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The Power of Free – Guest Post by Alex Zabala

Alex Zabala
Alex Zabala
I love being compensated for my hard work, both as a landscape contractor and an author, however I also know the how effective the power of ‘free’ can be for an author. It sounds like a contradiction but it’s not, especially when you control how much ‘free’ you want to give away. When used judicially it can actually help generate future sales.

Savvy marketers know this. That’s why they spend money hiring people to stand in supermarkets and offer free samples of their food to passersby in hopes that people will purchase the entire enchilada instead of a small sample.

It’s almost the same way in the book business.

My co-author and I engage in giveaways about twice a year for 72 hours at a time on a website that caters to what they call ‘flinch-free-clean books’ at Clean Indie Reads (We never telegraph in advance when we are going to do this). These offers are a nice way to expose us to more people and give us visibility where authors want it the most: Amazon.com. (this is for e-books only)

Most of the times we will offer one book for free (usually the older one) and discount the price of the other newer titles. The free title usually makes it the ‘Top 100 in free books’ on Amazon. The discounted books will also rise dramatically on Amazon rankings.

Results: Last month we moved about 98 books in 72 hours 60% were free and 40% were paid for.

Does this marketing strategy work? Yes it does. How can I trace the customers who bought my books? In the real world one cannot trace every sale. Nobody can. But that’s okay with me. There are about 840 million English speaking people in the world. That’s my target audience, not just my 200 e-mail contacts. This strategy was much less expensive than hiring some marketing company with no guarantee of success and no way of tracking their moves.

Some say that giving away e-books encourages people to download books that won’t be read.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I know people are reading my books. How?

Amazon provides my publisher a detailed account of how many pages are currently being read (as long as the e-readers are connected to the Internet). So, whether my books were purchased, electronically borrowed or downloaded for free, Amazon tells me that an average of 3,000 pages of my two published novels are being read daily! I don’t know who these readers are, but I know they are reading!

Also, my books have never stopped selling since I published them, (you can see the sales ranking at Amazon), of course I’m not selling thousands of books, but I am selling! My hope is to make ‘cheerleaders’ of those who received my books for free so they can come back for the other books or tell their friends about my work.

So use the power of ‘free’ properly and see if it works for you.

Alex Zabala is the author of the bestselling book Treasure for the Mayan King and The Golden Scepter. His new book, The Mind Games of Dr. Sova is on sale now at Amazon (available June 1st 2016).



How My Writing Process Saved the Day, and How it Can Save Yours

More about planning and process: a guest post over at Bane of Your Resistance. Drop by and say hello, and watch for details about the process (new and improved over my previous version, I might add) in next week’s guest post.



Chandleresque (Guest Post at Lilac Reviews)

More than one person has generously compared my book A Long, Hard Look to Raymond Chandler.

One person asked why, and posted my answer at her review website.

Give it a read. Comment. (Let’s make others think I have a huge audience of loyal supporters, eh?)

Lilac Reviews


Marketing, Promotion, and Publicity (Guest Post by Ed Teja)

A conversation with Ed Teja often turns educational. I wrote something about “marketing” and Ed responded very much like this:

Ed Teja
Ed Teja
There are numerous discussions, blogs, courses and (of course) books on things writers can do to sell their work—both better and at all. They are comprehensive, exhausting and often contradictory. Partly the problem is that we confuse the activities that make writers more visible and their books desirable purchases. So, after hearing various comments from writers online, I thought it appropriate to help clarify what are becoming muddy waters.

Writers are supposed to be wordsmiths, so let’s start with some definitions.

  • Marketing activities are things we do to sell books.
  • Promotional activities are things to help with discovery of a product (yes, even a book.)
  • Publicity is work done to gain mind share…to ensure readers are aware of and think about the writer—the person.

We tend to blur these together, resulting in a great deal of confusion. They are quite different. Note that you can squish a bit of this or that from one category to another. I won’t quibble over specifics. The important thing is that an effective business plan must address all three aspects. Although they overlap, they do different things.

Knowing the difference

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Publishing Yourself is (One Part of) the Correct Choice (Guest Post by Ed Teja)

In last Friday’s newsletter I stated pretty emphatically that self-publishing was, both artistically and commercially, the right choice. Long-time reader and valued curmudgeon Ed Teja took a different view. He made good points, which he’s allowing me to share here. Please, tell him what you think because we’d both like to know how this resonates with y’all. And Ed, thanks for nudging me to reconsider this topic.)

Ed Teja
Ed Teja
When Joel presented a case for self-publishing über alle it struck a chord in me, yet simultaneously resonated with my automatic “ain’t necessarily so” response. The problem I have with the idea is that it suggests a fish-or-cut-bait approach, presenting a false dichotomy (as writers we get to use words like that. Enjoy). between self-publishing and everything else. The truth is, it’s worth considering a mix of strategies.

Let me say one thing clearly upfront: You will likely, probably, almost certainly, make more money publishing your own work than by working with any publisher. I’ll even suggest that doing things yourself, you stand a better chance of publishing the book you want, not one someone else thinks it should be.

