One-Month Past a BookBub Promotion

Cotton Candy Rhodo - Guenette photo

From March 25th to March 29th, I ran a five-day free promotion for Disappearing in Plain Sight, first book in my Crater Lake Series, with a fiercely-sought-after BookBub Promotion slot on March 27th. Please check out my series of posts to read about how the whole thing unfolded.

The end of April marked one-month past the promotion. Things are still going amazingly well for the Crater Lake books. When you have written a series of books, give the first away for free and realize a bump in sales for subsequent books in the series, this is what is called the halo effect. Well, here I am, checking my stats with a big halo over my head.

Sales over the month of April for the series and for my stand-alone novel, Maelstrom, were five times higher than e-sales garnered over all my titles since Disappearing in Plain Sight came out in 2013. In one month! My email list is bulging from readers who took the time to send me an email and let me know how much they enjoyed one or all three of the Crater Lake books. I went into the promotion with thirty-three reviews for Disappearing in Plain Sight. I now have sixty-four. And speaking of reviews, if you haven’t had a chance to check out my last post on how authors react to negative reviews, please do. The comment stream is as informative as the post, so don’t miss either.

Now that the books have been raised out of Amazon’s basement of obscurity, I am experiencing pressure to keep the marketing ball in the air. I tried for a BookBub slot for the second book in the series, The Light Never Lies, and was turned down. No surprise! Tried for an E-Reader News Today (ENT) slot for Disappearing in Plain Sight and then for my new release, Maelstrom and was turned down on both of those. ENT is getting very popular. I have learned to just keep trying with these sites. One day one of my books will fit their email agendas.

My biggest challenge right now is getting my head out of marketing and back into active writing mode. The best promotion possible will be the release of the fourth book in the Crater Lake Series. I know how it starts and I know how it ends. I’ve plotted out the major crunch points. The new characters and settings are profiled. The story board is up and running. Random scenes pop into my mind at odd moments of the day. So – what is missing? Seat in the chair, fingers on the keyboard producing a set number of words every single day. Excuses abound – oh, let me tell you about the garden and the weather and my pressing need to read all four books in Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet for no good reason at all.

To recap – BookBub works! The Crater Lake Series has broken through Amazon’s vastly crowded ocean of books and for the most part, readers have been pleased. My favourite email so far went like this:

“Bud here, sixty-something-year-old guy. Thought I downloaded a teen romance – not my thing. Stuck with it. Glad I did. Good book.”

Many thanks, Bud. Now all I need to do is get that next book written.

Mountain Bluet - Guenette photo

The Negative Book Review and Appropriate Author Reactions

Rodan at Stanford - Bruce Witzel photo

I read something recently that made me chuckle. It was a how-to article about ways to preview an Amazon e-book before purchasing. The Look Inside feature was outlined as well as the option to download a preview before buying. The writer went on to explain that if a book was offered free, she simply downloaded it because what was there to lose. It’s free. She took umbrage at people who think they have a right to complain about not liking a free book. It’s free, people. Come on.

Free or otherwise, readers reserve the right to always have and sometimes, to even express that opinion in the form of a review.

From my close observation of writers … they fall into two groups. 1) Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review and 2) Those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review. (Isaac Asimov)

What is the best way for an author to react to a negative book review?

With quiet respect. Obviously. Without a doubt, it is easier to be respectful and over the moon when it’s a stellar, five-star beauty of a review full of statements like – best book I’ve ever read. When the review is the one or two-star variety, naturally the author feels the sting. But, all the same, respect is due either way. Someone took time out of their busy life to download a book (free or otherwise), read and comment. That deserves respect.

Rodan at Stanford - Bruce Witzel photo (2)

I’ve dropped in on more than a few Facebook writer’s groups where the topic of bad reviews has come up. Some authors have a hard time dealing with their emotions around reviews that are far from positive. They want to argue the reviewer’s points and explain themselves. The bad reviews have the power to devastate them. Fellow authors often rush in with comments about how the review was clearly written by a troll. If someone has the nerve to point out that writer’s need thick skins when they put their work out into the world, that there is much to be learned from constructive criticism, the subsequent discussion lights up with anger over anyone having the nerve to take the discussion stream in such a direction.

