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!
One thing that I enjoy so much about writing in first person is that it gives me the opportunity to write bonus content from other character’s view points. I’ve done this once before during my blog tour when I wrote the “Goodnight Sweetheart” scene from Matthew’s point of view.
Today, I’m sharing the bonus scene that I’ve most wanted to write. I wasn’t about to post this on someone else’s site; I wanted to save this one for right here. And because it’s my birthday, I can do what I want. I’ve always referred to it as “The Mustang Scene”. It takes place after the disastrous Thanksgiving dinner where Lauren brings Eric and Matthew together for the first time. Not surprisingly, things don’t go well and not everyone plays nice. After Eric storms out, the remaining guests head over to Blake’s for a tour of her home. Matthew offers Gracie a ride and she accepts.
I always wanted to write the conversation between the two of them, so here it is as told by Gracie. Instead of approaching it in the third person as I’ve done with all of the prologue, epilogue and bonus content previously, this is written in first person. I really wanted to try to capture Gracie’s voice on things as an experiment.
Let’s just say we haven’t heard the last from her.
So click on the link below and see what happened:
While you’re at it, if you haven’t read Intoxicated yet, it’s free on Smashwords until July 31. Just enter the coupon code displayed on the page and have at it. They’re doing a site-wide promotion, so feel free to look around and pick up some more e-books by other self-pubbed authors. Here’s the link:
If you have read it already, you may want to read it again to get prepared for Shattered. Looks like the September completion date may be a reality. I’ll be looking for beta readers soon (hint, hint).
As always, please consider writing a review. Us author types like those things. Then post it everywhere you can think of. Did you know you can post reviews on Amazon even if you didn’t buy it there? Well you can. I’ll get off my soapbox now, thanks.
The bulk of my blog tour has come to a close. Between the last week of April through the first week of June, Intoxicated was featured daily somewhere, in some fashion. Whether it be on Twitter or on another blog, my book was promoted. I am not quite done yet and actually have sporadic stops all the way into the fall. Hopefully by that time, I’ll be close to getting ready to release book two.
I would love to give you glowing results of how this onslaught of attention drove hundreds of people to Amazon to purchase my book. Or how traffic on my Smashwords page skyrocketed. Or that I have thousands of new followers on Twitter, or even ten new subscribers to my blog. If I did that, I’d be lying.
So far during my blog tour I have sold three books. Yes, you read that right. Three.
I’m not exactly sure that my blog tour had anything to do with those three books being sold. If I hadn’t have embarked on this adventure, I might still have the same three sales. It’s hard to tell. But I still don’t think that it was a waste of time (or money) on my part.
You might ask why. By doing the math, if my blog tour cost more than $6, I’d be underwater on the whole thing. Which I am, but I’m learning that being in the red is par for the course. I did enough time in college to sit in Economics class and learn that you have to spend money to make money. I haven’t given up hope that eventually publicity will beget sales.
First off, I haven’t figured out a way on Amazon, B&N or Apple to tell if anyone has downloaded the free sample of my book. If you know of a way, please do tell. I’m optimistic that people have clicked on the buy links at various tour stops and have decided to try before they buy. Personally I don’t do that, but I understand people who do. If someone is taking the time to read my free sample, the possibility is still there to convert that into a sale.
Secondly, I hate begging people to buy my book. I’ve already discussed how I feel icky doing that and how I don’t spam links to it on Twitter. However, if someone else does it on my behalf, it somehow feels more legitimate. Plus, the more places that feature my book, the more eyes it gets in front of.
Doing a blog tour also allowed me to share some bonus content that hasn’t been featured here. I did a top ten list of trivia, a bonus scene written from Matthew’s point of view and a character interview with Gracie. I loved doing those creative pieces so much more than the benign “Let’s talk about writing in the first person!” posts that I also wrote. I kept my sarcasm at bay and was on my best behavior for the methodology posts, which admittedly was hard. No sense in scaring off people; they can be frightened by me on my own website. During the interview questions I did unleash a little inner snark by sharing an anecdote about how I have this (as of yet) untapped urge to accost people in my local B&N, hijack their Nook and show them that I wrote a book. I don’t believe anyone used that answer.
I understand that you get out of a blog tour what you put into it. I spent hours researching the benefits, looking at different coordinators and reading reviews prior to selecting a company. Once it was booked, I spent additional hours writing content and answering questions for interviews. I think for being my first experience with the concept that I did pretty well. In hindsight, I would have written even more content because I grew tired of seeing the same stuff recycled over and over in different places. I wrote a couple more pieces than the minimum suggested, but I still would have liked to have used more fresh material.
