Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June Bride Celebration

8 Bridal Romances - 99 cents
Save up to 80%
June 20-21

Participating authors include Jennifer Blake, Pat McLinn, Sandra Edwards, Shadonna Richards, and Geralyn Dawson. Check their product pages for steep discounts on more titles!

Find them on this special Amazon sale page:

Plus, 12 Steel Magnolia Press books also on sale for 99 cents each. Ends June 21.
See Steel Magnolia Press' special Amazon sale page at

Sunday, June 17, 2012

May Sales Voyeur

(A little late posting as my wireless connection has been iffy for the past few days. Boo.)

For me and for Steel Magnolia Press, May was a month to truly test the benefits of Select free runs. With no other marketing campaigns going -- not even a new release -- other than our collective free run on May 9 and 10, we were at the whims of free, Amazon's newest algorithms and a twitchy recommendation engine.

How did we fare? Well, it turned out that we got some nice promotional pushes during our free run that helped us tremendously. That meant most of our books saw a little spike mid-month to help buoy sales within their crucial 30-day windows that are a huge part of Amazon's algos. Whew!

It also validated my latest mantra regarding Select free: Go big or don't go at all.

The flaw in that advice, of course, is that it's difficult to know in advance whether you're going to go big or not. The best I know to do with it is to go out for one day to test the free waters and, if nothing spikes then, to pull back and wait till next time. If a book gets some nice mentions from the major sites and the downloads are ticking along, keep going.

How big is big? For us, it looks like 3000 freeloads is the minimum to make a difference on a book's own, when it's not propped up by other campaigns or promotion from the other books in our inventory. Until Amazon changes its algos again, that's the deciding point for me for whether it's worth continuing a free run or not. A Top 100 spot used to be a fairly good indicator a book would do well post-free, but even though we put 7 out of 10 books into the Top 100 Free, not all of them generated enough freeloads to make good on the promise of post-free sales. So Top 100 by itself, for us, isn't big enough. And honestly, that's pretty daunting news.

I documented our free run and its results over the first week post-free in painful detail in earlier posts, so I won't rehash that here. I'll just provide the highlights to help, um, highlight the differences in sales among our books for the month based on how well they did during their free runs.

#17 with 10,600 freeloads
383 sales @ $4.29
65 borrows

The Warlock's Daughter
#24 with 9700 freeloads
187 sales @ 2.99
21 borrows

The Rent-A-Groom
#32 with 9000 freeloads
347 sales @ 2.99
48 borrows

Out of the Dark
#42 with 7400 freeloads
180 sales @ 2.99
11 borrows

A Dragon's Seduction
#89 with 3300 freeloads
326 sales @ 0.99
14 borrows

Catering to the Italian Playboy
#95 with 3400 freeloads
185 sales @ 2.99
15 borrows

Extinct Doesn't Mean Forever
#98 with 2570 freeloads
30 sales @ 2.99
0 borrows

Gypsy Bond
#134 with 1950 freeloads
75 sales @ 0.99
1 borrow

Vet Tech Tales
#145 with 1600 freeloads
249 sales @ 0.99
14  borrows

Spoil of War
Price Matched - 1924 freeloads
67 sales @ 3.27 (+Apple)
$136 (+Apple Royalties)

Cumulative in May across SECTOR C, Vet Tech Tales and Spoil of War (could I be more genre-diverse?), my royalties came to $1326 with a few iTunes sales for Spoil still to be reported.

SECTOR C crossed two exciting-for-me milestones in May:
  • Over 5000 copies sold
  • Over $10,000 earned
Steel Magnolia Press as a whole is coming along nicely right now as well. Jennifer re-released a novella in June, and we're gearing up to start releasing her 36 rights-reverted novels in July, along with new novellas by Lindy Corbin and Tamelia Tumlin. Cumulative over 2012 (Jan-May, excluding the Extinct anthology), SMP has seen the following:
  • Copies Sold - 19,169
  • Borrowed - 1358
  • Downloaded Free - 168,600
  • Royalties - $24,580
I'll have some comparisons between the free run in May and the one in June in my next post.

And don't forget the June Brides Celebration starting Wednesday, June 20, where you'll find some incredible deals on bridal romances by Pat McLinn, Sandra Edwards, Shadonna Richards, Geralyn Dawson and Jennifer Blake. Check back here for links on the day! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kick Back With These 23 Beach Reads - Just 99 Cents Each

June 13 and 14 Only!

