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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 Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com.  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 Amazon.com 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!

A Look at the Last Decade in Tech

By Nevin Buconjic
For Fresh Magazine, January 2010

Wow. 2010…it’s hard to believe! If you would have asked someone 50 years ago, what it would be like in the 21st century, they might have said we would all be driving around in flying cars or communicating with our wristwatch picture phones.

We have come along way, and this last decade is no exception. So when reflecting back on the last ten years of technology, I wasn’t surprised at all that there was so much that I could talk about.

The year 2000 brought with it a new millennium, the Y2K bug – which never fully materialized, and the end of the Dot-com boom. Amazon.com was already the most successful online retailer, and Google was still a fledgling start-up company – not a verb!

This decade has seen the creation of the iPod, iPhone, Blackberry and other smartphones, HDTVs, and next-gen video game systems like Xbox 360, PS3 and the Nintendo Wii. Blu-ray beat HD-DVD, ebooks finally began to catch on, and Netbooks became one of the most popular computers in years.

As an “early adopter” I tend to jump in to new technologies as they come out. I picked up the iPhone when it hit Canada – and can’t live without it. I own all three video-game consoles, which I use not only for gaming and movie/music streaming, but with my new Wii I can also get fit!

I was rooting for HD-DVD during the high definition video war (it was cheaper and more advanced) because I already had the add-on unit for my Xbox 360, but I am ok with Blu-ray winning the war. It still appears that DVD is king, however. When you are an early adopter, you sometimes get burned because it is inevitable that technology will become cheaper, faster and better. But even though my $2,500 HDTV now costs $700 to buy, I have enjoyed every minute of it over the last 4 years.

Getting back to innovative tech, digital music was revolutionized when Apple launched the iPod in 2001, and then iTunes in 2003 – now the most successful digital music marketplace in the world, with almost 10 billion songs downloaded.

Apple did it again with the iPhone – a smartphone that puts email, Internet, music, video/movies, games and over 130,000 apps in your pocket. It is now the number two smartphone in the world, behind RIM’s Blackberry, which had a significant headstart. Over three billion apps have been downloaded since the App Store was launched in 2008.

Apple is expected to announce a new “tablet” computer in January 2010 – could tablet computing (which has been around for at least 10 years) finally be the next big thing?

From its early beginnings in the first half of the 1990’s, theWeb really came into its own in the last decade. Websites went from being cheesy-looking experiments, to truly attractive, engaging, and interactive mediums. The concept of Web 2.0 has taken this even further with web-based communities and social networking sites, video-sharing sites like YouTube, blogs, wikis and other online technologies.

Social networking exploded in the last five years, first with the popularity of MySpace — perhaps the first successful mainstream social networking site, followed by the current king, Facebook. I personally use Facebook to keep up with my friends and share a little bit of my life.

Blogging became a hit as millions of people took to the web to express themselves, provide professional advice and information, or just voice their opinions about everyday stuff. There are now hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet. I too have a blog – mostly for posting articles I write such as the one you are reading, but I hope to do more with it in the future. You can check it out at www.digitaladventures.ca.

Twitter is another popular service (referred to as micro-blogging) that allows you to express yourself in 140 characters or less, and share it instantly with all of your followers. Personally this is one online innovation I just don’t get…but if you want to know what Ashton Kutcher is up to every moment, be my guest.

YouTube has become so popular that the site hosts over 100 million videos and over 13 hours of video is uploaded every minute. Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. The site costs over $1 million a day to operate, but Google says it will soon be profitable because the number of people viewing videos supported by advertising is increasing.

The web continues to grow as technology evolves and more and more users log on. It is estimated that the number of Internet users has increased from 361 million in 2000, to over 1.7 billion in 2009. This is over 25% of the world’s population.

The technologies and products I have discussed are only a fraction of the innovations we have seen in the last decade. And if that is any indication of what is to come, then we have even more to look forward to in the coming years! If you are like me, then I know you can hardly wait to see what is ahead.

Has Online Etiquette Gone Out the Door?

By Nevin Buconjic
For Fresh Magazine

October 19, 2009

Online etiquette or “Netiquette” is defined by Wikipedia as a set of social conventions that facilitate interaction over networks, ranging from Usenet and mailing lists to blogs and forums.

Some of these rules have been in use since 1983, and a lot of it is common sense so why don’t the rules of real life interaction apply online? Is it because we are for the most part anonymous or hidden behind an online nickname that we feel we can slam somebody, their ideas or worse?

How about replying to email or online messages in a timely manner? This article was not meant to be a commentary on our lack of online etiquette per say, but rather I wanted to focus on a couple of observations I’ve made while using Facebook.

For the one or two of you out there who doesn’t know what facebook is, it’s a social networking website that allows you to communicate with and keep in touch with friends, by posting pictures, writing on walls, and essentially sharing information. The site has over 300 million users, and continues to grow rapidly.

Facebook is a great platform to stay in touch – by adding friends and sharing information. But I think most would agree that the vast majority of our Facebook “friends” are merely acquaintances or old friends you used to know – not good friends that we actually still hang out with, or even speak to for that matter.

I’m sure most of us are guilty of adding friends of friends we don’t really know (perhaps to chat up later?) and for some it even seems to have become a contest for who has the most friends. I know I’ve received friend requests from people I don’t know and I’ve even dated a few girls I met on Facebook, who added me because I was a friend of friend.

But do I really want to see daily updates from someone I knew in high school and haven’t seen since, or share information with people I don’t really know? Which poses a question – is it ok to delete Facebook friends? Should this be considered rude, or a slap in the face?

Personally I haven’t bothered to spend my time going through my list of 400 or so to figure out who I really want to be friends with and who needs to go. But sometimes I find that I get a little miffed when my number of “friends” goes down — I can’t help but think to myself, “who the hell deleted me?”

