As most of you know, I set Intoxicated to permafree at all retailers back in May. I’m always looking to get the word out to new readers, so when my author friend Zoey Derrick came up with the idea for a group of us to help promote our freebies and rock-bottom sale priced books, I was totally on board. I am so excited for my book to be included in this list of fabulous reads.
This event will take place between September 1 – 7, just in time for you to start reading over the Labor Day Weekend. Because, face it, not all of us are party animals.
But wait, there’s more! We’ll also be having giveaways and other fun stuff all week long.
There’s a Rafflecopter going up with some great prizes, plus some flash giveaways over on Facebook.
For the complete list of authors and books participating, please check out http://zoeyderrick.net/summer-blow-out.
Join us and get to filling up your Kindle for those cold months ahead. I know I will be! 🙂
This past week, Amazon price matched Intoxicated, making it free across all platforms. All in all, it wasn’t as lengthy of a process as I expected it to be. I believe that I started on 5/7/15 by changing the price at Smashwords, then waiting for the trickle down effect to take place.
Every day since the book went free at some of the bigger sites (iBooks, B&N, Kobo), I clicked over to Amazon to see if they noticed. I reported my own lower prices quite a few times, even though I’ve heard that it’s not effective if the author does it. I did enlist a few friends to help, but I’m not positive that more than two other people reported the lower price.
The tipping point in my eyes is when I uploaded Intoxicated to Google Play as a free download. Not because I plan on selling tons of books there, or even uploading the rest of the series there, but solely because I stumbled across advice that suggested this was a surefire way to get Amazon to make your book free. And the logic makes sense. After all, Google is, well, Google. Imagine when the search engine results pulled up for your book, showing free at Google, and paid at Amazon. With the way Amazon dominates the ebook market, it’s not good for them to be publicly undercut.
Sure enough, within two days of my book going live on Google Play, it was also free at Amazon. I had achieved success, and didn’t even know it until I saw the first three free downloads hit on my dashboard, a lovely green color among the (very) sporadic red line of paid sales.
As I expected, perma-free works better on Amazon than it does on other outlets. Though making it free at other retailers has guaranteed at least a few downloads per day, the response elsewhere has been nothing like over at Amazon. It was fun the first day to periodically check my dashboard to see the downloads climbing by what I considered to be leaps and bounds. Mind you, I did nearly no promotion of this – just a simple tweet, a Facebook post, and a mention over on Tsu, so most of the downloads came from people stumbling across it themselves.
For the first two days of free at Amazon, I did so much better than I expected. Intoxicated hit right around sales rank 1,200 of all free books at its peak (at least what I witnessed) and was also (just barely) in the top 100 of both the Romance and the Women’s Fiction categories. Pretty good for an experiment.
The interest has subsided since, which I fully expected. I’ve submitted it to a couple of free book websites for editorial consideration, as I’m hoping I can get some promotion at no charge. I’ve just started a targeted Facebook ad for the next week, but am not throwing a whole lot of money at it. So far, I am the only click, because I couldn’t stop myself from trying it out to make sure the damn thing worked.
What’s my goal here? Ultimately to get people to take a chance on my series by reading the first one for free. And the early results are promising. Prior to Amazon setting it to free, I’ve had a few paid sales of Book Two at the other retailers. And a purchase of the rest of the series at Smashwords, each subsequent book selling two days after the last. And since going free at Amazon, I’ve gotten one new review of Intoxicated, and paid sales of Book Two each day.
Still not setting the world on fire, but it’s a start. I’ll take it.
After a lot of debate, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and price the first book in my series at perma-free. I know that starting out, I was hugely skeptical of this practice, and I’m still not entirely sure that it will work out for me. But it’s worth a shot, right?
Besides, Intoxicated is the book that I always give away if I’m doing a mass freebie. It’s the one that I want people to start with, because all the others come after it chronologically, even if they focus on different characters. And it’s the one that’s been pirated, so there’s already plenty of free – unauthorized – copies floating around. Why not make it legit and have a way to actually track how many downloads I get?
As you might already know, Amazon does not let you price your books for free. Sure, they have their free days for those that are exclusive, but the list price has to be 99 cents or above. The only way to get a book perma-free there is by price matching.
