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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex | 3 comments Kindle Owl is a email newsletter service which sends subscribers daily emails with eBook deals tailored to the personal reading taste. With thousands of bestselling eBooks to choose from, visit now to sign up at


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Oh. Another one.

message 3: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments Welcome to the club.

message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments I'm thinking of doing an email newsletter which will inform readers of all the email newsletters out there :-)

message 5: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments I'm thinking about offering to buy up some of the smaller ones, to expand

message 6: by Alex (new)

Alex | 3 comments Good idea, Jim :)

message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments Rosen wrote: "I'm thinking about offering to buy up some of the smaller ones, to expand"

Frankly if you paid for them by value, you'd probably still get change from a quid :-)

One thing I have noticed, the number of these sites that now charge to mention indie book promotions.
Somebody gave me useful advice and a list of useful sites and I think about half had started charging between his promotion and mine

message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments Oh yes and BookHippo is one of the good ones :-)

message 9: by Rosen (last edited Apr 28, 2015 04:17AM) (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments Re charging:

The problem is that BookBub's business plan, i.e charging extortionate amounts and ploughing the money back into advertising, has enabled them to gain millions of followers, while the rest of us have very few in comparison.

Nevertheless, I'd rather have just a few thousand subscribers than ask authors to pay hundreds of pounds up front them pocket more than 90% of the profits.

message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments We're back to the old gold-rush metaphor aren't we.
In the gold rush, sell shovels to make money, don't look for gold

Same with indie books. Whatever you do don't write books or sell books, sell things to writers

message 11: by Alex (new)

Alex | 3 comments I think that's a touch self-defeating, Jim.

message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments No, simple business sense.
You have two markets, one potentially very large but swamped by people who're frantically dropping their prices to try and sell into it.
You have another that is smaller but to be fair has customers, a lot of whom aren't too clued up on the economics and who are spending what to them are quite small sums of money on a service which cannot promise any return.

message 13: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments I'm afraid, as sad as it is to admit it, Jim is correct.

There are a lot more authors without sales than readers without books. From a business point of view, you would do better selling to authors than readers.

Many, many services exploit author ambitions and naivety, from pay-to-enter competitions through to services that offer to publish your book to Kindle for 'just' £1000.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Jim. The fact that Swords for a Dead Lady didn't really take off doesn't necessarily mean the market is flooded. All it means is that Swords for a Dead Lady didn't really take off.

message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments The fact is that over the last three or four years I've watched books that have been 'plugged' by these websites. (Or 'commercially' plugged on twitter or whatever) I've also talked, in the flesh and on forums, to writers who have gone down the promo route.

So far none of the books I've followed have made any sort of break-through. They've perhaps risen up above ten thousand Amazon rank or perhaps even made the top two or three in their sub-genre if free, but within a month were back where they've always been.

Listening to and taking part in the discussions, (some of which are in threads on this forum) the general impression is that most advertising and most promotion doesn't actually pay for itself.
By the way, when I say 'most' I suspect that it will be running at about 98%

My problem is that having spent my life self employed and running my own business, I tend to look for tools to monitor performance before I spend my money. The tools in this industry aren't as good as I'd hope or I'm used to, but using them carefully, they do produce results.
Which is more than can be said for paid promotions.

To be fair, I reckon that 'unpaid' promotions can probably work (by work I mean you make more in selling books than you paid for the promotion) considerably better than paid. But I've seen very little evidence that they lead to a longer term boost in sales.

They can help an author who has a decent 'back catalogue' because that is the sort of author who can benefit from a free promo, not for short term boost, but for longer term exposure as a small proportion of those people who downloaded the book free eventually get round to reading it and like it enough to pay for other works by the same author

message 16: by Rosen (last edited May 14, 2015 10:45AM) (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments I only just saw this post by you, Jim.

It's clear that your comments are based on a wide and informed understanding of the industry.

Making money from paid promotions is subject to a strong reporting bias. The minority who do make money from them, are much more likely to post about their experiences than those who don't.

Admittedly, eReaderOwl is only charging $5/$20, but their FAQ states that the number of readers in each genre is in the thousands. As somebody who runs a newsletter with a modest readership, I am certain that the majority of authors won't make back $5, even advertising to 1,999 subscribers.

message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments My lack of belief in these things is that once one of my books was tweeted with strong recommendation to over 50,000 people and sold one copy.
This wasn't cunning planning on my part, just a trick of the algorithms.

The problem is that marketing has to be targeted and the more targeted the better.

