Taking Back Control of My Twitter Account

Two years ago, I was a stupid writer who only wrote stories and refused to recognize the importance of my blog and social media in general. I have no time, or…I should be writing…It’s so impersonal…These are the common excuses.

My friend set up my Twitter Account (for a price). I was blogging on my own but sporadically, which didn’t make much of a difference except for my core supporters and family who would check in every once in a while.

When my good friend set up my Twitter account, he aimed to get me numbers. Not the kind of numbers I needed, but just followers.

Now, I see blogging and tweeting as fun and a value to my writing. I met some Amazing people on Twitter: A.M. Hounchell, who I am now writing a book with, Derek Murphy who I can’t stop watching on YouTube, Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur, and A.Z. Anthony and Jo van Leerdam whose books I reviewed. Jo is sending me a signed poetry book from Australia! Among Many others…

I can pitch stories, do book reviews, and just talk about my two favorite activities, Reading and Writing.

It is such great practice as well and I can get a word count going and reach people in a meaningful way. Blogging has helped my writing because I am, well, writing more often and on various subjects. I can also talk about my work and pitch.

I can meet other indie authors too, buy their books, call for submissions, and just mingle with people who have the same goals. Some are further along, some are starting out like me.

Tweeting is fun too and has given me many exercises in marketing, micro poetry, books to read, memes to create, etc.

The problem was, I had too many people that I was following for no reason. This has given me less clout with my measly 2700+ followers (I thank you all) and has filled my news feed with so much stuff I don’t care about (politics) that it has been hard to decipher who I really want to interact with and re tweet.

I needed to take the plunge and do what several people have told me to do and use a Twitter Manager.

I first checked out Hootsuite because EVERYBODY says use Hootsuite. Too many features for me right now, and I would end up paying for features I would never use. I also checked out Meet Edgar, Post Planner, and Buffer.

For now, all I really want to do is manage Twitter and maybe Facebook, and be able to connect my blog.

So, I set upon the YouTube journey of discovery… 

 

I watched the following videos in this order:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until I found Jerry Banfield’s video about ManageFlitter

Here Are the Features of ManageFlitter

Here is the Plans and Pricing

 

This video is long and he does repeat himself so I suggest you use the time markers in the description in order to jump to the info you want. 

 

 

You can try ManageFlitter for free without any effort (no forms or whatever) which I was pleasantly surprised about.

I started hacking at inactive followers right away. I then scheduled some Tweets which was a cool feeling since I do it haphazard or on the fly. I also found the best times to tweet out my info. I then connected my blog which would allow me to schedule tweets from my RSS feed, awesome.

A few months ago, I saw this as impersonal. Now, I realize that what I was doing was impersonal. I can engage with the people I actually want to.

I upgraded to a Pro account which is 12.99 for now, the other option is 49.99 with all the bells and whistles. You can also use Facebook and LinkedIn profiles with ManageFlitter.

What I wanted to achieve is three things:

  1. Unfollow in large quantities (ManageFlitter has many options for this, even large accounts).
  2. Find Out When the best time to schedule posts and do just that.
  3. Be able to Follow people I want to interact with and find them in an easy way (ManageFlitter makes it just as easy to follow in large amounts as unfollow).

 

More about this later, but I thought it was at least important to let you know how I spent my Sunday afternoon.

 

I am going to be checking out more of Jerry Banfield, his website and videos. He really has a lot to offer and I appreciate the info. I have queued up his video on SEO that I can’t wait to watch:

 

Stay Classy Authors and Poets.

 

What is your Favorite Social Media Managing App and HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Please share in the comments below.

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Results of Amazon KDP Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

These are the results of a previous post where I outlined a multi-faceted marketing plan in order to jump start my Amazon KDP Select Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read. 

My plan was based on the guidance and know-how of  Dave Chesson at kindlepreneur.com and listening to and exploring the world of Derek Murphy  on his YouTube channel and his website Creativindie.

If you missed my setup for this promo, please review the Case Study so the results make sense. There were several small tasks that I did to get ready for the marketing plan to make my page better, etc.

