From the Pet Peeve file: pretending hindsight is foresight…

Have you noticed that some people will try to pass off your hindsight as their foresight?

When you present them with the results of an action, they claim to have predicted the outcome all along. If you tried something that didn’t work or learned something through experience, they’ll respond:

“Well, I knew that.” (No, they didn’t)

“I told you that would happen.” (No, they didn’t.)

“I could have told you that.” (Then why didn’t you? Because you didn’t know.)

It’s easy for them to claim to have known the facts beforehand after the facts were just handed to them on a silver platter.  These people have to be right. They have to look like they’re in the know. Sometimes they’ll even contradict themselves–what they claim they told you is exactly the opposite of what they did tell you.

As an author I have to make a lot of decisions affecting the success of a book. It’s great when I have history, experience or expert advice upon which to base a decision, but sometimes I don’t. Often outcome is unpredictable; there’s no way to know if something will work until I try it. Some times it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

When people who don’t have clue or aren’t in the publishing industry tell me after the fact they knew something wouldn’t work or that it would work and I could have been successful sooner if only I’d listened them, well, it’s annoying.

Has this ever happened to you? What’s your Pet Peeve related to writing, publishing, or reading?

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8Sunday: From Breeder…Omra makes a big mistake…dark #scifirom

Available for Preorder now!

Release date: June 20

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

One of five rulers of his planet, Dak needs an heir so he goes to a Breeder Containment Facility to purchase a female who can produce a son. He finds one he thinks might be suitable. In this scene, he’s inspecting her. Sival is the director of the BCF. Corren is Dak’s anointed partner.

Not all alphas and their betas treated breeders well, but if he chose her, she’d be adequately fed and housed. Command of his province consumed his time and energy, which left his beta alone for long stretches. A breeder would relieve Corren of household chores and provide him with a physical outlet.

“What is she called?” Dak asked.

“Her sire named her Omra.”

Peace, it meant.

He parted her lips with his fingers and slipped a digit into her mouth, running it along her upper gum line to check the solidness of her teeth. At a flash in her eyes, he jerked his hand away a centisecond before she snapped her jaws together, so that her incisor only grazed the tip of his finger.

Sival’s face reddened. “Commander, I apologize. I will have her flogged.”

Breeder blurb

She was only meant to be the Alpha Commander’s slave…but she became his everything.

High Commander Dak, a ruling Alpha of planet Parseon, purchases Omra strictly as a breeder slave. He intends to impregnate her, produce a son, and hand her off to his anointed beta partner, Corren. Any infractions of the rules by her will be harshly punished.

But as Dak and Omra discover a sexual bliss banned by law, Dak begins to question the traditions and ways of his people, causing him to jeopardize his command and endanger the life of the woman he has come to love.

Dak has enemies, men who will not hesitate to exploit his fondness for Omra, and use it to portray him as unfit to rule as Alpha. Can he expose the rampant cruelty and corruption in Parseon culture… or will the protocol he’s spent his life defending, be the weapon used to destroy them and their love?

Click the logo to check out the other authors of Weekend Writing Warriors 

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Where to advertise your free book…part 3 of a series

Welcome to part 3 of my series analyzing the results of a two-month free campaign. If you want to know what I did and how I did it, please refer to Part 1 and Part 2.

In today’s segment, I’m going to list the newsletters I used to advertise my free book, Stranded with the Cyborg, book one of a science fiction romance series. During my campaign I discovered a few newsletters that delivered an awesome return on investment, others that did so-so, and many I will never use again. The way I determined the ROI was to compute the cost per download (CPD) by dividing the advertising cost by the number of downloads I got. (Ex: $100 ad ÷ 1000 DLs = .1 or 10 cents per DL).

Some caveats

In general, but not necessarily, the more expensive an ad, the more downloads you can expect. I found one inexpensive gem that delivered great ROI, but also booked one expensive dud. After my two-month campaign, I would consider a CPD of .1 as the norm. A  .05 CPD (5 cents) or lower  is awesome, .20 or higher isn’t worth booking the ad.

However, the cost per download isn’t the only criterion. The quantity of downloads is important, too. If you only paid $7 for an ad, and you got 96 downloads (as I did with one ad), your CPD will be low, but you aren’t getting many downloads. You’ll have to book a lot of $7 ads at that rate to get the numbers you need.  Also, without any advertising, you’ll still get some downloads. When I did nothing, Stranded still got 30-90 per day. So that 96 downloads may not even be that high. If I didn’t see a boost at least into the 200s, I considered an ad to be a dud. That’s why in my list, you’ll see some lower CPDs in the “skip” column and some higher ones in the “good column.” To be considered “okay” for my purposes, an ad had to deliver at least 250 downloads and 500 or more to rate as “good.”

