Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Email Marketing: Giving Away Free Books, Opt-in’s, and GDPR.

 Email Marketing: Giving Away Free Books, Opt-in's, and GDPR.

Email Marketing: Giving Away Free Books, Opt-in’s, and GDPR.

Why This Came Up

Yesterday I was reminded how the GDPR deadline was coming up. And Instafreebie was not going to recommend any giveaway or book on their web sight that was still “mandatory opt-in” in order to download a free book.  Frankly, this was a no-brainer to me, as I explain below.

I then communicated this to my groups, telling them that I was probably going to have to remove any books that were still mandatory opt-in by the time the giveaway went live – so that Instafreebie would help us get subscribers with their promotions.

But a very small handful of people – less than 10 – out of the 9 giveaways I am currently organizing had any comment to add. Only two were at all negative. The rest just wanted their book(s) removed instead of making them optional opt-in. (And subsequently got over twice as many new authors submitting their books to those giveaways – go figure.)

One of my insider group really wanted to understand what was going on with this scene, so she could make up her own mind.

So I gave her an overlong email (typical firehose approach of mine) explaining the background I come from and an outline of steps we can take to make lemonade of these lemons.

(Of course, I also managed to work in a cattle-herding metaphor into it – more for color, I guess.)

Anyway, it’s a viewpoint you might want to consider in your own writing-publishing-marketing, whether you utilise Instafreebie or not…

