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Compete with Yourself and Win by Kitty Bucholtz

February 10, 2016 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , ,

Everyone has a few personal tips and tricks to help them write more, and most people are willing to try something new to see if it helps. I’ve found a good number of people respond well to a healthy fun competition, but sometimes I start feeling bad if I compare myself to someone who always seems “ahead of me.”

Therefore, just in case it’s helpful to you, I wanted to let you know about a quick and easy writing competition you can have with yourself. (Compete with your friends if it doesn’t make anyone feel bad!)

Over ten years ago, I found this “Don’t Break the Chain Calendar” on the Writers Store website. In the description, it says that Jerry Seinfeld once said that he would write a big “X” on every day that he wrote new material…and so this calendar was eventually born.

It has 365 numbered squares on it so you can start any day of the year on square 1. The idea is to get the longest chain of X’s you can. I actually like to use gold stars that teachers put on school children’s homework.  😉  It’s fun to see the line of stars growing. Miss a day or three? Just go to the next appropriate square and start again. If you play the Settlers of Catan board game, it’s like getting the prize for building the longest road. Haha!

One of the nicest things about the Don’t Break the Chain Calendar is that Writers Store offers it as a free PDF download! (Check out the rest of the site – cool stuff!) You can also use a regular printed calendar, but you won’t be able to see as clearly how long your chain grows over time.

Cheap, easy, and motivational – just the kind of “write more” writer’s trick you needed, right? 🙂

Kitty Bucholtz

 

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story “Superhero in Disguise” and the new short story “Welcome to Loon Lake” are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

 

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Going the Distance Time Management Class by Kitty Bucholtz

January 9, 2016 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , ,

I’m super excited to announce that my annual goal setting and time management class for writers is about to start up again! And in lucky year seven (can you believe I’ve been teaching this for seven years?!) I’m creating a new website and making an important change to the class.

The lessons will continue to be the same – helping you figure out your goals for the year, breaking them down into pieces for each month, and plotting everything on a calendar so you can be sure you have enough time for everything you’ve planned – but I’m also adding six (6) monthly live video calls to help you stay on track.

No matter how well we plan our days, something always comes up to knock us off balance, a little or a lot. Having someone there to help you set things straight again, to re-evaluate and restart your plan, is sometimes the difference between spinning your wheels and getting back on the horse (to mix some transportation metaphors 😉 ).

With this new version of the class, you won’t be left to your own devices. We’ll work to keep you on track for six full months! By then, you’ll for sure know what to do when things come up during the last six months of the year. Excellent!

The sign-up page is almost ready – I’ll edit this post in a few days when the link is live. If you have any questions about the class, please email me at kitty@kittybucholtz.com. I look forward to helping you make 2016 your best year ever!

Kitty Bucholtz

 

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story “Superhero in Disguise” and the new short story “Welcome to Loon Lake” are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

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Another KDP Select Ads Update – This Time Not So Great by Kitty Bucholtz

November 10, 2015 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , ,

If, after reading my last two posts about advertising a KDP Select free book (the first one and the second one plus additional information here), you’re thinking that this is a beautiful upward curve toward guaranteed results…well, we’re both wrong.

Not that I thought the results would be guaranteed to continue their upward trajectory, but I didn’t realize I could have such a terrible bomb when things were going well.

Using the same book, Little Miss Lovesick, I made my third 5-days-free promo during my third 90-day KDP Select period on October 21-25, 2015. I paid for three ads (fewer than before), but I forgot to sign up for all the free newsletters until after it was too late. (You need a 7-day lead time for the sites I’ve been using. I remembered 6 days before.)

In May 2015, my 5-days-free yielded 7312 downloads.

In August 2015, the same five days gave up 8108 copies.

Looking great, right? My October results came to only 662 copies. Did you see that – 662!!!

I honestly think there is a lot more owed to those free-to-list-in-our-free-book-newsletter emails than I realized. Forgetting to sign up with the 30 or so that I did all the other times was the only real difference in October.

Interesting, huh? Of course, there could be any number of other factors that I didn’t realize. But I think not signing up for the free sites was a big factor.

So when you’re thinking about how to advertise your free book, and wondering how much you can spend on paid ads, keep in mind that all of those free newsletters might be enough to get you a good start!

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Looking at the KENP “Tail” After a KDP Select Promotion by Kitty Bucholtz

October 9, 2015 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , , ,

Woman with books and laptopOver the last several months, I’ve been sharing my Amazon sales numbers with you as I compare changes during and right after my KDP Select promotions.

I wrote about the results from my May 5-days-free promotion here, and I just updated the earnings this week to “actual” rather than a guesstimate, showing I overestimated revenue. I also tallied the results from my August 5-days-free promotion here. (I’m still showing revenue guesstimates until I get the final numbers for September, but I’ll update that post soon). Both of these promotions have been for Little Miss Lovesick, which has been in KDP Select since February 26, 2015.

