Experiments in promotion – part 1

As some of you know I not a big fan or marketing but books don’t sell themselves. In a market place where there are millions of books getting one’s novels seen is tricky.

So what marketing strategy works for me? Honestly I have no bloody idea. Recently I had Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse on freebie for a few days – results were OK. Some downloads but not huge amounts. That said it is a short story and I didn’t promote it much. Whether those freebies will result in sales for the audio book or garner reviews is yet to be seen.

What I have found is author/character interviews help – at least initially and at least sometimes. Of course the difficulty there is finding them and keeping the content interesting. They also take away from writing time.

I tried a Thunderclap a couple of times last year with very mixed results so I’m going to do a couple more – one starting today to promote The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I and another when the audio is released.

I may also try one for Outside the Walls if I can sort the banner out.  Thunderclaps are an interesting concept – the basic package is free to set up and only needs 100 supporters to go live. There are several Thunderclap groups on Facebook and they do require a lot of pushing. Is there a bump in sales during/after? I’ll let you know.

Anyway if you’d like to support my campaign here’s the link. All you need to do is click the link then support using the big red buttons (everyone likes pressing big red buttons! Or is that just me?) http://thndr.me/CSHXHu

I’m trying another Kindle Countdown for Stolen Tower – I tried one last year, again with mixed results. The

UK Kindle Countdown http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stolen-Tower-Light-Beyond-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00U8A9044/

The original list price is £1.72 but it will be on offer for 99p until the 7th January.

There will also be a Countdown for the Amazon.com store starting 8am PST http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Tower-Light-Beyond-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00U8A9044/

I’ll let you know how they go.

When Book I is released on audio I may well do a blog tour or paid ad. I’m always looking for new ideas so any advice welcomed.

 

 

 

2015 – A Writer’s Diary

Welcome back to the Library of Erana and the last day of 2015. So another year has dashed past and I’m sitting at the end of 2015 and wondering where it went. I have a theory – someone is siphoning time out of the weekend and holidays and sneaking it into the working day. That’s why days at work seem to go on longer than the same day on leave.

What has 2015 brought me? A house! We bought our first house in April and it’s great. Whilst the place isn’t perfect it’s a good deal better than renting a damp flat and my overall health is better. Also we now have a delightful doggy – she’s grown from a tiny puppy to almost adult and we adore her. Every day she makes us smile and she’s such a happy and joyful creature.

Work… still there. Still stressful and busy but at least I am working and thankful for that.

Writing wise I’ve not been as productive as I planned – mostly due to the factors above but I’ve not been idle.

Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III was published in March 2015. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/new-release-the-stolen-tower-the-light-beyond-the-storm-chronicles-iii/

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The third edition of Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I was published with quite a few revisions and a new cover for the paperback. http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles–ebook/dp/B0088DQO9C

Outside the Walls was revised and expanded and the audio book produced with narrator Melanie Fraser. It sounds great. There is something magical in hearing one’s book read aloud.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/outside-the-walls-fantasy-short-story-new-release/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/outside-the-walls-now-in-print/

Audio

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189QHB12/

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189Q944E/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189QCHI4/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189Q95XO
Warrior’s Curse was produced in audio by narrator Rob Goll – who has also done Heroika: Dragon Eaters for Perseid Press and will be narrating Light Beyond the Storm and Shining Citadel in 2016.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8AWU4/http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8I5SK
Heroika: Dragon Eaters was published – along with the accompanying audio book. Please check out the A Week with the Dragon Eaters posts for author and character interviews.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/heroika-dragon-eaters-audio/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/heroika-dragon-eaters-heroic-fictionfantasymyth-new-release/

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I’ve done 17 guest interviews elsewhere including the latest with Melanie Fox here. https://mercedesfoxbooks.com/meet-author-a-l-butcher/ and four character interviews including Mirandra, Ephany, Dii’Athella and the Thiefmaster.

Oh and a course on Roman and Greek Mythology – which was really interesting. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/greek-and-roman-mythology-course-review/
There have been over 160 blog posts – including another Week in Hell, a Week with the Dragon Eaters, character, editor and author interviews, and several fantasy based posts and reblogs.

10 tips and lessons

1) I’m rubbish at using Twitter! Does it help marketing? Not a bloody clue. Many people say it is a vital tool; personally I’m not convinced as I have never bought a book or product from a twitter link and it looks like many people shouting to me. That said I do follow a few authors and it is useful for sharing blog posts. I follow the history, nature an astronomy posts too.

2) There is never enough time or energy to write. This is, of course, mostly my fault. I work full time and often I don’t have enough energy or brain power to do much but poke about on Facebook.

3) Networking is vital. I knew this already but it’s good to have one’s knowledge reinforced. Indie authors are, generally, a supportive lot and I’ve traded interviews, found great books to read and got to know a wide variety of people through social media and networking. It’s a good way of getting support for new releases, blogging, Thunderclap and more.