All emotion aside, a genuine review – positive or negative – is one person’s reaction at one moment in time. Nothing more and nothing less. A rave review doesn’t make one a Pulitzer Prize winner any more than a one-star, scathing commentary makes one a hack.

Rodan at Stanford 2 - Bruce Witzel photo

Readers have pet peeves. I know I do and I’ve certainly seen from reviews of my own books, that others do. This is normal. Read the review, take the feedback that is useful and move on. But what of the trolls? I can hear the many Facebook writer’s groups screaming this question. A careful perusal of a book’s reviews will allow a reader (except in the most unusual of circumstances) to separate any obviously malicious reviews from the genuine ones. Readers aren’t dummies.

When it comes to reviews, I wonder if readers who are looking to access an honest opinion of a book are more often on the receiving end of trolls than authors are – in the form of faked five-star reviews authors obtain through less than legitimate means.

In my humble opinion, self-published authors need to learn to roll with the punches. As much as social media has provided opportunities to get our books noticed, it can also have a dark side. I’m not trying to deny that trolls are out there but I think the actuality of being targeted with a poor review written by a troll is far less likely than various groups would have us believe. We must take the social media good with the bad. And that goes for all our reviews!

Down through the ages, negative reviews have always been part and parcel of the artistic endeavour. We are simply coming of age, folks.

New Mexico - Guenette photo

Tuesday Book Blog – On Lucky Shores: A Chet Walker Adventure

On Lucky Shores - Cover

First things firstKerry J. Donvan’s novel is on sale for a mere 99 cents until April 21st on Amazon! What a dealSmile I have had variable results checking the sites for this sale price but Kerry assures me all is in order and his book is on sale.

Genre: Thriller, mystery, suspense, crime, medical, heist

18 Reviews on Amazon.com with an average of 4.8 out of 5!

Kerry J. Donovan author photoA tidbit of info on Kerry:

Born in Dublin, Kerry J. Donovan now lives and writes in a stone cottage in rural Brittany, France. A former cabinet maker and respiratory physiologist, Kerry writes character-based thrillers as well as police procedurals.

 

What’s the book about:

In an action-packed tale of secrets and lies in small town America, Chet Walker is a man forced to make decisions that will affect his future and the life of the woman he loves. Witness to a car crash and in receipt of a cryptic message from a dying man, traveling musician, Chet Walker, reaches the picturesque lakeside town of Lucky Shores. He faces hostility and suspicion from the locals and learns that the information he carries could unlock an eight-year-old mystery—it could also get him killed. Josephine Dolan, owner of the Lucky Shores diner, wants to bury her past. When Walker arrives with a message from her father, she doesn’t want to hear it. She cuts him cold. When his life is threatened, Chet Walker learns the truth behind the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

My Review

4.0 out of 5 stars

Well-drawn main character dropped into a great setting!

I loved the setting – a small town nestled in the Colorado Rockies. Donovan’s main character, Chet Walker, is finely drawn from the details of his back story that informs his current actions to his multi-faceted personality – the musician, the martial arts fighter, the drifter, to say nothing of his mysterious knowledge of firefighting and medicine. It takes some time for Chet to come completely into focus – another master stroke of storytelling! A line like, “… focused on the pain and the rain and the water running down the drain.” as Chet observes his surroundings and turns them into a tune captures the reader’s imagination. A mysterious sheriff, a small town doctor who seems anything but and a damsel in distress round out a team of secondary characters who all hit the right notes. Solid writing – an enjoyable read.

So, there you have it – a great book at a great price. Off you go to the Amazon site of your choice. Here’s your link to Kerry’s book on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca

Happy reading on lucky shores.

Izzy’s Clothesline Platform

Socks on the line - Guenette photo

For all the new readers of Disappearing in Plain Sight – here’s a treat and an example of how fiction informs reality.

One of the first building projects tackled after I came to the cabin was a crude platform up a couple of stairs that allowed me to reach the newly installed clothesline. For all it’s primitive nature, that original platform hung around a long time – twenty-three years this fall!

