Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Trick? Or Tweet?

Posted: October 27, 2015 in Self-publishing
Tags: , , , ,

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Look. I’ve been doing the Twitter thing long enough to learn how to think outside the box in the most curated, SEO-friendly fashion possible. Every random Internet dude and hashtag-happy something-or-other tells me so. So it must be true, right?

Conventional Twitter Wisdom suggests I throw my spindly writerly arms up in frustration and offer Like Life Itself: Ten Short Stories, a collection of (shockingly) ten short stories for free for, oh, let’s say, the last five days of October simply because it’s a collection of dark tales and Halloween’s the latest thing plowing its way down the Hallmark Highway.

Personally, no.

Buy my ten-tiered tale-fest for $6.66, bitches! That’s right. It’ll cost you the Prince of Darkness-ly sum of Lucifer’s Number simply to gaze upon this work of bloody bloody-ness! Perchance your progeny shall not suffer the wrath of my…

Ha! Kidding! It’s free.

Seriously, though. The collection is a collection of dark tales. It’s mostly psychological horror, but there’re also an inexcusable amount of bodily fluids involved. In fact, a disembodied eye explodes on a barbeque grill at one point. For no reasonable reason. So deviant emptor.

Also, the first story is always free. True story.

P.S. Did I mention free? Like Life Itself is free between October 28th and November 1st, 2015. So get thee to an Amazon-ery and download it!

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Breaking News: I’m lazy. That’s my excuse for eschewing last month’s AAR, and I’m sticking to it. No legitimate court would convict me anyway, mainly because skipping a blog post is still perfectly legal in 47 of the 50 states. Anyhoo, to paraphrase the late, great Ernie Banks, let’s blog two [months’ worth of mostly useless information in one post]!

Strangely, August and September ended up in roughly the same place revenue-wise, but took completely different paths to their destinations. August started out with a mostly-ignored giveaway of The Transience of Youth, but plodded steadily forward from there, accumulating a respectable number of sales spread evenly throughout the month. September did its own thing — a couple of early sales followed by a huge spike in KOLL pages read, followed by crickets getting run over by tumbleweeds. All told, September beat August by about 20%. Sounds like great news on the surface, but those aforementioned cricket corpses impaled upon tumbleweed thorns are leaving me feeling a bit antsy for some reason…

On the social media front, I social-media-ed throughout both months. As per usual, I split my social media time evenly; 100% Twitter, 0% everything else. Does a consistent Twitter presence result in more sales? Does a bear speak Polish to the Pope in the woods? Nobody knows.

So, in conclusion, my last two months in the self-publishing fray have left me as confused as the preceding (almost[!]) two years have. I do the same stuff pretty much every month, then scratch my head while banging it against the wall and wondering what the hell the latest batch of information means. Here’s to next month and the wonders that await…

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You know you’ve been neglecting your blog when you have to sift through piles of handwritten notes just to find your password. In an attempt to make amends, I’d like to take a moment and issue a formal apology to Writes and Submission: Sorry, Writes and Submission. I promise to give you the attention you so rightly deserve in the coming months. And to my legions of readers (also known as Mom), thanks for hanging in there.

Last month I waved goodbye to Smashwords and their affiliates and decided to go it alone with a humble international multi-billion-dollar conglomerate called Amazon. You may have heard of them. The move made sense at the time. Over 90% of my previous year-plus of sales had come via Mr. Bezos’s brainchild. Still, I was dipping my toe into uncharted waters and didn’t have a clue as to what to expect.

Thankfully, my streak of crooked numbers carried over into March, even though I failed to sell a single copy of any of my ebooks. Before I’m indicted on murder charges for blowing all of your minds, please allow me to explain. Although I didn’t sell any books, I did manage to coax a few adventurous readers into “checking out” my stuff from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Even better, awesome readers from three different countries took a chance on two of my offerings of questionable merit. A World Gone Gray at AmazonUS had been bogarting things for awhile, so it came as a pleasant surprise to see other works and marketplaces working their ways into the mix.

I’m still doing the Twitter thing. I still have no idea how it’s impacting sales and/or borrows, but I figure it can’t hurt. As always, discovering other writers, artists, musicians, comedians, filmmakers, and others of similar ilk is great. I also have this new icon thingy that allows me to see how many people have “interacted” with my tweets. It magically appeared right around the time I sent tweet #5,000. I’m not sure if that’s just a coincidence or if it’s a “welcome to the club” benefit of persistently using their product. In any event, it seems pretty useful.

Again, and I can’t stress this enough, thank you so much for giving my work a look. And an extra-exuberant high-five to the intrepid souls who invested in my scribblin’s in March.

A mere eight years after the first tweet was tweeted, I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter. Sort of. In my defense, I’ve only had an account there for five months, the first three of which were spent wondering what the hell was going on. I’d tweet out links to these here blog posts, an occasional pat on the back to my favorite team, or a shameless promo for one of my books (accompanied by an appropriate hashtag or trending term, of course: No one likes junk mail). Meanwhile, I was constantly following, following, following. Sometimes I was followed back.

The results? Well, I consulted with my social media department (a Yoda figurine equipped with a ten-sided die suspended in Magic 8-Ball goo), and we came to a consensus: Too soon to tell. There’s no way of knowing how an increased Twitter presence has affected the bottom line yet. Check back with me and my favorite Dagobahdian hermit in 2019 or so and we might have some concrete numbers. In the meantime, I recently stumbled across an interesting feature of Twitter’s that had managed to evade my tractor beam since the day I cruised into their galaxy in my heavily-modified Death Star— that little “change” link next to the Trends list.