Why 23? Because that's how many books are in the two awesome promos my books are a part of.

The first, 10 4-Star and Up Beach E-Reads, features 10 books by 10 different authors at up to 80% off. You'll find Thrillers, Fantasy, Romance and Historical Fiction, with an 11th bonus LitFic short thrown in for good measure. SECTOR C is among them. Many of these authors are offering steep discounts on their other series and standalone titles, so go check them out.

You can find all these books together on a special Amazon sale page at Why yes, that really is an Amazon page with multiple books that have no other association with one another than that they are a part of this promotion. Pretty cool, huh?

There's also a new blog site for announcing the occasional promos I'll be helping put together: The Virtual Shelf. Subscribe by email or put it in your RSS feed to follow the different promotions I'm involved in. I'll be discussing their effectiveness in later posts.

And, of course, there's also a new Facebook page. If you stop by, please Like it :o) (I'll be updating its first post soon.).

Oh, and if you're a fan of Monique Martin's Out of Time series, she's just released Book 3, Fragments!

You may notice that there's another Steel Magnolia Press title in the mix: A Dragon's Seduction. I figured this would be a good time to drop the prices of 12 SMP titles to 99c and use the above sale, which has paid advertising associated with it, to our own advantage. (Don't worry, the other authors are also capitalizing on their pieces of the Beach E-Reads promotion, extending the sale and its reach even further.)

In response, I set up another Amazon sale page for Steel Magnolia Press at added a mention about the sale on the product pages. And voila, an 11-book campaign turned into a 23-book one for anyone clicking on SECTOR C or A Dragon's Seduction :o).

Will that help sales? We'll find out together over the next few days.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June Promotions and an Award

Indie Book of the Day has chosen SECTOR C as today's winner! And they sent along a very lovely badge for me to display. Why not go Like them and check out their past winners?

Ebook Promotion

Promoting books is not terribly hard work. I sit at my desk, feet propped up, snacks and beverages at hand, with the occasional dog or cat nudging me for attention, walking across my keyboard or curling up in my lap. So no, not hard -- but it is time-consuming. And I don't even fuss much with social media.

Where I do put my attention is on learning what others are innovating and then doing the necessary follow-up to see how successful different activities and ideas are. And then, of course, figuring out if other factors influenced that success. And finally, trying to come up with ways to tweak those ideas so they work for the goals I've set.

Sometimes what's worked well for others doesn't work at all for me. Sometimes I can make something work that others seem not able to. Why? Because timing, audience, price and just plain luck are all part of marketing. Why do some books seem to take off on their own and others don't?

In May, a group campaign with 10 Steel Magnolia Press books yielded moderate post-free sales across all titles. We had lots of nice promo push behind that campaign and, when our June freebook campaign came around this past week with 12 books, we didn't expect as much push. We did get a couple of nice mentions, but a couple of major sites also declined to feature our books again (not at all unexpected and probably a smart decision on their part), and one surprise mention was especially welcome.

Even with a more low-key campaign, we still managed to put 5 books into the Top 100 Free. I'll have details about post-free sales in June compared to May a little later this week. The short version is that my observation from last month seems validated. If a book doesn't get at least 3000 freeloads and sit in a Top 100 overall spot, there just isn't going to be a sales bounce any more. The divide between the books that see even a moderate bounce and those that don't is much more clearly defined -- and much, much wider.

So I've been working on promotional opportunities beyond freebooking.

There is an upcoming group sale I'll be a part of June 13-14. We have feature spots booked on two popular sites and 10 top-rated books by as many authors that will be on sale for 99c (up to 80% off). SECTOR C will be in that sales group as will A Dragon's Seduction, another Steel Magnolia Press book. In addition to cross-promoting the 10 books in the campaign, we'll be putting all our SMP titles on sale for 99c as well and see if we can't get a few collateral sales that way too.

I'm also running a June Brides Celebration promotion focusing on bridal romances June 20-21, featuring Jennifer Blake and other authors not affiliated with Steel Magnolia Press. We have three spots booked for that promotion, and will use the same tactics for cross-promoting the bridal books foremost and the SMP titles secondarily.

I'll report here on how well those campaigns go. We're hoping well enough that we'll be incentivized to continue to run a couple of themed campaigns per month.

Look for links to the website and Facebook page that will host these special sale campaigns when we launch on Wednesday.

Thursday I'll have a wrap-up on May sales.

And if you've been in or seen any promos that were especially successful (or spectacularly unsuccessful) for your books, feel free to share the details!