Results will vary by author, book, genre, cover, and how long your book has been free.  For instance, I advertised Stranded (a science fiction romance) with both Book Barbarian and Red Roses Romance. They’re the same company, but BB does SF only and RR does romance only. I had more downloads with BB. Just because I didn’t get good results from a particular ad doesn’t mean you won’t, but definitely ask around. If many authors are saying an ad site isn’t any good, it probably isn’t.

The best advertising venues target their ads. Either the newsletter only deals with certain genres OR readers must sign up to receive notification of specific genres. Just because a newsletter has a mailing list of 50,000, doesn’t mean that those readers are interested in your books. Your romance probably won’t sell to a thriller or nonfiction audience.

Drum roll please….

The newsletter list!

Good – I would use them again

  • Robin Reads (.05)
  • Love Kissed Book Bargains (.02)*
  • Freebooksy (.09)*
  • Book Barbarian (SF only) (.06)

Okay – I might use them again, as a supplement

  • Ereader News Today/ENT (.06)
  • Red Roses Romance (Book Barbarian’s sister site for romance) (.08)
  • Many Books (.11)

I won’t use these again – Skip

  • Sweet Free Reads (.07)
  • Genre Pulse (.1)*
  • BKnights (.04)
  • Book Kitty (.1)
  • People Reads (.16)
  • Hot Stuff (.06)
  • Book Sends (.22)
  • Ebooks Betty (.12)
  • Fussy Librarian – not even a blip in downloads
  • Space Kissed (a multi-author paid promo campaign) – (.12)

Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

  • Books Butterfly (.63) (this was a $100 ad!)

My opinion is, if an ad is cheap ($25 or less), I can afford to take a chance. If an ad is $100 or more, it has to deliver.

Things to know: Many newsletters have limits on how often they’ll run an ad for a book and/or author.  Some advertising venues book up fast, and are booked out a month ahead (or more). Others won’t book out more than two weeks ahead. Some newsletters are choosy about what they accept and curate their ads.  You can’t count on getting a slot even if a date is open. With others, if you play your money, you’re in like Flynn.

Some newsletters only advertise Amazon links. However, others will include other booksellers, too. If you’re looking to boost your visibility on iBooks or BN, that’s something to consider in your choice of newsletters.

That’s all, peeps! If you followed all three parts of this series, thank you! You’re a trooper! Stranded is still permafree. I’ll keep submitting to BookBub, continue to advertise, and test different newsletters. I have a pie-in-the-sky download target in mind, and I’m just crazy enough to think I might achieve it. Besides, sales of the other Cy-Ops Books are on a nice upwards trend and have more than paid for the cost of the ads and then some, so why not?

Stranded is FREE! – Amazon US ~ iBooks ~ BN ~ Kobo

What advertising venues have you tried that delivered the ROI? Which ones would you avoid?

* I booked Genre Pulse, Freebooksy and Loved Kissed twice. I had such great results with LK in April, I booked them again in May. Same good results. Amazon screwed up my first Freebooksy ad (read part 1 about the debacle), so I booked them a 2nd time and had great results. I tried 2 different subgenres with Genre Pulse (PNR & Romance). Both were lackluster.

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Backlist to the Future: Resurrected by S.M. Schmitz #scifirom #B2F #TBT

Backlist to the Future is a weekly Thursday feature highlighting science fiction romances from authors’ backlists.

To be notified of future Backlist to the Future posts, you can subscribe to this blog (top of the sidebar). If you’d like to submit your book for this feature, click here to get the particulars.

 

By S.M. Schmitz

Resurrected is my first published novel, and was inspired by the idea of having to share my body with another person. I needed a mechanism to make that possible, and settled on aliens rather than any kind of magic. When Lottie, the heroine of this trilogy, is killed in a car accident, her body is inhabited and healed by an alien life form, only Lottie’s memories and personality aren’t supposed to return. Told from the perspective of her fiancé Dietrich, I developed a love story around this idea, one that I enjoyed so much, I completed the first draft of the novel in a week.

Resurrected description:

Awakened from death. Herself but no longer alone in her own body. Two lives merged into one.

 A mistake. An aberration. A miracle.

 And a company that wants her dead because she exists.

When Dietrich’s fiancée, Lottie, is killed in a car accident, he descends into his own personal Hell until he runs into her in a café two years later. Claiming she isn’t really Lottie but only possesses some of her memories, the young woman offers him an unbelievable story then disappears.

Using his position as a CIA agent to track her down, Dietrich quickly discovers Lottie remembers far more about her past life than she’d originally let on. But his attempt to learn more about the planet she comes from or the woman she is now is disrupted by a group of men from the company that transports people from their home planet to Earth when they find out about her resurrection and attempt to murder her.