So I’m enlisting the help of all of you if you’re fair game. It’s easy to report a lower price to Amazon; you just scroll down on the book’s page until you find the link to “tell us about a lower price”. Then you click, copy and paste the other retailer’s link, and specify what price is being charged there. Repeat for each retailer and you’re done.
I’ve changed the price to free at all retailers that I control. Smashwords, iBooks and Kobo had it free within hours. Barnes & Noble will have the price updated shortly. Now we’re just waiting for Amazon’s algorithms to kick in and price match.
Here’s the links you’ll need to help out. And by all means, if you use one of the other retailers anyway, be sure to download your own copy. I’ll add B&N when the price change is effective, and I’ll definitely advise when we’re successful over at Amazon.
Update as of 5/11/15: B&N is now free (it was a penny over there for a few days), and I lowered the list price at Amazon to 99 cents, but I still need your help in getting it free.
Thanks for your help!
So perhaps the single most awesome thing in my writing career happened for me recently. Nope, I didn’t hit the bestseller list for thirty seconds, or get closer to achieving my goal of luxury car ownership via royalty checks. In fact, my monumental feat has absolutely nothing to do with sales.
My books are now in my local library.
My husband told me that it would be unseemly to go visit them, so I just have to take the online card catalog’s word for it. I believe it; here’s the link.
For some reason, this is more validation for me as an author than having an Amazon page, a Goodreads profile, or a Facebook fan page. Maybe it’s because growing up, I never dreamed in a million years that something I wrote would be placed on those shelves. Shelves upon which I discovered my love of reading. And in the library setting, it’s somewhat of a more level playing field, in as far as my fiction books are alphabetized right in with traditionally published works by big named authors.
As you might recall, in November I was one of approximately 70 authors who took part in an Author Fair held at our Main Library. As such, we were encouraged to bring copies of our books for sale. This event pushed me to create paperback copies of my already published ebooks so that I actually had something to show off while I was there. Though I sold a few books there, I did come away with some inventory. Which got me thinking – what if I donated a couple copies of each book to the library so that readers in my community could enjoy them?
So I asked. And I got a quick response back. One that shocked me. It went something like this: “Of course we would be happy to accept your contribution. But we’d like you to know that we’ve already got the first book in your series on order and it should be stocked shortly.”
Yes, they had already purchased my book. Without me asking them to, or me getting down on my hands and knees and begging them to. And I had no clue. Which I found to be even sweeter than them agreeing to take some free ones off my hands.
I’ll likely never see the proceeds from that book, because my net royalty on that particular sale is only 50 cents. And I seriously doubt I’ll see an influx of paperback purchases that will help me cross the payment threshold. But I don’t care one iota. Because they showed me with that order that they believed in me, at least a little bit.
I promptly dropped off copies of Books Two and Three, as well as two additional copies of the one that they already bought. Now all three novels are in circulation, and as of this posting, over half of the copies available have been checked out. I’m really curious on how they are being displayed, or if library staff is recommending them or what. Other than a quick post to Facebook and Google Plus and a mention to some coworkers – who I seriously doubt are responsible for borrowing them – I’ve told no one that they are there.
I’m excited to see what the future holds, and I’m cautiously optimistic that this will have a snowball effect. A common take away from people that I met at the Author Fair was that it was cool that I based my books in Fort Wayne. And now, the community that serves as my setting has the chance to check them out, very literally.
Though I know not everyone in our city of a quarter million people has a library card, our library system is county wide. Even though the copies all originated at the main library, since readers can return them at any branch in the county, they may find their way to other locations in the area. Or if there is enough demand for the copies that they already have, the library may purchase additional copies to shelve at some of the more frequented branches.
Any way I look at this, the potential to reach a new set of readers is nothing to sneeze at.
As some of you may already know, I’ve signed up for an Author Fair this fall at my public library. Although they do allow entrance to authors who only have ebook copies of their work available, the draw is obviously there to bring along paperback versions of your novels, as you’re encouraged to sell them there. Add this to the fact that I’ve read time and again that while ebooks are taking over the market, you’re still wise to have hard copies available. Plus, someone who read my last book contacted me on Facebook and asked me if I had any book signings planned.
Mind you, I can already autograph ebook copies. But the thought of actually sitting at a table with a pen and signing a real book for a fan just seems way more impressive than sitting at my laptop and trying to do an impersonation of my signature with my mouse.
