La Riposte

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Ding-Ding!" - Round Two!

Just a short post today, declaring my intention to take another run at the ROW80 Challenge.

Last time, I hit about 61 percent of my planned goals, which were mainly focused on writing. This time, my focus will be on setting challenging but manageable goals and fulfilling them 100 percent.

Complicating things this time around will be my travel schedule - with trips planned to China, Australia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia, I'm going to be on the road at least 60 of the 80 days of the challenge, often with little access to internet...

But I have no doubt that these upcoming adventures will inspire new stories as well.

I'll save my list of specific goals for a later post, but I'm already working on them, using the SMART criteria; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Oriented. What methods do you use when setting goals?

Best to all,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

KDP Select "Free for Friday" Follow-up...

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post to share the results of the first "Free for Friday" promotion for Seven Lives to Repay Our Country, which I had re-released as a KDP Select title after seeing negligible sales through Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc.

To recap, with an aggressive promotion through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and this blog, the story was downloaded 166 times in the US, and hit #6 in its genre. But, I was curious to know how much the hard work of promoting actually helped.

In order to see whether the book would have received almost as many downloads simply by appearing as a free title on Amazon, I set up a "Free for Friday" promotion for last week - when I knew that I'd be in Hong Kong watching a rugby tournament, and as far away from my computer and the temptation to promote the book as possible.

The result? A mere 20 downloads. Promotional efforts, even if they weren't optimal, had generated 8 times the interest in the book as it would receive otherwise.

Or was that actually the case? What if the niche for this book was really saturated, and the low number of downloads only reflected this, not a difference in the value of promotional efforts?

Clearly, it's time for another round of testing!

Thus, in April, I'll run another pair of "Free for Friday" events, with promotional techniques refined based on my learning experiences from the first event.

  • Synchronized and relevant "guest blogging" or author interviews.
  • Development of a Core Group of readers willing to help with promotion.
  • Use of a Facebook post designed to go viral through "shares" vs. "likes."
  • Segmented promotional help requests.

If this third event also results in a high number of downloads, it will lend credence to the idea that promotion makes an impact, and may show that some techniques are better than others when it comes to promoting a book.

Stay tuned!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

ROW 80 Update, KONY2012, etc...

Well, folks, it's almost the end of the first Round of Words challenge, and I am feeling pretty good about it, overall. Conceptually, it has turned out to be a great way to set and achieve goals, improve my networking with fellow authors, and encourage me to blog a little more often than otherwise I might.

Before moving on to the ROW80 update, let me touch on another subject, that of the KONY2012 campaign, which seeks the capture of one of the International Criminal Court's most-wanted criminals, who until March 5th, was known to a relatively small number of interested people worldwide. I was impressed enough by the video to make an immediate donation, but also pledge the 2012 proceeds of my story "Seven Lives..." to the charity that is organizing this campaign. Why? Although I'm not positive that it will succeed in capturing Joseph Kony and delivering him to justice, I do think it has the potential to serve as an example of how modern citizens from around a nation (or the world) can mobilize to make positive changes in policy on issues that affect them, and the world we live in. My sister wrote a great piece that expands on this idea. Now, if only someone would start a similar campaign to get Congress to restore funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which was cut to send a political message, but will end up depriving UNESCO of some of its ability to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, the implementation of sustainable development and the expansion of intercultural dialogue.

With just a few days left to go, there are a few tasks that remain undone, and shall probably still be in progress come 22 March. I did get a non-fiction essay submitted to Current Intelligence, but it was not the one I'd been working on, but a complete "flash of inspiration" piece of travel writing that occurred to me while I was on the road in Borneo last week.

1. Publish 1 non-fiction book.

  • Edit all material: Still working...
  • Publish: TBD

2. Publish 1 more short story on Amazon.

  • Cover art: TBD
  • Trailer: TBD

I'll be in Hong Kong next week to play and watch a bit of rugby, so writing's on the back burner for the next 10 days, although I'm sure I'll get some done on the airplane to and fro. A lot of other things going on in the coming week, too, including closing on an investment property, trying to arrange visas and clearances for some upcoming trips to Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

But, by the time the second Round of Words kicks off, hopefully life will be a little less hectic, and I can get back in the swing of writing (and everything that goes along with it; publishing, covers, trailers, promotion, networking, etc.)

