Should I price my pre-release/new release at 99 cents? #authortoolboxhop #writerwednesday #writertips #writerslife

question-2736480_1920Deciding how to price an ebook (or book for that matter) is one of the most difficult decisions an author has to make. I won’t get into that today. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on your pre-release/new release price. Specifically, is pricing a pre-release/new release at a bargain price of 99 cents worth it? In my opinion, no. Here’s why.

In the first place, giving a pre-release a bargain price will lead to more pre-order sales. In my case, I usually have around 100 pre-orders with little to no marketing (newsletter only). But with my upcoming release, About Face, which is priced at 2.99, I only have about 40 pre-orders – and that’s with quite a bit of marketing.

Another advantage of pricing your pre-order at 99 cents is the ability to place the book in newsletter advertisements. Many of the bigger name newsletters, such as Ereader news, Book Gorilla, Bargain Booksy, etc., will only accept books if they are on sale. And that on sale price often has to be below $2.99.

Using the above tactics, I’ve been able to get my new releases into the top 100 of my category.

release day stats 2

Considering these advantages, why in the world am I advocating to NOT price your ebook at 99 cents? It’s all about the money, money, money. That’s right. Money. On Amazon, which is where I get almost all of my sales, a 99 cent sale will only net me around 35 cents. Despite my sales spiking on release day and for a few days after, I have never been able to recover the money I spent on newsletter advertisements with sales.

So, this time around, I’m pricing my new release at $2.99. I’ll let you know how it works out.

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This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox! Just click on the graphic to take you to the list.

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I was five the first time I punched someone #Memoir #Nonfiction #CreativeNonfiction #ThisIsMyLife

galleryToday’s memoir blog post was inspired by an art exhibition I went to last night. The exhibit was called ‘Playground of my mind’ by Julia Jacquette. Her graphic novel, which she has gorgeously illustrated, is all about playgrounds.

The gallery sits on a few acres of land in the country. On this beautiful acreage, the curator asked local artists to expand on the playground idea. This lead to various playground inspired sculptures being scattered around the acreage.

One of these was called ‘monkey bars’. As we passed the sculpture, I offhandedly remarked that the first time I punched someone was at a monkey bars. A friend turned to me and said, “Now, I want to hear how many times you’ve punched someone.” Huh. Is it that weird the answer is more than once?

Today’s blog post is all about the first time I punched someone.

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301-143m-8-foot-kaleidoscopic-merry-go-roundUntil I was nine, we lived in a house across the street from an elementary school. It sucked never having an excuse for being late to school, but the playground made up for that – big time. The school’s playground was heaven for a small child. There was a merry-go-round, teeter-tooters, metal slides, monkey bars, jungle gym, chin-up bars … the list goes on and on.

Weather permitting (and sometimes not permitting), you could find me on the playground. Unless, of course, I was climbing trees, hiding in the grass of the neighbor’s house (who the neighbor children were convinced was some type of ghost), or starting fires (that’s another story). Saying I was a tomboy is an understatement of epic proportions. It didn’t matter that my mother didn’t dress me in clothes conducive to playing on a playground. Nope. Not at all.

Jungle-gym

By Aarchiba at en.wikipedia – Photographed by en:User:aarchiba. 

One day when I was five or six, I was on the playground as usual. I was climbing around the jungle gym when some boy decided it would be funny to push me. Stuff like that happened all the time. This time, however, I fell off the monkey bars and hit the chin-up bar with my teeth. It didn’t hurt a little. It hurt a lot. In fact, I still have a nick on my molar where I hit the bar.

 

After I burst into tears, I turned to the boy who had pushed me and bam! I slammed my fist into his nose. Blood spurt out of his nose and he burst into tears as he ran home to tell his mommy on me. I ran home as well. Not to tell my mom about the stupid boy, but because I was crying and I didn’t want anyone to see.

Of course, the mother of the boy came rushing to my house to yell at my mom. But by then, my mom had discovered me and my bloody mouth. I think we both ended up having to apologize to each other but that was essentially the end of the matter.

And that’s how I threw my first punch at the age of five (or six?) on the playground.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve punched a few more people in my life. How many? *Shrugs* Stay tuned and maybe I’ll tell you.

 

How to attract newsletter subscribers without giving away a free book #WriterWednesday #AuthorMarketing #AmWriting

If you’re a writer, you’ve already heard the advice – probably ad nauseum. You must (!!) have a free book to attract readers to your newsletter. Some marketing gurus call this a lead generation, others call it a cookie. Whatever you call it, the theory is the same. Give away the first book in a series to attract readers to your series and your newsletter.

Sounds great? *Shrugs* I don’t know about other writers, but I don’t have any books I’m willing to give away. My three cozy mystery series are each three books. I simply don’t have enough read throughs to justify giving book 1 of any of my series away.

