The Plasmatic Writer

The Official Page of Justin Bienvenue

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My thoughts about books, writing, the publishing industry and other outside topics usually horror related. This blog is connected to Goodreads and Amazon. If you would like to express your own opinion on one of these articles I have written please feel free to comment as I encourage feedback.

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Nothing's Ever Free, There's Always A Fee

Posted on July 19, 2016 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Nothing in life is free. You've heard the saying constantly and more and more as we rely on things the more they are no longer free. There are two things in life to know about any product, website or selling point, they are either not free or they are free until they aren't and eventually there will be a price. Obviously I'm being very broad here in the sense of referring to "free" with everything we spend money on but let's narrow it down to the publishing and book industry. Whether it's publishing a book or promoting a book you as a writer have the choice on whether or not you wish to spend money. If you want to publish you're book for free your inclined to do so, if you want to spend a little money or spend a lot because you don't feel like doing any work than you're also inclined to do that. Promoting can in a sense be the same way but leans more toward not being free. You can promote your book for free however you will soon realize that it only goes so far and that if you wih to make big on some of the stuff your doing now for free that....you'll have to spend money. This article will take a deeper look at the promoting and marketing aspect of books and how as the infamous saying goes nothing's ever free.


The first thing to realize is you can be successful using free ways to promote and market it just takes an investment, lots of dedicated time and sticking to what works best for you. However in most cases and if you're like me you wish to promote and market for free but not entirely for free which I've come to realize just isn't going to work. My philosophy is this: Promote for free and spend small and only when you have to. The problem? All the small things I find that will be useful to me aren't free at all. Call me crazy but I'm mostly optimistic about things when it comes to selling books I couldn't be further from it. If you manage where you wish to spend your money then chances are you'll be okay but I feel like the business is getting more and more about money and less about the value and enjoyment of the books themselves. It seems like no matter what promotion you want to use, what website you want to join or what ad you want to use it's either not free or it's way too expensive. I'm a realist, I see things for what they are, I also like guarantees and making my money back. Does that make me a bad person? No it just means I like to know that what I invest in has promise, is going to work, and I not only get my money's worth but then some. Of course not everything can be guaranteed but again it just seems like in this business you really have to know where your ducks are nevermind have them all in a row.


What is the truth? You're going to spend some money to promote and market, it's inevitable. The key is to spend accordingly and when you can except there are certain things that must be constant and are monthly. For instance if you want a top notch website with unlimited access to things you have to pay a fee plus if you want your own domain you have to pay a fee. If you want to join a mass e-mail site like MailChimp and send out outmated e-mails theres a fee. Get past 2,000 subscribers? There's a fee. If you want to join two just two promotional author sites there's a monthly fee. You want to join a class on how to help your sales? There's a big fee. This is what gets me, if you add all that up it's a big sum and if you don't have income your not exactly keen on forking all of it over nevermind if you have it. What all these fees say to me is your spending all this so you can have ways to sell your book but however much your spending on all this you now have a goal that you must reach or else it's a fail. You don't have to agree with this premise but it's not wrong. By spending money monthly on your website, domain, two promotion sites and your automated e-mail subscriber list your giving yourself a goal of sales you have to make and it isn't realistic, what it is is a vicious cycle. Priorities are key here and I more than anyone am all about organization and making money but as the saying goes, in order to make money you need to spend money. Yes but you also don't want to invest everything and end up broke either.


This isn't a rant so what is it that I'm saying? I'm saying nothing is free, I'm saying that not everyone has the money to invest and spend everywhere they please. I'm saying that I know it's a process but they don't make it easy but then again why have it easy when you need to work? Ah another cycle or irony. You're already working yourself to the bone to write your books so why should you have to work at spending money on so many things? I suppose a very simple answer is well if this helps your books making a ton of money and your getting tons of reviews out of it then you shouldn't have to worry...it's just not realistic or guaranteed enough to attempt though. Take time and research what you want to spend money on. Manage your money wisely and think of how much it will cost you yearly rather than monthly and if you can pay something in one shot you probably should. Too many sites have these pay later or pay monthly, yes it's convenient but I'm talking about the ones where it's one shot and done. I'm talking about pay once, don't worry so you can focus on your monthly fees. Your books aren't going to sell themselves and eventually your going to have to spend money, all I'm saying at this point and the message to take here is to figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it. Spend accordingly and make sure your investments are the right ones.

Should You Appeal to Other Countries?

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

So your looking at your website stats and your sales on Amazon and you notice you have a decent amount of traffic from other countries. What does this mean? Should you do something about it and if so, what? Before we answer these questions let's first understand the basics. When you create a website and you put up a page for your books and you put out great content in blogs(you are putting out quality content right?) naturally people are going to visit your site. Not only will people visit your site and check it out but chances are they may be from another country. Let's first explain how it is your getting all this traffic from other countries. It comes down to tags, hashtags and most importantly; keywords. When you put tags and keywords into your titles and posts there are people out there looking for the very type of information your providing on your blogs. If your using the proper tags and keywords then chances are your page comes up first when they type in certain keywords and since people in other countries all like books and learning about certain types of information this is why you get visits from them. Since creating my site back in 2011 I have seen people from dozens upon dozens of countries including small islands I didn't even know existed. But is it a big deal and should you embrace appealing to other countries? The answer is yes.


When you get any type of publicity, acknowledgement or sales in any place you're going to try to figure out where, why and then try to capitalize on it to get even more. When these sales and acknowledgements are coming from other countries then just like any sale your going to analyze it, ask yourself why and try to appeal and tackle that aspect. One thing that would be good to do is to see why they are targeting a book of yours or content you provide and make the most of it. You should try to get sales any way you can and make the most of any opportunity this especially includes going after potential customers in other countries. It doesn't matter if they are in another country but the simple fact that your being noticed means you should try to embrace it and get sales wherever you can. Remember, any sale is a good sale so if you live in Chicago and you find out someone in Austria has bought your book then look into what made them buy and try to see if you can get more sales in Austria. 


