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...

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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.

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.

BLAME THE PARENTS - MY RESPONSE TO BEING SUCCESSFUL

I've just returned from exhibiting at the 3rd Annual New Zealand Book Festival, which was held in Auckland on the 5th November. It is a showcase for independently published authors (formerly known as self published authors). They graciously let me join them because my publisher is based in the United Kingdom, and I'm all on my own down here in New Zealand.

While my goal at the festival was to interact with potential readers, and sell signed copies of my books, I also had an opportunity to look around, to see what everyone else was selling, and how they were doing it. And it was clear that not all authors have the same level of expertise of selling direct to their potential readers.

Some of my clearest childhood memories revolve around being carted around the North Island of New Zealand while my parents exhibited at numerous small town antique fairs - Taupo, Cambridge, Tauranga, Rotorua, and at the big fairs in Auckland. I've carted so many boxes and pieces of furniture, and valuable antiques, that it's second nature. As is setting up an attractive stand, and selling to the public. My father would set it all up, while Mum, my brother, and I would unpack all the crates. Dad would go outside for a cigarette, and Mum would rearrange everything until it looked perfect. As I got older, I was allowed to help serve. Setting me up with valuable life skills.

It was with that background that I planned my stand for the New Zealand Book Festival. I marked out the dimensions of my stand in the garage, gathered together my props, paid for professional signage, and fiddled with it until it looked right.

The photos above show the mock up in the garage. The signage was from last year's festival - I still had to pick up the new signage from the printing company, and the "table" is the old gas heater, standing in for the larger card table I was picking up the next day from Antique Alley. I was fortunate to be allocated a corner stand.

The photographs below are from the 2016 New Zealand Book Festival. This is my finalised stand in all its glory. The only downside being that copies of 'The Last Letter' didn't arrive in time for the festival... Antique rug, bowl of flowers, clear signage, props, books on display, postcards to hand out, professionally presented author with smiling face.

Note the complete absence of a chair. Last year I had a chair behind my little card table, a nice chair mind you, but I sat on it, behind my table, seemingly unapproachable to potential readers. This year I ditched the chair, wore flat (gold) brogues, and had a far more successful festival. I engaged with people walking in the door, I handed them postcards for my two books (designed by my publisher, and printed in Auckland). I also sold books. Lots more than I did last year.

And I blame that success on my parents. They showed me the benefits of having a beautifully presented stand. They demonstrated how it made a difference if you dressed nicely, instead of wearing grubby jeans and a polo shirt. They taught me invaluable customer service skills - smile, and don't play on your cellphone. You're there to work, to interact, to make connections. 

The NZ Book Festival committee worked hard to make the festival a success, and for those of us who put in the effort at our end, it was a success. For those stall holders with hand written signs, and big scary trestle tables at the front of their stands, and half a dozen chairs behind it, filled with authors reading the newspaper or playing on their cellphones, it wasn't a success. There are learning points in all things, and hopefully those authors will learn for next time. I didn't have the right point of sale signage. It sent mixed signals. So after half a day I took it down. Sales took off. I won't make that mistake again. Another author, Andrene Low, had very clear point of sale signage showing the deals she was offering on her books at the book festival. I'm stealing her ideas for next year!

We all learn, and independent authors need to learn faster - if they want to shake off the yoke of their work being considered less than professional. If you look unprofessional or your stand looks unprofessional, sadly people will judge your book to be unprofessional too. I'm sure their work is excellent, but as much as we all say 'don't judge a book by its cover' (about books and people), humans invariably do. Especially in a cavernous hall with eighty other authors competing for the finite amount of money in the pockets of the attendees.

On the plus side, not only did I sell books at the festival, but I bought one as well - 'The Psychology Workbook For Writers' by Darian Smith. He had great signage, was standing up, and was engaged with the attendees. I've started reading it. The chapter which starts on page four is titled: Blame The Parents... #fate 

I'm excited about next years New Zealand Book Festival. I think it will go from strength to strength, and I'm honoured to be part of it.

What Does Being A Full Time Author Mean?

This is the beginning of Week Four of being a full time author.

What does that mean? It means drinking a lot more coffee than I used to, and having a very tidy house for starters. It also means I've had to get pretty serious about my writing, my writing goals, and my personal writing habits.

What have I done so far? Well, number one, you're looking at it. A shiny new author website - www.kirstenmckenzie.com. Secondly, I've created the template through Mail Chimp for semi regular / semi sporadic author updates, to be emailed to those people who put their name down to receive it. You too can add your name to the list, via the handy form on this website.

I've written a schedule. It looks very much like my old school schedule, but without Double Maths (thank goodness), and no PE. Although looking back on it, I should have enjoyed PE way more than I did. I've allocated time for writing, naturally, and time for website updates, online marketing stuff (probably too much time), time for Goodreads surfing, and time for competition writing.

What is competition writing? On my list of personal goals, I've written down that I want to enter 12 writing competitions this year. It's good to give my brain a break from 1860s New Zealand, and the troubles in India in the 1800s, and the dastardly Benjamin Grey. I've already entered one, so only eleven more to go! I'll keep you posted about when I win some.

Future plans, from April I'll be posting guest blogs from other authors, but there will be a cohesive theme to their posts, complementary to what I write, so as to not throw you all. So keep watching, check in for more posts, and don't forget I'm on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and Instagram too.