Post Goodreads Giveaway Analysis (Part 1) and A Gold Star!

star-407747_640As you know, I ran my first Goodreads Giveaway this past week. I’d set it up to run from Thursday last week until Tuesday of this week but when the approval came back, I realised it wouldn’t have started until midnight on Thursday so I changed it to start at midnight on Wednesday. When I got up on Wednesday morning though, it was already live! This means that it will have run for a week in the end.

As I’m writing this, 735 people have entered the giveaway and of these, 349 people have added my book to their ‘Want To Read’ shelf. When you enter a giveaway on Goodreads (just in case you haven’t ever entered one yourself), the book is automatically added to your ‘Want To Read’ shelf unless you deselect that option. As only half of entrants have added it to their shelf, I’m hopeful that those people are genuinely interested in reading it. However, from everything I’ve read on the internet about Goodreads giveaways, they don’t tend to increase sales for the author but I will have to wait and see on that front.

I am really pleased to see that so many people have entered though and would count this giveaway as a great success in raising the visibility of my book amongst readers on the Goodreads site. At the moment of course, I don’t know who will win the book but when I send it out, I have decided to send a hand-written note with the signed copy, asking the reader to leave me a review once they’ve finished the book. I have to hope that they will read it of course and that their interest in my book is genuine. I have read some horror stories of people who enter lots of giveaways just to resell the books themselves! This is why I’m pleased that I’ve only offered one copy.

And so what of the other people who entered? What can I do for them? Well, the answer to that is nothing it would seem. Goodreads has rules forbidding authors from contacting readers who have entered a giveaway. I also tried to put in the link to the Amazon page on the giveaway to prompt people to buy it if they wanted to but they removed it. A lot of authors are keen to offer a discount voucher for a copy of the ebook to those giveaway entrants who didn’t win and have contacted Goodreads with this suggestion but to no avail. This is such a shame and really does seem like a wasted marketing opportunity. The other option is to include a message on the book’s Goodreads page once the giveaway finishes saying that there is a special offer for giveaway entrants who didn’t win and if interested, those people should contact you to find out more. You could then offer an Amazon gift voucher to them to purchase your book at a reduced price. The only problem with that is that you can’t dictate what people use the voucher for ūüė¶ I can’t think of any other way round that problem.

In summary then, I would say that it is a good way to raise visibility for your book but as to what happens after the giveaway, I don’t know yet and will have to wait and see.

In other news, I found out this morning that the cover for From Here to Nashville has been awarded a gold star in the prestigious¬†Ebook Cover Design Awards run by Joel Friedlander on his website, The Book Designer. He said it is ‘A beautiful cover with typography that evokes the country music theme of the book, and a great color scheme. It sings.’ Wow! You can read more here.

Finally this week, I wanted to mention that as it’s my big birthday next Monday¬†(eek!) and the week after that, I will be on holiday in Nashville, normal service on my blog may be a bit out of kilter for a few weeks! I will be posting bits and pieces here and there, if not on here, on Twitter and on Facebook, so if you don’t already follow me there, please do go to those profiles and click to follow or like. When I return, I will do a big catch-up post about it all and I will be able to tell you more about the Indie Author Book Fair I’ll be attending on 17th April in London.

Thanks for reading, as always. If you have any feedback on the Goodreads Giveaway issue, I’d love to hear from you. Have a good writing week, y’all ūüėČ

Word of Mouth Marketing for Authors

logoI took part in this year’s online Romance Festival again this weekend organised by Harper Collins and the really wonderful thing was that this time, I was able to do so as an author! I was able to submit an author Q&A for display on the Romance Festival site and I also submitted one of my blog posts entitled ‘5 Things I Have Learnt from Writing my Debut Novel’ which you may have read on my blog recently. They were both viewed and shared many times and that felt really satisfying.

Not only that but from 2 – 8pm on both days of the weekend, there were Twitter and Facebook chats, virtually every half an hour by famous authors and industry people with tips to share, and there were also Google Hangouts with a number of different authors. I learnt so much from all these people but most of all, I had a lot of fun! I was struck again and again by how much time these people were willing to give up to help aspiring authors or to talk to their readers. It was not at all sales orientated but you can bet that sales will go up for these authors or business will go up for the trade people who took part because people like me will talk about them to others, just like I’m doing here today.

One of the Twitter chats was actually about Word of Mouth marketing and was run by a lady called Molly Flatt. Her Twitter page is here. She began by saying that WOM marketing is¬†about getting other people talking about you, inspiring their thoughts, rather than just throwing messages at them. She went on to say that¬†an author talking about their book on their Twitter feed isn’t WOM. Others discussing it on THEIR feeds (or at their dinner tables) is. Her main idea is that WOM marketing isn’t really even marketing at all. It’s about building relationships with people and that has to happen over a long period of time of course, it can’t just happen overnight. The phrase that really struck me was ‘You have to give to get’ because I think that so many of us are doing this without maybe even realising it! Just look at #MondayBlogs for example. I have met so many wonderful, supportive friends through having my blog posts shared on Mondays and by sharing those of other people.

