Archive for the ‘Basics’ Category

Ad Campaigns

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Believe me when I say the LAST thing I ever thought I’d be writing about was Ad Campaigns.  Alas, Karen Baney, the instigator of Grace & Faith, led the way for me in this area too.

A couple weeks ago, Karen and her husband Jim, opened a new site for authors–Christian Ebook Today.  They were offering advertising on their site and in special packages.  I decided to try it to help them out and just to put a toe in the water.  Wow!

I was amazed what that little toe did in boosting sales.  Now it wasn’t BIG MEGA bucks.  But it certainly was enough to do two things #1 Convince me to do it again #2 Show me that sales really DO come from buying targeted spots on quality sites.

So I’m now exploring other options at sites like The Kindle Book Review, WorldLiteracyCafe, and Digital Book Today as well as Karen’s site.  I’m still not convinced that I can swing with the Kindle Nation advertising crowd, but maybe that will change.

I do have to say, it helps immensely to have a great cover, at least 10 really good reviews, a great description, a good price, etc.  Just putting up advertising isn’t going to pull sales in without those things in place, but it might be a good way to boost sales of titles that DO have all of those in place.

Go slow.  Use your ad campaigns to increase your reach on “waves” you’re building.  Integrate the ads into what you’re already planning.  Don’t just go buy a bunch of ads and think that will make your sales go through the roof.  It probably won’t.  But it might boost them enough to make you, like me think, “Hmmm… I think I want to try a little more of that.”

Further, since my foray into buying advertising, we’ve started selling advertising for both the Grace & Faith blog and Christian Kndle.  So check them both out and see if any of them fit your needs!


Records, Sales, and Counting

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the things you will want to do from the first time you publish a book is to track your sales.  Now if you’re a traditionally published author, this can be quite difficult as you won’t see sales in real time.  You will get a quarterly statement, and that will make this lesson very difficult to implement.

For those who are indies, however, I highly recommend putting in place a counting, record-keeping system, however simple, so that you can track sales as you go.

(Side note:  I am adding this lesson in after the series is finished because over the last 9 months I’ve learned the value of doing this.  Thankfully I started from the beginning of my Kindle/Nook career because it’s given valuable insights over time.)

The first month I published on Kindle and Nook, I sold 63 ebooks.  I kept track of the sales on a simple Excel spreadsheet by tallying how many of each title I sold each week.

The second month I sold 48 because I had outside commitments and couldn’t invest the time in sales.

The third month I sold 68, and at the end of that month, Grace & Faith was born.

The fourth month, I sold 72.  That was my goal–to sell more than I had in month 3.

By the fifth month, I had learned some of what I teach you in this course–specifically Twitter and Facebook, and I sold 168 ebooks–more than doubling the month before.  By now I was seeing patterns in how my books sold–more on the weekends, more when I tweeted about a certain title.

The sixth month, I sold 320 ebooks.  That was in January 2012, right before my life took a dramatic turn!  Amazon came out with KDPSelect and after watching some of my friends do it, I put one of my books up for free Feb. 1 & 2.  It wasn’t long and I had to adjust my record keeping to daily sales, and it has gone bigger and better ever since then.

I have learned some things by being able to look back at my records and by tracking them every day (when the sales got enough to warrant that).  #1 I sell about 1/2 the books I will sell for that day overnight.  #2  Stacking waves works.  Planning them out 3 months or so in advance really helps.  #3 Every day is different.  You will have up days and down days, and there really is no rhyme or reason to a particular day, so look at overall trends rather than pegging your hopes on a single day’s sales.  #4  Amazon will break and lag for no apparent reason.  Don’t panic.  Just record when they put something up.

I have gotten to where now I have each title and the approximate profit from that title multiplied by how many I’ve sold to come up with a subtotal of sales for the month.  Then I have it to where it will add everything up and tell me what I’ve made for that day.  I “close out” the books every night, noting how many books I sold that day and the dollar amount I made.  I’ve learned that a good day on a high-priced title will match or exceed a great day on a lower-priced title.  But a lower priced title may end up selling more copies, thus landing on a Best Seller list and can out-sell over time a higher-priced title.

Admittedly not every author will want to go to this much trouble.  But being able to look back on these records has given me valid insights into my personal sales that I could not have gleaned any other way.

If you are an indie author, you can track your sales at  on the Reports page where you uploaded your book to Kindle on the Bookshelf page.  The Amazon system only gives the total monthly sales for each title–to do daily or weekly, you will have to write down the new total and figure out how many new ones have been sold since you wrote it down last time.

