Vote for Joan the Made on Kindle Scout

After much writing, editing and general agonizing, I have finished the first book in my new trilogy, Joan the Made. This young adult series is set in the near-future, and follows Joan Fasces after she discovers that she cloned from of one of history’s greatest heroines—Joan of Arc. (Check out the full description of my novel below.)

I’ve decided to try to publish Joan the Made using the Kindle Scout program. Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. The books that receive the most votes are published by Kindle Press.

Please vote for Joan the Made here. You will receive a FREE copy of my book if it is selected.

Book Description:

On Joan Fasces’ eighteenth birthday, she discovers that she is cloned from the famous Joan of Arc. But being cloned in America comes at a steep price. Segregated and oppressed, clones are forced to act as docile servants to the rest of the Evolved population.

Joan can either run from her fate and spend the rest of her life in hiding, or she can join a Throwback rebellion populated by clones of the greatest leaders in world history.

Advertisements

Goodreads Book Giveaway of My YA Fantasy Novel, The Society of Imaginary Friends

The-Society-of-Imaginary-Friends300x200Enter for a chance to win a hard copy of my Amazon bestselling novel, The Society of Imaginary Friends, a young adult epic fantasy. Click here to enter my Goodreads Giveaway, which is live now through December 21, 2016. This breakthrough novel is the first book of The Conjurors Series, and retails for $8.99.

Description:

Valerie Diaz has a power that she can’t contain, and it’s killing her. Bounced between foster homes and the streets, she only has time to concentrate on staying alive. But a visit from the imaginary friend of her childhood opens a world of possibilities, including a new life half a universe away on a planet that is bursting with magic.

The Society of Imaginary Friends follows Valerie on a journey that straddles two worlds. In order to survive, she must travel many light years away to a realm where anything is possible. On the Globe, imaginary friends come to life, the last of the unicorns rules the realm, and magic seeps from the pores of all the Conjurors who live there.

But choosing to embrace her potential will set Valerie on a treacherous course – one filled with true love, adventure and perilous danger.

Tips on Your Quest for An Agent

article-banner

Self-publishing my 4-book YA fantasy series, The Conjurors, was an experience that I am so grateful for. Over the past five years, pushing myself to finish the series and learning how to effectively market it has given me purpose and taught me what it means to build a platform and brand for myself.

But I’ll be the first to admit that marketing my books isn’t nearly as fun as writing them. There’s a satisfaction to be had when a sales/marketing strategy succeeds, but, for me, it doesn’t compare to the joy, the oblivion, of losing myself inside the movie in my head. So I decided for my new YA science fiction series, Joan the Made, I would search for an agent and try the traditional publishing route.

I had no illusions that it would be easy, or even possible, to land an agent. I have no contacts in the industry, or published friends to look to for advice or a reference. I’m also a hard-core introvert with the networking skills of a meerkat. But I have a book that I believe is the best thing I’ve written so far, and the willingness to spend a ridiculous number of hours researching agents, personalizing my query letters, and sending out hopeful wishes into the universe.

At first, there was a lot of rejection. But after sending dozens of queries and tweaking my manuscript and letter, interest began to rise. I’m still waiting and hoping that an agent will be interested in working with me. My manuscript is currently in the hands of a few agents, and there are others who have yet to respond.

Here are some lessons I learned along the way that dramatically improved the response rate from the agents I queried.

Revise your query letter when it isn’t working.
After every ten queries, I would rewrite my letter to emphasize a new angle. I adjusted the paragraph about myself, the description of the novel, and expanded why I was reaching out to that particular agent. This was the best thing I did. By the fifth query rewrite, I began seeing a lot more interest in reading samples of my manuscript, and even manuscript requests.

Revise your manuscript if you receive valuable feedback from agents.
A few kind agents gave me words of advice in their rejection notes, letting me know what they liked or what could be improved. About halfway through my querying process, I rewrote my manuscript to incorporate those suggestions.

Try Twitter pitch fests.
I know. I was skeptical at first, too. Condensing my manuscript into 140 characters was a challenge, and what real agents found writers on Twitter? A lot, it turned out. It was also a much-needed ego boost to see agents “like” my tweet and request a query letter and writing sample. One of those agents went on to request the full manuscript. I had the most success with #PitMad and #PitDark. Just be sure to vet any agents who are interested in your manuscript before reaching out to them to make sure they’re legit.

Only target agents interested in your exact genre, or you will drive yourself nuts.
Take it from the girl who queried over 100 agents. There are a lot of agents interested in exactly what you’re writing. Focus on those agents, rather than agents who have broader interests. If you’re writing Fantasy or Science Fiction, I found this list helpful. Another tactic that I tried was looking up who the agent was for books that were similar to mine that had been published and were successful.