I came across a thread on Goodreads where a woman noticed her book on a website that she wasn't familiar with. Naturally she assumed at first glance that it was a piracy site but it was in fact a book site from the Phillippines called National Book Store. This is where people from the Phillippines can get books and they can due to the fact that Kobo owns them so they are an affiliate of Kobo. I checked it out and typed my recent book Opium Warfare which is available on Kobo into the search and sure enough it came up. I then looked at the price, figured out how much it translates to in U.S dollars and then I asked myself if I should try to appeal and target to people in the phillippines. If I did all I'd have to do is refer them to that site and it would likely count as a sale for me because it's owned by Kobo. If you're struggling to sell in your country is it a bad idea to try and appeal to another? I suppose it depends but I think in the long run no. As I stated earlier a sale is a sale no matter where it's from so if anything just broaden your target audience and try to appeal to them in a different way than you would your normal audience, at least when it comes to trying to reach them.  Should you appeal to other countries? Absolutely. Make the most of any opportunity that comes your way. 

What to Use Facebook Ad's For

Posted on July 6, 2016 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

As authors we have all been told to try or have at least thought of trying Facebook Ads. First and for most if your an author and you don't have a Facebook author page then you need to go make one right now(Go, Go, Go!). One thing we always here is why Facebook stinks when it comes to promoting because they don't let your followers see your posts. Well newsflash: Facebook wants to make money just like everyone else. Facebook Ads are not the worst thing in the world, believe me it took me some convincing but 2 webinars and a ton of research later and I can sit here and tell you that running a Facebook Ad is something you need to try at least once. I also recommend researching how they work or for an even better idea of how to run one smoothly that you check out some webinars from Mark Dawson as he has made millions from running Facebook Ad's and is a master craftsman at them. A Facebook Ad is the thing to do but what do you run an ad for? Well I will give you a rundown of what you should and should not make a Facebook ad for. 


What to run a Facebook Ad for:

Lead Generation Ad- This is where you run an ad to gain followers by obtaining their e-mail address and you do so by using the ad to bring the person to a landing page. A landing page is where you tell the person if they join your mailing list they will receieve something free from you such as a book in a series, a character graph, an exclusive freebie, etc. A lead generation is the recommended ad to run if your considering what to run an ad for. It's a great place to start because naturally you want to build a following to gain fans and frequent buyers of your book and you do so by this. It's recommended over sales directly because your giving people free stuff and if they like what you have to say and your work that your offering all for free then chances are you gain not only their trust but you've made them a fan and constant buyer of your works whenever they come out.


To Get Sales Directly- First off you'd click on "Send People to Your Website" to run an ad to sell your books directly. You can choose to send them to your website or you can send them to Amazon, it's up to you. I've been told this isn't the ideal thing to run an ad for but it's certainly not the worse as it's second to Lead Generation ads. This is for when you want to run an ad to gain sales without wishing to build an e-mail list, Also it's good if your like me and your still in the process of getting the landing page made and trying to get more e-mails. Running an ad for sales is a good way to test the waters and see just how good your ad is. If it's good enough and you target the right people then not only will you get more sales but you may even get return customers without having to get them to your landing page. So getting sales directly is another good reason to run an ad. 


Promote Your Page(Get More Followers)- This is a good thing to run an ad for if your just starting out a Author/Business page and want to gain some followers. Of course you want to target the right audience just like you would with any other ad. I actually ran my only ad for this back when I was a couple months in to having created my page. I generated around 150-250 followers and I targeted people who were fans of my two books at the time and the type of writing I do. I would also say this its good to run this for when your getting ready to do a giveaway on another page. Of course you can run an ad for that too but in the event you want to focus on the giveaway directly and not have to worry about promoting it from all spots. Basically it's better to run an ad for your page as a whole than it is to run an ad to boost your individual posts. 


Raise attendance for an Event- As I stated above perhaps you want to build up your followers as a secondary thing while your running a giveaway on another page. Well if you want to run a giveaway and tell people on Facebook about it you can and should run an ad for that as well. Again you want to identify your audience, target them as you would with any other ad and tell them about the giveaway or whatever type of event it might be and explain where and why they should check it out. 


Get video views- If you have a book trailer or made an informative video explaining something or  your giving people some promoting and marketing tips then running an ad to get views for the video is a good way to go. I don't know too much about it and I don't know how well it works but it does seem like it could work as good as most ways I've said to run an ad for. It's something to consider.

Increase Brand Awareness- This is new for Facebook ads. It reaches people more likely to pay attnetion to your ads and increases awareness for your brand. 


What to NOT run a Facebook Ad For:

Boost Posts- You know when you make a status about your book on your page and you check back in a few hours expecting to see hundreds of views and you only have 17? Or when you have a post doing so well that Facebook suggests you run an ad to boost the post? Yeah..you don't want to do this. The reason you don't want to run an ad for it is because it's redundant and pointless. Imagine running an ad every time you posted something informative? You'd be doing it a lot. It's not realistic and benefits Facebook more than it benefits you. Plus as I opened this section, they want you to run an ad for both your statuses doing poorly and strongly. Facebook's algorithms prevent your posts from reaching all your followers. They base who will see your content based on what they think your followers want to see...dumb right? There is a simple way around this so that you don't have to waste time and money on an ad to boost posts. One thing to do is post images related to what you wish to talk about. Images tend to generate more views then regular text statuses. Also sharing other people's posts tend to get more views because they are feeding off multiple pages. You can also add something if you wish. I will note however that this may no longer be possible due to Facebook changing how you can log in as your business page. Do not run an ad for boosting posts.  