How and Why I Think Differently About Giveaway Books

I come from a different view on a lot of this scene. One of testing everything first.
Sure, I’ve read a flood of the typical Internet Marketing material about swapping emails for freebies. But I also got tired of the “cr*p” that was piling into my inbox. Some months ago I did a massive campaign of just clearing these out and either unsubscribing or marking them as spam. Now I just keep up with the ones who routinely (or occasionally) give me really good value. Life is more peaceful, and email doesn’t take me hours to clean out. (And I do make a point of opening one from each of those I kept every now and then…)
So when Instafreebie came up to the top of my “testing” list, I dived in and followed their instructions.
Sure enough, I was soon getting a steady flood of readers into my email list. When I did a rough check, I found that I was getting somewhere around 4 subscribers to 10 claims. Often hundreds per week. And that probably sounds wimpy compared to 1:1 others have been getting. GDPR is making things interesting, but we only have our own Facebook and Google to blame, with their ripoff attitudes toward privacy.
But back to the point – how can we make lemonade out of the lemons we have to work with? 
Personally, if I download an ebook and instantly get a typical garbage reply “Thanks for joining, now I’m going to start sending you offers for you to buy my stuff. Oh, BTW, did I tell you to Buy My Stuff yet?” At that point, I’m gone. Just like Instafreebie says. Lots more unsubscribes and complaints.
On the other hand, I now know that a free subscriber may only be a freebie-seeker. It’s my job to give great value so that person becomes a true fan. Rather than have a list of 10,000 where only 10 percent opens and 1 percent clicks, how about the “1,000 True Fan” theory where you are getting near 100% opens and 100% clicks? (Not to mention the book purchases…)
That will only happen as an author carefully grooms up their subscribers and pays attention to what they open and click on. Then give them more of what that survey says they really want.
The reverse is also true. I deleted over a hundred from my list this week because they haven’t ever opened a single email from me. For whatever reason. Sure, I send them a last “Still Interested?” email and got nearly 10% of those to come back into the fold. (And then they have another 90 days to open something again before it starts all over.)
Sure, I’m sad that they aren’t interested. But the lists I have left now average opens at around 40% a click-rate of 25%. And a couple of my smaller lists open then at 100% (still working on that 100% click-rate, though.) Those small lists are the ones who know every single one of my emails will help them out in some way.
The other catch is in the quality of the ebooks we are sending out.
If I got someone’s ebook, I want to know that I can then get onto that author’s list from inside that ebook if I want. So I can get more from them. (And the one’s that aren’t very well written or formatted, well…)
We need to make sure that our interiors are an excellent reading experience, and also give them plenty of reason and opportunity to join our avid reader’s club – become true fans.
That’s why I push books2read.com – because they create author and book pages that cross-link into your other books. If someone wants to buy, then they can choose not just Amazon, but several other major book outlets.  If you make your book with Draft2Digital, you can have a wide choice of templates for interior design – and they enable updating a list of your other books in the back of each of your ebooks. Then they send those updated ebooks out to all their book outlets. (A person who is into KDP Select will be concentrating only on Amazon, so that’s really not for them. But they could use Draft2Digital to get their interior book designed for free, anyway.)
I’m thinking we need a “Thank You” page in the front and back of every ebook with an opt-in link, like:
“Thanks for selecting this book to read. I really appreciate you as a reader. If you want to share anything with me, just join my mailing list. I’d love to hear from you. [LINK]”
Right after that, we should have a list of our other books available and clickable link to each one. (Draft2Digital also enables a preview of another book in the back if you want to add it.)
The whole point is reader experience.
Another interesting point is that a really good book will be read over and over. And every time it is, your opt-in and other books are all available to that reader – or anyone they share it with. The download you ship today may give you subscribers and purchased books even years later…
Sorry, but this overlong email has become such a longer explanation of whether optional opt-in is worth it.
I consider that optional opt-in is doing us a favor by giving readers a first self-selecting hurdle. The second hurdle is to get them to open your emails at all. The third is to routinely open them. The fourth is to get them to routinely click on them. These three last hurdles are also ours – to help them get across to the finish line of becoming a true, die-hard fan.
If we’ve just spent months getting a book completed and then publishing it, only to give it away, we should take the same care with the people who download it. It’s all really about reader experience. From the first moment we decide to bring our book to life, the first keystroke.
To some degree, the Internet Marketing approach is a lot like herding cattle. But if you treat cattle too roughly, you’ll get them pissed off and turning around to come right back at you – or simply jumping the fences on either side and tearing them down in the process. Now you have a real mess. (And I work with cattle every day, so this is personal knowledge.) The highest ideal in working cattle is to “allow them decide to go where you want them to.”
But people aren’t cattle. And they shouldn’t be treated as such. Building a fan-base depends on a lot of book discovery. And that means giving a lot of value first. Open-handedly. Way before you ever ask for anything. It shouldn’t be a baited hook. “I’ll give you this and now you have to listen to me sell you stuff.” I think the recent changes in email have proved this. People are getting smarter as the scammers educate them. (Phone calls are so bad, I don’t answer them any more. I’ll call actually known contacts back or email them instead to set up a time we can talk. Just the way things are.) And there is no “short attention span” as some marketers complain about. Actually, a person can see through most of the garbage marketing they’ve been fed and know what’s just click-bait. They’ve been educated.
That’s what GDPR is all about. They got educated awhile back and spent four years developing this guideline to protect people from scammers (and Facebook/Google.)
So that’s my idea of what we should be doing.
  1. Let the readers self-select, which gets you out of encouraging freebie-seekers to join your list.
  2. Concentrate on reader experience and cultivating true fans out of those that do.
  3. Enable incredible value and build real relationships with them.
  4. So you wind up with a tight list of hard-core fans who open and click on everything.
All GDPR and Instafreebie have told us is to up our game, and make the reader more important and valuable to us. We do that be becoming more valuable to them.
It’s all in treating readers like we’d like to be treated. 

If you liked this article, or got something out of it…

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Publishing: Building Audience With Wattpad Syndication

Building Your Avid Reader Audience with Wattpad

Publishing: Building Audience With Wattpad Syndication

Reference: http://livesensical.com/writing-publishing-building-audience-avid-readers/

This is a deeper dive just into Wattpad. I’ve distilled their recommended articles to pull the key startup actions you should be taking on that platform.

It has its idiosyncrasies, but the point is finding your audience(s) and letting them find you.

Why Master Wattpad?

  1. Promotion is getting in front of someone else’s audience and inviting them to join yours.

  2. Wattpad has a huge (if mostly young, female) audience.

  3. This is one of the four social media horsemen for Avid Readers.

  4. Putting your links to invite them to your other books (books2read.com links) helps them join yours.

  5. Putting in links to your giveaway page on Instafreebie helps them become a subscriber.

Remember: Set an egg timer and stick to that amount of time daily. You’ve got other work to do. This is just one of your promotional activities for the day.

