Category Archives: Discoverability

Book Promo Sites: Ranked and Updated

Here’s my annual analysis of my marketing efforts. This is pretty much all that I do in the way of marketing: I run a promo every month in a different email/newsletter.

The bar graph is screenshot from my Amazon KDP reports. Each blue bar is the total number of books that were ordered that month. Since I have a five-book series, the full-series promo at Written Word Media always brings in the most orders. People tend to buy every book in the Waterspell series. I love my readers. 💙

In 2023, I branched out a little from my regulars (Book Barbarian, Fussy Librarian, Written Word Media). I added Hello Books to the rotation, and will continue to use them. EReader News Today was also new on my list in 2023, and it did well. GoodKindles, however, was a complete bust. They’re off my list forever. With BookRaid, I have seen diminishing returns over the two or three years that I’ve been advertising there. Not sure they’re worth the money any more.

A full-series promo at Written Word Media continues to deliver the best results. It’s pricey at $170, but cost-effective for promoting the five books in the Waterspell series all at one time. Written Word Media offers several promo options. I tried their “Readers’ List” promo for the first time in August 2023, with disappointing results. Even combined with a concurrent Book Barbarian promo, the $125 “Readers’ List” email blast failed to produce the number of book orders that the $170 full-series promo brought me.

To summarize, this is how I’ll rank the effectiveness of these sites, in terms of the book orders they brought me at Amazon and how much I paid for each promo:

  1. Written Word Media full-series (Fantasy/Paranormal Series Promotion)
  2. EReader News Today
  3. Hello Books
  4. Book Barbarian
  5. Fussy Librarian
  6. Written Word Media “Readers’ List”
  7. BookRaid
  8. GoodKindles (a failure, so I’m not linking to it)

To see how my choices and experiences have evolved over time, you can look at my earlier posts on this subject — 2022’s Book Promotion Sites: Ranked, and back to 2021 when I was Focusing the Plan.

Since I hate marketing and I’m really bad at it, running promos this way is the easiest and the most effective approach I have found. Most of these promos cost $45 to $65. I budget to run one promo a month (rotating among these sites, and sometimes doubling up with less-expensive ads at BookDoggy and ManyBooks). Occasionally I splurge on a $170 Written Word Media full-series promo. I was an election clerk in November 2023 and got paid $188 for the day’s work. That will buy a promo. 😁

What promo sites do you recommend? What have your experiences been with pay-per-click ads at Amazon, BookBub, and Facebook? I tried those, but I found them to be way overpriced and ineffective for my books.

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Karenina Chronicles: Ebook Edition

The Karenina Chronicles, A Waterspell Novel by Deborah J. LightfootRelease Day Redux! Now it’s the ebook’s turn. The print edition came out November 17. On December 1, pre-orders of my newest book hit readers’ libraries and devices. I’ve been scrolling through it on my tablet, obsessively double-checking the table of contents and interior illustrations. Everything looks good!

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered my latest. I’m hearing from my dearly beloved readers that some of you are rereading Waterspell Books 1-4 before starting in on the sequel, the newly published Karenina Chronicles. Bless you, dear friends! But for those who don’t have the time to reread four lengthy novels, please be assured that The Karenina Chronicles is pretty much a stand-alone. There ARE references to What Went Before, but I believe I’ve supplied enough backstory that any reader will be able to follow the new story (of The New Generation) without rereading (or reading for the first time) the previous quartet.

Example: It’s been YEARS since I read His Dark Materials. But I’ve recently listened to the audiobooks of Philip Pullman’s return to that world: The Book of Dust, volumes 1 and 2. Because of the little reminders that Pullman sprinkled through the sequels, I followed the story perfectly well, despite the many years that have elapsed since I read the Dark Materials trilogy.

So please do not feel that you must read Waterspell Books 1-4 before starting my new one. Though of course I love you for your willingness to do so!

Thanks to everyone for buying and reading. Please remember that books make great gifts! 😀

The Karenina Chronicles: A Waterspell Novel by Deborah J. Lightfoot

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Release Day! The Karenina Chronicles

Release Day! 🎉 The print edition of my latest book is now available at all of the booksellers. 🎉 I’m excited about The Karenina Chronicles. There’s a strong streak of a woman’s simmering rage in this book.

