon. But if you love books, leave a review.

Second Note: For whatever reason, this only applies to paperback editions.

So, how about it, penny for your thoughts? If you haven’t left a review yet, please do! It will discount the book for other buyers without hurting the author’s cut. It should go without saying, but I want nothing less than your honest opinion. If you thought the book was a 3-star book, tell me why. If you think it’s 5-stars, I’d love to hear what you loved about it too!

Click Here to leave a review for INFECTED and then go spread the word! More reviews; cheaper books.

When an ebook is Superior to a Paperback

The pros and cons are oft debated; which is better? An ebook or a physical book? Usually the list looks something like this:

Paperback
-Infinite battery life
-Can take in bathtub
-Easier to lend/resell/buy used
-Can display as art
-Nostalgia for feel & smell

ebooks
-Cheaper
-More portable
-Saves trees

Well, now you can add another pro to the ebook list. With interactivity, ebooks blow paperbacks out of the water. With my “Click Your Poison” series, I’m often asked how an interactive ebook works on the Kindle. So I made this video. Enjoy!