Oh, poop! The campaign is live! Now what? First, shift from panic mode to “I’ve got this” mode.
That’s SHIFT. With an F. Given my lack of preparation and research, let’s emphasize that F, shall we?
Hindsight is Twenty/Twenty: Pre-Campaign Work
If you are smarter than I was, you’re reading this before your campaign starts. If not, no problem, you’re in great company. Just keep reading… you’ll get there.
Third Party Promotions
If you have a promotion budget and want to spend some money to get the word out, then you can see what worked for me and what didn’t work. For some vendors, you need to schedule ahead of time, to ensure they have room for your promotion.
The single most effective promotion was through GenrePulse. I’d used the service before for already-published book promotions. I contacted the owner. I asked him if he’d be willing to try an experimental promotion for my Kindle Scout campaign. He was willing to do the behind-the-scenes work to try it. As an added bonus, he sent me the tool that tracked the clicks from the ad. Don’t do it any more frequently than once a week. You don’t want to wear out your welcome with those readers. After your campaign starts, I advise scheduling weekly promotion for each one of the four weeks.
Disclaimer: I don’t get any referral fees or discounts for sending you to the site. I’m just passing along my experience, in hopes of helping people like me.
Check out my final campaign statistics. The large spikes are directly correlated to my GenrePulse campaigns. As you can see, higher-than-normal spikes continued the next couple of days after each campaign, but at a lower rate. The lower rate is to be expected; it’s a reflection of the Law of Diminishing Returns.
I also boosted my post about the campaign throughout the four weeks. On your FB page, click the Ads Manager. Follow the prompts. Set your target demographics based on the audience you think will buy the book.
Revisit your ad several times a week, if not daily. Click on Demographics. The bar graph will show you where your ad is most effective. I set my initial audience as United States women cat lovers who like cozy mysteries. As I checked my demographics, I was surprised to see the high level of engagement was among women 18 – 44 years of age. I experimented with refining my audience, finally changing the age range to 18 – 34 to get the best possible results.
What Didn’t Work
In the initial throes of desperation, I tried Bookgoodies Authors Ad Network. While the Facebook group for Bookgoodies authors includes wonderful people and the administrator of the site is a lovely person, this option yielded zero results. I didn’t see any impact on my Views statistics. It’s pricey, too… a sad waste of money.
I’d tried Book Bear for already-published works. I tried the tweets option for the Kindle Scout. I did see the tweets. I didn’t see any movement in the statistics. It wasn’t very expensive, but still a waste of money. A KBoards member also tried it; the promotion didn’t even run. Caveat emptor: Always check that a paid promotion has run, and contact the vendor if it didn’t.
Last, I ran a KBoards banner ad. I didn’t get much traction from it.
I frantically did my research on the fly, desperate to find out what other people did in their successful campaigns. These are the best sources that I found.
I found out about KBoards during the research phase. From my personal messages to my FB friends, I found out about a terrific forum within KBoards. The topic is Kindle Scout experiences & Nomination Requests (MERGED). Here’s the link: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,213112.6925.html
The group on KBoards is wonderful. It’s a mix of people who have garnered Kindle Press contracts and those who have not. The members nominate each other, give helpful advice, moral support, etc.). Steve Vernon (past winner) keeps a list of members’ campaigns, which he updates every day. Read past posts (helpful for getting answers to questions already asked), create your profile (don’t forget to put your Kindle Scout campaign link as your signature), and dive right in. You will be in a way better place than I was when I started the process.
Steve Vernon’s Blog: 30 Days of Kindle Scout
Steve’s blog posts help me keep my sanity. He posted each day of his 30-day campaign. You will need to click through the days.
Steve suggested posting in groups outside of writing, but I don’t belong to any that aren’t book related (how pathetic is that).
Here’s the link to his site, starting with the first day of his successful campaign. https://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/kelpie-dreams/
Lincoln Cole’s Guide to Kindle Scout
Lincoln is another Kindle Scout winner. He put together a comprehensive guide to Kindle Scout. I studied his guide more carefully and intently than I did the GRE preparation course. His was more fun.
Here’s what he covers:
HOW KINDLE SCOUT WORKS
RUNNING YOUR CAMPAIGN
HOW HOT & TRENDING WORKS
SELECTION DATA BY MONTH/YEAR AND AVERAGE
AVERAGE HOURS HOT & TRENDING AND PAGE VIEWS
BLOGS AND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT KINDLE SCOUT
AFTER GETTING PICKED
VIDEOS ABOUT THE PROCESS
Be sure and click on “average hours hot & trending and page views.” Look at his statistics from those who got and didn’t get picked (be sure to have your cursor in the table and scroll down). It’s self-reported data, and it’s not comprehensive.
