Category Archives: Writers

Social Media for Writers: Why I Like Instagram

Deborah J. Lightfoot @booksofwaterspell on InstagramRecently I was asked if Instagram is good for writers. I believe it is. Or at least its “subsidiary,” nicknamed Bookstagram, works for me. I’m not on Twitter (I tried it but found it to be too frantically noisy). I’m suspicious of TikTok, which the FCC calls a national security threat. Besides that, I have neither the time nor the inclination to make a bunch of videos, not even bookish videos, and certainly not silly vids. As for Facebook: Fewer than 100 people follow my FB author page, and that number hasn’t changed in more than a year. Facebook’s algorithms work hard to keep your posts from being seen, if you don’t pay to boost your posts. And I don’t pay.

On Bookstagram, however, I quickly attracted 900 followers (for free!), and that figure increases weekly. They’re all bookish people, a curated population of readers, writers, teachers, librarians, publishers, and bookstore owners. The collaborative connections I’ve made there have resulted in several very nice reviews of my books, and in turn I’ve been introduced to the work of authors from all over the world. My ebook library now overflows with books I plan to read and review, to support other authors as many Bookstagrammers have supported me.

Bookstagram Pointers

Tips for Starting a Bookstagram covers nearly everything a newbie should know about launching a Bookstagram account and interacting with other book people. To that resource, I’ll add the following points, things I’ve learned in my year there:

Engagement is key. If you want people to like and comment on your posts, you must like and comment on theirs. Like all social media, Bookstagram can be an enormous time sink. You mustn’t let it take over your life, but you do need to set aside time for not only your own posting, but also for interacting with other people’s posts. I tend to peruse my Bookstagram feed during my coffee and lunch breaks, and sometimes in the evening when I should be reading.

Waterspell audiobook available at all audiobook retailersCanva is your friend. I’m not much of a photographer, and my aging Android phone doesn’t take especially good pictures unless the scene is perfectly lit. To get around that deficit, I use Canva heavily. I’ll spend an entire day creating Instagram posts at Canva, using the covers of my books and incorporating the nice reviews that I quote or screen-shoot from Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Creating Bookstagram content can take quite a lot of time, but I enjoy playing with designs at Canva, seeing how creative I can get. (Pictured is one of my recent designs, to promote the new Waterspell audiobook.) For me, Canva and Bookstagram together have become a fun way to showcase a different side of my creativity. If the words aren’t flowing during a writing session, I can go to Canva and play with pictures, and still feel like I’m being productive.

Katherine Paterson Power to Offend quoteMix it up. My pattern is to alternate promos of my own books with quotes from famous authors, or writing-related memes, or the occasional review that I’ve written for somebody else’s book or audiobook. Over the course of years, I filled thick notebooks with admirable examples of other people’s writing, or with the wise words of established authors. Those notebooks have been a rich source of inspiration for my bursts of creativity at Canva. My Bookstagram followers always respond warmly to the quotes I share. Every writer needs a regular shot in the arm, an almost daily reminder that what we do, does matter. And that we’re not alone. Even famous authors have bad days and get one-star reviews or draw the ire of book-burners. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see something inspirational on Bookstagram, something that validates me as a writer. The writers and artists who are active there support each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and commiserate with the setbacks.

Once a day is plenty. There seems to be a general consensus among Bookstagrammers that it’s poor form to post more than once daily. Which suits me fine. Only on rare occasions do I violate that unwritten rule. Many Bookstagrammers post only weekly, or 2–3 times a week.

Block the spammers and bots. Newcomers to Bookstagram are instantly deluged with “Promote it on” scams. Every one of those fake accounts uses the same wording — “Promote it on” — typically followed by some variation of “Writers Heaven” or “Writers Paradise.” (The bots aren’t imaginative.) To fend them off, go into Settings, find Privacy & Security, find “Edit comment settings,” and find Comment Filtering, where you can list Hidden Comments. There, paste the following list of terms that the scammers use. You’ll need to add new terms to the list from time to time, as the scammers tweak the wording (“Writers Heaven” becomes “Heaven of Writers”). As one of your first steps, however, when you create your new Instagram account, put the following terms in your “Hidden Comments” list, and you’ll vastly reduce the amount of junk that floods in from bots and scammers. Eventually, as they figure out you’re not going to pay them to “review” your book, the scammers move on to more gullible writers.

