Trick-or-Treat, Bed Puddles, and an Authorly Update…

Hello, everyone.  Believe it or not, I lead a simple life.  Therefore, I find myself struggling to come up with interesting newsletter/blog post topics to keep you entertained.  This week we have a myriad of random updates on my life.  I’ll try to keep you on the edge of your seat, but don’t expect too much!

Still with me?  Away we go…

Topic one:  Trick-or-Treat.  Since it’s the Halloween season, I figured I’d take a trip down memory lane and share some of my past experiences passing out candy to the kids who come knocking on my door.  Ever since I was little, I’ve either gone trick or treating as a kid, or ‘retired’ to passing out candy as an adult.  This is a tradition that I look forward to every single year.  Why?  Because something interesting always happens.  Would you like some examples?

The kids are either supremely impressed with the treats I’m passing out, or they complain bitterly as they walk down my driveway.  In the course of one evening, I received a “Wow! Milky Way bars?  I love this neighborhood!” as a happy customer ran back to his mom and showed off his treasure.  Not more than two groups of kids later, I got a “Chocolate bars?  I don’t like those.  Don’t you have anything else?”

No, miss picky-pants.  This is not a grocery store and you are not actually paying for the free candy I’m dumping into your giant pillowcase slash candy bag.  Take what you get!

Then there was the time a few years ago when a very unhappy young man grouchily informed me that my cat almost bit him.  I was totally confused and stared blankly until his mother pointed to the cat sitting near my front bushes hissing as the kids walked up to my door.

“You should really put that thing in the house.  It’s not friendly, you know,” she snapped rudely.

No, I didn’t know it wasn’t friendly.  Namely because I don’t have a fucking cat.  Some black and white stray feline decided to choose my front yard as its new home.  Naturally I took pity on the thing because I could relate to the anti-social hissing nature of the beast.  So what did I do?  I screamed for my ‘fixer’ to take care of the problem.

My husband, who was in the processing of grilling hamburgers in our backyard, was kind enough to put on a pair of gloves and move my new friend to a safe place out of the way of children.  Being the animal lover that I am, I got out an old bowl and filled it with water for the kitty.  But it was probably hungry too, right?  So I got another old bowl and put some fancy salmon dog food in there.  Cats like fish.  Yes, it’s really dog food, but beggars can’t be choosers.  LET THAT BE A LESSON TO YOU, MISS ANTI-CHOCOLATE TRICK OR TREATER GIRL!

By now my dog was getting somewhat concerned because food and water was being served to someone that wasn’t her.  I took turns answering the door for the trick and treaters and running to my back patio to see if my new cat liked her food.

Yes.  She liked it a bit too much.  The damn thing decided to MEOW at the top of her lungs and try clawing her way through my screen door in order to get inside of the place where she decided she’d like to permanently reside.

Sorry, dude.  No can do.  I have a dog, and a husband that refuses to have a pet that goes to the bathroom in the house.  I’m also allergic.

So I just left her outside to fend for herself.  Oh well.  Survival of the fittest and all.

Whoa.  Did you actually believe I’d do that?  Hell no!  People are on their own, but I’m a softie when it comes to any animal.   I called the police and told them there was a stray cat and they actually sent a cop in a squad car to come and get it!  I expected them to call animal control or something, but it was a holiday (Halloween) and they were closed.  The cop was super nice (and super hot by the way) and he came and boxed up the cat and took her away.  Yes, she required a box.  The damn thing was beyond feisty.  I like to believe she became the police station mascot like a Dalmatian at a fire station.  Who knows?  All I know is that I did my part to help one of nature’s furry friends.

Topic Two:  puddles on my bed.  What a coincidence that we should be discussing animals for our first topic and then I casually led us to our second story which also involves a wild animal.

This isn’t a humorous story so much as a plea for help and suggestions on how to fix my current life dilemma.  Don’t worry, it’s nothing sad.  I would never do that to you.  It’s mostly aggravating more than anything.  I have been dealing with mystery puddles on my bed for the past three weeks.  Gross huh?  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “What’s the mystery?  It’s dog piss!”