Amazon keeps its algorithms a deep, dark secret. We’re lucky Lincoln has put in the hard work compiling numbers that people provide to him. It’s mind boggling. We can’t say X views + Y hours H&T = Contract. Some statistics are low…but the authors got a contract. Some statistics are amazingly high, but the authors didn’t get it. I know from personal experience that it’s not previous paid Amazon sales. As I shared in Part One, mine are abysmal.
Your Campaign Statistics
Be sure and use the Kindle Scout dashboard to view and analyze your campaign statistics.
Try not to stress out. Just do your best.
Here are my stats. I didn’t think I was superstitious, but I didn’t share my stats until after my book had been selected for publication.
H&T: 699 hours
Sources Internal 25% External 75%
The chart with my final statistics is included at the bottom of the post.
Build Your Plan
The fact that my formatting on the site was initially hosed added to the stress. I had hard page breaks in the first few pages, since I always write my books in the Createspace template. Those breaks did not translate properly to the profile.
I was desperate. I sent enough emails to the Kindle Scout Team to qualify for a restraining order. They were very nice and responsive. Once I took out the hard returns and emailed the team the revised Word version, they fixed it.
Despite feeling like I was being consumed by fire ants while tied to railroad tracks with a locomotive barreling toward me, I decided to put together a plan.
Working in Excel, I created a worksheet. I had rows dedicated to each of the thirty days. Columns included Date, Day of the Week, Number of Hours in Hot and Trending, Total Possible Hours in Hot and Trending, Percentage (Number of Hours H&T/Total Possible Hours H&T), Activity. On a different worksheet in the same document, I tracked the Sources and the Internal/External Sources. I also calculated the average number of views of each day, and added up the major sources (like Facebook, Direct Traffic, etc.). There’s more information about these factors under Campaign Statistics.
You’ve developed your plan. You have at least a week-by-week plan. I did mine day-by-day, so you can get as detailed as you wish.
Here are my suggestions for the first week.
Update Your Social Media
Get the word out there. Sometimes we think: If a tree falls in cyberspace, does anyone hear it? If the crash leads to views and nominations, then heck yes! Implementing the list below is totally FREE.
Facebook background: Upload a banner ad for the campaign. Here’s mine. Christina Keats designed it.
Amazon author page: Through Author Central, inform readers about your active campaign in the first paragraph of your bio. Replace your author picture with your campaign book cover.
GoodReads author page: Same as above, use the page as another way to reach readers. Click on the upper corner “Profile” to make changes.
Website: Write a blog post about your campaign. Paste your excerpt in the post. Add your book cover through the media button.
Manage Your Facebook Friends List
Some time ago, a book reviewer asked a fairly well-known author a question about her books on the author’s FB page. The author blasted the reviewer, scorched earth and burnt-off eyebrows style. People wrote about the author’s temper tantrum on their blogs.
I didn’t stir the pot. I didn’t share any of the comments. But I vowed I’d never buy any of her books. And I haven’t.
Hopefully, unlike the above example, you have a great track record with social media. You’ve been on FB for some time, you don’t badger people to “buy my book” or only post to order them to “vote for me” on a daily basis. You don’t call people idiots if they don’t agree with you. You’re not an arrogant twit, talking down to people from your high perch.
You support your friends.
All in all, you’re all-around good social media community member.
Let’s look at your FB friends list.
Take your total number of FB friends, and divide that number by four. This is the number of people you will individually contact with a personal message each week. You’ll contact one-fourth of your list each week to keep momentum going throughout your campaign. You don’t want a blast on the few first days, and nothing the rest of the time. Week One is dedicated to the first fourth of your list, Week Two to the second fourth, Week Three to the third fourth, and Week Four to the last fourth.
I advise individually contacting each person with a message geared toward them. Don’t blast them with a generic message. Yes, I get it. It’s time consuming. But they’re your friends. They’re more likely to click through and nominate you than total strangers. Take the time to message each one.
The oddest personal message I sent was to an author friend who sadly passed away. She was a fantastic friend, great author, and animal lover. Here’s what I wrote: “I wish you were here to read this. I hope it gets to you in heaven. I have a chance for a Kindle Press publishing contract. Maybe you could whisper in a divine ear and put in a good word for me.”
