Sunday, 16 July 2017

Authors — do you know about Emotional Marketing Value?

What is Emotional Marketing Value (EMV)?

Communication is the key of effective marketing. And the key to communication is being able to reach the reader at an emotional level. Involving them in your words and invoking their deeper thoughts.
While many authors 'guess' how people will react to their words,  researchers have determined a test which  gives an actual rating that can be used to judge how well received your copy will be to others.
Effectively, by using emotional words in your titles, subtitles and book description your book will have greater impact and you'll get more sales.

So how do I do this?

Here's the first draft of the cover of a book I've been working on for some time Let's see how it can be improved:
There are four key areas of text here where EMV can have a dramatic effect:
  1. The title and subtitle
  2. The first line of the description on the back cover - 'Author John Chapman shows what is involved in getting your book published.'
  3. The phrase '…the choice is yours and it's not as difficult as you might think.'
  4. The section 'Getting sales is not quite so simple though. John walks you through editing, cover design, book descriptions and book promotion.'

First we need to measure the impact of these areas

There are two free online tools for this. I find that titles and headlines are best measured with the CoSchedule headline analyzer tool at https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer. Entering the text of the heading and subheading there gives a score of 64. Not perfect but what I wanted here was a big impact made by the first three words and last three words. As CoSchedule point out—that's what people tend to see first.

The description text on the back cover is best analysed for it's EMV using the free tool provided by The Advanced Marketing Institute at http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm

This tool handles a maximum of 20 words at a time so the three sections of text were entered one at a time using 'media and communications' as the type.
'Author John Chapman shows what is involved in getting your book published.' got an EMV of 16.67%
'the choice is yours and it's not as difficult as you might think' got an EMV of 15.38%
'Getting sales is not quite so simple though. John walks you through editing, cover design, book descriptions and book promotion.' got an EMV of 20%
Considering that average language has an EMV of 20% these are not good scores.

The results of tweaking the words

Phrase
EMV %
the choice is yours and it's not as difficult as you might think
15.38
the choices are yours and it's not as difficult as you might think
23.08
the choices are yours and it's not as difficult as you might believe
30.77
the choices are yours, and it's not as tricky as you might believe
38.46
the choices are up to you, and it's not as tricky as you may believe
46.67
the choices are up to you and are not as tricky as you may believe
53.33
According to the Advanced Marketing Institute most professional copywriters' headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their text, while the most gifted copywriters will have 50%-75% EMV words. I'm happy with a score of 53.33%
In the same way I tweaked the other phrases and ended up with:

Author John Chapman leads you through the intricacies of getting your book to readers. - (EMV 50%)
      • Conventional publishing
      • Independent - Print on demand
      • Ebooks
…the choices are up to you, and are not as tricky as you may believe. - (EMV 53.33%)

John directs you through cover design, book descriptions, keywords and book promotion because, unfortunately, getting sales is not so obvious. - (EMV 55%)

As you can see changing a few words has left the meaning the same but the impact is far greater. A few minutes exploring these tools and your book descriptions can have a dramatic effect.


…and the book?

It's still being checked and edited but if you sign up to my email list and mention 'Illustrated Guide' in the comment area, I'll let you know when it's available. That's at http://bit.ly/avilist



If this post has helped you find free ebooks will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Vertical page alignment in MS Word

Here's three pages from the front of a book I'm writing (the image will expand if you click it):

I've turned on 'Show/Hide' so you can see where Return has been pressed to get a new line.Those of you with an eye for detail might notice that these pages used have three different layouts. The half title page on the left was vertically aligned at the top, the title page was vertically aligned at the center and the copyright page was vertically aligned at the bottom.

It’s not immediately obvious how to do this in Word. To achieve it each page must end with a section break.

First place your cursor on the page you wish to change.
Next from the layout tab (1) select the small icon (2) at the bottom right of the Page Setup section of the ribbon.
Select the Layout tab (3) in the window which opens.

In the Page Vertical alignment section (4) select the alignment you want. 

‘Justified’ incidentally will space out the paragraphs of a page to fill the entire page.

If this post has helped you will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Friday, 31 March 2017

The answer to "Where can I download free ebooks?"

Strangely, the best place is where you buy ebooks from. All of the big retailers who sell ebooks also offer free ebooks. Of course they don't make money on those so you are unlikely to find them advertising them or even making them easy to find. For years I found doing a search on Amazon for 'free ebooks' produced an impressive list of books with prices. The same was true for Apple, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo and others. They've got a little better now and you can find some freebies with that search but not many among the millions which are there.

Amazon is the biggest ebook retailer and it has a free app which allows you to get books on non-Kindle devices. PCs, iOS computers, Android tablets and SmartPhones. You can even read on Linux and Ubantu using the Cloud Reader and read offline by using the Cloud Reader's 'Download and pin book' option.