4) There are some total asshats about and many more idiots. This too has been obvious for a while. Recent events have NOT made the world a safer place. Whilst I agree that terrorism is bad, and religion pernicious bombing the crap out of an area that is already a wasteland is not going to make things better. Humans have an amazing capacity to be total asshats to one another – I can’t think of any other animal which is so unpleasant to its own kind – of course not everyone is like that and certain groups have been labelled as terrorists when it is the actions of a minority. History tends to repeat itself – and in many ways humans have a short memory – or at least a selective one. Often people are quick to judge, especially when they don’t know all the facts. Ignorance leads to fear and fear to hatred, then the killing begins anew, or the ghetto, or the pogrom, or the genocide….

Facebook especially fuels both idiocy and vitriol. There are lots of calls from freedom of speech but – of course that depends on who is doing the speaking and what they are saying. There is either freedom to say what the hell you like – and that goes for everyone or there’s not – some limitations are put in place. But then where and when does that stop. Perhaps if people thought before they spoke (or typed) such limitations wouldn’t be needed. Just because you CAN say something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
Anyway enough of the political talk…don’t get me started I spent 7 years studying politics, sociology, ethics and philosophy and it taught me not to get involved in debates with people who won’t listen and assume they are always right…

5) Marketing is a lottery. I’ve tried some new tactics this year – including Twitter and Thunderclap – results have been mixed. Both are free – at least at the basic level so although not particularly successful no outlay was lost. I’ve found a mix of things helps. Don’t rely on one strategy – vary your approach and keep things interesting.

tps://www.thunderclap.it

6) Write every day, even if it’s not working on a book or story. A blog post, a facebook post, a letter or email to someone – it all keeps the brain cells ticking. Write stories when you can and don’t force it. The world is NOT going to end if that story isn’t finished this week. That’s one of the many reasons I love indie publishing. With a few exceptions the person setting the deadlines is me and so if the book isn’t finished or life intervenes (which it does frequently) then it doesn’t matter as much.

7) Be nice to people. If you can’t be nice be quiet.

8) Vary what you write – if you’re struggling with a project then step away from it and work on something else. I’ve found that focusing on other things means my brain can be ticking away in the background sorting out the problems with the other project.

9) Some things can’t be fixed. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on a project or idea only to find it doesn’t work, or its crap. Yes I know this contradicts point 8 a bit but sometimes an idea simply won’t work – or at least not in the way you want. That’s fine. Sometimes shit happens (or doesn’t) don’t force it to be something it isn’t. Readers can spot a forced plot. If it doesn’t work then change it – look at your options. Can it be used for something else? What is causing the issue? Can it actually be fixed? Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes it becomes something else. That’s fine too.

10) Read more. Reading is great relaxation, great research and great enjoyment. The more you read the better writer you’ll become.

So what’s planned for 2016?

I have lots of plans for 2016 – most of which may never materialise but it’s still good to plan.

These are not in any order….
Hopefully a second Heroika volume will happen (for Perseid Press). Not going to mention too much of my WIP but the volume should be great, having seen a few snippets of draft stories. Hopefully my story will be up to scratch and I’m sure the book will feature on the blog when it’s published.

There will be at least one short Tales of Erana, possibly two. I’m planning to release Just One Mistake with a few revisions as a standalone. It’s already featured in Nine Heroes plus my own Tales of Erana Volume One but I have idea how it can be expanded. I think it would make a great audio short story.

Book II is currently being revised so there will be a new edition of that sometime early to mid 2016.

Book I in audio. Rob Goll is narrating that and we are hoping for spring 2016 release on that. I can’t wait to hear what he’s done.

Tales from the Golden Mask – this has been a WIP for a while. Hopefully the first part of the series will be released by the summer. It’s a co-authored erotic adventure set in an Erana of the past. We think it’s a lot of fun, with feisty women, sexy heroes and of course a goodly helping of nookie. This one doesn’t take itself or the world too seriously and is aimed at a slightly different audience.

The Kitchen Imps – a short book of fantasy tales for kids and the young at heart. I really need to work on these, as this is another project which has been around for a while.
I’m contemplating changing the blog – currently this is the free wordpress type but the upgraded version has a lot more features. I’m hoping to attach a website dedicated to just the books as well. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Also looking to participate in a blog tour – I’ve hosted people before but I’ve never done it myself. Will be an interesting experience and I’ll review it after.

Want to try and read more, and review more. I often stick to re-reads but I’m going to try and branch out for new authors. I’ll try and be better at posting reviews as well.
Looking for plenty more interviews – both giving and receiving – guest posts and articles.