TheWriters_Heaven, _TheClassicWriter_, _thepoeticvalley_, author_paradise_, authors__paradise, authors_heaven, authors_paradise, authorsfam, empire.of.books, frozzenwhispers, frozzenwhispers_, heaven_of_author, inkpen_ig, paradise_of_author, penman, penman_ig, theauthorswarmth, thepoeticvalley, thepoetsvanity, thepotentatewriter, thewordrender, thewriters.paradise, thewriterswarmth, thewriterswarmths, writer.s_heaven, writersparadise._

It’s a Welcoming Community

As other thoughts occur, I may add to this post. For now, however, those are my main bits of advice for Bookstagram newcomers. I believe you’ll find, as I did, that it’s a welcoming community. Most of the writers and readers who are active on Bookstagram will follow you back, if you follow them. That reciprocity makes it fairly simple to grow your followers, in very little time, from zero to hundreds or even thousands.

I’ve been fairly selective about who I follow, being mostly interested in connecting with readers who might enjoy my books, and also with writers who work in my genre: traditional fantasy. I don’t follow many writers of urban fantasy, for instance, because I’m not trying to reach that specific audience. What works for them, in the way of promotion or reader engagement for instance, won’t necessarily apply to my efforts. From authors of epic or high fantasy, however, I’ve picked up many useful tips. I’ve learned about tropes and book blurbs and keywords. I’ve learned about online fantasy map generators, which is a new skill I really want to master.

Book Promotion Report CardIn turn, I’ve shared what I’ve learned about cost-effective book promotion. Pretty much the only time anyone reads this blog is when I share something on Instagram about my book-promo efforts, and I invite my IG followers to learn more at my blog. That’s when I get eyes on posts such as Book Promotion Sites: Ranked and its followup, Book Promo Overview. I’m glad to know that other writers are benefiting from my experiences in the often predatory and potentially expensive world of book marketing.

If you’re an author on Bookstagram, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop your comments in the box below. I have a huge amount to learn about that platform, and I welcome the advice of more experienced Bookstagrammers. Please comment, too, if you’re just getting started. I’ll do my best to answer your questions, or to refer you to more authoritative resources.

In closing: If you’ll follow me, I’ll follow you: BooksofWaterspell

Leave a Comment

Filed under Bookstagram, On Writing, Writers

The Waterspell Audiobook Is Live!

Releasing June 1, 2022
WATERSPELL: The Complete Series
Audiobook

WATERSPELL: The Complete Series (Books 1-4) by Deborah J. Lightfoot; audiobook narrated by Simon de Deney

Am I excited!? Just a little. Well, a lot actually.

This new audiobook is the culmination of decades of work. I started writing Book 1 of Waterspell so long ago, the story seems to have always been in my life. In a sense, I suppose it has been in my life since I learned to read in my childhood. Everything I’ve ever read has probably found its way into this series, in some fashion or other.

But that’s true for all writers, I imagine. We are products of the life we’ve lived, the people we’ve known, the education we’ve received, the work experiences we’ve had, and perhaps most of all the books we’ve read. We write what we know.

Waterspell is deeply personal for me, however. I remember my doubts and my uncertainty as I began the switch from nonfiction to fantasy. As a trained journalist and an award-winning author of history and biography, I wasn’t even sure I could write fiction. Did I know how? I had much to learn, and attentive readers can follow my learning curve through the series. Wordiness, for instance, was my painfully clear weakness in Books 1 and 2. That fault is less apparent in Books 3 and 4.

House in Mexico on Lake Chapala

Our house in Mexico on Lake Chapala

During my years of work on this story, I not only grew as a writer, I gained a deeper sense of my place in the universe. A huge amount of the writing was done while my husband and I lived in Mexico, in a house that I loved, prettily situated on the south side of Lake Chapala, south of Guadalajara. Our time in Mexico was a highlight of my life, an intensely creative eight years. Amid the tropical flowers and greenery that surrounded our house, I gave myself to my writing, tapping my deep subconscious during those quiet nights by the lake, disturbed by nothing, visited by only owls and inspiration.

Fuchsia in Mexican garden

My beloved husband holding a fuchsia for me to photograph in our Mexican garden

After we left Mexico, another seven years would pass before Books 1–3 of Waterspell were published. And then, to my horror, my husband died quite suddenly and unexpectedly, only two months after Book 3 was released. I have written elsewhere about the effects of my grief on my writing; I will not elaborate here, except to say that my husband’s death is, for me, inextricably woven into the very fabric of this series. It is chief among the reasons for my deep personal investment in this story.