But I finally found a solution to attract newsletter subscribers without giving away a free book. My latest novel, About Face, launches on August 29th. It’s the first book in a three book series in the romantic comedy genre. Now, obviously, I’m not giving a brand new book away. Instead, I’ve made a pdf of the first few chapters as a teaser. Using bookfunnel, readers can download the sample for free if they agree to join my newsletter list.

I’m trying to accomplish two goals with this: (1) gain newsletter subscribers and (2) create some interest in my new release.

AF lead gen ad

I just started a Facebook ad. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anyone else give away books for free to gain newsletter subscribers? If so, how has that worked out for you?

 

 

 Learning how to drive aka adventures in gear grinding #Memoir #Nonfiction #CreativeNonfiction #ThisIsMyLife

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from blogging in July. I could blame the heat. Or all the editing. But really, I just got a bit lazy. Anyway, I’m back today with a little story about learning to drive a stick shift. Enjoy.

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Dukes_of_HazzardGrowing up in the United States, I didn’t know anyone who had a manual transmission in their car. I knew stick shifts existed from television, because television NEVER lies to us, but I thought a stick shift was something only truck drivers or race drivers or maybe the Dukes of Hazzard had to deal with (Note to self: Google whether The General Lee was a stick shift). When I learned to drive, I learned the way I thought everyone did – on a manual transmission.

When I went to Germany for my senior year of high school, I discovered everyone in Germany drove a manual transmission. Not a huge deal. I wasn’t allowed to drive anyway, which annoyed the heck out of me. Back then – you know, in the dark ages – the driver’s license you received at sixteen wasn’t probationary, but I still wasn’t allowed to drive in Germany as I was only seventeen. (Most European countries then required you to be eighteen to drive. The Netherlands is now experimenting with letting seventeen-year-olds get probationary licenses.)

My boyfriend at the time decided, without any prompting from me at all *winks*, to try to teach me to drive a stick shift. At which point I learned what everyone else in the world already knew, you never let someone with whom you are in a relationship try to teach you to drive. The admittedly amateur lessons didn’t last long. No worries. No one drives a stick shift anyway, right?

Hummer-Humvee_Military_Vehicle-2003-hdThen, I joined the military. Guess what? Not driving a stick shift was still not a problem. The military-grade HMMWV (aka Humvee) is an automatic. (They also roll quite easily, but that’s a story for another day.) But then I found myself back in Germany. I was stationed with NATO where we drove Mercedes SUVs with – you guessed it – a manual transmission.

After taking a written driver’s test, my sergeant ‘tested’ me to ensure I could drive a stick shift. He started by asking if I could drive a stick. My response? Sure. (I was a bit cocky back then.) This supposed check consisted of me driving from one base to another. Well, I ground the gears like the badass I was, but I didn’t stall the car so I passed.

Here’s where I ran into a tiny problem. I couldn’t actually drive the thing. And, oh yeah, I bought a car that was a stick shift as well. What was I thinking? I was thinking it was no big deal. And it wasn’t. Until it was.

As military police, we had several different outposts we needed to patrol. Patrolling in a car you can’t properly drive was probably not my smartest idea ever. One day I was driving on the autobahn – you know that carnival ride on which you can drive as fast as you want in Germany – and keeping it in fourth gear because I had yet to try fifth gear. *Hangs head in shame* My Danish male colleague kept egging me on to try to put it in fifth gear. I think he was tired of hearing the engine whine. Finally, I decided to try it. Guess what? It was no big deal. That’s the moment I consider as the one in which I actually finally learned to drive a stick shift.

And now? Now, Europeans are falling on the automatic band wagon. Not me. Once I figured out the whole how-to-shift-without-grinding-gears-or-stalling-the-car thing, I fell in love with driving a stick. So, my current car is a stick shift as was the previous one and the one before that… you get my drift.

 

Time saving tip for book marketing #WriterWednesday #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #AuthorMarketing

When it comes to marketing your book, you need one-liners, tears, excerpts, taglines… The list goes on and on. While writing, you’ll want to some great one-liners to share on social media. Then, when it’s time to launch, you’ll need teasers and excerpts. And after the book launch, you’ll need dialogue for Facebook ads, snappy lines for Amazon ads, taglines for Bookbub ads. You get the idea. Marketing your book can be a real time suck. It’s even worse when you haven’t prepared properly.

What do I mean by preparing properly? Instead of waiting until it’s time to market your novel to come up with those great snippets from your novel, prepare while you’re actually writing. While writing and editing, make a second document with all the possible teasers and excerpts. Something makes you laugh? Copy and paste it to the document. Something makes you swoon? Again, copy and paste it to the document. Then, when it’s time to come up with teasers, excerpts, whatever, for your book marketing, you’ve already got a list of ideas ready. Because who has time to re-read their manuscript!

