The eBook Marketing Saga – Free Giveaway

So, here is my first official update on my eBook marketing process. I know there are probably ten zillion blogs where a budding author documents his or her efforts in marketing their book, but I haven’t found one that does it from ground zero. So, here’s hoping this blog post helps others of you out. 

About a month ago I released the first volume of a three part novel called The Beast of Maug Maurai. I decided to release it exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle store for 90 days because they offer some groovy benefits if you do that. 

*Scans audience* Yes, you in the back, question?

“What sort of benefits, Mr. Calas?”

Oh, good question. Well, for starters, you can join their KDP Selects program. Which means that anyone enrolled in Amazon Prime can read your book for free.

“Um, how the hell does giving away your book help?”

Well, giving away your book for a limited time helps in many ways, but the KDP Select program isn’t really giving your book away. They pay you a royalty based on how many books were loaned out each month. But this blog isn’t here to market Amazon. Go read it yourself if you want: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect

You mean I just spent six years on something that I’m going to give away?

Another benefit of going with Amazon exclusively, at least for the first 90 days, is that they let you offer your book for free. Yeah. I know. Hear me out. Every ninety days, Amazon gives you five days in which you can offer your book for free. You can do it all at once, or you can split the days. I’ve heard it’s best to split the days, two days, then maybe three days later on. 

And here’s why it’s a good idea to give your book away for free: Ranking.

Those of you familiar with web marketing know that a good Google Ranking is the holy grail. If your web page comes up in the first five or ten listings on Google for a keyword, then you have made the world your bitch. It’s the same for Amazon. If your book comes up in the top ten on pretty much any Amzon list, then the literary world is your gimp. 

On Google, it takes an awful lot to earn a high ranking. You need to load your pages with keywords and anchor links, and get lots of people to link to you, and date Google execs and stuff. But on Amazon, it’s a little more straightforward. On Amazon, all you have to do is have sex with Jeff Bezos. See? Simple. 

Since Mr. Bezos’ secretary has refused to return my calls and Amazon security has kicked me out three times, and since I’m utterly and completely heterosexual, I have to do it the other way. I have to get my book into the hands of as many people as humanly possible. 

When the Amazon Killer Robot Computer sees a lot of people downloading a book, it thinks, “A lot of humans are downloading this book. It must be a good book. I will make this book available to more humans. I wonder if WD-40 comes in 2-liter bottles.”

Amazon is your friend. Amazon wants you to be happy.
Amazon wants humans to read. Give me the plant.

Okay, so you’re still not convinced. Well, here comes the science. 

When I first uploaded The Beast of Maug Maurai, Volume One, it had a ranking of 658,567,893,143 on Amazon (lower numbers are better). Okay, maybe it wasn’t that low, but it was somewhere in the 8,000s I think. I never documented so we’ll never know. But I do know that it was far below the 4,000 mark. So, I set up a promotion using KDP’s promotion tool. I set the Beast’s price at ‘free’ for two days: today and tomorrow. But I didn’t stop there. Oh no. 

Before the promotion started, I sent my book link to several websites that promote free downloads, like this one: http://www.squidoo.com/the-best-of-amazon-daily-free-ebooks-kindle-ipad

Got Facebook and Twitter? I think they are your best friends on your Free Promotion days. I tweeted as often as I could, telling everyone that my book was available for free, linking to my book, and begging everyone to re-tweet the news. I went on Facebook before it went free, to prepare everyone, then several times after it went free to remind them that the book is free. And yes, I groveled. I’m not above groveling. 

I also set up an event on Goodreads, telling everyone the date my book would be available for free. And I went on a few discussion boards on Amazon (ones that allow self-promotion) and listed when my book was going to be free.

There’s lots more than I can do, I know this. And I even plan to do more. But it’s not a bad start.  I plan to upload Book II to Amazon next week so that I can try to reap some sales while the iron is hot. Book II will get a bump because it will be new, so the two volumes should scream out to buyers pretty well for a bit. And when they don’t anymore? Well then, I’ll have another Free Promotion day for Book I. 

So, here it is, halfway through my first free day and what have I got?

Free Downloads so far: 206
Amazon Ranking in Free Category: 1,541 (out of 51,549)
Amazon Ranking in Epic Fantasy: 35 (out of 9,328)

Yeah, I’m not exactly in bestseller territory yet, but I’m only halfway through my first free day. I have one and a half days to go. Will the downloads slow down? Probably. But I will continue to market and shout out about my books, and, most importantly, I will continue to write. That’s the they key, the more books you have, the more they play off one another and the more your sales go up. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ll keep you guys updated as my journey continues.