Because for Lottie, something went wrong, and her existence threatens their entire business on Earth. And Dietrich’s ultimate second chance with the only woman he’s ever loved will be threatened as well.

In the first book of The Resurrected Trilogy, a sci-fi thriller romance series, Dietrich will rediscover a love that not even death could erase. But he’ll also discover just how far this company is willing to go to protect their secrets.

Resurrected Excerpt

My Lottie.

How had this happened to her? What the hell had gone wrong? What had been going through Kyrieana’s mind when she woke up? Or was it Lottie’s mind?  Did she know she was supposed to have died? That she was dead? Was she thinking about me? Her mother?

I wanted nothing more right then than to leave that room, drive the short distance down Essen Lane to her apartment, to beg her to just let me hold her again, to promise her—even though I had no idea how I could ever fulfill it—that nothing like this would ever happen to her again.

“Could she speak to her?” I finally asked. I already knew the answer. She hadn’t even known how to translate her own name. How would they have spoken to one another?

“No,” Eric said. “She understood what crying meant. She had seen so much of it at the funeral. But she couldn’t figure out why Kyrieana was crying, and she didn’t know how to talk to her. She couldn’t really move much. She wanted to make some sort of sound to let her know she was here with her because she thought Kyrieana was scared or that maybe she was hurting. That happens sometimes if a body is badly injured. They heal the worst of the problems but a broken arm is still going to hurt like hell. She couldn’t do anything though except lie there and watch her best friend cry in this strange body she didn’t even really recognize.

“Anyway, after a while, one of the guys who had been helping them came in to check on them, saw they were both awake, and saw Lottie crying. He figured she was in pain, so he started checking her out again,” Eric paused because he must have seen me flinch. “They weren’t like that, Dietrich. Nobody messed with them. He just checked for broken bones, visible bruises, listened to her heart and lungs, stuff like that. And he talked to her, in English, and of course Lydia couldn’t understand anything he was saying. But she said something weird kind of happened, but she didn’t really think anything of it at the time, because she was kinda dealing with a lot of shit of her own. But this guy, a doctor, I guess, was just talking, trying to be calming and soothing, I suppose, but Lydia was watching her the whole time and at one point, he said something and she swears it seemed like Lottie understood him. Which should have been impossible.”

“Holy shit,” I muttered. A hat trick of holy shits. This was one hell of a ride. “Did the doctor notice?”

“Lydia thinks so. He kinda looked at her funny but then just brushed it off, probably just assumed it was a coincidence because nobody wakes up being able to understand a language from a planet they’ve never been on.”

“So she woke up this way. From the beginning. She woke up as Lottie and Kyrieana.”

Eric just watched me. He had already reached that conclusion, but he didn’t want to agree or disagree with me. This wasn’t a detached interest in a remarkable discovery. This wasn’t even a good story you might tell over a few beers and a game of pool. This was a revelation that was threatening to kill me all over again, to drag me into a deeper part of Hell than I had ever known existed.

If we were right, then my Lottie, the love of my life, my only love, had spent the past two years trapped in her body as someone else. It would mean that she had always known who she was, and who she could never be again. She had awakened from death, resurrected, but no longer herself.

Had she wondered then, as she lay there crying in that room in Waco, Texas, if I had survived her death? If I would survive in this afterlife without her? Was she crying for me, knowing that even if she came to me, she wouldn’t be Lottie, not the same Lottie, and that I may not still love her? Is that why she had never tried to contact me?

“God,” I whispered.

Eric shook his head sadly. “God had nothing to do with this.”

I closed my eyes. No. This wasn’t God’s territory. This afterlife was not His.

Buy links

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

Author bio

S.M. Schmitz is a USA Today Bestselling Author and has an M.A. in modern European history. She is a former world history instructor who now writes novels filled with mythology and fantasy and, sometimes, aliens.

Her stories are infused with the same humorous sarcasm that she employed frequently in the classroom, and as a native of Louisiana, she sets many of her scenes here. Like Dietrich in Resurrected, she is convinced Louisiana has been cursed with mosquitoes much like Biblical Egypt with its locusts.

Website    Amazon Author Page    BookBub Profile

Facebook Page     Newsletter (get a free book!)

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Free book promotion analysis part 2…

If you’re just tuning in now, you should read part 1 of this 3 part series on my free book promotion. If you’ve already read it, on with the show….

After the success of my  free book promotion of Stranded with the Cyborg in April, I decided to continue it in May. To recap, these were my campaign goals:

  • Introduce the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series to new readers.
  • Increase sales of the rest of the series.
  • Increase reviews for book 1.
  • Grow my newsletter subscriber base.
  • Test which newsletter ads delivered the best return on investment (ROI).

For May, I had planned to increase advertising in the free book newsletters, but that plan quickly went out the window when something unexpected happened.