Where can you find free ebooks at Amazon?

Try going to one of these links which will take you to the lists of the top 100 free ebooks:

If this list doesn't include the genre you want, use the links at the left of any of the pages to select the genre you want but make sure you select the 'Top 100 free' tab.

Of course if a book isn't in the top 100, it won't be shown. In that case you'll have to get a link from one of the many book promotion websites. The best known is Bookbub. My personal favorite is Book Barbarian because I like Science Fiction books. Both of these sites will send you a daily email of the genres you like. There are many others. Try a Google search for 'book promotion sites'.

Kindle books are in MOBI or AZW3 format.

What about free ebooks at iBooks?

On a Mac, launch iBooks (if you don’t have it, it's a free download). Click on iBooks Store. On the right, you’ll see a list of 'Quick Links'. Click or search for 'Free Books'.

On an iOS device, tap 'iBooks', tap 'Featured'. The ones marked 'GET' where the price is normally shown are free. Again, if a book is not 'Featured' you'll need a link or the name of the book to search for it. Here's two of our free ebooks at iBooks - Immortality Gene (a technothriller) and Raging Storm (a paranormal romance).

iBooks are in EPUB format.

Other free ebook sources

Barnes and Noble and Kobo also have free ebooks. Kobo supply ebooks to many other retailers. In the UK that includes Tesco, Sainsburys and WH Smith

Smashwords is a great site for ebooks. 

Find Smashwords at smashwords.com

Its advantages are that:
  • You can pay via PayPal and for free ebooks you don't have to provide any financial details. 
  • It has a price section which includes a prominent FREE area. 
  • It's ebooks are available in multiple formats. MOBI, EPUB and others.
  • It's also often a fraction cheaper than other retailers for paid books.
  • You can actually earn money by promoting ebooks there.
  • You may find an author will give away coupons which let you have free or reduced price ebooks there.
  • Unlike other retailers Smashwords ebooks don't have DRM copy protection built in so you can move your ebooks onto other devices.

What about Google Play ebooks?

Project Gutenberg offers out of copyright books

Find it at gutenberg.org. It offers more than 53,000 free, out-of-copyright books in multiple formats.

What if I have a Kindle Fire and want to read an EPUB ebook?

It's not surprising that Amazon don't offer an EPUB reading app in their store but that doesn't mean you can't install one. You'll need to 'sideload' the app. Get instructions here.

What if I have an e-ink Kindle and want to read an EPUB ebook?

You can't do that. You'll have to convert the ebook to MOBI format then email the ebook to your Kindle device email address. An open source (free) program called 'calibre' can do that if the file is not protected with DRM (all Smashwords ebooks are DRM free).

What if I want a PDF ebook?

Yes, it's possible BUT you need to be aware of the risks.
  • PDF files are designed for printing not for e-reading. Although most e-reading devices will read them, it's a clumsy process involving lots of scrolling since the text won't flow as it's enlarged.
  • PDF files are frequently infected with malware. Why do you think so many pirate sites are out there offering free ebooks? They want to infect your computer. If you MUST have a PDF file, get it from a non-pirate site which won't infect you such as Smashwords.
  • PDF pirate copies of ebooks are stealing from the author. 
If this post has helped you find free ebooks will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Social media accounts for authors

What social media accounts does an author need and what should they post on them?

Set up accounts at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, Youtube and if you are an author of non-fiction, LinkedIn
Here's what to post on each:

Facebook

Set up an author page and a personal page. Facebook frowns on users having multiple personal pages and now asks for a phone number to verify accounts. In both pages you'll need a suitable page header. Here's the sizes you need:

On the author page post news about the books you have written and are writing, what you are researching, ask questions about reader preferences and what problems you've had as an author. Ask readers to review books. Tell them about any special offers and brag about any awards you've earned. Of course you should also respond to reader comments and questions. I suggest you turn off the 'Shop' link (That's Settings > Edit Page > Scroll to 'Shop' and edit it to turn 'Show Shop tab' off.) Include a link to your mailing list. Here's how to do that with MailChimp

  • Log in to your MailChimp account and in a separate tab to your Facebook page
  • On Facebook, search for MailChimp and 'Like' the page.
  • At the top right, select from the profile dropdown 'Account' then 'Integrations'.
  • From the integrations directory select 'Facebook Add a signup form to…'
  • In 'Page to use' select the author page you've created.
  • Select the appropriate 'List to use', select the 'Yes' of 'Use signup form tab' and save the choices
On the personal page join author groups—not to promote books to other authors but to interact. Facebook is a great place to get help and ask questions. It's also possible to give advice and opinions to other authors. Your personal page is a place to socialize with others, play games to relax and talk to relatives. It's a poor place to sell books but great for collecting contact email addresses but don't do this too often. Infrequently make announcements. If you have a blog - link to it here.