So how would this work for the readers you are trying to attract? Well, she suggested that the first step is to find people online or offline who share your¬†subject matter. You can do a Twitter search for this if you’re starting with an online approach. Then tap into their shared passion. I have met a few people because of my love of country music, for example. Once you meet them, let them get to know you and they may check you out as a result and find that you’ve written a book and hey presto! After this, you can think more about what would inspire them to engage with you. I haven’t really explored this yet because I’m really worried about hassling people so this is something I’m going to take slowly but I like the idea of it very much.

There¬†is now only one week to go until my debut novel¬†From Here to Nashville¬†is published and I want to tell you how lucky I’ve been with some of the friends I have made online. Firstly, Emma Wicker, another Indie author featured my book on her blog last week and she’s doing it again for me next week. Then I was able to get a feature on the Alliance of Independent Authors Members’ Showcase which goes up every Saturday. Then I was featured in Sonya’s round-up of book news on her website here. As I’ve mentioned, I also had a lot of exposure through the Romance Festival this weekend too. Today, my RNA friend, Heidi-Jo Swain is featuring me on her blog for #MondayBlogs and I really can’t tell you what a good feeling all this support gives me. I have quite a few other blog posts lined up in the coming weeks and I count myself really blessed to have made so many good friends via social media. This is what word of mouth marketing means to me right now and I look forward to being able to do the same for these friends in the future.

Thank you all for reading and I’ll see you next week on Publication Day!!! Please do leave a comment below if you’ve tried WOM marketing in another way that’s worked really well for you. Have a great week everyone ūüôā

How much does it cost to self-publish?

DiceAs I approach the end of my path to publication, money has started to occupy my mind quite a lot. Having made the decision to self-publish my first novel, I have obviously had to think long and hard about how much it’s all going to cost me and the dilemma I have had to face is how¬†to publish the best piece of work I can whilst having no real budget to speak of. I have read enough ebooks to know that many self-publishers just aren’t thinking about quality at all before they hit the publish button or maybe they were but they just didn’t have the money to spend on quality control before publishing their first book. Whilst I understand and sympathise with that situation, I could not do that myself but there is no doubt that it’s expensive and if, like me, you want to publish a high quality piece of writing, then you need to give some thought in advance to the potential costs involved.

1. Editing

It is generally agreed that if you want to end up with a high quality book, you will need to have it edited by a professional. I had my first professional edit done by the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) as part of their New Writers’ Scheme (NWS). I was lucky enough to get on to the scheme which includes a read through of your work in progress by an author. My reader sent me a three page report and made comments on my manuscript too. This was invaluable advice at the time. This edit equates to the developmental edit I guess in the round of edits that you could decide to have done. It cost me ¬£120 to join the NWS¬†for the year. Prior to that, I had asked a number of close friends to beta read for me and I had also made friends with a writer who beta read it for me, all of which was done for free.

As a result of attending the RNA Conference, I made contact with a couple of other professional editors too. When I approached them about¬†editing though, I realised that I just couldn’t afford to pay for their professional services which started from ¬£400 upwards. I felt caught then because I knew I had to have a professional edit and of course I wanted to pay people properly for their services but I couldn’t stretch to this. In the end, one of the editors was offering a special one-off deal of ¬£90 and so, my problem was solved. In all, with some partial editing to my first three chapters, I have spent ¬£150 on editing. With the fee to join the NWS added to that, this brings my total for editing to ¬£270.

2. Cover Design

As you’ll know if you follow my blog posts every week, I have recently finished working with a cover designer for my novel. You can read the post here if you missed it. This service has cost me ¬£187 but there will be a bit more (¬£50) when I go back for the print version of the cover. I know I could have spent less than this but I don’t think I would have ended up with a cover that I love as much as the one I have. I consider this to have been a very good investment and as you know, people do judge books by their covers and so it was important to me to get that right. Total cost then spent on cover design ¬†will be ¬£237.

3. Proofreading

This past week, I have been looking into proofreading as the final step before publication. Once again, I knew that this was going to be a fair expense because I was going to need a professional. I have joined the UK Society for Editors and Proofreaders myself because I wanted to do their Introduction to Proofreading course and so I had an idea of what sort of cost to expect. Last week, I also took the plunge and joined the Alliance of Independent Authors and I was able to seek the advice of their members for recommendations which was very helpful. Still, it has been a difficult decision when all the people I’ve contacted have been equally well-qualified and professional in their response. They all have excellent references as well. So how you do you decide? In the end, I’ve reached a conclusion based on qualifications, availability, costs and personal recommendation. This is going to cost me around ¬£250.¬†I don’t think I could have paid less than this and still felt that I was going to get a professional service.

4. Everything else

This final section would include things like formatting, which I’m going to attempt myself with some help from my friends (!) and it might also include marketing. I have just run a giveaway on my Facebook Author page and it got me thinking about the promotional materials I might need to get before I launch my book. This would include postcards, bookmarks, business cards etc at the very least but I can’t really commit more than ¬£100 to this.

 

In total then, for someone who has no budget, it looks like I will have spent about ¬£850 to self-publish my book to a quality that I will be happy with. As these costs have mostly been staggered, I have managed it reasonably well. My understanding is that if I price my book at ¬£1.99 on Amazon, I can¬†expect to receive 70% royalties from them for every book I sell. By my calculations, that will mean that I will need to sell¬†610 books in order to make my money back. Now all I need to do is make it visible enough for readers to know it’s out there. And that will be a story for another blog post!

Thanks for reading as always. I welcome your comments about your experiences ūüôā