Now give me a bit of room to swing my arms while I explain why, even if making money is the goal, excluding other options is an over-simplification. Continue reading “Publishing Yourself is (One Part of) the Correct Choice (Guest Post by Ed Teja)”



My Time to Write – Guest Post by Cheryl Campbell

In an email, Cheryl mentioned her writing schedule, and pointed out that she keeps it flexible. I asked her to tell us more about it.

flexible scheduleMy writing routine typically works out that I am at the computer for a couple hours on Thursdays, hopefully an hour or so on Saturdays, and a few hours on Sundays. I spend several hours twice a week traveling and bouncing between airports. Couple this with long work days when I’m on the road and I do not sit down to write. Being out of town much of the week, my weekends are busy catching up with things around the house, doing errands, and prepping to fly out again on Monday.
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What Question Can You Answer Best? (Guest Post by Phil Wrzesinski )

I’ve known Phil for some time. His intense love for his family sometimes outshines the fact that he is a brilliant marketer and incredible teacher.

?My first book started writing itself the day a local childcare owner asked me, “Phil, I shop a lot, and I have to say, your store has the best customer service I’ve ever encountered. What is your secret?”

The short answer was simple. I hire good people.

She pressed me further. “Can you do a presentation to our Child Care Association about it?”

Sure.

Now I needed a longer answer. Fortunately, the answer was there and pretty soon I had a presentation and the outline for a book.

The funny thing is that I never set out to write a book. I think the book had a life of its own, born when the question was asked. At least a dozen times throughout the process I wondered what made me think I was capable of writing a book. Mostly I ignored that thought and kept writing. After all, I was just answering a question.

Your business has the answer to a question, too. There is something you do better than most other businesses. You have a philosophy, a reason, a method for why you do what you do and how it makes your business better. It may be one of your own design, or one you stole from someone else, or one you pieced together from several sources. Someone has probably already asked you why or how you do what you do.

You just have to start writing it down.

My second book started the same way – with a question.

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The Language of Young Adult Fiction (Guest Post by Cheryl Campbell)

Say hello again to Cheryl Campbell, YA author with an unusual perspective I admire.

Burnt Mountain The Monster Within was born from an idea that I wanted to try to write a story that my niece (at the time 5 years old) and nephew (at the time 3 years old) might enjoy as teenagers. I figured this would give me plenty of time to come up with something, and plenty of time to figure out how to get it done. I had never written a book before and had zero clue about how to do it. So I sat down, jotted some notes, typed a few pages, and kept chipping away at it. Many revisions later it started to take on some shape.

As I kept going, the shape became more recognizable as a story. I was watching movies and reading a lot to figure out what made the stories that I loved so great. Lord of the Rings, both the books and the movies were key factors in my research. Star Wars also ranked at the top. What I loved so much about them was the way they crossed all age groups. Anyone, any age could get in to see Star Wars. No profanity. No sex. No graphic violence. Both franchises had movies with some violence, but none of them were rated R.

Continue reading “The Language of Young Adult Fiction (Guest Post by Cheryl Campbell)”


Stop Stopping Yourself with Premature Edits (Guest Post by Rosanne Bane)

Please welcome Rosanne Bane, author and writing coach and one smart cookie. Since I’m not here to beat this drum she’s gonna do it for me.

Trying to edit while drafting is like trying to polish your shoes while walking. Actually, it’s more like trying to polish your shoes while trailblazing over rough and unmapped territory. It takes longer to get where you’re going, you can’t possibly get a good shine and you’re almost guaranteed to lose your balance and fall.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1110158 by Michal Zacharzewski http://www.sxc.hu/profile/mzacha

“Short Cuts Make Long Delays” – J.R. Tolkien

Your brain stem and limbic system can do more than one thing at a time, which is why you can walk and chew gum and still notice cars in the crosswalk. But your cortex, your creative brain, simply cannot multitask.

Continue reading “Stop Stopping Yourself with Premature Edits (Guest Post by Rosanne Bane)”


Housesitters for the Blog

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1426694 by Bas van den Eijkhof http://www.sxc.hu/profile/mistermastToday’s my last post until the new year.

But you didn’t really think I could just ride off into the sunset without leaving a trusted deputy to take care of law and order while I’m out of town, did you? A whole team of ’em, in fact.

Watch for some guest posts here and there throughout my 3 week sabbatical.

No schedule. No warning. Serendipity.

Be kind to them. Comment, even a little more than y’all kindly do for me.


The Future of (Your) Publishing – Guest Post by John Work

The Canal by John WorkJohn Work is an author. He posted this on a Linked In group and graciously gave permission for me to reprint it here. Emphasis throughout is mine.

I’m a self-published author, both in ebook and paperback print formats. I’ve been a member of this [Linked In] group for about a year. I’ve noticed that authors who are already traditionally published frequently tell writers who are considering self-publishing their works that traditional publishing is the only way to go – and that if the aspiring writer just sticks with it, sends enough quality manuscripts to agents or publishers, and keeps at it for five, ten or twenty years, that elusive contract offer will eventually come along. You just have to persist, or so I’ve read.

Balderdash.
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Beyond Bagpipes – A Beginner’s Guide to Gaelic Folk (Guest Post by Nick Lewis)

You know I love Celtic music so I was delighted when Nick approached me about writing a guest piece with some basic background on it. If you like it, say so in the comments and we’ll bring Nick back for more.

Licence To CeilidhGaelic folk refers to the folk music of old gaelic societies, primarily Irish and Scottish. Naturally there are significant differences between Scottish and Irish folk, and many regional variations within, but the traditions are similar enough to merit their own catch-all term. Continue reading “Beyond Bagpipes – A Beginner’s Guide to Gaelic Folk (Guest Post by Nick Lewis)”