It’s always good to review the goals in order to gauge results:

KDP Select free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read were 4/21-4/25.

Goals: Garner more Reviews and Interest in the Project (Fans and Writers).

 

In the marketing plan, I spent 

Total KDP Free days Promoters: $165.99

Pre-KDP Free days FB ad: $80

Budgeted for FB and Amazon During and Post (5 days after) KDP free days: $200

Total for this promotion: $445.99 + Ongoing $75 Twitter campaign from yourbookpromoter which adjusted tweets for the KDP free days= $520.99

 

Starting Point. Here is the data on the Amazon rankings as of April 20, 2017, one day before the promo:

Author Rank: 157,720 (obscurity).

Letters Kindle Version: 389,652 (not even the top pages of my categories).

Letters Print Version: 188,476 (just OK)

 

Some Results:

Below are the results of the free books downloaded which equal 3,839 free downloads, 2.9K on the first day.

Campaign Results during

 

Interestingly, my Kindle Unlimited numbers weren’t too shabby either during this period with 821 KENP total:

 

KENP During

 

0 Paperbacks sold During this period.

 

Is this good? I don’t know what I would compare it with since Letters Never Meant to be Read is such a unique book.

What I do know is that nearly 4K readers decided to add it to their collection and this can’t be bad. Some of them may end up reading it on the beach this summer and review later, who knows? Thank you if you took a chance on us!

I also got #1 in my fav 2 categories which work best for this book:

 

More results: Now let’s see just what happened after. I can say that I made it as high as #32 in free in all of Amazon at one point.

 

Amazon Kindle Rank overall

 

We have been hovering between 25K-50K overall and never falling off the first page in my main category. Paperback sales have not been altered at all so I am not going to show the graph because it is sad.

 

Here is the after results for Kindle Units Sold since the promo. Nothing to write home about and I CERTAINLY will not get see any return on investment at this point:

 

After purchased units

 

Here is KENP after the promo:

KENP After

 

New Reviews Since Promo: 2 (Hopefully this will go up as people read what is on their virtual shelves).

Letters Received from New Writers for the Next Volume: 1 (The Best Number).

Author Rank Now: 34,290 (not as obscure).

Letters Kindle Version Rank: 54, 807 (WAS 24,227 yesterday).

Letters Print Version Now: 1,339,909 (insert sad-faced emoji here).

 

Well, Now What?

I would first like to thank everyone who paid attention to this case study and I’d love to hear about your results with your own projects as well.

I would also like to thank all of OUR new readers who are scoping this out right now at LaGuardia Airport or sitting by the pool on a cruise somewhere. The thought of them keeps me going.

Was it worth it? Sure, I suppose. I spent a lot of time and $500, but it’s always worth a shot. This is also part of a larger plan and experimentation. If I run this with the new Worked Stiff Book, I am bound to get wildly different results.

I also was not looking for a one shot wonder or anything. I wanted more reviews and more letters coming in. Those numbers are just not there yet but I know that it will take time.

My confidence in the Letters Project as a whole has not wavered.

I am disappointed that Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss was delayed and I didn’t get it out during this promo which may have helped its initial sales.

I am running test Amazon ads right now which I will take a look at in another post.

Soon, I am going to go into a LESS MARKETING mode, just write, and get the next volume ready, the best marketing there is.

I am happy with the results in that  a decent number of people downloaded the book. I just hope 10% of them read it and review on the beach later this summer. That will give me a lot more juice when I run Facebook ads later.

Next time, I will break up my promo days into 3, then 2, something that Dave suggested.

Perhaps Dave and Derek can shed some light on these numbers so I can stop scratching my head like a weird dragon.

If I missed something here, please let me know.

If anyone else has any help, comments, or guidance, I am all ears and strawberry licorice.

 

forward-graphic-sig

 

Book Review: Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula: Learn Amazon Ads

 

Ok. So I mainly run Facebook Ads for Letters Never Meant to be Read. The results of those among other marketing efforts will come out soon. But I wanted to get a handle on Amazon Ads, or Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) because I have spent $100 dollars and only sold one book with them (what???).

I know, right? Sad. Not entirely true because it seems that Kindle Unlimited Lending Library stats are not reported on AMS.

