IS BOOKBUB THE GOLDEN CHALICE OF THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY?

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For most authors, BookBub is considered the pinnacle of promotion. Both independent authors and traditional publishers apply for BookBub's coveted promotion spots, and most authors get knocked back, many, many times. I've heard of some authors being knocked back over sixty times!

Back in October 2017 Painted was accepted by BookBub for an international deal, one which excluded the United States. That was when Painted reached #2 in both the UK and Canadian horror charts, and #1 in the Australian horror charts. What a wild ride that week was. You'll all remember the screenshot showing Stephen King in #1 and me at #2, and then Stephen King at #3, #4, #5 and #6! In case you've forgotten, here's a handy screenshot I took...

Horror Suspense #2.png

And now Painted has been accepted for a worldwide Bookbub promotion, today - 9th June 2018. In preparation, Painted has been discounted to 99c/99p across all digital platforms. So now I'm the author constantly pressing the refresh button on my MacBook Air as I wait for the promotion to start. Refreshing the BookReport screen, hoping to see the sales sky rocketing... an author can dream right?!

Red = Sales Blue = Page Reads

Red = Sales
Blue = Page Reads

What will be more interesting this time round, is to see if there is a flow on effect on the sales, and page reads, of Doctor Perry. Doctor Perry is currently enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, which means you can read it for free if you are enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, and I get paid for the pages you read. It's a surreal feeling seeing the page reads climbing for Doctor Perry, knowing that somewhere in the world people are, in real time, reading my words. Will the Bookbub promotion for Painted have an impact on the sales/page reads of Doctor Perry? That's my hope! Conventional wisdom would suggest that if a reader liked the author's horror novel, they would probably go on to read another horror novel by the same author. Fingers crossed. I'll let you know if that's true!

So now a little girl waits. By the clock, for the promotion to start. Wish me luck!    

So now a little girl waits. By the clock, for the promotion to start. Wish me luck! 
 

So watch this space. I'll report back after the next week, to tell you the results!

You can of course follow me over on BookBub in order to receive the notifications for when any of my books are on sale, or when a new release is launched.

COUNTING DOWN TO THE LAUNCH OF MY HORROR NOVEL

 

Eighteen days remain before my horror PAINTED hits Amazon. Eighteen long angst filled days left to do the hundreds of things on my to do list. It could be more. It feels like more! 

What I have been doing every morning, is taking myself out for a long walk around the park, listening to Mark Dawson's SPF Podcasts, which are incredibly insightful. If you are an author, I recommend you listen to them. Although, when I get home from my walk, after listening to Mark's podcasts, I'll invariably add another dozen things to my already heaving to do list! At least I feel fitter, and am sleeping better.

At the beginning of June I created an official PAINTED Launch Team over on Facebook, for people interested in helping with the online launch of PAINTED. Thirty three people are now part of my team, and their assistance has been invaluable. It's a place where I ask the team members to share posts, or tweets, or to add PAINTED to their own Goodreads lists, etc. You are welcome to join (there is no obligation to read the book if horror isn't your cup of tea!).

A week ago, a Goodreads giveaway for three signed copies of PAINTED went live, as a way to increase the profile of the book, to create a little bit of buzz, and to get it onto readers To Be Read lists (TBR). So far 442 people have entered the competition for one of three signed paperbacks. The competition ends on June 30th. Have you entered yet?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Painted by Kirsten  McKenzie

Painted

by Kirsten McKenzie

Giveaway ends June 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

I've approached a small number of horror book reviewers, pitching PAINTED to them for review. Some have replied positively, which is fantastic news. This week I'll be approaching more. If you have any great blogging contacts, or book reviewer contacts, and are happy to introduce me to them, I would be eternally grateful! Please drop me a line through the contact page and we can go from there.

ARC Copy Meme

The members of the official PAINTED Launch Team have all been sent ARC copies of PAINTED for their reading pleasure. They've picked up some minor errors, which is fabulous! Better that they pick them up than readers on June 30th. Their feedback has been invaluable.

PAINTED was formatted using Vellum, which is the most amazing tool every designed. I love it. I have it open on my desktop now and can add, amend, delete, rewrite at any stage, and those changes are shown live on the kindle view to the side of the manuscript. VELLUM IS AMAZING. I can't shout that loud enough, not even using my old Air Training Corps Warrant Officer voice. It was a breeze generating all the different files formats I need for the different platforms.