Expect the unexpected

I’d submitted Stranded with the Cyborg to Book Bub for a free promotion in April and got rejected, so I had to wait until the 2nd week of May to resubmit. While I waited, I got the idea to submit Alien Mate to Book Bub as a 99 cent deal. A new release, Alien Mate only had 33 reviews. I knew it would get rejected, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway. So I submitted it and started booking newsletter advertising for Stranded, quickly racking up expenses of $357.

Just a couple days later, I got the email: Alien Mate had been accepted for a 99-cent Book Bub deal! Son of a bitch! I couldn’t turn down a Book Bub, but it was $380. Added to what I’d already spent,  I couldn’t spend any more on advertising for Stranded. I had no choice but to make do with the ads I had booked.

Fortunately, I had a few other things planned.

Other tactics

In addition to my newsletter ads in May, I participated in two multiple author campaigns. These were promotions that had been scheduled a couple of months earlier that dovetailed perfectly into my free promotion campaign (the stars must have been aligned). In each campaign, a group of authors got together and listed their books for free and co-marketed all the books. However, the campaigns employed two opposite strategies.

The 12-author Intergalactic Romance campaign organized by author Donna Jane McDonald used Instafreebie to distribute the freebies. Stranded garnered 1,246 downloads via Instafreebie. The benefit to using  Instafreebie is that you can  give your book away free without making it free on sales channels (that didn’t apply to me, but it’s a benefit to others) and you can get subscribers to your newsletter at the same time. I gained 157 new newsletter subscribers from that campaign.

The 8-author Summer Reads Sci-fi Romance Invasion, which I organized, avoided Instafreebie and Book Funnel and required that the books be free on Amazon. All eight books were marketed by the eight authors to their own readers and fans. There were no signups of any kind required of readers. I think readers are bombarded by too many emails, so we used “no signup required” as a sales strategy. It worked! As a group, we each averaged about 1,000 downloads. Newer books received more DLs, but even older permafree books saw a nice pick-up. I got 977 Amazon downloads and another 166 on iBooks/Kobo for a total of 1143.

Newsletter advertising can get expensive, but if you join with other authors you can co-market your freebies and not spend a dime.

The month’s flop

One of the $100 newsletter ads I’d booked–which touted a guaranteed 1,200 downloads–produced only 158 downloads. It was the biggest dud of my two-month campaign.

Show me the money

As a result of the campaign, sales of other Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance books continued on an upward trend. If you’ll recall, in March, I was getting an abysmal sales average of 2.6 books per day on 5 books. By the end of April, I was up to 9.2 books per day for four books. By the end of May, I averaged 15.2 per day.

Goals to actual results

  • Introduce the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series to new readers – 6,216 new downloads (12,713 for 2 months). My best ranking during the month was 103 Kindle Free and No. 1 in Sci-fi Romance! I’d also gotten 1080 downloads on iBooks and a nice uptick on Barnes & Noble.
  • Increase sales of the rest of the series – Increased from 2.6 per day to 15.2
  • Increase reviews for book 1 – 15 new reviews in May (22 total since the start of the campaign)
  • Grow my newsletter subscriber base – 169 new subs in May (279 total) directly attributable to the campaign (I had tremendous NL sub growth in May, but I’m only presenting the ones I think came from the campaign).
  • Test which newsletter ads delivered the best return on investment (ROI) – check!

In conclusion

My guesstimate is that only about 20% of people who download freebies get around to reading them.

It’s a numbers game, folks. For a free campaign to be effective and deliver the results, you have to have big numbers of downloads and to get that, you have to advertise. A free promotion isn’t free to the author!

Stacking ads is definitely the way to get big numbers, but unless you’re familiar with the advertising venues, you won’t know which ones work and which ones don’t.

If want to know what newsletters I used and their success rates, come back on Friday for the third and final part of the series. I’ll list the newsletters and their ROIs.

Stranded is FREE! – Amazon US ~ iBooks ~ BN ~ Kobo

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Breeder is back! Now available for preorder…dark science fiction romance

Breeder available for preorder now

Release date: June 20

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

She was only meant to be the Alpha Commander’s slave…but she became his everything.

High Commander Dak, a ruling Alpha of planet Parseon, purchases Omra strictly as a breeder slave. He intends to impregnate her, produce a son, and hand her off to his anointed beta partner, Corren. Any infractions of the rules by her will be harshly punished.

But as Dak and Omra discover a sexual bliss banned by law, Dak begins to question the traditions and ways of his people, causing him to jeopardize his command and endanger the life of the woman he has come to love.

Dak has enemies, men who will not hesitate to exploit his fondness for Omra, and use it to portray him as unfit to rule as Alpha. Can he expose the rampant cruelty and corruption in Parseon culture… or will the protocol he’s spent his life defending, be the weapon used to destroy them and their love?

