Why make your book free?

Realmshift Trilogy Book 1 – Medar set to Free for 4 days

I wasn’t sure whether it was a good idea when I signed up to a weekend promotion with Hello Books. Well, I’m pleased to report that it was a HUGE success, and I’ll definitely do it again in future.

So, how did it work? Hello Books has a massive mailing list, and every week they offer bundles of free books to their mailing list (depending on which genres people have signed up for). Once my book was accepted by Hello Books, all I had to do was pay $30 and set my chosen book to free on all platforms that it was on for a certain period in all US and UK market places.

That, however, was easier said than done. It was easy to set my book to free via Draft to Digital (the online distributor of my e-book Medar), but Amazon was challenging because my book is not exclusive to Amazon. Hello Books had provided exact instructions on how to request Amazon to set a non-exclusive book to free (I had to request a price-match, provide the ISBN and links to where it was free). Amazon took a couple of days to process my request, then advised me that the price for a completely different book (not even one of mine) had been updated, but when I checked Amazon it was unchanged.

At this point I received an email from Hello Books advising that my book was still not free on Amazon, so they’d have to exclude me from the promotion if I couldn’t get it sorted in the next 2 days. I followed up with Amazon again and they said they’d need a couple of days to investigate ‘my pricing issue’. Help! I was running out of time, and now only had 48 hrs before the promotion was due to start. I had Amazon email again advising that they were still investigating. I let Hello Books know that I was trying to get my book set to free on Amazon, but was having trouble. They wrote back telling me that my book had been set to free on the US Amazon, but not on Amazon UK. However, they could include my book in their promotion, but limit it to their US customers only.

Whew!

So with hours to spare, my book ended up in the Hello Books promotion. And then the downloads started to happen! It was hugely exciting (although, of course, I wasn’t earning a cent). The first day I got over 300 downloads, and over the next few days another 150.

So, what were the benefits of having set my book to free?

  1. Firstly, my book rocketed to #1 (earning the coveted orange banner) and #2 respectively in all its categories, which also improved my author ranking to as low as #369 on the first day (it’s normally over a million, because I sell so few books). This of course has the knock-on effect of my book showing up on the first page when someone does a search
  2. Then I started getting sales of the next 2 books in the series – three weeks later I have already recouped the money spent on the campaign
  3. These few sales FINALLY added up to the required accumulated USD100 in a single Amazon market to qualify me for my second ever royalty payout from Amazon (because I’m a kiwi and don’t have a bank a/c in the US, I have to accumulate USD100 before I get paid any royalty. Given that some months I was only earning USD5, you can figure out how long I’ve been waiting for that!)
  4. It pushed my total ‘sales’ to over 1,000 – woo hoo!

So, as I said, I’m super happy with the results and would recommend anyone to promote via Hello Books.

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.

What’s the Point (of View)?

Tauranga Writers Sunday Focus Presentation on POV

A couple of weeks ago I had the privelege of presenting at the Tauranga Writers monthly ‘Sunday Focus’ session. I chose the topic “Seeing the world through our characters’ eyes” because I’ve recently started doing paid manuscript assessments, and getting the Point of View (POV) right is a fundamental concept to grasp. I also spoke about dialogue tags, action beats, Show not Tell and filters.

It was really useful pulling the presentation together, as it forced me to research properly, and I’ve now got a great resource for providing this advice to others whenever it’s needed.

Until you try to write a novel, you don’t really understand how this stuff all works. But once you ‘get’ it, it make your writing so much better: it’s the difference between being told a story, and experiencing the story through the character’s eyes.

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.

SEO experiment

My lifetime sales on Amazon

Disclaimer: I’m no expert when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). But a few months ago I was researching top sellers in my genre for a new book cover, and I noticed something: many books had a bunch of extra information in their titles about their books. Like “Murder Mystery Thriller for teens”. Or “Dystopian fantasy with Fairies for men” (actually, I just made both of them up, but you get the point).

And I thought, hmm, I’m going to give that a go. So I adjusted the titles (on Amazon only – they’re still unchanged on the actual book cover) and added “(Teen & YA Christian Epic Fantasy Adventure)” on to all three of my titles (and linked them together as a series). Whammo! The very next day I made a sale. Then two more the following day. Then the following 2 months I also sold three trilogies each. This is without adjusting my adverstising campaigns at all!!

On the chart above, the recent spike in sales is due to that tweak. The other two peaks on the chart are when I released Tyrelia and Golden City respectively (Medar doesn’t show up because those sales were being passed back through to Arkhouse). Of all the little bars in between only about half are as a result from my advertising campaigns (i.e., pretty pathetic).

So, just thought I’d share my success story and I recommend you give it a try too!

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.

I’m an NZSA Startwrite Manuscript Assessor!

The New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) offers members a number of benefits, one of which is discounted or subsidised manuscript assessments.

New authors should always get an manuscript assessment done on their work, but even more experienced authors will benefit from a second set of eyes. I actually didn’t even know about the NZSA Startwrite programme, until my writing friend Lee Murray told me about it. I was looking to improve my ability to mentor emerging writers and Lee suggested I apply to become a Startwrite assessor.

Embarrassingly, I thought it was about me receiving guidance on how to conduct manuscript assessments, but actually it’s a reduced (and therefore cheaper) version of a full-blown manuscript assessment!

However, I’m pleased to share that I’ve now conducted two assessments, and have received excellent feedback from the recipients. I’ve been able to provide some very robust feedack and helpful technical guidance. I guess that means that, over the last six years of having published three novels, and having been on the receiving end of numerous assessments and critiques of my work, I have learnt a thing or two!

So, if you’ve written your first draft and you’re wondering what’s next, I’d highly recommend a Startwrite manuscript assessment.

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.