Category: Book Promotion

The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy is an Amazon Bestseller and I’m an Amazon Ranked Author!

Here I am with Diana Gabaldon, my all time favorite author. I have read her Outlander series, all fifty million pages of it, THREE times. We're hanging out in cyberspace for a few moments of eternity, the 65th and 66th most popular authors in Action & Adventure Fiction. WAA-HOO!

Every once in awhile, life presents the opportunity to be outrageously out there, to the point of being obnoxious. This is one of those times.

I recently did a promotion of my eBook, The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy. It was free for a couple of days and then went back to being one you had to pay for. The results astonished me. Lots of people downloaded it, and then more bought it.

The book’s rankings dropped spectacularly (in book rankings, lower is better) and my AUTHOR RANKING, which I didn’t know existed (because it didn’t before then) put me in the company of some of the world’s most famous authors, and my favorite authors. [However briefly. These rankings change hourly. I am probably in the potato cellar of the Amazon world again. Or will be soon. This book-selling world is not for sissies, compadres.]

So, it’s my time and I’m gonna crow about it.

I’ve done promos by myself before, but this time I was assisted by folks who knew what SEO meant. Turns out, that’s very important in today’s marketing world. My partners in success in this venture were Genius Media, Inc. They are primarily publishers, but also do book promotion. It was a lucky day when I ran into Genius Media.

If you are planning on giving your book away on an Amazon KDP promotion, don’t think it will necessarily turn out the way my recent extravaganza did. Don’t think it won’t, either. You never know. I’ve done KDP free days in the past, running the campaign pretty much by my lonesome self. What was it like? Think days of non-stop, back breaking work, not knowing what I was doing, going down lists of what to do posted online by people I’d never heard of. Fingers aching, eyes watering. I did get results, but it was awful.

If you’re fortunate and have professionals who know what they’re doing to assist you, something like this may happen–and getting there won’t be a nightmare.

THE FREE PART ENDED UP LIKE THIS:

This is how my rankings showed up at their highest, which is measured by closest to #1, the top ranking. Amazon reports results in terms of all the free books on the site, as well as the book's categories. Yes, that's #20 out of all the books free that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Free results also ended up like this: 

Midway through this promo, without telling anyone they were doing it, Amazon changed its categories from these, to what's above. This makes people who know SEO really upset, because they're settings are now wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you end up in the Top 100 Free or Paid, Amazon does a nice little thing like this with your ranking and book cover:

Here's The Angel, flying to #1 Tree in Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction. This was a lovely sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENOUGH OF THE FREE RESULTS. EVERYONE’S INTERESTED IN SALES:

When The Angel went off of free, what happened? This. Took a long night of screen-gazing to get this screenshot. Waa-hoo!

OK. THIS IS BLATANT GRANDSTANDING, BUT THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN TOO OFTEN, NOR DO I KNOW IF IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. I’M GOING TO PUT UP SOME PICS OF ME AND MY NEW FRIENDS, COURTESY OF AMAZON. (AND THANK YOU, AMAZON, FOR CREATING THE VENUE FOR THIS TO HAPPEN.)

Years ago, I gave a talk on “Celebrate Your Victories.” I think I’ll post the text of that talk on this blog. Mitigating/explaining what I’m doing with this post, my talk said that we need to celebrate our wins! We need to toot our horns and let the good times flow when something wonderful happens.

Why? Given the transitory nature of success and life’s high points, you’ll be slogging through the muck soon enough. You’ll forget the wonderful high and that life is a joyful process that includes UPS as well as downs. We tend to focus on the later.

SO, HERE I AM, WITH A BUNCH OF MY NEW FRIENDS:

For years, I was too snobby to read Stephen King. When I finally started, I didn't read everything he'd written–that's HUGE. But I sure gave it a try. So, hey, Stephen, hope to hang out a lot more, buddy!

OMG. The guy who brought Jungian writing and depth psychology to everyone, my old buddy, J. R. R. Tolkien! Here I am, rubbing rankings with the master.

Orson Scott Card, maybe the brainiest sci-fi writer ever. Here we are, lovingly stacked together. Thank you, Amazon! And my READERS! Yay!

Classic sci-fi from the master George Orwell, author of 1984, Animal Farm and so much more. Nice to hang out, George! My The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy has been compared to 1984. And our own contemporary pundit, Chuck Wendig. Glad to meet you, Chuck!

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN LIFE IS TRULY UNLIMITED. YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOUR NEW FRIENDS MIGHT BE:

MAY YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE AND YOUR COMPANY REFLECT YOUR TRUE NOBILITY AND GRACE!