Don’t miss this suspenseful, dark science fiction romance. Preorder your copy of Breeder today.

Note: Breeder is an M/F science fiction romance with an HEA, but it contains violence and elements of domination and submission. It is much darker than my other scifi romances. However, it is my best selling book ever. It was previously published by Loose Id in 2013, but the rights have reverted to me, and I am re-releasing it, along with the other books of series, Terran (July release) and Warrior (August release).

Breeder excerpt

If not for the sneeze, Dak would have exited the musty, dank corridor, but the muffled sound caught his attention. When he squinted into the darkened cell, he spotted a female crouched on a straw mat in the corner. He hadn’t noticed her on his way into the Breeder Containment Facility; the habitation unit had appeared empty.

Dak turned to the BCF director and sighed. “What about her?”

The beta’s already crooked mouth drooped farther in distaste. “My apologies, Commander. You don’t want that one.”

Sival’s disparagement piqued Dak’s interest. The director’s opinion had proven worthless; none of the breeders he’d preselected for inspection had been close to satisfactory.

“I would like to see her.”

“Very well, Commander.” Sival saluted and opened the habitation cell with a master entry card. Dak stepped into the small enclosure. The director followed, and the metal gate clanked shut.

The naked female drew into a tighter ball and tucked her face deeper into the crook of her arm. Other breeders had preened as soon as they’d noticed him and his chest-insignia identification. He wasn’t just an alpha. He was the Alpha.

The lack of respect and failure to adhere to Protocol by acknowledging his presence struck him as odd. Dak frowned. “Is she mentally deficient?”

Sival tightened his lips. “No, stubborn, ill behaved. She wouldn’t befit an Alpha Commander.” He nudged the female’s hip with the toe of his boot. “Rise to your feet.” When she failed to respond, he prodded her again.

Dak forestalled him with a wave and grasped the female’s arm. “You will stand.” He hauled her upright.

She averted her face, so he grabbed her chin. Tangled hair the color of black heating stones fell away from an oval face to reveal eyes like the Parseon moon. The glimmer of intelligence sparking within the violet depths aroused his interest more than anything else he’d seen so far. Nature had bestowed the Parseon people with an exceptionally strong immune system so that they rarely required medical intervention, but breeders by nature were weak, and so many of the ones he’d seen had seemed dull or ill or both. This one’s skin, when unsmudged by grime and dirt, probably glowed like the pale sands of the Ospian Sea. He supposed, as breeders went, she wasn’t unattractive, although the stench emanating from her was. His beta would throw a fit if he dragged such a creature into their domicile.

“Why is she so filthy?” he asked.

“She refuses to bathe.”

As Dak scrutinized her facial features for shape and symmetry, he noted little imperfection or dysgenics other than her lack of hygiene and her gender. When cleaned up, she would please the eye, but to bear his sons, it mattered more that she be healthy and strong.

He released her face and assessed her from head to toe. He exceeded the height of most males, while she stood smaller than the average female. The top of her head failed to even meet his shoulder. She was thinner than other breeders too, although her chest bore an abundance of fatty breast tissue. In the chill of the cell, her nipples had puckered to hard points. Despite the coolness, he was experiencing a rise in temperature. A dormant lust chose that moment to kindle, causing heat to coil in his abdomen and groin. He could not remember the last time he’d experienced such a spontaneous reaction—if he ever had. With the pads of his fingers, he probed the sides of her neck for swollen areas. The way she trembled under his touch aroused a sliver of sympathy. Breeders lacked courage, and uncertainty frightened them. Not all alphas and their betas treated breeders well, but if he chose her, she’d be adequately fed and housed. Command of his province consumed his time and energy, which left his beta alone for long stretches. A breeder would relieve Corren of household chores and provide him with a physical outlet.

“What is she called?” Dak asked.

“Her sire named her Omra.”

Peace, it meant.

He parted her lips with his fingers and slipped a digit into her mouth, running it along her upper gum line to check the solidness of her teeth. At a flash in her eyes, he jerked his hand away a centisecond before she snapped her jaws together, so that her incisor only grazed the tip of his finger.

Sival’s face reddened. “Commander, I apologize. I will have her flogged.”

“Unnecessary. I’ll take care of it.” He unclipped the sudon from his belt.

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Analysis of a free book promotion: what I did, why I did it, & the results…part 1

I’m probably one of the last Indie authors to drink the make-your-book free Kool-Aid. I knew the strategy behind a free promotion: give away a book to sell more books. But, I didn’t know if it would work for me, and I had opposed the practice on principles I won’t go into here (that topic is worthy of another blog).

However, by the end of March I knew needed to do something. I was selling other books, but my 5-book Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series was circling the drain. In March, the five books combined averaged only 2.6 sales per day. I had nothing to lose by making one of the books free.

