La Riposte

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rugby, ROW80, and More!

Well, I'm back from my travels in Australia, just in time to lace on my boots and play a spirited game of rugby against a visiting team from Kuala Lumpur. That was Saturday, so after a long, hard game on the field, and then a long, hard night of drinking and dancing afterwards, being productive on Sunday, was, well, challenging.

But I did finalize the cover art and created a book trailer for "Lethargica", so that's a couple of items from the "Artistic" list that can be crossed off! 

As far as actual writing goes, a bit of quiet week; while I did get a very good blog post in, and did probably a thousand or so words on various of my works-in-progress, I actually got more done with plotting and historical research than actual writing. So, I now know what Regiment to put Ensign Wickham in (the 5th Dragoons) and have a better idea of how our anti-hero gets from Newcastle to Battle of Ballinamuck.

Last but not least, I finally buckled down and finished all of the "Facebook Likes" on the Author Karma page - which took some time as I had over 100 pages to visit. But that's done now, and I can focus on some of the other Author Karma lists.

So, here's the re-cap of progress made on specific goals:

- Create the cover for "Lethargica" - 100% complete
- Create the video trailer for "Lethargica" - 100% complete

- Caught up on the "Facebook" aspect of Author Karma - Twitter, here I come!
- Added another person to my “Core Group”, so 20% complete!

Still not hitting the gym or the French books as hard as I ought to, but will keep working on both the fitness and language goals, and hope to have something better to report on both fronts next week.

Looking forward to spending my last week in Jakarta for a while, where I'll be busy packing up house (everything except 2 suitcases is getting shipped back to the US on May 4th) and getting ready for my next big trip, which will take me through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and China.

Lots to do, so time to wrap up this post!

Best to all,

Friday, April 27, 2012

Social Media for Marketing: An Overview (Part I)

Since beginning my adventure in self-publishing, I’ve identified several key tools for creating a social media network that will help market your story. I’ll touch on each aspect briefly here, and then devote a full section to each one.

Let’s start with Facebook. As tempting as it is to think your hundreds of current family and friends will be an instant market and take your story viral as soon as you put up a post on your Timeline, I’m here to tell you that simply is not going to happen. You’ll actually need to create a unique presence with an Author page (see here for an example) build up a legion of followers (people who “Like” your Author page) and then use some very specific promotions to generate downloads and sales of your story.

This leads us to Author Karma. Founded by Emlyn Chand from Novel Publicity, Author Karma is an initiative that gets indie authors supporting one another on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. It’s an invaluable network and the best way I know to rapidly build your following. That said, remember that these aren’t “real” fans. They probably will not download your story – remember, they’re writers first, and readers second, and they’re focused on building their own networks, not reading your great American short story. However, they have lots of their own fans and followers, who are readers, and who may well discover your work through them. And, sometimes they actually will download your story – I have discovered a few authors whose work I’ve bought through Author Karma, but it’s literally a one-in-a-hundred case for me. That said, I've also found some other excellent sites and resources by reading the pages and posts of these authors, so this is high up on my "must join" groups for indie authors.

Goodreads is Facebook for readers. Well, not quite, but it is probably the biggest and best of the websites where readers congregate to list their own digital libraries, recommend books to others, search for new material, join virtual book clubs, etc. It’s a key place to establish your presence as an indie author. 

LibraryThing is a similar site, although it’s a bit more technically challenging to negotiate, and seems to attract a more high-brow crowd. That said, LibraryThing offers you the ability to offer a “book giveaway” featuring your e-book; something Goodreads does not yet do.

Twitter is a great way for getting a short message out to a lot of people. A lot of people. The beauty of Twitter is how far and fast the extended network of “followers” can distribute your message. Here’s an example. When I was testing promotional methods, I sent a Tweet about a free download for one of my stories to 44 people. Out of those 44 notes, 21 were re-Tweeted – that is, the person I sent it to forwarded it on to all of their followers. I did a little calculation to see how many people that one note reached (assuming it was never re-Tweeted by any of the people who read it on one of my followers Twitter streams) – the answer? That one note, sent to 44 of my followers was read by 97,292 of their followers. It doesn’t take a genius to see that you don’t need a very high percentage of Twitter readers to actually click through and download your story, because even a small percentage, multiplied by a big number like 97,292 is going to result in a lot of sales.

