Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is There Gold in Them There Hills? Part III

This is the third in a series of four to five posts about how to 
succeed in independent publishing on Kindle. 

If you have an interest in reading the previous posts, these are the links:

SEE AND BE SEEN
I've been a lot more gabby with my blogging lately and I had to reread part II to see where I left off.  With Twitter, of course. It's no secret that I love this media or that I fully understand why many people don't. After all, 140 characters and you have to count the spaces between words, too? Whose crazy idea was that?

If you agree with that question, you've told me that you're living the Twitter-land fantasy.

So what is the Twitter-land fantasy?

That Twitter is all about building relationships. 

Am I saying that it isn't? Oh, yes, I am. Think about it. Do you really care if a stranger is having a relaxing moment on his beautiful patio or that a woman just found a cool place to get a manicure or that a--  Nope you really don't, do you? If you want relationships you go to Facebook.

Twitter is a marketplace. It's about seeing and being seen, another reason why that photo is so important. Because people like to do business with people they like, but on Twitter they don't want to be your best friend. They just want to know you've been around a while and will probably stick around. They do this by seeing your tweets.

It's also about letting people know what you have to offer, so don't be shy. Just be willing to retweet and engage in conversations because that helps the other tweeters also be seen. Trust me, they'll do the same for you. Don't let your tweets devolve into personal matters. Some people do use Twitter entirely for personal reasons, but most of them won't stick around because they, unlike you, are not there to do business.

So what's this content tweet people are talking about? It's a tweet that gives back without asking for something in return. Content tweets are hard, which is why so many of them are a bit inane. Quotes are good, but if you can come up with something original that's even better. Personally, I like to promote other authors and author venues -- conferences, appearances, things like that. I occasionally talk about my tai chi classes, mostly because the positions have such intriguing names. I could never come up with White Swan Spreads its Wings on my own.

Sorry, got off track. But here's the deal about content tweets. There's some arbitrary rule about 4 content tweets for every sales pitch. Oh, come on! Is anyone paying attention to how the twitter stream works? It's a chronological listing of every tweet put out that somehow includes your address. Unfortunately, you have little control over what goes in that stream, other than that it will only contain tweets from people you follow and follow you.

So the deal is that if you tweet someone and they retweet, their tweet goes to their followers and many of them will be people who aren't following you but may after seeing your name a few times.

One to two content tweets a day are enough. Then do at least ten marketing tweets. (Yes, I know, I know, that's totally against everything you've read but most of that advice came from the Twitter-land fantasy).  And unless you're a tweet-a-holic, it's also a pain to have to go in ten times a day to tweet. That's why you need HootSuite. Its basic service is free and while I've been toying with subscribing to its upgraded service, so far basic HootSuite has filled my needs. The best thing it does is let you schedule your tweets. Launching a book? Schedule a tweet every hour for 24 hours (remember Twitter never sleeps) and see what happens.

My point, however, is that most likely the same people will not see each tweet unless, of course, it is retweeted within your twitter stream. This is a good thing. An endorsement that comes from others. Respond in kind even if you haven't read their book. Remember, it's about seeing and being seen.

Are there behaviors that turn people off on Twitter?  Definitely, yes. The first is any attempt to sell when you respond to a mention or retweet and responding is something you should definitely always do. But never outright ask someone to go to your blog or website, or buy your book or product. They know you're selling something, so let the tweet be a billboard and just include a link. Mind your manners when you send out those 140 characters and people will actually click on the link.

The other turn-off is ranting about a favorite pet peeve or even saying anything negative unless you're in a private list where everyone is doing the same, and probably not even then. Remember what happened to the politician who tweeted his photo while wearing only his whitey tighties?

Okay, so now you know the purpose and the perils, it's time to get your followers. Your first goal should be to have 1000 followers. It took me nearly a year and a half to do that because I didn't realize two things. Lots of people drop you if you don't promptly follow back. And Twitter makes it  easy to find and acknowledge followers. Just click on "followers," found in the upper left-hand box on the "Me" tab and go down and follow everyone who is listed as following you.

This is what works to build your followers.
  1. Follow everyone that Twitter recommends, which they continually do.
  2. At first, when people follow you reply with a thank you -- later you won't have time  -- and retweet them if appropriate because these are the people that will help you be seen.
  3. Do not weed out your list at this time
  4. Follow everyone who follows you.  
  5. Search out who follows your followers and follow some of them.
  6. Do this at least once a week
  7. When someone mentions you in their tweet, reply to thank them.*
*Mentions show up when you click the @connect tab at the top of your Twitter page. 
When I started doing these tasks, I increased my follow numbers by 300 in just a few weeks and hit and exceeded a thousand shortly thereafter. I fully expect to exceed two thousand by the end of the year. More followers mean more peeps to see and see you and a wider audience for your books or products.

For authors, proper use of Twitter has become essential.  Amazon has been clamping down on the benefits of free book promotions and recently tightened the rules of payment for Amazon Associates who run websites promoting free books.This may be good or it may be bad, but the major pitfall is that it will make it harder to drive the traffic on Amazon to push up your rank. It's becoming more up to us to drive that traffic. See my May post for my take on how this is going to shake out for indie authors. In the meantime, explore Twitter. I only know a tenth of the ways to use this service so run arches to learn more and tweet them to me or post them on my Facebook author page because the best way to survive is to help each other.