So I decided if I was going to do this thing, I would do it right and have some real life hard copies of my series available. If I’m being honest with you, I don’t expect to sell a single one of them. But I’ll have a copy of each for posterity, I’ll probably sneak a set onto my employer’s book cart in the break room to see if anyone notices, and the rest will make awesome doorstops.
Like many self-pubbers, I opted to use CreateSpace for my paperbacks. I’ve heard horror stories about formatting, page numbering and the like, so I did a bit of research before diving in. I bookmarked some helpful blogs, scoured the CreateSpace website itself and also went to the ultimate source – a book on my bookshelf.
Then I set to work. Obviously, the hardest part was already over. I have three books that are currently published in ebook format. So there’s over three hundred thousand words already plotted out. Already read and reread, over and over until I can recite them in my sleep. All I had to do was make them pretty on paper.
I started in chronological order, choosing to format my first book first. I made only a couple minor changes to the file. I shortened a “you are” to a “you’re” in the prologue, because it really, really grated on my nerves when I had to read it over and over in excerpts on the blog tour I did. I added a missing (in some versions) word back to the last chapter. I updated the page with my other books in the series to reflect Books 4 and 5, which haven’t come out yet but are already titled.
Then I got down to the hard part. I was timid, expecting to experience the nightmares that I’d already read about. I formatted according to what guides told me, doing things I didn’t understand because it was the next step on the list. I opened up the actual paperback on my desk and confirmed little, silly things that I’d never considered before. Things like how chapters start on odd pages in traditionally published books. Things like how the front matter isn’t page numbered, nor are the first pages of each chapter. So while page two is the second page of Chapter One, it’s not the true second page of the book. And there’s no (marked) page one.
Much like the first time I formatted my first book for ereaders, the exercise made me want to curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth. But I got through it, and still came out alive on the other side.
The second book didn’t go as well for me, though the total formatting time was less than the first. This is because I went without the assistance of webpages and blogs. Instead, I referred back to what I’d already done with my first book and attempted to recreate it. Just when I thought that I’d gotten it right, a quick check through the interior viewer would confirm that Chapter Such and Such still began on page 204, and I really didn’t have a good concept of what I was doing. I tried to be all ninja like with Odd Numbered Section Breaks, but for whatever reason they didn’t seem to stick. Ever. But after much yelling at my computer and much uploading to CreateSpace, I got it done all in one night.
The next night, I came back for Book Three. And to potentially get my ass handed to me yet again. That’s when the magic happened. I didn’t refer to anything. No blogs, no websites, no Book One or Two. I put in my earbuds and just went to town on the thing. I didn’t think about formatting. It all came naturally. I did sing (loudly) through three complete Parabelle albums, which usually drives my girls nuts, but since this was infinitely better than me screaming at my computer, they didn’t say one word.
Which led me to believe that I do my best formatting when I’m not thinking about formatting at all. It also led me to question whether I could make any money doing it for other people. After all, CreateSpace’s packages start at $199. I think that price includes a bit more expertise than I could provide (and undoubtedly less cursing), but still. They’ll also happily do your Kindle version for something like $80. That’s a lot of money that some people are willing to shell out for a couple nights’ worth of work. Even if I charged half that, it’s still a nice little chunk of change.
Then I remembered that I am super anal retentive. No joke, my rough drafts – ever since the first book – are all fully formatted for ebook consumption. I write them that way so once I’m happy with the edited version I can just slap on the copyright, front matter, back stuff and be done with it. I couldn’t deal with someone else’s files handed to me every which way. So there goes that career path.
But at least I know when I’m ready to print Book Four that it’s not a daunting task ahead of me. And I can be glad that I will never, ever, have to do three paperbacks at once again.
I’ve written about piracy before. I even came up with a catchy title for my first post on the subject, written shortly after I discovered that my first book was available for illegal download on a handful of websites. And those are the ones I know about. I won’t repeat myself, but if you’re curious, you can read my original thoughts here:
The fact that my book appears on these sites doesn’t keep me up at night. I view it as free publicity and move on. In retrospect, it’s not really any different than me offering my first book for free via coupon code to anyone who cares enough to download it, which I’ve already done on several occasions. It’s just a really extended promotion.
