Posts Tagged ‘books’

Where to go from here…

Well, our time together has been great fun!  It is time now to put all of this knowledge into action (for you and for me!).  But before I go, I want to point you in the direction of other people and places who can help you on your quest to becoming a best selling author…

G&F’s own Karen Baney:

Also Karen’s Site Everything Author:
Melissa Foster’s site:
Be aware that most of Melissa’s stuff is fee based.  There is very little free information available thru her program.
Jeff Bennington often has good marketing info:
Bob Mayer has a lot of publishing / self pub related blog posts:
Michael Hyatt
Rachel Gardner
Good luck & Godspeed!
Staci Stallings


August 16

Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:

To Protect & Serve

“Reading To Protect & Serve, I’m taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci’s characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they’re smokin’ hot! Especially the hero!”

–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

Available as a free download from Amazon!

Click here to get your Free Kindle Copy TODAY!

Click here to get a free Kindle App to read “To Protect & Serve” on your computer.


Amazon Lists

August 9, 2012 2 comments

I must make mention of one of the best things you can do to sell ebooks and books, which will also prove the most frustrating — Amazon’s lists.

There are several lists to be aware of (and use if you can) on Amazon.

Best Seller’s lists — there is an overall best seller’s list (which you can see how your book or ebook is doing by looking at the “Rank” in the Product Details portion of your book’s buy page).  Sales + sales history will make a book move up or down on this list.  So if you have a spike in sales over a short period, this rank will climb.  But it can be very volatile, and unless you make it onto the Top 100, the only place you can see your book’s rank is on your book’s page.

Category Best Seller’s lists — These are smaller best seller’s lists derived from the categories you put your book in when you upload it to KDP.  So for example, my book went to #86 on the Best Seller’s list (yes, the big one), but at that time it was #1 on four category lists:

Now, one of the uplists (I think it was Religious Fiction) was the fourth list it was #1 on.

Basically when you hit a rank on a category list, your book is ON ever list listed.  So you can back track up the lists to see where it ranks on each list (each uplist gets progressively bigger).

When you make it onto a Best Seller’s Category list, you are a best seller.  Take a screen cap and save it for proof!

Popularity Lists

When people go to Amazon with no set book in mind, they will often search.  The popularity lists can be a very powerful way to get books to people who might otherwise never see your books.  The trick is how to get on them.

Before May 2012, this was relatively easy in that the popularity lists were devised pretty much the same way the Best Seller’s lists were (sales + sales history).  However, in May, Amazon changed the system so now they’ve added the revenue brought in by a title to the ranking order.  So if I sold 11 ebooks at 99 cents and you sold 1 at $11.99, my book would have outranked yours on the popularity lists.  However, now your one sale (because of the higher revenue) would now outrank my 11 sales.

So to get onto the popularity lists, you have to sell a lot of books at a higher price.  Needless to say, that’s a lot tougher to do.

To see this type of list click here.


These are like the popularity lists in how the ranks are determined.  There are many of these on Amazon such as Hot Releases and Top-Rated in each Category. These are fun to watch and can be good landing pages if your book ranks highly.

Tagged lists

Finally, there are lists based on the tags on your book.  Simply click on the tag on your book page (toward the bottom–you should have your books tagged!) and see where your book ranks.  These can be great landing pages especially for those just starting out.

For an example of that kind of list, click here.

Lists will really help you sell.  It’s getting on them that’s the tough part, and staying on them is even tougher.  But being on a list will definitely increase sales so it’s something to understand and work toward.

Cross Promotions & Joint Ventures

August 7, 2012 5 comments

We are now slowly winding our way to the end of marketing course.

After you’ve set up your landing pages, gotten your promo chain going on Twitter (and Facebook, etc.), you are now ready to do some out-of-the-box thinking.

Setting up cross promotions and joint ventures for big marketing pushes takes time but mostly a good group of authors willing to participate–and by participate, I mean doing something other than saying, “I’ll do a guest blog” and then getting it to you the day before.

Ideally for a cross promotion or joint venture you want somewhere upward of ten authors, some newbies but not all.  You will need to map out the strategy and get everyone going in the right direction.  You may need to offer advice on how to use Twitter and FB, etc. (feel free to direct them here for the basics).

The idea is that instead of you promoting your book, you get 10 people promoting the venture.

I’ve seen several of these now, and they can all work if you are willing to put in the time and effort.

** 99 cent sale (or just a sale) ** in which all ten books go on sale at the same time and are promoted for say 3 days or so.

** Book launch ** Several authors get together to promote the launch book while promoting their own work as well.

** Blog Events ** Such as Penny Zeller’s Christmas Memories Event.  Many authors participate and direct traffic to the blog for that time period.