Twitter

You can have several Twitter accounts but two are essential. One should be your author account and the other should NOT be associated with you as an author in any way. Don't even follow each other.
On your author account - Twitter allows you to write 140 characters per tweet. In addition you can post a video or picture and a link. You can actually post four pictures and multiple links but each takes from your 140 characters.
Get the aspect ratio of any pictures you use right. Each should be twice as wide as it is tall or it may be cropped. You don't see this cropping but other tweeps will! Here's an example of a tweet image which created the wrong message because it was cropped.
What tweeps saw

What the original poster expected them to see
Video has proved more effective than static images but keep video short. Originally you were limited to 30 seconds. You can use longer video now but that 30 second limit is still worthwhile. Here's one I did using MS Powerpoint
Always pin a tweet to your twitter account. This makes it easy for someone you have helped and who wishes to respond to re-tweet what you want people to see.

What else should you tweet?

When and how often should you tweet?

As an author your market is global. You won't find a 'best time to tweet'. Even if you were to find most of your followers were online at the same 2 hour slot then that would mean a busy time with there being little chance of your tweets being seen. Quiet times of the day can often  be just as productive.
An average Twitter user will check their Twitter stream for just a short time each day. If they have lots of followers then each tweet is shown for just a short time. Most of your tweets won't be seen! Twitter is very much a numbers game and only becomes effective when you have thousands of followers. 10,000 seems to be the magic number here. You need to tweet often to be seen. The more often the better. You can't do that by sitting at your computer 24/7 so you must automate.
Here's what I do:
  1. I collect items to tweet—none dating news, comments, interest items, humor, quotes, images, facts, trivia, video, music. Currently I have about 5,000 in a spreadsheet.  I constantly add to this list and remove old items.
  2. To this list I add 9% promotional tweets.
  3. Periodically I randomize the list of tweets and produce a text file of them.
  4. I use a Java program on an old laptop to tweet from this list at random intervals of 2 to 17 minutes. It works 24/7 and takes about a month to get through the list before repeating. This means any follower is unlikely to see the same message tweeted too often.
  5. Every day I spend about 30 minutes responding to people who have re-tweeted me, replied to me or mentioned me. I'll also spend some of that time scanning my Twitter feed for interesting items to re-tweet and interesting books other authors have tweeted about.

How do you collect items for your Twitter list?

I use a program called Buffer to collect things to tweet. It's available as a browser plugin and each time I find something interesting when I'm browsing I can click a button and add it to a list of items to tweet. At various times in the day Buffer will post these items to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. You can re-order the posts, post at a specific time and edit posts. Buffer also keeps a record of what went out and how successful it was. The most successful posts get added to my Twitter list.

What about that non-author account?

Let's face it, sooner or later you are going to see something on Twitter which you simply have to respond to angrily. Use use your non-author account for that and you can respond safely without trolls descending on your author pages and writing bad reviews because they don't like you.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the visual equivalent of Twitter. You can post videos and images there and comment on these. Your Pinterest account is split up into boards which you can use for different purposes. Boards can be public or private. These are the boards I've created for my Pinterest account:

Checking for Fake Followers on Twitter

Don't Buy Fake Followers

I'm sure you've seen those 'Buy Twitter Followers' posts. Perhaps some are tempted to use them. Don't be! You would be wasting your money. The chances are these 'followers' are not real people. They will never read your tweets and never re-tweet anything. They may also send out spammy messages and suddenly disappear when Twitter realises that they are fake.
People who post these tweets are breaking Twitter's terms and conditions also and when reported - they will disappear too.
Now—if you are tempted, how are you going to pay for these? Are you going to part with your credit card data? If so say goodbye to your bank account. I wouldn't give my details to someone who is a crook!

Is it possible to get fake followers by accident? 

Certainly. Just use an 'autofollowback'. Anyone who follows you will automatically be followed back and that includes fake followers. Strangely, there are thousands of fake followers out there who look for 'I follow back' or '#followback' in user bios and follow all they find. Since they include that autofollow statement in their own bio they are blindly following each other and growing their lists that way! If you follow them and you've got that 'I follow back' statement in your bio, you can be sure that you'll become a person on their list even if you are real.

What's the harm?

If you have a high number of fake followers you are going to look foolish. "Look at me I have 20,000 followers, I must know what I'm talking about!". People may also see spammy posts and replies by the fake follower addressed to you. There are people on Twitter who offer their services promoting your tweets to fake followers. To call this dishonest would be putting it mildly.

How do I get rid of fake followers?