We start at: https://www.wattpad.com/writers/resources/build-your-audience/

Five Tips On How To Get More Readers On Wattpad

(From a YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAIUgO-wewZjAltw7OBFTql84Ma9dj9fv )

There’s no one way to do it there’s no magic formula. What worked for other people might not work for me, what works for me might not work for you.

Number 1: Write and upload as much and as readily as possible

When it comes to writing on Wattpad and getting followers and reads consistency and persistence is key

Where I do it is I write my story before I start uploading that way I know that I will always have a chapter to upload until the story’s done.

It helps to have an upload schedule that you set for yourself and that way your readers will know when to expect your next chapter

For example, with Before It Fades the third book in the Ether series, I uploaded a chapter every weekday so every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I uploaded a chapter.

With Awakened. I’m only updating every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. How you do it is up to you. Some people update once a week some people update twice a week. It really is up to you and what you’re comfortable with

Whatever schedule you set for yourself remember to stick to it.

Number 2: Make sure you have a good cover, a good title, and a good description

Good cover with good design good colors that are bold and make it stand out on Wattpad and clear lettering.

All those things are good to have.

Like titles that are short and sweet and catchy as: “They Rise While We Fall”, “Before A Fade”.

Short, sweet, catchy, and align with your description.

Your description is your selling point.

The book is what you make people decide whether or not they’re going to read your book.

For me personally if I see a good cover and title and what and I click through read the description.

If there’s just one sentence there, that doesn’t tell me anything about the story all the characters or why I should read it, so I’m not going to read it.

Description is your hook. It’s what will capture the reader’s attention and make them go to chapter 1.

I like to end every chapter with a cliffhanger. In fact it’s one of the things that I’m kind of known for now. Why do I do is to make it exciting. It kind of torches the reader a little bit, but it’s exciting as well for them

It means the readers will come back next time there’s a new chapter. For you just want to know what will happen next as I left them hanging.

Number 3: Choose the Right Category and Keyword

Make sure you choose the right category and keywords for each story.

For example Awakened is a paranormal romance.

I don’t think there’s any “paranormal romance” category. I could have put it in romance. But romance is one of the most popular categories on all of Wattpad. I think it’s second underneath fan fiction.

I had put Awakened in the romance category it would just get bogged down by the millions of other stories.

Paranormal on the other hand is a smaller category which means I have a better chance of getting a higher ranking so I put Awakened in the paranormal category instead of the right one.

Number 4: Make Friends

Wattpad is such an amazing community filled with readers and writers from all over the world and frankly if you’re not using it to make friends and make connections and talk to people I kind of think you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Because there’s so many awesome people there.

Read other people’s stories. leave genuine supportive comments on other people’s stories without even mentioning your story, and just being good to people.

Tip Number 5: Write What You Love

Write what you want to read and don’t ever ever ever give up if it’s something that you love to do.

I said this in my last video and I’ll probably say it thousand times – because you love it.

Engaging on Wattpad

(From https://www.wattpad.com/379355208-wattpad-confidential-proven-reader-engagement/page/2 )

When to Post, Where, How

Most agree that Friday am (EST) is an absolute must time to publish. While you could publish also on Tues or Wed, Wattpad resets your “rating” stats every time you re-post between their calculation dates.

Once a week should be fine – and concentrate on the long game.

Specify your schedule in the book blurb and on your profile.

Short chapters = more chapters = more engagements, reads, and votes.


  • The average chapter on Wattpad is between 1K and 3K.

  • You can split your existing book in the middle of an action (before the result is known, or when it’s worst for the main character) or at a major change for a character or shift in setting to create a cliffhanger.

Wattpad has 22 genres, and tracks hashtags as well.

You’ll get more data about each book on the website than the app (Plus the app has some really annoying video ads that you can’t turn off until they load.) Meanwhile, you can stop and make notes or look something else up on a desktop browser. (You can’t copy/paste anything from Wattpad. Just the way it is.)