Direct links to the major booksellers for the print edition:

The ebook will release on December 1. Find it anywhere ebooks are sold: books2read.com/waterspellbook5

Summary: In the grip of a grief-fueled wanderlust after the death of her Earthly husband, Lady Karenina of Ruain Nina to family and friends escapes into unfamiliar lands, a harsh and distant country peopled with enigmatic characters: the Leviathan, the Nomad, the Outcast, and the Wolf. In their company she finds adventure, danger, champions, and rogues some of the latter worth killing, but at least one worth loving.

Continue the family saga that began in the WATERSPELL fantasy quartet (Warlock, Wysard, Wisewoman, Witch). Follow the further adventures of eldest daughter Nina in The Karenina Chronicles.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support! 💙

I’m proud of this installment in the series. It’s a journey tale that covers a lot of ground. Karenina (Nina) would not leave me alone until I’d consented to tell the story of her “grand tour.” She insisted that I slip inside her saddlebags and make the trip with her. I’m glad I did. It’s been a journey of self-discovery for myself as well as for Nina. This addition to the series might not be a true standalone novel, but I believe readers can connect with the characters and follow their stories even without having read the first four books. There’s enough backstory scattered through this book to give readers the necessary background.

If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the Waterspell ocean, The Karenina Chronicles is the book to start you off. These books mean a lot to me, and this newest one has a special hold on my heart.

The Karenina Chronicles by Deborah J. Lightfoot

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Books 1-4 on NetGalley: November 2023

Available on NetGalley until December 1.

When the boxed set of Waterspell Books 1–4 came out in April 2022, I offered ARCs on NetGalley. Optimistically, I hoped for 40 or 50 reviews.

I got six.

Those six, however, were all highly positive. There’s also a chance that some of the readers who downloaded the ARC did eventually post a review somewhere else. At the very least, as I noted in my observations back then, I gained exposure in a much larger arena than Bookstagram and Facebook, and got my work in front of all sorts of industry professionals, including booksellers and librarians.

The Karenina Chronicles by Deborah J. LightfootWith the new book, The Karenina Chronicles, coming out soon (paperback November 17, ebook December 1), I decided to offer the original quartet on NetGalley once more. Of course I revised the epub file to include a teaser for the new book:

Continue the family saga! Follow the further adventures of eldest daughter Nina in The Karenina Chronicles.

In the first couple of days of the boxed set’s new availability on NetGalley, I’ve received 30 requests. I’ve denied a few of those, in cases where the requester seemed to have no interest in the fantasy genre, or showed a tendency to DNF books. I figured they wouldn’t likely read a boxed set of 1,200 pages in a genre they didn’t especially like. Mostly, however, I have accepted all comers. As somebody once said: For most writers, piracy isn’t the problem. Obscurity is the problem. With the wider distribution that NetGalley makes possible, I’m trying to become a little less obscure.

Once again, I’m using the Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op, which enables me to “rent” a slot on NetGalley for one month for $50. Pretty cheap way to get reviews and exposure.

The Blessed Six

Fingers crossed that my return to NetGalley will bring in some additional reviews, to build on the strong foundation that my initial experiment produced. Looking back through those six lovely reviews, I must share excerpts:

“In this four-book saga, the author has created an epic fantasy world full of magic, danger, romance, and travel through time and space. This is a most enjoyable read for fans of fantasy and fine writing.” —Shirley

“A good choice for those that like fantasy. This has rich character and world building, and the elements of a good fantasy story.” —Paul

“An entertaining, fast paced, and well plotted fantasy series. Riveting. The world building is fascinating, and the characters fleshed out. Highly recommended.” —Librarian

“An addictive-to-read epic fantasy with drama and adventure. I binged through the books, eager to see how the story unfolds.” —Reviewer

“An extraordinary book, 4 in fact! I read these over a five-day period and found the storytelling fantastic.” —Reviewer

“A riveting series. Well written, excellent world-building with an engaging plot in each book and well developed characters. I was gripped right from the start with twists I didn’t see and unpredictability.” —Aria

Thank you all! 💙 🎉 Here’s hoping that my return to NetGalley will meet with as much success as my first time out, and maybe more.