Even so, I’ve attempted to prevent the rest of my books from ending up on those same sites. As far as I can tell, I’ve been successful. How so? I’ve not offered them for free publicly. Those who have gotten free copies from me haven’t posted them on torrent sites. For what it’s worth, those that have paid for them haven’t posted them, either.
But if you search for my second and third book on Google and page far enough down in the results, you will find that they have been requested on torrent sites. By name. Sometimes with links to their Goodreads pages.
That’s kind of flattering.
And it got me thinking. If someone wants to read my books so badly that they specifically request them by name on a torrent site, isn’t that exactly the kind of person that I want reading them? Aren’t those the type of readers that could potentially be some of my biggest fans? The people that are searching out my book and posting about wanting a pirated copy would probably actually read it if they got a hold of one.
Now, my books aren’t expensive. I price them at $2.99. And though a voice in the back of my head tells me that if someone wanted to read them that much, they’d just plunk down three bucks to do it, I also realize that not everyone comes from the same background or lifestyle that I do. I’m lucky enough that I can pick up a new book without giving a second thought to the purchase. Not everyone is. Trust me, I’ve dealt with job loss before and know that it can be a struggle to come up with money for necessities, let alone funds for frivolous purchases like romance novels.
So that led me to this thought…
What if those people that posted on the torrent sites about wanting to read my second and third books had instead searched me out and contacted me?
I would have given them a coupon code and told them to have at it for free. Then asked nicely for an honest review when they were done. Then continued asking very nicely for them to tell everyone they knew about it, especially if they thought it was good. But even if they hated it (because any word of mouth is free publicity, and some people search out things that get bad reviews).
In this world of giveaways and contests, some people are so desensitized to getting things for free that they sometimes forget that they’ve won anything. Maybe they win so much that they can’t keep track of it all. Case in point: the last three book giveaways I’ve done, each time I’ve had at least one person not redeem their codes. I know this because I track them.
I’d much rather give something away to someone who genuinely wanted and appreciated it.
So here’s my open letter for those who, for whatever reason, feel that the only way they will ever read one of my books is if it’s available on a torrent site. Instead of asking strangers for an illegal copy, send me a quick message on Twitter, Facebook, or here. If you’re sincere (and as a mom, I have a pretty keen BS meter), you’ll likely get what you ask for.
I write fiction, but it’s fairly realistic. I tackle some pretty serious subject matters in between the snarkiness. My characters have gone through some deep stuff: death, disownment, financial crises, drug and alcohol abuse, legal issues, you get the idea. I can’t even openly discuss one of the major plot points in my new release without giving away a huge secret – or potentially crying – so we’ll just focus on something innocent and non-controversial.
Let’s talk about sex.
Specifically, the double standard that exists in regards to men and women even in a fictional setting. It’s perfectly okay for a guy to be a player, but when a lady does the same, she’s labeled something not so nice.
I’m a contemporary romance author. Sex plays a part in my books – I won’t lie. And while it’s not uncommon to have a heartbreaker type alpha male as the lead, a woman filling that role is a bit harder to find. So I wrote one.
Two of my main characters are brother and sister. Same upbringing, same swoon-worthy attractiveness. Same predilection for one-night stands or at least back-to-back revolving door relationships.
Not surprisingly, the readers have spoken and have deemed him “adorable” and “almost too perfect”. I agree with them on the adorable part, but I’m biased. And he’s nowhere close to perfect (on purpose). Mind you, this same guy went to jail for six months, had massive issues with drugs and alcohol and slept with 36 women before finding his true love.
Conversely, his sister single-handedly dealt with his incarceration, taking care of his house and personal affairs in his absence, driving him everywhere for years when his license was suspended (twice), all while earning a college degree and starting her own business. She has a one-night stand vice, however. Though her number isn’t revealed, she does state that 37 is “child’s play”, so it’s more. By quite a few. What have I heard about her? She’s “selfish”. Never mind that she’s still in love with the person to whom she gave her virginity (and he with her).
And this is from an audience who is largely female. My male readers haven’t chimed into the discussion yet. Maybe they’ll think she’s cool as hell.
By the end of the story, most everyone warms up to her. But by then, she’s turned her back on picking up people at bars and giving out fake names. It is a love story, after all.