Rating Your Book

Mature rating: If your story would be R or NC-17 rated as a movie, you need to rate it as Mature.

  • The F bomb used more than once in a chapter, or multiple uses of other profanity

  • Description of sexual intercourse, whether body parts are mentioned or not.

  • Gritty violence.

  • Certain topics, suicide, eating disorders, self-harm, or race. (Most of what passes for “top stories” in today’s so-called “news.”)

Everyone: If you could tell it to a 13 year old. You can only imply sex, refer to self-harm, or include non-graphic violence.

Violation responses by Wattpad include:

  • Rating it mature without notice.

  • Making certain chapters “private” so only you can read them.

  • Making the whole story private.

  • Deleting your story.

Deletions can occur for these:

  • Pornographic content

  • Sex with a minor under 16

  • Non-consensual sex (rape)

  • Sexual role-play or messaging

  • Illegal sex acts, bestiality, necrophilia

In short, keep it cozy.

Note: Just as “G” rated stories gain more audience than R or others, Cozy stories can find more readers overall. Yes, there are tons of explicit romances out there with six-pack ab covers. But I’ve found on Instafreebie that the cozy stories can go just about everywhere and will get as many claims as anything else there. Cozy romances can go into Romance and even Erotic genres, but the reverse is not true. (LGBT? Same type of boat – a smaller audience, less places to go.)

Why engage on Wattpad?

You need followers to rise on the lists with reads, votes, comments.

These come from engaged readers you develop relationships with – by following and helping them.

You’re limited to 1000 followers. Try to keep this below 800 so you can use the rest for book clubs, contests, and reader requests.

A nasty tactic is to follow you just so you follow them – and then they unfollow you in a week or so.

Same old scenes – like social media anywhere:
  • Don’t fret about unfollowere – probably those gray hats above.

  • Watch their follower amounts – if they have more than 900, forget them. If they have way more followers than following, forget them.

  • If a reader doesn’t speak or publish in your language, forget them.

People you should follow:
  • Anyone who adds your book to a public reading list

  • People who have engaged with you in writing through votes and comments (obviously not trolls)

  • People who you have developed a good relationship with.

More suggestions

Adjust your tags – keeping two browser windows open, look up the trending tags and put the appropriate ones in your book from the Hot List and Trending tags. You have 20 tag available to use for any one book. Your tags affect when your book is recommended to others (who have just read a book with similar tags.)

Adjust your blurbs – Open the highest ranked story that is similar to yours. Read the blurb and first chapter to make sure it’s a good fit. Dissect their blurb to figure out why it’s compelling. See what is in chapter one that makes you want to turn to chapter two. Take notes and update your blurb later

(Actually, this is a continuing study. And you’ll also want to study good copywriting books – with a grain of salt. Eugene Schwartz is probably the most sensible, if you can find his book [LINK]

You want engaged followers. She mentions several approaches to finding these. The key ones you want (checking their profile) are readers only, but comment a lot – probably closest to your avid reader ideal.

A great point is to never diss a book which is popular (or at all.) Be supportive at all times.

A Short Handle on Blurbs

Master the elevator speech.

  • A blurb is longer than that, but is closer to the 34-second producer hook.

  • Mainly: character(s) in a setting with a problem.

  • Not a plot synopsis with spoilers. Should end in a cliff hanger (an interrupted change or development in character, setting, or action.)

  • No spelling errors, grammatically acceptable.

  • Probably won’t have dialog.

How to Find Your Audience on Wattpad in 11 Ways

(Based on 11 Ways to Wattpad Like a Pro – https://www.wattpad.com/439502543-11-ways-to-wattpad-like-a-pro-a-note-on-wattpad)

Demographics and Special Notes

The demographics may not be in your favor if you just want to take a book and publish it to Wattpad:

  • 60+ million users

  • 400+ million story uploads (lots of competition for those eyeballs.)

  • 90% of activity is on mobile (stories here don’t read like regular books)

  • Majority of users are female, aged between 13-24.

Wattpad is different (especially) than traditional books – A cross between publishing, entertainment, and social apps.