FREE BOOKS!!!! $$FREE BOOKS$$ UNTIL OCT. 31, 2015, I’M GIVING FREE BOOKS IN RETURN FOR HONEST REVIEWS. WHICH BOOKS? THE WHOLE EARTH’S END TRILOGY BOXED SET EBOOK We have promotions planned for Lady Grace & the War for a New World, Earth’s End II, and The Headman & the Assassin, Earth’s End III. These three books represent a treasure of adventure and … well, pretty near everything else. Romance, time travel, aliens, guys from the past, monsters, you name it, Earth’s End has it. Unfortunately, unless we get more reviews for the last two books of the series. We can’t even BUY advertising for it. [Did I tell you the three books have won SEVEN NATIONAL AWARDS BETWEEN THEM?] BECAUSE OF THIS, I AM GIVING AWAY THE EARTH’S END TRILOGY BOXED SET EBOOK in return for an honest review.

If you’d like to get the three book set for $FREE$, contact me at vilasapress@gmail.com. I’ll get them to you pronto! OFFER GOOD THROUGH OCT. 31–THAT’S MY TREAT!

All the best from Sandy Nathan, who, in addition to being a new mule owner, is also a bestselling and award-winning author. Check out my Amazon Author Page.

Do the big book conventions help self-published authors or small presses?

Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem (Bloodsong 2) It's been a long time and many words since I went to Book Expo America in 2009

A member of the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a group of authors, readers, and aficionados of visionary fiction, asked if the big book conventions or fantasy conventions help indie authors and small presses. I shared the following story on the Visionary Fiction Facebook page.

Or shared most of it. My post must have been too long for FB; the ending got cut off. I’m posting what I said on FB here, so readers can get the whole thing.

This is the complete story of my one time attendance at the BEA–Book Expo America back in 2009. Does it answer the question? As a statistician, I only can say that  a sample of one case does not a valid conclusion make.

In 2009, I attended the Expo, a very green author with two books in print. In 2015, I’ve got ten books out and two more in production, with stack of manuscripts on my hard drive. My books have also won thirty national awards and I’ve been a bestselling author, often for days at a time. (Sales are the trickiest part.) Now, things might be different.

Would I go to BEA or any big fantasy or other convention? Probably not, as will be explained below, but if I did, it would be after great deliberation and analysis. I’d want it to be in LA or some California city: the event has been held in NYC in recent years and will be this year. These conventions are huge. To get an idea of the scale of the exhibit, look at this floorplan of the BEA main hall in 2015.  Purple squares are rented space; turquoise is available. Hover the cursor over the space to see who rented it. Notice the huge Chinese presence: this event’s attendance is worldwide.

One new development might change my conclusions. In 2015, Book Expo America will be combined with the debut of BookCon, a new consumer event featuring the big name authors in popular writing. The new event will be a combined trade show, BEA, followed by the consumer event.  BEA-BookCon 2015 runs from May 27 to 31 for the combined events.  The addition of BookCon to BEA may tip the scales for a smaller author or publishing house. Wholesale orders could be placed at BEA, but books were not sold to  customers. Joining a retail event like ComiCon, which drew 130,000 attendees in 2013, to BEA with retail sales possible could totally upend everything I say.

Or not. Depends upon what they require of people showing at the event. Will indie authors and micro presses be allowed? Participants will have to have stock on hand to sell. Hundreds of print books? Thousands? A way to download eBooks on the spot? With BookCon, the big, big time will become even bigger.

Should I wait until BEA comes back to LA? It used to travel around the country, heading West from time to time. BEA–BookCon 2016 will be in Chicago, I understand. After that?

BookExpo America event director Steven Rosato notes in his blog“BEA Orlando, BEA Dallas, BEA Atlanta—well, I will start looking at prison camps first.” 

He’d rather look at prison camps than Dallas? I’m glad I got to got to BEA in 2009. It’s a world-class event, and getting worldlier.

Here’s my tale of entering the big time:

* * *

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money (Bloodsong 1) my second book and ticket to the BEA.

I went to the BEA–Book Expo America–when my book Numenon came out in 2009. BEA is the largest book fair/convention in the country, then and now. The year we went, it was in LA at Staples Center. Check out the images on their website, keeping in mind that Barry and I are country mice. We went into instant culture shock in the multi-story parking lot.

Seeing that LA is only 2.5 hours from our ranch, as opposed to being on the other side of the continent. We went.