The Gift That Started Things Off …

All of this history will perhaps explain why I’m so joyously, deliriously excited about the new audiobook. Readers had been asking me for an audiobook, but I thought the expense of such an undertaking would be beyond my reach. I resisted the idea of even investigating the possibilities, until my sister-in-law gave me an Audible membership for Christmas. The first thing I bought was Lord of the Rings, narrated by Rob Inglis.

What a revelation! A great work of fantasy was elevated, by a masterful job of narration, to a plane of perfection almost beyond my comprehension. That was when I knew I had to pursue an audiobook of my own series, and damn the cost.

… And Now Here We Are

Here we are, on June 1: Release Day! I can hardly wait for the world to hear Simon de Deney’s wonderful work on Waterspell: The Complete Series. I love how Simon connected with the characters. I am deeply grateful that he took on this big project, that he liked the story and my writing, and was willing and able to produce 51 hours of narration. Not a small undertaking! I feel honored to have an actor of Simon’s reputation narrating my novels. 💙

Simon de Deney in studio

Simon de Deney is a professional actor, playwright, director, and audiobook narrator with more than 25 years of broadcast experience and a wide range of acting credits, from feature films to shows in London’s West End. His audiobook work includes Flames Over Frosthelm (Dave Dobson), It Calls from the Forest (multiple authors), and The Story of Wine (Hugh Johnson), for which de Deney was nominated for Best Performance (Factual Audiobook) in the 2022 One Voice Awards (UK). As a writer, de Deney has had several BBC Radio commissions, including “The Way It Is” and “Future Perfect.” He has developed and directed new plays including “Broken Voices,” “Scotch and Water,” and “Late Fragment.” His acting credits include (theatre) “The Madness of George Dubya,” “The Prisoner of Windsor,” “Beneath The Waves,” and “Felix,” as well as television roles in “House of Elliot,” “The Upper Hand,” and “Rose Cottage.” His film credits include Damage, Shining Through, Another Country, and The Selfish Act of Community. Simon de Deney has a Master of Arts degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University. He lives in London.

This being my first audiobook, I’m not sure what to expect. Will it suddenly just appear in the catalog of every retailer? It’s been available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble, Chirp, AudiobooksNow, and Libro.fm. It’s supposed to show up on June 1 at Apple, Kobo, Walmart, Overdrive, and many others including Audible. But I’ve been warned that Audible lags behind.

So check back here on my website for new links. I’ll post them as I get them.

I will have 100 Giveaway Codes to hand out. Drop me a note (below) if you’d like a free copy of this audiobook!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Audiobooks, Books and Readers, Writers

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!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books and Readers, Discoverability, Writers

It’s Good to Talk Shop

Once upon a time I belonged to an in-person writing critique group. The group gave me valuable advice, and I benefited from participation in it. But times changed, and our lives changed, and the group drifted apart, gradually breaking up, or reformulating itself with new members in a different meeting location. I ceased to participate.

These days, I get feedback via email and text messages from my beta readers and reviewers. I also try to engage with other writers on Goodreads and Instagram. Writing is a lonely profession, but it’s not good to work in too much of a vacuum. Even the most introverted among us need to interact with our peers.

A Moment in Time by Martin DukesIt has been my pleasure recently to talk shop with Martin Dukes, author of the Alex Trueman Chronicles. It turns out that Martin and I have followed similar paths with our respective series: we were both away from our work for 10 years.

Coming back to a story after such a long break presents special challenges. I’m sharing our Instagram conversation here, for what it reveals about the issues involved and the concerns we both have as “long-haul authors.”

 


 

martin.dukes.wildest.dreams commented: Well done for writing four. How did this work for you? Has there been an obvious evolution in style during the series as you find your way with them? (Just going to Amazon now to get the first one ☺)