I’m not surprised by the general consensus. Society has raised us to believe that men are attractive when they have notches on their bedpost. We like the bad boy, all while pretending we’re the good girls. Guys openly brag about their conquests, while some women feel ashamed if they’ve had previous relations before finding “the one”. But let’s think about it. If guys are running around conquesting all over the place, there has to be a female population participating.
I guess they’re just quiet about it.
So what are your thoughts? Are alpha females attractive, too? Or is there a stigma attached that can’t be overcome?
You know it’s a cold day in hell when I reactivate my Facebook account. But reactivate it I did, just so I could take part in this event put on by my friends at The Book Enthusiast. If you’re not aware, they have done an awesome job promoting all three of my books so I jumped at the chance to join in the fun here.
All week, indie authors are going to be taking turns hosting the party. Think of it as a chance to interact with some of your favorite authors and find new writers to fawn over as well. Anything goes while we’re hosting, so expect plenty of conversation, teasers, excerpts, trivia and maybe a flash giveaway or two. There will also be an official, week long Rafflecopter giveaway with several of the authors (myself included) participating.
My hosting gig is on June 18th from 7 – 8 am EST. Hence the “Waking Up Intoxicated” pun. I can’t help myself. I’ll be yawning at the keyboard before I go into work, so stop by and join me for some conversation.
What am I planning? Well, depending on if people set their alarms or not, a whole lot of gossip on our favorite characters. If I get a good response from local fans, I may play a little game to see if readers can guess where in Fort Wayne certain things take place. I’m also going to post the “Rot in Hell” bonus scene and possibly my Designed Top Ten list. And who knows – maybe I’ll have some copies of Designed ready to give away.
I’d love it if you’d join me – here’s the link to where the party takes place:
Hope to see you there!
I guess I like to write shower scenes.
This thought entered my mind while plotting out a scene for Book Four in my head. Of course, this particular vignette takes place under hot running water. It was then that I realized that all of my heroines in my series will have had some sort of shower epiphany once I’m done with them. And though they are taking place in the same general setting, they’re all completely different.
So what gives?
Part of this stems from the fact that some of my best ideas come to me in the shower. I’ll admit to running through dialogue there, engraving it into my memory in anticipation for the next time I’m in front of my laptop. I’ve edited scenes while lathering up, inspiration striking as I contemplate what should have happened or what someone should have said.
Symbolically, we pretty much all understand that water can represent cleanliness and truth. Washing away the past. Clearing our vision. And that definitely occurs in these scenes. But I’ve added another level: none of these moments of clarity come in my heroines’ personal showers. Think about that. It takes a certain level of trust to bathe in someone else’s home, right?
But enough about generalities. How can the same scenario have three different meanings? Fortunately for you, I’ve brought examples.
Yes, the first one is that kind of shower scene. But you know me, I’m steamy, not explicit. Here’s what happens when you have two people who’ve been together for ages – perhaps too long.
His shower was one of the deluxe, walk in variety. There was no door to shield him, nor to announce my arrival. His back was turned to me as he bathed, obviously not aware that anyone was watching. I walked in behind him, the hot water enveloping me, too. My arms reached for him, my fingers caressing his wet skin.
“Merry Christmas, Eric,” I said softly.
He jumped slightly and turned to face me. For a brief moment he just stood there, frozen, as though he couldn’t believe I had actually shown up.
“It is now,” he responded eventually, pulling me into him.
His kisses were full of intensity, his green eyes blazing with desire. The steaming water only heightened the feelings. It was all too easy to melt into him, to forget all the doubts that played on an infinite loop in my mind. Of every aspect of our relationship, this was the one we had mastered. It was so easy to sink into this comfortable, familiar territory and ignore all our lingering issues.
And I let him, again and again, refusing to admit the truth. If this was the only thing we had going for us, then who was I to judge Blake and her string of one night stands?
– Lauren and Eric – from “Intoxicated”
And here’s when you have two people who are no longer together, but who should never have been apart. Damn those pesky lies and things left unsaid.
I heard the door push open. Instinctively, I covered my breasts with my arms, pressing my legs together as tightly as they could go. Even with the opaque shower curtain between us, I still had this irrational fear of him walking in on me and seeing everything. Stupid, because he’d seen everything before anyway. Idiotic, because I’d completely bared my soul to him earlier tonight. If there was anyone I shouldn’t be afraid of seeing me in this position, it was this man. But yet I huddled in his shower, naked and self-conscious.