If you’re a NetGalley member and would like a free copy of Waterspell, please snag it before the title is archived on December 1. The link: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/306678

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Book Review: That Which the Deep Heart Knows by RJ Wheldrake

Review: That Which the Deep Heart Knows
by RJ Wheldrake
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is epic. Grand. Beautifully written, masterful in scope and execution, brimming with palace intrigues, murder and treachery, high-stakes conspiracies and closely guarded secrets amongst a large and intricately choreographed cast of memorable characters. The action is intense, complex but well-paced, allowing the reader to catch their breath along the way and hear the rain battering the roofs of country inns while thunder rattles the windows of remote castles. Settings and characters are presented with a remarkable degree of finely wrought detail, details that paint the total picture of place and time, so that the reader feels they are present in each scene over a vast landscape.

This book is the work of an experienced, accomplished, highly talented author. I give it an enthusiastic and appreciative 5 stars and recommend it highly to lovers of epic fantasy. I’m moving directly into the next book in the series (A Trick of the Light, second of Wheldrake’s Toxandrian Chronicles). I’m eager for more excellent writing and another sweeping tale of adventure, destiny, love and sacrifice.

Note: Contrary to my usual practice, I’m not including the book’s cover with this review because the cover — beautiful as it is — tends to suggest that the story is a romance. The young woman pictured on the cover is indeed a romantic figure, and she serves as the pivot around which the story turns. The cast of characters, however, is large and varied, with many among them who lodged themselves deeply into my heart and my sympathies. I cared for them, and the story’s end brought tears to my eyes. This is not a happily-ever-after tale. Some of the characters never find happiness, and even those who enjoy years of blissful togetherness are eventually at the mercy of the fates. Do not, therefore, judge this book by its cover. It’s not the category romance that one might expect from casting a quick glance at the beautiful girl in the purple dress.

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Book Review: Hearts of Ice and Stone by Martin Dukes

Hearts of Ice and Stone by Martin Dukes
 
Review: Hearts of Ice and Stone
by Martin Dukes
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
 
Book description: Laura never realised she was different, or that she was touched in some way by the heavens, until she first set foot, contrary to all law and tradition, within the portals of Darkharrow. Here, in the remote Eastings of Britannia, far from the wealth and the power of London, the dead lie sleeping beneath the ancient towers and cloisters of the great abbey. For some, destiny dictates that their long slumber shall endure until the last trump sounds and all the dead shall rise from their graves, but for some the care of the Camalodolite Order shall reawaken them long before that day. No one has ever been able to look upon the countenances of the departed and tell whether they may be awakened, whether their hearts are of ice or of stone – until now.
 
Caught between the competing affections of those who love her, threatened by those who would destroy her, Laura finds herself enmeshed in a web of conspiracy that draws upon her deepest resources and enforces choices upon her that are of the most momentous kind.
 
My review: Dark, fascinating, original, and beautifully written
 
I love this book! It is utterly engrossing and kept me turning the pages late into the evening. I give it 10 stars for the original storytelling, masterful writing, fascinating characters, and a crisp, compelling plot that sweeps the reader into an ever-darkening story. The prose is elegant and perfectly matched to the story’s brooding, spooky, gothic aesthetic. Fans of Edgar Allan Poe and of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights will revel in this book. I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended. Take a chance on an author you might not know — you won’t be disappointed.

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Three New Releases in Six Months: Too Fast?

With the dust beginning to settle, I’m surveying my little publishing empire, seeing what has worked and hasn’t worked since January 2022. As a refresher on the timeline of my new releases this year:

WATERSPELL: The Complete Series (Books 1-4) by Deborah J. Lightfoot; audiobook narrated by Simon de DeneyWhat a relief to have all of this frantic effort behind me! Now I can focus on making pretty promotional graphics at Canva to post on social media. I can try to remember to upload new videos to my somewhat neglected YouTube channel. Most importantly, I can start planning a new book.

Too Much, Too Fast?

At this natural pausing point, it behooves me to pause and consider whether releasing three new books or editions in less than six months might have been rushing things a little. If this frantic schedule has left my head spinning, I fear it has also confused my readers.

