Writing & Blogging – the A to Z challenge – How Hard Can it Be?

(if you want to check out the REAL artwork of the talented Freyfox, just click on the image and it will take you to where you can see the real stuff. Looks like Freyfox would make one HECK of a picture book artist.)

All right so I have seen a LOT of writer/blogger types talking about this big A-Z blog contest – so I thought I would take a shot at it.

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

…wait a minute, don’t help me now, it’s on the tip of my tongue, oh hell…THAT’S IT!

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

***

There. I did it. I don’t really see what all of the challenge was about. I mean REALLY – with the exception of that whole “L” hiccup it wasn’t hard at all.

I guess I really just don’t understand blogging.

:)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion – Part 5 – Summing Up

Sooner or later there comes a time when a fellow has to add things up and see where they stand.

Over the last five days I have been running a promotional campaign on my redneck noir novella HAMMURABI ROAD.

Hammurabi Road newBearing in mind that this novella was dead in the water, sales-wise, I am pretty pleased with how the five days have played out.

I sold a few copies on Nook – where I hadn’t sold any before. I sold quite a few on Kindle – raising the Amazon ranking up from a very dismal 734,432 to the 43,000 area for three days in a row.

It is hard to say exactly WHICH promotional website did the best work – because some of the promotions were running together and I was doing an awful lot of blogging and blog promotion which focused attention on the little novella.

Still – judging from the timing of the sales I would have to give the lion’s share of the credit to Jeff Bennington’s TWEET THIS BOOK service.

It is a fair bit of work to keep these sort of promotions going – and you DO need to keep those promotions going if you want to keep the rating up – but looking back over the last five days there is only so much shouting I can do over any one book. Folks get tired of seeing BUY MY BOOK on your Twitter feed and your Facebook updates.

Some authors seem to be able to get away with that – but that wouldn’t be me in the long run. I am afraid that Twitter and Facebook will only sell so many books and then an author has to find a better way.

One way that seems to work for me is my Kobo promotions.

This weekend – from Friday to Sunday – my e-book UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – FROM EDEN TO THE ARK is part of a Kobo Easter Sunday Promotion which offers up to 70% savings on certain selected e-books.

You can read all about that over at the Kobo homepage. Just click this link and it will take you to the Kobo homepage where you will see at the top of the page SAVE UP TO 70% – STOCK UP WITH THESE EXTRAORDINARY READS – BROWSE NOW. Just hit that BROWSE NOW and it will take you to the page where you can browse and buy.

I’ve made more off of that Kobo sales promotion in one night than I made off of my own promoting efforts on Kindle in the last five days.

I’d love to sit here and smugly tell you that I know what I am doing but I don’t. I’m still figuring things out. I am very happy that my Kobo sales out-perform my Kindle sales on a regular monthly basis – but I also know that an AWFUL lot of authors do a whole lot better on Kindle.

I know some indie authors who make several hundred dollars a month. I know some indie authors who make several thousand dollars a month.

So there is an awful lot of room for growth in the indie press yet.

I was told once as a child that the best way to grow is to pack your sneakers with cow manure and then do your best to stand away from the stink.

Well, that is one theory – but B.S. has never worked too well for me. I intend to keep on writing and keep on exploring this whole promotion angle until I get things right.

The fact of the matter is I need a few more novel length projects – which I am working on.

At the same time I need to get those novel length projects promoted by some of the MAJOR promotional websites such as BookBub – which is still the big boy on the block.

I figure that will be my next step.

For now I am working on promoting an upcoming Kindle Countdown special on my latest Kindle release UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – THE BOOK OF GENESIS. The Countdown is scheduled for May 5th to May 12th and I intend to try and organize a few guest blog appearances to try and help raise my profile a little bit more.

Uncle Bob's Babel BabyWish me luck.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

So I had to make an ebook cover…

Steve Vernon:

I don’t possess a whit of artistic ability when it comes to manipulating images. I suppose if I submerged myself into three or four graphic programs for about five or six years I actually MIGHT awaken one morning ten years from now and find that I possess a bare minimum half-assed ability to manipulate images – but I’d rather just hire someone.