First you have to identify them. With a little experience you learn to spot them and avoid following them in the first place. Often you'll find:
  • They don't have a profile picture or have one of a scantily clad person.
  • The don't tweet often or retweet the same thing many times
  • Many more people follow them than they follow
  • They never respond
  • They duplicate the tweets of another account (probably also fake.)
  • Their bio tells you little about them, may be missing or be a quote.
  • They have that 'follow back' statement in their bio.
BUT
If you were not aware of this, fortunately there is software available which will help you identify and remove them. There are several of them but you should remember none are perfect. They can only give you a guide.
I use ManageFlitter - a paid solution costing $12.00 per month. They have a tool which identifies likely fake followers and will allow you to remove them and block them. How to do this is detailed at http://blog.manageflitter.com/identify-remove-fake-twitter-accounts-3-simple-steps
Once you've done this, wait a few days and check your Twitter account by entering it at https://www.twitteraudit.com/ or at http://fakers.statuspeople.com/ These are  free services which can be used to check for the percentage of fake followers. When you are following someone and are doubtful if they are real try running their Twitter name through those. If they have more than 10% fake followers, you might want to give them a miss. 

Incidentally you can use ManageFlitter to grow your twitter account but remember—don't automatically follow everyone who follows you. Check them out first.

Friday, 10 March 2017

How To Boost Your Book Sales

Sorry. This is just an image.
The sad truth is that there is no magic solution to promoting your book. No one course of action will get it to sell consistently but there are lots of individual actions you can take, both simple and complex, which will help.
You can spend a fortune on promotion and get nowhere.
There are expensive courses available to teach you how to be a 'bestseller' but you'll be lucky to make more money than you've spent even if you are a 'bestseller'.
Strange as it may seem you don't even need to write a good book! There have been many best-selling books which are full of mistakes, have a poor plot and will never be acclaimed as literary gems.
The most important factor in author success is one you can't buy—Luck. Despite that there's an old saying which applies—The more I practice, the luckier I get.

Here's what I consider you can do to get lucky as an author:

  • Get a remarkable cover which attracts the attention of readers browsing for books. Few can do this themselves so it is worth spending money on this. A good cover will give a book browser the interest to check out the book.
  • Spend a huge amount of time and effort getting a book description which makes the reader think "Wow! This is a book I have to read." Your description should use emotive language and use your keywords. Try running the sentences through a headline analyser.
  • Use the right keywords/tags. If you have problems here, steal them from the top selling books in your genre. To do that create a blank book in calibre and in the meta tag ID section paste in the ASIN number of a top ranking book in your genre. Then download the meta data. You'll get the tags and the book description.
  • Make sure your book starts with a powerful hook to keep the book browser reading. Your book's first three pages should be gripping.
  • Create promotion pages for your book which get high rankings on Google. If you are not discovered on the first three pages of search results when you enter a keyword and your book's title, you never will be discovered. Use an incognito browser window when doing this. (See http://authorbookpromotion.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/authorhow-easy-is-it-to-find-your-books.html)
  • Video, pictures, headlines and subheadings are effective in promotions in that order. Run headlines and sub headings through checkers for emotive language such as http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm and https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer. This works for Tweets and Facebook posts too.
  • Make sure promotion pages have a clear 'call to action'.
  • Get the price right. If you've already published your book at Amazon, try Amazon's book pricing beta service. To get to that select your book from the Amazon KDP bookshelf. Find the book you want to modify and in the "Book Actions" column, click "Edit book pricing." Next scroll to the 'Royalty and Pricing' header and under KDP Pricing Support (Beta), click "View Service."
  • Recognise that a promotion at best will produce a spike in your sales but you need to sustain that spike for at least a month for it to produce a rise in your sales rank at Amazon. You'll need to stagger effective promotions.
  • Know that not all promotions are effective and some are downright scams. There is no point in tweeting to fake accounts or putting book links on sites with no visitors. See this post. Learn how to recognise the fakes and how to use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes to spot those sites which work.
  • Facebook adverts work but NOT 'Buy my book' adverts. Instead make an attractive offer which people can get if they add their email address to your mailing list. Email lists are effective at selling books.
  • Twitter posts work but not until you have 10,000 real, active followers. Few will see your posts. People will unfollow if your posts are solely 'Buy my book' posts. These should never make up more than 10 - 15% of your feed. DON'T auto follow-back because you'll end up with fake followers; vet your followers. Never send out 'Thanks for following me' direct messages. Aim to get 100 new followers per day. Remember people are only on Twitter for short periods of time so the vast majority of your tweets will be unseen. Make sure you have a pinned post there.
  • Twitter and Facebook are NOT the only social media platforms. Get a presence on Tumblr, LinkedIn (if you write nonfiction), Google+, YouTube also. There are also vital forums such as Kboards.
  • Although I dislike Goodreads, it's an essential platform for an author to be on if you want recognition as an author. Be careful what you say—lots of Trolls there.
  • Amazon paid advertising appears to work.
  • Preorders work for new books, especially if you follow them with promotion during the release week.
  • If you are not using affiliate accounts you are wasting an opportunity to earn at least 4% extra at Amazon and much more elsewhere. You can use this as a sales tool too. 
  • Remember there are only 24 hours in a day and you can't do all of this at once. Some can be automated though.
  • Ask people to help you promote! Hey if you have not already downloaded one of my free ebooks (Immortality Gene and Raging Storm) please do so. Even if you don't read them it will help my sales rank.
Darn that all sounds complicated. Maybe there should be a magic promotion button. I'm working on it but it's not quite finished yet. Take a look here.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Author—Should you be Using Social Media?