But still.

I scooped up this book free on Amazon thinking I would get a better understanding of how Amazon Ads work. The book opened with the logic that direct sales on Amazon itself would be more productive than any other platform. The customers are already there and are mostly ready to spend money. I knew this already.

What I liked about this book: 

One aspect of Amazon Ads that I did not understand for fiction writers is Targeting. AMS has an option for Automatic and Manual Targeting.

This is the part I was missing out on for the Letters Book. Although it is technically non-fiction, it is very important to do your own Manual Targeting and test those key words. You can use your own key words with a Cost Per Click adjustment as well as the suggested key words that Amazon lists for your book.

This suggests using authors and Google Adwords for Keyword planning.

Unfortunately, this is a two part deal. Not only do your keywords matter, but your ad copy matters too.

Test, Test, and more test. You must test the combination of keywords and ad copy to get the best conversion to sales. Expensive right?

Not really, the authors suggest a dollar a day on several campaigns. Once you find the right combination, pour money into that fire. The authors state that it is also difficult to get Amazon to spend your budget.

Also, the authors suggest “Most authors find that Product Display Adverts are not as effective for gaining sales…you will find that Sponsored Products are the simplest and most direct way…”

Choose Sponsored Products. I ran Product Display Ads one time, I don’t know what I was thinking.

 

What I didn’t like about this book:

Short much? Click bait in book form? Did this really take two authors to write?

Obviously, this is a link generating book with some insight and references to more knowledge but…necessary? No.

I didn’t even realize that I could have gotten this book, or some version, simply by giving one of my emails that I never check.

Luckily, it was free, but there is no way I would be happy if I spent a full 2.99 on this little gem.

Also, one of the authors references his guitar books and used those as examples of how to work the advertisements. I could have really used a little more help with using AMS to market fiction.

 

How this Changes My Marketing

Well, I did what the book said and I am now running 6 Amazon Ads. 3 for Letters Never Meant to be Read, 2 for Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss, and one for Andrew Brechko’s Where Did You Go?: A 21st Century Guide to Finding Yourself Again.

I used 30 different keywords on each. Is that enough? No, probably not. When I ran a taxi company before, I had 750 keywords that I used in Google Adwords.

I’m sure there is more and better information out there. I will go on the hunt tomorrow for free info on the web, maybe even run across your blog, who knows?

3-Stars.

Scoop it up while it is free, read it in 30 minutes and adjust your ads accordingly.

Anybody run ads?

Anybody know of a better reference to Amazon or Facebook Ads out there? 

I could use the help, Please Comment below.

 

A Day in the Life and the Premier of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss

This book is a salute and celebration of the Modern American Worker. Generations of unrecognized heroes who wash our cars, mow our lawns, bake our bread, douse our fires, take our garbage, teach our kids, grow our food, build our houses, mend our roads, and defend our freedom.

The American Dream is still there for all of them, hidden in plain sight, riddled with confusion and abandonment.

In an America full of unemployment, late fees, foreclosures, bankruptcy, and loss of hope…

There Are Consequences.

This short story collection includes some of the pale misery behind faults in the American Economy. Find a cab driver who lost his way, a down and out executive who stumbles onto a Voodoo curse in New Orleans, a nurse who pays the price for rescuing a man once thought loved, and a horrific, dystopian future. Discover new hope after cancer. Follow a paratrooper to manhood as he approached the deadly ground. Help the underemployed win at a game where reality TV meets nature at the crossroads of technology.

The stories in this collection contain clues, breadcrumbs dropped along a path to help you on your way.

Can You Find Them? 

 

This short story collection was a while coming but I am overall happy with the results. Between pulling teeth over the cover design, hiring an editor, and editing AGAIN on a 60 inch TV in a hotel in Tennessee, this has been quite the ride. How did it begin?

It all started this past fall when I was underemployed. Isn’t that how all mischief starts? I feverishly wrote before the light of day. I tested on the phone to unsuspecting victims. I was posting these and other stories on my blog. All because I read Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod and Steve Scott and went off to the races every morning, writing whether I cared to or not. I am NOT a morning person, despite my military background, but I became one with coffee and anger.