Waterspell: The Complete Series by Deborah J. LightfootBarely had I begun begging for reviews for Waterspell Book 4: The Witch before I was begging equally earnestly for reviews for The Complete Series boxed set. Some readers, I suspect, got muddled: They didn’t fully grasp that Book 4 is a separate publication from The Complete Series. And thus, they didn’t realize that each publication needs to be reviewed separately. Although Amazon correctly shows The Complete Series (the boxed set) as being one part of the Waterspell series, reviews for each individual book in that series are not immediately visible to shoppers who are looking at any single title in the collection. That is to say: Amazon treats each book (and edition) individually, which creates (in me) a need for readers to take the time to post individual reviews for every book and every edition. A big ask.

Waterspell Book 4: The Witch by Deborah J. LightfootIndeed, that’s a lot to ask of even the most ardent fan. All of my asking—first for the individual Book 4: The Witch, then for the boxed ebook set, and now for the culminating audiobook—has befuddled even me. I’ve no doubt that I’ve raised confusion in the minds of many readers. They (and I) would have benefited from a slower pace of new releases in 2022.

Nevertheless, rushed though it was, I’m delighted to have all of the publishing frenzy done and dusted. The new titles and new editions are out there, readers are finding them, and new reviews are appearing. The six-month sprint is over. Now I settle into the marathon of ongoing, nearly continuous book promotion.

Book Promo Overview

In May, I ranked the promotions I’d used, according to their effectiveness. With another month of experience behind me now, I’m revising two of my earlier estimations. Both of my giveaways—Goodreads and Reader Views—have improved their grades from C to B-minus.

  • Goodreads was a giveaway of 100 Kindle ebooks of The Complete Series. That giveaway has now netted me five-star ratings from two of the winners, along with a very nice review from one of those satisfied readers: “Loved it. Couldn’t put it down. 5 star box set. I may actually reread this because I enjoyed it so much.”
  • Reader Views was a giveaway of physical copies. I’d been disappointed that no recipient of those rather pricey, high-quality paperbacks had responded by word or deed. But on May 28, a winner of a print book posted on Goodreads: “Thank you, Deborah. I loved this novel and can’t wait to start Waterspell 2.” Those few words made everything worthwhile, all the expense and effort of mailing out physical copies.

I hope this doesn’t sound whiny. I’m truly grateful for every review and every star. Readers are busy. I get that. Writing reviews can be hard. I get that, too: I suck at writing reviews. Some of the reviews my books have received have filled me with awe, they’re so insightful and so beautifully written. Me? About all I can ever think to write about a book is: “I liked it.” Too many mandatory book reports in my school days ruined me for writing book reviews, I fear. But every author will value a simple “I liked it” as much as they value a detailed, four-paragraph analysis.

All reviews count. Every review matters.

To sum up: Marketing is hard, it’s expensive, and it’s time-consuming. To ensure that I’m spending my promotional dollars effectively and using my time wisely, I must pause occasionally and analyze how I’m meeting, or not meeting, my goals. At this point in my writing life, my goals are to get more reviews. At present, reviews are more important than sales. Without reviews, books (and audiobooks) won’t sell. First comes the writing/publishing, then the reviews, and THEN the sales.

Quick Links to Post Reviews

If you’re a reader who is inclined to help me out with a new review (or two, or five), I’ll be eternally grateful. 💙 Here are the direct links to post reviews at Amazon:

Waterspell: The Complete Series
Book 1: The Warlock
Book 2: The Wysard
Book 3: The Wisewoman
Book 4: The Witch

These links go to Goodreads:

Waterspell: The Complete Series
Book 1: The Warlock
Book 2: The Wysard
Book 3: The Wisewoman
Book 4: The Witch

Also, if you’d like to review the new audiobook edition, the following retailers will allow you to leave a review without having bought the audiobook there:

Apple
Google
Amazon (but not Audible)
Kobo
Scribd (with free trial)
Downpour
Goodreads

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Book Promotion Sites: Ranked

Six months ago, in November 2021, I ran my first paid promotion for my novels. My first effective promotion, that is. I’d been experimenting with BookBub but getting nowhere. After concluding that BookBub is overrated and overpriced, I went looking for better, cheaper alternatives and found BookRaid. My single-day November 2021 promotion at BookRaid was far more successful than my ongoing, daily BookBub ads had been to that point, persuading me to drop BookBub entirely.

