BTS040, Low Budget Book Promotions Gone Wrong | May and June 2021 Author Diary Update
BTS040, Low Budget Book Promotions Gone Wrong
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
This episode of the Behind the Scenes Author Diary is riddled with successes and failures, so nothing new here. During May and June, I experimented with more low budget book promotions on a 99 cent promotion. Naturally, things didn’t go as expected. In this episode, I dive into why I believe my low budget book promotions went horribly wrong. But before I delve into all of that, I discuss what I achieved in terms of writing and share a milestone that I’ve hit with writing the Candidate. Plus, I discuss the progress I made with Duplicity. And I share an update on the new income stream that I’ve added to my business, as well as some lessons learned.
So stay tuned for all of this and much more.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Friday the 23rd of July, so this show is primarily me looking back at May and June. In the same spirit as the previous episode, I’ve finally caught up on the show’s backlog. After this show, I’m back on schedule.
If you’re on YouTube, you’ll notice that I’ve gone back to an audio-only version of the podcast. I’ve had to pull the plug on the video podcast episode because I couldn’t do everything, and something had to go.
My writing progress for May.
Writing Update for The Candidate
By the end of May, I completed thirteen hours and fifteen minutes of writing for the Candidate. During these writing hours, I wrote scenes twelve through to eighteen. And I also wrote the first draft of the book description that will appear on all of the ebook retailers and the back of the paperback editions.
Eventually, I hit a snag and got stuck on a scene where a character refuses to speak English with Detective Anwar Khan. This scene leads Anwar to approach James about accompany him on his investigations and provide a translation. At the risk of overstating the obvious, it’s an important scene because it provides a somewhat believable reason for a Detective and Journalist to work together on a case.
- Reddit: Handling foreign language in your fictional writing?
- Reddit: How do I convey another language in a dialogue section?
- Blog Post: How to Use Foreign Languages in Fiction
- Blog Post: 5 Ways To Incorporate Multiple Languages Into Your Fantasy Novel
- Stack Exchange: How to use Foreign Words and Provide Translation in Novel
As I was writing scenes fifteen and sixteen, I had to put the writing on hold in the name of research because I don’t want to be adding new words in the revision process.
Why I hear you ask?
I hate revision, and the less time I spend revising, the better, for me at least. To write scenes fifteen and sixteen, I researched parts of cathedral-style churches, including holy water and the difference between Church of England and Catholic church buildings.
Writing, Sort Of
In June, I completed fifteen hours of writing on the Candidate. Before I started adding new words to the first draft, I uploaded scenes twelve to fifteen into Hey Beta. A few days later, I went through and made edits to scenes one to fourteen based on the Alpha Readers feedback. In that same week, I also started brainstorming hook options for the book description that I wrote in May.
My writing progress for July.
The Actual Writing
After all of those tasks were complete, I wrote scenes nineteen to twenty-four. And, I’m excited to announce that I’ve reached the start of the climax of The Candidate. I now have two climactic scenes to write and two scenes that serve as a Denouement or resolution of the story. In the Denouement, I’ve tried to learn from the past mistakes and provide a story with a stronger, happy, or happy for now ending for James, not for the bad guys. Also, I’ve just realised that I’ve made a mistake in the climax scenes, but they haven’t been written yet, so that will be an easy fix.
Upon finishing scene twenty-four, I needed to circle back and make foreshadowing edits in scene nineteen because of something I overlooked during the outlining phase. And, to be honest, there’s always something that you overlook during the outlining phase, no matter if you go through and edit your outline or not. But, the benefit of editing your outline is that you’re more likely to catch mistakes than if you didn’t edit, obviously.
Mistakes Were Made
By the end of June, I have reached the beginning of the climax of the Candidate. And the last seven chapters were uploaded into HeyBeta, ready to be read by my Alpha Reader. Now that I’ve mentioned this, I’ve realised that I’ve forgotten to let my alpha reader know that these chapters are available for her to read. However, there is a silver lining to this because this gives me an opportunity to go back and add extra questions for my alpha reader under certain chapters. There are certain questions that I need feedback on before I got through and make a one-pass revision of the Candidate.
No writing was done on the revised draft for Duplicity in May. But, I did start working on Duplicity in June. During that month, I completed six hours of writing.
Answering Questions Raised by the Reader
I created a list of questions raised in each scene within the first three acts of Duplicity, which cover scenes one to fifty. After I created that list, I searched for the answers to the questions on the list. As a part of the answers, I highlighted the scene number where the reader discovers the answer to the scene question.
The list is colour coded according to three categories. The three categories are: questions not answered in Duplicity but will be answered in later books in the series, loose threads that need to be resolved at the end of Act IV, and loose threads that need to be resolved at the end of Act III. Thanks to this endeavour, I discovered two minor threads that I had forgotten to wrap up by the end of Act III that the readers need to know at the start of Act IV. Because I’m still writing the revised draft, it will be easy for me to go back and make these foreshadowing edits to the draft.
