Sunday, March 18, 2012

D.I.Y Advertising on Goodreads

The DIY bug has bitten me, and the infection is spreading. It started with my renovation; my mission to create an environment in which to create,  a fortress of solitude if you will. But it went deeper than paint and plaster. If renovating was going to take up all my book 2 writing time, the least I could do was use the first few months of the year advertising book 1.

So I made an add at the end of January, and what follows is a bit of a first time guide to what an add campaign on Goodreads is, how it works, and whether it is worth it.

Step one (step zero was writing the book and spamming the universe with its presence -- including GR) is to setup your author dashboard in Goodreads. I had a lot of trouble with this, but all was resolved after I emailed the help desk and sent them a sample of my DNA to prove authorship of my novel (there is a database) This dashboard is the command central for everything related to your book(s) and before you go to step 2 I highly recommend integrating all the social media you can into your GR author profile.

Step two, setting up your add. I started simple, with the title of my book as the add title, and a stripped back pitch line as the copy. I have seen many adds on goodreads that take the telemarketing approach and have titles like "Want a book that will make love to you slowly?" with the copy quoting happy customer testimonials, but I just couldn't bring myself to stoop so low, even though the aforementioned statement does apply to my book;)

This is what my first setup looked like:

I don't see why anyone would either a) link to your book on a site outside of Goodreads, or b) not choose to select the "engagement stat" -- but the choice is your's to make. Good guy goodreads.

Step three, Target audience So the nest step is to decide who gets to see your add. This is not rocket science, and given that you are still reading this, you have no doubt gone through the hellfire of step zero, so know all about how to pitch your book. This is where you hope you got it right. (Hint, do not choose "all users")  Here is what I chose: 

Note that you can target specific authors, but I have about as much idea as how helpful that would be as I do selecting all the available genres.

Step four: Money, money, money. GR will now ask how much you are willing to spend, and politely suggest that $5 a day for a month, with an average of 10 cents a click is a good place to start. But I didn't feel like throwing away hundreds on my first go, so I settled on these figures:

It all comes down to three figures: Daily budget, bid amount and total time (multiply by daily to get total spend) As you can see I like symmetry and the number 11 and I let that be my guide in the absence of any experience with this kind of thing.

Step five: Tinkering. So then you sign up your credit card and within a day or so your add goes live. Goodreads starts to collect data at the same time as they collect your money, and you get a daily summary of how everything is going. The first day it went live I got excited that my add had been viewed nearly 2000 times -- then I saw that of those views, only one person had clicked, and that mystery person had ended his journey there.

As the days rolled by I noticed a rhythm to the stats. The GR add machine no doubts works by giving preference to the higher "click bids" and my paltry 11 cents was not getting me anywhere fast. So I upped my bid, then upped it again. Things still came in waves however, even when I upped my bid for a day to 55 cents a click. But the good news is that your campaign is a problem you can throw more than money at. At the same time I changed the copy of my add, and got my publisher to upload my ebook into the goodreads ecosystem, a crucial step that allows you to embed a sample link in your add.

This is what my add ended up looking like:

I took my click bid back to 33 cents and then got back to creating my fortress. 

For anyone who likes data, here are my stats for the campaign:

So at the end of this campaign what has changed? Well to put it bluntly, I don't think I sold any books. I do however have 38 people who have listed The Dragon and the Crow as a book they want to read, but most of these amazing people have over a hundred "to read" books already, so I'm not holding my breath.

I do think that it has been worth it though. These things are slow burners. If even one of those 38 people get around to reading my book I am happy. The question is, should I do it again?

So should I? Is it essentially worth paying a dollar to have someone say publicly that they want to read your book?

Please share any thoughts on this as well as any advice for better salesmanship in the comments.

Now I have just enough time to put one more coat of paint on the walls before watching episode three of "Awake" (best thing on TV right now -- until season two of GOT starts.)


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Author Advice -- or how to learn to stop worrying and love the tubes.

So you've got a book published. Well done. We'll talk once you've finished patting yourself on the back.

Now that the moment of initial excitement has passed, you are perhaps wondering what to do next. Short of reading the 1000's of blogs and books already written on the subject, let me summarise.

1. Get a website. This is first and most important. It is all about appealing to SEO (search engine orifices) and that begins and ends in a website. Now you may say, "wait a second, I have myself a website -- it is my facebook, or my google+ account, or my twitter, or my Goodreads Author page or my Amazon author page'... and yes, whilst these are all good things, they are not your website. You need one, and it should be more than a splash page for your blurb and headshot.
This is mine.
'What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.'

That is some sage advice Mr. Salinger. Not only is a website -- and I really should define this as a "blog" more than a site -- a place to advertise your work, it is more importantly a place where people can connect with you if they have been good enough to actually read it. So make a blog, and start writing stuff. Keep it relevant to writing, or not, but for the love of all that is holy don't use it as a sounding board for all your anxiety. We writers are a paranoid bunch, and if it is not our own work that we believe is destined to fail, it is the publishing industry, or the next election -- and complaining about it doesn't help us or anyone else. But that is not to say you should fill the already clogged tubes with more sugar coated drivel about how everything is illuminated and interconnected like a synchronistic midichlorian orgy. Find a middle ground, and try to connect to other bloggers with blogfests and campaigns, but keep in mind that they are not your audience.