Why You Shouldn't Pay For Reviews

Posted on July 5, 2016 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Should you pay for reviews? It's one of those questions you see people ask constantly and there is a good share of mixed opinions on both sides. Well let me in very simple terms put it to you like this..do not under any circumstances ever pay for reviews for your books! Now I bet your wondering why I am so strong about my opinion well I will explain it to you but first remember this. Reviews are not fully for an authors benefit they are for readers to check out to get an idea on books. I do disagree with the whole "Reviews are not for the author" again not true, they are but they aren't solely for the author. An author can use reviews to build credentials for their book so it stands out and because any book looks good with lots of them. To the question at hand though, why shouldn;t you pay for reviews?


The first reason is because it's not a good practice. You don't want to rely on spending money to get reviews when you can spend money on much more reasonable things toward your book. I don't have many reviews for my books but at the same time I don't want to spend a ton of money to get them either. Also I feel paying for them makes them feel less worthy, I like earning my reviews, I like the idea of getting a sale or enticing someone to by my book or getting a review out of no where. It's just not a good practice to get reviews that way. Another reason you shouldn't pay for reviews? The cost. Everyone always mentions Kirkus. Kirkus this Kirkus that. Do you know what Kirkus is? Unrealistic, Not for everyone and most of all way too expensive. I've heard it costs well into the $400-500 range which is just ridiculous. Also there's no guarantee you'll get your book in. Look, just because I'm against it doesn't mean you should be, I mean if you want to give them a try by all means I'm just telling you that your better off working your butt off getting reviews or simpler easier ways just not paying for them by using Kirkus.


Another reason you shouldn't pay for reviews is because you may end up with results you may not be happy with. We all want 5 star ratings and reviews, let's not sugar coat it, we do. As authors we all want our books to be best-sellers and 5 stars all across the board with nothing but good things..well again not realistic. This is most certainly true with book tours. Book Tours are great if you want people to feature your book, have you do a guest post, cover reveal but reviews not so much. Why are book tours bad for reviews? Two reasons: One, not everyone is going to enjoy the book and your not getting all good reviews and two, people tend to cancel and it's not guaranteed so when your told you'll get 8 reviews and you end up with 4, chances are your not going to be very happy that you spent such money. I know this happens because it's happened to me. it didn't discourage me from trying it again but it did make me re-think and now if I were to do a book tour it wouldn't solely be to get reviews it would be for everything and if someone wanted to review then I'd consider that an added bonus. 


Finally there is another reason you shouldn't pay for reviews and it doesn't involve money..your thinking huh? What does he mean? I mean review swaps. They mind as well be considered paying for reviews because your not paying in money your paying by agreeing to give someone good praise for their book if they give praise to yours. NO, NO, NO! This is not only not good to do but it's downright frowned upon for authors. It means your only reading a book and pardon my french(kissing ass) so that you get a good review. That's not realistic and nobody wants to look at reviews for a book only to notice they have a ton of 5 star books and lots of them sound as though the person read the back cover and just through something together. You should never do a review swap because they aren't honest and in my opinion it's the same as spending a ton of money on getting them...don't do it, it's not worth it. So in the long run remember the keys to what you have read and why you shouldn't pay to get reviews. There are many ways to get reviews without paying such as joining Author's Marketing Club and trying their Review Grabber Tool, going onto Goodreads and ask for reviews in appropriate groups and folders, running a giveaway on Goodreads, Amazon or Rafflecopter, etc. These are just a few ideas but any idea is better than paying for reviews.

Is Mailchimp Worth the Money?

Posted on July 4, 2016 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Mailchimp is an e-mail marketing service that allows you to gain followers and create and write e-mails to send to your followers in a mass setting. It's easy to set-up and account however it's not quite all that easy to use, at least I don't think so. It can be a bit confusing so I would say just like any site you really have to use it a few times to get used to it. Basically the idea behind Mailchimp is it acts as a way for you to e-mail a bunch of people on your mailing list(you are building an e-mail list right?) Sorry I feel as though I was required to say that but even if your not big on building an e-mail list you should at the very least try and give it a shot. So why Mailchimp? Well there are other places you can use but I've always been told that Mailchimp is the most recommended. I joined a few months back and didn't like it but then seeing that I needed one to buld an e-mail list decided to give it another shot. The good thing about Mailchimp is you can upload an exsisting e-mail list and you can set a landing page or link on your site or post it to gain that persons e-mail to which you can then add to your list on MailChimp. So from that regard and everything else I have stated, Mailchimp would seem like quite the site to use right? Well that can be debated as my next point of discussion is about the title of this very post.


Is MailChimp worth the money? Well First off you should know that Mailchimp is free of charge to use however...If you want to be able to automatically send e-mails to your followers or ones to people who join to welcome them and give them info and something free then you need to pay a fee. The automation feature costs are based on the amount of followers you have. For example I have 25 followers so I'm in the $10 range if I were to pay to use it but I don't. The more followers you have the more you pay. When I first found out the automation wasn't free I won't lie I pretty much rode off the site. I find it ridiculous that there's a fee because obviously automation is a big part of using the site because no one wants to sit there and write every single new member manually especially if you run an ad to attract more followers. However, not only is this not free but they start charging you more money after you reach over 2,000 followers. This bothers me because they assume every single hard working indie author who wants to build a list has the money..well they don't, I know I don't. You have to spend money monthly to keep up your service on Mailchimp plus whatever else your spending, it's just a vicious cycle to me and unless you can really backup and cover your costs I don't think MailChimp is worth it.


