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writers

Thursday Thoughts: Book Bub Ads

Last week I complained a bit about Amazon ads, so to be fair, I’ll give BookBub some airplay.

BookBub operates in much the same way as Amazon does, it that you have to win bids to get your ad shown, and if someone clicks on your ad, you get charged that amount. So, you have to know what your profit margin is for each book and price your bid accordingly-you don’t want to pay people to read your book. But if you don’t bid high enough, your ad doesn’t get shown. Also in the mix is that if someone clicks your ad, the likelihood that your ad gets shown goes up.

Their ad design is straight-forward and there is no vetting like Amazon does, so once you create your ad, it’s live. There are many variables for the ads, so it’s difficult to compare one author’s ad to another. If your ad is not doing well, they email you and suggest that you either up your bid (of course) or redesign. I’ll show the ad that BookBub uses as an example of a successful ad, along with the one I created.

One of the suggestions was to use BookBrush to create ads. I suspect they are owned by BookBub. What is nice about it is the ad is the correct size (300 x 250), so no tweaking required, and you can layer text and images for a professional look.

They give you a chart to show how well- or poorly- your ad is doing:

The best I achieved was 5 clicks on ~2000 impressions. Not great. As you can see, this is ad #14.

There are many variables for success. The popularity of the genre, bid amount, etc. The one controllable variable in all this is the cover. People do judge a book by its cover. Since I like my cover, it’s hard to step back and critique, so what do you think? Let me know.


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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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.**

-Leon

*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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Tuesday Thoughts: What word(s) do you always spell incorrectly?

What would we do without spellcheck? Would we miss the little red squiggle?  Years ago, when word processing wasn’t a thing, we would have to look words up in a dictionary. Remember those? I didn’t think so. A dictionary was (still is, really) a thick book of every single word, in alphabetical order, with important information about pronunciation, word type, origin, and definition.

The problem was, if you didn’t know how to spell it, how can you look it up? Well, no one really needs to look up a word if they can’t kinda spell it, but it does take longer the less correct letters you know.

And don’t get me started on the “i” before “e” rule. It is so full of loopholes and exceptions, it’s like studying tax law.

Now to the point. What words always–or almost always–warrant that red squiggle? I had to write post-apocalyptic stories to be able to spell apocalyptic correctly. I still have to look at my fingers when I type it, and it still never looks right.   

My two most commonly misspelled words are: definitely and immediately.

What about you?


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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writers

On Writing: The Junk Drawer of Ideas

(Thanks, Stevie Turner, for the inspiration for this post! )

Everybody has at least one. Only one if they are lucky. One in the kitchen (pencils, twist-ties, battteries, keys, etc.), one in the workshop (old bolts, screws, extra IKEA parts, allen wrenchs), well, you get the idea.

Writers are the same. I know I always have ideas floating around that if I don’t write them down, I’ll lose them. So I jot them down. A title: Sometimes They Leave, an opening line: “It was a dark and stormy night…”, or a catchy elevator pitch: Rambo moves in with Sheldon Cooper. Oh, the shenanigans!

Without ideas, there’s no possibility of a creation. Here’s a glimpse into Mr. Einstein’s notebook:

I suspect that many of my ideas won’t go any further than just that, but there is always a chance that I’ll be inspired to revisit one of those ideas and it will become the next greatest—well, maybe just the next story. To quote the philosopher Lloyd Christmas: “So, you’re saying there’s a chance?”

***Addendum Feb. 9

I just had another thought. As a writer, all my ideas have a chance at becoming a story. It’s just that some have a better chance than others. Want to bet on the longshot?

“Three life-long friends discover that they are identical twins during their annual road trip to the Twine and Jute collectors convention in Wichita.”   

Sounds like a best seller to me.

Want to participate:

Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/8c063aea15e3491ba1c1a2c3133d9e03

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music music Monday thoughts

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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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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poetry readers writers

Let’s Talk!

Earlier this week I blogged about reader engagement on book blogs. https://linesbyleon.com/2021/01/19/tuesday-thoughts-book-blogging-to-tour-or-not-to-tour-and-free-stuff/ If you don’t want to read the whole thing here is the main point:

“What is the main thing I am looking for in a book blog? Engagement. If my book/book review is featured on a site and there are no comments, can we assume that no one saw it? Books need to be talked about. Not dissected, just discussed. Out of ~100 book blogs I visited, less than ten had actual conversations about the featured books. You know who you are because I emailed you to compliment you on your blog (and ask to be featured, of course). Some bloggers may not want that level of engagement, which is OK too.

