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text 2018-11-27 08:56
Abandoned Dreams contest entry commentary costs $116.45
Abandoned Dreams - Rod Raglin

This year I decided to spend some of my paltry marketing budget entering my novels in a few of the many contests offered on the internet.

 

I may as well have flushed the funds down the toilet for all the good it did. Most contests hastily cashed my cheque and then didn’t even bother spamming me to advise that I didn't win, place or show.

 

These for sure are cash grabs for financially beleaguered writing sites, festivals, literary publications or outright scam artists.

 

The exception so far has been the Writer's Digest Self Published Book Awards that provided a brief commentary from an anonymous judge.

 

So here are Judge Number 54 comments regarding my submission to The 26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Not a bad review, but then it did cost $116.45 ($99.49 entry fee + $10.30 postage + $6.66 for the price of the book and shipping)

 

 

Entry Title: Abandoned Dreams

Author: Rod Raglin

Judge Number: 54

Entry Category: Mainstream/Literary Fiction

 

 * Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.

 

 

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4

 

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

 

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

 

Plot and Story Appeal: 4

 

Character Appeal and Development: 4

 

Voice and Writing Style: 4

 

 

Judge’s Commentary

 

   This novel uses a distinctive succession of first-person sections that combine to offer an incisive perspective on the loves and fortunes of several characters whose lives intersect in tortured relationships. Musings and actions by the characters as the story progresses create a running succession of candid revelations. Along the way, readers get intimate understandings of what motivates the characters, who cross a wide age range, as they seek to reach their social and artistic goals. Literary and artistic matters including the drive for fame and creativity, as well as cutting criticism, are refreshingly realistic and provide illuminating insights into the minds of writers and artists. How the past and present link up and influence their current lives and activities is skillfully portrayed. Generational aspects, including a visit to an ashram in the U.S., are woven into the multiple relationships and ambitions that stir the narrative.

       Overall, the dreams of the past blend into the aspirations of the present as the force of character persists.

         More suspense in what will happen, especially as the past is recalled, would enhance the book’s drive. More chapters should end on a suspenseful note to make readers wonder what will happen next. The dialogue is snappy with good use of interior monologue while showing the mind-sets of the characters.

     The title is intriguing and spurs interest. The first two lines of the subtitle work, but the third one raises the question of who the “they” is. Perhaps “life” could be used instead. The cover image is interesting, but consider placing an easel between the chairs and a manuscript on one chair to better reflect the contents and themes of the novel.

 

You can purchase Abandoned Dreams from my Amazon Author's Page at

https:www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Stay Calm, Be Brave, Watch for the Signs

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text 2018-09-10 06:57
Enhanced Bublish delivers the same results - none
Three months ago, I responded to a free offer from Bublish to use their “e-book Author and Discovery Platform” for two weeks.
 
Bublish claims they can help you “promote your work and build your brand” with, among other things, “book bubbles,” excerpts of your work shared across social networks. These bubbles also allow you to share “the story behind the story,” similar to a director’s rough cut which Bublish claims “is a powerful way to build social proof with readers.”
 
I already had a Bublish experience shortly after it was launched a few years ago. I quit using the platform then because despite encouraging numbers regarding bubble views, profile views and conversions there were no sales.
 
When I logged in I was surprised to see previous bubbles for my novels Forest, and The Big Picture still on the site.
 
Since I was launching Cold-Blooded, Book 2 of the Mattie Saunders Series, that’s what I began promoting, but after a month, and still having free access to the site, I decided to repost the bubbles from The Big Picture.
 
Bublish provides a daily update of social metrics for the past 90 days on a member’s dashboard. I’ve just completed my current 90 day run posting almost every day and here are the results:
 
Bubble Views - 4891; Profile Views - 47; Conversions (which retailers users are visiting from your bubbles) - 161
 
Sorry to pop their bubble but again my use of Bublish did not result in a single sale, and neither did it generate any additional activity such as page views on Smashwords or visits to my author website over the three month period.
 
Today’s enhanced Bublish costs $99.00 a year or $9.99 a month. For a paid subscription you receive the opportunity to upload unlimited books, an author profile, social metrics, e-pub creator, exclusive programs (deals from their corporate partners) premium resources (tutorials, videos, etc.). You can also sign up as an Emerging Author and upload one book and post unlimited book bubbles free.
 
With the exception of posting unlimited books on Bublish, you can get everything else Bublish offers from other sites free.
 
The only benefit I gleaned from Bublish then and now, was condensing scenes into author insights (bubbles). It really hones your focus.
 
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.
 
https://www.bublish.com/
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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text 2018-08-23 06:31
Author as a salesperson

The only way I have been able to sell my books is in person, directly to a potential reader.

 

When I did the math, I realized that I could order my books, mark them up and sell them cheaper than someone could buy them from Amazon, when you factored in the cost of shipping.

 

Here’s an example: For me to order a copy of Local Rag costs $4.40 CA, plus $2.43 shipping = $6.83 For anyone else to buy a copy of Local Rag from Amazon Canada costs $13.29, plus $4.98 shipping, plus GST 91¢ = $18.95 The difference is $12.12 (I don’t have to collect the GST because my sales are under $30,000 annually).

 

If I deduct the $2.86 royalty from my Amazon sale, I'm  still ahead $9.26.  I can offer a $2.00 discount to the purchaser and make more than $4.00 more than I get from a sale on Amazon.