** 30 Days: 30 Books ** This is one I participated in during January.  The blog offered a different book for a giveaway every day for a month.


The problem I’ve seen with book giveaways is that it gives no one an incentive to go buy your book.  If you’re looking for increased visibility, this can work.  If you’re looking to increase sales, not so much.

In each of these ventures, the participating authors created landing pages via guest blogs and blogs on their own sites.  They did interviews and tweeted and posted like crazy about the event.  They got their friends involved in helping them cross-promote.

So setting these up and running them can be a very good way to raise your visibility.  Participating in several throughout the year can also help if you get into the right ones.

Twitter: A Spreadsheet Strategy

Before we leave the topic of Twitter, I want to touch on two things.

The first is how often to tweet.  When I first hit Twitter, this was not a problem because there are only so many hours in the day.  Then I realized with Hootsuite that I could schedule tweets rapidly over the course of say an hour or so.

Watching both my Twitter feed and my sales, I realized there was a correlation for my stuff with what I tweeted to what I sold.

As I was doing this research, I started learning to bulk upload.  At first I did a spreadsheet a day, which ran from around 6 a.m. to about 10 p.m. and focused on one book, with blog posts thrown in as well.

Then I began helping others with promotions on what they were marketing–a group promoting their books together for example.  I began to understand that tweeting could not be inconsistent.  It needed to be focused and well-thought-out to be effective.

(Let me also throw in here that it makes a difference what your books are about.  Some genres sell better via Twitter than others.  I know one person who has sworn off Twitter because when he posts, his sales go down.  I don’t know why.  I don’t have any explanation for it.  But I’m taking him at his word.  So please understand that I’m telling you what has worked for me.  If it doesn’t work for you, try something else!)

What I eventually got to was having spreadsheets of 50 tweets at a time (the max Hootsuite will let you upload).  They are a mix of posts about my blog, about my books, and about my site

At first I sent them out about 3 an hour.  Then I expanded that to every 15 minutes, then every 10.  I now put out tweets every 5 minutes.  I have about 12 spreadsheets prepared that are a mix of tweets to different landing pages for my things.

Each morning I choose 3 to 4 of them (depending on how many of my 200 I have left).  I reset the dates and times and upload them.

Now that everything is set up, I can do this in about 10 minutes in the morning, and tweets are done for the rest of the day.

Every so often, I write up a new spreadsheet or two just to keep things interesting, but I think the variety in what I’ve got works very well.

Oh, and my followers have increased since doing this too.  So don’t think you are going to chase people off–so long as you literally have 100’s of different tweets to different landing pages and are not sending out the same or almost the same one all day every day!

Twitter: Tools to Use It

Now that we’ve learned to write tweets for Twitter, it’s time to take it to the next level.

Obviously if you have a life, the last thing you want to do is sit for hours sending out tweets.  Worse, I think as an intermediate effort, I don’t think Twitter is very effective.  You have to have a presence on Twitter–not post once in awhile about what you just ate for supper.

And it is really difficult to find blocks of time to tweet consistently.  Maybe some can.  For me, that was a major uphill battle.

So I went out and found some tools to help.

One is called Tweetdeck.  I know friends who use it and love it.  So please feel free to check it out.  I don’t use that one much and don’t know the intricacies of how it works and what it can do.  But it is one option.

Then there’s Social Oomph.  Social Oomph costs $30 a month.  The benefit of Social Oomph is being able to “spin” tweets.  Basically you make a post with say 5 tweets in it.  Then you schedule that post to shuffle and run every hour (or two or six or whatever).  SO chooses one of those five and sends it out every hour.  This can be really great if you literally want to set it and forget it.  Also, it will run either indefinitely or for a set amount of time, in case you have a campaign that lasts a week and then you want those tweets taken down.

However, SO can be expensive especially if you are just starting out.

For $6 a month, you can go with Hootsuite, which is the program I learned and the one I’m still using.

You can do Hootsuite for free, but if so, you only get the manual upload, which means pasting each tweet in separately and scheduling a time.  This is almost as time consuming as sitting there sending out individual tweets, with the one exception that you could do them all at once and then leave it be.

If, however, you have $6 a month, I recommend learning to bulk upload through Hootsuite.

I will be the first to admit that it is not an easy process to learn, but once you get it, it will free up many hours of your valuable time.

If you are interested in doing the bulk uploading through HS, here’s how (get out the aspirin!):

Advanced Hootsuite Tweeting (Bulk Upload)

If you have the pro version of Hootsuite ($6 a month), you can do bulk uploading of tweets.

Step 1

Create a new document in Excel.  You will only be using the first two columns.