And then the odd time I’ve been scrolling through someone’s pictures and click on the link of another “friend” in the picture and suddenly realize they aren’t my Facebook friend anymore, or some other scenario. Is it ok to feel insulted when you get dumped by a Facebook friend? Or is this what we do all the time in real life – just without the proof? I suppose we shouldn’t take it too seriously.

Another online pet peeve of mine is when you invite people to an event on Facebook — a party for example, and they don’t seem to have the time or courtesy to respond with a simple “yes, no or maybe”! I liken this to receiving a wedding invitation in the mail…we request your response by a certain date. Common courtesy dictates that whether you plan to attend or not – you will check off a box and drop it in the mail. Certainly this takes more effort than simply replying to a check box in your online invitation. But invariably there are several people who just don’t respond at all online.

I suppose we perceive online activity as somewhat less formal, and maybe I am expecting too much. If most people on Facebook are like me, then they receive lots of invites to see live bands, and other events – and don’t bother responding because it is similar to an email blast. But a personal invite to a party – I think that is different.

As Facebook continues to grow, we have learned to live with the fact that we see advertisements on the right side of our screen, and businesses are definitely jumping on the band wagon by setting up their own groups and allowing people to join. But another trend I am starting to see, which probably goes against proper netiquette, is individuals using Facebook to market products or services they personally sell.

Where else can you blast information to hundreds or thousands of “friends” for free? I’ve also seen people use their “status” update to push products on their friends. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a business or other group inviting their followers to events such as a bar or club sending information about upcoming concerts – because you have joined that group specifically to get information, but I find it rather annoying to see advertisements via status updates every other day.

So as our online world continues to evolve I don’t think our online etiquette is quite keeping up. For today’s youth, online social networks, chatting and texting are just a part of life. Facebooking too might be a big part of their social life. I sometimes wonder if this lack of etiquette – either real or perceived, which seems to be the norm online will eventually transfer over into real life or has it already begun?

Growing Up Digital

By Nevin Buconjic
For Fresh Magazine
(Originally published October 2009) 

Cell phones, iPods, laptops, digital cameras…we are living in the digital age. The age of instant gratification. Hear a song on the radio and like it? Just download it from iTunes or other services right to your cell phone. Don’t feel like driving to Blockbuster to rent a movie? Just order it on-demand from your cable company, or download it to your Xbox, or PC from Amazon.com, iTunes or Netflix. Some even get it for free through peer-to-peer torrents (but this is the illegal way to get it).

Living with such convenience and easy access to digital content has changed our behaviour, created new business models (and crushed old ones), and opened up new ways to communicate with anyone around the world.

So with this in mind, the idea for this article came to me the other day when visiting the family cottage up north. No cell phone coverage meant no texting, email or Internet access on my iPhone. In other words, no access to this endless supply of content and definitely no contact with the civilized world (there is no electricity or telephone service at the cottage).

Suddenly I was faced with the prospect of not being able to check Facebook, upload photos, or see what my friends were up to. But is this really a bad thing? It made me think about what it was like before the Internet and other technology so common today.

As a 30-something “young” professional, I still remember when the web and email were shiny and new – still at University (for my first degree) I remember being provided an email address, and logging into the Internet (world wide web to be exact – the Internet is just the network behind it) in the computer lab to see what this was all about. Not very impressive stuff in the mid-90’s and I don’t think anyone realized how far we would come in such a short time.

But kids and teens today take the Internet, email, texting, digital music and YouTube videos for granted. They have grown up in the digital age, and it is truly a part of their being.

If the thought of having no cell phone or Internet access for a few days unnerved me, I could just imagine what it would mean to today’s youth.

My niece is part of “Generation Z” or the “iGeneration” (born mid-90s – 2000s), and just starting high school this fall. I know that she has embraced technology. She’s had a digital camera since she was seven or eight, is attached to her iPod, got a laptop this year, and I think she has already had more cell phones than me! When she’s over for dinner, it’s hard to say a few words without her phone buzzing away with a new text message. It annoys my parents to no end, but the thing is I get it.

I get that kids today are growing up with instant access to information, and instant communication through texting, instant messaging and Facebooking. I envy them in a way, but I sometimes wonder if all this technology makes things too easy, makes us too connected and makes our relationships too impersonal.

Why call someone when we can just text? Why ask someone on a date in person when you can send them a message on Facebook? Why research a topic at the library for a school essay when we can just Google it?

I remember writing papers in high school using books and encyclopaedias. Now today most kids will just look it up on the Internet. With all that information at their fingertips is it any wonder that plagiarism is on the rise in high schools, colleges and universities?Probably not all of it is intentional – they just don’t know any better. According to a New York Times study, most students don’t consider “copy and pasting” from Internet sources, without proper citation, as cheating.

Our world is changing and the older generations are just trying to keep up. If I wasn’t such a tech junkie I might be in the same boat. We’ve come a long way since my first Atari computer, Sony Walkman, and camera with actual film!

Today we can shop, communicate, download movies and songs, share photos and learn about almost any topic on the Internet. We can hold tens of thousands of songs in our pocket. We can watch TV on our cell phones, and download movies right to our smartphones.

Technology is both fascinating, and life altering. Good and bad. Today’s kids are the first generation where technology is widely used and accepted by both the parents and kids. Nothing will stop the stampede of technological progress, our evolving way of life. Let’s just hope we don’t get too caught up in it, and lose sight of the important things in life – our relationships with family, friends and loved ones. Because technology still can’t replace that.

So looking back now at my weekend at the cottage. Being disconnected from the outside world, and spending quality time with the family wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Sometimes it’s a good thing to drop the techno gadgets and get back to basics for a while – if anything just to clear your head and relax.

I’ll try to remember that next time.