 

About a year ago, I started researching venues where I could sell my books in person. I rejected flea markets and other events unrelated to literature and soon found opportunities to participate in public readings and talks. You speak briefly about your book or a related topic and sell your work after the event while mingling with the audience.

 

I took it a step further and developed mini-seminars in self-publishing and memoir writing which I conducted free. The audience was very sales friendly. This system worked at book fairs as well, but since the table rental had to be taken into consideration, I had to be a little more aggressive.

 

In sales, it’s essential to engage the customer, so you have to get out from behind the table and chat up the passers-by. I printed up cheap bookmarks to give away, had them fill out an entry form (don’t forget their email address) for a free draw of some of my books, and talked about the event, even the other authors.

 

I’ve made a living at direct sales so this is second nature to me, but even so it was exhausting and not a lot of fun.

 

After six months I had a decision to make. I now had lots of opportunities to speak, teach and sell my books, but I needed to invest in more stock. If I ordered more books, I’d have to get out there and flog them.

 

I decided I’d had enough.

 

So what have I learned?

 

Selling a book is a lot like writing one. There’s no easy way,

 

and nobody can do it for you.

 

Too bad.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

 

Amazon Author Page (still the easiest way to sell books)

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

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text 2018-08-21 08:36
Promoting your books on discount book sites

The internet has a plethora of sites that offer free or deeply discounted e-books to members.


They get their product from authors who are enticed by the opportunity to have a promo template of their book sent free to the site’s membership in hopes that some members will download it, read and review it.


The free offer is a teaser to encourage you to pay for their enhanced list - more members and prolonged exposure.


They also offer a free author interview template. Answer the questions, add your picture and they’ll post it for free.


I discounted Local Rag to 99¢ and submitted it to the four sites listed below, taking advantage of free option only. I work hard to write and produce a decent book and I won't pay to give it away for free.

 

Like so many things that are free, and I suppose that goes for most free e-books, you get what you pay for. I didn’t see a whiff of interest.


I’ve researched a few authors who have documented how much they spent versus how much they made in sales using this approach. They claim to have broke even, but I have my doubts. I’m reminded of my friend who makes frequent trips to Las Vegas. When he wins, I hear about it. When he loses, well, he’s back talking about the time he won.


The other thing I noticed is that their book sales were not sustained. There may have been a blip, but there was not enough reviews, word of mouth, or buzz, in general, to elevate their book from self-publishing oblivion.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

 

Discount book sites

http://discountbookman.com

http://pretty-hot.com

http://mybookplace.net

Awesomegang.com

 

My Amazon Book Page in case you want to purchase Local Rag for 99¢ until the end of August

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

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text 2018-06-10 06:44
Do targeted email blasts generate sustained book sales?
Do targeted email blasts generate sustained book sales?
 
In the ongoing quest to find effective marketing tools for my nine novels and two plays, I've compiled a list of over two hundred email addresses of those who have expressed some interest in my books. Sending them an email has become part of every book launch.
 
My email blasts consist of three themed emails space two weeks apart. Each one offers the coupon code for a free e-book edition of the novel.
 
The response of my last blast was: opened 20%; clicked 6%; reviews 2
 
Many sites provide a similar service for a fee. For $25.00, Free Kindle Books http://fkbt.com/for-authors/ will include your book in a daily post to 750,000 addresses of which they claim 100,000 take action or about 13%. Take action does not mean buy, read or review your book.
 
Is this a good way to market a new release? Will it enhance sales of my backlist? How to tell?
 
Why not take a look at the results another author, Matt Manochio http://www.mattmanochio.com got from email blasts.
 
In his 2015 blog entitled Lessons in Advertising my Ebook, Manochio meticulously documented his experience http://www.mattmanochio.com
 
 
I have no idea how I came upon this information, but it is a caution that once you post on the internet, it never goes away.
 
To summarize, he used fourteen sites, spent $500 and sold approximately 1100 books @ 99¢. After the publisher's cut (he wasn't self-published), he concluded he broke even.
 
He also got some amazing short-term results with his book hitting #411 on the paid Kindle list and single-digit ranking in its respective genre. These numbers, however, were not sustained and currently, the book he was promoting is on the Amazon Best Sellers ranking at #2,012,826
 
If you deeply discount your book and send it to hundreds of thousands of people, some are going to open it, some even read it.
 
It's what happens after that's important. Does this investment enhance sales of your backlist at the regular price?
 
In Manochio's case did this happen?
 
Looking at the author's website and considering what he's written since, and where his books currently rank I'd say no, though it does sound like he had a hell of an exciting ride for a couple of weeks.
 
Will I consider email blasts in the future for my books keeping in mind that some of my novels may not be eligible on some sites since they don't have the required number of reviews or may not be considered to have a professional cover?
 
Maybe. In some cases, it's less expensive than sending a paperback edition of your book to a reviewer. The real payoff, however, won't be a blip in ranking, but rather if the book they got cheap was good enough to encourage them to buy one of my other titles at full price.
 
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.
 
Some Email blast sites:
 
 
 
 
Free Kindle Books and Tips http://fkbt.com/for-authors/
 
Digital Books Today https://digitalbooktoday.com/
 
 
 
 
 
 
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