Now, if you’re going to use Twitter, you definitely need to use Bitly. While it’s not a social networking site itself, it lets you take a long web address (like ) and shorten it down to the more manageable Completely free, and vital so you can make the most of your 140 text characters in a standard Tweet.

Another site that builds on the power of Twitter is Triberr, which lets you band together with other authors to share your blog posts automatically through Twitter. This does a few things; most importantly, it raises your social capital with people in your “tribes” because they see you reTweeting their posts, and will be more likely to return the favor; and their followers see your blog posts, which means (if you’ve set your blog up right) that they are being exposed to your stories, your writing style, etc. Again, case in point; my 4 tribes, which have a total of 30 members, has a social reach on Twitter of 24,824. That means every time I have a blog post, the title blurb is going out to 24,824 people. Again, even if only a small percentage are interested, that’s still a lot of traffic for my blog. Want to join a Tribe? Send me a Tweet to @E_H_Carpenter and I'll send you an invite!

OK, that's a start, and definitely enough for one post. But there's more. Stay tuned!

Best always,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Koala bears, Cover Art, and ROW80 Updates!

So, it's Monday in Australia, which means its Sunday on the other side of the world, and thus time for a ROW80 update.

It has been a moderately productive week; I finished one story, which has already received a few favorable beta reads and critiques, finished the cover art for LETHARGICA, which you can see here (and your comments would be greatly appreciated)

I also held a koala bear, fed some kangaroos and wallabies, petted a little lamb, and saw a platypus. So, life is good.

Things I haven't done as well with are my fitness and French study goals. I really find that for both exercise and serious study, I need to be living in one place, where I can get into a set routine. But since I'll still be traveling for the next month, through Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China, I'll need to see if I can figure out a way to create those routines in the context of a fluid and ever-changing environment... Any suggestions?

- Finished “A Matter of Honor” - 100% complete
- Wrote 0.5 Chapters of my “Learning Indonesian” book - 15% complete

- Created the cover for "LETHARGICA" - 100% complete

- Spent 30 minutes this week on the “Author Karma” page getting caught up
- Got my Triberr account working
- Put out a post on how I'll be managing my Twitter account in the future.

Now it's time to pack my backpack again, and catch a flight from Brisbane to Darwin... A few more days in beautiful, sunny Australia, and then it's back to Jakarta to get ready for my next adventure. A bientot!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to Make My Twitter Feed Work for You!

Greetings and Salutations!

Like many people, as my list of followers (and people followed) grows on Twitter, I have found myself looking for a good way to stay on top of things.

So, to help you understand my process for Re-Tweeting (and thereby maximize its potential!) please read through this short note.

If you really want something promoted, Tweet @ me.. I'll generally be happy to RT free book offerings, notes for blog posts that make interesting reading, etc. And I'll RT the occasional product placement Tweet. What I probably won't RT are repetitve "buy my product posts", etc. If I see these every day in my own feed, I'm just not likely to RT.

That said, I will check my Twitter feed 4x daily, on those days when I'm around a computer and connected. The same general criteria will apply, but here I'm much more likely to RT someone else's RT about your topic. Especially for product placement. But, free or first-time releases will always get a nod, and good articles. Note that this is really luck-of-the draw; is your Tweet in the Top 100 of the list when I log on and scroll down.

And of course, I'll try to follow the same guidelines for you - if there's something I'd really like RT'd, I'll send it @ you, and I won't clog your feed with a lot of self-promo.

You can also connect with me on Triberr, if you are a blogger who generates a lot of content. DM me (@E_H_Carpenter) and we'll sort it out.

I hope this is useful info, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think, especially if you have any suggestions for improvement!