So I made Stranded with the Cyborg (book 1) free.

My goals were:

  1. Introduce the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series to new readers.
  2. Increase sales of the rest of the series.
  3. Increase reviews for book 1.
  4. Grow my newsletter subscriber base.
  5. Test which newsletter ads delivered the best return on investment (ROI).

My initial plan was to make Stranded free for a limited period of time, like a week. I had scheduled a couple of ads I thought would deliver a high number of downloads for the end of April and planned to book a few smaller ads several days before to prime the pump.

However, to make Stranded with the Cyborg free on Amazon, I had to make it free on other booksellers first, then get Amazon to match the price. I didn’t know how long the process would take (days? weeks?) so I started early. The price change occurred much faster than I’d thought, so since the book was free the beginning of April, I decided to begin promotion and bought additional ads. I booked 2-3 ads each week of the month.

The ads:

I spent $352 on 13 newsletter ads. The most I spent was $100; the least was $4. Because of objective No. 5 (determine ROI), I did not stack ads so that I could determine which ones were the most effective.

My personal challenge

Targeting to the right genre is important. However, Stranded is a science fiction romance. Most advertising venues don’t have an SFR option. So, I was forced to select from three lesser alternatives: general romance (readers are looking more for contemporary romance than SF), science fiction (hardcore SF fans don’t want romance), or paranormal (fans are more interested in shifters and vamps than aliens and cyborgs). The latter is where I generally placed the book, although I tried some of the other options too.

My expectations

I had no idea how many downloads I would get. I figured 10,000 in a month might be pie-in-the-sky, but I thought 5,000 might be doable, and I’d be happy with 3,000.

Some unexpected surprises, positive and negative

  1. An author I know on FB included my freebie in her newsletter one day and I had nearly 500 downloads!
  2. A multi-author 5-day paid promotion (Space Kissed) had negligible effect on downloads. I doubt I got more than a handful.
  3. The debacle: The day of my $100 Freebooksy ad, which was supposed to be one of my heavy-hitters, Amazon unexpectedly upped the price of my free book to full cover! All the people who clicked on the link thinking it would be free found it wasn’t on sale. Amazon fixed it by the next day, but it was too late. I lost about 1,000 downloads, and who knows how many future sales.
  4. The silver lining to the debacle: Some people who clicked on the link bought the book anyway, and I had my single best sales day in 8 years of publishing. It didn’t make me rich, but yeah, I wish I could make that every day!

The results – goal v. achievement

  1. Introduce the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series to new readers – I got 6580 downloads  of Stranded by the Cyborg
  2. Increase of the sales of the other four books of the series – Almost immediately, sales increased to 6 books per day and by month’s end I averaged 9.2 sales per day on the other books of series.
  3. Increase the number of the reviews for Stranded with the Cyborg, book 1. – I gained 7 reviews in April, with others continuing in May
  4. Grow my newsletter subscriber base – Added 110 organic subscribers to my NL list.
  5. Test which newsletter ads delivered the best return on investment (ROI) – check!

By figuring out the cost per download (CPD), I could compare the ROI between newsletters. Generally, but not necessarily, the more you pay for an ad, the more downloads you get.  However, I found one $10 newsletter that delivered more downloads per cent than any of the more expensive ones. A good CPD is about 5 or 6 cents, 10 cents isn’t bad, but way over 10 cents is poor. Anything over 20 cents is a dud.

In conclusion

I was pleased with the results of the promotion. I think I could have hit 10,000 downloads if not for the Amazon/Freebooksy debacle and if I had booked a couple more ads. It’s a numbers game because many people who download free books  don’t read them. I’m glad I decided not to stack the ads, because it did give me a good idea which ones work for me, and which ones don’t.

Like I said, the more you pay, generally the more downloads you’ll get, but my opinion is that 500 downloads  per day is my benchmark when booking a low-to-moderate priced ad. If you can get 1,000 DLs or more, that’s exceptional. Less than 200 isn’t worth the ad at any price. Between 200 and 500, it depends on how much you paid. A $100 ad should deliver at least 1000 downloads (that’s 10 cents per DL) in a single day.

My review rate seems low, but it took 2 weeks for the first new review to post, but then in May, I started getting many more, which probably came about as a result of books downloaded in April. As I write this (mid may), I’ve had 15 total new reviews.

The final thing I’d like to say about doing a free promotion is that it’s fun. Even though you’re giving books away and not making money (it’s costing money because of the advertising), seeing huge numbers of downloads is a kick. And the goal is that it will pay off later.

After April’s experience, I decided to continue the free promotion for another month and follow a similar strategy, but the plan quickly went awry. Find out what happened in May in part 2 of this series on Wednesday. On Friday, in Part 3, I’ll share which newsletter ads were the most effective.