Getting in cost $150. I can’t remember that was just for me or $150 each for my husband and I. We were hosted at a booth taken by the IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association. They’re the biggest and oldest organization representing indie authors and presses. The organization was known as the PMA back then. The IBPA hosts the Benjamin Franklin Awards, which may be the most prestigious contest for indie books. They READ every word of a book they’re judging. It’s very tough. The IBPA does great things for Indies and is worth joining.

Anyway, the IBPA maintained a booth at the BEA and allowed us micropress members exhibition space. I don’t remember if there was a charge for that or not. Probably.

Book Expo America DID have little cost in addition to the $150 entry fee: any author exhibiting there had to do a book signing and GIVE AWAY fifty copies of his/her book(s). We originally published Numenon as a hardback, to that cost was not inconsiderable.

My signing was scheduled at the IBPA booth. I don’t know why I was there as opposed to the “signing room” with all the major authors. Probably because we decided to go at the last minute and the main room was full. The “signing room” was a very large, corridor-like room with long tables running down both sides. Each author had about two feet of the table’s pristine, white-clothed real estate within which to sign books.

Carrie Fisher was there with a new book. A line of people wanting an autographed copy stacked up in front of her, moving from her perch, out the door, disappearing into the massive main hall beyond.

Here’s a funny story: we used a book consultant in producing my first two books. She’s the one who told us about the BEA and got us to go. One of her other clients, an adorable and ancient MD, had written his memoir. He had a colorful life as a Hollywood doc and I believe was a Holocaust survivor on top of that. He was signing his book at the same time as Carrie Fisher. She was swamped. He sat in front of a pile of his books, all alone.

Carrie looked over at him and shrieked, “Dr. Whatever! OMG! It’s Dr. Whatever! I love him! He’s my favorite person in the world.” He was her doctor. She jumped up and ran to the beaming physician. They embraced.

She went back to signing her book, but sent her line of I-want-your-autograph people to him after she signed her book. He was flooded with loving new fans and had a wonderful BEA experience.

I was sure that my signing would be a bust, even though BEA hires people with big signs to roam the aisles and point the crowds to authors having signings. I didn’t think they would help me. I was a two-book nobody and–Staples Center is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE! They had the main floor, a bridge over to another floor where the cafeteria was, more floors. Nooks and crannies full of authors and books.

I was in culture shock just parking the car. Where we live, cattle in the streets are the biggest traffic problem.

The big publishers, Random House and all the rest, monopolized the main floor with magnificent, specially-designed structures displaying their books. BEA is for booksellers–book stores, etc.–so the reps of the big 6 (or 5 or 3, now) publishers were all over taking orders from stores. Their presence was very professional and took up lots of very expensive floor space.

Smaller publishers, not the majors but substantial publishing houses, and I mean every friggin’ one of them, had smaller displays and booths arranged in rows radiating from the central core/temple area. The IBPA’s booth wasn’t too far back, but it was small and down an aisle. I would be forgotten.

On the other hand, the atmosphere was electric!  I leapt into the crowds and didn’t look back. The bigger booths offered wine, appetizers, seating areas, famous authors on call, and FREE BOOKS. Everyone had to give away fifty, remember. MANY famous authors were there. OK, maybe not so famous, but I remember Carrie Fisher and I got meet Mark Victor Hanson and his entourage.

Crowds filled the space like circling flocks of birds or schools of fish, ignited by a celebrity sighting. Before my signing, I joined a stampede, unable to resist the gang mentality or my own excitement! Captain Kirk was there! With a new book! I didn’t even know William Shatner could write, but I always liked the fact that he rode horses.

I cruised the aisles myself, ending up with several shopping bags of books that looked interesting. All free–giveaways of new books and galleys is good business. All the publishers offered their bounty freely. The only catch was, due to union rules that no one but union members could use wheeled carts to move books or anything else, I had to heft my gleanings in bags that ended up weighing about fifty pounds each. But it was fun!

The seek-and-find mission distracted my attention from my feeling of impending disaster at my booksigning. I expected my signing to be about the same as that older doctor’s without Carrie Fisher’s intervention. I was way back in the aisles, in a small booth with an unknown book about the richest man in the world and a Native American holy man. I would be unable to even GIVE fifty books away. I’d have to take them home. (That mind-set is a residue of my social standing in third grade.)

IT WAS A DELUGE!  Smiling people swamped the little booth, demanding that I sign my precious Numenon before giving it to them. Never in my life have I felt so popular! Being an author was wonderful! WONDERFUL! We were so smart to come to BEA! This was wonderful. The sales this exposure would generate would finance our retirement.