Perhaps…but maybe not.  We started giving the dog a new type of food.  Not more than a week later, I started finding random puddles on my bed.  The dog is fully housetrained, the puddles do NOT smell like pee, and I’m still not sure that’s actually what they are.  We got her off the new food and things returned to normal for a week.  No puddles.  Problem solved?  Nope.

Last week I had to wash THREE different comforters.  I’m running out of blankets, my dryer is too small to handle them and it takes three tries to get the things completely dry, and I got no patience left.  I put a heavy duty denim sleeping bag on the bed as an effort to curb the soak through.  It STILL soaked through!

The dog acts like herself with no medical issues, she only does the puddle once a day, and if you point to it and say, “What the fuck, dude?” she simply stares at you in confusion.  As in, no guilt.  If she knew she peed, there would be guilt.  At least I hope there would.

My husband is not as frustrated as I am.  Namely because he’s not stuck doing the laundry.  In fact, he actually likes it.  He feels like he’s living in a hotel with nightly maid service and fresh sheets.

Oh, hell no!

But I have not yet given up the fight, dear reader.  We have black plastic sheets for putting down in your yard and preventing weeds from growing under your landscape rocks.  So my husband (Mr. Fix It) cut a bed-sized sheet and we placed it on the bed covering all the blankets.  Good luck now, dog.  The ball is in your court!  Game on!

Topic Three:  Authorly Update.  I have been pretty busy busting my balls in order to get a new book ready for release.  This is a full length romantic suspense action adventure comedy with a bad-ass lead and sexy hero.  It is roughly 102,000 words and counting.  I have probably two chapters left…that will turn into five chapters because I keep thinking I should be done but the characters won’t stop ‘talking’ to me.  By the next newsletter (I’m thinking next weekend?) there should be an ARC sign up form ready for you.  I’m still working on the cover, which absolutely kicks my ass because I stink at graphic design and get super frustrated.  Oh well.  That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

Ah, one last thing.  Tuesday November 6 is the day we should ALL go to the polls and vote.  Unless you’re not from the United States, then I’ll give you a pass on that.  Please, people.  I’m literally on my hands and knees fucking BEGGING you.  GO VOTE.  Make your voices heard.  Embrace the democracy we live in and exercise your right to cast the ballot for your candidate of choice.  Vote with your heart, ask yourself if you’re happy with the way things are going in this country, and if you believe in a certain candidate, go out and give them your support.  Most importantly, let’s try to remember that we’re all in the same boat here.  We’re all humans.  We all cry and bleed and love and hate and live and die.  It’s time to come together for the greater good of mankind and quit fighting like soldiers on opposite sides of a war.  WE ARE ALL AMERICANS.  Our founding fathers gave their lives in order to make this country the place that it is.  Let’s not fuck it up and disappoint them.  #Resist.

Oh, before I forget…in case you’re looking for great stories to fill your kindle…let me make some suggestions…

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Poor Choices:  A choose your own ending Adult Novel…FREE on Amazon

Yeah, you read that right.  A choose your own adventure for adults.  I was just browsing Amazon for interesting books to put in my newsletter and this baby instantly caught my eye.  I fucking LOVED choose your own adventures when I was little.  Add in the porn aspect and you had me at FREE!

https://www.amazon.com/Poor-Choices-Choose-Ending-Adult-ebook/dp/B07FTCGBBK

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Karma by Nadine Nightingale…….$0.99 on Amazon  (I read this entire trilogy and loved it!)

Blurb:  People call me all sorts of names—bad girl, black sheep, and my all-time favorite…Satan’s bride. I could blame the fact I’m a witch for my behavior, but the truth is I’m infuriating, arrogant, and stab-worthy.
Alex Remington is a hunter and everything I’m not—righteous, honest, caring. We used to have a thing, but that was before he learned I’m a witch and tried to kill me.