booksofwaterspell Thank you! I deeply appreciate your support and your interest. Books 1-3 of Waterspell are really the beginning, middle, and “end” of one continuous story. The new Book 4 is a coda, set five years after the events of the original trilogy. I’m not sure I would recommend that structure: A few readers have been really annoyed by Book 1’s cliffhanger ending. “Golly,” I think when a reader gets angry about it. “I’m giving you Book 1 for free, and several reviews have mentioned that it’s not a standalone, so why the outrage?” I guess I’m so accustomed to fantasy series that go on and on, it never occurred to me that readers would bristle at Book 1 ending on a cliffhanger. As to an evolution in style: I definitely became a more efficient writer. Rereading Books 1-2, I can see that they’re wordy in spots, and draggy in spots. Both would have benefited from a more ruthless paring than I gave them. By Book 3, I was writing more concisely. Partly, I imagine, because the scene had been thoroughly set (and described!) in Bks 1-2. But also because my style did evolve as I continued the saga. Many readers have commented that the series gets better as it goes. Oftentimes it’s the other way around (great first book, disappointing sequels) so I’m happy when readers say that I’ve avoided that trap, at least.

martin.dukes.wildest.dreams I’m surprised that anyone would object to your Book 1 ending on a cliff-hanger, unless it was not already apparent that this was the first in a series. From a writer’s point of view I’m sure such a device is useful in encouraging the reader to move on to Book 2 and a very normal strategy. TBF I could only see one such comment and your other reviews are universally enthusiastic. It’s constantly surprising how some reviewers will settle on one relatively trivial factor and use it as a yardstick by which to condemn the work as a whole! I’m interested to see that you recognise an improvement in your own writing style during the course of the series. I suppose sticking at it and writing them books in quick succession would help with regard to consistency. In my own series there was a gap of about 10 yrs between Books 2 and 3. I have tried very hard to keep things consistent but I’m sure readers will let me know if I haven’t! Did you likewise find that your characters matured and changed over time? (that is, assuming that some of the characters persist from book to book). For my own part, and since a central character is key to the series, I felt that there was a very real maturation as he aged with experience and as I came to know him better over time. Anyway, I wish you all the best with the series, which is evidently highly regarded and well-received.

booksofwaterspell A 10-year gap for you, too, huh. I’m working with the same: My original trilogy 2011-12, now the sequel in 2022. There’s a tension, I think, between achieving consistency but within a framework of growth, for both writer and characters. Like your main character, mine has matured, and her emotionally damaged “significant other” has (mostly) healed. One of my beta readers asked why I didn’t start Book 4 exactly where Book 3 ended (Bk 4 begins five years later). I replied that it wasn’t possible to pick up the story exactly where I’d left it. After my life took a sharp turn during those years, I wasn’t the same person who had written the original trilogy. My characters had also evolved. But I know those people and their story so well, I didn’t have as much trouble writing Book 4 as I thought I might. (Took me eight drafts, but that’s about right.) My beta reader commented: “Rereading the series, I realized your writing really hit its stride with the 3rd book. Not that there was anything wrong with the first two, but the 3rd had an ease about the writing. You’ve maintained that with this book.” I was relieved by her feedback. She confirmed that I’d achieved both some consistency and some growth, which is what a series should have, IMO. Regarding the grousing about Book 1’s cliffhanger: There’s more griping on Goodreads than on Amazon. But I served the story the best I could. If some folks dislike the structure, they have plenty of other books from which to choose!☺I’m looking forward to reading A Moment in Time. It’s up next in my TBR pile.

books of waterspell BTW, I love the cover of A Moment in Time. It’s great.

“It’s constantly surprising how some reviewers will settle on one relatively trivial factor and use it as a yardstick by which to condemn the work as a whole!” —Martin Dukes, author

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books and Readers, Bookstagram, On Writing, Writers

Birth of a Book: Waterspell 4

Intense! The first four days of January 2022 were intense. I’ve been glued to the computer, shepherding Waterspell Book 4: The Witch into the catalogs of every major bookseller, and several less-famous stores, too.

It’s been extremely gratifying, seeing the book appear in store after store. There’s now a Universal Book Link (UBL) that takes readers to their preferred bookseller. Book 4 has a page at Goodreads now, too.

What’s next? I still need to flesh out the book’s detailed listing at Amazon, as soon as Author Central will let me. And I’m waiting on the printers to send me a proof of the paperback edition.

Once the Book 4 paperback is proofed and ready to print, I’ll begin the process of updating each of the earlier paperbacks with a repaginated interior. Printing and shipping costs being so high these days, I took the opportunity to make a handful of minor text edits to the existing paperbacks, while also repaginating them to slightly reduce the page count of each. It may not make a great difference in printing/shipping expenses, but the end-of-line hyphenation definitely looks better in the repaginated editions.