Is Mailchimp worth it? Well this is just my opinion. I say if you have and are will to spend money and you have a solid e-mail list going then by all means go ahead and use the automation feature. Some people will make it work better than others. For me, I don't have the funds to pay monthly to use it and keep it up and even if I did I don't know that I would because I just don't get the full aspect of it. It's hard enough gaining followers as is and to reach them you need to pay a fee? I may be an outsider on this thought but I just don't get it. I'll say this much..I think your better off getting automation when you reach 2,000 followers. They start charging you after you reach 2,000 so either automation becomes free and they just charge you just for the amount of followers or they charge you for both but either way I would think it's best to consider paying when it's worth it and you have a decent size following. Mailchimp is used by millions and recommended by many so I am not totally against it, I get the premise and the idea and I myself still have an account and plan on using it. I may consider getting the automation fee when I get a good size following. So is it worth the money? Yes but only if you're either already set up to do so or you plan on set up to do so.


What's the Right Price for an Ebook?

Posted on June 14, 2016 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

You just published your book. You've set the paperback price on whichever publisher you use and now you need to set the ebook/Kindle price on Amazon...but what should you set your ebook price at? If your like me you've wondered this not only while pricing your books before they've come out but even well after you've already published them. With ebooks very much just as popular as paperbacks(if not more) an author has to make sure they have the price of their ebooks just right. As I always like to say you want a price that you can live with and won't lose sleep over although sometimes that may not be up to you which is why you should do some research on how to go about it. Luckily I have some ideas as to how you should price your ebook. Before I give some ideas as to what and how you should price your ebook just remember the following basics:

-Don't set your ebook at a ridiculous price:

You don't want to set your ebook in double digits especially if your an indie author. Lots of times if you see an ebook priced in the $10-15.99 range it's usually because the author is with a traditional publisher or well established enough to do so.

-Don't set it at the same price as your paperback:

This seems like a no brainer to me although it needs to be said. An ebook is different from a paperback and both have different markets so it's not the best idea price your ebook at the same price as your paperback.

-50% of what your Paperback is

Consider at the very least of setting your ebook at half of what the price of your paperback is. For example if your paperback is $9.99 then your ebook would be $4.99. This isn't the most ideal practice but it gives you a base to work with.

So what's the ideal price to set for your book?

Between $0.99 and and $4.99. $2.99 and $3.99 are the most common with $3.99 being the most popular. Why are these good prices to set your ebook at? Well for one it's a price where both you and the reader can feel comfortable. You can get a decent amount of royalties from it based off the 70% on Amazon and your readers don't feel like they are spending all that much and are getting a quality book. Also $2.99 and $3.99 are a reasonable and very happy medium. 

How should you determine which price is best for you?

You can determine this by two ways: Length & Word Count and your books Genre. As you may know there are word count's that help determine what a book classifies under. From a short story to a novel. First here is a list of what word counts determine what your book is:

 

Novel over 40,000 words

Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words

Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words

Short story under 7,500 words

Basically it's like this, the longer the book the higher the price, the shorter the book the lower the price. Readers expect this whether it's fiction, non-fiction, memoirs or biographies. Typically an ebook under 50,000 words is expected to be listed at below $2.99 and any book priced at $2.99 is considered too expensive. it's also said that if your a credible author with a large fanbase that you can get away with listing your let's say 30,000 page book at $2.99. However I will state this; this is only recommended as I myself believe $2.99 to be a fairly reasonable price for any ebook no matter what size it is but again that's just me, you can take listen to what's recommended and base choose your price on this if you want.


Another way to determine your ebook's price is by what genre it's in. To me this is actually a very good idea. You can very easily determine this and it's a lot easier than word length. Basically what you do is go on Amazon and bring up the books within your genre. Check out the first page and see what each ebook is listed at(note: you should disregard any book with an either high or odball price).Your looking to see which price comes up most often whether it be $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, etc. I did this myself and I found that within the two genres my books fell under which were "Horror Poetry" and "Crime Thrillers" the average price was $0.99 and $2.99. This is a very simple way to decide of how to price your book. You can also do this one of two ways: you can take the price that shows up the most or you can add up all the totals and divide at the end for an amount..but this should only be chosen if you have a 50/50 split between two prices.


So there you have it. Two ways to figure out what the right price for your ebook should be. You can use the word count route and do it that way or you can decide based on the genre your book falls under. Remember this though, anything higher than $5.99 is pushing it, I get you want a good royalty amount but consider that a small reasonable price may get you a lot of downloads whereas a higher priced ebook may get you little sales. Dont set it at a ridiculous price you yourself would never even buy, don't make it the same price as your paperback and at the very least consider making your ebook 50% less than what your paperback is. Use the 50% as a template as a place to start of how you should price your book and go from there. 



Amazon Affiliates Program

Posted on May 23, 2016 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Are you a member of the Amazon Affiliates Program? For those who don't know what it is, basically you sign up and what you do is place Amazon ads on your profile or blog and anytime someone clicks on those ads and buys the product you get a percentage of that sale because the ad on your page was appealing.

 


You can pick what you wish to advertise on your page. You can pretty much advertise anything Amazon sells although I would recommend stuff that is in relation to what your page is about or you have knowledge on, you know just so the ads don't look totally out of place. I myself have ads for Kindle's and deals on books within my genres.

 


I haven't made any money off it but it's another way to make some quick cash, it's easy to sign up and there's really no harm in at least trying it out.

Making the Most of Amazon Author Profiles

Posted on May 23, 2016 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

One thing I've read in several places is how an author should make the most of their Amazon profile. The first thing is I don't think people really value their profile page on Amazon and don't realize what they can do with it. Why should you put effort into your profile? Well for starters when you send people to buy your books they may click on your name for more info about you or to check out more of your books.

 

Here are some things you can do for your Amazon profile to make it more valuable:

 

-Make a simple but informative Author bio

(The idea is you want to make it stand out so try writing a fresh bio rather than using the same old one you use everywhere else)

 

-Upload a professional or solid picture of yourself

(You don't have to be wearing a two piece suit but it should be an appropriate picture)

 

-Sync your blog to your page

(If you have a blog you can connect it to your Amazon page so people will see your articles and anything else you may post)

 

-Include links in your Bio

(Be sure to include links to your website or any social media sites you use and put them in your bio)

 

-Add your recent book's trailer

(If you have a book trailer for your novels you can upload one of them to your profile. I suggest uploading your most recent book)

 

-Include all your books

(Of course the books you've written will be listed but if you have written with someone or are part of any anthologies make sure your name is listed so that the book will show up in your books)

 

-Go over "Customers Also Bought Items By"

(Below your profile you should see a list of other authors under "Customers Also Bought Items By" this is telling the readers of your books that if they liked your works that maybe they'd also like these authors who are similar.