I’m a still a newbie at the querying process, so I welcome any suggestions you have for me that I haven’t thought of yet.

 

How to Create an Advertising Campaign for Your $0.99 eBook Promotion

This September, I ran my biggest promotion to date on The Conjurors Collection, which is a bundle of the first three books in the series. It is the most successful promotion that I’ve run so far. Below are my best rankings during the promotion period.

Ranking

I discounted the bundle, which was $7.99, to $0.99 for two weeks, from September 6-19. In total, I sold 612 copies (earning me $214) and had a huge surge in readers from Kindle Unlimited, for which I was paid over $400. My check from Amazon for September was more than $700. Even considering that I spent $350 on advertising, I made a great profit (for me). Even better, the following month I made almost $500 even though I did very little advertising (less than $50), so the long-term benefit of the ad campaign was significant.

A month later I ran a mini-promotion on just the first book in the series, The Society of Imaginary Friends, discounting it to $0.99 for a week. I only spent $43 in advertising, but I had less than 50 sales. I wanted to call this out because part of my success with my September promotion was that I was selling three books for $0.99, which was a much more attractive deal.

Below I’ll list the sites that I used for advertising and the costs and results of each one. But some key takeaways – it’s worth it to have multiple days of high sales, even if the ads don’t immediately pay for themselves, because it pushes up your rank on Amazon, and the increased visibility results in more sales in the long term. For my next promotion, I plan to cluster my ads so that the ones that sell the most units are on subsequent days rather than spread out.

Another takeaway was that for a huge book like my bundle, it was worth it to be exclusive to Amazon (KDP Select). I was paid much better by every Amazon Unlimited reader than I was from readers who bought the bundle at $0.99. In the first case, I probably made over $5 for every reader who finished the book, and in the second case I made under $0.35. So while I may make my individual books available on other sites, I’ll keep my bundle exclusive to Amazon.

Below are the number of copies of the collection that I sold on a particular day, with the associated ad that I used.

Books Sold

September 19, 2015: Ebook Soda ($10), Pixel of Ink ($30)
Number of Downloads: 71
Effectiveness: Medium
Pixel of Ink is a site known for delivering a return on ad investment, but they do not always have options to advertise with them. It’s a matter of luck if your book can be featured when you need it there. I can’t say for certain how many sales were from Ebook Soda, so I may try advertising with them separately in a future promotion.

September 18, 2015:  FKBT ($25)
Number of Downloads: 35
Effectiveness: Medium
I was somewhat disappointed with the Free Kindle Books & Tips ad, given its price tag. It’s one of the few I won’t be using again, because my $25 can be split among other sites that will deliver a bigger value altogether.

September 17, 2015:  Wattpad (Free), Indies Unlimited Thrifty Thursday (Free)
Number of Downloads: 19
Effectiveness: High
I was concerned about my rankings dropping because I had no paid ads on this day, and was pleasantly surprised that a post on my Wattpad account (where I have the first book in the series published for free) and Indies Unlimited delivered an excellent influx of readers for no charge.

September 16, 2015:  Booksends ($50)
Number of Downloads: 70
Effectiveness: Medium
Though Booksends is pricey, I recommend it in order to drive up your Amazon sales rank. Though my initial investment in the ad didn’t yield a positive return, I do think it helped the overall campaign by selling such a high number of copies in one day.

September 14 & 15, 2015:  Books Butterfly ($50), Book Barbarian ($8)
Number of Downloads: 92
Effectiveness: Medium
These ads were over the course of two days. Like the Booksends ad, I recommend using Books Butterfly to give your ad campaign momentum by having a higher number of downloads, even if the ad doesn’t pay for itself right away. I will also try Book Barbarian again, next time on its own day so I can better determine how well it does on its own.

September 13, 2015:  The Fussy Librarian ($24 to be listed in multiple genres)
Number of Downloads: 19
Effectiveness: Low
I’ve advertised with Fussy in the past with better results, but this time I was disappointed in the return on my investment. However, I think part of the problem was that I spent extra cash to be listed in additional genres. Next time, I’ll stick to one genre, which will have a lower price tag.

September 12, 2015: eBookHounds ($5), Robin Reads ($15)
Number of Downloads: 59
Effectiveness: High
This was my first time advertising on these two sites, and I will definitely be using them again. I had a high number of downloads for a low cost, and it was one of a few days where I immediately made a profit, not counting the long-term impact on sales.