Holy crap! While I was sitting here writing this blog, the numbers changed. New numbers:

Free Downloads so far: 215
Amazon Ranking in Free Category908  (out of 51,549)
Amazon Ranking in Epic Fantasy: 19! (out of 9,328)

Woohoo!! YAY! *Backflip* Woot!

ahem… I mean… those are positive numbers. I am encouraged.



Free Download! Free Giveaway! Free Tibet!

Just for the record, The Beast of Maug Maurai, Book One, is available as a 

Free Download 

from Amazon’s Kindle Store today, Wednesday, September 12, and tomorrow, Thursday, September 13.  Just sayin’. 

And just to provide some production value, here’s a slightly alternate cover for the book:

You can own this for free! (if you hurry)

More on the free giveaway in my next post. 

Thanks for listening!

Map Quest

So, I thought it might be fun to post a few things about The Beast of Maug Maurai. And yes, my standard for fun is not what it used to be.

I figured I would start with some maps from the fictional world in which the story is set. (Can you tell I’ve been reading grammar books lately? I had to struggle so that the last sentence wouldn’t end with a preposition.)  

These maps are in the book, but I worked a long time making them and thought I should put them up here for posterity. I’m not sure about the stained glass Duchies map. I almost scrapped it and started a new style but I had spent so much time on it that I just polished it as best I could and threw it on. Err, I mean, carefully and lovingly added it to the other two maps already in the book.

Here’s the world map first. The world is named Celusia. Those of you who know me well can understand where that name came from.

Map bigness is just a click away…
The middle kingdom called Laraytia is where the story takes place. Laraytia is currently at war with Gracidmar, to the east, and in a sort of cold war with Durrennia, to the west. And it’s not sending Christmas cards to the Kingdom of Annecia either. In fact, Laraytia doesn’t play well with most of the other kingdoms, but for now, it is only actively killing people from Gracidmar.

Laraytia is divided into seven territories. Duchies, if you will. Our story takes place in the Duchy of Nuldryn. So here’s a map of said Duchy, in a completely different style from the world map:
One click makes you bigger, and one click makes you small…

Yeah, it’s supposed to look all faded and smudged. This is the western side of Nuldryn, where the property values are high. The landfills are on the East side ;) . The big green blotch at the top is the forest of Maug Maurai, where most of the action takes place. Although Grae Barragns spends most of the first book, The Culling, wandering between Kithrey, Daun Sanctra, Braeth and Tyftin, with a stop at Maeris for good measure.

Now that I look at it with fresh eyes, it almost looks like the forest is trying to eat Kithrey and Daun Sanctra. I guess I should rephrase that to say, ‘I intentionally made the forest look like it was eating Kithrey and Daun Sanctra to symbolize the cancerous evil that lies in the forests of our hearts. An evil that devours everything in its path and nihilistically destroys all hope.’ Ahem. Or something.

Our last map is the map of the duchies of Laraytia. As I mentioned, I’m not sure this works, but I refer to the different duchies quite a bit and needed a reference. If anyone wants to make me a nicer one I’d be happy to replace this one =).

… click on the edge so you don’t smudge the glass.

Thoughts on these maps? If anyone sees any glaring problems I’ll fix them and update the book. Thanks for checking these out. They were a lot of fun to work on.


Writing a Novel …

… is like juggling ten things in the air at once, only, they’re not real things. They’re placeholders. And as you juggle them, you have to look around and find things to replace the objects you are throwing around, things that feel better. But as you do this, you realize that the new objects don’t feel right either, so you have to replace those, too.

Each time you replace the objects in your hand, you think, “Awesome! That’s the last time I’ll have to replace that thing!” Of course it’s not, but it feels good to think it. And all the while, as you keep replacing those objects, you need to keep everything moving through the air smoothly. And random people walk by and throw shoes and jars of peanut butter and pencils at you. And a midget rides by on a Saint Bernard, shouting “Long Live El Heffe!” And scantily clad women dance in the background. And monkeys. Lots of monkeys.

… midgets are heavy.

That’s pretty much it. That’s what writing a novel is all about.