What can you do with this? Well you can't get rid of it or change it but you can make it work for you. Look up these authors and see what they are doing. Since they are similar to you perhaps you can reach out to them or find out what makes them successful and make what they do work for you)

 

PublishNotWorthica

Posted on May 17, 2016 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

As some of you may know my first book was published by PublishAmerica. Now I have been no stranger in explaining why they are just downright awful and why I was dying to get out of my contract with them. The time to part ways with them started almost right from the get go and finding a company worthy of my book and one that actually puts the author first and takes the necessary to help their authors and their works was essential. After four years I did end up getting out of my contract which I will explain later on but let me give you some examples as to why it was time to wipe my hands with PublishAmerica.

 


First off they used to have a list of things they offered to all authors for free and they even stated at the top of this list right on the home page that “You can’t get any of these things anywhere else this is why you should choose us!” I’m paraphrasing but it was something along those lines. Why was this list completely bogus? Because everything they offered is either automatically given to any author who goes with a publisher or it’s a standard practice for any publisher to offer. So for them to claim it’s free and an author can’t get them anywhere else? Is a total lie and fabricated. Below I will list what they offered and why it wasn’t free.

 


-ISBN number- Every publisher offers to assign a book an isbn # unless the author wants to make one of their own to which they pay a small fee but since it’s a standard issue it’s automatically free anywhere so PA saying it’s free? Obviously and it’s free everywhere else.

 

-Free listing on Ingram, Baker & Taylor and Barnes & Noble- This was not free because at the time all three of these major publishers listed any new book meaning no matter what company you were with these three major publishers listed your book so you didn’t need to be with PA for your book to be listed with these.

*Barnes & Noble to my knowledge is currently now the only one who automatically lists a book regardless of who your published with. Seeing as it’s the #1 bookstore author than Amazon it’s kind of assumed that an author would have their book listed with them.

 

-Illustrations for Children’s Books- Considering 90% of a children’s book is illustrations I don’t see the need to claim this is “free”. If you’re a site claiming your authors can publish for free then why would you state something that is an obvious need especially when it comes to a children’s book? I’m sure other places allow author to publish children’s books for free and any one can put together a children’s book so this claim was just ridiculous.

 

-Listing on Amazon Kindle- Again not free considering most places know you may likely want your book converted into an ebook and the #1 place to do so is Amazon Kindle so most places automatically have a feature to do so.

 

-Free Editing- This is perhaps the biggest lie they ever told. They offer free editing because YOU’RE the editor of your own book. They don’t actually have an editing department, only a bunch of people who make the corrections that YOU give them. How this is free just doesn’t even make any sense.

 

 

 


Another thing they were notoriously bad for is their special promotional offers. They would offer their authors these “great” deals when in reality upon a closer inspection anyone could see that not only is it not a deal but the author makes next to nothing out of it and PA gets all the profit and the author’s money. One example was for a Cyber Monday and two days after they claimed they would make my book available for my own buying for prices of 1 cent, a dime and 8.99 with free shipping. The problem with this is that for the penny and dimes promo the minimum amount of copies to buy was 12 so it may be 12 cents but then they add a $7.99 shipping fee for each book plus a service charge of $4.99 for each book bringing the total to $169.20 , I kid you not.The free shipping promo had the minimum amount of copies to buy at 20 which made it $99.80. I was appalled by these supposable "deals" and I couldn't help but laugh and wonder why on earth they think anyone in their right mind would do them. No matter what kind of deal, it was expensive and doesn't benefit the author but benefits themselves. It's all about them making the money, all deals they offer are botched and tainted and they author always seems to get the short end of the stick.

 

 


Another prime example of their lack of professionalism or support of their authors is their lack of services. Anytime you wish to acquire their help in promoting or have a question they give you unprofessional or snarky. I am a very inquisitive person when it comes to wanting to know certain things. When it comes to my book it is no different so you can imagine the questions I must have had for them. Well I had written them countless times and while they had answered my questions most of them have been answered of course with them benefiting or "oh sorry we don't do that", the classic "that'll cost you..." or as I stated in the beginning them being snarky and even downright rude. It would have cost me $250 to edit my book, no matter how many or how little errors there were and no matter what kind of error it was..can you say ridiculous? One time I asked for my annual copy that all authors get when youve first been published because I had switched computers and I lost it. Most companies would be understanding and send it but most companies are not PublishAmerica. Rather than send it right over and apologize they argue with me back and forth in e-mails and tell me I already received my one copy. I keep asking them because I need it for review purposes and eventually they send me an e-mail telling me to leave them alone about the issue.

 


Is this professional? I think not! So after that failed attempt I waited a week and asked a different department while pretty much re-writing my entire book and going over it and fixing any errors I came across which was only 8(however upon further examination have found big time errors which have been all fixed). Just so my luck would have it I get an e-mail from the design department who not only sends me over a copy of my book but then says if I need anything else to feel free to ask. This was the only time I felt I was talking to a human being.

 

 


Think it stops there? Oh no theres more my friends. The one deal I ever did with them cost me $30 it spread the word to companies about my book across seven states. It was called the 7/11 Book Blitz. It was $11 plus a little added extra fee. Do you think I ever heard a word from them about it after I did it? Nope. I asked once and they said no people had contacted them about it, really? Whose to say they even sent anything out to anyone and they just took my money?


