Archives for April 2012

Kindle Book Promotion – Part 2

In my previous post on Kindle promotion I discussed the first day of my short story promotion on KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing).  To review, prior to the promotions I had sold 4 units at $0.99.  My promotion (free Kindle story) began on a Friday and through various posts and tweets, I was able to manage 106 downloads in the first day.  It may not sound like a lot, but I was quite pleased with this.

On day two, I utilized similar tactics (4-5) Twitter posts and 1 post on Facebook and LinkedIn.  On Twitter I used some new hash tags such as #ShortStorySaturday, #authors, and a few others.  According to the page for “The Path”, the ranking for my story actually reached as high as 1,341 out of over a million books!  I decided to use this little tidbit for my post on Facebook and LinkedIn.  It got some great responses from friends!  Overall I was able to get another 46 downloads on day 2 — for a grand total of 152 downloads!

I even got a 5 star review!  I am pretty happy with the results.  It is hard to say if readers stumbled upon my story via Amazon or if they were directed to the site straight from a tweet, retweet or Facebook.  But it does show that these “free” promotions work.  If I had been trying to give away a full novel I am positive the numbers would have been much higher.

I will continue to learn from my fellow writers/authors on Twitter — looking for promotional ideas that work.  And I will continue to work on my material.

I will repeat my belief in what John Locke noted in his book,How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months.  If you have other books available for sale, when a customer reads and enjoys your free book, there is a good chance they will buy your other books.  I hope to benefit from this strategy in the future.  I intend on promoting additional short stories (they will all be longer than “The Path”) and also hope to one day soon have a full novel for sale, as well as other non-fiction books.

And I hope to one day be able to call myself an author, and perhaps even make a living out of it!

What has your experience been like promoting your ebooks on Amazon, B & N, Kobo or iBooks?


Kindle Book Promotion

Day one of my very first Kindle promotion for my short story “The Path” just ended.  When you sign up on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select you are given up to five days during the 90 day period where you can offer your book for free to Kindle users.  This allows you to (potentially) gain a significant number of new readers who may not have heard of you or your book before.  The ultimate goal is to gain positive book reviews and create word-of-mouth buzz to boost your book sales.  Also, as John Locke noted in his book, How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months, if you have other books available for sale, when a customer reads and enjoys your free book, there is a good chance they will buy your other books.

I don’t mind sharing specific details, as this whole experience is an experiment to learn the best approach to promoting ebooks on  Because I do not have a novel to sell yet, I am relying on a short story to carry out the research.  This already puts me at a disadvantage because when faced with getting a free novel or a free short story, I’m sure most would go with the former.  However, they can also download both — so there is hope yet :).

My story has been available on since April 4, 2012 — approximately two weeks.  I did some promotion of the story on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — first focusing on letting my friends and followers know that my story was available.  And then promoting the fact that the story was free for Amazon Prime members.  As I mentioned in a previous post, because I am not able to offer the story for free at all times, it normally has a cost of $0.99.  Do I expect to sell a lot of units at $0.99?  Definitely not.  Since this effort is really about getting some exposure, and learning the ins and outs of promoting a book/story I really just want downloads, whether I get paid or not!  This is why the promotional days are so important.

So let’s get to the results.  In the two weeks prior to the “free” promotion I actually sold four units!  It doesn’t sound like much, but I was happy that four people were willing to pay $0.99 for my story!  This meant that some of the elements of my promotion worked — be it the cover graphic, or its description, or simply curiosity from one of my tweets or posts.  What ever it was, I sold four copies!  In just one day of the “free” promotion I had an additional 106 downloads!

That is quite a difference in exposure!  Now potentially 110 people have read my story on a Kindle, and hopefully most of them will check out my future stories and novels!  I am pretty excited about the potential here.  To put it in perspective I had previously posted the story on my website and invited friends and social media contacts to check it out.  If I had to guess I would say I got about 40-50 views.  I also posted the story to Wattpad and got another 85 views over the course of a couple months.  When I signed up with KDP Select I removed the story for both of the other sites.

In order to promote my Kindle story this time, I came up with 4 or 5 tweets that I could post throughout the day which would let my followers know that my story was available free for a limited time.  I also used tags such as RT to ask for a retweet,   #Thriller to classify the story genre and allow people searching for thrillers to find my posts.  I used #Kindle and #Amazon for the same reason, as well as some others like #authorssupportingauthors which helps to rally the writing community to support you.  I used HootSuite to schedule the postings at specific times throughout the day, as I work full-time and would not necessarily have time to manually do this myself.

I have been observing my fellow authors and writers on Twitter for several months now, and there are definitely techniques and best practices for promoting your books on Twitter.  Because of the nature of Twitter, a post can get lost almost immediately, so it is necessary to post many times throughout the day.  I often notice this practice on my Twitter feed and although it seems like overkill or even borderline spam sometimes, it would be difficult to capture enough attention without this practice.  I highly recommend not doing this with some other social media platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, however as those feeds have a much longer life and this would definitely come across as spamming your “friends” and colleagues.

There is definitely a fine line.  I posted two of the five tweets to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well.  Even that felt like too much, but from past experience, I have gotten much more response from Facebook than other platforms as there is a personal connection and my Facebook friends are often truly interested in what I am up to.

Tomorrow is day two of my “free” promotion and I look forward to many more downloads.  I will be utilizing 4-5 different posts again on Twitter and perhaps one on Facebook and LinkedIn.  I will be recording the results, and refining my methods as I go along.  Then I will have three days remaining, over the next few months to repeat what I have learned.