Still, for those folks who REALLY want to build their own e-book covers I found this to be a pretty interesting article.

yours in storytelling
Steve Vernon

***********************************************

Originally posted on Studio Tendra:

Making ebook covers is a relatively new task for designers and there haven’t exactly been many lengthy discussions on the topic. If there were any lengthy discussions I completely missed them which is entirely unsurprising. (I was probably too busy watching videos on Youtube of dogs running into walls and cats falling off furniture.)

I didn’t think of googling “how to make an ebook cover” until last week and my first advice is don’t buy a book about designing ebook covers if the book in question has an ugly cover. It’s just good sense. Otherwise googling ebook covers is good fun and I highly recommend it.

The first thing to keep in mind when making an ebook cover is that it has to look good both when it’s big and when it’s small. It seems quite obvious but you’d be surprised.

Cowardly Lion

Small cover

Hungry Tiger

Big cover

So to me simplicity is…

View original 496 more words

The Importance of Voting…

…for e-books, that is.

:)

The Masquerade Crew COVER WARS – the April/May Edition – is now live and the cover of my e-book HAMMURABI ROAD – created by the wonderful cover artist Keri Knutson – is sitting right smack dab in the middle of the battlefield this month.

Hammurabi Road new

Vote now. Vote often.

Vote everyday!

Vote for HAMMURABI ROAD and I will send you a cookie.

All right, so it’s an old cookie and it’s been on my office floor for several weeks now and the cat has likely licked it and I might have stepped on it two or three times – but I could use all of the help I can get.

Hey – if you’ve read this book then you KNOW that I can use all of the help I can get.

You just click on this sentence and it will whisk you to the Masquerade Crew website, faster than you can say “Beam me up Scotty!”

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

All right – so I felt guilty about using such a cheesy misleading title for this blog but rather than changing it allow me to do the man-thing and apologize for it.

It is VERY important to vote at any sort of an election. Sure it is rigged, sure it doesn’t change anything – but if we all sit at home and let the politicians decide amongst themselves we’ll NEVER see the right guy (or gal) get elected.

I go out every election and vote – no matter how badly my feet hurt and no matter how much I would like to be at home watching Star Trek re-runs.

So now you have to forgive me for misleading you with the cheesy blog title because I have apologized.

See – I told you it was a man-thing!

:)

Promote, Promote, Promote – Part 4 – Welcome To The Twilight Zone

In any endeavor there is always that point in which everything seems to come to a standstill.

We find ourselves in limbo.

We sniff the air nervously, alert for the tang of Rod Serling’s cologne – or the rum-scented reek of his pipe smoke.

“Am I getting anywhere?” you ask.

“Am I on the right road?”

Stop for just a minute and try and remember when your three years old and your parents were driving you any great distance and you asked that inevitable question – “Are we there yet?”

It’s just nerves.

That’s all it is.

That manuscript that you have been trying to complete. That novel that you think you will NEVER finish?

It’s just nerves.

Same thing goes with promotion.

I’ve been promoting HAMMURABI ROAD for about three days. I’ve sold a few more copies than I would have – but not enough to begin singing arias in tongues yet.

Should I panic?

Should I give it up?

No.

It’s just nerves.

I will persevere.

***

Last evening my promotion campaign with Jeff Bennington’s TWEET THIS BOOK went live.

Jeff is a great guy and an indie writer and a fellow who has an awful lot to say about indie writing in general.

You can sign up to his TWEET THIS BOOK service by using this link.

Depending on how much you pay Jeff tweets your book and posts it on his Facebook a certain number of times over a certain amount of days.

According to Alexa – which I talked about two blogs ago – Tweet This Book reaches an AWFUL lot of readers and it is pretty economical.

Jeff also runs a promotional website called THE KINDLE BOOK REVIEW which likewise reaches a fair amount of readers, according to Alexa.

I intend to utilize THE KINDLE BOOK REVIEW next month for a promotion I am planning for my new Kindle Select release UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – THE BOOK OF GENESIS.

In a very real way what I am doing this month with HAMMURABI ROAD is nothing more than a rehearsal for what I hope to do with The Book of Genesis. I’ll be launching my very first Kindle Book Countdown from May 5 to May 12 with The Book of Genesis – and I hope to determine how best to promote this Countdown.