You remember when I said that free conversion to Kindle is free? Well that was a lie and again I was an amateur at the time so I didn’t know any better. It cost me around 40 bucks to do which I felt was a key need however...Most companies convert Kindle for free because come on now it's an essential need and key attraction in todays world. So while I paid for this and I could have had Nook and Google Ebook to which would have cost me twice as much I decided to just go with the main conversion of Kindle. It was not until after I paid $40 that a few months later on their homepage it says that on top of other things they provide for free which is bogus as I stated in the beginning, they have Free Kindle conversion..really? Is this new I wondered or had they just been holding out on me? Needless to say I was in no mood to start another controversy with them so I just looked past it and feel bad for all the people out there who were still getting suckered in by these false advertising phonies. When you click on one of their pages it actually says "Never Self Publish". I find this hilarious because while some may not want to do that I say self-publishing is a lot better then what they are doing whatever it might be because it most certainly isn't publishing.

 


In the four years my book was under contract with them I never received a single royalties check from them. While it did state I had to sell 40% according to my contract I find it very hard to believe that my book never reached such a feat. I mean I know my book wasn’t selling like hotcakes or did all that great but I find it really hard to believe that I didn’t reached the royalty goal. Not to mention PA never ever contacted me to inform me of any sales or anything whatsoever. It's all became one big giant headache that I not only didn’t want to deal with but didn't have to deal with anymore. So after I had enough of the b.s and what not I asked if I could be released from my contract to which they said yes, for a fee of $300. I found this absolutely ridiculous and outrageous and my friends and family even said don’t pay it. I then began trying to inquire with any author who was able to get out of their contract with them. I came across one guy who said he breached contract and they terminated him immediately...well I thought about this and even told them I was going to breach contract to which began a string of tasteless e-mails. They said that I would do no such thing and if I did I would remain under contract. Make sense much?

 


I sent an e-mail asking out of my contract to which they responded with an e-mail title of “Justin Wanting Free Stuff Again” in which the person I talked to saying that I always ask for free stuff and that after all they’ve given me that it’s absurd that I want out of my contract and for free at that. I’m not joking that’s the e-mail I received. I never once asked them for free stuff because they are the ones who claimed to offer everything for free anyways! Also with these e-mails they always challenged me to find another publisher who would give them the stuff they gave me or gave them anything they didn’t. While I could have I felt I wasn’t going to give into them and this would just be them trying to spin numbers and words to their favor. It was pretty much a “He Said/They Said” back and forth and it got brutal. I responded back with “I don’t have to show you other companies offerings or deals because you’ll just spin it to your favor and make stuff up”. They responded back with “That’s exactly what we thought, because you can’t find any one else that’s why you will remain under contract.”

 


It was then that I started looking up PublishAmerica and came across a site called “Preditors and Editors” a site that tells you the quality of how good or bad publishers are. It was a list in alphabetical order and when I got to “P” well...while most publishers had a sentence as to why they were bad or good, PublishAmerica had their own page. Thousands of authors claiming they were bad and a lot of the things they stated happened to them had happened to me. It wasn’t until I ended up getting in touch with a woman who said there was a small civil suit coming out against PA that I thought this could be the freedom I was looking for. I filled out a form and the next day a lawyer contacted me and asked me about all I had went through with PA. She told me there was a petition and small suit and that several hundred authors were in the same boat I was. I kept in touch and was told that I would be released of my contract, my book rights would be reverted back to me and that I would not hear from them anymore and that I should not contact them. Well the last part didn’t need repeating as I had no desire whatsoever to speak with them ever again. At one point I even told them I was getting a lawyer and would be released from my contract soon to which I got a response saying “No you didn’t or else we would have heard something and besides no lawyer is going to do anything because no breach of contract has happened” Talk about self-absorbed and in dense denial...

 


So after four years of absolute torment I was released from my contract with Publish America. It was by far the happiest moment of my life as an author to that point. I was happy and by then I had released my second book with Createspace. Since I had such great success with CS I decided to republish The Macabre Masterpiece under them with a new cover and fixed up, error free. You have no idea how happy I was to have all control and say over my book, it was such a relief. Since my release from my contract I have published three books all with Createspace and I’ve never had any issue with them nevermind any of the mind games and lack of professionalism I had with CS. In 2015, Publish America changed their named to America Star Books. I checked out their site and it roughly had the same lay out and same broken promises and dream crushing statements. Upon a recent inspection I noticed they have no home page and only have a list of genres. They still list books at ridiculous prices of $24.95 and kindles for $9.99. I didn’t mention if before but that was the reason no one ever bought my book, because they set the prices and they set them so high that of course no one is going to buy a book from there expecially if the books are riddled with errors.

 

 


I will finish this up with two small stories. The first was me receiving an comment on my website. The comment was from some woman who stated that I could have my books at the Chicago Book Expo with exposure, my own booth and all this great stuff. At the end of the comment she stated where she was from and who she represented....America Star Books. I smiled and promptly deleted the comment from my site.

 


Second, A young man wrote a thread on Goodreads asking what sites were good to publish with and if self-publishing was a good route to go down. In simple terms I told him about my experience with PA. Oddly enough he told me he had something set up with PA and if he should get out of it, I told him yes and that he should do it yesterday. I said he’d be better of with Createspace, Lulu and LightningSource.

 

 


I hope my informative rant has given you an idea of what I've had to go through and shines a light of what not to do and if your considering going with a publishing company that you by no means go with these people and look into a good company and get as much information about them as you can.

My Kindle Countdown/Free Days 2.0

Posted on May 16, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (1)

So as part of the anniversary marking the 3 and 4 years of two of my books releases I decided to do a free days and Kindle Countdown Deal for them. I did free days for my poetry book Like A Box of Chocolates and I had the deal run for 5 days from April 26th to April 30th. I also held a Kindle Countdown Deal for my western horror A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West for 7 days from April 26th to May 3rd. Below are my results.