Sheets on the line - Guenette photo

In the above photo, the platform is barely visible. It was a humble structure all tucked up behind the salal bushes. And definitely on it’s last legs in 2015 with rotting posts causing the whole thing to lean forward at the front end. The already iffy platform was not helped, on more than one afternoon near the end of last summer, by the antics of a large bear who chose to climb up and plant him or herself on the end to eat salal berries.

This spring, Bruce set out to build me a new clothesline platform. Here are the results. We have both concluded that it is fancier than either of us envisioned. It seems this model would suit Izzy to a tee!

Fran's new clothes line platform, April 14, 2016 - bruce witzel photo

I’ll have to struggle along to be worthy of the magnificence Smile 

Excerpt from Disappearing in Plain Sight:

“Liam, take a look at this … it’s priceless to watch, really.” Liam looked where Caleb was pointing but all he saw was Izzy out on the clothesline platform Caleb had built for her. She was hanging out the wet laundry.

He cast a somewhat baffled look at his friend but Caleb just kept smiling through his words, “Look at how carefully she chooses each piece, Liam.” Izzy did seem to search through the basket as if she were looking for something in particular. “I used to think maybe she would hang only pants together … or shirts … or my stuff and then hers … or maybe there was a colour code or something. It never made any sense. It was the damnedest thing. And then one day I figured it out. It’s because of those two lilac bushes. You see … look … first big pieces and then smaller pieces in the middle so they will clear that one bush and then some bigger pieces again but only small pieces at the end because if the wind comes up the bigger pieces would hit the lilac.”

Liam was seeing the logic of this but Caleb’s fascination with the whole process seemed odd. Izzy put the last piece on the line and reeled it out. She turned, going quickly down the three steps from the platform and walking toward the kitchen door. Liam was about to head into the shop to do some task or another. He and Caleb were always working on something. But Caleb grabbed his arm to hold him back out of Izzy’s sight, “No wait Liam, this is my favourite part … she’ll stop,” and as Caleb said those words, Izzy did indeed stop. “She’ll turn back to the clothesline.” This was exactly what Izzy did “And she’ll survey her handiwork.” Izzy stood gazing for a moment or two at the line and then headed inside.

Caleb began to walk toward the shop door shaking his head, “It’s always exactly the same. I have never seen that woman look as satisfied as she does when she turns back to that clothesline.” He laughed out loud, pushed Liam in the arm and winked at him, “You know what I mean, Liam.” Caleb paused for effect before he added, “Never seen her that satisfied.” Then he had laughed even more. “Good thing I don’t have a big ego, hey, Liam.”

That was the essence of Caleb. Liam could still picture him, all these years later, leaning there against the workshop door – a big guy with shaggy blond hair and a wild looking beard. He would often slouch a bit so he and Liam were on the same level. In Liam’s memories, Caleb’s dark-blue eyes always sparkling with humour. Caleb hadn’t ever had anything to prove; he was sure of himself and his chosen friends.

Looking back - clothesline platform

A Quintessential Feel Good Song – And I Do!

Skunk Cabbage - Bruce Witzel photo

Yesterday was just one of those days that turned out great but I can’t explain why. Poised on that uncomfortable fence between obsessively planning to write the fourth book in the Crater Lake Series and actually starting to write said book, suddenly, inexplicably, I broke through. With the upbeat lyrics of American Authors in the background, as the smell of freshly mowed grass drifting in the window, I managed a few thousand words that are definitely going somewhere.

Once again, I was back at Crater Lake and the characters so filled my thoughts that I had to drop everything and stroll the paths around our place in an attempt to untangle the various knotted threads that represent their lives. It was then I knew, I had vaulted that uncomfortable fence. I was on my way.

Just in case you have any lingering Monday morning blues, I’ll share the lyrics from American Authors – Best Day of My Life. Follow along to the You Tube link and I’m sure that in no time you’ll be up and dancing around the room. Enjoy!