Eighteen months later, he’s back in my life and we have a deal; I’ll help him save his brother and he’ll disappear from my life for good. But karma can be a real bitch…

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DMWAGR4

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Vampire’s Mail Order Bride…………Free on Amazon and it looks cute…

https://www.amazon.com/Vampires-Order-Bride-Nocturne-Falls-ebook/dp/B00YDME5O8

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His Football by Chelsea Greene………$2.99 on Amazon.

Ryoko

Him: Tech genius, billionaire, serial dater of supermodels and actresses.

Me: The girl who flipped him off and told him to shove a football up his ass.

When Antoine Zellyk rolled into town and purchased a football team, he also bought out the company where I was interning so he could tear down the building to make way for a new stadium. All the employees were relocated. All the interns (all one of them) were out of work. So I let the tall, dark and loathsome man know how I felt before storming out the building. When he sent me a job offer six weeks later, I was understandably hesitant to accept.

Antione

Me: Entrepreneur, about to lose ownership of my new NFL franchise

Her: Young graphic designer that could save my team and my company

Ryoko’s got the exact skill set I need to help me put together the biggest presentation of my career. And as an added bonus, she’s quite attractive. I can’t help but feel like I know her from somewhere, though.  Tech genius, billionaire, serial dater of supermodels and actresses.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JK68GY9

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There you have it, people.  Happy Halloween, Go Vote, and look for an ARC sign-up in my next newsletter!  Have a good week!!!!!

til next time….

Grace

How I used my Amazon KDP Five Free Days to Crack the Top 100 in Free Books (2018 Book Marketing Experiment) …

Hello, everyone!  As you may or may not be aware, I used my Amazon Five Free Days to run a free book promotion last week.  Here are the results of my crazy experiment!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog/newsletter, this post might bore the living crap out of you, and for that I do apologize.  There will be a lot of numbers and rankings and other analytical mumbo jumbo that probably won’t apply to your life in any way, shape, or form.  However, if you want to learn more about why authors give away their books for free, please keep reading and find out my results…

Let me start by saying I’m an author of romance books.  I sell between ZERO and FOUR books on average per day.  So,  yeah.  Not killing it by any sense of the word.  Does this upset me?  NO!  Any sale means that a hard working person spent their money on my books.  I just want you to understand that I’m not going into this whole experiment with chart topping numbers.

I decided to use my book, UNGRANTED WISHES, for my five day free book promotion experiment.  Why?  Because (1) it has a hot male torso on the cover, (2) it is in ‘paranormal erotica’ and ‘humorous erotica’ and I believe these are small-ish categories and I can hit the top of the charts with them, and (3) it doesn’t sell like hotcakes anyway, so I might as well give it some much needed exposure.  This book was published on January 1, 2017 and is 280 pages long if that matters at all.  It is a full-length, stand alone novel and not part of a series.  I did add the first two chapters of one of my other books to the end of this, as a way to entice readers to buy that book if they liked Ungranted Wishes.  My free promo was scheduled for Sept 25-29, 2018.  Now that we have the book backstory out of the way, let’s talk marketing strategy.  There’s no point in making a book free if no one knows it’s free…

THREE WEEKS BEFORE PROMO GOES LIVE:

–Set up Amazon Five Free days on KDP Dashboard.  Needless to say, this is the most critical step!

–Book your paid promotions.  I did some careful research to decide where it was best to spend my hard-earned dollars.  Let me also explain that, aside from AMAZON AMS ADS, I am highly averse to paying for book stuff.  (I have never paid for editing or book covers, but I do pay for marketing on the very rare occasion).  I am notoriously cheap.  I decided to go with:  Book Doggy, Hot Stuff Romance, and Book Raid.  I’ve honestly been planning to do this free experiment for awhile and I intended to only use Book Doggy and Hot Stuff Romance.  I read good things about Book Raid and decided to use them at the last minute.

Book Doggy (https://bookdoggy.com/for-authors/ ) – I paid $14 to be in their newsletter.  I get this newsletter every day, so I know it’s a quality newsletter.  I had intended on using them on Sept 28, but I messaged the admin when applying for the promotion and requested they put me in on the day they felt I would get the best results.  They chose to put me in their Sept 26 newsletter.