Next, I made the changes suggested by the alpha reader over on HeyBeta in Scrivener. I’m glad that I did this because the list was getting long. By the way, I have three books sitting in HeyBeta; The Candidate, Duplicity, and Entitled to Murder. I thought I would mention that just in case you were a little confused about what I’ve got going on.
Too hot to Function
Now for the somewhat tragic part of the update. I found it difficult to write on the hot days from Thursday the 10th of June to Sunday the 13th of June. Our apartment got so hot that it was difficult to think and function. For me, at least, this is super embarrassing because I grew up in Brisbane, Australia, which has a similar temperature to the state of Florida. But, in my defence, the buildings in the United Kingdom, or at least London, are not built with the heat in mind.
Average Ratings and Book Reviews
In May, I received a New five-star rating on the Amazon US store.
Naturally, my average rating changed from 3.5 to 3.4. But the Amazon UK store has increased slightly. The average rating changed from 3.5 to 3.6.
So, the lower ratings are valued more on Amazon than someone who enjoyed the book. That’s based on my tiny pool of data.
Amazon Math vs Actual Math
If you add up all the ratings I’ve received and calculate the average rating, then my book should be rated 3.5. It’s not a large difference, but as my reviews grow, I can see the gap between actual math and Amazon math getting bigger. Let’s say that I hate Amazon math because it’s not fair. And, math is always fair because there’s no bias.
Shouldn’t all ratings have equal weight? Criticism and love should be given equal value. A two-star rating shouldn’t hold more value than a five-star rating. It’s almost as if Amazon is saying to their reader base, “your opinion is less valid because it’s not critical.”
Backing down off my soapbox, now.
This is the advertisement I created for Instagram for my 40th birthday sale on my mystery novella, Missing.
Low Budget Book Promotions
During May and June, I had a 40th birthday sale, where I priced Missing at 99 cents in all available territories. To help with this sale, I used Book Angel, Crave Books, Just Kindle Books, Awesome Gang, Book Doggy, Book Runes, and Facebook Ads. I’ve decided to stop sharing my download numbers because apparently, it’s a breach of the terms and conditions of a certain store.
And, that’s not cool, but I must be good.
The Not So Great News
The Book Angel promotion ran for five days, and it was free. The readers who frequent the Book Angel website tend to be on Amazon, Kobo and B&N.
Over on Crave Books, I purchased a newsletter, website and social media promotion for $40.00 USD. At the same time, I also purchased a Website and Social Media Promotion on Just Kindle Books for $18.00 USD. I also purchased a website, newsletter and social promotion with Awesome Gang for $10.00 USD.
In June, I purchased a one-day website and newsletter promotion with Book Doggy for $20.00 USD. And, what did I get for this promotion? BookDoggy shoved at the bottom of the email. I’m talking so far down you had to click a link to see my book; obviously, I’m not happy. Be careful with these guys because if the email is full, they won’t tell you. They’ll shove your book so far down the list that no one will see it.
Cue: A Rant
On Monday, the 14th of June, I applied for a promotion with Book Runes. I filled out the form and got no response back, not even an automated reply telling me I filled out the form. Eventually, Book Runes got back to my last minute, as in the day before the promotion was due. Late at night on the 16th of June, I had to pay the $25.00 USD fee for the promotion. I have to admit, I don’t love this lack of communication that comes with small businesses in the indie author space. There’s a part of me that understands that they’re a one-man-band operation, but they have no excuse for their lack of communication because a lot of these emails are automated now.
Rant over, now back to talking about these book promotions.
Let’s say that I’m not very impressed by these promotions and will probably not use them again in the future. However, these are not free promotions, and it could be an issue in regards to timing and the current economic climate. Or this could be a by-product of using cheap promotional sites; you get what you pay for.
A few days before my birthday, I boosted a Facebook post with a link to my BookFunnel Sales page promoting links to the stores. Perhaps, the books2read link performs better. The cost of the advertisement was £40.00 excluding any sales taxes. Over the course of eleven days, the 99 cent Missing Promotion received 8,743 impressions with 142 clicks. This means the cost per click was twenty-eight pence.
Unfortunately, the sales figures for this time period are even more tragic than this. So, basically, I sucked at advertising this time around. By the way, I suck at a greater level than before.
Le Villain Book Covers
In June, I received my first premade logo design job through my brand new business, Le Villain Book Covers. By the way, it was through my Etsy store, not my official website. After my first job, I realised that I was pricing my services too low and needed to make a few changes. This meant changing the job process, pre-made logo prices and product descriptions across my Etsy and website stores. And it took more time than expected. But that’s just the nature of web building; something always crops up that requires me to research a solution. After I increased my prices, I panicked and believed that no one would buy my services at that price. I’ll have to wait and see and not make any rash decisions.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. In July, I want to finish writing The Candidate and start my one pass revision by the end of the month. The next episode of this podcast will be another diary episode, where I will continue to discuss my writing and book marketing endeavours. Also in the next episode, I’ll share the results of my Facebook Ads analysis and let you know which links work best.
If you have any questions or have tips on book marketing that you would love to share with me, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
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I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.