 

 

I wrote a few of the stories while out on a case (I moonlight as a Private Investigator). I did some first drafts with Dragon Naturally Speaking, but most I crafted before anybody could get to me and ask for anything.

The first  in this series Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common was an unusual 2nd book to put out. Yes, weird after Country Noir Modern Waste but that’s what a year in Russian school at the Defense Language Institute will do to you. Utterly demoralizing.

If you are interested in poetry, great art, or political treatise without picking sides, Poetry and Prose for the Common is good. If you are interested in selling books, it was not. What was I thinking?

Well, I was thinking about art and I am glad that was the first in the Worked Stiff Series but man was it difficult. Think layout is hard? Try adding stanzas and full page digital artwork into the mix.

Really though, I cut my teeth on that baby. And, after the first edition of Letters Never Meant to be Read, I can pull any project together.

So, naturally, a children’s book would be next, right? No!!!

I am actually working on a psychological thriller with A.M. Hounchell which I need to get back to. I will also be pulling together the next Worked Stiff: Crime Always Pays. Or, something to that effect.

Short Stories to Tell Your Boss was difficult because of editing and more and more editing. Why? Well, when you edit a novel or novella, you have mostly one POV and one tense. Short story compilations are tough and I found myself having to edit one story and taking a break before starting on another. This is after I hired an “editor”. I had to fix his mistakes too. There is no brevity as in a poetry book either.

I made the final cuts while in Tennessee, in a hotel, on active duty, plugged into a big flatscreen. That was so helpful and I am never going to edit any other way. All the mistakes were HUGE and it really helped me when I needed to read out loud.

I needed to get this out before I could move on. I know my writer buddies out there feel the same way at times. The cover design was a terrible process but I am satisfied enough for now and I can’t wait to see the print version.

I wanted this release to coincide with my KDP free promo days for the Letters Book but I hit a snag back there. This process has been a lesson in patience.

I am going to go for ACX tonight. I usually meander around awhile before doing the Audible version, but not this time.

Do tell if you see anything glaring and I sure hope you like it. My dog Maggie and I just got done with a long run and there is nobody home, and nobody will answer my calls of joyous celebration. So, I am sharing the release with you in this quiet way, for now.

Slow and Steady wins this one. May your night be wonderful and filled with dreams of paratroopers, android sex, and black mambas.

 

 

Amazon KDP Select Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

 

 

My last book Letters Never Meant to be Read has had me in a fever.

Yes, book marketing can take over your life, if you care to let it, and this has been quite the puzzle. My Kindle Free Promo Days start tomorrow 4/21. What to do?

I listed all of the tasks I have done leading up to the free promo. Will it work?

I don’t just want to sell copies of the Letters book, I also want Letters to come in for the next edition. Basically, I want it to be a thing. Also, because I believe in the project, I want it to be a thing sooner than later. When people read the book, they generally like it, which only adds fuel to my crazed fire.

I realized that I was throwing money away at Facebook and Amazon ads after listening to and exploring the world of Derek Murphy  on his YouTube channel and his website Creativindie.

I reviewed his work Book Marketing is Dead: Book Promotion Secrets You MUST Know BEFORE You Publish Your Book on the last post and have implemented some of his tactics with regards to the Amazon page for the Letters Book.

I hired two people on Fiverr to help with the sales copy. The first was good, the second was better, almostfreemoney. She gave me new keywords with analytics, categories, and better description copy.

Part of the new description copy included a spot for a quote from the book. This put me in a panic because I couldn’t decide. I knocked a few around, but ultimately settled on a few simple phrases that better describe what it is because the work is unconventional. I am still not happy with the description, but apparently it includes the necessary keywords for the robots. I hope.

The cover? People love the cover so I think I am good there. I like it too, but that doesn’t matter. I have received many compliments from NOT JUST FRIENDS and FAMILY, so all is well, right? I hope so.

Before, when I ran Facebook ads, I’d get a 2.5% click rate and about a 10% sales rate from there. Well, when you get 1346 Button Clicks out of 57,000 impressions, you should get some sales, right? I am no math wizard. Is that good? Am I a moron? Yes, probably in this realm.