Hot Stuff Romance (http://www.hotstuffromance.com/advertise.html ) – I paid $10 to be in their newsletter.  This is also a newsletter I get every day, so I knew what I was getting.  I signed up to be in their Sept 26 newsletter.

Book Raid – (https://bookraid.com/p/partners/sign_up ) – This costs .05 per click, with a maximum charge of $20.  So, if you only get 100 clicks, you only pay $5.00.  This seemed like an interesting way of charging, and I knew I’d have to get their click numbers in order to know how much I was billed for.  I signed up for their Sept 27 newsletter.

TWO WEEKS BEFORE PROMO GOES LIVE:

–Apply for newsletter swaps on BookBoast Newsletter Swap Website.  This site used to be WAY better than it currently is.  I asked around and was told that the admins have abandoned the site entirely.  It’s a damn shame because you’re allowed to see what authors run your promo and how many clicks they get.  It’s also FREE.  So I applied to about 30 newsletters and got accepted to five.  Of those five, only 3 ended up registering clicks.  But…it was free and you get what you pay for.

–Apply for newsletter swaps in Facebook Newsletter Swap groups.  This is even more ‘dangerous’ because there’s really no way to know if the other authors put you in their newsletter unless you sign up for them.  I managed to arrange swaps with 3 other authors.  But, again, it’s free and you get what you pay for.

–Sign up for Facebook Author Takeovers in Facebook Groups.  This is also risky, because author takeovers have been notorious for either having no reader participation or tons of participation.  It’s a total gamble.  I signed up for 4 takeovers in groups.  But it’s free and all it costs me is time.

–Apply for 13 free promo sites.  I’m not going to list them all, because it’s a total gamble whether they’ll feature you or not.  A lot of these sites have free or paid options and they want you to pay (obviously!) so it’s a risk if they’ll feature you at all.  I did actually end up on five of these.  One of them just popped my book on a page with hundreds of other books and I’m pretty sure that did no good at all.  The other four were a bit better.  More details will follow on which ones listed my book in some way.  I did find Ask David (https://askdavid.com/ ) to be the best because it also tweets your book for five days and allows you to use their listing tool to list your book on other free sites.  They also featured my book, which made me happy!

ONE WEEK BEFORE PROMO GOES LIVE:

–Make a graphic teaser to post on Facebook.

–Have a written plan of attack.  This is necessary so you know which promo is going live on which day, which newsletter you’re supposed to be in, and which takeover is at what time.  I’m nothing if not methodical with the details.  Yeah, you could also call it neurotic.

NIGHT BEFORE PROMO GOES LIVE:

–Twas the night before my promo and all through the house, not a creature was stirring….sorry.  I couldn’t help it!  The night before the promo, I scheduled a newsletter and blog post to go out the next morning.  My blog has roughly 80 followers and my newsletter goes out to 1600 subscribers, but only 25% actually open the damn thing.

–Make some goals.  My goal was to give away 2,000 free books.  My total budget was $44.  The current rank of UNGRANTED WISHES is:

201,369 in overall kindle store

653 in Humorous Erotica

809 in Paranormal Erotica

It has 41 reviews.

DAY ONE, Tuesday September 25 

–Wake up at 6:29am with an overwhelming paranoia that Amazon did not make the book free.  Run to the computer to see that the book was indeed free.  Sigh of relief.  13 free books were already given away without me having done anything.  Sweet!  Current rank:  6503 in free store, 28 in humorous erotica, 50 in paranormal erotica.  Impressive!  (Ah, when I say ‘humorous erotica,’ it means FREE humorous erotica.  I won’t be specifying that every single time from here on out, so just realize that all the ranks are in the FREE RANKS from now on.)

–I posted the deal to my Facebook Reader Group (70 people), Personal Facebook Page (260 friends – all from author world and none from real life, so it’s not like my cousin’s hairdresser’s niece is going to be sharing or something), Facebook Author Page, Kboards, KUForum, and 12 Random Facebook Groups.