The answer is a simple—Yes—but which social media sites? Come to think of it, what exactly is meant by an author social media website?
Social media is defined as 'websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.' That means any site which authors will find useful in getting information, sharing information, displaying their books and marketing. That will include sites such as Facebook but also sites such as Goodreads and forums such as Kboards

Let's take a look at various author social media sites and see what they have to offer.

Facebook

The largest social networking site in the world and widely used. Using it you can network with 'friends' and relatives, and also access various writer's groups where you can ask questions. You can even market or promote your books by using paid Facebook ads. As of September 2016 Facebook had approximately 1.71 billion active users. It is estimated that more than 1 million small and medium-sized businesses use the platform to advertise their business.
Get as many Facebook friends as possible - interact with them. People you don't interact with are unlikely to see many of your posts. That's the way Facebook works - it won't show you what it thinks you won't be interested in.
Facebook can be an author's friend when it comes to making contacts. Create a page for your books and periodically write about your progress. Facebook is the place for announcing your successes.
  • Have you won an award? Use Facebook to tell everyone.
  • Got a new book coming out? Tell everyone about it on Facebook.
  • Got a problem? Ask for advice on Facebook
  • Need to make a decision such as which cover is best? Post the choices on Facebook and ask reader's opinions
Facebook is NOT the place for posting repeated 'Buy my book' adverts. People will quickly de-friend/un-like you.

Facebook adverts work for collecting new readers and subscribers to your email lists. Make an attractive offer and exchange it for an email address. I've yet to meet any fiction author who has earned more than their advertising cost when direct selling fiction.



Tumblr

Tumblr was created in 2007 and has been owned by Yahoo since 2013, It's a social media site on which you can post anything, including quote posts, chat posts, video and photo posts as well as audio posts and short blogs. Like Twitter you can re-post the items of others. The big difference is you are not limited to 140 characters. Unlimited text, images, animated gifs, photosets, audio files, videos, and more are possible. It gives you the flexibility to customize almost everything. Tumbler has about 555 million active users.


Pinterest

Pinterest is primarily for images and video. Of course as an author, you will be posting images of your book covers and possibly of images relevant to it. More than half of its visitors are women; could that mean it's a good site to promote romance? I post the pictures which I use in advertising, especially those using humour. People seem to like those.

Twitter

A site which limits your text to 140 characters to which you can add a URL and image. It has more than 320 million active monthly users who make use of the 140 character limit to pass on information. Authors can use Twitter to interact with readers, answer questions, release latest news and advertise books.  The one thing you must NOT do is to post a constant stream of 'Buy my book' posts. You will quickly be unfollowed if you do. Post a mixture of  video, images, how to..., quotes, interest items, and mix in no more than 15% of promotions. Re-tweet interesting posts by others and comment. DON'T follow everyone who follows you—vet them first. Don't expect miracles; Twitter will have little effect until you have at least 10,000 followers. NEVER buy followers—these are useless. Learn how to create the perfect Twitter profile.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most popular social media site for professional networking and has over 400 million registered users. LinkedIn is great for people looking to connect with other authors and people in the publishing industry. You'll frequently be bugged with job offers though. This is a great place for support groups and works for non-fiction authors.

Google+

Great for articles and short posts. For authors Its SEO value alone makes it a must-use tool. It had 418 active million users as of December 2015. Blogs using Blogspot will be added to Google+ accounts and it's a great place to announce Google Play books.

YouTube

YouTube is the largest and most popular video-based social media website. It is owned by Google and as such has great SEO value. YouTube has over 1 billion website visitors per month and is the second most popular search engine behind Google. Every author should produce a short video introducing their book and link from it to their website. Consider using MS Powerpoint to do this.
YouTube videos get a high priority at Facebook which likes video.


Instagram

Instagram is a visual social media platform. It has more than 400 million active users and is owned by Facebook. Many of its users use it to post information about travel, fashion, food, art and, of course, books. Almost 95 percent of Instagram users also use Facebook.
Users can submit content such as direct links and text posts. Users can vote submissions up or down. Submissions with the most positive votes appear in the top category or main page. Reddit had more than 36 million registered accounts and 231 million monthly visitors.

