Friday, 23 March 2012

Turn Around Where Possible goes free

I've made my little "don't go in the woodshed"-style short story Turn Around Where Possible available for Kindle now - look, it's here.

One downside of doing this is that I can't make it free by default - still, I've given away nearly 100 copies free already, via Smashwords and Lulu, so that's not so bad. But it did give me an idea.

The only way you can give a book away for free in Amazon's Kindle Digital Publishing programme is to enrol the book in what they call KDP Select. This means that the book is exclusively available through Amazon only. You still have to set a minimum price (and that's 99c, or about 77p) but you can offer the book for free five days out of every 90. And on those five days, your title somehow magically gets "promoted". I know, me neither, but I'm going to give it a go.

So for now, Turn Around Where Possible is no longer available from Smashwords or Lulu, but exclusively from Amazon. And it costs 77p. But my first freebie promo is coming up - on the 24th and 25th of March it will be free as a bird.

Let's see what this promo brings...

Friday, 16 March 2012

The great Twitter experiment

Before this week, I had a whole 107 followers on Twitter. I know. Stephen Fry can rest easy. But then I read one of the many "how I sold thousands of copies of my self-pubbed book" articles that indie authors cling to like drowning men. As usual, it waxed lyrical on the importance of social media as a promotional tool. What was different, though, was the strategy for using Twitter that was described.

I have always been selective about who I follow on Twitter. I like a nice, uncluttered timeline to read, full only of things that are likely to interest me, written by people I have an interest in, so before this week, I only followed 77 people. But this article suggested that was where I was going wrong. It suggested I should be actively seeking followers, specifically followers of other authors who write in a similar genre or tone to me, and that I should be following them in the hope that they would follow back.

The author I most aspire to emulate is Stephen King but he's not on Twitter (yet). There are a number of King fan/news Twitter accounts though, so I picked a popular one of those (@SoStephenKing) and went after its followers.

Now Twitter imposes limits on following, in relation to how many followers you have. For average Joes like you and me, that's 2,000... so I could add nearly 1,900 people. Not something I wanted to do manually, so I used Tweepi to do it in bulk.

At the time of writing, I now follow 1,940 people... and have a mighty 337 followers. I know, not the greatest return on my investment, but let's give the experiment time. Will an increased following (just writing that makes me feel like a cult leader, but hey) translate to increased sales? Well, it hasn't yet, but it's early days. Let's give it a month and see what happens.

One positive I've noticed already is that there is a much greater international mix in those 337, judging by the sudden spike in visits to this very website. My stats tell me they're coming in from all over the world, compared to an almost exclusively British demographic before. Again, will this translate to more sales globally? Again, we'll have to wait and see. What I can tell you is that this has led me to use Twuffer to schedule tweets for when I'm in bed and the US are doing their evening surfing...

Downsides? My Twitter timeline is crammed full and too fast-moving to be of any real use. I've had to resort to using lists to follow the people I originally followed, the 77. But that's not so bad. I can live with that. My plan, such as it is, is to treat the next month as a massive Twitter experiment. Can I use it to generate sales? In a week or so I plan to unfollow all the followers of @SoStephenKing who didn't follow me back, and then follow the followers of another author, maybe David Morrell. Then rinse and repeat for other authors for the rest of the month.

Does this make me cynical? Yes, I fear it does, twisting Twitter to my own ends like a capitalist pig-dog. But I just want to sell more copies of Dark Steps and, more importantly, build a readership ready for when Drawn To The Deep End is published. Will it all work? I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I need help bad, man (in which I beg or ask nicely, depending on your viewpoint)

If you're reading this, chances are you already know I have a collection of short stories entitled Dark Steps doing the rounds. It's been out since the middle of last August and since then it has sold alright, I guess, but it's not going to make me rich or help me retire early. And that's okay - getting rich off it wasn't the point. The point of Dark Steps was twofold.

Firstly, just to publish a book. Yes, I know there are those who'll argue that self-publishing isn't really publishing, and they're probably right. But that's okay too. I had more fun making my own book than from reading rejection letters, and I learnt the mechanical process of assembling multi-format ebooks in the process.

Secondly (and here's where I come unstuck), the point of releasing Dark Steps, and pricing it "competitively", was to help build a readership. This is a pretty lofty aim, I know, but I hope to publish a novel-length work later in the year and it would be nice to already have a group of people who know what, and how, I write, just waiting to buy it. Great theory, right... except the number of people who've bought Dark Steps (you're all lovely, by the way) makes for quite a small readership. I'm not going to give specifics here you understand, but at the time of writing we're talking less than 100 people. In short, I need more readers.

So I need your help, please.

Those of you with a blog or website - would you link to this site, or host an ad? (Thanks Millie and Rol, who have already done this). If you would, here's the code:

<iframe src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?lt1=_blank&amp;bc1=FFFFFF&amp;IS2=1&amp;nou=1&amp;bg1=FFFFFF&amp;fc1=000000&amp;lc1=0000FF&amp;t=waddly-21&amp;o=2&amp;p=8&amp;l=as1&amp;m=amazon&amp;f=ifr&amp;ref=tf_til&amp;asins=B005GQ84CE" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe>If you've read the book, would you leave a review on one or more of these outlets? Wherever you have an account would be lovely:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Lulu | Barnes & Noble | Diesel | Goodreads | iTunes | Kobo | Sony | Smashwords | W H Smith (go on, you don't even need to be registered to leave a review on this last site)

And if you're on Twitter, why not follow me? I'm @MartinWrites, by the way. Follow me, and then occasionally retweet one of my many (and no doubt sometimes annoying) book-related promotional tweets. What's the worst that can happen?

Sad and interesting footnote: "I need help bad, man" was the message allegedly left on Chas Chandler's answerphone by Jimi Hendrix in the hours before his death. Don't worry though - I have no plans to join Jimi any time soon... but I'd still be grateful for your help. Ta.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Smashwords' Ebook Week special

Smashwords are running their Ebook Week promotion from the 4th - 10th March. During that time, you'll be able to pick up Dark Steps for half-price. I know, I know. There's no need to thank me.

Here's Dark Steps on Smashwords. Buy it now if you like... half-price for a week from Sunday though.