Website, http://connieflynn.com
Subscribe to Connie's Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/qOHbT
Blog: http://imaginationgonewild322.blogspot.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ConnieFlynnAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConnieFlynn
Email: connieflynn@yahoo.com


I have been writing fiction for so long I can barely remember when I didn't. Sometimes people ask where I get my ideas and I can't comment too much on "ideas" either, since they come one at a time from different sources. THE DRAGON HOUR came from a suggestion that I set my story in Scotland, which to my mind was an overused setting. I wanted to spice things up so I threw in a dragon because my writing motto is never be boring. Hopefully, I succeeded . THE DRAGON HOUR is now available in the Kindle store for a limited time at 99c.

Click Here to Buy


THE DRAGON HOUR
A Scottish paradise lost in time is invaded by 21st century thugs. It was a robbery gone terribly wrong, ending in Luke Slade carrying his wounded cousin through a window of light, sweeping them back in time. The killers chase after them and the window closes behind them, trapping them all in 1672.

Caryn McLaughlin rules Lochlorraine and deals daily with a terrible threat. When Luke appears she knows her worries will soon be over. She'd seen his face all her life, on a tapestry now hanging in her bed chambers. He is Luke the Dragon Slayer, none other, and his duty is clear. What a pity he doesn't see it that way.

Monday, April 1, 2013

0 Days (Left) of Free eBooks

THE END IS HERE

The 30 Days of Free eBooks blitz is now complete. The event actually ended March 27th and was wrapped up with the Bootcamp for Novelists Basic Training Manual that I co-authored with my friend and business partner, Linda Style. Since the eBook blitz process was an experiment and the Manual is just kind of bipping along without much fanfare, yet somehow manages to sell some copies, I did almost no tweeting on this book for the first two days. (For readers who are just chiming into this project, I had a novel, a boxed set, and three short stories with accumulated free days that were going to expire at the end of March, spurring me to run a free eBook blitz). Anyway, back to the tweets.The third and final day I set up hourly tweets.

The free downloads more than doubled in that one day. And the lack of tweets the two previous days dragged the overall daily number down by 8 books, indicating that failure to tweet can actually hurt. And when I put the book back to retail price offer, the manual sold about three times more than usual. My conclusion? Tweeting sells books and drives traffic to websites and blogs. My monthly blog at Much Cheaper Than Therapy is the Part III of the Is There Gold in Them There Hills? series. The topic will focus of using Twitter and other forms of self-promotion.

So the full results.

Total Free Downloads Over 30 Days: 

6368 or 212 eBooks per day

By Title: 

Chills & Thrills Box Set:  1104 downloads
Murder at the Toadstool Café: 816 downloads
The Fire Opal: 3128 downloads
Old Bones: 652 downloads
Dead Elf in Santa's Workshop: 254 downloads.
Bootcamp for Novelists Basic Training Manual: 414 downloads.

I did learn a few things. First, as I already complained, I learned there are so many sites where you can post notice of your free and cheap books that when you first jump in it's almost impossible to manage. I was looking forward to (dreading) sorting it all out when I got my second lesson. I learned that everything changes fast.  Five days ago I knew what I had to do regarding the free promotion sites, but Amazon has once again impacted the playing field and this is going to change everything. For good or bad, I'm not sure, because the terminology of the announcement is open-ended enough that I'm not sure how the change will be applied, but essentially it says that websites that primarily advertise free books will not  be eligible for any advertising fees for that month within the Amazon Associates Program.

One result already of this policy shift is that many of the websites that feature free books will stop doing that and a for-charge business to promote free books seems to be cropping up.

I also learned that authors should not rely entirely on Amazon for book sales. The KDP free promotion was a life raft for many authors who were floundering to be discovered in Amazon's vast book world. Currently it is still the foundation. But there are other places to sell and other search engines besides the one in Amazon, Our own websites and blogs can become a place to churn robust sales. The hardest part for all of us Indie Authors is the continually changing landscape so we must stay alert to new avenues to staying visible without always jumping on the latest fad.

More on this tomorrow at Much Cheaper Than Therapy.
Stop by. I'll be asking questions and for opinions.


From the Author:
Connie Flynn is a bestselling, award-winning author of ten novels and several short stories. She has been putting her legacy books on Kindle as time allows and is also working of several new novels. She writes in several genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy and action/adventure, contemporary fantasy. She also writes mystery/suspense as K.C. Flynn. Look for more new releases in 2013.



Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/connieflynn
Blog: http://imaginationgonewild322.blogspot.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ConnieFlynnAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConnieFlynn
Email: connieflynn@yahoo.com
Website, http://connieflynn.com
Subscribe to Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/qOHbT



Look for The Dragon Hour in Connie's Amazon page on April 10. This reissue has been long awaited and I'm hoping new readers love this PRISM Award-winning book as much as  early readers did.

A Scottish paradise lost in time
 is invaded by 21st century thugs.