Tag Archives: Kindle countdown deal

99¢ sale in time for Halloween

Halloween means different things to different people. I like a bit of everything, from suspenseful thrillers like Hitchcock is associated with to giant monsters who make a career out of crushing Tokyo.

My writing reflects this too. We just held a free promotion for Panama, and it included dark magical forces and black magic.

This week's promotion is for The Playground. It includes some of that demonic magic, but it starts off with some near future science fiction.

A ruthless businessman, Tommy Fazio, created a line of toys that include a social network for children. They become the “must have” product of the Christmas season.

He has larger plans though. The Playground Network is brainwashing our children into his own personal army. Imagine a homegrown army housed in our very homes.

Tommy isn't a patient man, so he turns to the occult to speed things along. This is where the story opens.

I chose to tell this tale from three different points of view. The main characters are involved in three distinct stories, but they converge at the end for an explosive finale.

Chloe is a little girl who gets a Playground doll for Christmas. She names the doll Sandra, and it leads her down a dark path. She represents all the children, and their only hope is to bring down the entire network before it's too late.

Gina is a doctor who narrowly survived a brush with cancer. She's somewhat broken at the beginning of the book and working in end-of-life care. She accepts a position working for an eccentric old man, and it changes her life completely. She acquires a parasite that allows her to see into the other world. Demons, fairies, ghosts – it's all real, and now Gina may be the only person who can stop the Playground Network. She doesn't really know what she's doing, but she'd better figure it out fast.

The next generation of Playground software goes missing. Tommy hires a ruthless thug to retrieve it. Clovis is huge, street tough, and has a head start on Gina. A seeming force-of-nature that is going to be hard to overcome.

I tried to replicate the works of Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino in this story. If you think a scoop of Sin City plus a portion of Pulp Fiction, might make a great Halloween story, this may be the one for you.

Like I said, Halloween can mean a lot of different things. This one includes a demon, ghosts, a secret society, a parasite, magical weapons, a classic GTO automobile, a stupid dog, and more.

The Playground is on sale from Monday through Friday for the frighteningly low price of 99¢. I set it up on both Amazon.com and Amazon.uk. It should be live right before this post shows up. (International date lines and time zones may vary, because who really knows what Amazon does?)

 

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Wednesday Ramblings

Confession time; I haven’t gotten any writing done this week. I’ve been busy on the promotion front, and several things with this blog have kept me busy. This is by choice, because October has always been my best sales month. There are some big things coming up in October. There are a couple of group tours involving books with a paranormal theme. (Halloween, and all that.)

If you’re in the mood for some seasonal reading, I have three novels that might fit the bill. There are also two Notebooks with spooky stories in them.

Aside from supporting all the things I already have in motion, I want to do some individual promotions. There are a lot to choose from, but none of them seem to be a magical portal to author success. There are Kindle Countdown Deals, Amazon giveaways that are like a Rafflecopter, Kindle free days, Amazon advertisements, and even Facebook boosts. I’ll probably run all of them at one time or another.

Part of the problem I’m seeing is when the “deal” expires. Most of my heavy promotion is going to be for Will O’ the Wisp. If I run a discount during the tour, eventually the discount ends. I can’t quite see how that will influence the rest of the tour. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

Any promotion I do for The Playground or Panama doesn’t have that problem. I’ve kind of decided to set up some free days for Panama in the first week of October. This is before the blog tours all start, and might prime the pump a bit. I may even do a small Facebook boost to go along with it. The Rave Reviews Book Club is big on supporting free and 99 cent deals, so I can leverage them a bit too.

Rumor has it that if you do a FB boost, your subsequent postings get squeezed out. Does anyone have any insight on this? I don’t want to hurt my guests for Lisa Burton Radio, or perhaps my own Halloween themed micro-fiction.

Somewhere along the way, I’ll probably do a 99 cent sale for The Playground. It absolutely has some paranormal themes, and I’m not ready to give it away yet. It’s a new book for cryin’ out loud. Maybe I could run an Amazon ad to support it while the deal is running??? Do any of you have any cautions or experience with doing both things at once?