When I went back to the message to quote it for the post, I saw that it had been “seen”!
I know what you’re thinking. Someone, like her dear daughter, is still reading the messages.
Let’s agree to disagree.
Back to personal messages. Don’t dump a generic message through the FB message system. Rather, do a thoughtful personal message to each of your friends. Taking the extra time lets them know you care about them as a person, not a potential nominator.
Here’s my general template, in case it’s helpful to you. Don’t blindly copy and paste my template. Don’t embarrass both of us by leaving INSERT NAME and REMIND THEM… in the text.
Hi, (Insert Name)! (Remind them of your shared frame(s) of reference, history, whatever.) May I ask for a quick favor—just a couple of free and easy clicks, I promise. Please consider nominating my new book for Kindle Scout. There’s an excerpt posted for you to read and make your decision. If it’s chosen, then you get it for free. If it’s not to your taste, then think about nominating other books to help those authors. Here’s the link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1DGO7BYR20RG8
You may think: Hey! I’m not going to promote other authors!
Let’s rethink that mindset.
Each Kindle Scouter can nominate up to three books at a time. With your book as one nomination, they still have space for two more. They can’t fill up their nominations with your book.
Success is not a zero sum game. In other words, if someone else wins a contract, that doesn’t mean you’ll lose. You’ll meet other authors in the group on KBoards (see the Research section). The group supports each other. Steve Vernon puts up a list each day of the KBoards group members’ active campaigns.
My book is a fun mystery, with a chick-lit twist, with a cat. My targeted demographic (be sure and read the section on Demographics) is female cat owners aged 18 – 35. There are a lot of people outside that demographic. Why not steer them toward books they’ll prefer?
Manage Your Emails/Subscriber Lists
Similar to managing your FB friends list, you will thoughtfully plan how best to contact people on your email contacts list and your subscriber list. You’ll apply the Rule of Fourths to these lists as well, to spread out the contacts and keep up your momentum.
I contacted each person on my email contacts list with a personal note, similar to the one I used for the FB friends list. I drew the line at long-ago exes. I had to draw the line somewhere, and that was a good place.
Post on Your Facebook Page
I recommend posting just once per week on your FB page. You don’t want to wear out your friends, do you? No.
Craft the first post so that you can boost it. See the section on how to boost your FB post.
Posting in Facebook Groups
I did apply the Rule of Fourths to my FB groups. I’m not sure how effective posting in groups is… it’s probably more therapeutic than impactful in getting nominations. When you feel as though you have to DO SOMETHING to promote your campaign, then posting in groups may be an outlet for that energy.
I used a different approach for the message I posted in groups than my message to friends.
Want to have a say in books published under Amazon contracts? You can make a difference with your Kindle Scout nominations—and it’s easy and free.
A hunted woman hiding under a dead friend’s identity, a handsome lawman, a death doctor with fart machine-will travel, and a cranky cat with a nose for crime… Take the Body and Run is live on Amazon Kindle Scout. The program is for books that haven’t been published, but I have a description and excerpt to help you decide. With a couple of easy clicks, you can help me out by nominating the fun mystery with a chick-lit twist.
If it’s not to your taste, then please think about nominating other books to help those authors. It’s fun, free, and easy. You get a free copy of the book if Amazon picks it. Here’s the link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1DGO7BYR20RG8
I also posted in my high school, undergraduate, and graduate alumni FB groups. Not sure how effective that was… I don’t THINK it hurt, and it may have helped.
I also drafted a paper flyer. I started it with “I’m Jada, your Bardstown neighbor.” I had a printer insert the code for smart phone scanning, and run off paper, color copies. A lady who was unemployed and looking for work distributed the flyers twice around Bardstown, her town, and her church. I did see some small spikes after she distributed them.
The weirdest thing I did with the flyers? I taped them to walls, doors, and stalls in ladies’ restrooms across Bardstown. Boy, did I get some funny looks… and did I see some bizarre things. Interestingly, the staff left them up in the public library restroom.
WEEKS TWO THROUGH FOUR
You outlined your plan in Week One. As you get through the three subsequent weeks, follow the plan.
Manage the second fourth of your lists. Ensure your GenrePulse campaigns run as scheduled and check the clicks tracker. If you decide on paper flyers, distribute the second fourth of your printed stack. Monitor your FB boost statistics, including demographics, and tweak as needed to improve your reach. Update your worksheet with your campaign statistics.