A word of caution – make sure to include some excerpts and teasers that are PG-13. I’m currently working on the marketing of my latest novel, About Face, and one of the bloggers asked for a PG-13 excerpt. When I went to my document of potential excerpts, I realized I didn’t have anything that didn’t include talk about sex. Oops!

It’s also important to include a variety. My novel is a romantic comedy, so I made sure to look for excerpts that were not only funny but also a few that were romantic. When I make teasers, I always make sure to include at least one of each. Romantic comedy readers love to laugh, but they also want all the feels!

How do you save time on book marketing?

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This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox! Just click on the graphic to take you to the list.

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Why I changed my book covers yet again #WriterWednesday #BookMarketing #BookCovers #CozyMystery #AmWriting

Blurb and cover. Blurb and cover. The so-called experts tell us that if our books are not selling to go back to the basics and look at the blurb and cover. (There’s also the matter of having enough reviews, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.) Despite being one of my favorite series, my Death by Cupcake series doesn’t sell – at least not as much as I’d like. I’ve tried Facebook ads, Amazon ads, even Bookbub ads (FYI – those are super expensive), and nothing was bringing in the sales I want (let alone the sales I’d hoped for). So, I decided to go back to the basics.

In the past year, I’ve changed the blurbs for each of the books in this series. I’m assuming, therefore, that the blurb isn’t the problem. Time to take yet another critical look at the covers for this series. I already changed the cover of the first novel in the series, Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker. (You can read about that here.) But perhaps that wasn’t enough?

Honestly, I like the book covers. They’re fun, cute, and obviously all within the same series.

 

But when I took a look at the covers of other cozy mysteries, I realized my covers were different than the others. A bit too simple, a bit too sexy. Looking at the top 100 culinary cozy mysteries, the majority of the covers can be (very simplistically) divided into two categories:

Those with located into a bakery or restaurant:

 

And those with food on the cover:

 

I decided to go back to the drawing board with my covers. I wasn’t going to make a cover that was different or special. We all know those don’t work. As I think covers of bakeries or restaurants seem a bit crowded, I decided to go for a cover with food. Since the Death by Cupcake series is obviously about cupcakes, the cover ended up being a big cupcake.

 

 

I only uploaded the new covers yesterday, so there’s no telling if the change is working. To be continued …

My week in reading #MondayBlogs #AmReading #Bookreview

asymmetryI had planned on reviewing Asymmetry from Lisa Halliday today, but I simply can’t. I have no idea what the book was supposed to be about. I have no idea how this book supposedly all came together in the end. Really? And how did the whole middle part about the man stuck at a London airport connect with the rest of the story? I’m obviously not intelligent enough to get this book.

So, instead of reviewing Asymmetry, I thought I’d do some short book reviews of the books I’ve read this week. I read a bit less than normal last week as I was in Spain until Tuesday night. Wednesday night I ended up filling in for someone in the tennis competition. I did not expect to get home after midnight! Thursday night I may have had an evening out with entirely too much drinking (I seriously can’t help it when they keep pouring me the good stuff!). Of course, Saturday was spent driving to and fro Germany. So, yeah, not a whole lot time to read.

the fearless kingThe Fearless King by Katee Robert. I was lucky enough to snag this one from NetGalley a while ago. Unfortunately, I started reading it a dozen times. Only when I forced myself to read thirty minutes straight did I start to feel involved in the story. I didn’t love it, though. There was entirely too much introspection. Ugh! Brooding, brooding, brooding. The dialogue was also very strange. It felt like there were sentences missing. The characters kept making inferences that didn’t make sense and just caused trouble. I also didn’t find the story line believable. People can be cruel, yes, but this went way beyond that. I still consider Robert one of my go-to writers. This book just fell short.

her cherryHer Cherry by Penelope Bloom. I loved William in Her Bush, so I wanted to read his love story. Unfortunately, although I loved William in Her Bush, I found him over the top in Her Cherry. If I were Hailey, I’d have run in the other direction. I also found the jokes about ‘cherry’ got a bit redundant.

her bushHer Bush by Penelope Bloom. This was my first novel from this writer. It made my laugh out loud and forget my troubles for a while. Exactly what I look for in a romantic comedy. Of course, the instalove and jokes about ‘her bush’ were a bit overdone, but I don’t mind that sort of thing in a quick romcom read.

downfallDownfall by Jay Crownover. I read this novel on the flight home from Spain. I hate to say it but I would not have finished this book had it not been free and I was not stuck on a plane without any other reading material. (Note to self: Make sure to download books on kindle before trip in case the hotel’s WiFi is out). Nothing felt believable about this story. The reason Orley ran away was frankly a bit disappointing. I was expecting some big reveal. And there was a big reveal, it was just more of a ‘ah okay’ reveal.

What have you been reading? Anything good? Please share.