One expectation that wasn’t met on my blog tour was that of obtaining reviews. I got one actual review the whole time, yet on my itinerary there were multiple listings where my tour stop that day included a “Book Review” but it amounted to a posting of my sales copy off my Amazon page. The first tour stop where “Book Review” was listed I was so excited and eager to read what someone else thought of my work, only to find the book description that I’d written myself. I thought maybe I’d read it wrong, but “Book Review” after “Book Review” tour stop included nothing different than the “Book Feature” stops. Not to be confused with the “Book Excerpt” stops, which were self-explanatory.
All in all, though, I can’t complain. I feel like I got my money’s worth out of the experience plus some. Would I do this again for my next book? I’m leaning towards yes, but maybe with not such an extended run. I’ve also contemplated attempting the legwork myself and contacting tour hosts directly, but a very large part of me just wants to curl up in a ball and cry at that thought.
For those of you who have experienced a blog tour first hand, would you do it again? How successful was yours? Did it take some time before you saw results? Any lessons learned that you would like to share? For those blog tour novices, any burning questions? Please feel free to discuss.
This coming Monday, April 29, kicks off my blog tour. For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept, I will be promoting my author self and Intoxicated on several different blogs and Twitter. The whole idea is to introduce myself to others that wouldn’t normally come across my book or my website on their own and increase visibility for my work. Kind of like doing a traditional book tour without all of the driving.
This has been in the works for about the past six weeks or so, and I am so excited to finally be able to let everyone know. The itinerary for the first portion is set, with more stops to come. If you’re interested, you can click on the link below and see where I’m headed.
So what will I be doing at all of these places? Lots of things! I have a couple of author interviews, a couple book reviews, some guest posts about the writing process and some bonus material. None of this stuff has been posted here, so it’s all new and I think you’ll be pleased. I wrote a bonus scene from Matthew’s point of view, an interview with my favorite best friend Gracie and a Top 10 list of Intoxicated trivia. Don’t worry; I’m saving my more opinionated pieces for this site – I’ll be on my best behavior elsewhere. I’m also doing a Twitter interview and there will be quotes from my book showing up there, too. In addition, I’m planning a giveaway.
Hope to see you around the web!
You can get a pirated copy of Intoxicated if you look hard enough. In fact, you don’t really have to look hard at all to find it. Just the other day, if you Googled my name the location of the pirated copy showed up on the first page of results. Today when I searched it didn’t even register on the first five pages.
Just goes to show you the fleeting nature of trends on the internet.
When the pirated copy was posted on said site, I was offering my book for free on Smashwords. I’m assuming that someone had a field day during Read an E-Book Week downloading free copies of books and posting them for others to obtain illegally later. The ironic thing is that people who are now downloading this pirated copy could have just gone to Smashwords themselves that particular week, entered the coupon code and walked away with a sanctioned version for the same price.
So what do I do now? I could get really mad and fire off an angry letter to the website or call a lawyer. After all, what has been done is illegal and does infringe upon my copyright. Or I could just bask in the glory of a little free publicity and remain slightly annoyed. Anyone who has been reading my ranting for long enough realizes how anal-retentive I am; now I have absolutely no idea how many copies are floating around out there. Sigh.
Did I lose sales when the pirated copy ranked higher on Google than the official one on both iTunes and B&N? That’s debatable. People that turn to illegal methods of obtaining someone’s work probably wouldn’t have forked over the $2.99 for the real thing. There is, however, the off chance that someone with a pirated copy will read it and discuss it with someone else who will buy it.
The same line of thinking led me to offer it for free in the first place, much to the chagrin of those that looked at me like I had just grown two heads. “You want to make money on this, right?” they would ask. “Then why are you giving it away for free?”
Because a book that is $2.99 but doesn’t sell any copies doesn’t make you any money, either.
I don’t believe in treating my readers like criminals, so even on outlets where DRM was offered I didn’t include it. As a consumer, it drives me nuts. If I want to make a copy of something I’ve bought for my husband or my daughters, I feel like I should be able to. Most people will only share with a couple others, if at all. Most people respect the hard work of those that put out ebooks, CDs, movies, whatever. It’s only a select few that become pirates.
I didn’t write Intoxicated as a get rich quick scheme. If I would have, I’m failing miserably because I am still underwater. To do things professionally is both time-consuming and expensive. I wrote it because I simply couldn’t not write it anymore. It’s a labor of love for me; one that I don’t feel ashamed to ask people to spend money on.