Stranded is FREE! – Amazon US ~ iBooks ~ BN ~ Kobo

 

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#8Sunday: From Breeder…what’s wrong with her? Dark #ScifiRom

Preorder June 6

One of five rulers of his planet, Dak needs an heir. He goes to a Breeder Containment Facility to purchase a female who can produce a son for him. Not finding any suitable breeders, he’s on his way out when he notices one that he’d overlooked. Sival is the director of the BCF.

The naked female drew into a tighter ball and tucked her face deeper into the crook of her arm. Other breeders had preened as soon as they’d noticed him and his chest-insignia identification. He wasn’t just an alpha. He was the Alpha.

The lack of respect and failure to adhere to Protocol by acknowledging his presence struck him as odd. “Is she mentally deficient?”

“No, stubborn, ill behaved. She wouldn’t befit an Alpha Commander.” Sival nudged the female’s hip with the toe of his boot. When she failed to respond, he prodded her again.

Breeder blurb

She was only meant to be the Alpha Commander’s slave…but she became his everything.

High Commander Dak, a ruling Alpha of planet Parseon, purchases Omra strictly as a breeder slave. He intends to impregnate her, produce a son, and hand her off to his anointed beta partner, Corren. Any infractions of the rules by her will be harshly punished.

But as Dak and Omra discover a sexual bliss banned by law, Dak begins to question the traditions and ways of his people, causing him to jeopardize his command and endanger the life of the woman he has come to love.

Dak has enemies, men who will not hesitate to exploit his fondness for Omra, and use it to portray him as unfit to rule as Alpha. Can he expose the rampant cruelty and corruption in Parseon culture… or will the protocol he’s spent his life defending, be the weapon used to destroy them and their love?

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The numbers game: weird author behavior–checking the stats…

As an author, I like to know how I’m doing, if my books are selling, if readers like them, if my promotional efforts are paying off. Fortunately, authors, particularly indies, have a lot of data at their fingertips. I “check my stats” throughout the day, and tend to check more often when there is a lot of movement and less often when things slow down. Some stats I may only check once or twice a week, but others may be hourly. (Yes, it’s distracting. Look! A squirrel!).

I love numbers and I love “keeping track.”

So here’s what I check (and how often I check it):

  1. Amazon sales numbers. The actual number of books sold. This is the biggie. If you think checking rankings is addictive, go indie and see what happens when you can see actual sales numbers, updated hourly, or even more frequently. (Hourly to daily)
  2. Sales numbers on other booksellers. (Daily to weekly).
  3. How much I’ve actually earned. (Daily to weekly.)
  4. Amazon sales rankings. (Several times a day to weekly)
  5. Number of free downloads. (Daily during a promotion, weekly if no promotion )
  6. Newsletter subscription increases. (Daily to weekly)
  7. Newsletter opens and click rates. (Several times a day in the first day of release, then once a day for a couple days, then not at all. Every couple of months, I review the overall activity).
  8. Newsletter unsubscribes. I look at when they subscribed, and how they got on the list. (As they occur).
  9. Website visits, page views, landings and exits. (A few times a week). I record my annual stats.
  10. Number of reviews and the average star rating. (A few times a week)
  11. Number of advertising clicks and the cost per click. (At least a few times a week, sometimes daily)
  12. Number of followers on Facebook, Instagram and sometimes Twitter. (Once or twice a month –when I remember).

Is there anything else you track? How often?

By the way, if you’re an Indie and you don’t have Book Report, you are missing out. It is amazeballs. Book Report software will tell you how much you’ve earned and how many units of each book you’ve sold on Amazon since the beginning. It will give you daily, monthly or custom stats. You can instantly see how each individual book is performing. It tracks sales, freebies, and pages read (for KU). You will wonder how you ever lived without it. It’s $10 per month, but has a free trial.

Note: Book Report only tracks Amazon, not the other booksellers, and it only does self-published books.

* * * *

In Monday’s bucket list post, I held a prize drawing for readers who shared an item from their bucket list. Chosen by random.org, the winner is…ML, who will receive a copy of Trapped with the Cyborg.

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Backlist to the Future: Building a Hero by Tasha Black, #Scifirom #Superhero #B2F

Backlist to the Future is a weekly Thursday feature highlighting science fiction romances from authors’ backlists.

To be notified of future Backlist to the Future posts, you can subscribe to this blog (top of the sidebar). If you’d like to submit your book for this feature, click here to get the particulars.

 

By Tasha Black

Building a Hero was born of my husband’s love of superhero movies. (In fairness, my husband loves a lot of things, so let’s all take a moment to be grateful that I wasn’t inspired by his love of experimental cooking, reptiles, or Key & Peale sketches!) Mr. Black loves superhero movies, and I love Mr. Black. So it goes without saying that we’ve watched plenty of them. But the moment they get to a good part, like when Ironman falls hard for Pepper Potts, the movie always swings over to a violent scene, when all I want is to swing into to a bedroom scene. That’s what started me writing.