Hell no, that is not good and it leaves me squeamish when I look at my sales rankings, the Commander of My Life right now. Here is a great article on those monsters.

The idea is that if you get your sales ranking up and people like and review your book, the ever-knowing Amazon robot will nod in your favor and start pitching your book for you. Plus, it helps to be at the top of your categories. My categories are easier that most, being a niche book, but I have clenched my teeth when I get into the top 20, only to be faded away. It is like a slow death, really.

Which leads me to reviews. These are really important as well, and I have a 10% review rate on queries sent out to reviewers. Not good either and very time consuming. I need at least ten reviews, which shouldn’t be hard, right? Wrong.

Again, following the direction of Derek, I devised a plan:

KDP Select free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read are 4/21-4/25.

Goals: Garner more Reviews and Interest in the Project (Fans and Writers).

One week prior: I ran FB ads with new copy and fiddled with the description and categories (some more). I found a blog post that discussed having Createspace keywords different from Kindle keywords. Duh? Why didn’t I do this before? I did this.

My Amazon affiliate links are all good too btw.

The FB ad at $20/day for four days generated again a 2.5% click rate with only two sales. What? I did better before I tinkered, so what then? I don’t know, moving on.

Luckily I stumbled onto kindlepreneur.com from a Google search and found a quote from Derek Murphy on his site so I knew I was in friendly territory.

I found Dave Chesson. He was in the military, like me, and I have gone back to his site like 20 times since. I used his Amazing List of Kindle Free Days Promoters , even downloaded the preferred list went to work with the form fill.

I used the following Kindle Promotion Sites:

Freebooksy.com    $40

Pretty-Hot.com  $25

eBookasuarus.com $10

bknights on Fiverr  $6

Book Bongo $29.99

Robin Reads $55

*I did a few other easy and free ones, but these are the bulk and the ones I paid for. There are some that are difficult to navigate.

Total KDP Free days Promoters: $165.99

Pre-KDP Free days FB ad: $80

Budgeted for FB and Amazon During and Post (5 days after) KDP free days: $200

Total for this promotion: $445.99 + Ongoing $75 Twitter campaign from yourbookpromoter which will adjust tweets for the KDP free days.

Will I win? Am I wasting my money? Will I get more reviews?

Stay tuned.

Time will tell. I will write another post as a result to this campaign. I at least wanted to “do some things right” and give this project a fair shake. If people truly hate it, I will continue with Volume II and press on.

This Letters project is unique because the candle burns at both ends. I want nothing more for readers to enjoy the letters, the first examples, but also Send In Their Own for future publication. Because I and my alter ego who runs Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. believe in profit sharing, it’s a Win, Win for everybody.

Incidentally, my KDP Free Days coincide with World Book Day on April, 23rd. Will that put me in good running? Who knows.

I also wanted to coincide the release of my KDP free promo days with the Kindle release of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. A great plan, right?

Except I am having trouble with the cover design being late from Fiverr (you get what you pay for).

This is not my first business and I have had minor success. This is certainly the most challenging and the most rewarding. I love writing and reading books but I have to tackle book marketing.

If anyone who may be reading sees any flaws in my little endeavor to spend money and make something out of nothing, please comment below. Also, if you notice anything that I could adjust with my overall marketing of my books and myself, please, feel free to comment. I could certainly use the help and insight from any veterans of book marketing out there.

I am smart, but only kind of smart when it comes to this game. At times, I feel I am stumbling around, alone in the dark. Other times, I feel like I am drinking from a water hose.

Of course, all of this takes away precious time from what I really love, Reading and Writing. Still, it is a game, and I like to win. I will play this one until I do.

Thanks for your input!

-The Apprentice

 

 

REBLOG: 5 Ways Reading Influences Your Perspective — Pearls Before Swine

This is a really great post with a lot of valid points. especially #2, #3, and #4. I recently put out that I was open to reviewing books for Indie Authors and I received my first request from a Superhero novelist Brian W. Foster. I have never read this genre directly before and my eyes are opened. I also recently read an absurdist A.M. Hounchell which is a really good author despite the Indie pitfalls regarding editing and layout. I’m a HS English teacher, so I can’t get away from the classics…So many books, so little time. Reading outside “your” genre can really help to inspire.