I think it’s worth it.
The fifth and final character study focuses on Gracie…
Gracie was the last of the main characters that I created for Intoxicated. Instead of being an afterthought, a one-dimensional best friend type, she evolved into one of my favorite characters to write for. If most of the action didn’t take place in Fort Wayne instead of Indianapolis, she’d likely be in even more scenes than she is.
Let’s start with the basics. She’s the baby of the bunch, about three years younger than Lauren, Blake and Eric. Tall and striking in her own right with her long, black hair, she’s always impeccably made up and dressed. She is the type that will do her makeup to go to the drugstore when she’s sick with the flu. She’s also quite the life of the party; Lauren lives vicariously through her while being her built in designated driver. It’s mentioned that especially after Lauren moves away Gracie is like a second daughter to Doug, Lauren’s father. The feeling is mutual.
Gracie is by and large Eric’s harshest critic. Even though she hasn’t been there for all the stages of his relationship with Lauren, she’s seen enough in the few years they’ve been friends to absolutely despise him. In turn, Eric doesn’t include her in his list of favorite people. Neither one of them does much to hide their intense dislike of the other.
This, of course, paves the way for her to be one of Matthew’s biggest supporters. But does she align herself with him because of who he is, or simply because he’s not Eric? The only interaction she has with Matthew that Lauren observes is during the ill-fated Thanksgiving dinner, so how much does she honestly know about him? Sure, Lauren’s told her bits and pieces about her roommate’s brother, but she’s totally not able to be objective. And though Gracie deems him as an upgrade upon first sight, looks aren’t everything.
How I would love to know what went on between Gracie and Matthew when they were alone in the Mustang. I can’t be the only one, right? That could explain a lot…
What I absolutely love about Gracie is that she doesn’t hold anything back. She’s never had a serious relationship in her life, but that doesn’t stop her from her commentary about Lauren’s dilemma. Most of her views are expressed off the cuff, without the typical censure that the majority of people would employ. She says exactly what she feels and is not afraid to hide it.
While writing, I found myself using Gracie as an outlet to express what I would be thinking if I sat down to read Intoxicated as someone other than its author. There are times that Lauren becomes so over analytical or fails to see things that are happening, and Gracie calls her out on them. To me, she’s like the voice of the audience, smacking her head when Lauren misses opportunity after opportunity to get down to the bottom of her issues. She also comes up with some memorable one-liners.
Although Gracie certainly brings comic relief to the table, she also is extremely perceptive. Throughout the book she’s the one that picks up on the little things, and most of what she says is right on target. She also has the occasional profound moment.
Lauren’s lucky to have a best friend in Gracie, and Intoxicated wouldn’t be the same without her.
Blake is the focus of our fourth installment of character studies…
Blake is established early on as relatively the same age as Lauren – and therefore Eric, too. By all accounts appearance wise, she is the exact opposite of our heroine. Blake is tall, blonde, athletic; a classic beauty according to popular standards. Her somewhat counter-culture, artsy side is symbolized by her navel and nose piercings and her blue hair streak.
Blake is self-employed as an interior designer. As Lauren can attest, she has mad talent and can put together a room on a moment’s notice. Her combination of vision and charisma ensure that people have no qualms about opening both their homes and their wallets to her. She’s the type of person you’d love to hate, but you can’t because she’s just too damn nice.
She is no doubt her brother’s keeper. When most everyone else in the world deserted Matthew, she stood by him and paid an awful price. Their parents’ anger over Matthew’s actions and their subsequent refusal to be a part of his life has in turn carried over to her as well. By necessity, the siblings became roommates. By circumstances, they became best friends.
Blake used to be romantically involved with Matthew’s best guy friend, Chris. They began dating in high school and broke up shortly after Matthew’s problems truly came to a head. Instead of blaming Matthew for his own transgressions, Blake placed the blame undeservedly on Chris’s shoulders.
In the years since Matthew’s “issues”, he and Chris have remained close, much to Blake’s chagrin. Chris is the only other person who has stood by Matthew through thick and thin, so instead of giving her brother an “it’s him or me” ultimatum, Blake decided it was time to buy her own place.
After about six months of flying solo, Blake decides to look for a roommate. She places the fateful ad that Lauren answers that sets our story in motion. Now that their worlds have collided, things will never be the same for any of them.
Outwardly, Blake appears to be at peace with her past. To look at her you would never know the heartbreak that she’s endured. And while she will listen all day to the problems of others, she’s loath to scratch the surface of her own. Just when her tough exterior begins to show signs of cracking, she’ll build a wall that’s impenetrable.