September 11, 2015:  Betty Book FREAK ($8), Reading Deals (Free)
Number of Downloads: 17
Effectiveness: Medium
For $8, I was satisfied with the number of downloads I received. I would try using Betty Book FREAK again to see how it performs on a different day.

September 10, 2015:  The Ereader Cafe ($25)
Number of Downloads: 27
Effectiveness: Low
Like FKBT, I was disappointed by how few downloads my $25 got me. This is a site I may cut from my future promotions to see if the money can be better spent elsewhere.

September 9, 2015:  Booklover’s Heaven (Free), BKKnights ($5.50)
Number of Downloads: 22
Effectiveness: High
BK Knights always gives me a good return for a small price tag. But be careful which of his services you choose. I recommend SKIPPING his twitter/facebook offerings. Instead, opt to be listed on his site, where readers are more likely to download your book.

September 8, 2015: Ereader News Today ($20)
Number of Downloads: 50
Effectiveness: High
I always have excellent results when I advertise with ENT, and this time was no exception.

September 7, 2015: Discount Books Daily ($10), Booktastik ($10), SweetFreeBooks ($5), ReadFreely (Free)
Number of Downloads: 25
Effectiveness: Low
By grouping so many ads together, it’s hard for me to parse which ones worked best. Maybe one site is responsible for all 25 sales, in which case I would be doing it a disservice not to recommend it. However, I will think twice before advertising on any of the paid sites from this day of my promo in the future, because the number of downloads was disappointing for a combined budget of $25.

September 6, 2015: BookGorilla ($50), ReadCheaply (Free)
Number of Downloads: 71
Effectiveness: Medium
Like Booksends and Books Butterfly, though BookGorilla is pricey, I recommend it in order to drive up your Amazon sales rank. Though my initial investment in the ad didn’t yield a positive return, I do think it helped the overall campaign by selling such a high number of copies in one day.

 

Have you found other sites that you highly recommend for advertising ebooks? If so, please share!

The Conjurors Collection: First Three Books in My YA Fantasy Series Available for $0.99

The-Conjurors-Series-3D-Omnibus-300x200If you’re a lover of teen/young adult fantasy, check out the first three books in The Conjurors Series for $0.99 today through September 20. The Conjurors Collection, Books 1-3, is available on Amazon if you’re interested in checking it out.

I welcome all feedback and reviews, so if you decide to read it let me know what you think!

Click here to check out an excerpt from the first novel, The Society of Imaginary Friends. Below is the blurb for the series:

Belief is a powerful magic.

Valerie Diaz has a power that she can’t contain, and it’s killing her. Bounced between foster homes and the streets, she only has time to concentrate on staying alive. But a visit from the imaginary friend of her childhood opens a world of possibilities, including a new life half a universe away on a planet that is bursting with magic.

The first three books of The Conjurors Series follow Valerie on a journey that straddles two worlds. In order to survive, she must travel many light years away to a realm where anything is possible. But choosing to embrace her potential will set Valerie on a treacherous course – one filled with true love, adventure and perilous danger.

This collection includes the first three novels in this young adult fantasy series: The Society of Imaginary Friends, Knights of Light, and Guardians of the Boundary. Purchased individually, the ebooks would cost $10.

Edge-of-Pathos-300x200You can also check out the fourth and final book in The Conjurors Series, Edge of Pathos, for $4.99 on Amazon. It is not included in the collection.

Why Every YA Author Should Post a Book on Wattpad

e56666b5164c669f57b13bcc8fd05f54I know I’m a little late to the party, but recently I had a wonderful experience posting the first novel in my YA fantasy series, The Society of Imaginary Friends, on Wattpad. It’s been so rewarding that I recommend that any self-published YA author upload a book on this site. Did I make money? No. Did I connect with hundreds of grateful fans who were thrilled with my story? Yes!

Wattpad is a site where authors, many of whom are new writers, post their books one chapter at a time for free (my book’s page is here, if you’re curious). Readers can vote if they liked a chapter, and can comment on every chapter. There is a great app so that you can read on your phone, tablet or computer. Also, because all of the books on Wattpad are free, there are a lot of young, avid readers yearning for good YA fiction to read.

For me, this was an opportunity to connect with the readers whom I had written my series for. Many, if not most, of the people who have downloaded my series on Amazon are in their late teens or are adults. On Wattpad, the majority of the readers of my story are 13-18, my intended audience, and they responded warmly to my novel. Their positive energy has reinvigorated my writing, and is at least as rewarding as any paid sale of my books that I’ve received.

If you want to connect to a devoted YA readership, definitely publish at least one of your novels on Wattpad. Below are some tips to make the most out of your experience.