If you’ve published on the Barnes & Noble site, the tracking place is  BN does their tracking differently and you have to check every day because they don’t give you a by-title breakdown after the one they give on the day of the sale.

Bottom line is… figure out a tracking system that works for you and use it.  If you’re serious about growing sales, that’s the yardstick you will need to measure how you’re doing.

Going on Hiatus

by:  Staci Stallings

The end of May and early June is a very busy time for me.  The G&F blog will be on hiatus until June 26, 2012 when we’ll be back with great faith stories and super Christian authors!


Thanks for following us!

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Imperative Piece: Reviews!

by:  Staci Stallings

While we’re talking about landing pages and specifically Amazon landing pages, there is something I need to point out.  Reviews are IMPERATIVE!

Prior to getting reviews, you need to make sure your copy is as error-free as you can make it.  Once you’ve done that, you need to start getting reviews.

The truth about reviews is they do not just happen, at least at first, and to garner sales, you need around 10 really good reviews.  5-10 is a good start.  In the 20 range, your sales will begin to ramp up.  So don’t neglect getting as many great reviews as possible.

But how do you do that?

Every author has a different strategy and philosophy about reviews.  Some have a collection of reviewers that they have built up over the years.  They send ARC’s (Advanced Reader Copies) to these reviewers so that when the book is launched, they have built in reviews.  Others wait until it comes out and announce the book is available for review.  You will probably have to provide a review copy no matter how you choose to do this, so budget accordingly.  If you are on Smashwords, I believe there is a way to offer coupons that let readers get the book free or discounted.  If you can format for the devise (.mobi, etc.) you can do it that way.  Or you can prepare and send pdfs or Word docs.  It’s up to you and the reviewer to decide what works the best.

I generally give my reviewers about 3 weeks to a month to complete the review before I go back and email them to make sure they have remembered.  It takes about 15 reviewers to get 10 reviews (I don’t know why.  It just does.)

For me, I generally put a call-out for reviewers to my email writer loops, my FB page, and sometimes on Twitter though that has never given very reliable results.

Collecting reviewers and sending the ARC’s usually takes about 2 days to get everyone squared away.

Another way you can get reviews is through sites like Book Rooster.  On those, you pay a set-up fee of around $60, and they put your book up for review on their site.  People who review for their site will see it and if interested, request a copy.  This is really hit or miss.  I’ve had good luck with some of these and bad luck with others.  Good luck one time and bad luck the next.  There is really no rhyme or reason, so don’t put all your eggs in this basket, thinking it is the answer.  It is part of the answer but not the whole one.

Here are other sites you can check into.  I have not visited all of them.  Some post reviews, others do reviews. (This is a list of 40 promotion sites, some do reviews)
book place on facebook
reviewers roundup – facebook

I have not been to all of these.  Some may not even be working anymore.  But they give you a place to start garnering those imperative reviews!  (Special thanks to Diana Brandmeyer for the list!)

Finally, a note as to why reviews are so important.  If you’ve ever hit an Amazon book page with few or no reviews, how likely are you to purchase that book?  How about if you get to one that has say 25 GREAT reviews.  Makes it much easier to buy, doesn’t it?

That’s what you want for your book!  But it won’t just happen.  You’re going to have to put some effort into this one.

Good luck and God bless!

Landing Page: Author Central

March 13, 2012 2 comments

We’ve talked about landing pages–those places where you will send potential customers and readers to see more about you.  One of these pages should be Amazon’s Author Central page–especially if you have more than one book or one book in more than one form (Kindle and Paperback).

I have to admit that I haven’t taken as much of an advantage of this page as I could have.  I also have to admit that I had to ask someone how to even access it if I’m not sending people directly to it.  (You click on the Author’s Name next to the Book Title on the Amazon book page.)


But I do think you should at least have yours set up so that if a customer wants to know more about you, it won’t be a blank, boring page.

To see what a good Author Central page looks like, we’re going to peruse my friend Penny Zeller’s page.  Go to:

This page gives you quite a bit of info about Penny.  It gives you blog updates for her blog, additional pictures of her, as well as listing all of her available books.

One thing I know from experience that you have to be careful with is that Amazon doesn’t always automatically add your new books to the stream.  So when you put new editions up or add books, make sure they are listed here as well.

Penny’s page also has a good biography and a discussion with an interview at the bottom.

It might not be the #1 landing page you want to send people to, but it’s important to get yours set up so potential fans will be in awe rather than bored! 🙂

Book Landing Pages

March 8, 2012 1 comment

If you’re an author, after your website, your most important Landing Page will probably be your Amazon book page (or your Smashwords/B&N, etc.).  I’m going to talk here about Amazon because they have a dynamic page that you can do many things with.  If you have other book landing pages, you can take what you learn here and use it there as well.