Waterspell by Deborah J. LightfootSince then, I’ve also run promotions with The Fussy Librarian, ManyBooks, Bookorium, and Freebooksy (Written Word Media). Additionally, I’ve done three smallish Reader Views giveaways of paperbacks, finished one big Goodreads Giveaway of Waterspell: The Complete Series (Kindle edition), offered a 50% discount on the series at Google Books, and made ARCs of the boxed set available free, for the month of April, on NetGalley. Looking ahead, I’ve scheduled a Book Barbarian promo for July 12. (Book Barbarian specializes in SF/fantasy titles.)

Which of these has worked best?

The Prize Goes To …

The hands-down winner (to date) is Freebooksy. At $170 (!) it’s the most expensive promotion that I’ve run, but:
You get what you pay for, as shown in this chart:

Book Promotion Newsletters and Giveaways comparedNot only did Freebooksy outperform all other newsletters by an astonishingly wide margin, notice that even Day 2 of the Freebooksy promo (when folks were opening their email late, on the day after) brought in more orders than The Fussy Librarian did in total. Evidently, Written Word Media has a vastly greater reach than any other book promotion service that I’ve tried. I also appreciate them promoting the entire series (not just Book 1), and continuing to list Waterspell on their website:

Waterspell fantasy series by Deborah J. Lightfoot

My Freebooksy promotion thrilled me by making Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock a No. 1 bestseller in a pair of Amazon categories, and vaulting it to a very respectable second place on yet another Amazon bestseller list:

Waterspell by Deborah J. Lightfoot is an Amazon bestseller

Freebooksy, obviously, must top my list of book promotion sites that truly deliver. I’ll save up to run another promo with them in six months or so. The $170 price tag becomes less of a shocker when I consider that The Fussy Librarian charges $50 for a one-day listing, Book Barbarian is $55, BookRaid is $60, and a one-month NetGalley listing is $50 (when arranged through a NetGalley co-op). A Goodreads Giveaway (if you get it on sale) is $99. A ManyBooks promo is $29.

While there’s no fee to put a book in the Reader Views giveaways, each paperback that I mailed out cost me $10 for the book plus at least $4 postage. I sent out 10 books (one to Canada for a whopping $21 in international postage), bringing my total Reader Views out-of-pocket to about $160 (spread over three months). I’ve no idea whether any of the recipients reciprocated by leaving me a review anywhere. I have no direct evidence that any of them favored me with a review or even a wordless, anonymous rating. Sadly, none of them communicated with me, despite the contact-info sheet that I included with each copy. In future, I’ll think twice before doing another unfiltered, unvetted giveaway of pricey paperbacks.

Book promotion sites rated for effectiveness

The not-knowing about their effectiveness is why I’m giving both Goodreads and Reader Views a so-so C for their giveaways. It’s been nearly two full months since Amazon sent all of the winners at Goodreads their free copies of The Complete Series. So far, only one of those recipients (that I know of) has reciprocated by rating the Waterspell series at Goodreads.

Waterspell by Deborah J. LightfootNetGalley gets a B-minus from me because the reviews there, although they are excellent five-star reviews (like Aria’s pictured here), are far fewer in number than I had anticipated. I was hoping (too optimistically) for 40 or 50 reviews. To date, I’ve received six. I’m deeply grateful for those six highly positive reviews (thank you, Aria and other readers!) but I’m somewhat disappointed that so few of the individuals who requested and received an advance reader copy (ARC) have posted their reviews.

ManyBooks gets a C average from me because my two promos there have not moved the needle very much. They’re nice people to work with though (they gave me a badge!). And they’ve certainly outperformed BookBub (ridiculously expensive and ineffective), Bookorium (useless and now defunct), and my experimental Google Books discount, which has not attracted even one taker. Half price doesn’t appeal? Huh. The 50% discount code expires on May 31. I guess I’ll extend it for another two months, since it’s not costing me a dime.

That’s my report. If you’re an author who’s researching the best promotional sites and methods, I hope that my experiences will help you decide where and how to spend your advertising dollars. May your sales rankings skyrocket!

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Launch Day! WATERSPELL: The Complete Series

April 21, 2022: The 4-in-1 book bundle hits the stores! Before I had my first cup of coffee on Release Day, I was checking the downloads on my Kindle and Nook to be sure the formatting had survived the trip through cyberspace. Especially the complicated Table of Contents that I struggled with, before finally figuring out how to use Word Styles to achieve the hierarchy needed to list each individual book with all of that book’s chapters as subheadings. Evidently I was successful: The TOC in every edition looks good and makes logical sense.