Comparing Borrows After a Free Promo

FreeNow I want to discuss my “borrows” – which I’ll refer to as KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) for periods beginning July 1, 2015. I’ve been studying the “tail” of sales and borrows after my promotions to see how long it lasts. (The length of the period after a sales spike is commonly referred to as the tail.)

I don’t want to leave my book in KDP Select forever, but at what point has the positive impact of the 5-days-free promo in each 90-day period stopped influencing borrows/KENP? It’s not cut-and-dried, particularly because you can’t truly compare “borrows” of full books to KENP, “pages read” of full books. But for me, for this book, it looks like there are 4-6 good weeks of borrows, with the first three weeks the very best.

For example, for the first 2 1/2 months of the first KDP Select 90-day period (February 26 – May 25, 2015), I had 1 borrow. In the two weeks during and after the free period (May 19-31), I had 71 borrows! Then another 88 in the month following (June 1-30).

But the second month after the free period showed a sharp drop – 2381 KENP pages read. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s the equivalent of about 6 books borrowed and read July 1-31.

[NOTE: Little Miss Lovesick was earning about $1.35 per “borrow” through June 30, 2015. Since Amazon changed borrows to KENP pages read on July 1, the book – at 402 KENP pages – now earns about $2.32 if a reader reads every page.]

Comparing the Second Round to the First

Little Miss Lovesick book coverDuring the second 90-day period (May 26 – August 23), I tried to recreate the circumstances as exactly I could. During the two weeks during and after the free period (August 18-31), there were 24,899 KENP pages read! Because I don’t expect that every reader reads every page (copyright page, author bio, excerpt, etc.), I’d guess that’s between 62 and 66 books borrowed and read (compared to 71 borrows in May).

The following month, September 1-30, there were 15,567 KENP pages read. That’s probably about 38-42 books borrowed and read (as compared to 88 in June).

If you’d like to see exact numbers, here are the KENP pages read by week for the last seven weeks. Day 1 of Week 1 is the first day of the 5-days-free promo.

Week 1: 7246 KENP pages read
Week 2: 17,653
Week 3: 7831
Week 4: 3780
Week 5: 1692
Week 6: 1811
Week 7: 1274

It’s too early to guess what October’s numbers might be, but based on one period of history above (not a good way to show statistical integrity), and understanding that the previous way Amazon counted borrows (1 book, regardless of how much of it was read after the 20% mark) is significantly different from the new method (by page, exactly), my guess is that October’s numbers will be bleak.

The reason why I started looking at these numbers this week is because Little Miss Lovesick is in the middle of another 90-day KDP Select period, and I need to decide which five days will be free. Knowing that the sales/borrows tail will be good for at least three weeks, I want to do the free promo at least three to four weeks before the end of the period so I can get all the revenue I can from borrows before the book leaves the program.

KDP Select banner

My Conclusion and Action Plan

Unless I change my mind and leave this book in KDP Select for another term (through February 19, 2016), I’ll set the five free days to start sometime during the week of October 18. That will leave me a four-to-five-week tail to get paid for as many KENP pages read as possible before the book leaves KDP Select on November 22.

ACK!! That doesn’t give me much time to figure out where and how to promote it to best advantage!

And that is why I wrote this post for you. 🙂 If you put a book in KDP Select, you need to think through all the potential good that can come your way and figure out how to harness it. If you leave your 5-day-free promo to the end of the period, and don’t renew the book in KDP Select in the following period, you stand to lose hundreds of dollars or more in KENP lost revenue.

If your book isn’t selling anywhere else, as was the case with this book, it probably doesn’t hurt to keep trying different ways to gain readers using KDP Select. For instance, if you don’t want to make your book free for five days (and they can be any five days, but everyone I know, myself included, has found the best results when the five days are in a row), you can try KDP Select’s Kindle Countdown Deal.

The key is – whatever you decide to do, think it through and make a plan. Good luck!

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KDP Select Ad Results August 2015 by Kitty Bucholtz

September 9, 2015 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , , ,
Bringing you another episode of “What Might Be Working in Book Ads.” 😉
 
You may remember, I added my chick-lit book, Little Miss Lovesick, to KDP Select in March 2015. The book wasn’t really selling, so I figured it would be a good time to do some experimentation. After all, you can’t sell fewer than zero books, right?
 
I took advantage of the five free days at the end of May 2015 and shared my results with you here. Things went so well that I wanted to continue my experiment, so I left the book in KDP Select and did another five free days August 18-22, 2015. I am happy to report that the sale went even better the second time! Here are the details…
 
Before the sale:
 
I applied for the same ads that I purchased in May since they did so well. I didn’t get all of them, but I also asked other writer friends what worked for them and picked up a couple of new ads on recommendation (Ereader News Today and Robin Reads).
 
In May I paid $14.99 to use Book Marketing Tools™ ebook submission tool to somewhat-automatically apply to 32 websites at once that accept submissions to advertise your free book. (During a promotion last year, I used Ebook Booster, which submits your free book to 45+ sites for $35.) In August, I decided to try the free membership tool at Author Marketing Club to manually apply to about a dozen sites by clicking through from buttons on AMC’s web page.
 