On a completely unrelated note, I've started work on my next novel, and have managed 4,548 words already, in between editing, formatting, marketing, walking and mothering. Oh, and having my daughter in hospital as her appendix was whipped out! She's all recovered now, but that was certainly a speed bump in the month of May!
 

Don't forget to join my mailing list for updates about the launch of PAINTED, and where you can get your copies, and the official IRL launch party later this year.

THANK YOU EVERYONE xxx

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Name

SHARING THE LOVE, OR SUCCESS BY ASSOCIATION

Last week Fifteen Postcards hit #2 on Amazon. Not just in one category, but in two.

Before that happened, I woke up to Fifteen Postcards being #36. And boy was I happy! Next time I looked it was #10. Then, when I was at the supermarket, it hit #4. By the next morning, it had hit #2. 

For someone who was happy with her book bubbling consistently around 300, what did that do to me?

As a starter, I broke out the champagne. Then we broke out the really, really good wine. The wine we'd been cellaring for years. The sort of wine you want to drink before you die, and before it goes off, but the occasion normally never presents itself. 

Moet
SAS Wine

We know someone who died before they could drink all the good wine in their cellar, so we invited friends over, and celebrated the hell out of that #2 ranking!

How did I get there - to the dizzying heights of #2? To start with I was perplexed, but then a number of ducks came home to roost. My publisher had changed my Amazon categories. They'd also asked me to give some love to my blurb. Remember, Fifteen Postcards was published in May 2015, and it hasn't had much love since then. So the blurb was updated, and I updated all the Amazon Author Central platforms, and there are many. Why Amazon doesn't extrapolate that out automatically is a mystery to me.

But my publisher did one other thing. They promoted me to readers of Jodi Taylor's books. 

Jodi is with the same publisher as I am, Accent Press in the United Kingdom. I haven't met Jodie yet, but I know her fans are incredibly loyal, and it was through their love and support, that my books almost hit #1. And what a ride. And I am grateful. If it wasn't for Jodi's incredible writing, and her loyal fans, I wouldn't have hit the highs I hit. Sure, changing the categories, and giving my blurb some love helped, but Jodi helped more.

So, if your books are languishing, have you thought about your relationships with other authors? Maybe not someone with the clout of Jodi Taylor, but maybe link up with someone else, cross pollinate, share the love, and the workload, and that may just be the key.

Be Atlas and shoulder the load. Go out to bat for one of your author friends. Help each other.

And thank you Jodi, and Accent Press. Last week was a wild ride. xxx

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Fifteen-Postcards-T...

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE READER

Choosing a book cover is akin to choosing the name for a baby. You mull it over. You sound it out. You might share it with a few trusted friends. But in the end the decision is yours. And that decision can make or break the 80,000 words you've toiled over for the past year, two years, ten years.

This week I commenced the scary but exciting task of choosing a cover for my next book, for my horror novel PAINTED. I put the pitch out to DesignCrowd, and waited for the designs to roll in.

And they are. And some of them are amazing! I want to launch PAINTED now, today. Right this very second. I want to show you all the designs, I'm that excited. Designs have come in from Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Azerbaijan, UK, Bulgaria, Spain, India and Romania. And there is still a week to go in the design period. 

I keep refreshing the DesignCrowd page, looking for new designs. I already have my favourites, I've popped my top five down below. But I'll run a proper poll over on my Facebook page once the design period ends, and you can all vote for your favourite then - go here to be involved - FACEBOOK

I'd still love to have your feedback now though! Comments below are welcome.

Looking at the original book covers Stephen King used, there wasn't a lot of blood and gore on those. In fact, if you look at the current top 100 books on the Amazon horror list, very few of them feature blood, guts or gore in any form (although some of the new Stephen King covers do...).

So tell me, what do you like to see on the cover of a horror novel? Minimalist? Blood? Black and white imagery? Skull and crossbones? Comment on this post, and I'll put your name in the draw to win a signed copy of PAINTED when it is published in June 2017.

My Top Five Cover Designs, so far!

 

 

IN AN IDEAL WORLD, ALL REVIEWS ARE EQUAL

Or, not all reviews are created equally...

Reviews are the lifeblood of an author. We clamour for them. We beg for them. Amazon tells us we need them. Bookstores ask for them. Magazines print them. Newspapers rank them. Bloggers give them, sometimes begrudgingly, and hopefully honestly.

But not all reviews are created equally. And just having Amazon reviews is not enough for some bookstores or libraries to agree to stock your baby.