Not all books on Wattpad find their audience – lots of stuff to choose from. High volume reads doesn’t mean success. Low volume reads doesn’t mean failure.

1. Create an Engaging Cover

Needs to be similar, but more arresting/attractive than the others in your genre.

Big type, big image, able to be clearly understood in a thumbnail view.

Use Canva – keep it simple.

2. Story Blurb: Hook the Reader

Master the Tag line.

Formula: A Character in a Setting With a Problem – and leave the reader hanging off a cliff at the end of every chapter.

Blurbs aren’t a plot summary. Not boring. An obvious tease and invitation to adventure.

3. Regular Updates

  • Post the first few chapters to hook them into the story.

  • Then once a week minimum after that (Fri am.)

  • Every time you update, it boosts your ranking algorithm.

  • Updating frequently helps ensure the reader doesn’t forget you.

  • You build your reader base one reader at a time.

4. Start Off at a Dead Run

Readers want to get into the story immediately – you have to transport them in a few sentences to get them into the chapter, in a few chapters to get them into the book.

Macbeth starts with three witches and a mystical prediction, the next chapter has an appearance of his father’s ghost talking to the main character on a high parapet in a foggy night. They get to some other regular human interaction in Chapter 3…

5. Hang Your Reader Off A Cliff

…at every chapter end. Write serials.

6. Write To Leverage Wattpad

  • Write for Mobile – short chapters, short paragraphs (if they work for your story.)

  • Insert multimedia (GIF’s?) and images if they contribute.

  • Write serial, use cliffhangers, add plot twists, bait more hooks.

  • Get more reads with more and shorter chapters.

  • Watch trends and adjust tags (or write the next one just for what’s trending…)

7. Interact – Support

Read, leave supportive comments – all openhandedly. Mention your own books rarely.

Visit clubs through the app to talk with other authors.

Be a supporter and booster at all times, to everyone.

8. When You’re Ready – Join a Contest

See on the web version of Wattpad “Community” > “Writing Contests”

Entrants tend to check out (and read) other entrant’s works.

9. Tag!

See above. 20 tags, use the ones appropriate to your book that are trending. Keep these updated weekly. (Like when you post the next chapter.)

10. Categorize Tactically, but Accurately

Big categories (romance, teen) have a lot of competition.

Smaller categories have fewer readers, but easier to get into their top 100, which will give you more discovery.

Most books fit in at least two categories.

Make sure it’s in a correct category or those fewer readers won’t.

11. Write the Best You Can, Then Write Some More

The top books have been up there for awhile.

The best advice it to take (or write) a whole book that fits the demographics or Wattpad. Write it as a serial, cliffhangers at each chapter end. As necessary, tweak the chapters so they work – but don’t rewrite, just revise.

Then drip your book out as above. And have the next one ready to start when the first is finished.

This is a long view. You’re building audience. And telling them where they can get the book (and your other free books) if they can’t wait for the story to finish.

Free readers go to free subscribers, become paying fans.

Or that’s the general idea…

Summary of Strategies for Wattpad (An Outsider’s Digest)

1. Start with a completed work. Doesn’t matter how long it is.

Revise it so that it will serialize. Means you may want the chapters to end at different points, right in the middle of some change. You might want to write in some plot-twists – but actually, it’s better if you just make notes of how to improve the next one.

Wattpad has a different public than most – a narrower one. Mostly young and female, mobile users. Like to read in serials.

The upside of this is that there is also a big market for this type of book outside Wattpad as well. For all the major genres out there, there is also a YA version.

So consider that you can get an audience and transfer them to a buying one.

The reason for starting with a completed, published book is to be able to get your readers to either opt-in as a subscriber, or buy your completed book. This is done through the author notes before and after your chapter post.

You send them to Instafreebie for more giveaways by this author (where they are encouraged to subscribe) and to your books2read links where they can buy the version they want (and you can have more granular data about purchases.

You also want to use Draft2Digital to compile and publish your ebook so that you have a complete list of your other books available inside each one – all with their own books2read links.

Obviously, you want to make these Wattpad author-note links shortened by Bitly so you can track their popularity.