I have found that traveling and reading have been great sources of inspiration for my writing, and have added 2 more short stories to my growing stack of work in progress. Stay tuned for anthropomorphic mice, charming Princes, scandalous rakes, war-weary snipers, barbarian queens, Yugoslav artillerymen, and death from above, all coming soon to a short story near you!

Until next time,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

ROW 80 Update, and KDP Select Release Results!

Well, it's been quite a weekend!

Last time I "checked-in" for ROW80, I had accomplished 61 percent of my goals for the first round, with 23 days left to go. Four days later, I'm still at 61 percent, and now just 19 days to go. So, what happened this weekend?

For starters, I closed on a house at my new duty station, got to hit a proper gym hard for the first time since departing for my month-long world tour, and topped 100 followers on Twitter.

But most importantly on the publishing front, I re-released Seven Lives to Repay Our Country as a KDP Select title, and ran the first "FREE for FRIDAY" promotion, which leaves me with 4 more free promotional days to use in the next 3 months.

I'd like to share some of the results of this release and compare it to my earlier release of Happily Ever After for the benefit of those authors who are debating the merits of KDP Select.

Outline of the Promotion:
  • Created an "event" on both Goodreads (99 invited, 11 attended)
  • Created an "event" on Facebook (245 invited, 45 attended)
  • Bought a paid ad on Facebook in the US and UK
  • Sent Tweets to my own followers
  • Posted a Tweet in the @AuthorKarma "announcement" thread
  • Mentioned the free book in the headline post on my author Facebook page
  • Discussed the promotion on this blog.
  • Posted announcements in 4 appropriate Goodreads forums, re: free e-book offer.
  • Gave away 190 copies of the book.
  • Hit #6 in the Genre Fiction Category (war) on Amazon
  • Generated 30+ new "fans" of my Facebook author page
  • Experienced the "KDP Select bump" in sales - sold more books on the day after than in the month previous, and increased sales of my other book.
  • Got turned on to the Military Writers Society of America, which will probably be a useful affiliation for me to have going forward, as about one-quarter of my Work-in-Progress has a military theme.
Preliminary Analysis:
  • Facebook ad was ineffective, only generating 6 clicks (out of 28,000 views)
  • Twitter and Facebook probably generated some "free" sales, but this promotion never went viral. To go viral, you need people to "share" a post; in my case, I got many "likes" and comments, but few "shares."
  • The 'event' requests were probably too complex. Each one requested the virtual attendee do 4 things; share a FB post, post a pre-made tweet, download a copy of the book, etc. Most seemed only to download. There were few shares or tweets.
  • It's too early to do a good comparison with Happily Ever After, my previous KDP Select book. Both had similar 1-day downloads for the first day free; but downloads dropped off dramatically after the 2nd free day in the case of the earlier release (where I just did 5 free days in a row.) After I've used up all the free days for Seven Lives, it will be easier to do a better comparison. Both are niche titles, both rose fairly high on their respective "Top 100 Free" charts, and both generated a "sales bump" for the days following the end of the promotion.
Going Forward:
The next step will be to run the same promotion, i.e., a free book on Friday, but with no external promotion. This should give me a feel for what the actual impact of self-promotion is, compared to the simple effect of having a book offered for free on Amazon. Once I can compare those results, if it's clear that self-promotion has a significant impact, then I'll work on devising a second promotional event based on what I've learned from this one.

Hopefully, authors contemplating their own releases will find this a useful post, and if you've had success using methods other than those discussed here, please post a comment explaining what you recommend for the enlightenment of myself and everyone else out there.

Best regards,

Friday, March 2, 2012


As I've written in previous posts, I've decided to remove Seven Lives to Repay Our Country from distribution through Smashwords and Goodreads, and make it an Amazon KDP Select title, which means for the next 90 days, it's only available through Amazon.

Why the change? Simply put, the book was not selling at all through Barnes & Noble, the IBook Store, or any of the other distribution pipelines provided by Smashwords, nor was it selling on Goodreads.

That, and the success I had with the KDP "free" promotion of Happily Ever After made me decide to re-release Seven Lives... as a KDP Select title to expand total readership, and test the "sales bump" effect of the free promotional days as part of my research for the how-to guide I am currently writing on how to successfully market e-books.

How will this work out?

Time will tell, but I'm quite optimistic. Of course, I'll publish the results here (probably on Sunday) so stay tuned!

Best to all,