Let us take a newsletter with 10,000 readers
Now gives us a list of genres

If we assume that your newsletter attracts readers in proportion to genres (which is nonsense but not a bad way to get a handle on proportions) you have this many readers for each genre

Horror 222
SF and Fantasy 1648
Religious.Inspirational 2010
Crime.Mystery 2033
Romance.Erotic 4020

If you're charging the erotic writer $5, then you should charge the religious, crime and mystery writers $2.50, the SF and Fantasy writers nearer $2 and the poor old horror writers should get in free :-)

But even for the most popular genre, three fifths of the subscribers aren't interested.

So you can tighten things up. Your idea of concentrating on Indies is one I like, because you're probably getting a higher proportion of people who read a lot as well.

But when you as an author look at one of these newsletters, and take into account

the number of subscribers who bother with your genre
the number of those subscribers who actually look at the newsletter that day
the number of those subscribers who are looking for a book
the number of those subscribers who don't spot something else rather than yours

the number who'll buy isn't going to be big.

I think that one way round is including things like the drabble, and trying to create a 'community' feel to the newsletter

message 18: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 4053 comments Jim - I think you're right, but I don't think we should be too depressed about it.

Yes, there are people trying to make money from authors. We have seen:

... give me $10 and I'll write you a five star review
... "how to" books of less than 50 pages
... companies offering to self publish for you
... marketing newsletters like this one.

And the list goes on. There are some good services out there, but there is also an awful lot of crap.

I am very cynical of these promotion newsletters. Some do seem to be genuine - eg Bookbub - but where exactly do the new ones get their subscribers from? I suspect that the majority of their "subscribers" are drawn from dubious sources, such as facebook friends and bought email lists. The chances of getting sales from those lists seems remote.

I've said it before, but I think it's worth repeating. I think the market will settle down. The poor value or scam enterprises will eventually fail as their customers get fed up with spending money and getting nothing in return. The successful enterprises will survive, and we will get a clearer idea of the value we are getting from our investment.

In the meantime, all we can do is to try to spot the naff ones and choose the good ones. And help other authors do the same.

message 19: by G J (Gaff to my friends) (last edited May 15, 2015 03:03AM) (new)

G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments Authors here are savvy about their marketing choices, mainly because of threads like this one. I've noticed a tendency to discuss the options before people go ahead with something new.

If you look at the self promo pages at Facebook, you'll find them littered with spammers drowning out the authors who genuinely want to promote their work, not push it down your throat. I joined this forum and BookHippo on recommendations from other authors, and thank god(ess/s) I found them first.

Then a thought occurred to me (I don't get many), if we feel that some of these so called promoters are trying to scam us, then obviously that's what customers are thinking from their side. It's the 'too good to be true' scenario. After all, if you're seeing a book by an unknown author pushed repeatedly by an unknown promoter, you're going to get fed up with the trolling and refuse to buy.

More reputable sources, such as BookHippo and goodreads are gaining popularity because of the hard work of legitimate indie authors, and genuine explorers of the written word. I agree with Rosen that it will settle down in time. But if I had to make a prediction, I'd say that we're going to see the market crash before it does.

Like with most crazes, or fads, or whatever you want to call them; when the money stops and the interest is gone, only the hard working, genuine believers in the indie market will remain. You'll see customer bases broaden and a new 'golden period' of discovery, where the lucky few will be picked up by mainstream (like it was this time around) and more interest in indie authors than every before.

The only problem is, it's going to be a slow process. For now, we're going to have to rely on customers judging which sites are legitimate for themselves. And trust me, they will in time.

message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments Will wrote: "Jim - I think you're right, but I don't think we should be too depressed about it.

Yes, there are people trying to make money from authors. We have seen:

... give me $10 and I'll write you a five..."

Don't worry Will, I'm not depressed, I'm merely trying to chart the world as it is.
At the moment people whose work and common sense I respect have dipped their toes into the water with various promotions and frankly they barely break even.

I think you're right in that eventually we'll settle into a new 'normal'
I suspect a lot of people who write will get bored and go, or have written the book they wanted to write, and will go.
Some will dig in and ride out this period and put a good body of work together.
I think that in ten years, somebody with ten or fifteen books out there might well find they start doing OK.
But my guess is that a lot will still be word of mouth.

message 21: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments I feel very strongly about eBook newsletters exaggerating their worth to authors.

Here are all the steps a potential reader has to go through before they'll download a book from, let alone read it.

1. their account must have been validated
2. their email address must be current
3. that email inbox must be monitored
4. they must open the email
5. they must click on a link in the email, which takes them to*
6. they must click on the button on, which takes them to Amazon
7. they must download the book when they get to Amazon

* Most book newsletters use Amazon affiliate codes, like the one this forum uses, which get companies a small commission for each referral. It is a requirement of Amazon that affiliate codes are NOT used in emails, hence the extra step via the website. Many daily newsletters use deceptive cloaking to redirect readers straight to Amazon, without Amazon knowing. This makes the whole thing a two-click process instead of three, which greatly improve the effectiveness, but is cheating. It makes it harder for those of us who try to play fair.

Jim is right, in that the more targeted a newsletter, the more effective. I would like to make the newsletter more targeted but only showing readers books in their chosen genres doesn't quite fit with the way the newsletter is compiled. However, it would be possible to sort books for each reader, based on what they usually click on, with personal recommendations near the top. Do you think it'd be worth it?

message 22: by G J (Gaff to my friends) (last edited May 15, 2015 11:20AM) (new)

G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments I can see the benefits Rosen. However, the aim is surely to introduce people to good authors in genres they may not have read. You'd be pigeonholing readers into 'this is what you've read before' categories. Just because I read a book by P D James today, it doesn't mean I want to read Agatha Christie tomorrow.

Consumers, in my humble experience, want to feel like they have a choice. If you make that decision for them, there are many who won't appreciate it. I'm probably wrong in my assumption, but it's how I'd feel about it.

As an adendum to my post. Mrs Gaff is of the opposite opinion. She'd prefer her suggestions to be tailored to her tastes. This really doesn't help does it? Sorry.

message 23: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 7939 comments Based on other sites, that customer choice usually comes at the point of subscribing (all genres or selected ones). I generally select Fantasy and Thrillers. Doesn't mean I don't read other genres, just I'm more likely to consider offers for those two. If I fancy something different, I go out of my way to look for it.

G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments Fair comment, David. I'm quite an eclectic reader, so I find most suggested reading unattractive. I am so not helping here. I'll shut up now.

message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments I'm with David in this one, I'd prefer my favoured genres first

message 26: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments I wouldn't drop other books; they'd just be farther down the list.

message 27: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 7939 comments That sounds ideal then, Rosen.

G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments That's fair enough. Objectively, it would benefit more customers that way. At the end of the day, you have to do what suits the majority, because that's where our customer base is.

It's a tried and tested method that suits the market. BookHippo already has more of a community feel to it than other digi-pubs, so it definitely wouldn't hurt your readership. From a business perspective, it would make more sense to streamline the process from a customer point of view.

message 29: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments People will still read to the end - for the drabbles!

G J (Gaff to my friends) Reilly | 1901 comments Hehe, the only reason I'd even heard of Drabbles was because of this forum and BookHippo. Huge, huge thanks for that. They should come with an addiction warning though! ;-)

message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21832 comments Rosen wrote: "People will still read to the end - for the drabbles!"

well I do :-)

Desley (Cat fosterer) (booktigger) | 11038 comments Rosen wrote: "People will still read to the end - for the drabbles!"

It's the reason your newsletter is the one I look forward to every day. I did enjoy the recent riddles too

message 33: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments In my ideal newsletter it would be sort by author, rather then genre.

I'm not particularly interested in what genre something is, but if I've liked a book by a particular author before, then I'm more likely to pick up another of theirs.

The only criticism I'd make of the otherwise excellent Bookhippo is that when I open it on my phone the book cover images look like over-magnified thumbnails. Whether that is the fault of the way GMail displays images in emails or not, I have no idea.

I don't know if that happens to anyone else?

When I open them in Thunderbird on the computer they are fine.

message 34: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments Sorting by author is another great idea. I might very well do that.

David, I'm not sure what you mean about the thumbnails. Please can you send me a screenshot along with the make and model of your phone?

message 35: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments Rosen wrote: "David, I'm not sure what you mean about the thumbnails. Please can you send me a screenshot along with the make and model of you..."

Strange, very strange.

I've just been back to my phone to look for an example for you and it is now showing them all properly.

I can only assume that either an update or something ha fixed the problem.

Or the magic phone pixies visited in the night.

Sorry for the false alarm. If it ever happens again, I'll let you know.

message 36: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments I've now implemented my first bash at ordering-by-preference.

Books in the genres of books that readers have previously clicked on, should now display at the top of the newsletter.

At a later date, I will implement sorting by other factors, such as author.

Let me know how you get on.

P.S. Shouldn't I have my own thread for this? Patti, would it be okay if I create one?

Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Yes, please Rosen!

The BookHippo thread, perhaps?

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