BuzzFeed

At first glance this seems an annoying clickbait site using compelling headlines to attract readers, but look at this post - 'Students Were Forced to Write BuzzFeed Click-bait For Grades. What Happened Next Will Rock Your World!'
Think author's can't make use of this?

Quora

A site reminding me of the old Yahoo Answers. It's a place where you can ask questions and provide answers. It's proving very popular and seems a place where you can get information and provide answers. NOT a place to promote but you can link to blogs and of course you have control of what appears at the side of blogs. If you fit Isaac Asimov's statement "Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do," then you'll do well at Quora. Find me there.

StumbleUpon

Stumble upon is a place where you can discover new pages to post on Twitter and other social media sites. You can vote pages up or down and you can discover pages and add them to StumbleUpon. Of course you can Stumble your own blog posts can't you?

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Author - How well are your book sales doing?

Do you simply wait for the Amazon check or bank transfers of royalties to arrive in your account?
Perhaps you eagerly check each day your Amazon KDP reports page at https://kdp.amazon.com/reports

Both of the above will tell you how much money you've made but they won't tell you much about the number of each book you've sold. They won't tell you anything about your book sales at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or elsewhere.

So where do you go to get book sales information?

If you want Amazon information for the last  six weeks+ try the link highlighted on  https://kdp.amazon.com/reports
According to Amazon the Prior six weeks' Royalties is changing soon to a sales dashboard covering the last 90 days. Amazon say you'll be able to:
Under Units Ordered on the dashboard, you'll see a graph showing Paid Units, Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read (through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library for KDP Select-enrolled titles) and Free Units. You can filter the graph by Title, Marketplace, and Timeframe. Below the graph, you'll see a Royalties Earned table. This allows you to see your royalties for all marketplaces in the time period you select. The royalty amounts shown are updated only after orders have been finalized, which can be hours or days after the order has been placed. To see a detailed "Sales & Royalty Report," click "Generate Report." This report includes units sold, refunds, and royalties (excluding KOLL royalties) earned during your selected timeframe. 

If you want results for a particular month then use the links at the right to get reports for individual months. These reports go way back - in my case to 2010. They'll tell you:
  • What titles have sold on what days
  • What your royalty rate is
  • What the delivery charge was
  • How much you earned for that book each day.
It's worthwhile keeping a record of daily sales and comparing that with promotions run on a particular day. That allows you to see if a promotion was cost effective.

Amazon are not the only book retailer though

If you want results from others, similar information is available. I use Smashwords to distribute to iBooks, B&N, Kobo and others. I can get details of my sales reports by using the links at the left of my 'Dashboard' there.
The daily sales link gives you a good overview of what has sold at each retailer but if you want a spreadsheet style display with details of individual books then use the 'Per-Payment Sales Report Generator' link to get a csv file.

What about other sources of information?

Try Novel Rank It will track sales of all books you register with it and provide informative charts. Unfortunately it only tracks paid sales. Free books don't count.

Kindle Nation Daily also have a page which tracks ebooks at http://tracker.kindlenationdaily.com/
This site tracks on an hourly basis as well as over 30 days and previous months so it's graphs are very useful to check the progress of promotions. Again you'll need to register the books you want to track - and it will track the rank of free books. If you are a reader (most successful authors are) then it will also send you an email alert if a particular ebook is offered free or on sale.




If this post has helped or entertained, will you help me? Download a FREE copy of the book 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or 'Raging Storm' at http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but I hope you will) - it will help rankings.
As to this post - it's part of a forthcoming book 'An Illustrated Guide to Getting Published.' In it, you'll learn all sorts of book promotion tricks.
Look - a FREE e-book

Monday, 23 January 2017

Author—How easy is it to find your book/s?

Try an experiment. Go to an incognito browser window and type in the title of your book. You'll have to use an incognito window to make sure your previous searches don't influence your results. See what happens. Here's my result for searching for my book 'Immortality Gene' at Google:
As you can see the first reference to it was the top entry of page three of the search results. It's a book at Google Play and the book title and a page mentioning 'Immortality Gene' show up first.
A Goodreads entry showed up as the ninth entry on the same page, Page four of the results listed it as the first entry and finally the fifth entry featuring our website:
Those results aren't too bad - they are about on par with another book which appeared in the top 10 free ebooks with us in 2015 (Sycamore by Craig A. Falconer - good book). The result is a lot better than 'Breakers' by Edward W Robinson which was number 6 at Amazon when we were number 7.

My result pales into insignificance when compared with 'Season of the Harvest' by Michael R. Hicks(another good book). That is brought up as number 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 on the first page of search results.

So what is Michael doing that I wasn't doing? Could it be the length of the title?
If I type in the series also - A Vested Interest Immortality Gene' I find myself as number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the first page of search results. OK that's pretty good but who is going to enter the book series also in a search? I needed to do some SEO - Search Engine Optimisation to bring my 'Immortality Gene' references to the first page of search results.
One thing that showed up immediately was that Goodreads Reviews were given a high priority by Google.




