My first Kindle Free Promotion

This week, I ran a Kindle Free Promotion and it might be useful for other writers to read  about my experience.

There are some very specific factors that helped make this promotion a success, so if you want to emulate what I did, do keep that in mind. Ymmv.

What’s a Free Promotion?

First, a few words on terminology. A Free Promotion is a promotional tool available to you when you enrol your book in KDP Select on Amazon. It allows you to run price promotions. You can offer your book at a reduced price (or free) for a limited number of days for each term your book is in KDP Select. (All KDP Select books are also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited). Having a book free or reduced for a day or a few days allows you to run specific promotions, like BookBub deals.

My method

Getting a BookBub deal is incredibly hard and I’ve not yet been successful. But I’d heard good things about Freebooksy, so I went ahead and booked a slot. It cost me $30 for my book to go into one newsletter and on the site for one day.

I enrolled the first book of my series, A World Apart, for a one-day Free Promotion, on April 24, 2019, and I booked the Freebooksy for the same day.

On the same day, I also sent out my newsletter. I promoted the free deal on all my social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), and I asked my author friends to share it on theirs. In hindsight, I wish I’d also done a few newsletter swaps, though finding people who send newsletters on exactly the right day can be tricky.

How can you make money off a free book? 

I had no idea either, but apparently, you can. Again, ymmv, but my collateral sales made me more money than the Freebooksy cost.

I believe there are a few reasons for that:

  • The book is always in Kindle Unlimited, so some people (accidentally or on purpose) read the book with their KU subscription. When you go to the Amazon page, that button is more prominent than the buy button.
  • It’s the first book in a series, and a few people bought book 2 and 3 or read it on KU right after reading the free book. My page reads are still excellent several days later.
  • I had another, unrelated book on sale at $0.99, and a lot of people bought that one, too.

Show me the money!

Here are the hard and fast facts from the day of the free book and the immediate aftermath. Authors who have been at this for a while will find the amounts modest, but for me, the whole experience was a success.

  • Cost: $30 for Freebooksy slot
  • Free downloads on Free Promotion day: 1,292 (and four of a perma-free short)
  • Sales April 24 through 26: 54 (I usually average between one and five books on good days, but have long stretches of no sales, too) – 27 of those were of the other discounted book, 7 of the sequels, 15 of the previously free book; I’m guessing by people who saw the promotion late and decided the regular price of $0.99 was still good value.
  • Page reads across all my KU books during that time: 2,250
  • Money made: $40.89

Sales have tapered off now, but page reads are still going strong. This is the first advertising that really was worth my while. I’ve not had any luck with Amazon or Facebook ads. I use book tours for exposure, and I’ve made between 40 and 60% of my money back when using other newsletters for discounted deals.

Newsletter promotions aren’t as amazing, or lead to the near-constant success of continuously running Amazon or Facebook ads. But they’re easier on the wallet and less stressful. And they work for my genre (m/m romance) where other advertising is tricky.

What next?

I want to do this again, but I don’t want to do it with the same book. I might see what happens when I make a book free that’s not in KU and not in a series, and when I’m not running a second deal. Watch this space, I’ll keep you posted!

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WIP Playlist

Thanks to the heat wave all I feel like is starfishing in my unmentionables and listening to music. And it occurred to me that it would be kinda neat to have a playlist before I start outlining my next project.

Now, when you’ve gotten over the shock of that mental image, let’s play a game. What do you think is the topic/genre for my next book?

  1. Bryan Addams – Summer of ’69
  2. Hollywood Vampires – My Dead Drunk Friends
  3. Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby
  4. R.E.M. – Man On The Moon
  5. Soul Asylum – Runaway Train
  6. Stone Roses – Ten Storey Love Song
  7. Aerosmith – Cryin’
  8. Queen – We Will Rock You
  9. Bon Jovi – It’s My Life
  10. Guns ‘N Roses – November Rain
  11. Scorpions – Wind of Change
  12. Eagles – Hotel California
  13. Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
  14. Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

That was quite the trip down memory lane. I could’ve added about ten to thirty awesome song for each of these bands. Anyway, I’m looking forward to starting this one.

Have I told you about Wings of Glass yet?

Muse and Flame coverNo, I haven’t, because I’m a doofus! My little short story, over which I laboured for a long time, found a very loving and perfect home with Fluky Fiction in The Muse and The Flame: A Collection of Bizarre Romance, which came out last week! The anthology is really unusual, the love stories are about monsters, cannibals, and death. But I promise, it’s a great read! (I also really love the cover.)

Matt Doyle also had me over on his blog for an interview about the anthology, in which I made up a poorly thought-out analogy to do with kangaroos. Yeah, I don’t know either.

And here, last but not least, a little taster of my story. Maybe it’ll entice you to spend $1.40 to read the rest!

Wings of Glass (Excerpt)

He’s been dead three months today. But when I close my eyes I see him, perched on the balustrade out on his roof terrace. Goofy grin on his face, sort of lopsided around the cigarette he never could give up, even at the end.
“Hey, babe,” he calls, and beckons me over. “Missed you today. What’s new with you?”

***

Daz’s cell:
U bought milk? Bacon? Cigs?
Lucy:
Baby animal food, check. Cholesterol in shrink wrap, check. Cancer sticks, check and check. Be there in 5.
Daz’s cell:
U funny xx C ya soon.

 

I sold my book, now what? Part 2 of my writing tips

Back in August I wrote a post about how to get your foot onto the published author ladder. I had just successfully chaired my first ever Nine Worlds panel, and my book had not yet come out. Now I feel it’s time to share more things with you that I’ve learned and trialed since then.