Post the first few chapters at a rate of about three a week – until you get the reader hooked – probably the first act, or well into it. Then post only once per week. Friday am or at least before it turns into Saturday. Be clear in your author profile about when your next installment will be posted.

2. Invest only a set amount of time on Wattpad (or any social media) daily.

While you want to encourage comments and votes, followers, you have other work you need to do. This is just one of the Four Avid Reader Horsemen. You have three others to attend to, as well as writing and publishing even more books.

Set a wind-up egg timer and use it. Quit when it dings. Period.

3. Optimize your Cover, Blurb, Category, and Tags for every book.

See above. Tweak this as needed for each chapter you add weekly.

4. Get your next book ready – or post another under a different pen name.

That’s a key point. Change your profile to your publishing imprint, and tag each book with that pen name. And put the author’s name as part of the book title. Then you can publish simultaneously as the chapters are organized by book, not submitter.

Of course, don’t be pretentious in your comments. You don’t have to keep your pen names secret. They only really exist to keep your genres separate. People can understand that.

The point is to find your audience and let them find you. Concentrate on providing the best reader experience. Then they’ll want to stay on your lines and find out your latest releases.

If you liked this article, or got something out of it…

Donate Now. | Become a patron. | Buy some books (at my author’s discount…)

 PS. Sharing is caring – go ahead and send this on to someone you know.

The post Publishing: Building Audience With Wattpad Syndication appeared first on Living Sensical.

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Giveaway: Would You Like a Mini-Firehose of Free Books?


Want a Mini-Firehose of Free Books? Instafreebie giveawayGiveaway: Would You Like a Mini-Firehose of Free Books?

Just asking for your help.

This is a copy of an email I sent out today to those who are on my list and said it was OK for me to contact them. (Of course, I’ve tweaked it for you.)

And then I thought – hey, there’s probably other people who want to hear about this who read my blog.

You probably know me by now, from these emails or from my books. (Or reading my blog.)

So you know I work hard to get the universe around us figured out and boiled down into useful small bits we can put to use. The reason is to improve our lives.

I’ve found three core datums that guide just about everything:

  1. We become what we think about.
  2. You get only as well as you give.
  3. You can always find what you are looking for.

Test those for yourself, of course. And word them however they make best sense to you.

And you’ll see these all in what I’m about to give you…

– – – –

The problem I have today is an opportunity. For you and for me.

I started an Instafreebie book giveaway and don’t have enough authors and books in it. 

So I’m going to do something different – I’m going to giveaway my books (and the ones I’ve asked others to contribute) and keep adding books each day or the next ten days.

And then take them all down.

You don’t have to sign up for anything. Practically, you already have, since you’re getting this.

All I’m doing is to get as much of the data I have made available to everyone I can. For a limited time. 10 days, actually.

Here’s the link: https://calm.li/NewBooksDaily

But the catch is – you need to visit that link daily to make sure you get all the offers.

Just for you: What are the books I’ve published that you want copies of? 

Reply to this email, and I’ll put them up in the giveaway – for you and everyone.

(If you don’t have my email, sign up on the form beside this or below, and I’ll send it to you – just send me a reply to any you get.)

And that means I’ll be putting more than one new free book up every day.

For the next ten days, counting from now. Ends midnight the 22nd.

Every day, new books are being added.

Yes, that means selecting from any book I’ve ever published. You only have to ask. Go ahead and search any of the book outlets who have carried my books (especially Lulu.com) and I’ll put that book up for free if you simply ask me to.

What do you think about this?

Again check out the link: https://calm.li/NewBooksDaily and then check it daily.

You may not want to be bothered by this. I understand completely.

The people who don’t open this won’t be bothered.

And if you don’t click, you won’t be bothered.

If you want to take a chance on this offer, then I’ll be in touch again.


So: check out the link: https://calm.li/NewBooksDaily and let me know by email what other books you want me to give you. Free.



PS. Of course, that link is only good as long as the giveaway lasts. So, visit today. It will all be gone sooner than you or I want.

The post Giveaway: Would You Like a Mini-Firehose of Free Books? appeared first on Living Sensical.

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