A Marketing Experiment – Follow-up

Oak And Mist final cover

Last week, I wrote a post about a marketing experiment I was doing, the main objective being to increase my readership and, hopefully, generate some interest in my upcoming new release, No Quarter. I decided to offer Oak and Mist, the first book in the series, free on Amazon for a limited time, hoping to capitalise on some positive reviews.

Front Cover Image

I took advantage of the free five day promotion from Amazon, part of being enrolled in KDP Select. You get five days out of every ninety to list your book as free – you can either run the days all together, or break them into separate promotions. I chose to run the five days together, hoping to maximise my exposure. I also ran three paid advertisements during the promotion – one with Booksends, one with E Reader News Today, and one with Robin Reads.

So how did it go?

I ended up having 4415 people download Oak and Mist for free. Even if only twenty per cent of those people actually read the book, I’ve still substantially increased my readership, and potentially will be able to sell subsequent instalments in the series. I also noticed a large increase in my KENP pages, for which I get paid royalties, and sold several paperbacks as well. I received a new 5 star rating on GoodReads, and several more people on GoodReads marked Oak and Mist as ‘currently reading.’

Screen Grab #8 on Amazon

In terms of the paid advertising, I ran ads on the first, fourth and fifth day of the promotion, and on each of those days my downloads increased dramatically to over a thousand per day, propelling me into the top ten Amazon free books (I reached number 8). The days on which I did not advertise averaged at about three hundred downloads. I supported the promotion with a couple of tweets per day – most of which were picked up and retweeted. I was also fortunate to receive some wonderful support from fellow bloggers (you know who you are, and thank you once again!). Chris The Story Reading Ape was kind enough to post a promotion on his site, which was then reposted by several other bloggers.

In conclusion, this was a successful marketing exercise for me. I’ve increased the audience for my books and, hopefully generated some momentum for No Quarter, the second novel in my Ambeth series. The KENP and paperback royalties I received as a result of the increased exposure have already covered much of my advertising costs, and it was wonderful to get another five-star rating. I believe the complete results of this promotion are yet to be seen, and will be keeping an eye on reviews and reader stats over the coming weeks.

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I write books because I want people to read them. I love Ambeth and the characters who live there, and it gives me great pleasure when other people enjoy the books. I had no problem in offering my work free for a limited time, and will definitely be employing a similar promotional strategy when I release Hills and Valleys, the third book in the series.

I’d love to hear about your own marketing experiences, and whether they were successful or not. I think our blogging community is such a great and generous resource for self-published authors – I know I’ve learnt so much already.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Walking Through Rivendell

This was the view from where I stayed

This was the view from my chalet. Pretty nice, hey?

About twenty-five years ago, I went on a trip around Europe. I was living in Canada at the time and this was my first big holiday by myself, so it was a Big Deal. The trip brought its own set of challenges and experiences, most of them positive, as well as some marvellous memories.

One of the places I visited was the valley of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. I stayed there for a couple of nights, lulled to sleep by the sounds of the nearby waterfall and the gentle chime of cowbells. It was an extraordinarily beautiful place, and I felt the spectacular landscape had a fairy-tale quality quite unlike anywhere else I’d been before. While I was there, I also took the cog railway up to the top of the Jungfrau mountain, taking photographs of the scenery along the way.

Ascending the Jungfrau

Ascending the Jungfrau

What I didn’t know at the time was that J.R.R Tolkien had visited the same valley in 1911, and was so taken by its beauty that he used it as the basis for Rivendell, home to Elrond and the Elves. (Apparently, on the same trip, he also picked up an illustration that inspired his description of Gandalf.) If you look at Tolkien’s painting of Rivendell (which I don’t have permission to reproduce here, so here’s a link), you can see the similarities between his fantasy world and the real one.

The glacier on top of the Jungfrau - the original Pass of Carahdras?

The glacier on top of the Jungfrau – the original Pass of Carahdras?

I recently wrote a post about the landscape that had inspired my own book, Oak and Mist. Though not quite as striking as the Lauterbrunnen valley and its towering mountains, the park near my childhood home holds both beauty and memory for me, making it the perfect starting point for my story. And this is one of the things I love about writing fantasy – blending the real world with the one I create.

The valley seen from the lower slopes of the Jungfrau

The valley seen from the lower slopes of the Jungfrau – look familiar?

I know you can visit Hobbiton and some of the other locations for the LOTR movies in New Zealand, and that they are spectacular. However, to walk through the actual landscape that inspired Tolkien to create Middle-Earth is quite something as well (even if I didn’t realise it at the time) 🙂

So how about you? Has your work been inspired by real places you’ve visited or lived in? Or have you walked in the footsteps of your literary heroes?