She’s afraid to get too close for fear of the loss. Instead, she leaves a trail of one-night stands in her wake. She chalks her love them and leave them mentality up to being on a quest to find Mister Right. In reality, she wonders if she’s already let him go.
This is only the beginning of Blake’s story; there’s plenty more to come…
This one was harder than I expected. It’s difficult to write a true bio of Matthew without spoiling a major plot point. But here goes the third character study in our series…
Right from the beginning of Intoxicated we know that Matthew’s got some serious skeletons in his closet. That much is established in the Prologue, which was written from Blake’s point of view. Lauren finds out what exactly those are pretty early on in the book, and it appears that he has a harder time dealing with them than she does.
Matthew is about three years older than Lauren; he celebrates his thirtieth birthday during the novel. He’s strikingly handsome – tall, blond, piercing blue eyes. An ex-football star in high school and the product of a charmed upbringing, upon first glance he would appear to have it all. However, below the surface lies a deeply tormented soul. Some of his anguish is self-inflicted, some not.
Matthew is extremely close with his sister, Blake, and is a near constant presence in her new home. Things don’t change when Lauren enters the picture, and the three of them embark on a fast friendship. Lauren tells herself that he’s assumed the role of a surrogate brother, and his only true interest in her is due to her cooking ability. She chalks her feelings of attraction up to his good looks and Eric’s absence.
Innocent flirting ensues, and Lauren tries her best to convince herself that she’s happy with Eric.
When Matthew’s indiscretions are revealed, he withdraws from her life. He’s beyond ashamed at what he’s done and how it bonds them together in the most ironic of ways. Lauren realizes just how close she’s grown to him in the short time that they’ve known each other. She takes it upon herself to convince him that he can’t live in the past.
Meanwhile, Eric’s actions inadvertently open the door for Matthew to be Lauren’s knight in shining armor – a role he accepts without hesitation. Eric accuses Matthew of wanting more, then provides him the ammunition to act on it.
But what does Matthew want out of this? Are his words and his actions just his way of thanking Lauren for her understanding of his inner torment? Are his smiles and comments full of hidden meaning, or are they just brotherly in nature?
Herein begins the triangle…
Part two of our character study focuses on Eric, or as he’s commonly referred to by Matthew and later even Lauren, “The Boyfriend”…
Eric and Lauren have more or less grown up together. It is established early on that their relationship began in high school when both were sixteen. For better or worse, they’ve been together for roughly ten years. Some of that time has been spent apart – Eric chose to go away to college, while Lauren remained behind at a community school.
Eric and Lauren’s relationship is tenuous at times. As much as Lauren sees herself as the complete opposite of him – especially when they’re fighting – they have much in common. Both are strong-willed and fiercely independent. Both are extremely intelligent and are on the cusp of beginning what will be successful careers. This leads to some very passionate discussions as neither one of them is used to backing down.
While Lauren downplays her achievements, Eric is quick to boast. His career in the insurance industry suits his personality. Multiple times in the story, Lauren mentions his natural saleman’s demeanor; it’s if he can’t shut it off, even for a second. He’s always well put together – dressed at all times like he’s ready to step in and close a deal. He surrounds himself with the finer things in life: his BMW, his high-rise condo in Indianapolis complete with a maid to look after it.
What strikes me as so telling about Eric is that even with all these trappings of the good life, he comes off as rather hollow and nondescript. He is so into keeping up with his competition that he becomes a characature of who he really wants to be. Everyone around him notices it: Lauren’s dad, Gracie, even Lauren though she chooses not to recognize it.
The first time Eric and Lauren truly butt heads is when she accepts the promotion that causes her to move to Fort Wayne. All their adult life he’s basically controlled her and this is the first time she stands up for herself in something that really matters. Ultimately, he “lets” her go. In my heart of hearts, I know that Lauren would have left anyway, but she’s relieved that he doesn’t break up with her over the decision.
They are really rather codependent upon one another.
Eric needs her as much as she needs him. His taking care of her makes him feel important and feeds his ego. He’d like nothing more than to scoop her up and take her back to his condo forever and have her assume the role of doting housewife (or girlfriend?). His intentions for the future aren’t totally clear. It would help to pave the way to married bliss if he would first utter the phrase “I love you” which to this point has gone unsaid by him. Lauren gives him ample opportunities to express this and is secretly crushed when he never does.
How many second chances should one person get? Eric’s bound to be running out of them by now. And once he realizes how much he really cares, will it be too late to make a difference?