I am currently working on more short stories which I hope to complete in the next few weeks, and a non-fiction project that I will be discussing soon enough.  I hope that each time through the process will become easier, and more successful.

Please check back to read more about my experiences publishing and promoting ebooks on Kindle and other platforms including Nook, Apple iBooks, KOBO and others.  I look forward to comments and suggestions!

Publishing Kindle E-books

As an update to my ebook saga, I did manage to produce my two ebooks — the reprint of The Science of Getting Rich, and my short story, The Path. Using PagePlus X6 I was able to import the Word Docs and then re-edit them for conversion into the Kindle format (.mobi) and ePub format used by others like Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBooks. I finally found software which actually mimicked the ebook text flowing through the entire book. This made it much easier.

After becoming frustrated with editing the 60+ page The Science of Getting Rich, I decided to take a different approach and convert my eight page short story first — so I could finish and see the final product — to make sure everything worked alright. At first I imported the Word version, and things went well. I made a few edits and then converted it to Kindle, choosing my cover graphic and entering some details such as author, publisher etc. along the way. I previewed the finished product using my PC Kindle program — it looked fine. Next I emailed the file to my iPad and viewed it using my Kindle App. Again it looked great! I was excited. But there was one nagging issue…the file size was almost 4 MB. I new something was up — most ebooks, full novels even, aren’t even 1 MB in size.

I decided to worry about the file size later. I moved onto re-editing the book. I made it 5-10 pages in, and decided to convert it to see how it looked. Most of the re-edit was working ok, but some things were still out of whack…especially when new chapters started. I quickly learned that I had to insert page breaks after each chapter, to ensure that the next chapter would start on a new page. Somewhere along in the process I decided to start over. This time I converted the Word version to plain text before importing into PagePlus. This removed all of the formatting…I had to completely re-format once in PagePlus anyway…so I wondered if this was a better approach.

Once again I began editing and formatting the book, every so often, converting it to check the progress. Things were going well, except for some table of content issues, and the title page which I had the title of the book in large font. After conversion, it basically ignored my large font and printed almost regular size (12 point). What now, I thought to myself. I went back to edit the title page…this time I used the “Heading” tag from within PagePlus…most of the other text was “Body”. I noticed that this somewhat fixed the font size issue, and gave me more control over the document. Another bonus? The file size of the whole book was in the 400 KB range — that was more like it.

I discovered several things through the process of editing and converting my book to Kindle and other formats. First, it is best to start with plain text, and fully edit and format within the program you are using to create your ebook. This is kind of a pain, especially since you most likely have your book already looking great in your word processor. But the truth is, using the text version you can “correctly” format within the software so that it will turn out right once converted…and the file size will be much smaller (Word inserts tons of its own tags which increases the file size immensely).

Armed with this new knowledge I repeated the process again for The Path, and the file size came in at about 100 KB.

Now I had both ebooks and they looked great on my PC and on my iPad. I was ready to upload them to Amazon. I signed up as an author, and then proceeded to add the books to my author “bookshelf”. During this process, you must enter information about your book, provide a description, choose a selling price, upload your cover image, and choose whether you want to lock it down using DRM (copy protection) or not. I clicked save and then publish…and my book was uploaded. I was surprised to see that it was re-converting it to Kindle format. I wondered to myself if that might screw up some of the formatting (again!)

Now the book was in a que for review by Amazon staff before it would show up on the site, for sale. I somehow missed the option to preview the book. I would have to wait until it was live on to see if there were any issues with the formatting.

My short story was live within 12 hours, while the book took about 18 hours. I now had books for sale on! How exciting. There were a few formatting issues with the book, by the way. I had to do some fixes and resubmit it. Another issue with the whole experience was, that you have to charge a minimum of $0.99 for your book. I was hoping to have my short story as a free book. I just wanted to post it for exposure. But alas, it is $0.99 to purchase…so I doubt I will be selling many copies considering it is only 8 pages long. Turns out the only way to offer something for free is to sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). By signing up you agree to publish exclusively to Kindle for 90 days. Within those 90 days you can offer a promotional price price of $0.00 for up to 5 days.

I decided to wait and see. So I will keep monitoring sales (if there are any!) and make the decision on KDP in a few weeks. In the meantime, this has been a very challenging experience, but one I learned many things from along the way. I now know how to properly format and convert my documents to ebooks, and how to post them to Amazon for sale.

The next time will be much easier…and there will be a next time!

Creating Kindle eBooks

Making ebooks can be frustrating! I have spent the last several days messing around with different ebook converter software, and importing combinations of file formats such as Word Docs, PDFs, RTF, and ODT documents into Amazon Kindle’s converter software. Everytime I get an ebook output in which the document’s formatting is all messed up.

I can’t believe how many hours I have spent messing around with this! I even started to consider using one of those online companies which will do the formatting for you…for a fee of course. But maybe it would be worth it. Especially if the product was perfect!

But before I went that route I decided to try one last thing. I have been getting blasted with email solicitations to upgrade my Serif PagePlus X4 desktop publishing software, and I remembered seeing something about creating ebooks in the last email. So I did a search for Serif in my email and voila, the last email I received from Serif was three days ago!

Sure enough one of the many new features of version X6 is to create ebooks from your documents. Success! I watched the demo and it looked incredibly easy. So I have decided to upgrade. If this weekend was any indication, I will need to produce a number of ebooks in the near future and beyond…and I need an easy way to do it! I prefer to keep control, as opposed to relying on someone else or a company to do the conversions and formatting.

So I am currently downloading the update, and should know within the hour whether or not PagePlus X6 will do the job! I will keep you posted on the results!

What tools do you use to create ebooks?