Column A is the date and time formatted as:  dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm  so that Oct. 9, 2011 at 6:30 a.m. would read 09/10/2011 06:30

The date and time HAVE to be in this form (with all leading zeros intact) or your upload will not work!  I will show you how to do that in a little bit.  And the time has to be in increments of 5.  So 04:15 not 04:18.

If Excel changes this format (and it will try), you will have to click:

The arrow number format section where it usually says “General”

More Number Formats (at the bottom)

Next Click “Custom”

Then in the “Type” box that now says “General,” type this: dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm  (those letters and symbols NOT your date).  Then click “Okay.”


In Cell A2, type this formula:



This means that the date and time in A2 is relative to A1 and will advance 25 minutes.  And advance of 1 hour and 30 minutes would look like this:



Then copy and paste that formula in A3, A4, etc. for as many tweets as you have to schedule.  This prevents you from having to retype in every date and time each time you do a new spreadsheet (as tomorrow your date will change!).

To change the advance of any of the times down the spreadsheet, just click on that cell and replace the time there with the time you want.  So to go from 1:30 minute intervals to 15 minute intervals, you would make it look like this:



Column B is the actual tweet.  Remember, you still only have 140 characters, and Hootsuite will not take any of your upload if even one tweet is too long.  You can use hashtags and @’s, but don’t start a tweet with an @, Excel will not accept it.


Step 2

You are now going to write your tweets.

Open a Word document and write your tweets.  (This sounds like an unnecessary extra step, but later on you will be glad to have this to refer back to.)  When I did this, I listed each book and the corresponding URLs for that book.  For example:


Staci Stallings Amazon
Free Preview Nook


This is for my book COWBOY.  The “Staci Stallings” link is to my bookshelf which gives the Kindle and Nook and in Print links as well as a blurb and pic of the book.

“Amazon” is the direct link to the Kindle version

“Nook” is the direct link to the Nook version

“Free Preview” is the link to Your Book Authors, which gives a free preview of the book.

Then I can mix and match these with the review-blurbs and hashtags like this:

“One of the most gripping contemporary romances I’ve read in the past three years…” COWBOY #99Cents #FreePreview

“From beginning to end, Cowboy is a truly inspiring novel.” COWBOY #99Cents #Kindle #Christian

Now that you have some tweets written (you need about 5 or 6 for your first test run experiment). Copy and paste them into the Excel Spreadsheet with the dates and times ready.

Step 3

Save your Excel spreadsheet as Test Run #1

Make sure your dates and times are at least 10 minutes from now.

Make sure you have only your tweets in Column B and nothing else on the spreadsheet.

Please note:  You can NEVER have a double tweet that is exactly the same as one in the Hootsuite system at one time.  If you have to do several that are close, change the hashtags or move things around.  Tweets that are exactly the same, even a few hours apart will not be accepted until the first one has run and is gone.

To get around this issue, plan to create separate Tweet Templates Spreadsheets, each with different tweets from the others.  For me, I label them A, B, C.   On Monday, I upload A.  Tuesday B.  Wednesday C.  So that on Thursday  can do A again and it doesn’t double up any tweets.

Step 4 (on your second run and beyond; skip this step for your first run)

Replace the date. (On subsequent runs, you will have to replace the date. Skip this step if it is your first time through.)

When you have to change the date and time in Column A to reflect when you want these new tweets to start running, here is how.  Remember, Hootsuite will not run anything less than 10 minutes from when you upload it. Also, the time has to be divisible by 5.  So 4:15, not 4:19.

Put your cursor into A1.

Change the date you want it to be by retyping what is there or by deleting and retyping.

Set the times you want

Everything after A1 is relative.  Remember the formula looks like this:


What this means is that you take the time in A1 and go forward 25 minutes.

If it said (1,25,0), that would be 1 hour, 25 minutes.

THESE MUST BE IN 5 MINUTE INCREMENTS.  Hootsuite will not accept anything else.

Format the date and time if necessary.

Excel is just bizarre on this point, so stick with me, you’re almost there.

For some unknown reason, Excel does not like leading zeros, and Hootsuite doesn’t accept a bulk upload without them.

So look at the dates and times in Column A.  If they are not formatted like this:

dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm

you HAVE to fix them.

To do so, highlight all of Column A.  Go up to Format, and click “More Number Formats.”  Then click Custom.

In the box marked “Type:”  type in:  dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm  (those letters and symbols, not the actual date and time).

This should reformat all of Column A as needed. (And you may have to do this every time… until Excel believes you are serious. Sorry. I’ve found no way around this one!)


Step 5

Finally you are ready to tackle uploading.

First, save the spreadsheet somewhere on your system that you can find it in an Excel Document as Test Run #1.  Save it as a spreadsheet first.