Free Days for Like a Box of Chocolates:

Day 1- 18 downloads

Day 2- 8 downloads

Day 3- 125 downloads

Day 4- 16 downloads

Day 5- 38 downloads

Total- 205 downloads


KCD for A Bloody Bloody Mess..:

Day 1- 1 download

Day 2- 1 download

Day 3- 1 download

Day 4- 1 download

Day 5- 1 download

Day 6- 0

Day 7- 0

Total- 5 downloads


So as you can tell from my free days I did pretty well with my best day being April 28th which was a Thursday. I generated 125 likes that day and my book peaked all the way to #3 on Amazon Best-Sellers list for Poetry. It was after that to which I tried hard to try and push downloads to get it to #1 but I unfortunately never reached that but I am very pleased to have had a book reach #3, I consider that quite an achievement. I don't know what site produced the most downloads for me as they don't provide that information and I promoted on quite a few sites. You can check out the complete list of places I promoted my free days on IndieListers just look for my book Like A Box of Chocolates on the list.


As for my Kindle Countdown deal well it bombed. I promoted on the sames sites when I could and promoted on ones that allowed discounts to be listed but for some reason the downloads just weren't there. The book went from a normal $2.99 to $0.99 for the seven days but I only averaged a download a day until I got nothing the last two. It generated me just $2.72 in royalties which I wasn't happy about but if anything it's an eye opener and learning experience. It was a total loss as the book peaked all the way to #15 on Amazon Best-Sellers for Horror and averaged out at #20 for most of the discount days and for a week after it ended. This promotion helped me realize what I should do for next time which is perhaps spend a little money or promote it in more places to build awareness.


Overall I would say I got the best of both worlds from my promotions as my free days got me massive downloads and my discount deal got me barely anything but I am glad I did them and it helped spread awareness for my books and who knows maybe I'll get some reviews out of it as well. I would also like to mention that eBookBooster gives you a list in alphabetical order of places you can submit your book. It costs money but I went to all the sites manually and I'm glad I did because not all of them were functioning sites as some had broken links, the site was no longer up or there was no page in which to promote. So while I do suggest eBookBooster I suggest you not pay for it as it's better to just do it yourself and it doesn't take that much time. Also Author's Marketing Club has a feature that allows you to promote your book to a ton of sites. Premium Members can do it with one click while regular members like myself do it manually, again that I will leave up to you. Also it's good to run promotions on places like AwesomeGang, Prettyhot.com and DiscountBookMan, they all run the same but they promote your book on the day you ask them to.


Those are my results for my free days and kindle countdown deals fro my books and I hope my experience and findings will appeal to you as I shared them for this very reason. Feel free to take what I said and apply it to your own promotion deals and feel free to comment telling me about your experience. I will also gladly take any questions you may have on anything I may have left out.

Making Your Amazon Descriptions Stand Out

Posted on May 9, 2016 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

One thing I recently found out about Amazon is the descriptions for books. Too many people just use the same ole synopsis and plop it on there to use as their description. Did you know there's a way to enhance your description and make it stand out so that it's more catchy and appealing to potential readers? A description should consist of four key parts:

 

1. First you want to think of a short and enticing creative headline as this will be the first sentence a potential customer will see. Make it gripping it may take a few tries so play around with a few headlines and pick the one you think is best. Instead of a sentence consider using two or three powerful keywords that explain the book and catch a reader’s eye.

 

Next choose a second headline, this will go below the first, again make it creative and catchy but don't be cliche. A strong sentence that backs up the keywords but also drives forward and delivers to bring the reader in even more.

 

2. A synopsis. I know above I said not to use one but I meant don’t use the same one that’s on the back of your book and on your paperback page. You want to write a new synopsis that really taps into the readers emotions or in the case of a non-fiction book helps solve a problem. You don't want to ramble on so paraphrase and condense your new synopsis into a couple sentences.

 

3. A selling paragraph, just a few sentences that use strong action words and adjectives.

 

4. A strong call-to action (CTA), write something that brings the reader home full circle and gets them fully invested in getting a copy of your book.

 

You should spend most of your time on the first and last line of your description.

 

One final thing that will be more appealing is using html code to bold, italicize, or make lists for your descriptions so that certain words and points stand out over others. A little goes a long way so you don’t want to over do it.

 *Note that this only works on Amazon Kindle so you'll need to go into your Kindle description page to do this.


These are just the basics on how to create great descriptions and to make the first two headlines stand out. For a complete rundown on how to make your Amazon Description stand out and how to properly format it check out the following links:

 

How To Make Your Amazon Description Stand Out-

http://fixmystory.com/2015/03/03/how-to-make-your-amazon-description-stand-out/

 

How To Format Your Amazon Book Description-

http://bookmarketingtools.com/blog/how-to-format-your-kindle-book-descriptions-with-html/

Giveaway for Like a Box of Chocolates

Posted on April 13, 2016 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (4)

April 26th doesn't just mark the anniversary of A Bloody Bloody Mess..but it also marks the third year anniversary of the release of Like a Box of Chocolates. In honor of this occasion and on behalf of the fact it's National Poetry Month I will be doing giveaways and contests for the book throughout the month.

Giveaway- April 13th-26th

 

 

 Paperback Giveaway-

 Give me your favorite line from your favorite poem, it can be a poem from anyone throught history.

 *person with the best line will win a copy of the book.

 

E-Book Giveaway-

 What does Poetry mean to you? How far do you think poetry has come today compared to years prior? Those who I think come up with the best responses shall win E-Book copies.

 *the three best responses will win copies of the book.

 

 

 

Giveaway for A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West

Posted on April 4, 2016 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (3)

April 26th marks the fourth year anniversary release of my Western Horror, A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West. To honor this occasion I am doing some giveaways and contests throughout the month.