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

 

A Marketing Experiment

Oak And Mist final cover

Tomorrow I’m going to be running a little experiment in marketing.

Oak and Mist, the first book in my Ambeth Chronicles, will be free on Amazon Kindle for five days starting tomorrow. The paperback will still be full price, but the e-book – free.

I realise there are differing schools of thought on whether we should offer our work for free, and I’ve done a bit of reading and thinking before coming to this decision. However, on reflection, there were several reasons it seemed like a good idea:

  1. This is a free promotion that I get from Amazon for being part of their KDP Select programme, so I think it makes sense to take advantage of it at least once.
  2. Oak and Mist is the first book in a series of six, so by offering it free I hope to reach more readers who, hopefully, will enjoy it enough to purchase the next books in the series. Thinking back to my Marketing classes at school, I believe this is called a ‘loss-leader’.
  3. The promotion is for a limited period of time – five days only. I have heard that making the first book in a series free permanently is also a good way to attract readers but, as I’ve not yet published any other books in the series, I’m not ready to do that.
  4. No Quarter, the second book in the Ambeth Chronicles, is very close to being published, so the timing of this promotion will, I hope, generate interest leading to further sales.
  5. I have positive reviews on Amazon UK, US and Australia, as well as Goodreads. Hopefully this promotion will capitalise on the goodwill in those reviews, leading to more people deciding to download my book.
  6. I have far fewer e-book sales than paperback sales, so would be interested to see if I can increase that number.

I’ve also submitted to Robin Reads, E-News Reader Today and Freebooksy, all of whom have accepted Oak and Mist for promotion during my free offer period. I’ll also be promoting the free offer on my Facebook page and Twitter.

So I’ll let you all know how it goes. While this may seem quite a businesslike post, and a departure from my usual scribblings and musings, it is also part of the writing process. As independent authors we should be informed and able to make the right decisions for our book – after all, once we self-publish we are essentially running a business based on our own products. I’ve learnt a great deal from many generous bloggers who have shared information about their own promotions and results. Now I hope to be able to do the same.

xx Helen

 

A Journey Through Ambeth

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‘Together they walked to the Gate, the sun waning as the day began to end, a cool breeze blowing through the glowing green woodland.’

Over the weekend I visited a park I’ve known for years. I used to go there as a child, and my mother and grandmother also played there as children, so it’s somewhere very dear to me. It holds magic, as well – the magic of living close to somewhere so wonderful, exploring hidden pathways and sunken gardens, of watching my own daughter play where three generations of her family played before her.

'The War Memorial loomed like a golden tower'

‘The War Memorial loomed like a golden tower’

It’s also the inspiration for my Ambeth Chronicles. In the books it’s the park near to Alma’s house, the place she goes when she needs time to think. It’s also where she is attacked and pushed through the tree gate into Ambeth, emerging on the other side into a different world. So it was wonderful to walk the familiar pathways and see them through my character’s eyes, another layer of magic added to an already special place.

'past the tennis courts and playground and the small cafe'

‘past the tennis courts and playground and the small cafe’

I took photos as I walked, wanting to capture some of the places on film. The park features all the way through the series of books, and so I considered words already written and twists yet to come, drawing more inspiration from the leafy green.

'she wandered through the Gardens with Caleb... Hedges rose around them like a maze and every corner revealed something new...'

‘she wandered through the Gardens with Caleb… Hedges rose around them like a maze and every corner revealed something new…’

And then I thought I’d share them with you 🙂

'Alma saw she was near to a gap between two oak trees, beyond which she knew was a track that would take her to the end of the park and home.'

‘Alma saw she was near to a gap between two oak trees, beyond which she knew was a track that would take her to the end of the park and home.’

More Book News! No Quarter Cover Reveal

Front Cover Image

Another book post, this time to reveal the cover design for No Quarter, the next book in the Ambeth Chronicles!

Things couldn’t be better for Alma. She’s returned the lost Sword to Ambeth and is finally with Deryck, Prince of the Dark. But what’s really going on? Deryck is struggling with his father, who wants to control Alma, while Alma is struggling with her best friend Caleb, who doesn’t trust Deryck. Plus it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with her life in the human world.

Falling in love shouldn’t be this difficult. But things are about to get much worse…

Thanks once again to the design talent of Rich Jones at Turning Rebellion 🙂 I’m really pleased with the cover and think it captures the feel of book two really well.

Now I just need to finish the edit and publish (Within the next few weeks, all being well – I’ll keep you all posted)

And, in case you missed it, Book One, Oak and Mist, is currently available on Amazon here, or visit Goodreads and enter my giveaway for the chance to win one of five signed paperback copies.