Authors tend to pounce upon any review as mana from heaven. The crumbs the reading Hansel's and Gretel's of the world have left us. Stumbling across a fresh review on Amazon sends an author's endorphins through the roof.

Goodreads, another treasure trove of reviews and ratings. Even ratings are gratefully gathered around an author, lovingly coveted and caressed.

Of course the Everest of reviews are by those illustrious literary journals which pepper the world. Or decades old newspapers, whose opinion's are eagerly read by their adoring subscribers and discussed over long meals and expensive bottles of pinot noir. Those reviews are considered the gold class of reviews. 

Reviews in women's magazines. Sniffed at by highbrow literary journals, but read religiously every week by the biggest regular consumers of books, women. I don't sniff at those reviews. They are gold.

Reviews by celebrities. Even Kim Kardashian has started asking for book recommendations via her Instagram feed. Reece Witherspoon has a book club. Emma Watson is about as much of book vigilante as you'd expect from her decade of playing bookwork Hermione. She has her own book club too. Oprah started it all. The Richard and Judy Book Club. I'd donate a kidney to be reviewed or profiled by any of these bookish celebrities.

But some of the best reviews, the most considerate and considered, are by the associations and societies within which we operate. The various organisations who exist to support authors writing within their particular genre - Romance; Historical; Horror; Crime; Thriller etc. Reviews which are done by reviewers who understand the genre you are writing in. From the genre you are trying to market to the world. They get you. They understand you. They are gatekeepers though. They want the genre to be full of great works worthy of the title "Romance" or "Historical" or even "Erotica"...

The Historical Novels Society is one such gatekeeper. And in their February issue, Issue #79, they published a review of 'Fifteen Postcards'. You can imagine my response. I opened the link hesitantly...heart in my mouth, palms sweating...and here's the review:

"Kirsten McKenzie has written a very unusual novel: part time travel, part historical, and part antique review. Sarah’s adventures in other times and other continents, linked together by the postcards and the antiques, are well researched and entertainingly written. The twists and turns are a little frenetic, and the reader can sometimes feel as if they are running to keep up. At times the plot is somewhat convoluted and a little unbelievable, but Sarah is an engaging heroine, and the need to know what happens next overrides these minor inconsistencies.

This is a very striking debut novel with an ending that is unexpected and implies a sequel. I await that sequel with interest."

OVER THE MOON. Thank you Historical Novels Society. And yes, I've since asked them if they would be interested in reviewing The Last Letter. I now await patiently for them to respond. They don't always say yes to reviews.

So far Fifteen Postcards has done pretty well on the number of Amazon reviews front. Somewhat annoyingly, they don't collate all reviews across all platforms, so I have to traipse around the various country sites checking for new ones... Here's a snapshot:

You can see from the pictures above which platform most people use. Or maybe that's where most of my readers are. It's a tricky thing Amazon. If you haven't yet reviewed Fifteen Postcards or The Last Letter, please, please do.

You're welcome to pop a review over on Goodreads too!

Goodreads - Fifteen Postcards

 

So next time you read a book, take a moment to write a review. Just a few words, no spoilers. I'll give you a quick guide on what you could say:

  1. Did you like it? YES/NO
  2. What did you like most about it? PLOT/RESEARCH/CHARACTERS/THE END
  3. Who else would enjoy it? HISTORY BUFFS/SPORTY TYPES/NEW MUMS
  4. Do you want to read a sequel? YES PLEASE/THANK GOD IT ENDED
  5. Was there anything the author could improve on? EDITING/LENGTH/KILL MORE PEOPLE
  6. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera 

BRAVING THE CURIOUS ROLLERCOASTER OF AMAZON RANKINGS

Eat your heart out Disneyland and Universal Studios, you have nothing on the stomach churning rollercoaster of Amazon rankings...

Rollercoaster Postcard

Every author does it. Everyone tells us not to do it but we still do. We can't help it. It's like a drug. A legal high. It's either an adrenaline rush or a crushing debilitating blow, but we go back the next day, and the next and the next. We hit the refresh button with the same frenzy a gambling addict pulls the arm on a slot machine in Vegas. We check our rankings on Amazon.

Yes. We hit that refresh button so often that we wear the feet off our poor little mice.

Sometimes our rankings are up. And sometimes they're down. And sometimes there's such a tiny change that we'd rather see a noticeable drop than no change at all.