Giveaway-April 1st-13th

 


Paperback Giveaway-

-Your on the Good side with Emerson Shaw and the town fighting against the undead. Give me your best pre-fight speech to get everyone motivated and pumped up. Write your speech by commenting on this post.

*The person who I believe comes up with the best response will win a copy of the book.

 

E-Book Giveaway-

-Your on the BAD side with Javier “Bones” Jones and his army of the undead fighting against the townspeople lead by Emerson Shaw. Give me your best speech to your undead army(who will in all likelihood not even understand you anyways). Write your speech by commenting on this post.

 

*The three best responses will win a copy of the book.

Novel or Short Story: How Do You Decide?

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Do you ever come up with a great idea for a story that you just can’t wait to get started on? Chances are the answer to this is yes. The more enlightening question is how do you decide if a story becomes your next novel or just a short story? I’m not sure how many have pondered this but it’s crossed my mind more than once and only recently has it really stopped to make me think. Exactly how does a person decide what becomes a full-fledged novel and what becomes a short story? I suppose everyone is different but let’s go over some basic theories as to what may make a person decide what’s what.

 

(Length of an Idea)-

One obvious reason would be length. The amount and length of a story may be good enough to be a short story but you may not have enough of a concept to build off it to have it become a novel. The idea is there and it’s great but you feel it only goes so far and there’s only so much of it you can write. Sure a writer can build off it if they really try but there’s writing because “the idea is there” and forcing it and at no time should you ever force more than you have to. So in this regard length can play a part in an author determining what becomes a book and what becomes a short story.

 

(Anthologies)-

Another way you may decide one over another is your writing to be featured in an anthology which in this case means your writing a short story. Now whether you already have a short story written that fits or your being asked to write about a certain topic chances are your writing a short story to be placed into an anthology. Depending on the content of what they want, this may also serve as a way to tease your readers for an upcoming book. You can always write a short story for your own or for an anthology and then later on write a book about the same topic, having the short piece serve as a prologue or teaser.

 

(The Idea Itself)-

This next way is one of the ways that I myself contemplate which is the idea itself. Let’s say I have an idea in mind for a story but while I like it I don’t feel it’s novel material..does that make sense? Okay let’s try the opposite, let’s say I have a concept for a story that’s so great that making it into a short story just doesn’t do it justice. The title I have in mind is epic and the concept is so good that I want to publish it for all to read and experience. Make sense? This one is basically saying that you feel your writing a story for either the full effect with every intention to make it a novel or it’s good enough to just serve as a short story.

 


So these are three ways to which I believe people decide as to what becomes a short story or a novel. Obviously I think about this hence the reason I wrote this post. I also wrote it because I’m curious as to how many other authors think about this and do any of the three. It’s one thing to write a story but it’s something else entirely to think about what you want to do with it and what you want to turn it into. So do you do this? If so how do you decide?

 

Why Are Book Trailers Underrated?

Posted on February 16, 2016 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (2)

Book Trailers are videos that act as teasers and a way of getting people to be interested in your book. But do they work? Is this one of the key pratices and techniques of building a following? I say yes. Why are book trailers so underrated? It's not because people aren't watching them it's because your not giving people a reason to wach them. Sure you can write in your "keywords" when you tag words while creating it so that people on YouTube will discover it but this only goes so far. You need a more wide range of availability and you need to drive traffic to your videos. How do you do this? Well first check out my 6 Ways to Generate Book Trailer Views  for starters as it gives 6 very simple ways to harn views. Also realize that while you want to draw people to Youtube because that's where most go to watch videos you shouldn't just use Youtube. Use other sites such as Daily Motion, Vimeo or even GodTube if you write Christian Fiction. Why are book trailers underrated? Because your not promoting and marketing to the group of people who decide to buy a book based off watching them. This is why you need to promote your trailers to as many video streaming sites as you can and then not only make tags and keywords pertaining to people on those sites but go look for outside sites where people who enjoy watching book trailers will be interested. Do such people and places exist? Of course they do, they may not be easy to find but again there are people whose decision to buy a book is based on their watching of book trailers.


Why are book trailers underrated? Because it's a simple tool that doesn't need a group or niche. Even if certain people don't immediately decide to buy books based off watching trailers you should of course still pertain and market to them because it's still a book. Yes, remember? Your video is about your book so chances are while they may not be fans of trailers if you know they will enjoy the genre and content to what your books about then chances are they will still watch it and it may influence their decision. The idea is you want to entertain, you want an audience. You know you have put together quality content so you want to showcase that and show it off. You want to target a certain audience but at the same time you want to target audience in general. Nothing says you have to go all out to prmote your video, a simply promo on social media or mention of it in a comment on a site can go a long way. You also don't have to say much because your letting the trailer do all the talking. So again, aside from finding a group or targeting an audience you want to make sure you know your showing quality content and people will also see the hard work and quality content and they will be intrigued. The idea is you don't want people to be sold you want them to invest.


Why are book trailers underrated? Given all the other ways people promote and market, no one thinks to make them or view them. What's wrong with this? Well for one we watch television and we watch movies but most of all we watch commercials. What makes us go out and watch a movie? commercials for upcoming movies. What are these? You guessed it, movie trailers. Book trailers are like movie trailers in the sense that they are trying to get your interested and they want you to invest. Most people enjoy movie trailers and in this case book trailers are a smaller version of them but they have the same intent and message which is to attract a following. Personally, if there's one thing I enjoy more than writing a novel it's creating a book trailer for it. I do this because I want to showcase my book in a creative way. Not only do I want to appeal to my audience but I want to appeal to a certain audience and I also know that trailers intrigue people. I feel that while book trailers are underrated it doesn't stop me from creating them because in the event they pick up, I have mine there for view for people to watch at any time. Who knows if book trailers will pick up and become a part of the essential ways to promote books but that should not stop us from creating them and it should not stop us from continuing to use them as a way to promote our novels.


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