 

I speak a lot on this blog about the power of perspective and not being limited in thought. It occurred to me, as I was making my coffee yesterday morning and thinking about a book I needed to finish, that I thought about reading and the deeper role that literacy plays in our lives. Perspective […]

via 5 Ways Reading Influences You

 

 

r Perspective — Pearls Before Swine

Late to the Party and Strange Writing Habits

On NPR last week, I was amused to hear that people were eating oranges in the shower. Yes, I listen to NPR, I listen to conservative talk radio, I listen to progressive talk radio, I listen to my ever growing Audible library, I listen.

I was even more amused to find that people were having a great time eating oranges in the shower and that it “changed some lives”.

This all started on Reddit a year ago, some mystical place on these interwebs where I have not yet dipped my big toe.

Well, I ate the orange in the shower. As an author and poet, I am always interested in trying new things, even if they seem silly. I am happy to report that it was fun. I did use a Halo. Are these real oranges? Was I cheating? Unsure, but I did smell the orange more and did receive a tingling, goose-bump feeling as I chewed the funny fruit with the hot water pouring down.

It was kind of cool to throw the peel and not care, but I certainly had to clean it up after or my dear wife would have said something. The kids wanted to try it too, and it became a family affair.

I must confess that I only sort of like oranges. I eat, or drink, a lot of fruits and vegetables, but the orange? It’s just alright and not my favorite all the time. Blueberries pack a punch for writing energy when the coffee well has gone dry. This did not spark in me any kind of life-changing event that would help my writing, but it was worth a go. Now that I am a teacher, I do like my red wine in the shower on Friday evening though.

When writing for the Letters Book, I often imagined the person I was writing to was in the room, or behind some secret curtain.

What about you? Are there any strange routines that help you with your writing? I joked around in a previous post about using gasoline and live animals to pump the primer, among other crazy notions, but do you have any weird writing habits?

 

REBLOG: Telling it Like it is…Authors Beware

This was a very eye-opening and informative article. Truly worthy of a re-blog. I normally like solutions when a major problem set like this is exposed. Even though this is from the fall, perhaps I will get a few comments regarding the “what to do” aspect as the landscape for Authors certainly has not changed.

 

 

Scammers used to operate at the edges of the publishing business, but have wormed their way into its heart. And the entire industry is in denial. An unintentionally revealing aspect of the tiresome Amazon-Hachette dispute was a series of statements from an organization purporting to advocate for authors’ rights. One of the heinous crimes Amazon […]

via This Is The Modern Publishing Business — David Gaughran

Project “Letters Never Meant to be Read” Hangover and Marketing Woes

I am truly proud of this project Letters Never Meant to be Read and I thank all of the letter writers for putting themselves out there to get it done. Kindle Version (still not married up yet on Amazon). I started all of this three years ago by writing a letter to someone who I felt did me wrong. What started as some kind of creative therapy turned into a full blown book with other great writers. I plan to do this twice a year until I die, and I often do what I say I will do, I am dangerous that way.
Someone, someday will take great notice at these efforts and WE will be able to point at the first volume with extreme happiness. Please, write some yourself and encourage others to write letters and send them in. The next batch are due May 1st, I dare you…
Marketing Woes: Any book has one problem to answer, who will buy it? The more we sell, the higher our rank, the more chance we have of showing up randomly in front of strangers’ faces and being recommended by Amazon which is what we need to have a chance at this project going viral. That is the name of the game in a nutshell. We need some initial momentum to garner more interest.
I remain unconvinced that there is one way, a silver bullet to market a book. If you have one, I will swallow that pill right in front of your face. I have been approached by many who want to sell packages in all price ranges who use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, everything.
Please use whatever social media platforms you already use and get the word out. I am proud of this work because it is my baby, of course I want it to grow wings. Besides that though, it is a fun read, a glance at the life and time of the letter writer and very juicy.