That leaves Will O’ the Wisp as my Amazon Giveaway candidate. I could set up five free books as prizes and maybe, by then, could support it with another FB boost. The question here is if I should require following my Amazon Author page as the price of entry. It’s always been an option, but I don’t know of anyone who’s done it. In fact I’ve never seen anyone write about getting followers of their Amazon page at all. This blog feeds directly into mine, so it’s not a stagnant page. (I smell an experiment brewing. You know how I get with experiments.)

There isn’t any sense getting crazy with either Notebook. They are permanently 99 cents already. If you might like some Halloween themed short fiction, both books have some. Speaking of themed micro-fiction, Macabre Macaroni will post on Tuesdays this year. Those are free on my blog. Question for you guys: Would it be acceptable to mention whatever I currently have going on at the end of those posts? I know it’s my blog and all that, but should I just leave the stories for what they are?

I have three guest posts already scheduled, but two of them are this week. (Friday & Saturday.) I’ll reblog those and support the heck out of them. Obviously, I’ll accept all the help I can get during all these gyrations. If you have things going on, let me know and I’ll try to support back. Tuesdays and Thursdays are kind of committed on the blog though. Other forms of social media are like Jello, there’s always room for them.

In other news, I’ve been accepted into an anthology that will be coming out in October. I haven’t gotten the word to release much more than that, but I’ll be promoting it too. They were willing to accept something I’ve used before, so my inclusion is one of last year’s Macabre Macaroni stories called There’s a Cat on my Grave.

Part of the deal is that I’m supposed to do kind of a beta read before this weekend. Hahahahahahaha. (Sorry) The fact is that my wife and her sister have plans tonight. I’ll probably tackle the reading, to whatever degree I can, tonight. At least I don’t have to read my own entry. I’ll bet the other stories are good too, judging from the author names.

I’m nearly at deer-in -the-headlights mode, but not quite. All I have to do is schedule the Panama free days, and it will all break loose. Let me hear from you. Do you have insight on my questions? Have an opinion on my plans? Have a better idea that I haven’t thought of? Know any dirty jokes?

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To give away, or not to give away…

That is the question, on my mind today. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and articles around the internet about what to charge for our work, working for exposure, and holding giveaways.

The best one this week was from super-blogger Kristen Lamb. It addresses the idea that aggregators want our content, they make money on it, but we are expected to provide it for the exposure it brings. Everyone reads Kristen Lamb, but in case you missed it, this is the link.

I’ve written before about my experiences using Kindle Countdown Deals, and the free days I’m allowed under the KDP program. I was not, and am still not impressed. Once upon a time I held a free day for Panama. It went high enough up the charts to get into the high teens. (the free chart.)

I watched like a hawk. I never received a single review out of the hundreds of copies I moved.(Close to a thousand, actually.) I have a hunch that free was appealing, but actually reading the book wasn’t high on the list. The day after it went back available for purchase, sales were a flat line. Panama still sells to this day, but in drips and drabs.

Yet this is what we’re told to do to gain exposure. So what’s a writer to do?

I won’t do the free days any more. My books are pretty cheap as it is. You can’t buy a coffee in most shops for less than what I charge for a book.

I still give out free copies, but it’s on my terms. I’ve never refused someone who asked. I’m just not likely to give away electronic crates full of them any time soon.

I believe in providing free content, and do it in other ways. All of my writing cabin tales could be looked at as little free stories, even though they contain word metrics and other issues I’m dealing with as a writer. The most recent example was Lisa Burton blasting into space with her rocket-pack. (In celebration of finishing a short story involving that rocket-pack.) I also post some micro-fiction during October every year.

I haven’t gone down the path of creating a newsletter. If I did, I would certainly include some original micro-fiction. I just don’t want to force feed it to anyone. It’s here on the blog sometimes. You can check the categories in my sidebar if you need a fix. There’s even a vignette that led to my current effort, The Yak Guy Project. The Muse category holds all of my writing cabin posts. The Short Stories and Vignettes category has a few items too.

I also have the Lisa Burton paper dolls as a permanent feature. Print as many as you want. They aren’t fiction, but they are free.

As an ebook guy, I can’t do the Goodreads giveaways. I’ve never failed to participate in any RaffleCopter type project I’ve been invited to.