My book is out, and I’m very pleased with how the launch went, and how it has been received. Since August, I have learned an awful lot about how to market your book. The guide, I sold my book, now what? is a collection of all the useful resources I’ve come across, plus some hints and tips for all of you who are slightly panicky over how to start their marketing efforts for their first book.

Take heart, you can do it! And if you have any questions, just drop me a line and I’ll see if I can’t dig up something useful!

Musings on the release of A World Apart

Now that my debut novel has been out a couple of weeks and the reviews are coming in, I had the urge to write a little bit about how the book’s reception has affected my thinking of the story.

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who has written an honest review! I can’t stress this enough, I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has taken time out of their busy lives to share their thoughts.

Secondly, I’m not trying to justify or even clarify anything with this blog post. I don’t think any writer has to justify why they wrote the story they wrote. But of course, I have thoughts on my first release, and I want to address one of the aspects that has come up a lot in the reviews so far: The quick progression of the love story between Ben and Donnie.

I’ve said this before in other places, so forgive me for repeating myself: I write relationship stories because I find relationships, of any kind, quite hard. I’m an introvert and like to be by myself. But I like people, too. I like my friends, and I even like meeting new people, in small doses, with lots of time in between to decompress. What fascinates me is how people relate to one another, as acquaintances, friends, family, lovers… I like thinking about that, and I like writing about it, especially about people being kind to each other.

When I started writing, I did so in the world of fanfiction. I’m proud of that, and I carry the flag and talk about it openly. There are a lot of great writers in that world who deserve to have their talent recognized as widely as possible. I’ll always feel connected with the fic fandom. (You can find a lot of us over on AO3.)

Fanfic is different from published writing in many ways, and I want to talk about one of the main differences. When you write romantic* stories in a fandom, the fact that your two characters (or sometimes three, or four, or more) will end up together is a given.

There are heaps and heaps of slow burn fics in fandom. I think, generally, the structure of the romance genre is a lot like those fics: Two people fall in love against all odds, must go through trials and tribulations but, in the end, are HEA (or at least HFN). And that’s lovely, there’s a lot to be said for that and it’s wildly successful both in fic and in romance as a commercial genre.

But I haven’t ever really written those fanfic stories. My stories are about the romance, yes, but they’re also about other things – oftentimes quite serious things like illness, and violence, and dealing with a hostile world (I write The Walking Dead fic, after all).

I think it’s entirely my fault, that I don’t fit all too comfortably into the romance genre. I didn’t do my homework. I didn’t come to romance writing after a life spent devouring books about people falling in love. I read Sci-Fi and fantasy and horror and crime growing up, and I still do. I’ve asked myself why then am I not writing in those genres, and I honestly don’t know the answer.

My next book is a romantic suspense novel, and that’s probably more along the lines of the stories that I’m used to writing.

When you write fic, you can experiment with everything. You make it available to a small audience for free, and while some readers will tell you if they don’t like your story you’re usually not judged on whether or not it fits into a specific genre. Fanfics are sometimes called transformative works, which means that a mainstream text is taken and changed in some way. But I believe that transformative also refers to the experimental nature of fanfic writing. You can write odd POVs (2nd person is something no publisher will even touch, except maybe for RPG which are also transformative literature, in a way), play around with style, with tense, with mixing genres etc.

A World Apart, just like my fic, is a story about a relationship, but it’s also a story about what happens to the characters beyond that relationship. My favourite romance stories have always been the ones where a couple gets together quickly, even if they then have to fight to make the relationship sustainable. I’m no fan of the slow burn, or the “will they, won’t they” trope. (I just want to make it clear that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those stories at all, they’re just not my personal favourite.)

If I were to write A World Apart now I would write it differently, I’m sure. I might stretch the first story over two books (to conform more with the customary relationship arc), and I definitely would refrain from making the characters use the L word so soon. But I’m not writing it now. I wrote a story to the best of my abilities at the time, and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

I’m not sorry that Ben and Donnie’s story is what it is. Writing about them still makes me very happy, and I’m working a little on the second book in the series now, alongside writing the standalone romantic suspense novel. Another thing I learned from writing fic is that it’s nice to have several projects at the same time, even if they take longer to complete that way.

On a final note: Something from fanfic that I wish was adopted more widely by the publishing industry is tagging. If we knew, when we buy a book, that the story is “slow burn” or “insta love” or “relationship amongst other stuff” or “enemies to lovers” or “angst” or “hurt/comfort” I think it’d be much easier to pick books we’ll enjoy.

*By far not all fanfiction is romantic in nature.

Want to have your work published? I wrote a thing that might help

This weekend I attended the Nine Worlds Convention in London and got to chair a panel, From Fanfic to Book Contract and Beyond. While this is a terrifying prospect for an introvert, I think it went rather well. Many thanks to all attendees, and to the organisers to make this happen!

During the panel, I mentioned a document I pulled together. In it, I list (and ramble about) all the resources I’ve been using in the last few years to help launch my writing career. If you’re looking to do the same, you can find the document here: Mel’s Resources for Writers Who Want to Go Pro.

I hope it’s of use to some of you. And because the WWW is truly bottomless I’m already working on the next list of resources. Stay tuned!

Pre-order for “A World Apart” coming soon!

The pre-order links will go up on Saturday, August 5. I’m so excited! Will post it here as soon as I get it.

Meanwhile, the blurb is ready:

Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth Georgia’s Police DepartmentCover small—intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to the Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit-and-run, Ben finds himself surprisingly intrigued by the man. He quickly establishes Donnie’s innocence but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.