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.