Also in the near future, I’ll be scheduling a new promotion at BookRaid. I’ve already got a one-day ad scheduled for The Fussy Librarian, for January 18.

Happily, though, Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock continues to rank quite high in its category at Amazon: #49 in Fantasy Adventure Fiction, #82 in Epic Fantasy, and #85 in Sword & Sorcery Fantasy. It’s building momentum, which I hope will carry readers through the entire series, drawing them in due course into the finale, Waterspell Book 4: The Witch.

Now, I think I’ve earned myself a nap. Followed by an online grocery-shop. I’ve been too busy to bother with mundane things like trips to the supermarket or the post office or the gas station. Book publishing takes tremendous amounts of time and effort! #ifyouknowyouknow

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books and Readers, Discoverability, Waterspell fantasy trilogy, Writers

Two Months Out: Laser-Focused on the Plan

Two months? Have I messed up the countdown? In November, you may recall, I was Four Months Out.

Coming Soon: Waterspell Book 4 

The fact is, things are going so well, I’ve moved up the release date by a full month. Waterspell Book 4 will be available for pre-orders not later than January 18, with the book to be officially released on February 18. Hallelujah!

Amazon bestseller: Waterspell Book 1

One reason for the accelerated plan is that Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock has hit the Amazon bestseller lists! All of my promotional efforts have paid off. My inexpensive promotions at Bookraid, ManyBooks, and especially The Fussy Librarian have produced the following results:

Amazon sales chart

The short little lines at the bottom of the above graph were the products of my ongoing advertising via BookBub, before I wised up and quit wasting my promotional dollars there. I have found BookBub to be overrated and WAY overpriced. Clicks there were costing me about 60 cents, whereas the cost-per-click ranges from under a penny to about 3 cents, max, at the other sites.

Ranked in order of their cost-effectiveness, based on my results:

  1. BookRaid
  2. The Fussy Librarian
  3. ManyBooks

BookBub is totally off my list now. I won’t bother with them again. Nor will I continue with Story Origin, which has also proven to be ineffective, for me anyway. Some people may have the time and interest to work through the complexities of Story Origin’s interface, but I think my time is better spent elsewhere. I’ll fulfill my obligation to support the December 2021 “Passing Through Portals” promotion sponsored by Story Origin, but I won’t continue with a $10 monthly account there.

Passing Through Portals

That’s my monthly promotional report, shared for the benefit of any authors who might profit from my personal experiences with paid book advertising. Ads in selected (and selective) newsletters are working for me.

Social media? Not so much. My friends give me wonderful support at my personal Facebook profile, but my efforts to “go viral” via my public accounts (Bookstagram and Facebook author page) are generating only modest interest. As is this blog. But I have things to say, so I’ll keep posting!

Many thanks to all of the readers who have downloaded Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock, vaulting it onto the Amazon bestsellers lists! I am deeply grateful to you. ♥

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books and Readers, Discoverability, Writers

Four Months Out: Focusing the Plan

The past 30 days have been highly productive and educational. I now have a much better idea, and a better plan, for spreading the word about the original Waterspell trilogy as well as the forthcoming Book 4 (and the forthcoming boxed set). My promotional efforts are paying off, and I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.

Today, November 18, with the official launch of Waterspell Book 4 just four months away (it should be available for pre-orders in only two months, on January 18), I’ll try to summarize what I’ve I learned.

BookBub vs. BookRaid

Hands down, BookRaid.com is better! I’ve found that BookBub is overrated and overpriced. Comparing my continuously-running BookBub ads with my one-day BookRaid ad:

• BookBub got 273 clicks at a cost of $160 = $0.58 per click
• BookRaid got 715 clicks at a cost of $62 = $0.086 per click

That’s right: A one-day BookRaid ad attracted nearly three times as many clicks, and cost me less than 9 cents per click. BookRaid advertising maxes out at $60. No matter how many clicks an ad gets, the advertiser will not be charged more than $60. It’s a Canadian company, and my credit card charged me $1.80 foreign transaction fee, so the actual, final cost came to $61.80. Divided by 715 clicks, however, that’s less than 9 cents per click, compared to the nearly 60 cents per click (!) at BookBub. What a bargain BookRaid is!

Particularly in light of the great results. My BookBub ads had been running almost continuously for weeks, and they were barely moving the needle at Amazon. In fact, almost no Amazon (Kindle) customers were even clicking on my BookBub ads; those ads mostly attracted Google Books and Apple-Canada readers. (I love my Google Books and Apple-Canada readers! Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that Amazon rankings count for so much in the crazy world of publishing.)