I’ve also written things upon request for other bloggers. This is more one-on-one, like asking for a copy of a book. The other blogger didn’t sell what I provided and offer me exposure. I like to think we both benefited from the shared effort.

Personally, I don’t think skipping the freebies is hurting me. Maybe one of you will convince me otherwise.

Right now, I’m of the mindset that marketing myself is just as important as marketing any single title I have. I have a few crazy ideas that I’m mulling over right now. If nothing else, they will be unique. Watch this space.

Let me hear from you. Have you benefited in any tangible way from making your books free? Did this bread cast upon the waters come back to you? Would you write something, then donate it to a “for profit” operation to gain exposure? (Not the same as donating to a charity.) Did you benefit from doing it in any measurable way?

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Kindle Countdown Deal, the Results

My Kindle Countdown Deal for Panama has run it’s course. It’s time to assess the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hey, I made Panama a link, because you can still buy it.

What Amazon is saying. The information about a countdown deal is sparse. In a nutshell, it’s like a blue light special for books. It’s supposed to be exciting and bait consumers into buying the book. Exposure for one story will spark interest in my other stories. The requirements are all available, but you have to dig for them. This should have been a sign. I ran my promotion and only learned some things the hard way. The point is that I learned them, and I’m going to share them with you.

One thing to remember, your results might be dramatically different from mine. I don’t write in the most popular genres, and maybe you do. Maybe you have a broader social network than I do. That kind of thing.

What I wanted out of this promotion. I really wanted to offer this to my blog friends at a discount. People have been so kind to me that my primary goal was to promote the deal here for my followers. I could have done a free promotion, but then I’d never know how the countdown deal works.

I gave away a mountain of books during the Wild Concept promotion. If I sold even half that many at $0.99, maybe I could recoup the price of cover art. I don’t think $0.99 is gouging anyone, but I could be wrong. 

On a side note, does anyone have the name and address of the asshole who decided we no longer need a cents symbol on our keyboards? I’d like to pay him a little visit. I can’t even find an emoticon for it. ¢¢¢ (On my iPad, I have to hold down the $ key and slide my finger to the ¢ symbol.)

Biases that I’m admitting to. Think of this part as opinion. A sale is no guarantee someone will actually read the story. I’d be surprised if half the people bother to read a free book. When they pay for the book, the odds increase. Writers want to have their stories read. Sending a free book to some cloud based landfill isn’t achieving my goal.

Pricing a book at ¢99 puts it into the category of an impulse buy. It’s similar to those little things they place near the checkout stand at the grocery store. In fact it’s cheaper than a Bic lighter or Tic Tacks. Mom and dad can pass the kindle to little Bobby in the back seat so he’ll stop asking, “Are we there yet?”

The effort I put out. I blogged about the promotion several times. This isn’t a huge blog, but I’m at about 370 followers. I used my new membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club to promote too. There are about 500 members there, and the retweet power must have reached 10,000 more people. While I seriously doubt anyone buys anything based upon a Twitter promotion, the price was right – free.

What Happened. I sold exactly four (4) copies of Panama. Enjoy the shock value for a second. Let it sink in. There, done? It really isn’t as bad as it sounds. I know every single person who bought a copy, because they told me so. Here’s how they break down:

  • Two regular readers of this blog, who are also friends I interact with. (Including one who couldn’t get the sale price. Thank you Allie.)
  • One personal friend who is also a blog reader.
  • One member of the Rave Reviews Book Club. Lorraine Adair also tweeted about it to several thousand people.

Why isn’t it as bad as it sounds? Because those same people are much more likely to read the story than the hundreds who grabbed a book during the free promotion.

 
Assessment. I want to feel negative about this, but I can’t. This promotion didn’t cost me a cent. It provided blog fodder, and I sold four more books than I would have otherwise. All these folks are prolific readers too, and if they have something to offer it will be worth hearing. Three of them are writers themselves.
 
Amazon dropped the ball on this play. While a giveaway gets Amazon promotion, a countdown deal gets nothing. Amazon places a countdown clock (blue light) on my book page and walks away. It’s my job to drive people to the page.
 