Now resave it as a CSV (comma-separated value).  To do this, simply click Save As.  Scroll to the bottom to “Other formats.”

Now under Save As Type, click that to get the list of other types of files to save it as.  Find “CSV” on the list and click that.

Excel will probably protest twice, but simply click “Yes” each time.


Step 7 (this is it!)

Now go to Hootsuite.

In the Compose box, click the Scheduler and go down to “Try bulk upload.”

This will give you a dialogue box.  In the first Browse box, find the CSV file from your computer.  Select the twitter account you want to upload this to, and click Submit.


At this point, you will have to read and troubleshoot your spreadsheet.  Any problem in red is something that must be fixed before you can upload.  Fix and try again.

Possible issues:

Tweets that are too long. Shorten them.

Column A isn’t formatted correctly or the dates are not in the future.

You have double tweets with previous uploads. Change some part of your tweet and try again.


Fix whatever issues show up and try again.

If Hootsuite simply says it didn’t upload, the problem is you tried to upload the Excel doc rather than the CSV.  Try the CSV.


If all the tweets go through and are scheduled, it will say “You have successfully uploaded X number of tweets.”

If you get that message, do a cartwheel because you’ve mastered something very few ever do!


Some additional notes:

* You can send up to 50 tweets to the bulk uploader at a time.

* You can schedule no more than 200 messages scheduled through uploader at a time, and you cannot duplicate a tweet that is presently scheduled. (Once it runs, you can then reschedule even on the same day.)

* If you sent a tweet yesterday and it’s still in the queue, you cannot duplicate it today.  So I set up three basic spreadsheets A, B, C and I rotate them to avoid this problem.


We’ll talk more about spreadsheets next time!  Good luck!

Twitter: @’s, More hidden gold!

Last time we talked about hashtags.  This time I’ve got more Twitter Gold for you.  I call these the @’s.

The idea of the @’s is that these are people on Twitter who will graciously distribute your information to their lists if you send them the information.

I discovered one such angel quite on accident.  His/her name is @kindle_promo  This person has a list of over 39,000 and will RT your info if you send it to them.

So a tweet with an @ would look something like this:

“Maggie and Keith have deep wounds from painful childhood experiences” DEEP IN THE HEART #KindleFire @kindle_promo


You can also send it directly to them by putting the @ at the beginning of the tweet.

Generally speaking, I try to thank my @’s as much as possible for their help.  For awhile (through my free days), I used these people quite often.  Since my free days, I have kind of backed off–just not wanting to be annoying.  However, they are good as gold so treat them that way.

Here is a list of some of my @’s:











It is helpful to follow them before you start sending them things and make sure your genre fits what they RT.  But this is a great way to broaden your reach on Twitter.

Twitter: Hashtags, What They Are, How to Use Them

July 24, 2012 5 comments

We have now come to one of the most well-kept “secrets” of really leveraging Twitter.  They are called hashtags, and they look like this:




Basically anything you put a # before until the next space is a hashtag, and they are endless.




Some hashtags are shortened to stand for other things:  #GNFA (Grace & Faith Authors) #LI (Love Inspired) #tworship (Twitter worship).  Others are words mashed together:  #amreading #amwriting #currentlyreading

They might look weird, but these little tags are Twitter gold!


Because they get your twitter post on lists that are read by many people who are NOT your followers.

For example, a person can search for #amreading and read all of the posts with that hashtag in it.  And yes, people do that.

They search things like #bookgiveaway and #greatbooks A LOT.

So you want to learn to use these and use them well.

You can put hashtags at the end of your tweet:

“I fell in love with these characters.”  COMING UNDONE #Bookreviews #reviews #Amazonlikes #Amazon #Christian #fiction

Or incorporate them:

So #blessed that my #reviewers are loving DEEP IN THE HEART! You ALL ROCK! #Amazon #Kindle #Amazon #faith #read

But not using hashtags will hamstring your campaign.  You want to get your info to as many people as possible, and hashtags let you do that at the expense of a few characters.

One caveat we’ve learned is that on the lists, there are TWO different lists.  For example, if you will go to Twitter and search #amreading you will notice that there is a Top and an All button at the Top.

“Top” tweets are decided based on some algorithm that combines how many times you’ve tweeted to that list and how many people have clicked on your links.  And you want to be on the Top list because THAT’S the one that people who don’t know will be given.  So choose a couple of hashtags and work them until you get on that Top list.

You will be glad you put the effort into it.

Here are some hashtags to get you started:

Generic Book Hashtags



































Amazon Book Hashtags












BN Book Hashtags







Christian Hashtags










































Free Kindle Hashtags














#RETWEET if you love #FreeKindle #Christian #ebooks like COMING UNDONE





















Young Adult books hashtags












Miscellaneous Hashtags