On November 5, Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock ranked #17,977 at Amazon:

#147 Fantasy Adventure
#289 Sword & Sorcery
#305 Epic Fantasy

But then on November 7, following my one-day BookRaid ad, my Amazon rankings were:

#446 overall
#4 Fantasy Adventure
#8 Coming of Age
#8 Sword & Sorcery

The numbers also improved at Barnes & Noble: from 124,953 before BookRaid, to 71,283 after.

ManyBooks and Fussy Librarian

Pleased though I was with those numbers, I wasn’t done experimenting. I scheduled ads for the very next Saturday, November 13, benefiting from discounted prices at both The Fussy Librarian ($39, regularly $49) and ManyBooks.net ($19, regularly $29). With those promotions running simultaneously, I can’t say which was the most effective, but together they brought me great results. That Saturday morning, Book 1 was ranked #3256 at Amazon: #26 Fantasy Adventure, #51 Sword & Sorcery, #52 Epic Fantasy.

That day and the next, those numbers climbed:


My conclusion? Stop wasting money on ineffective, overpriced BookBub ads, and direct my promotional dollars instead to the lovely folks at BookRaid, ManyBooks, and Fussy Librarian.

Goodreads and Other Social Media

After taking Alessandra Torre’s free Goodreads webinar, I’ve got a somewhat higher opinion of Goodreads. I’ve tried to implement Alessandra’s great advice about interacting effectively and efficiently on that platform. Some of her advice is:

• Leave reviews for books you love (those you can honestly 5-star)
• Like/comment on other reader reviews of those same books
• Mark your current read as “Reading”
Leave your own review of your own books (no star rating, just your comments)
• Like/comment on the 5-star reviews that readers have given you
• Share a Goodreads review on your other social media

After doing these things, I’ve definitely seen more engagement with readers at Goodreads. To my absolute delight, several new readers have gifted me 5-star reviews there. These are the first new interactions I’ve had at Goodreads in ages. My effective promotion (via BookRaid, Many Books, and Fussy Librarian), combined with my more enthusiastic Goodreads participation, seems to be attracting new supporters to my cause. I’m deeply grateful. ♥

 

These new 5-star ratings have raised my overall numbers at Goodreads to 3.97. Alessandra Torre said the average rating there is 3.5 stars, so I’m feeling good about being “above average.” ↑ Goodreads has a reputation as troll central: too often, there seems to be more emphasis on savaging a writer than on appreciating the time and effort it takes to write a book. With Alessandra’s blessing, I’ll try harder to boost and appreciate the work of my colleagues, to share the love in this crazy publishing free-for-all.

As for my other social-media efforts:

Instagram is working well. I’m connecting with readers and authors there. So far it hasn’t brought me any new reviews (that I know of), but I enjoy interacting with Bookstagrammers.

My Facebook author page isn’t worth the space it occupies. Hardly anybody sees it.

My personal Facebook profile is reserved mostly for my private life, but when I get good book news, I’m thrilled to share it with my friends and feel their love.

The Facebook groups in which I’ve been active are getting less of my time now. They’re either not focused enough on my genre, or they’re actively hostile to authors’ promotional efforts. The latter has surprised me.

What’s Next?

All that I’ve learned this past month has helped me refocus my efforts. It dawned on me that, instead of spending my entire marketing budget on individual Book 1 and Book 4 promotions, I should instead plan to vigorously promote the next big thing on my to-do list, which is the boxed set of the complete Waterspell series.

When that’s ready, I can do a Goodreads Giveaway, and also investigate a $45 NetGalley option.

With that future marketing in mind, I’m taking a break from paid advertising for the next six weeks or so. Gonna save my money for a big push in early 2022—especially now that I know what works to move the needle at Amazon.

Book 1 Amazon rank 18 Nov 2021

Even today, five days after my dual ManyBooks/Fussy Librarian promotion, Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock is well ranked at Amazon. And now it’s got 39 ratings: one more than yesterday. People are finding it and reading it! I am feeling much encouraged. It may indeed be possible to relaunch this series, after Life with a capital L sidelined me for too many years.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books and Readers, Bookstagram, Discoverability, Waterspell fantasy trilogy, Writers

TMI: Marketing Info Overload

Too Much InformationMy eyes are glazing and my brain hurts. It began with a BookBub Partners email directing me to a guest blog by author Nick Sullivan, his topic being one close to my heart: Launching Book 4 in a Series. Like Nick, I have a fourth book coming out in about six months. But unlike Nick, it would never occur to me to set up a pre-order for a book being released months from now. That’s yet another marketing wrinkle I must consider.