It was in the fine print somewhere, but I missed it. The countdown deals are only available in the US and the UK. Many of my blog followers are from all over the world and could not take advantage of the offer. It can’t be any harder to make this available in other countries. I would have been just as well served to give a PDF of the story to some of my blog friends. I may still do that.
 
Does anyone else see the irony that people from Panama could not take advantage of a promotion for Panama?
 
I will probably use the giveaway option again someday. I think I can benefit from a shorter time period and accomplish something. I can’t guarantee anyone will read whatever story I give away, but there is benefit in getting lookers to my Amazon pages. I may not use the countdown deal again. I have to weigh getting a few voracious readers against the unfair practice of excluding entire parts of the world from the promotion. My sense of fair play is offended.
 
A broader assessment. I wound up shopping the Rave Reviews Book Club stories. I think my prices are too high. I believe I’m cheaper than a Starbucks or a Red Bull, but most of the self published books seem to be cheaper than mine.
 
This amazes me, because a server spends ten minutes with me and I leave a bigger tip on the table than what I charge for a book. I spent a year or more writing a story and invested some small amount in the cover art too. Facts are facts, and I probably just have to accept them.
 
Right now, I could make more money as a writer by finding a piece of cardboard and writing “Will Work for Food” on it.
 
I’m not actually discouraged. I enjoy writing. While I don’t enjoy the promotion and salesmanship, I also like learning new things. I’m just in the process of learning what doesn’t work.
 
Please weigh in. I’m signed up under the KDP 70% royalty option. This means that for every $3.99 book sold, I get $2.79. If I moved over to the 35% royalty option and sold books for ¢99, I would get ¢34 per sale. It’s the idea of making it up in volume. While I don’t think anyone can answer the question, I have to try somehow. At the lower price point, I would have to sell eight times the number of books to see the same income.
 
Another option is to stay in the 70% royalty program and lower my price to $2.99,which is the lowest possible under this option. This might be the better solution to my mind.
 
I’m not particularly interested in leaving the KDP program and trying other venues. While I may move more books by adding Nook, or Apple, I don’t really want to spend the extra time. Between my full time employment and writing, I’m already working seven days a week.
 
This isn’t all about the money. I’d be lying if I said I’m not interested in it; I like money. Ten years from now, with more titles available, if I could supplement my retirement significantly I would be ecstatic.
 
I also want people to have fun with my stories. To do that, they have to read them. I could put them all online for free and accomplish that. What I need is a happy middle ground.
 
Readers of this blog all seem to be pretty savvy. Many of you are writers yourselves. Let me hear from you. I don’t have to change anything today, but a change is coming. Amazon won’t let me change anything for Panama for another 14 days anyway. I’m looking for opinions here so speak up.

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Promoting Panama

It’s time to do a promotion for Panama. I’ve played with Amazon’s free option, and now it’s time to try a Kindle Countdown deal.

I want all my blog friends to get first shot at this and I’m posting it here first. Panama will be available for 99 cents on the morning of June 23rd. The time will be different all around the world, and I’m on Mountain Daylight time in the U.S.A.

It goes up approximately one dollar every thirteen hours until it reaches its original price.

Here’s what to expect for your 99 cents:

This is a story about two old army buddies. They live in different parts of the country, and are asked by Theodore Roosevelt to look into some strange happenings at the Panama Canal construction zone.

They run into prejudices. Ethan was a Rough Rider, and Coop was a black Buffalo Soldier. They also run into an army of captured souls controlled by a demon. The demon is controlled by a Spanish zealot who wants to place a Carlist pretender to the thrones of Spain and France in power. He intends to recapture Spain’s new world colonies and make Spain into a dominant world power once more.

On top of all this, Panama wants to gain independence from Colombia. There are more than enough armies to go around. Add in the occasional dangerous creature, a poisonous snake or two, and the boys have their work cut out for them.

This story is filled with magic of an international flavor, and there are enough gunfights to keep the adventure lovers happy.

Panama is intended to be a buddy story. Niether man stands much of a chance alone, but together they might just get out alive.

What do you say? 99 cents, and you might just have a few hours of fun.

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