It’s difficult to know which sites are going to list your book as they don’t all reply back to you. And in the past, I haven’t been able to find my book on all the sites that did reply back. In any case, I’m pretty sure the book was advertised on DigitalBook Today and FreeBooksy, and probably others, but I didn’t double-check any of the sites during the free period.
 
I applied for the “free ebook of the day” ad at Indie AuthorNews, which appeared to be a good ad for me last time, but I didn’t get it this time. I also wrote down that I used a pre-paid ad credit at The Romance Studio blog page for one day, but I forgot to follow-up and see if the ad appeared and on which day. So I don’t know if I got any traffic from there.
 
What I did during the sale days:
 
Tuesday, August 18: 2645 free downloads today
* KENP = 0
* Free ad on ReadCheaply.com
* $45 premium ad in Choosy Bookworm email newsletter to 40,000+ subscribers, on their website all week
 
Wednesday, August 19: 1963 free downloads
* KENP = 470
* $21 to BKnights on Fiverr to 4800+ active Facebook users for 7 days, “extra” promotion with viral Facebook post for 7 days, promote on website with 2000 visitors/day for 1 day, promote in email newsletter to over 2500 subscribers for 1 day
* Julie Kenner’s Hump Day feature, no charge promoted with other books on a blog post
* $25 Ereader News Today ad in email newsletter
 
Thursday, August 20: 850 free downloads
* KENP = 515
* $25 InDtale Bargain Book ad to 10,000+ email newsletter subscribers
 
Friday, August 21: 2080 free downloads
* KENP = 1131
* $20 ad in Robin Reads email newsletter
* Blog post on Tracy Reed site
 
Saturday, August 22: 561 free downloads
* KENP = 2066
* Blog post on Alina K. Field site
 
On the last day of the freebie sale, there are always a few copies that get downloaded early the next day before the price goes back to normal, and 9 free copies were downloaded on Sunday. The grand total of free ebooks downloaded in this 6-day period was 8108. In May, the total was 7312, so I’m quite happy with the 11% increase.
 
Comparison of KENP pages read in Kindle Unlimited:
 
In May, Kindle Unlimited still counted each title as one borrow rather than counting the number of pages read (KENP) as has been the case since July 1. It also took me six weeks to get my results to you last time, and it’s only been 16 days since my most recent sale. So the comparison here is going to be a bit shaky.
 
In my prior post, I reported about 138 borrows over 6 1/2 weeks. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s approximately 55,476 KENP pages if every person read every single page (unlikely).
 
The above numbers include part of July as well, but the July total alone was 2381 KENP pages read (with a payout of about half a cent per page, which is very close to what I got paid for a “borrow” in the past). In the 17 days of August before the book went free, there were 697 KENP pages read. But from the day the book was free to the end of August, there were 24,899 KENP pages read in 14 days. In the first seven days of September, the daily average dropped 40% with 7831 pages read.
 
Totals are:
July KENP = 2381
August 1-17 KENP = 697
August 18-31 KENP = 24899
September 1-7 KENP = 7831
 
Total book sales:
In addition to wanting to get more people reading Lovesick for free, as a borrow through Kindle Unlimited, and as a sale, I also wanted to get people trying my other books. (I have four titles total.)
 
There are three titles in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero urban fantasy series–the first is a free short story, the second is a long novella (45,000 words), and the third is officially the first book in the series at 100,000 words.
 
At the beginning and end of Lovesick, and the beginning and end of the free short story, there is a note to join my newsletter and get the novella for free. That means that if someone downloaded Lovesick for free, and followed up to see what else I had, and read the note about how to get the novella for free, they could’ve gotten three of my four titles for free. If they do that, I think I’ve got them as a reader. And they’re on my newsletter list. 🙂
 
So total book sales are:
 
July = 12 (0 for Lovesick)
August = 24 (9 for Lovesick)
September 1-7 = 8 (0 for Lovesick)
 
Total spent on ads to get to this point was $136 in August. I’m estimating that I’ve earned more than twice that so far in the last three weeks. Excellent! Compare that to the first time I used a KDP Select free period when I spent less than $100 and didn’t break even, the second time when I spent less than $100 but did break even, and now this time I’ve made about a 100% or more return on investment (ROI).
 
This is by far the best result I’ve had so far with any kind of advertising, any kind of freebie/sale. I’ve let Little Miss Lovesick stay in KDP Select for a third period. I’ll let you know what I decide to do this next time.
 
Meanwhile, I’m going to put Unexpected Superhero on sale for $2.99 (down from $3.99) October 1-10 and use the same Choosy Bookworm feature ad to see how it works on bargain-priced books. I chose to discount it only $1 because anecdotal evidence shows few books sell at $1.99, and the number of books (104) I’d have to sell at 99c with only a 35% royalty is more than my sales history says I can expect to get to cover the cost of the ad. (I only need to sell 17 books to break even at $2.99. I’ll try the 99c test later when overall book sales have increased.)
 
I hope this has been useful in helping you decide what you might want to try in your own advertising and promotion. Good luck!
 

 

 

 
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