2. Find your audience. Now comes facebook, goodreads, twitter, pinterest, google+, linkedin, reddit, ect. ect. Pick one or two and stick with them. These places are filled with real people, and some of them even read books. They want to know about what you think, and you can connect relatively easily with a few choice words here and there. Resist the temptation to post links to your book in every new conversation. Be charming, be supportive and interesting, and let people click on your profile if they want to. Does this work? Buggered if I know, but it is the only way not to become an obnoxious prick.

3. Get reviews. Beg parents, friends, students and strangers to write reviews online. Take the best and re-post them. Everyone talks up the new world of a gate-keeperless world, no producers, no agents or publishers standing in the way between you and your creation. This is true, and the first thing it created was a deluge of under-produced crap. Your work is better than this, gosh the cover art alone speaks volumes of your expensive copy editing right? So make sure there is a chorus of people reiterating this. Be wary though of the obvious "mother/wife/self" review that likens your work to Tolstoy or Tolkein. It may be, but real people want real reviews.

4. Back to your website/blog. I did say it started and ended here. So now that everything is connected, it is time to churn the waters. You need to host givaways and competitions. All those ebooks you can instantly reproduce make a good place to start, and they make the dead tree version seem extra special. Also, those first print run copies that have 3 spelling mistakes in chapter 12? Call them collectors editions and make them an extra special prize.

Will any of this work? Again, I have no idea, but at least you will feel like you are doing more than watching your kindle rating slide from the mid 30,000's into the arse end of 400,000. Above all, write the next book. More than ratings or witty blog observations about cats, your readers want to know you have what it takes to make a career out of this business. Readers make a commitment to you as a brand when they buy that first book, and people on the fence want to make sure you are VHS and not Betamax.

About me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Second challenge of the fourth campaign: The Cry of Gulls

By now you know the rules, but i'll post them again just in case. As always, head over to Rach Writes to see the full post (and to vote for me, I am #9)

Do one or more of the following:

Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words) ✔
Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts
Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words) ✔
Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts ✔
Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words "pear", "spoon", or "droplet".

For added difficulty/challenge:

Complete at least three of the above activities and tie them all together with a common theme (feel free to either state the theme in your post or leave us to guess what it might be) ✔
Write in a genre that is not your own ✔
Ask Challenge entrants to critique your writing. After the Challenge closes, you may wish to re-post your revised piece(s), and I'll include a Linky List at the bottom of this post for those wishing more feedback on their revisions (note: revised entries will not be judged, so please label clearly your original post and your revisions. Please do not offer critique unless someone asks for it, as per the usual blogging conventions. If you do ask for critique, make sure you ask for it clearly so people know you want it, and please be prepared to receive feedback that may not be 100% glowing. If you are a critiquer, please be tactful and courteous, and remember to provide positives as well as negatives.) ✔

So here is my entry:


In a city ravaged by war a soldier finds love in the arms of the enemy -- Gulnar, a POW translator frees Mitch's heart from despair, and in return, he frees her from the confines of prison. As they flee the advancing army Mitch once swore to serve, a child in the ruins draws them both back into the chaos.

Can love keep them together when war takes away the one child they hoped to save?

The Cry of Gulls is a 170,000 War novel

The Fire Sermon.

We found Rahim scavenging amongst the garbage like a sea bird -- a lost victim of the war and we the heroes come to rescue him when we could not even save his city.

But then the landmine -- a moment caught in time, like a dancer in a strobe light or a single frame trimmed from the larger film, gathering dust on the cutting floor.

I wake in the sea, and pull myself coughing back beside Gulnar, whose leg is weeping blood while above us the broken bridge shudders one last time.

Love is an energy we cannot see, Gulnar insists, and I had almost believed her -- could almost see it still when she explained it again: twisting and golden, linking us all together like bugs caught in some giant spider's web.

All I know is that in my dream Rahim is running still -- always running -- away from the war to catch a ball forever out of reach.

Death by water

In the ruins of the bridge I woke,
Too numb to feel the fear.
In the ruins of the bridge you spoke
Words I could not hear.

Footsteps on the cobbled stones
echoing towards me
then the footfall on that one loose stone
to be swallowed by the sea.

You spoke again of love
In a language I could not speak
You told me it was above
all the weapons of the weak.

You lied and said he lives in us,
a smile etched in forever
Your lie has left and so will I
For dead is dead forever.


And there you have it folks... I hope you all leave whatever feedback you care to share. It was a little harder than I thought not writing in SF -- I kept wanting to add robots.

P.S -- anyone know where I stole my titles from?



About me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One year ago today.

One year ago today, I had a manuscript I thought was finished.
One year ago today I had no agent, no publisher, and a blog with no followers.
One year ago today I had no idea how much work I was about to do.
One year ago today, my book was just a dream.

A lot can happen in a year.

Where do you want to be this time next year?