Which got me thinking about engagement on my pages. I write to entertain, to put into words what others may not be able to, to share my experiences, and to show my love of writing. So, for a limited time, I’m going to let anyone download my sample copy of my poetry book without an email/newsletter opt-in. The only caveat is that we discuss the poems or writing process. I’ll set up a page for that purpose.

Sounds like a plan? I hope so!

Download: Excerpts from the book – Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

I have set up a discussion page, so feel free to download the book and make any comments or questions that you have, here: https://linesbyleon.com/discussion-blog/

Hope to see you there!

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poetry readers writers

Tuesday Thoughts: Book blogging-To Tour or Not to Tour (and free stuff)

Oops, I did it again. Not really an oops, I meant to do it. This week I spent time visiting book blogs and blog tour sites. As an independent author, I spend more time looking for new ways to reach readers, marketing, and all that stuff than I do writing sometimes. Marketing is exhausting. Physically- fingers, back, and eyes, and mentally- my brain hurts after a while. Now don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a part of being an author, and I have met some really cool people and seen some great blog pages.

After my first book came out, I looked at doing a book blog tour but was overwhelmed by the choices available. Being a new author, I wanted to do things right, but as a frugal (cheap) person, I didn’t want to make the wrong decision and throw away money. One of the challenges in marketing is to find the best avenues to put your budgeted amount. Really, it comes down to finding “the best bang for your buck” (I don’t know why I put that in quotations. I suppose someone coined that phrase).

As I usually do, I over-analyze things. When flat-screen T.V.s came out, it took me two years to buy one-which in the end saved me money since the prices went from over $1000 to under $500. I still kept Mr. Cathode-Ray Tube for many, many years before becoming a full flat-screen household. Man, that guy was heavy to carry out.

But I digress.

Each blog tour I looked at had its pros and cons. One review said “Great!” while another said, “Don’t waste your money.” Like book reviews, these are all subjective, but it is still hard to part with money that may be more effective elsewhere-or not. Arrgh.  

I looked at blog tour posts on many sites. Some stops had no likes or comments. If I were to participate in a blog tour, would I be assigned stops with a decent amount of traffic? So I began to revisit book blogs. I did this last year, so I thought it was time to do it again. Is this a lot of work? Oh, yes, but I think the time spent is worth it. I mentioned earlier that there are many avid readers doing their part to spread the enjoyment of the written word. I am glad that people are willing to spend time informing their followers of all the excellent works out there, especially from indie authors.

What is the main thing I am looking for in a book blog? Engagement. If my book/book review is featured on a site and there are no comments, can we assume that no one saw it? Books need to be talked about. Not dissected, just discussed. Out of ~100 book blogs I visited, less than ten had actual conversations about the featured books. You know who you are because I emailed you to compliment you on your blog (and ask to be featured, of course). Some bloggers may not want that level of engagement, which is OK too.

Which got me thinking about engagement on my pages. I write to entertain, to put into words what others may not be able to, to share my experiences, and to show my love of writing. So, for a limited time, I’m going to let anyone download my sample copy of my poetry book without an email/newsletter opt-in. The only caveat is that we discuss the poems or writing process. I’ll set up a page for that purpose.

Sounds like a plan? I hope so!

Download: Excerpts from the book – Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

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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…

-Leon

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readers thoughts writers

Newsletter Success: Benchmarks

Earlier, I wrote a post about paring down my email subscriber list (The Purge). I went from 97 subscribers to 48. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it. That’s half my list. So yeah, it Is a lot. I started my newsletter to keep my readers entertained between my writing projects and to give them some insight into my writing journey. It’s both personal and professional.

How do I gauge success? I have a few benchmarks:

  1. When my subscriber list had more non-friends and relatives – Check.
  2. 50% opens – Check
  3. Subscriber engagement (comments, clicks, purchases) – Check. (This doesn’t count my mom who always replies to my newsletter, “I really enjoy your newsletters. I look forward to them every week.” Thanks, Mom. Love you too.)
  4. 100 subscribers – Almost…there…until…

I hope my subscribers look forward to my emails. I went with a weekly newsletter because is I think that once a month is too long between updates. For daily engagement, I turned to this blog. I hope that you enjoy my thoughts, ramblings, and humor.  

-Leon

Curious? Lines by Leon Newsletter January 6

Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of two books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. Visit www.linesbyleon.com