Only one thing marred it: Wandering around the aisles, I met a veteran of the Marines who had written his life story. He was published by a military press. Most regrettably, he’d been hit in the head by a missile as he was driving his tank in Iraq. He lived but was almost blinded, lost most of his hearing, and suffered terrible injury, from which he was rehabilitated as much as possible, which was what his book was about.

Nick Popaditch was an heroic and impressive figure in his dress uniform. His beautiful wife, a Native American woman, accompanied him. We chatted for a while and I invited him down the aisle a bit later, offering him a copy of Numenon.

I’d forgotten all about the couple when they appeared at my signing. He held her arm and walked slowly, more magnificent standing than he’d been sitting in his booth. Also grievously injured.

I’d forgotten to put a book away for him. In the melee, all of them had been given out, every single one! I gave them a copy of Stepping Off the Edge, my previous book, but the couple was visibly disappointed. I mailed a copy to the address he gave me, for Wounded Warriors. Never heard anything. They left, disappearing from my life.

I will plug his book; I found it very moving and inspiring. Nick Popaditch, Once a Marine.

Well, the Popaditch‘s didn’t get my book, but the rest had been a triumph. I had a blast with the holiday/cocktail party/star-struck/as-many-free-books-as-you-could-carry-away atmosphere. My book signing had been a great success! The books would go out into the world, and come back as sales and fame for me and my writing. What could be more fun?

My husband is very quiet and reclusive. He hated every minute of BEA.

* * *

When we got home, I looked at Numenon’s sale page on Amazon. Multiple copies of Numenon “signed by the author” were up for sale by many sellers. Also on eBay. Those excited people who came to my book signing were penny-ante booksellers grabbing free stuff to sell. They didn’t care about my book; they were trying to earn back the $150 it cost them to get in. I felt really ripped off.

OK. Much processing later. So I gave away a bunch of books. A well-known consultant to the book business once told me that books fail because there aren’t enough of them out there. “The book has to be visible. Give them away to get them into people’s hands. Give away LOTS.”

When it all shook out, I don’t know that I got a single review from those books or got anything at all.

Would I do it again? I would if I was Carrie Fisher and already had a following. Or if I was really rich and just wanted to go to a party about books and snag a couple of bags full for free. (Aside from Nick Popaditch‘s book, I don’t think I read any of those I picked up.)

That’s my experience at BEA. I did have a great time. I might have had a better time had I gone to some of the award presentations, starting the year before and in future years, when my books began to win prizes. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you win an award: pump it for all it’s worth. Get your face in front of cameras. Announce it everywhere. Scream it for the yarboards, or halboards. Rooftops. That’s called marketing. I’ve never gone to any of the ceremonies, wasting opportunities.

The  IBPA puts on a great award ceremony for the Benjamin Franklin Award. Be sure and go, if you win. I was a finalist for that with my first book, Stepping Off the Edge in 2006 (or 7).  Looks like the ceremony is separate from BEA now, but it used to be held in a location near the BEA at the same time.  Also, the Independent Publisher has a great ceremony for winners in the IPPYs, its book award. Here’s a blog article by Lisa Shea, who won two awards in the IPPYs. She went to the ceremony and give a rundown of what it was like. I’ve won three IPPYs awards over the years, but didn’t go to their  award ceremonies. Looks like I missed something.

Why didn’t I go to the award ceremonies? I’m not a “goer”: I didn’t attend any of my graduations after high school. The only reunion I’ve gone to was for the employees of the Santa Clara County Planning Department, where I worked for a long time. Loved those folks.

Would I go again if a fairy godmother gifted me? Sure, especially if I had an award to pick up. Otherwise, I’d want to build up my brand and visibility with every tool I had before venturing forth. Which is what Indie authors should be doing anyway.

I hope this tale is illuminating. I don’t know if conferences devoted specifically to fantasy or genres would be any different. I’d say: build your brand, your sales, your visibility, then evaluate going.

 

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, who’s got a lot of cool books for you to check out. Click the link.

 

The article's over: the fat lady's singing.

Old People, Computers and Technology–It’s Simply Cruel

Sandy's Sad

All I wanted to do was make a lousy video …

I’ve been grappling with Animoto.com all day, trying to produce a really good video for my new Christmas paranormal romance In Love by Christmas, also known as ILBC. I did create such a video. I produced about twelve, all sightly different. Different music, theme, words. I also fixed typos on the videos I’d just made and the ones I produced yesterday. As you know, typos multiply any time you take your eyes off your text. God knows what goes on on my hard-drive or in the cloud at night. Typo frolics of a reproductive kind.