Now I wait for ratings and reviews to (hopefully) appear. I’m especially interested in the results of my Goodreads Giveaway of 100 Kindle copies: Will that giveaway generate the new reviews I’m hoping for? Fingers crossed that most of the people who entered the giveaway are actual readers of epic fantasy. Past experience, however, tells me that at least some of the entrants (and therefore, some of the winners) are pirates who only want free books that they can turn around and sell under the table. It’s a shame that Goodreads attracts so many unsavory characters. Between its trolls and its thieves, Goodreads remains a sketchy proposition for authors, though readers seem to find it useful for tracking their To-Be-Read lists. Here’s hoping that my newest giveaway produces results that will raise my admittedly low opinion of Goodreads.

Far more rewarding (and fun) has been my experiment in offering ARCs (advance reader copies) at NetGalley. Going through a co-op made NetGalley affordable. And so far, I’ve been very pleased with the quality of the reviews The Complete Series has received there (excerpts pictured above and below). I’m thinking of trying NetGalley again to pull in reviews for the forthcoming audiobook edition.

Release Day always feels anticlimactic, after the flurry of pre-release promotion. I’ve done what I can to let people know there’s now a boxed set, and the 4-in-1 bundle is the easiest, slickest, most convenient way to experience the world of Waterspell. I hope readers find it and love it.

Where does this leave me? Besides tired? I’m truly worn out from this flurry of publishing and promoting. The end of all this effort, however, is in sight. Before too much longer, I will log off of social media; ignore this website (as I have often done in the past); and settle down to WRITE something new! The ideas are bubbling. I’m scribbling notes, in between the Instagram posts and my YouTube uploads. What a joy it will be to discover the story that arises from those scribblings! I was meant to write, not to spend all of my time waving a book over my head, asking people to “Buy this, please!”

That, however, is exactly what I’m asking: “Buy this, please!” (You can get the Boxed Set at a 50% discount at Google Books. Use this link to redeem the discount code: https://play.google.com/redeem?code=2WWF82J338R07)

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My NetGalley Experiment

When I first looked into NetGalley (“We Help Books Succeed”) I thought it was beyond reach because of the budget-busting expense. But then I learned about these things called “NetGalley co-ops,” which are group ventures that bring the cost down considerably. Going through a co-op (I am using Victory Editing), a writer can put a book on NetGalley for $50 for one month and start sending out ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to all sorts of industry professionals, including booksellers and librarians.

My listing for Waterspell: The Complete Series (Boxed Set: Books 1–4) is scheduled to run through April 29. In just the first two days of it being on NetGalley, I’ve received requests from more than 40 interested readers, including several booksellers, educators, and institutional as well as school librarians. These are people who would not have known my series even existed, if not for NetGalley.

This experiment has only just begun. Proof of its success (or failure) will lie in how many reviews my boxed set gets, and the quality of those reviews. At this early stage, however, I’m thinking that NetGalley, accessed via a co-op, is a good investment. At the very least, I’m getting exposure in a much larger arena than Bookstagram and Facebook—and my cover art for The Complete Series is getting all thumbs-up so far! Not a single negative vote has appeared yet, which validates my choice of a traditional two-dimensional cover instead of the 3-D “boxed set” graphics that many writers are using (to their detriment, in my opinion, since those 3-D images hide the pretty cover art and make the books’ boring spines prominent).

Another useful aspect of a NetGalley listing is the space it provides for a Marketing Plan. Forced to actually think about it, I came up with this:

Goals

The magic number of reviews is 50. That’s what I’m hoping for: a total of 50 reviews at Amazon for The Complete Series.

Past experience with Goodreads Giveaways suggests that only a fraction of the 100 individuals who won Kindle copies of the boxed set will actually post a review. I may be lucky to get 10 reviews from that giveaway.

Which means I’m pinning most of my hopes on the NetGalley reviewers. I’m appealing to you, you lovely librarians and booksellers: help me out with plentiful reviews. They don’t all have to be 5-star (though a girl can hope and dream, and extend oodles of humble gratitude to everyone who is so kind and generous).

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