So I have got a plan – sort of – if you squint – and your glasses are on crooked.

Today also marks my entry into the pages of THE FUSSY LIBRARIAN – a book promotion site that sends out a daily newsletter to readers all across the globe advertising certain discounted and/or free e-book releases.

You can sign up to receive their newsletter HERE!

So far my promotional efforts have indeed raised the Kindle ranking for HAMMURABI ROAD and have resulted in a few more sales than per usual. I intend to continue these efforts to see if I can artificially create some REAL momentum.

I do not know if this will work but sometimes the only way a fellow like me can figure things out is just to jump on in to the deep end of the pool and start splashing around, hoping that I look a little like Johnny Weissmuller.

I’ll keep you updated as I go.

***

Lastly, I want to mention Kindle’s new dashboard – which is a real improvement over their clunky less-friendly old version.

One of the things that Kobo had over Kindle was a REALLY user-friendly dashboard – or at least I found it very friendly. You could tell just how many books you had sold and how many free books you had moved with just a click of a button – whereas Kindle showed you a big old Excel style listing of your sales which always hurt my eyes to look at.

Hey, I am older than the dirt that grows on dirt. My eyes don’t work the way they used to.

This is one of the cool things about taking part in this huge new indie publishing revolution. None of the players are sitting still for very long. There are changes and advances almost everyday. A fellow has to keep on his feet to keep up with all of these changes.

Here’s to the future.

Now I have to get back to working on my next manuscript. I am about three chapters from the end of a big fat Bigfoot novel and I can smell Rod Serling’s cologne tanging up nostril holes.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

Promotion, promotion, promotion – Part 3 – Rock It Gently

I grew up in Northern Ontario and have lived for the last forty years in Nova Scotia – so believe you me – I KNOW SNOW!

I have shoveled it when it was up to my navel.

I have slogged through it when it was up to my nostrils.

And I have pushed my share of cars from out of the snow.

Even now I can hear my Grampa telling me an my brother as we push his old silver ’71 Impala – which still runs to this day – out of a heavy Northern Ontario blizzard.

“Just rock it,” Grampa would tell us. “Just rock it.”

That is the trick, you see. It isn’t about that big blow-your-gut-out-in-the-middle-of-your-never-you-mind heave that some folks seem to figure is necessary.

It is about a series of gentle nudges.

When your wheels are spinning you are creating ice. That is the power of friction and winter precipitation. So when you rock it all that you are trying to do is to get ONE of your freaking wheels to latch onto something with a little more grip and a little less slip.

It helps if you curse a little – but don’t curse a whole lot on account of it wastes your energy.

Getting a book to move is a little like getting a seriously-stuck automobile.

I’m not talking one of those lightweight Toyotas. I am talking a serious “this-is-the-seventies” Red Foreman road boat.

(no, none of that youtube video has a THING to do with road boats – but damn I sure love to hear that fellow say “dumbass”)

You’ve got to learn to rock it, just a little. A series of slow but steady nudges designed to push your sales figures out of the hole that you have dug them into.

Which is what I am trying to do this year. I am trying to overpower inertia with a siege of slow but steady shoves of my shoulder bone.

Yesterday my book Hammurabi Road was featured on ReadCheaply.com

Okay, so it DID sell a couple of copies – which is better than a frozen mukluk in the ass – but not by much.

Still, it is one shove, one rock of the icebound Impala.

(I’ll give a free book to the reader who can tell me JUST how many times in a single blog entry that I mix me some metaphors!)

Today I have got two more promotional spots going live. I will tell you a bit about them – but let me tell you a few of the things that I like about ReadCheaply.com – as well as a couple of things that leave me scratching my head.

For one thing, ReadCheaply.com gives a writer that dedicated page that you will see if you click on that picture of that hairy bear-hatted fellow you see about three or paragraphs back of me here. I like that a lot. I am not sure how long that page will remain – but so long as it remains I can send potential readers there and they will see just EXACTLY all the places they can pick up my book.

That’s a big old plus for me.