So, let’s talk about the elements of the Amazon Book Page first. I’m going to use my current one for Cowboy to show you, but all of these elements are on your page as well.

First, at the top you have the pic of the book (get a great cover design! That’s a major hook!). The Title of the Book, and then two elements you have some control over.

Reviews and Liked.

We will talk about getting reviews later, but for now, please understand that they are critical to your ability to sell on this page.  The more positive reviews you have (4 or 5 stars; 3 is neutral; and 2 and 1 are negative), the better your chance of selling another book when someone reaches this page.

Like  The little orange button is an easy way to convince new readers that others think your book is great.  To get “Likes” on this page, couple your tag request (we’ll talk about that in a minute) with a request to “Like” your page.  At bare minimum, like your own page so this button is orange and not gray.

Then they give info about the book and other books people have bought who bought yours.  You cannot control any of this, so don’t worry about it.

Under that you get to “Editorial Reviews” and this you can control and should think through carefully.  Many people put only a description here, but you can put other things too, like reviews or even an excerpt.  Remember, if someone’s read down this far, give them something they can’t say no to!

The next section is “Product Details” and although you can’t control this, it is wise to take a look at the number next to “Amazon Best Sellers Rank.”  Unless you write for a line or a large publisher, this number will probably be in the thousands or hundreds of thousands.  Mine on this screen cap is #31,051 in the Paid Kindle Store.

If your book is on any category best seller lists, it will look like this:

The categories in blue underneath tell you what spot your book is on on that last.  If your book is listed like this, congratulations! You are now a Best Selling Author (even if it’s only listed this way for  a few hours!).  Take a screen cap (CNTRL + PRNT SCRN  and then paste it into a Word doc to save) and celebrate!

Underneath the ranking, you will find this:

More About the Author leads to your Amazon Author Central Page.

What Other Items is a section you can’t control as is “Looking for…”

Under THAT is the Tag section.  It looks like this:

This is a section you can and should control.  First, you need to set tags or keywords for your book.  What is the book about?  What genres is it in?  What keywords might someone type in to find this book?

You get 15 of them, so choose wisely.

Once you’ve set your tags, you want people to come and “Agree with these tags.”  Other writers are great for this… especially large groups of other writers.  Network to tag everyone’s books.  Why?  Because if you do and people start buying your books, then you get listed on tagged-category pages that look like this:

On this page, Cowboy is #2 Christian Inspirational tagged.  When you get to this point, this becomes a great landing page for your book in tweets and other promos!

Stay tuned, next time we’ll talk about your Amazon Author Page.

The Website Wheel

So what do you put on this fabulous website you are creating (or remodeling)?  Here is another graphic to explain what I mean by “your essential presence on the ‘net.”

Forgive the drawing, but it shows just how many things you need to include on your website (when you get them or if you get them).  Don’t think you have to have all of these.  You don’t.

What I want you to see is that when someone types in, they should be able to pick and choose where to find you on the ‘net.  What you don’t want is for them to find, “Hi, I’m…” with no way to find your books or your blog or your Twitter account.  The operative word is:  EASY.

Make it EASY to find you on all these other places, no matter where they come from.

So for example, let’s say that someone hears about you on the radio.  What they heard was interesting, but all they caught was your name.  So they type “Your Name” into a Google search.  Now if you’ve done your SEO’s right, should come up first in the search.

They click on it.  Remember, they don’t know anything else about you.  Now let’s say that your site is just a hodgepodge of your biography and maybe a couple of your books.  Your new visitor probably won’t be around long.  But let’s say when they show up, they are immediately hooked (you have written a great hook for this Landing Page, right?).

Now they want to know more and they want to connect with you where they are on the ‘net. So how do I as a reader find you on Facebook?  And if I type in your name, do I get your profile or your page?  If you haven’t set it up so that your site points to your Page, I will probably go to your profile and ask to be friended.  That’s a problem because you can only have 5,000 friends.  You really want me to go to your PAGE and Like you.  But I probably won’t if left to my own devises.

So can I contact you to tell you what a great read your last book was?  Can I read a review of this book I’m interested in?  How about getting a link for it on Amazon?

Remember, the goal is read, click, read, click, read, click.  The second you go into read, click, search… mode you’re in trouble.  So keep it simple for the reader.  Take them by the hand and lead them where you want them to go through your site.

The biggest thing is:  Think it through! Be intentional!

Don’t just put something up because I said you should have one.