Group Sects (My Critique Circle)

Dream Sequence: Last night’s dreams had a hundred different story lines, but the most vivid one involved a neighbor’s yard. Apparently there were bodies buried there, with actual gravemarkers and such (as opposed to the bodies buried in my yard, which have no markers and several pounds of lye on them). The newest grave belonged to someone I sort of knew. I looked around and noticed some orange flowers growing on the other side of the lawn, so I picked a few of them to place on his grave. The man’s wife, an older woman, approached me and asked if I had come to pay respects. I said yes, and showed her the flowers, but they had all withered and died. The dream left me feeling icky. 

Join a writer’s group. Go. Now. Do it. Don’t make me yell.

There’s nothing in this world that can help a writer more than joining a writer’s group. And it’s not just the critiques (although the critiques are probably the most quantifiable goodness of the group). A writer’s group is like a hot bath for your creativity; healing, soothing, revitalizing, cleansing, squishy, wavy, fun and dangerous if you fall asleep. Okay, maybe not squishy. And wavy is a little abstract. But everything else applies.

My writer’s group (G.D. Scribes, Repra’sent!) is the monkey’s banana. The best bunch of people you could meet, and an even better bunch of people to write with. No one has had a bigger impact on my novel than these people. And there’s no one in the world who understands what I am trying to do better than these folks. Even if they don’t understand that ‘hammer’ lowercase, is a rank in my novel, and Hammer (capitalized) is a nickname. Bastards, all of you.

… and leave this guy out of it.

So, if you don’t have a writer’s group, get one (I think there’s a sale at Target). And if you live near Fairfield County, Connecticut, let me know. I’ll let you into mine. There’s only three requirements: 1. You are serious about your writing.  2. You are not an asshole.  3. You understand that hammer, lowercase, is a rank in my novel and Hammer, uppercase, is a nickname.


Of Satyrs and Salets

Okay, something that bothers me fierce but could just be a touch of OCD. You’re reading a story, a fantasy story, set in a medieval-England style make-believe world. One of the characters mentions a satyr. Or someone “falls to the earth.” Or a siegemaster is bringing trebuchets to bear on a castle.

Do you see where I’m headed?

A satyr is a Greek word for a creature of decidedly Greek nature. How can someone “fall to the earth” if the make-believe world isn’t called earth. Trebuchets and salet helmets, both French, don’t bother me as much, but I ran out of examples, even though I know there are ten thousand examples that I can’t remember right now because my muse is angry at me for saying I would make her my slave. ((breathe)).

The point is, does it bother you when an author uses a word that is alien to the world that they have created? I know, it’s a little picky. Like I said, I ride the OCD Express when I write. But still. At least use the word Faun instead of Satyr. I think faun is more European.

“Je voudrais un casque du salet, s’il vous plait”

I know fantasy stories involve an understood translation of some sort, but shouldn’t the translation be consistent? Am I the only one who is bothered by this? And what’s the deal with dentistry? Isn’t it time for a revolutionary development in dental technology? Something to replace the old drill-a-hole-in-your-teeth regime? Christ’s sake, what’s it been, like two hundred years? It’s like a race for last place against the internal combustion engine.


Rise, blog, RISE!

Hello … ((tap tap)) is this thing on? Hello? ((tap tap))
Ahem … ah … hello world. My name is Roberto and I’m addicted to writing. My life is hectic to the breaking point, and I was inspired by a blog I saw recently, so I decided to add one of my own, just to see if something snaps.
I’ve been a reporter, a magazine writer and a magazine editor, and I have written creatively for as long as I could string together words. I am on the sixth draft of a novel, which, at this rate, means only another ten drafts or so to go before victory. Victory, in this case, meaning it is finished and I’m not dead.
I’ve been chasing my muse for thirty years or so. And though she’s been awful flirty lately, I am still no closer to understanding her than I have ever been.

Two muses. Better than one!

She’s beautiful, my muse. But cruel. She loves me and mocks me. She’s funny and brilliant and kind, but she has a habit of standing me up. Of leaving me when I need her most.
I’m convinced that one day I’ll master her. I’ll make her my bloodwife, forever at my side, whispering, her head on my shoulder. Subservient to my pen.
Um … I … ah … didn’t mean that. Just jokes, that’s all, baby. Don’t be like that. Come on. Wait … come back. ((sigh))
I’ve, like, gotta go and stuff. Welcome to my blog.