But Building a Hero quickly brought me out of the movie theatre and into the world of prosthetic limbs and high tech security. Although the enhancements West Worthington receives in the book after his accident seem impossible, many of them are real. You can go on YouTube and see videos of real people using this tech: a man seeing his wife for the first time with the help of a prosthetic eye, a woman using her mind to move prosthetic limbs after practicing on a computer.

This marriage of cold hard tech and the warm determination of mankind to rehabilitate each other, was incredibly inspiring.

Building a Hero blurb

Westley Worthington has it all. Piles of money, good looks, and a seemingly limitless supply of women who want to please him. And that’s just the way he likes it. Until a brush with death causes him to rethink his priorities, and consider someone besides himself for the first time in his privileged life.

Cordelia Cross has never had it easy. Her duty to her family has her working as an assistant to a man she hates just to pay her sister’s medical bills. When her arrogant boss alienates his last true friend, she finds herself promoted from schedule-managing coffee grabber, to the newest member of West’s inner circle.

Tempers, and passions, ignite as the two start spending time together, until a shocking accident puts their newfound attraction on ice. When West is faced with the toughest trial of his life, Cordelia helps him realize that he has all the tools he needs to be a force for justice.

Together, they must turn West into the hero no one ever thought he could be.

Book Excerpt

In this scene near the beginning of the book, Cordelia has just arranged a “party” for West with an entire ballet company. She has arranged the food and the drinks but does not have any desire to witness the party herself.

Westley Worthington strode into the penthouse just as Cordelia was marching out.

Her straw-colored hair brushed her shoulders in time with the disapproving rhythm of her walk. Her long tweed skirt swished and her ample breasts bounced almost hypnotically under her sweater.

But the expression on her face made him feel like he’d just taken the ice bucket challenge.

“Did you warm them up for me?” he joked.

“Yes, sir.”

Her unbreakable restraint never failed to amuse him. West had gone through a personal assistant a month for years – even a couple of mad streaks where he ran one off every other day. But this one was different. She was smart. And she was clearly resolved to keep her cool at all costs.

Which of course, made him all the more determined to get under her skin.

“Hey, do you want to join in this time?” West offered with a suggestive wink.

He waited for her inevitable No, thank you, sir. But it didn’t come.

Instead, she blushed deeply and kept walking.

West was surprised to momentarily feel like an asshole for embarrassing her.

But it was amazing how quickly those kinds of feelings passed if you pushed them aside. And West was very good at pushing them aside.

When he’d found out his family’s money came from selling bad mortgages, he’d managed to get over that. And now that his dad was in jail, the money belonged to West. He could have used it to try and do some good but what was the use? Everyone knew the Worthingtons were a bunch of thieves -probably no one would have taken his dirty money anyway.

Instead, he had settled into a life of excess, punctuated by work benders in which he would disappear into the office and not emerge for days. He had a serious talent for finance, as it turned out.

And a voracious appetite for ballerinas.

He took a deep breath and turned the corner from the foyer into the living room.

The dancers were exclaiming over the buffet. Each clutched a crystal bowl of yogurt with fruit and a miniature silver spoon. With their hair down over their flat chests and the tiny utensils in their hands, they looked sort of like kids having a tea party. West got his second surprise pang of conscience of the evening.

Before he could examine his feelings, one of them spotted him and squealed. “Hi, Mr. Worthington.”

The tallest of the group approached him with a confidence the others seemed to lack.

“I’m Alais. Thank you for the party.” Her French accent was exquisite.

“Hello, Alais. You’re a beautiful dancer.”

He didn’t actually know which fucking one she was. They all looked the same onstage and the whole thing had been boring as hell – one emaciated woman after another being tossed around by bored-looking guys in tights all set to classical music. But fucking a ballet company was on his bucket list, and they certainly looked athletic enough to make it worth his while.

Somehow he just couldn’t get into it tonight. Maybe he had finally become so depraved that he couldn’t find a bright enough spark to ignite himself.

His mind crept back to Cordelia. Was he feeling like this just because of her thinly veiled disapproval? That seemed unlikely, she never approved of any of his escapades.

Still, it was probably better to fire her, just in case.

Strangely, the thought brought him no joy. Maybe he was coming down with something.

Buy links 

Amazon | Amazon UK | Nook | iBooks | Kobo \ GooglePlay

Author bio

Tasha Black is a USA Today bestselling author of Paranormal and SciFi romance. She lives in a big old Victorian in a tiny college town. She loves reading anything she can get her hands on, making up stories, and sipping pumpkin spice lattes.

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