And finally, I’m off to the Blogger’s Bash in London tomorrow! I’m really looking forward to a great day out meeting some of my fellow bloggers – hope to see you there 🙂

 

 

Rainy Day Updates

Rain coming across the distant hills

Rain coming across the distant hills

It’s a cold and wet Friday here in the UK, so the gorgeous girl and I are having an ‘at home’ day. We’re getting a few chores done and there’s fun planned too – movies, snacks and some cooking adventures – it’s just lovely to spend time with her while she still wants to hang out with me.

So I thought today might be a fairly quiet day, but my email has been pinging away with new likes and follows for my blog. The lovely SuzieSpeaks shared a post of mine from earlier this week and it seems to be fairly popular, which is wonderful. Thanks to Suzie for sharing, and welcome to everyone visiting – stay a while and make yourself comfortable, there’s plenty to read here 🙂

bloggerrec_award

I’ve also been nominated by Jonathan and Aaron at Husband&Husband for a blogging award – the Blogger Recognition Award, in fact! Thank you so much for thinking of me guys, I really appreciate the nomination.

As part of the award, I’m to write about why I started blogging, and also pass on some advice to fellow bloggers, so here goes:

I started blogging just over a year ago, though I was very nervous about it at the time. I’d already written the first two Ambeth books and the rest were underway, plus I was writing freelance, but I knew I needed to look into expanding my media platform as well. A friend had started a blog on WordPress and, when I looked into it, I was intrigued by the possibilities. I do love to write, and so I started out with three small posts on what I’d learned about writing so far – I was a bundle of nerves when I hit the Publish button for the first time! Even though I’d had work published before, it felt quite confronting to share my own thoughts in a public forum. However, what a year it’s been! I’ve learnt so much about blogging and writing, read some fantastic blogs, made some wonderful connections with people around the world plus my little blog is starting to be seen by more people every day. It really has been fantastic, and I’m so looking forward to attending the first Blogger’s Bash in London next week and finally putting faces to some of the voices that have enthralled me for so long.

So my advice to other bloggers would be to keep writing. Just keep on going – write posts, write your own work, share your thoughts and dreams and ideas, even if you think no one else is going to read them. You will be surprised!

I have to nominate fifteen bloggers for the same award. This isn’t easy, as I follow a lot of great blogs, so I’ve chosen fifteen that I read regularly and always enjoy – here they are:

Dark Knight Chronicles

Everything Indie

Nicholas Rossis

Ali Isaac Storyteller

Tara Sparling

Stephen Baird

The Sound of What Happens

Sue Vincent

MissRachelChanel

Suzie81Speaks

Chris The Story Reading Ape

Sacha Black

That’s So Jacob

Louise Allan

The Mathemagical Site

You may have already been nominated for this award, or simply not wish to participate – that’s completely fine! If you’d like to know more about it the original link is here. Whether you accept the award or not, thank you for keeping me entertained in the blogiverse. And, if you’re visiting, please check out some of these blogs – they’re all very much recommended.

Finally, to celebrate the upcoming release of No Quarter, the second book in the Ambeth Chronicles, I’m going to be running a giveaway on Goodreads soon. I’ll be giving away five signed copies of Oak and Mist, the first book in the series. Details coming very soon!

Seems as though Friday has turned out to be a big day after all 🙂 xx

The Joy Of Reading

My proof copy of Oak and Mist - each sticky note marks a correction!

My proof copy of Oak and Mist – each sticky note marks a correction!

So here’s something interesting. The paperback version of Oak and Mist is outselling the e-book version by more than two-to-one.

When I published, it was very important to me to have a paperback version of the book, as I personally feel that there is a wonderful permanence to being able to hold a book in your hand. To be able to mark the pages, flip back to bits you want to re-read, get those white creases down the spine that show a book has been read again and again. For this is how I read. I have a bookcase filled with books I love, books I go back to over and over, even though I know how the story ends. I just enjoy being able, for a little while, to step back into a world familiar and strange all at the same time. And I find that when I do, even if it’s a story I’ve read several times, there are still passages that are fresh to me, things I hadn’t noticed the last time around.

A small section of my home library :-)

A small section of my home library 🙂 Those books are stacked two deep.

I had a friend who, once she had read a book, got rid of it. Her feeling was that, once she had read it, she didn’t need to do so again. I can see her point but cannot relate in the slightest. Perhaps it is a skill we need to have as writers, the ability to go back to a story. For that is what we have to do each time we edit. We have to revisit our work and read it with fresh eyes and an open mind. If we’re lucky, we will love what we read and it will be a pleasure to go back over it again and again.