Best Day Of My Life

I had a dream so big and loud

I jumped so high I touched the clouds

Wo-o-o-o-o-oh

I stretched my hands out to the sky

We danced with monsters through the night

Wo-o-o-o-o-oh

I’m never gonna look back

Whoa, I’m never gonna give it up

No, please don’t wake me now

Oo-o-o-o-oo

This is gonna be the best day of my life

My life

Oo-o-o-o-oo

This is gonna be the best day of my life

My life

I howled at the moon with friends

And then the sun came crashing in

Wo-o-o-o-o-oh

But all the possibilities

No limits just epiphanies

Wo-o-o-o-o-oh

I’m never gonna look back

Whoa, I’m never gonna give it up

No, just don’t wake me now

Oo-o-o-o-oo

This is gonna be the best day of my life

My life

Oo-o-o-o-oo

This is gonna be the best day of my life

My life

I hear it calling outside my window

I feel it in my soul

The stars were burning so bright

The sun was out ’til midnight

I say we lose control

Oo-o-o-o-o

This is gonna be the best day of my life

My life

Oo-o-o-o-o

This is gonna be the best day of my life

My life

This is gonna be, this is gonna be, this is gotta be

The best day of my life

Everything is looking up, everybody up now

This is gonna be the best day of my life

My life

American Authors Album Cover

Disappearing in Plain Sight–Five Free Days–Part Four

Analyzing the situation - Bruce Witzel photo

In the first post of this series, I described how I made the decision to try for a BookBub (BB) advertising slot. In part two, I outlined the steps I took in preparation for the big BB day. Part three was the fun post! I got to write a timeline of my stunned disbelief at the success of my promotion. In this last of the series, I host my own post-game show.

Five-day promotion totals:

  • Free Downloads – 34,990
  • Sales – 95
  • KENP’s – 16,622 = approx. 33 sales (calculated at the 48 cents per 100 pages and divided by an average cost across my books of $2.44)

Total expenditure for promotion – $596.00 (CND)

  • BookBub to run March 27th – 330. 75
  • Fussy Librarian spot to run March 26th – 33.38
  • Book Marketing Tool (placing my promo info up on 30 different sites) – 21.29
  • Book Sends/IQ Reader slot to run March 28th – 207.07

Total costs recouped by the first day post-promotion! And sales across all three books in the Crater Lake Series have continued at a good pace since the promotion ended.

Stanford - Bruce Witzel photo

Final Reflections:

Until I saw it with my own eyes, I never believed BookBub would work the way it did! Wow! I recommend the Book Marketing Tool. I know this small expenditure really pushed me up the charts ahead of the BB slot. Not sure how much impact Fussy Librarian had but again, relatively inexpensive. I also had the benefit – for no cost – of going out on a fellow author’s email list with a really attractive advert for my book and that definitely had impact. Building a social network is never effort wasted!

In the two days prior to the BB, I had a lot of re-tweeting action on Twitter as well as extra sharing of my Facebook posts and increased traffic on my blog. I’m sure all these little things added up.

The one expense I remain unsure of was the BookSends slot that ran the day after the BB placement. It was costly. Downloads stayed close to 10,000 for the day the BookSends email went out – could have been a partial carry over from the BB, though. There’s no way to tease these things apart. Common wisdom does suggest that surrounding the BB slot by other promos extends the halo effect. Another time, I would try harder for something less expensive.

U of T - Bruce Witzel photo

I’ve already garnered ten new reviews and have had a taste of my first 2 stars! The reader said Disappearing in Plain Sight was self-indulgent without a single character to care about. I feel I have truly arrived with that criticism. I’ve also had a number of positive emails – here are just a few snippets of these: “One of the best books I’ve read in years …”; “Thank you for writing such a healing book.” ; “Once a year, there will be a book or books in this case, that I know I am going to read again and again for the rest of my life.”

Many, many thanks to everyone who supported my promotion and for those who have been with me from the beginning. We’ve plugged away together and the celebration is sweeter in the sharing. It was a wild and crazy five days!.

I look forward to doing another post in this series at the one-month, two-month and three-month beyond BookBub mark.

Minneapolis - Bruce Witzel photo