Like all Luddites, I’m afraid of change. Especially when it’s presented to me in the form of a hyperlink. Earlier this week, however, I mustered all my courage and did the point-and-click thing. Turns out the Trends link isn’t nearly as dangerous as it looks. Seems downright friendly, in fact. It lets you peruse what’s currently popular in a number of major cities in a number of major countries. Since I’m all for expanding the market for my books outside of my immediate family, I thought I’d play around with the Trends settings and see what was what. I’ve previously made impassioned pleas to readers in Australia, Canada, and Germany to check out my books (with mixed results), so why not go truly global? Well, as global as is prudent in the realm of KDP non-Select.

A quick perusal of the Top Ten in nations like Brazil, Mexico, Italy, and France reveals a pleasant surprise for any US-based author looking to ply his or her wares beyond their own borders. My admittedly less-than-scientific research has found that roughly half the trending topics in these countries are expressed in English. As for India, nearly all are in English. Japan? Well, their Trend list reminds me of a David Lynch film — lots of complex and strangely beautiful characters, but I have no idea what’s happening. If I ever master English, I’m going to try Japanese next.

I guess the moral of this story is that, thanks to 1s and 0s,  there’s a great big ol’ world out there at the ends of our fingertips. It would be foolish not to use it to reach out to readers. My lofty goal, given all this wonderful technology? Sell one copy of one of my books in each of the foreign countries Amazon lists them. Timeframe? By November 20th, the day I uploaded my first novel there last year. I’ll let you know how it goes. For now, it’s off to the Twitterverse!

 

 

 

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According to yore and to lore (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. For your humble blog guy, sales-wise, March came in like a lamb and went out like another lamb of equal or lesser value. To put it more succinctly—meh.

Somehow, someway, A World Gone Gray sold around thirty copies during its first thirty days of existence way back in November-December of 2013 before the predictable tail-off began. I was hoping for similar numbers for Signal Fire when I published it on March 4th, but the ebook-reading community responded with a collective yawn. I can count the number of Signal Fire sales thus far on two hands. And if I’m involved in some catastrophic industrial accident tomorrow that costs me both of my thumbs, I’ll still be able count the number of Signal Fire sales thus far on two horribly-mutilated hands. As far as AWGG and Like Life Itself are concerned…yeah, they still technically exist.

Rather than drive myself nuttier by over-analyzing Signal Fire‘s disappointing debut (Was it timing of release? Pretentious “By the Author of…” tagline by an unknown author? Poorly-chosen genre categories/search keywords? Plain ol’ crappy writing?), I’m going take a deep breath, crack open a beer, and remind myself yet again that sales don’t necessarily equal success. (Feel free to stop laughing at any time. I’ll wait).  Although I didn’t get rich last month, I did make progress.

For one thing, I received my first four (four!) reviews. They were a bit mixed (more details here), but to summarize, I got one five-star, two four-star, and one two-star review for various books over various platforms. For my fellow baseball-dork statheads, that’s an overall average of 3.75; a perfectly-acceptable ERA in this day and age. I’ll take that any day of the week. I also attracted about 25 Twitter followers. Way back in February, I set a goal of six posts per month on this here Web log. I swatted eight posts over the fence in February, then circled the bases a Ruthian eleven times in March. Although you can’t see it, I’m giving myself an incredibly painful high-five with my horribly-mutilated hands right now.

All in all, I’m happy with where I am on the self-publishing front. I’ve earned back the cost of my covers (my only monetary expense to date) with enough left over to fuel the POS car that takes me to my real job every day. And if all goes at least reasonably according to plan, I’ll have another three novels out by the end of the year. Can’t complain.

 

 

 

 

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As evidenced by the blog post title you just read, one of my many weak points as a self-publishing writer is my inability to come up with clever, original, pithy strings of letters that make people want to buy my books. Exhibits A through C? All of my book titles suck. A World Gone Gray sounds utterly pretentious, but it winked into existence in my brain at the same time 75% of the novel did seven years ago. So it stuck. Signal Fire? I called it Beacons for four years, then decided a week before I published it that it looked too much like Bacon. So I opened my handy-dandy thesaurus to “beacon,” closed my eyes, and pointed. I’ll have to consult with my team of lawyers, but I’m pretty sure I owe the Roget estate half the royalties. I pulled Like Life Itself completely out of my ass. Obviously.

Well, the internal saber-rattling between my suckitude at marketing and my desire to sell books escalated into all-out war the other night. I happened to log onto Twitter, and #Kindle happened to be the top-trending topic (still is, last time I checked). Naturally, I thought, this is a golden opportunity to have my promotional tweets be lost among the millions of other ones being sent out by other self-publishers doing the same thing I’m doing. In a word (well, two): Mission Accomplished. Okay, it wasn’t a total loss. I picked up a few followers, some of whom seem to be actual existing humans. Some of them may even be readers.

Before I dove into the gladiatorial arena that is Twitter-trending-Kindle, I had a game plan. Don’t be that over-eager spambot douche who Tweets every nanosecond, I told myself. People see right through that. But even if I had wanted to be a spamming douchebot, I couldn’t have. It turns out that my desire to compose an original, compelling 140-character self-advertisement trumps the ol’ copy-and-spam method every time. And it takes (me, anyway) ten or fifteen minutes to obsessively edit one of those bad boys into something suitable for cyberspace. But I also figure a ten- or fifteen-minute break between tweets gives any potential readers time aplenty to discover my awesomeness, so I’m golden. And that’s the story I’m sticking to.

To make a long post short, I think this bodes well for my writing. If I can obsessively edit throw-away Twitter posts at 3am on a Tuesday, odds are the rest of my work will be pretty well-scrutinized. For now, however, I’m off to peddle my wares on Twitter. Excelsior!