Oh, and if you enjoyed this post and found it useful, please click my Triberr button on the right and give me a little karma! Thanks!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ROW80 Check-In!

So, it's that time of the week again!

It's been a productive, if somewhat stressful week; leaving tonight for Australia, so lots to do to get ready for that trip, and even more administrative paperwork in preparation for planned trips to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China in May. So, lots of writing done this week, but little of the fun sort!

OK, so looking at the formal goals:

- Did a bit of work on “A Matter of Honor” and “Charming”

- Created a draft cover for "A Matter of Honor"
(Yes, I know, technically that wasn't on the list, but I'm giving myself credit for it!)

- 20 minutes of basic fitness per day - Hit this goal!

- A bit touch and go with my French studies this week... Merde!

- Spend 30 minutes a week on the “Author Karma” page getting caught up - Done!
- Build my “Core Group” to 25 people - Sent out 2 more invites...

So, that's the update... Looking forward to getting in a good bit of writing and editing while I'm traveling around the next few weeks (long plane flights are good for something) and will of course look forward to seeing how everyone else is progressing with their goals.

Best to all,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

KDP Select “FREE for FRIDAY” Promotion Recap

Continuing the analysis of the KDP Select program and particularly the use of “free” days to promote short stories, I recently concluded the third of my planned “FREE for FRIDAY” promotions.

The genesis, some of you might recall, was that when I released Happily Ever After as a KDP Select title, I used all 5 free days at once, and while the book did well, with 190 downloads on the first day (and 656 total) the number of books downloaded for free dropped off considerably after the first 2 days of the promotion.

Thus, with Seven Lives to Repay Our Country, I decided to test the effect of 1 and 2-day promotions, and also to find out just what effect social networking played on the efficacy of such giveaways.

Finally, I wanted to establish a baseline for the “KDP Select Bump”, if such a phenomenon actually existed.

So, what did I learn from this promotion?

Well, a few interesting things.

Results: Seven Lives to Repay Our Country rose to #8 on the Fiction/Genre Fiction/War list, and #35 on the Fiction/Short Story list, with 102 copies given away.

  • Social networking saturation. The first “FREE for FRIDAY” event got 45 signups on FB and 11 on Goodreads. This one got 5 and 6, respectively. This shows that a potential disadvantage to splitting up your promotions may be that you lose the attention of FB / GR fans on subsequent promotions. For example, suppose you have 100 fans on each site. The first time you do a promotion, you invite them all, and 60 sign up. They download your book, but on a subsequent campaign, they probably won’t sign up since they already have it.
  • People don’t Share. I posted a couple of notes on FB that specifically asked people to click “SHARE” to help the note go viral. Total shares? Four. My observation is that unless something is really cute, sad, funny, or bizarre (and usually image-based) people simply don’t share. They may “LIKE”, but that doesn’t have the same impact.
  • Effectiveness of Twitter. Since I didn’t really use Twitter intensively in the first promotion, it’s probable that my Tweeps didn’t suffer from the same sort of saturation, and Twitter is also a platform that lends itself better to sharing a link and a short blurb with a lot of people. This time, I sent 22 total tweets (@ an average of 2 people per tweet) and got 21 Re-Tweets as a result (about a 50% return.)
  • Guest Blog / Author Interview. I had a an author interview at Shut Up & Read and a guest post at Believing in Horses, both of which referenced the promotion. Judging from the scarcity of the comments at both sites, I believe these probably did not measurably impact the current campaign, but since they’ll be out there for a while, they may lead to paid sales in the future.
  • Staying Power. When the promotion ended at midnight on April 6th, this story was ranked 12th in Fiction/Genre Fiction/War list, and #35 on the Fiction/Short Story list... But the interesting thing is that it stayed on the free list for the next five hours, actually rising to #10 by 3 am, and #8 by 5 am, before finally disappearing from the list at 6 am.
  • The “Kindle Select Bump” - it's too early in the month to tell, but past data indicates there should be an increase of about 4 times sales over months without a "free" promotion.