Make sure your book is reviewed at Goodreads.

Next Google seems to give preference to it's own services - Google Play books, Blogspot, YouTube Google+. Of course this post at Blogspot, which mentions 'Immortality Gene' in the text and in the post labels, should help.

Make sure you use Google services to mention your book. Put it in your blog and make a YouTube video. If your book isn't on Google Play books - publish it there.
Here's the YouTube video I made for Immortality Gene

Warning - technical stuff ahead

Next, your website. Do entry pages have the title of your book near the start of the text? Do your search terms feature in a heading? Are they mentioned in the meta tags under keywords and in the meta description? Are there links to the entry web page from other sites, including your blog, Facebook page, YouTube page and other social media pages? Do you have links from your author account at Amazon to your web page and blogs? Does the page name and URL contain your search term? This is all basic SEO stuff. Make sure it's done but beware of going over the top with it and 'keyword stuffing' your web pages—that can lose you ranking at Google. If you don't have a clue how this is done, find the top ranking pages for your search term and look at the source code to see if they've done anything special. Usually the fourth one on the first page returned is good to examine  because 1-3 may be paid ranking—watch for the 'Ad' in the returns and DON'T choose those pages to examine -
Here's what I picked out from looking at the top returns — The page newatlas.com/hydra-imortality-gene-foxo-kiel-university/25371/ featured these items. I've highlighted the relevant parts in red:

  • 'immortality-gene' as part of the URL
  • In the page's meta tags the page title was 'Hydra's immortality gene sheds light on human aging.
  • The page also had Open Graph protocol 'og' meta tags in which 'Immortality Gene' appeared in the og:title meta tag and also the og:url meta tag. OG protocol is used by sites such as Facebook.
  • The page had Twitter meta tags.
  • The page was duplicated elsewhere on the web and had 'link rel="canonical"' tags
  • The page headline was 'Hydra's immortality gene'
  • A script featured the same headline
  • The page featured a gallery of images which had a title containing 'immortality gene'
  • the word 'immortality' occurred 14 times in the page and 'gene' occurred 31 times.

Learn what is involved in adding OG protocol items to your page and make use of it. These meta tags ensure that when a page is shared on Facebook the correct image is shown. Find out how to use them here. See how I used them below (#5).


Learn how to use Twitter cards - the Twitter meta tags - to your pages. You can find out how  here. See how I used them below (#4).

Make sure your page has images and add titles and descriptions to them. See what I did #8 below.
Can you program in Script? If so write some code which features your book title. This can be invisible to the user but should be functional. In my case I added a script type="application/ld+json" which you can find more details about here. See how I used a script below (#7).



Duplicate the page elsewhere on the web and add 'link rel="canonical"' tags. This will ensure all the pages count as one page at Google and you won't lose search engine ranking. More details here.


I can't claim to be the world's greatest expert at SEO but the changes I made to get my page ranking higher in Google were:

  1. Change the page URL from 'immortality' to immortality-gene. It's now at http://avestedinterest.info/immortality-gene.htm
  2. Adding the red section to the page title:
     A Vested Interest - Immortality Gene: If humans were immortal… 
  3. Changing the page headline from 'If Humans were immortal…' to
    'If Humans had the Immortality Gene ...'
  4. Adding the following Twitter meta tags:<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image" />
    <meta name="twitter:site" content="@JChapman1729" />
    <meta name="twitter:title" content="A Vested Interest - Immortality Gene: If humans were immortal…" />
    <meta name="twitter:description" content="Science is on the verge of dramatically extending human lifespan. Will there be objections?" />
    <meta name="twitter:image" content= "http://avestedinterest.info/images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg" />
    <meta name="twitter:image:alt" content="If science activates the human immortality gene will there be objections?" />
  5. Adding the following meta OG tags:
    <meta property="og:type" content="website" />
    <meta property="og:image" content="http://avestedinterest.info/images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg"/>
    <meta property="og:title" content="A Vested Interest - Immortality Gene: If humans were immortal…" />
    <meta property="og:description" content="Science is on the verge of dramatically extending human lifespan. Will there be objections?" />
    <meta property="og:url" content="http://avestedinterest.info/immortality-gene.htm"/>
  6. I left the original page as it was and it was already duplicated in a blog. I added the following link rel="canonical" tags:
    <link rel="canonical" href="http://avestedinterest.info/immortality.htm">
    <link rel="canonical" href="http://avestedinterest.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/if-humans-were-immortal.html">
  7.  I added the following script to the page header. If you want to use it yourself, change the green areas to your own choices. Put the entire script in front of your web pages </head> tag:
    <script type="application/ld+json">
    {
       "@context": "http://schema.org",
        "@type": "Article",
        "author": {
            "@type": "Person",
            "description": "A technophile author with a strong background in information technology, John is passionately drawn to explaining things and has a deep interest in environmental technology and genetic engineering. When not indulging his passion for reading and writing, he can be found designing space elevators, pondering the Immortality Gene and wandering around in hidden places. He lives in Northumberland, England.",
            "image": {
                "@type": "ImageObject",
                "url": "http://avestedinterest.info/images/John80.jpg"
            },
            "name": "John Chapman",
            "url": "http://avestedinterest.info/jc.htm"
        },
        "dateModified": "2017-01-24T023:44",
        "datePublished": "2017-01-24T023:44",
        "description": "Science is on the verge of dramatically extending human lifespan. Will there be objections?",
        "headline": "If Humans had the Immortality Gene …",
        "image": {
            "@type": "ImageObject",
            "caption": "If science activates the human immortality gene will there be objections?",          "height": "300 px",
            "url": "http://avestedinterest.info/images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg",
            "width": "533 px"
        },
        "mainEntityOfPage": "http://avestedinterest.info/immortality-gene.htm",
        "publisher": {
            "@type": "Organization",
            "logo": {
                "@type": "ImageObject",
                "url": "http://jaydax.co.uk/images/jaydaxbuttonlogo.jpg"
            },
            "name": "JayDax",
            "sameAs": [
                "http://avestedinterest.info",
                "https://www.facebook.com/A.Vested.Interest/",
                "https://twitter.com/JChapman1729",
                "https://uk.pinterest.com/johnchapman/"