Yesterday, I made some other videos of ILBC and posted them. Actually, I didn’t post them. Unbeknownst to me, my Animoto account has tentacles more invasive than an octopus’s, so that any little thing I finish is promulgated all over my cyber/social universe. All the “toss this stinkeroo in the trash” versions seem to end up on my FB wall. Other places, too, most likely. But, to continue …

Despite this, I really like Animoto.com as a way to make book videos. I can use their technology and produce stunning results. But PLAYING videos from their site … I don’t like so much. Those files hit so many snags they might have been using some of my old pantyhose as a power source. Takes so long to play a vid that even my MOM wouldn’t hang in there.

My web guy, Don Herion, suggested hosting my videos on Vimeo or Smugmug, as faster, higher quality places to mount my results. I tried Vimeo and found that it had superior play back to Animoto.com’s , but NOT superior enough. My MOM would lose interest after the second stall, plus all that jiggling made me dizzy. So I got on Smugmug and signed up for their free trial. Yesterday. If you hit that link in two weeks, it may not exist, as will be explained below.

Smugmug gives you this amazing website, all yours, if you can figure out how to use it. It’s very chic and stylish, design-wise, which means that if there are any controls for the site, I can’t find them. So, I won’t sign on for more than the free two weeks unless I make amazing progress in the cyber dimension. If a 69-year-old woman with two advanced degrees can’t find the friggin’ controls in two weeks, it’s not worth paying for.

Although I seem to be rambling, I’m writing about the elderly and technology. Did I mention that my husband got not only a brand new iPhone 6+, but a new Apple laptop to go with it? GO BARRY! After a week, he can competently answer the phone, without dropping the device from his belt holster. Today, he was working on ANSWERING EMAIL with his new laptop.

This afternoon, we practiced the New Intimacy: he sat at one end of our family room with his new toys while I sat on the other end with my sturdy 27″ iMac, attempting to produce the perfect video for In Love by Christmas, or ILBC, as I may have said, perhaps several times. I did make several, if I could remember which ones were the good ones. Also, I somehow erased the vids I’d previously sent to Vimeo and to Don Herion, my web guy, to post on my website. So those are all screwed up, as is the video embeds and locations I sent my publicist. This is really important, because THE BIG PUSH starts soon and he needs to get the visuals out there.

IN LOVE BY CHRISTMAS ANIMOTO

This is how the front image of "winning vid" for ILBC looks on my Animoto page.

This afternoon, I sat in my ergonomically designed chair, swearing softly at the short, computerized films bursting from the screen, listening to my husband swear at his new computer and phone. I did help him once or twice, “Push this arrow to return an email.”

This is how people relate in this new age. Sort of like sitting on opposite banks of a river, throwing electronic tomatoes at each other.

Basically, technology for those over sixty is dicey. Even for younger people, sometimes. I believe the cyber age responsible for the degeneration of our social order, which isn’t saying much. You’ve been out to dinner and looked at the next table, to find everyone on his or her smart phone. You’ve shaken your head and tskked sadly, until you got a text you had to answer.

The the problem is not technology, it’s learning how to use it. Every family should be assigned a 12-year-old from the local elementary school to teach the elders how to at least get to the gaming apps. That’s only right.

Meanwhile, here’s the vid I made on Animoto, transposed to Vimeo. You should be able to watch it easily by clicking appropriately, though it may stutter a bit the first run through. The Smugmug version will take me longer to post. I have to find the controls.

So, I did produce the #@^!! video. I’m not saying that the elderly can’t do tech stuff. We can. We may simply use unseemly vocabulary for long periods while doing it. This is not a sin. Old folks have feelings, too, and need to express them. Sometimes, %&*%#!! isn’t enough. But it was today. Enjoy the video.

Next time I’ll tell you about making Christmas presents for your loved ones using the graphics of your book covers. This is not as easy as it sounds, even given the plethora of companies promising the mouse pad of your dreams, or your hubby’s dreams. (Or porcelain mugs, my particular weakness.) That’s another story.

Sandy Nathan

And here’s the beast itself:

IN LOVE BY CHRISTMAS – NOEL VERSION 12/12/14 from Sandy Nathan on Vimeo.

Leroy Watches Jr. is a shaman whose Power sometimes makes things worse. Despite his flaw, he must save his soul mate from her addictions, her father, and Evil Incarnate, or she’ll be damned forever.

Leroy embarks on a pilgrimage that takes him to the highest levels of European society. As he travels, his shamanic Power grows. So does the Dark Lord’s hatred of him.

His prospective father-in-law demands that Leroy and Cass be in love by Christmas. Can they be?

If that doesn’t work, this link to the video on Vimeo will.

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