Once your full book is posted, make it a Featured listing. (This is free.)
When I began posting chapters of my book on Wattpad, I had very few readers. Even when I posted it on the Wattpad boards for “young adult” and “fantasy” and read and commented on other authors’ books, my story was relatively unknown. That’s when I discovered that Wattpad will promote your book as a “featured” story for free once most or all of the chapters of your book are published. Once I was featured, I had a couple thousand readers a day for the first week, and after that continued to have hundreds of new readers checking out my story for weeks afterward.

Reply to all comments on your book.
One of the best parts of Wattpad is that it is a chance to hear what your audience thinks of your writing. The readers on this site are vocal, which I loved. I received valuable feedback about what characters were resonating with my audience, and when the plot was getting slow. Most of the comments were very positive, and it brightened my day to read them.

Check your book’s engagement and demographic stats.
Wattpad tracks a lot of helpful metrics about who is reading your book. Demographic information including the gender, age and geographic location of your readership is very telling. You can quickly assess if your cover and blurb are drawing the audience you are targeting. Wattpad also tracks how many votes and comments each chapter received. This is helpful to see if certain chapters receive more or less attention, and help you identify where readers are losing interest, or where their interest is piqued.

Bask in the sunshine of your fans adoration.
Best of all, all that positive energy directed at me from my new, enthusiastic Wattpad fans put a fire under me to keep writing. Self-publishing can be a long, lonely road, and knowing that readers are devouring my work and begging for more, even if they can’t pay for it, made all that work feel worthwhile.

Do you have any additional tips for success on Wattpad? If so, please share!

How to Bundle Your Books on Amazon

The-Conjurors-Series-3D-Omnibus-300x200After publishing the final book in The Conjurors Series, Edge of Pathos, I decided to look into the benefits of bundling the books in my series. I read a great blog post by Lindsay Buroker on the subject, which convinced me to package the first three books in the series together for marketing purposes. Bundling my books wasn’t difficult, but it did involve a learning curve, much like everything in the self-publishing world. To save you some time figuring it out on your own, below is a practical overview of how to build and publish a book bundle on Amazon based on my research and experience.

Creating and Formatting the File
If your book bundle will be on Amazon, you need to create a separate document with all of the books you are bundling combined that you will post as a new book. Include the title page for each book, but make sure that you don’t paste your back matter (e.g. About the Author, Afterward, Acknowledgements) more than once, so the bundle appears cohesive. For your table of contents, I recommend only linking to the titles of each of the books in your bundle, rather than listing all of the chapters.

Cover Art
Most authors who bundle their books create a 3D image of their books as cover art. Some have an entirely different and new cover image to entice readers, while others recycle one of the images from their series for the cover art. Because the cover for the first book in The Conjurors Series, The Society of Imaginary Friends, has been well-received, I chose to use that image with a new title (The Conjurors Collection, Books 1-3). The 3D image also showed the spines of the three books in the bundle, so it was clear what is included.

Bundle Blurb
If you’re like me, writing the blurb for your book is a kind of torture. I spend more time crafting those 150 words than I spend crafting 5,000 of my novel. But it’s still valuable to create a unique description for your book bundle, rather than just repeating the descriptions for each of the books within the bundle. You want to hook readers with a pithy description that will draw them into your world and help them quickly identify what kind of series they’ll be reading. Also be clear about what is and isn’t included in your bundle. I specifically mention that the last book in the series is not in the bundle, so they aren’t disappointed or angry when they realize they have to purchase the last book separately.

Pricing
When it comes to pricing your bundle, don’t sell yourself short. Your bundle should offer a significant savings from buying your books individually, but keeping your price higher will make discounting your bundle more powerful. I priced my bundle at a couple of dollars cheaper than the cost of buying the books individually. I chose this tactic not because I’m expecting to make a lot of money off of the bundle, but rather because if I give it away for free or at $.99, I’m hoping that I’ll attract a lot of readers who will go on to try out the last book in my series.

Reviews
The last thing that you need to do once your bundle is published is to get some reviews for it, which can be the most difficult step. But in this case, you don’t need to find new readers to write your reviews. Tap existing readers who have written reviews on your books to write a review for your bundle, or even copy the review they’ve written for individual books for your bundle. I recommend providing bonus material, such as a short story, to boost your chances of having readers post their reviews. I also decided to solicit reviews through Story Cartel, because I had good luck with that venue in the past (check out my post on the subject here), as well as host a LibraryThing giveaway, which yielded a few reviews for me with prior books.

Have you bundled your books? If so, what tips do you have for creating and marketing your bundle?