Queen of Hearts

And the worst of it is that most of the time, we have no idea why our rankings change. That's right. We, the authors, have almost no idea why they change. Sometimes we can pinpoint an upswing because we spent $28 on Facebook marketing (yes, Facebook marketing really worked for me!) or sometimes it's because a well connected book blogger raved about our book. Sometimes it's just because it's sunny, or the moon is in Jupiter, or the History channel is running its tenth repeat of a documentary about the gold rush and suddenly people are interested in everything that glitters.

I'm not going to go into the mechanics of how the Amazon algorithms work, many minds greater than mine have done that all over the internet, and you can read some fascinating pieces of research without having to search too far. I just know that over the last couple of months I've seen a lovely upwards trend in the sales rankings for Fifteen Postcards and The Last Letter, and I am eternally grateful to the people who have bought and read my books. What an honour it is you've placed your trust in me to write something which will entertain you.

Last year I set a goal of making the Top 100 for Historical Fiction on Amazon. It was part of a longer list I had laminated and had stuck to the wall of my shower so I could read it everyday. I can categorically confirm that writing your goals down and keeping them visible is as effective as everyone says it is. First I hit #91 on the Historical Fiction list, and I thought all my dreams had come true. THEN I HIT #56. WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I'm not too concerned about the why's and how's of the Amazon algorithms, I'm purely in the camp of "selling more equals a higher ranking". Simple really. I'm sure I could be a lot more pedantic about tracking my social media activity against the subtle changes in my sales ranking, but I'm not that sort of person. I've got a family I need to interact meaningfully with, and more books I should be writing, and reading, so I'm happy just celebrating these milestones when I notice them.

Thank you for reading my books. Here's to slowly creeping up the rankings as the new year kicks into gear.

WHY WOULD YOU GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE?

There are thousands of blog posts on the subject. Q&As on Goodreads and Facebook, and on every other site purporting to help authors with their marketing. Long streams about the pros and cons of giving your books away for free on LinkedIn. Even Google+ has its share of posts relating to giving away eBooks on Amazon, and on the hundreds of other sites out there.

Book Stack

Each post talks up the benefits of giving away eBooks as a method of getting your name out there, of attracting a following, for marketing purposes, to generate reviews, to be the next Andy Weir. But does it work? Or are there millions of free unread eBooks mouldering away on Kindles, discarded and forgotten?

An Amazon search brings up 93,488 eBooks currently available for free. A plethora of erotic novellas, Game of Thrones-esque length fantasy books, fan-fiction, and self-help books feature heavily. The result of those 93,488 free eBooks? Readers expect more books to be free, and balk at paying less than the price of an average coffee for your average book.

There was a post recently detailing the circumstances where a reader, who’d enjoyed the eBooks they’d purchased on Amazon, had returned them, because, although they’d enjoyed them, they only wanted free books, and asked the author to list their books for free from here on in. They didn’t want to have to pay for them

Many people would be surprised to know you can return eBooks, or that such a facility exists on Amazon. Have you ever tried returning a book you’ve read to a bricks and mortar bookstore, and asking for your money back? There wouldn’t be many instances where they’d refund you after you’d read and returned a book you’d purchased. So why does Amazon allow it? The internet is littered with petitions asking Amazon to fix this, but nothing ever changes.

A book can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to write. Then, traditionally, authors have to find an agent, a publisher, followed by editing, cover design, marketing. Even self-published books need editing, formatting, a cover. It all takes time, and money.

I haven’t listed my book on Amazon for free. The eBook remains at the same price it was when it launched – $2.34. That’s about the price of half a cup of coffee but it’s still something. I put too much work into it to give it away for free. My book is in libraries. It’s in bookstores. I’ve done readings. I’m on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and yes, even Google+. I work hard, and damn it, I want to reap the rewards of that, in the form of quarterly and annual royalties from my publisher. You don’t get royalties from free eBooks.

In all the posts about the pros and cons of giving your work away for free, an overwhelming number of authors point out that giving their work away for free has not resulted in reviews, or increased exposure, or a stratospheric rise up the Amazon Best Selling Lists.

So my advice is: don’t do it. Put the effort in and do some old-fashioned leg-work. Make personal approaches to well-regarded book reviewers. Take a table at a local fair and talk to your potential audience. Approach your library.

Keep writing. Value the work you do. Because if you don’t value it, no one else will either.

Note: This post first appeared on The Spinoff : thespinoff.co.nz

6 July 2016