I love the thought that my book is out there in the world, being shelved in bookcases across the globe, read and hopefully re-read. A regional library has also ordered some copies, which is a huge thrill (I love libraries) – this wouldn’t have been possible had I only published as an e-book.

To fellow writers out there, have you found this to be the case for your own work? And what about my fellow readers – which format do you prefer? I do have a Kindle and enjoy the convenience of it, especially when travelling, but it seems the humble paperback is still preferred by many (including me, if I’m honest).

And thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of Oak and Mist, whether digital or paperback – I hope you’re enjoying the read xx

 

Thank you!

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone for your positive comments and support. Publishing Oak and Mist has been an intense experience, and it’s great to be part of a community like this one – your feedback and help is so very appreciated.

If you have been kind enough to buy a copy, please leave me a review if you feel moved to do so, as I’d love to hear what people think about the story. Or just message me, if you prefer 🙂

Also, I’ve managed to do another guest post for the Bloomsbury Writers & Artist’s website – a little bit about designing your cover and what you might need to consider. If you haven’t visited their site before, it’s a great resource for writers – after all, they publish the Harry Potter books!

And finally, here is a happy snap of me holding my first copy of Oak and Mist:

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xx

Published!

Yay!

Oak and Mist is finally published!

You can pick up a paperback or Kindle version on Amazon right now (and I would love it if you would do so) 😉

Oak And Mist final cover

The end of everything? Great, no pressure then.’

Alma Bevan didn’t mean to go on a quest.
But when she disappears between two trees at her local park and reappears in Ambeth, she finds they’ve been expecting her.

And now she has to find a lost sword or the consequences for humanity will be dire. With no idea where to look, despite help from her new friend Caleb, things become even more complicated when a handsome prince of the Dark expresses an interest in her.

All this plus homework too?

Travelling between worlds is hard enough without having to manage a suspicious best friend, complicated love interests and concerned parents. Add in some time-twisting, a mysterious bracelet and a group of immortal beings all vying for control of a lost sword, and it’s enough to make any fifteen year old girl want to give up. But then she wouldn’t see Caleb any more. Or Deryck…

Oak and Mist is book one of The Ambeth Chronicles. Book two, No Quarter, is coming soon.

For the paperback version on Amazon.com please click here

For the Kindle version on Amazon.com please click here

For the paperback version on Amazon.co.uk please click here

For the Kindle version on Amazon.co.uk please click here

For the Kindle version on Amazon.com.au please click here

To my Australian friends who’d like the paperback version, I recommend purchasing from the US Amazon site – I did look at print-on-demand in Australia but it worked out to about the same price. I will also be looking at publishing to Nook and IBooks in the future, but for the moment this is where it’s at!

As you can imagine I’m pretty excited – this has been a goal a long time in the making 🙂

So now I shamelessly ask you all to share the word, read and review (honestly, of course).

With much love

xx

Cover Reveal Time!

As you know, I’m at the proofing stage for my first book, Oak and Mist. I’ve just uploaded the (hopefully) final edit file, and am now waiting with fingers crossed for the go-ahead from CreateSpace.

But in the meantime, I thought I’d share the cover with you all. And here it is :

Oak And Mist final cover

Yay!

With thanks to the talents of Rich Jones at Turning Rebellion (who happens to be my brother) – I couldn’t have done this without him. The sword image is my design, and he drew the other elements together to create a cover that I think perfectly captures the feel of the book.

Oak and Mist

The end of everything? Great, no pressure then.’

Alma Bevan didn’t mean to go on a quest.
But when she disappears between two trees at her local park and reappears in the land of Ambeth, she finds they’ve been expecting her.

And now she has to find a lost sword or the consequences for humanity will be dire. With no idea where to look, despite help from her new friend Caleb, things become even more complicated when a handsome prince of the Dark expresses an interest in her.

All this plus homework too?

Travelling between worlds is hard enough without having to manage a suspicious best friend, complicated love interests and concerned parents. Add in some time-twisting, a mysterious bracelet and a group of immortal beings all vying for control of a lost sword, and it’s enough to make any fifteen year old girl want to give up. But then she wouldn’t see Caleb any more. Or Deryck…

Oak and Mist is book one of The Ambeth Chronicles. Available (very) soon through Amazon.

Exciting times, people, exciting times 🙂

Oh, and I’ve also started a page on Facebook. so please come and visit me. It won’t just be my blog and me banging on about my books – I’m also planning on featuring content and snippets that interest me or make me laugh, plus bits and pieces about my life.  You can join me at http://www.facebook.com/authorhelenjones if you’re interested.

Thank you all so much for your support, comments and likes!

xx Helen