            ],
            "url": "http://jaydax.co.uk/"
        }
    }
    </script>
  8. I added a missing 'alt' statement to the image making it's code now :
    <img src="images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg" alt="Science is on the verge of activating a human immortality gene. Will there be objections?" width="533" height="300" class="right" />
  9. I followed Google's recommendations for making my blogs discoverable by search engines. See their instructions here
I'm not quite finished. I still need to check Michael's keywords and description are for his 'Season of the Harvest' to see if  I can learn anything from them. How to steal those is the subject of another blog though. My web page has been fixed though and now all I have to do is wait to see if it's rank improves.
If this post has helped or entertained, will you help me? Download a FREE copy of our book 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi
Even if you never read it (but I hope you will) - it will help my rankings.
As to this post - it's part of a forthcoming book 'An Illustrated Guide to Getting Published.' 
Look - a FREE e-book

Author - Who do you think you are?

In case you are wondering this is not a post about a genealogy program on TV; instead it's about author identities.

Your author name is your brand and it should be prominent on your books, your website, your blog and in your social media posts.

Why? Let me explain.
Let's suppose you've been hiding in a cave for the last 20 years and come across an awesome book called 'The Green Mile' by some author you've never heard of - Stephen King. You want more of his books so you go searching for them. What do you look up 'The Green Mile' or 'Stephen King'?
Of course you look up 'Stephen King' because his next books won't be called 'The Green Mile'.

If you go looking on Internet for Stephen King at Amazon you'll see:

Notice that his name is the most prominent text on each book?
Many new authors make the mistake of making their titles the most prominent text.

  • Search for thegreenmile.com and you find the domain is nothing to do with King
  • Search Facebook and you'll find lots of unofficial pages only apart from those for the film
  • Search Twitter for @TheGreenMile and you get a page for Joseph Stewart-Paul who took the name in 2009 and hasn't tweeted yet.
If on the other hand you search for Stephen King you'll find:

But what if I want to use a pen name?

Ask yourself 'why?' 
  • Are you ashamed of your name—is it 'Imani Diot' or  'Adolph Hittler'?
  • Is your name already made famous by some celebrity? Why not make use of this?
  • Are you publishing something you are ashamed of?
  • Are you publishing something that might influence opinions in the wrong way? Isaac Asimov once wrote a short story in the style of a chemistry thesis. 'The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline.' He asked for it to be published under a pen name since he was due to attend his final chemistry doctorate interview and feared it might adversely influence the panel's decision. To his horror it went out under his own name and was widely circulated. At his final interview for his doctorate it wasn't mentioned until the last question, "Now Doctor Asomov what can you tell us about The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline?"
Despite the lack of need for pen names some authors have used them:
  • Isaac Asimov: Paul French.
  • J.K. Rowling: Robert Galbraith. ...
  • Michael Crichton: John Lange, Jeffery Hudson and Michael Douglas. ...
  • Stephen King: Richard Bachman.
  • Charles Dodgson: Lewis Carroll
  • Samuel L. Clemens: Mark Twain
  • Fran├žois-Marie Arouet: Voltaire
  • Mary Ann Evans: George Eliot
Each had a good reason for writing under a pen name but in general - stick to your own name since it makes tax so much easier if your novels take off.