ReadCheaply.com is FREE, so far. And I like that too.

I also like that ReadCheaply promotes non-Kindle e-books such as Nook, Kobo, Apple i-book, and Smashwords.

That’s another plus.

I also dig the banners that they have available for promoting authors.

That’s another plus.

You want to read more info about ReadCheaply.com just click right on this sentence here.

All that you have to do to “pay” for your promo-spot is to promote the site on Twitter, Facebook and the like – which is pretty painless and easy to do.

The thing that confused me about ReadCheaply.com is that their Twitter page is pretty well abandoned. Last Tweet I saw was back in the first week of March. That strikes me strange but I figure it boils down to a matter of time and manpower. ReadCheaply is a small outfit and all of that Tweeting takes time, even if you use something like Hootsuite. You still have to enter all of those tweets, sooner or later.

Still, I count that in the negative column.

All in all, ReadCheaply.com is a good little service that might be more effective for other folks than it has been for me.

And it was cheap.

Which I liked.

********

Today HAMMURABI ROAD is being promoted on PeopleReads.com.

I’ll let you know how that works out tomorrow.

On April 15th I’ll be hitting The Fussy Librarian.

I hope she doesn’t hit back.

I have also just bought some Tweetage with Jeff Bennington’s Tweet The Book service.

I am saving his Kindle Book Reviews promotional website for a promotion I have got lined up for UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – THE BOOK OF GENESIS to help promote a Kindle Countdown deal I have set up for May 5 to May 12.

That’s all I can think of for now.

I’ve got to get back to some writing now – because my Muse keeps whispering in my ear – “Rock that gently, you dumbass!”

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Note: If these blog entries are helping you at all why don’t you help me out by sharing it and shouting it out and best of all buying a copy of HAMMURABI ROAD for a mere 99 cents – less than the price of that paper cup that was holding the cup of coffee you sipped on last week at the mall.

Nag, nag, nag…

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion – Part 2 – Weighing Air

 

One of the details that an indie writer who wants to promote his work has to take into account is how effective each particular promotional website IS!

Let me tell you, there are a LOT of websites out there who are more than happy to shout about your book – whether or not they do it for money or mutual promotion or just for the fun of it.

Only question is – how loudly can any given website shout?

At first glance it seems a little bit like weighing air – but there IS a way to calculate how effective any given website is.

Let me tell you about ALEXA.

ALEXA is an Amazon owned company that ranks the websites of the world, rating their ability to consistently reach global customers.

That is a pretty simplistic way of explaining it – but it sounds a whole lot better than saying that they “weigh air”.

So today my book HAMMURABI ROAD was featured on readcheaply.com

Now I went into this with my eyes open.

I knew that ReadCheaply.com was a small and still-growing company and it did not cost me anything and I am still just trying to get the hang of this whole process.

HOWEVER, if I had swung on over to Alexa I might have had a better idea on how effective this particular website can be.

The way Alexa works, basically, is they rate each website. The lower the number the more effective the website is. The more hits it gets, the more time viewers spend on it, the wider their customer base – all of these factors are taken into account.

ReadCheaply.com is ranked 757,199 on the Global rank and 211,819 on the US rank.

To give you a better idea of how ReadCheaply.com sizes up to some other promotional websites let’s take a look at a few on ALEXA.

BookBub – which is well known as being one of the most effective promotional websites out there ranks at 18,478 on the Global rank and 4837 on the US rank.

Pixel of Ink – another well known promotional website ranks 78,466 on the Global rank and 20,578 on the US rank.

StoryFinds – a Canadian-based promotional website ranks globally at 542,920.

Bargain E-book Hunter – another promotional website ranks globally at 365,555 and 221,412 on the US ranking.

Now, obviously I am not going to sit here and try to rank ALL of the promotional websites because that might take all week – but this is something you might want to put to use the next time you are trying to decide where to put your promotional dollars – especially when you are trying to choose between two or three particular websites.

Keep in mind that these rankings are like Amazon rankings in that they change regularly, depending on how many people are visiting any particular website.

Hope that helps give you folks a better idea on how to weigh air.

Remember – we are all in this indie-pub boat together.

Row for shore.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon