poetry thoughts writers

Book Marketing: Spend money, make money?

The other day I was updating some information on my Amazon book page and I noticed this:

   Then yesterday: 

It’s just my free sample book, but #5 in the free-short-poetry-reads-45- minutes category is pretty cool. I wasn’t happy with the cover resolution so I did a full revision on the book and republished. adding a better cover and updating some of the links.

I had finally decided to spend some money and purchased Publisher Rocket. It is a tool that compiles Amazon Ad search terms, category rankings, and book keywords.

You can use this information to position your book into the popular searches, or into ones with less competition. in the case of the latter, you have a better chance of being on the first page of reader searches.

I don’t think that I would have been able to come up with all the terms on my own, or it would have taken me a great deal of time.

My Amazon ad impressions have gone up and have translated to a few more sales. The #5 ranking for the free book is probably due to the increased visibility. Is it worth it? Well, I do have to sell more books to recoup the cost of the program, and you know my view on Amazon ads ( Amazon Ads: Here, Mr. Bezos, take my money and run). But I can’t argue with more people seeing my books.


Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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thoughts writers

Amazon Ads: Here, Mr. Bezos, take my money and run.

Now that Mr. Bezos has stepped down, I’ll do a little bitching.

Are creating Amazon ads making you want to bang your head on the wall? No? Then you’re not doing it right, I guess.

It took me almost two weeks to get an ad running on Amazon. Now, this wasn’t my first attempt–several had run recently–but this time was quite frustrating. Everything has a learning curve, and Amazon’s ad platform is no exception. Reading through the tutorials and the FAQ’s gives you a cursory knowledge, but by no means does it cover all you need to know.

I did other research online, there are many others before me that have done the legwork and produced good lessons. Still doesn’t make it any less confusing. I’m sure my rambles here won’t be any different.

It all comes down to getting your ad to show on a customer’s search page or on their Kindle. You do that by winning a bid–like an auction–against other ads in your genre. Highest bid wins and gets shown, reader sees it and hopefully clicks on it and buys.

I was doing an online course where one author was quoting that when he started his adds, he was getting 200 000+ impressions/week @ pennies/click, which translated to a very cheap advertising campaign and high sales. After digging deeper, those statistics were from 2016. Four years makes a lot of difference when it comes to competition.

I would love to be able to win a bid to have my ad shown to potential readers for > $0.10 when I create my ad, most of the suggested bids for each of my keywords* run from $0.50 to more than $1.00. Which means if someone clicks on my ad, I pay Amazon–let’s take the lower amount– $0.50.

Let’s break it down for profit. I get ~$0.60 if it is read on Kindle Unlimited (approximately, because just like the ads, the royalty structure for KU is not easy to grasp), so I make $0.10. So, I do a lot of free promotions for this version. If it is bought as a Kindle eBook, I make $2.00 – $0.50 = $1.50. That’s not too bad. The problem is that not everyone that clicks the add will buy. It would be nice to have 100% conversion, but that is never going to happen. Even 50% is a lofty goal, in reality it is around 10%. I also have a paperback option which is a higher royalty still.

So basically, with a low conversion, I usually wind up paying more in fees than I make in royalties. I know that advertising and marketing are essential to book sales and all advertising costs money. I would be satisfied to break even since I’m just starting out. Where are those bygone days of $0.05 clicks?

With all my rambling, I still didn’t get into my dealings with customer support, which was the impetus for this this post.**


*That’s another topic.

**That’s another topic as well.

Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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Week-end Wrap Up: Feb. 13

Here are my posts this week, in case you missed any:

I came across a few good blogs as well:

Stuart Aken always has beautiful pictures and great writing prompts

And, I always enjoy Sally’s posts but I couldn’t pick just one.

Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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thoughts music music Monday

Music Monday: Opus 2

I sommelier once told me, don’t let anyone tell you what you taste. If you taste black cherry, then it has notes of black cherry. He also said that price shouldn’t be a factor. If you like it, it’s a good wine. That’s advice coming from someone whose job it is to sell us on the vineyard’s vintages.

I approach composing in much the same way. If I like the way it sounds, then it’s right. A composition teacher told the class that in order to break the rules, you first must learn them. Thus, began the arduous task of mastering music theory, harmonization, voice leading, etc.

Who made these rules? Every composer before me. The lucky ones were the ones from the beginning. Each composer wrote what sounded right to their ears, and others copied (because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). As with anything, music evolves. New ideas of what sounds right or wrong are added, and voila, we have Barbara Wharram’s Elementary Rudiments of Music.

There are still things that sound pleasant-or correct-to our ears. That could be because we have become accustomed to the way chords and notes move and interact over hundreds of years.  Don’t believe me? Play– or have someone play– this chord sequence: G / / / C / / / D / / /, then stop. For you musicians out there, don’t worry, you can play the tonic chord now, I’m not cruel. For everyone else, it leaves you wanting something else, doesn’t it? Hint, it’s a G.

I learned all the rules. I composed fugues and inventions according to convention. Sound boring? You wouldn’t be completely wrong, sometimes it was. In the 20th century, composers began to rebel against these rules and made their own. Some went toward the minimalist approach, others used math to determine the outcome, and the rest took the forms that they liked and used the notes they wanted.

Let circle back to the sommelier, not because I like wine – I do – but because he was right. Don’t let anyone tell you the music sounds wrong because if that’s how you want it to sound, then it’s right.

Next week: The Beginning of a Composition (or, Where did That Idea Come From?)

Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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readers thoughts Uncategorized

Book Reviews

“Hey, Leon. You often talk about the importance of book reviews. Why don’t you post your reviews?”
“I do.”
“You do?”
“I just said I did, didn’t I?”
“I haven’t seen any here.”
“I don’t post them here.”
“Where are they?”
“On my Goodreads page.”
“Oh. OK. Where’s that then?”
“I just told you.”

I usually write something about the books I have read or at least give it a rating. Here are a sampling of some of my favorites. Reviews that is.

Read the follow up: The Zombie Survival Guide. No action, but lots of handy tips!
Sometimes books just don’t do it.
I’m pretty sure I had read this as a child.
I saw the movie (well, part of it) on one of the classic movie channels. I was disappointed.
I don’t think that my 2-star review will have a negative affect on Child’s book sales.

I usually read at night. I would be able to read more books if I didn’t keep falling asleep. Zzzzz…

humor readers thoughts Uncategorized writers

Thursday Thoughts: Do we need another plague story?

The Andromeda Strain, No Blade of Grass, The Stand, Twelve Monkeys, Oryx and Crake, World War Z. Need I go on? When the pandemic was in it’s infancy, the most streamed movie – ‘cuz what else are you going to do when everything was getting shut down? – was Contagion.

Now I had watched it within the last year before the proverbial s#@% hit the fan, so I didn’t feel a need to partake in the trend, but what I do remember was that it was quite accurate in how it depicted the spread. Something like this was going to happen eventually. Superbugs in hospitals, antibiotic resistant strains, the increasing population combined with the ease of travel anywhere in the world – yeah, it was going to happen.

I mentioned a few of my favorite pandemic stories. People like to read about disastrous events, both fictional or true, and as writers, we want to entertain our readers. So, when an event like Covid-19 occurs, interest increases, readers read, and writers write.

Now, I wish I was a faster writer. By the time I finish my plague book/story…What? You didn’t figure out where this was all going?

Back to the question:

Do I need to work on my photoshop skills? – Most definitely.

Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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humor readers thoughts writers

Survey: Reader or Writer?

I enjoy reading the different blogs on WordPress (and others), but I consider myself primarily as a writer. So, what are you? Take my short but entertaining survey:

humor music music Monday thoughts

Music Monday: Sell-out or Just Business?

A few news stories have come out over the last few weeks about musicians selling the rights to their song catalogs. Now, this is nothing new, one of the first bombshells was when Michael Jackson purchased some of The Beatles songs – which I believe were repurchased years later. Recently, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Mick Fleetwood have all sold parts of their own catalogs.

Why is it good business to own song rights? $$$$$$. Royalties are paid every time a song is played/performed publicly. Radio (yes, we still have that), online streaming, T.V. (yes, we still have that too), and movies are some examples. Ever wonder why you only hear snippets of songs during your favorite sports events? After a certain amount of time, royalties need to be paid, so the venue plays 10-15 seconds. Loophole? Maybe. But the first 10-15 seconds of Thunderstruck is the best part. Come to think about it, it is the only part. Why do you hear weird variations on that birthday song in restaurants? You guessed it-royalties.

I don’t remember the first time I heard a song that I liked used in a commercial. I do remember that many years ago (no, I’m not telling) cries of “Sell-out!” were repeated by music fans when the bands that they loved allowed popular songs to be used to sell…whatever. It’s not so surprising now–it’s just business. Can we fault an artist for trying to make money? OK, don’t answer that. That’s a whole new can o’ worms.

What can I handle? I can tolerate a song being used in its original form to sell a truck, insurance, banking services, or whatnot, but please, please, if you sell your song, sell the lyrics as well. Don’t know what I’m getting at? One of my favorite songs is–was–Rocket Man by Elton John. Now, when I hear that song, all I think about is the lady who “…shops at Rakutan”. Thanks a bunch, Elton.

Given the opportunity, would I sell the rights to my songs? Probably. Maybe. It depends. If my creations made me a decent wage that allowed me not to want for anything (FYI–that’s a low bar. I’m very frugal), I don’t think that I would. Never say never, though, right?

So, for all you restaurants looking for a cheap alternative to The Birthday Song, for only $0.27/use, I present to you, Happy, Happy Birthday:

 Happy, happy, happy,
 Birthday, birthday, birthday
 You were born [insert number here] years ago
 Happy, happy, happy,
  Birthday, birthday, birthday
 We’ll stop here 
 So we don’t have to pay… 

Darn, I didn’t think this through…


humor thoughts

Food for Thought: Fitter or Fatter?

Fitter fatter, let’s get ‘at her. I know that not being able to go out as much as usual is getting to many people. Physical distancing rules are a tough pill to swallow. And many activities have had to be curtailed. Throw in the winter weather-if you are so lucky to live where the seasons actually change, and it’s hard to get in the exercise we want. Many people are taking up different habits, usually revolving around food. Here are a few things I enjoy:

Baking Bread: I started to bake bread because I figured out that 20 cents worth of flour makes a $1.49 loaf of bread. Which was the reason I always bought bread on sale. Plus it is sooo tasty. If you have ever pulled a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven, you know that it is hard to wait for it to cool before you cut a steamy slice from it and decorate it with a all too generous serving of butter (oh yes, you have to use butter). Then, maybe ½ hour later you realize that you need to bake more. I’ll quote myself here: “Don’t bake bread unless you are prepared to eat the whole loaf.” That was the reason that early in history, bread was baked everyday. Not the rumour that it went stale quickly.

My grandmother always made rye bread. No recipe, and bit of this, a pinch of that. Even in her 70’s she would be there with her arthritic hands, kneading away. I think that was the only time that it didn’t hurt. My mother made the same bread, but it never turned out the same. My sister wrote down the recipe when grandmother visited her one time. It’s good, but int’s not the same. I finally got the recipe. It’s good, but it’s not the same. What was her secret? We will never know, but I suspect it may have been the old farmhouse woodstove. Or the old farmhouse lard. Or the old rye flour…

There is a lot of different breads to experiment with, even a failed loaf is kind of tasty. My favorite is pizza dough. After many variations, I have it nailed. I’ll let you in on one secret. Make the dough 3 days in advance (yes, 3 days) and put it in the fridge, covered of course. The slow rise makes for a light and crisp crust. Try to say crisp crust 5 times fast! My second favorite is a French baguette. Good with soup, as a Po’boy, or sliced with a fresh tomato. I still partake in the Parisian ritual of tearing off the heel straight away. I observed this outside a boulangerie where no heel made it out the door untorn. Oh, the humanity!

Sweets: Cookies, pies, cakes. It’s all good. But my all time favorite is…oh it goes by so many names. So like a a culinary earworm, I’m giving it to you, so that I’m not the only one stuffing my gob with this delight.

1/2 Cup Margarine, 1 Cup Peanut Butter, 1 pkg Butterscotch chips, Mini marshmallows. You know what I’m talking about…

Beverages: I love coffee. I started drinking it as a teen (‘cuz it was cool) with cream and sugar. Then I weened myself of cream, then sugar, so that I finally was able to enjoy the actual taste of coffee. I realized how bad some of the take-out / fast food coffees were. I won’t name any outright, but they know who they are. Once in university, I sat with my buddies and drank at least 20 cups of coffee (thank you free refills!), and subsequently was up for 24 hours after. Subsequently, the restaurant revoked the free refill policy.

It is easy to drink more coffee now, but I do limit myself to a couple of cups in the morning, and occasionally one in the afternoon. If I need a hot beverage, I’m turn to my second favorite, tea. Holding a hot cup of tea feels different than a hot cup of coffee. Can’t explain that but try it out. I didn’t know that there were so many types of tea until I had High Tea in London. A whole menu of tea there was. Don’t get me started on the sandwiches. I have a collection of teas that I delight in: Green, White, Ginseng,  Chamomile, Orange Pekoe, English Breakfast, but I’ll always return to my first love.

As a famous thespian in his greatest role once said, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.”

readers thoughts writers

On the Move

After way too much planning and researching, I have decided to move my domain name to WordPress. What does that mean? Well, I won’t have 2 sites-that’s just a silly thing. I’ve been pretty happy with the engagement on WP and it seemed to make sense to focus my endeavors where there is more traffic- and cool people!

Will it go smoothly? I have no idea. I’m not the most technologically adept person; I am hoping that it will and there will be no disruption.

So, that being said, hang on and let’s see what happens!