Signed up for a course on medieval magic, one on Ancient Greece and also looking at ancient Egypt. Plus whatever else takes my fancy and I can manage with the other commitments.
I’ll look back in twelve months and see how many of these I’ve done.
Feel free to comment on ideas, suggestions for the blog and contacts about interviews.
Hoping 2016 is good for you, my followers, and you’ll keep viewing the blog.

Red and gold rose 2chronicles banner  Warriors Curse Final 1 - ebook

2014 – A Year Filled With Words

I can’t believe it will be 2015 in a few hours, where has the year gone?! So what has 2014 brought? Words! Knowledge! Friendship!

It’s too many years for me to confess to since I left university but my thirst for knowledge hasn’t abated. As some of my followers know I love history, especially ancient history. The course https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall Hadrian’s Wall – Life on the Roman Frontier was fascinating. Well presented and interesting this was a good look at life in Roman Britain, and the challenges facing both occupiers and occupied.  There may well be a story from this era…. watch this space.

Next year – January I am hoping to complete another course about Roman Architecture and archeology, and later on the Coursera course about Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I’d planned for Book III of the Chronicles to be out by year end, but for one reason or another this hasn’t occurred. It is, however, done in draft so should appear in the springtime. I’ve not been idle, this year has been a year of short stories, planning and promotion.

My books this year:

Nine Heroes: Tales of Heroic Fantasy. This includes a Tale of Erana not featured anywhere else. Coel is the reluctant hero of this tale of slavery and revenge. Look out for Coel again in 2015

Kiss and Tales – the Romantic Collection (with the Indie Collaboration).

Summer Shorts (with the Indie Collaboration) – this includes some poetry about the British Summer Time, and a short story about the Kitchen Imps.

Spectacular Tales (with the Indie Collaboration) – (free) featuring some poetry and a fairy tale retelling.

Tales from Darker Places (with the Indie Collaboration) (free) – featuring some poetry, a dark and twisted story about Jack the Ripper, and a dark tale about a lonely vampire.

Bellator – I have to say I haven’t had that much fun for ages. It was such a joy to be co-writing with Diana Wicker again.  Perhaps these characters might appear again. This charity anthology is raising money for wounded service personnel, a cause close to my heart. Books for heroes and stories about heroes – what a marvellous combination.

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends – a collection of tales set in Erana featuring errant gods, magic, myth and mayhem – Also in Audio. On the subject of Audio I started running Audio Book Narrator interviews, which were fascinating. For me a whole new world was revealed – a book read aloud is a treasure indeed, it brings forth emotions of joy from memories of parental and grandparental story telling, sitting down at school and being read to, and reading aloud to friends. Story telling is as old as the hills, and is central to our culture.

Wyrd Worlds II – this free anthology features another tale of the Kitchen Imps, plus a short fantasy tale of the god-keeper of a small bluish-green world.

Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse – new release. A short story of myth and magic set in the world of Erana.

Blog-wise there have been:

18 character interviews with everyone from William Shakespeare, a horse, a dog, several aliens, a few witches and wizards, a couple of demi gods, a vampire and even Satan himself.

42 author interviews covering fantasy, science fiction, suspense, paranormal, children’s fiction, crime and historical.

3 narrator interviews, including Chris Morris.

6 editor interviews.

5 cover designer interviews.

5 reader interviews.

2 reviewer interviews.

Several blog tours stopped by, plus there’s been advice about audio books, Thunderclap, book reviews, course reviews, giveaways, new releases and much more. It has been a busy year!

So what will 2015 bring?

The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III will appear in the spring.

Plus there will be more short stories, including more from the Kitchen Imps, Coel and the Thiefmaster, and more Tales of Erana. Book IV of the Chronicles is in planning, and I dare say more short stories will spring from that. A murder mystery, plus perhaps some more grimdark.

There may also be an erotica collection, co-written with a friend.

Wow I am busy already and the year hasn’t even started!

There will be several guest posts discussing the influence of fantasy on our culture, plus, of course many more interviews. The first of these is scheduled Jan 2nd 2015 from Joe Bonadonna. If you are interested in participating in an interview, a guest post or blog tour stop-off please contact using the form below or on the Contact Details page.

Sale and Event – Light Beyond the Storm and Tales of Erana

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To celebrate the release of Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse, Christmas and the end of the year I am offering money off the Smashwords editions of both novels and Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends.  I’m also running a Thunderclap Event for Myths and Legends.

For those who haven’t experienced a Thunderclap Event they are FREE to set up, and free to participate in. It is simple. Click on the Thunderclap link provided, then chose which of the red buttons to support (Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter) and click them, then share. At the specified date the message will go live, to be shared on multiple platforms simultaneously.  It’s a great way to meet new folks, find new books or events and share the love:)  For more information of Thunderclap please see these articles: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/thunderclap/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/thunderclap-one-users-experience/

Here are the details for the sale: (SMASHWORDS EDITIONS ONLY)

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…
Promotional price: $0.99
Coupon Code: AX98D
Expires: January 31, 2015

AND both the novels for 50% off.