As is “calling KDP.” What? It’s possible to telephone Kindle Direct Publishing? Nick says he “Called KDP and added eight more categories to both the paperback and the Kindle editions. (When you set up your book in KDP, you provide two categories, but you can contact Amazon and get up to 10.)” Veddy interesting. I had no idea that speaking with an actual human would be possible. I must investigate.

Reading more of Nick’s advice, I came to the unfamiliar term AMS. Nick writes that AMS had been “getting away from him.” Well, by golly, it’s sure been getting away from me, since I had never heard the term before today. Googling clued me in: it stands for Amazon Marketing Services. Oh, okay: ads. Yep, Amazon ads have been on my to-do list.

So I let Google detour me from Nick’s Book 4 launch strategy into the YouTube weeds of “How to Do Amazon Book Ads.” The process seems similar to BookBub’s DIY ad platform. Except Amazon makes provision for “negative targeting keywords,” where you enter search terms that you don’t want your book to be associated with. For instance, if your book isn’t free, you can enter “free” and “free ebook” as negative keywords, to keep freebie shoppers from clicking on your title and then getting mad when they see that it costs a whopping $2.99.  Good to know.

But back to Nick’s advice. He names several non-BookBub promo sites: Robin Reads, Freebooksy, Book Adrenaline, BookDoggy, ENT, and eReaderIQ. I see more Googling in my future, as I have no clue what any of those are or what they do or how much they cost.

Nick’s post eventually led me to this related article: “Marketing a New Book Release that’s Part of a Long Series.” In that linked article, author Julianne MacLean offers succinct advice that seems a little easier to follow for someone (like me) who possesses only rudimentary marketing knowledge. Julianne breaks her promo plan into seven steps:

1. Pre-order
2. Cover reveal
3. Social media
4. Book trailer
5. Discounting
6. Advertising
7. Blog tour

I’ve got Waterspell Book 4’s new cover in hand, I’ve made some book trailers, I’m as active as time allows on social media, and my testing-the-waters ads via BookBub have yielded promising results, especially for rebels like me who prefer Barnes & Noble and Nook. When Waterspell Books 1 and 2 were newly released, I did blog tours, and it seems that such tours are still “a thing,” though blogging itself isn’t the hottest communications medium out there.

Which leaves pre-orders and discounting for me to investigate.

My to-do list grows ever longer. It’s encouraging, though, that other writers have worked out doable marketing plans that I can hope to emulate. But not right now. At this hour of the day, I (like Fernando Pessoa) need truth and aspirin.

Leave a Comment

Filed under BookBub, Cover Design, Discoverability, Writers

Character Development: Showing Emotions

Once again, and gratefully, I’m sharing excellent writing advice from author Connie J. Jasperson. It’s very timely. I’m about to settle down, first, as a beta reader for a writer-friend’s work-in-progress, and then to make final (I hope) edits to my own WIP, Waterspell Book 4. Connie’s advice on how to show characters’ emotional states will be fresh in my mind as I undertake to help both my friend and myself Do Our Jobs Better.


 

Most authors who have been in writing groups for any length of time become adept at writing emotions on a surface level. We bandage our wounded egos and work at showing our characters’ inner demons. We spend hours writing and rewriting, forcing words into facial expressions. Happiness, anger, spite – all the emotions get a […]

Character Development: Showing Emotions — Life in the Realm of Fantasy

1 Comment

Filed under On Writing, Writers

Character Development: Motivation drives the story

Here’s excellent writing advice from author Connie J. Jasperson. I’m pleased to reblog her post, as follows, and I invite you to follow Connie at conniejjasperson.com.

You have probably heard of the literary rule known as Chekhov’s Gun, which says nothing should appear in the scene that has no use. If a rifle is important enough to be shown hanging on the wall, someone had better fire it, or it should be removed from the setting. Firing Chekhov’s gun brings us […]

Character Development: Motivation drives the story #amwriting — Life in the Realm of Fantasy

3 Comments

Filed under Books and Readers, On Writing, Writers