–11:00 a.m. update:  222 units given away, #1 paranormal free erotica, #3 humorous free erotica, #505 in kindle store overall free books.

–Posted in 40 more Facebook groups at noon.  I was in one FB newsletter swap newsletter at 10am and my own newsletter and blog post at 9am.

–New goal:  #1 in free humorous erotica.  Crack the top 100 in the entire free kindle store.

–End of day:

577 free books given away.  I have another permafree short story on Amazon and that got 11 clicks, so people must have clicked on my Amazon profile.

–Also featured on three of the FREE promo sites I signed up for:

Lovely Book Promotions:  Featured very prominently on main page.

Ask David: Featured farther down on main page and tagged with a red EROTICA banner.  Ooh!  Naughty!  This probably helped with sales though!

Ebooklister:  featured as the 7th book down on the main page.

 

Day TWO, Thursday September 26

–630am rank   #209 in free store, #1 paranormal free erotica, #3 humorous free erotica.  Ugh.  Why the hell can’t I crack the number one spot in humorous?  Yeah, I’m an ungrateful wench.  I can’t help it.

–190 free books given out already.

–Book Doggy paid promo email went out at 4am.  There were 9 books in the email.  Mine was second to the last and one of four that were free.

–Hot stuff romance paid promo email went out at 9am.  There were two books in their email:  my free book and a 99 cent box set.

–Featured prominently on Bookzio main page.  This is another of the free promo sites I signed up for.

–In one Bookboast newsletter swap newsletter.  It got 38 clicks.

–In one Facebook Author Takeover.  Very minimal participation.

–Spammed 38 Facebook Groups.  Realized I’m in WAY TOO MANY spammy Facebook groups and started unjoining them.  I think I started with 150+ groups and ended up with 78 when I was done.  It felt good to cull the herd.

–1:12pm – gave away 660 free books.  #139 in free store, #1 in paranormal free erotica, #1 in humorous free erotica (YES!  #1 in humorous free erotica!  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! GOAL ACHIEVED!).

–Initially I wanted each of my paid promos on separate days so I could better measure how effective they were.  In hindsight, this was dumb.  Stacking the promos is the way to go in order to climb the charts faster.

–End of day:  1177 free books given away today, putting my two day total at 1754 free books distributed.

 

Day THREE, Thursday, September 27

–Book Raid promo email went out at 12:07 pm.  I’m second from the top out of three other books.

–12:25 pm 316 free books given away.

–Facebook Author Takeover in group with excellent readers and a very high amount of participation.

–8:07pm – 916 free books given away.  #108 in entire free store, #1 paranormal free erotica, #1 humorous free erotica.  So close to cracking the Amazon top 100 in the entire free store.  However, the last of my paid promos went out today and I have no major plans for the next few days.  Can I crack the top 100?  Oh the suspense…

–End of day…1256 free books given away today, bringing my three day total to 3010 total free books distributed.  I blew away my goal of 2,000 and it’s only the third day.  Sweet victory is mine!

 

Day Four, Friday, September 28

–Unfortunately there is not a large amount of data today due to the fact that I got a miserable cold and was more concerned with the numbers on my thermometer instead of Amazon totals.  (99.5?!  That’s a fever!  I’m feverish!  Popped some Tylenol, drank apple juice, ate soup, and napped all day.)

–I was in one BookBoast Newsletter that got 8 clicks and one Facebook Newsletter Swap newsletter.

–Had two Facebook Author Group Takeovers.  One had ZERO participation and one had very good participation.

–10am – 243 free books given away.  #80 ranked in the ENTIRE AMAZON FREE STORE!  #1 Humorous free erotica, #1 paranormal free erotica, #16 genre fiction free.  I DID IT!  I CRACKED THE TOP 100 IN THE ENTIRE AMAZON STORE OF BOOKS THAT WERE FREE!  Needless to say, I’d been screen-shotting my ranks this entire time and did about 4 different ones after attaining this epic, historic, and mind-blowing goal.

–End of day:  628 free books given away today, bringing my four day total to 3638.