– Blake and Chris – from “Designed”
Just in case you think that all of my heroines are tortured souls, rest assured that the shower scene in “Changed” will not be so deep. Yes, Gracie’s about to wax poetically about life in someone else’s shower, but her scene will have much more of a comedic air to it. Mainly because she’s taking context clues from shampoo and body wash bottles to weave together a backstory about the life of the person who lives there. She’ll be horribly wrong. Wouldn’t you like to know whose shower she’s in? Too bad; I’m not ready to tell.
Maybe I’ve created my own cliché. But I swear, I’m retiring it after Book Five.
People like to put things in categories. It makes sense, but sometimes things just don’t fit into a neat and tidy description. This is part of the beauty of being a self-published author: we don’t have to precisely commit to one category or another. If hard-pressed to describe what I write, I’d start off by saying it’s a hybrid of contemporary romance and chick lit. Some have even stretched it further by claiming new adult. But to me, it just is.
A byproduct of categorization is finding who your target audience is. You know, the people that will be most interested in reading whatever it is that you’ve written. These are the individuals that you strive to seek out and connect with. If done correctly, some of these folks will become your fans and start helping you market via word of mouth.
Based on the description that I’ve given my own work, suffice it to say that my target audience would be women. If we narrowed it down, I’d go further and specify ages 18 and up. I hesitate to put a maximum age out there because I’ve heard back from readers who are in their 50s and 60s. Saying my books would appeal to ages 18 to 118 just sounds cheesy and board game like, so we’ll leave it open-ended. And don’t even get me started on economic factors. All kinds of women like to read romance type novels – from stay at home moms to corporate executives. So we’ll just go with women. Makes sense, right?
So naturally, because I’m unconventional and a bit of a risk-taker, I contacted a guy who blogs and asked him to review my book.
Insert the eye roll if you want. And the WTF were you thinking?
Now, this isn’t the first guy that’s read my book – there’s another gentleman who has read it and posted his review on Goodreads. But his review came courtesy of a blog tour and I’m pretty sure it was a book club rating where he just happened to be its voice. And I personally didn’t ask him to do it.
I’ll admit that I thought long and hard about contacting this particular blogger just because of his gender. I came across his posting on Google Plus about how he just started a book review blog and was looking for submissions. As such, his queue was fairly empty. Intrigued, I investigated a little bit more, fully expecting him to limit his reading to the “typical” guy stuff. You know, things that aren’t romance and/or chick lit. But no, he stated that he would read just about anything. The things that he wouldn’t read didn’t apply to my books, so technically, I was golden.
I didn’t submit right away. I thought it over for a couple of days, debating on what I should do. Did “I’ll read almost anything” really mean almost anything? Finally, I decided to take the plunge. I figured that the worst that could happen would be that he’d tell me no or not respond at all. And if you’ve queried any bloggers before, that’s a common answer anyway.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained – at least that’s how the saying goes.
So obviously, he said yes or this whole post would be about absolutely nothing. I sent over the coupon code for the book and crossed my fingers – the same way I do anytime I know that someone is reviewing my work. And believe me – I have specific coupon codes that I hand out when I’ve contacted someone myself to review as opposed to a blogger getting it from my review tour. So I know when a review is coming, and have a good idea of where it’s coming from. I’m anal; I know.
The book was downloaded and he contacted me shortly thereafter to tell me that he was getting ready to read it. The nervousness set in. Was I making a huge mistake? Would I get flamed because I didn’t write a mystery, a fantasy, or sci-fi? That same night, he emailed me back and had only good things to say based on his progress. Silly me, I was certain he had emailed the wrong author. He couldn’t be talking about my book, could he?
So what did I end up with? Quite honestly, I received the most thoughtful, thorough review that I have ever gotten. I literally smiled all the way through while reading it. I even laughed, because some parts were damn funny. Even when he was taking me to task about certain plot developments (which I’ve discussed here somewhat before), he did it in a way that was witty. And it was quite apparent that he’d read the entire book, not just skimmed it.
So lesson learned. Sometimes it’s worth it to think outside the box.
And yes, I’ve already sent him over the coupon code for Book Two. I can’t wait to hear his thoughts on that one.