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…
Promotional price: $1.63
Coupon Code: HD98R
Expires: January 31, 2015

The Shining Citadel
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…
Promotional price: $1.75
Coupon Code: FU28E
Expires: January 31, 2015

EDIT – THUNDERCLAP EVENT HAS NOW ENDED.

Thunderclap – One User’s Experience

After my recent post about Thunderclap, the crowd-speaking platform, I decided to interview author David Toft about his experiences.

Hi David, and thanks for joining us. How did you first discover Thunderclap?

The more I think about this question, the less sure I am about the answer. I think a writer friend contacted me asking for support for their campaign, but I honestly can’t remember.

 

Can you tell us about your promotions?

I’ve run three promotions. The first to generate interest in my current trilogy and linked to Amazon’s listing of book one.

I decided to visit my back catalogue for the second and chose Ishtal, a fantasy published by Wings ePress a couple of years ago. Again I linked to the book’s Amazon listing.

Back to the Kyklos Trilogy for campaign number three, and again linking to Amazon’s listing of book one, The Cycles Turn. It’s reached 140% support and is due to go ‘live’ in a couple of days. If it’s not too late you can add your support at http://thndr.it/1nzIjXj

 

What is involved? How much leg work did you have to do?

Thunderclap campaigns are amazingly easy to set up. If I can do it, anyone can. Getting those one hundred supporters is where the work comes in. It doesn’t sound a lot, but believe me it isn’t easy. I was on my own for all but the last few days of my first campaign and spent an awful lot of time that should have been writing time begging for support from facebook groups, on twitter and on Google+. If you’re thinking of setting up a campaign, join a mutual support group such as Thunderclap Campaigns, or Stormbuilders, on Facebook

 

Tell us about your successes? How have you benefited?

I think there’s a danger that running a successful campaign becomes an end in itself. All my campaigns have been successful in that they’ve all achieved the required support and gone live. My aim when I started was to boost book sales, and the first two campaigns failed to do that to any noticeable extent. Here’s hoping that number three is different.It’s all about exposure, people tell me, and yes Thunderclap campaigns have increased my exposure, particularly on Twitter, increasing my follower numbers and generating retweets and favourites.

 

Did you discover any pitfalls?

None, really, but remember that if you’re in a mutual support group, every Thunderclap campaign that you support will appear on your Facebook timeline. If you don’t want that timeline plastered with erotica, be selective.

 

Would you recommend Thunderclap?

I would, as a means of increasing your exposure, and it’s free which appeals to me as a Yorkshireman.

 

What promotional advice do you have for others looking to use such crowd-sharing features?

Join a mutual support group, but be a little selective, if you want to keep your Facebook timeline free of certain posts, support via Twitter only, you’ll get your support returned and keep your timeline clean.

If you choose Thunderclap, when you support another campaign click on the ‘tweet’ option. Doing this doubled my number of Twitter followers and gained me more retweets and favourited tweets than I’ve ever seen before.

Enjoy! It can be fun and you’ll make more friends.

Thunderclap Campaigns – the basics

Thunderclap seems to be one of the new mass social media sensations. So what DOES it do?

From the Thunderclap Page. https://www.thunderclap.it/
‘What is Thunderclap?

Thunderclap is the first crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together.’

‘How does it work?

If you reach your supporter goal, Thunderclap will blast out a timed Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr post from all your supporters, creating a wave of attention.’

So basically you set up your Thunderclap, be it for your book promotion, charity event or something else and for the ‘spark’ package it is free. This need 100 supporters within the designated time – after which it shares the promotion on the Twitter, Facebook and/or Tumblr sites of supporters.

It is, of course, up to the Thunderclapper him or herself to gain the support, and one thing I found with my first attempt – people are quite willing to share on twitter but don’t actually manage to click the Thunderclap link and follow the instructions. Although sharing the link IS useful it isn’t as useful as actually supporting! I’d say too pick a reasonable time period in which to promote.  Not all campaigns are successful, and not all will get the desired result. However it does appear to be a good way to reach new followers, especially via Twitter.

Supporters need to click on the  RED ‘Support with’ buttons – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and these will go grey when supported.  In the left hand image below the Facebook and Twitter buttons are grey, as I have supported using these but the Tumblr button remains unused.  There are also ‘Spread the Word’ icons – which can be clicked multiple times.

You’ll get an update via email every day and people can choose or not to receive emails on forthcoming campaigns.

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The wider reach and fancier promotions cost money but as a basic starting package free cannot be knocked;)

Here is the link to my current Thunderclap Campaign. https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/17508-feel-the-magic-of-the-storm?locale=en

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