Day 5, Saturday, September 29 – final day of promo

–11am – 129 free books given out, #95 in free store, #1 humorous free erotica, #1 paranormal free erotica.

–I was in one Bookboast newsletter that got 138 clicks.

–End of day:  428 free books given away today, thus giving me a five day total of 4123 free books distributed…but we’re not done quite yet….

Day 6, Sunday, September 30 – book is no longer free.

–Gave away 12 free books somehow.  Must have been people in other countries who still clicked on it when it was live on their Amazon.  That’s my only explanation for it.  Final total of free books given away:  4,135!!!  Doubled my goal of 2,000.

–7:59 am – book is now ranked 14,127 in PAID kindle store.  #10 in paranormal erotica PAID, #26 in Humorous erotica PAID.  Wow.  Impressive!

FOLLOW UP STUFF:

–Book Raid reported that my book got 937 clicks, thus charging me $20 for the promo.  I would say this was highly successful.  I felt like all three of my paid promotions were worth the money spend on them and I would absolutely recommend them and use them in the future!  Thanks Book Raid, Book Doggy, and Hot Stuff Romance!

So, after my book went out of FREE and back to PAID, it started to sell.  You will get page reads and sales of your book after the promotion ends.  At first, I felt guilty like, “Why did I have five sales the day after it was free?  These people could have gotten it free!”  I actually sold ten Ungranted Wishes in the three days following the free promotion.  Then I realized I cracked the top 100 in two paid erotica categories which gave me a greater visibility.  I think that getting your book in the top 100 of a category – ANY CATEGORY –means more exposure than we realize.

I haven’t noticed any increase in sales on other books or a spike in page reads on other books, so there’s not much to report on sell through at this time.  I did, however, make enough money from sales and page reads on Ungranted Wishes in the week after the promo to pay for the free promotion in its entirety.  I don’t want to come off as an asshole by showing sales reports, but I’ll do it just this once.

Here is the royalty money made from Ungranted Wishes for the month of September before the promo took place:

UGW sept totals

 

Here is the royalty money made from Ungranted Wishes in the week after the promotion:

 

UGW oct totals

Mind boggling, isn’t it?

That right there is the proof  why authors make their books temporarily free.

 

Lessons learned:

–If people are going to open an email newsletter, they do it right away or not at all.

–It’s extremely difficult to crack the top 100 of FREE AMAZON BOOKS because the market is so flooded and everyone wants you to read their book.

–It is super exciting to watch the numbers go up on sales (even if it’s free sales and not paid sales.  Yes, I know ‘free sales’ is an oxymoron.  I love it!).  If I ever sold 600 books in one day instead of giving them away for free…wow.  I would freak out!!!

I absolutely feel it was worth the time and money to do my free promotion.  As I write this blog post, I also have one new review for the book.  Yes, it’s a three star review and my 41 other reviews were all four and five star, but it’s okay.  Two people signed up for my newsletter.  Organic sign ups are few and far between, so that’s awesome.  But the best thing?  One person contacted me on Facebook to tell me she loved the story.  Let me explain that in two and a half years of being an indie author, only three random strangers have ever contacted me out of the blue and told me they loved my books.  This feels good.  It feels DAMN good.

I’m not sure what percent of the 4135 people that clicked on my free book will actually read it.  Full disclosure – I have roughly 80 books on my kindle that were all freebies and some have been there upwards of three years.  I’m assuming a lot of readers are the exact same way.

Before I end this rather lengthy post, I need to give a shout out to some amazingly wonderful people who helped share and promote my free book.   It takes a village to give stuff away…so a giant THANK YOU to:  Dawn, Nadine, Sunday, Eric, Lorianna, Karen, Pavan, Ronda, Jan, Melissa, Cathy, Patty, Sandra, Teri, Tori, Sherwad, Becky, Phoebe, Milissa, Dee Dee, Isabella, Elvira, Gemma, and Nynda.  If you shared my book and I got forgot to list you, I’m an asshole and I apologize deeply.

Okay.  That’s all for today.  I’m going back to writing now.

Til next time….

Grace