There was little apparent impact from the Facebook / Goodreads events and the guest post / author interview. And based on the second “FREE for FRIDAY” (where I intentionally did no promotion) we know that no promotion = low free downloads. Thus, the only factor that seems to have driven downloads was the Twitter campaign.

Those 22 Tweets to 44 followers generated Re-Tweets that reached approximately 97,292 people. If we subtract out the number of people who probably downloaded just based on the story being on Amazon’s “free” list (using the number from the un-promoted free day as our baseline) we see that about 80 downloads were probably due to Tweets that sparked a reaction.

Thus, we hypothesize that in the future, we can expect 4 downloads per Tweet sent out, and of course, we’ll test this with our final promotion.

Finally, we may have a partial explanation for the “Kindle Select Bump” – if the book stays on the “FREE” list (even though the price shows 99 cents) for 5 hours Pacific Standard time, that means anyone picking books off that list as late as 8:59 am on the East Coast, or 1:59 pm in Europe will see the book at or near the top of the list, but if they click to get it, they’ll see that it costs something – a price they may be willing to pay based on its ranking.

Future Plans:

Based on this information, I will plan to use the last 2 “free” days for this title to run a promotion that ties together everything learned from this one and the 3 promotions which have preceded it, and tests the hypothesis about the “return on investment” for Tweets, the optimal length of a promotion, use of a “Core Group” of supporters, and the extent of the “KDP Select Bump”, which so far appears to increase sales of all books by 4 times the number sold in a month without a promotion.

Hopefully this synopsis will be valuable food for thought for any authors currently planning their own future promotions, so if you know anyone who might benefit from this information, please forward them the link!

Best to all,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

ROW80 Round 2 - Checking in from Kuala Lumpur!

Well, the first few days of ROW80 have been productive enough. While traveling around Malaysia, I've found the time to finish all the chapters of my novel that are required for this second round, so anything done in the next 70-odd days in that regard will be icing on the cake. I've also done a decent job of keeping up on the fitness and French study goals; knocked out a few more pages on "Charming", popped over to Author Karma and did my 30 minutes of networking, and have drafted an analysis of my latest KDP Select promotion which I'll post up here in a day or two. Major milestones listed below. Looking forward to seeing how everyone else is doing this week!

- Write 6 Chapters of “The Notorious Mister Wickham” - 100%
- Finish “Charming” - 80%

- Build my Core Group to 25 people - 8%

- Run 3 KDP Select Promotions - 33%

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

ROW80 Round 2 Goals...

Well, it's that time again, I suppose, to jot down our goals for this second round of ROW80. As I've mentioned before, this round is complicated for me, because I'll be traveling for about 60 of the 80 days; in fact, this post comes to you from the Sultanate of Brunei, which is where I'll be until Friday, when it's off to Malaysia on the next stage of my journey.

So, outlined below are my modest goals for this round. I'm trying to focus more on the writing, and less on all the secondary, distracting, and yes, eventually necessary aspects such as the publishing, promotion, and networking.

- Finish “A Matter of Honor”
- Write 3 Chapters of my “Learning Indonesian” book
- Write 3 Chapters of my “Short Story Publishing” book
- Write 6 Chapters of “The Notorious Mister Wickham”
- Finish “Charming”
- Finish “The Welsh Mouse”
- Finish “The Artillerists”
- Finish “Merry Christmas, Mister Washington”

- Publish “Lethargica”
- Publish German Translation of “Happily Ever After”

- Create the cover for "Lethargica"
- Create the video trailer for "Lethargica"

- 20 minutes of basic fitness per day

- One hour of studying French per day

- Spend 30 minutes a week on the “Author Karma” page getting caught up
- Build my “Core Group” to 25 people

- Run 3 KDP Select Promotions

- Create the “Perfidious Mister Wickham” website
- Create a “Short Story Contest” website

So, that's it... Let me know if you see anything that particularly interests you, and I'd be happy to discuss in more depth.

Best always,