Manage the third fourth of your lists. Ensure your GenrePulse campaigns run as scheduled and check the clicks tracker. If you decide on paper flyers, distribute the third fourth of your printed stack. Monitor your FB boost statistics, including demographics, and tweak as needed to improve your reach. Update your worksheet with your campaign statistics.
Manage the last fourth of your lists. Ensure your GenrePulse campaigns run as scheduled and check the clicks tracker. If you decide on paper flyers, distribute the last fourth of your printed stack. Monitor your FB boost statistics, including demographics, and tweak as needed to improve your reach. Update your worksheet with your campaign statistics.
Interested in my previously self-published books?
Time for some shameless self promotion. Maybe “shameless” is not the right word. I learned the true meaning of “shameless” during my Kindle Scout campaign. See above taping flyers in ladies’ restrooms.
Dog Days of Karma and Equi Knocks of Karma are available on Amazon in electronic and paperback formats. Soul Stice of Karma is planned for release in 2017. These mysteries incorporate romance and paranormal elements.
The Karma Consulting Series
Dog Days of Karma
Desperate to locate a missing person, Constance Twist decides to call a detective agency. Waiting for directory assistance and muttering to herself about karma, Constance jots down the address for the Carr—Maah Consulting Agency. On the way to the agency, Constance is shoved into traffic and nearly killed.
Celeste Carr is shocked when Constance storms into the office, demanding help. Celeste tries to explain that Carr—Maah is a human resources consulting company, not a detective agency. Celeste grits her teeth when her mysterious business partner Ericka Maah overrules Celeste and forces her to take Constance’s case.
The killer rectifies the earlier error. Constance is brutally murdered as she leaves the agency.
Several hundred miles away, Jose is a restaurant manager and former agency employee. He helped Sonora escape her abusive husband by giving her a job and an apartment. After Sonora unexpectedly flees, Jose finds a hefty online reward for a lost dog. The posting shows Sonora’s image photoshopped with the picture of a dog. Jose follows Sonora’s trail back to his hometown and the Carr—Maah Consulting Agency.
Celeste, Ericka, and Jose, assisted by Hobart, the mysterious homeless man forced by Ericka to become the agency’s office manager, investigate. The clues lead them to a surfeit of viable suspects. His voice heated by the South African sun, Christoph Metre is the charismatic head of the rival consulting agency. Obsessed with the exotic Ericka, Christoph appears with his entourage in unexpected places, including the murder scene. Lovesick Mrs. Grant, in a one-sided relationship with Mr. Crispie, hated it when Constance Twist offered the spry widower lemonade with a Twist. Dr. Britta Spartan, head of the domestic violence shelter, writhes around Hobart like a predatory boa constrictor around a juicy mouse.
If Celeste and her friends can’t solve the mystery in time, they’ll be the next victims.
Equi Knocks of Karma
In the second standalone adventure in the Carr—Maah Consulting Agency Paranormal Mystery series, Celeste Carr and Ericka Maah, business partners and friends, face a powerful and ruthless adversary.
Celeste and Ericka are shocked when Toni Rae Yelton, a self-centered party girl, storms the office and holds them hostage. Desperate, Toni Rae orders the mysterious Ericka to use her alleged supernatural powers to call off the police and the reporters, who are all convinced she’s the sinister force behind her little girl’s disappearance.
Adding to Celeste’s angst, Hobart has vanished. The mysterious man was forced off the streets some months ago. Ericka used a combination of her unusual talents and blackmail to coerce Hobart into working for her firm. He reluctantly agreed. More enthusiastically, at least until his disappearance, he was also Celeste’s boyfriend. Now, Celeste believes something terrible has happened to him.
Celeste is forced to not only investigate, but also navigate the landmines in her life. Celeste’s friend Ericka duels with her arch enemy and business rival, handsome and charismatic Christoph Metre. An odd little dog, curiously attuned to Celeste and using his teeth, claws, and smell for protection, attaches himself to her. When she’s in danger, a devilishly handsome stranger materializes to save her…and makes her less eager to find her missing boyfriend.
As the sinister cords of the mystery tighten around Celeste’s throat, she must find the person behind the mask in time to save not only herself, but others. With the fine Machiavellian hand leaving few clues but many deadly traps, Celeste will have to solve the mystery before it’s too late.
SPECIAL BONUS: As a reader appreciation gift, the short story “Winner Takes All” is included FREE at the end of the book.
My Final Campaign Statistics
As promised, here are my final campaign statistics.