My Experience with Book Bub

Several months back, I had my first experience in using Book Bub to promote one of my novels. Now, if you are familiar with the behemoth of a book promotion site, it’s not easy to get onto Book Bub. Their site says that only 20% of books offered to the site are chosen for promotion. That’s one of the reasons their promotions cost so much, ranging from $200 to $700. So, yes, it’s an investment on the author’s part to get in. And they curate their site in a very selective way so their massive readership knows exactly what they will be getting when they see a free or discounted Book Bub ad. So when my book was finally chosen for a free promotion, did it work?

Unequivocally, yes!

Several very clear-cut results came from my ad on Book Bub. First, they said how many downloads I could expect in my genre, and the numbers backed it up exactly. Very accurate.

Second, as time drifted on, the number of reviews on my book on Amazon nearly doubled with more then 20+ new reviews coming out of this promotion.

Third, and something I would not have predicted at all, the promoted novel saw a huge spike in the number of pages read on this KDP Select title. Prior to the promotion, pages read had flat-lined and basically non-existent. Suddenly, I was seeing thousands of pages read every day, and the residual effect of this did not just last for a week or so. I saw regular, daily page reads for about five months. This is the best result possible: knowing the readers are actually reading the book. This, of course, has led to other sales from other books.

So my conclusion is simple. Though Book Bub is expensive and certainly a commitment for the typical indie author, their promotional tools deliver. I’ve used many other websites for promotion but no other one, in my experience, can come close to matching Book Bub’s results.

I will most definitely keep trying to use them. That’s my experience. What’s yours?

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First Time Ever: “Banyan Tree” novel FREE on Kindle! Limited time.

“The Reach of the Banyan Tree” was published in July of 2014. I’m proud of this novel, because whether anyone else liked it or not, it was my great Vietnamese novel that I always wanted to write. You see, I lived there for ten years, and I learned to love the culture and history of this amazing country. So I set out to write a three-generational tale about one American family which had been forever altered by their encounters in Vietnam. 1945. 1967. 2014. I wrote it, and I’m happy with it. And luckily, so are the reviewers. It’s garnered a 4.8 on 26 reviews on Amazon. I never thought I would offer it for free on Kindle, but when Book Bub agreed, and the prospect of getting this great story into the hands of 10,000+ readers came calling, I couldn’t turn it down. So here it is:

The Reach of the Banyan Tree FREE – December 14-16

It’s free on Kindle. Please get yourself a copy and help me get the word out. I can’t see me ever offering this again for free in the future, so this is the time.

And if you do download it, I’d greatly appreciate a review.

Thanks for all your support.

“The Reach of the Banyan Tree”

Chip Carson intended to marry a young Vietnamese woman until a tragic accident lands him in prison, forever altering the outlook of their relationship. As he struggles to cope with his strained love, a mysterious stranger appears bearing a journal about Chip’s grandfather who parachuted into French Indochina at the end of World War II. As the words in the journal reveal a life that Chip never knew, he begins to understand the depth of love and sacrifice needed in order to have a second chance at love.

Part historical fiction, part contemporary love story, The Reach of the Banyan Tree is an adventure spanning two eras. It explores the effects of war, love, culture, and family obligation in twentieth century Vietnam through the eyes of three generations of American men, who each lost their soul in the tangled reaches of the banyan tree.

Get your FREE KINDLE copy here! (only until Dec 16)

Banyan Tree Cover med

A Steal of a Deal: “Beauty Rising” (my debut novel) only 99 cents through Oct 18.

My first novel, still near and dear to my heart, is on a Kindle Countdown Deal for only 99 cents through October 18.

Get your copy here!

What’s it about? Many have described it as a late-coming-of-age story and that’s certainly true. Here’s some facts about it:

Date First Published: December 2012

Main Characters: Martin Kinny (30ish, still live at home going nowhere type – also overweight, not remarkably attractive); My Phuong (a beautiful, young, troubled Vietnamese woman)

Setting: Contemporary: Thai Nguyen & Hanoi Vietnam; Lyndora, Pennsylvania;

Narration: 1st person from two points of view

Part I: Section narrated by Martin: As his dying, abusive father (a Vietnam vet) asks Martin to take his ashes back to Nam, Martin tries to accomplish it, but ends up flubbing everything, including getting his wallet stolen, which makes him completely at the mercy of Vietnamese society to get back home

Part II: Section narrated by My Phuong: She chronicles how she stole Martin’s wallet, and how that seemingly benign event which she did many times before, ends up throwing her headlong into a series of events that should could have never predicted – including running for her very life.

Part III: Section narrated by Martin: In strange, unexpected ways, the two stories of Martin and My Phuong come together with a lot of uncertainty brewing under the surface.

Other Important Characters:

Martin’s Mother: weary and worn after a lifetime of living with her abusive husband; she resents all things Vietnam.

The Vietnamese Politician: He lures My Phuong into a web of deceit, where she becomes his trapped mistress.

This is an emotional novel which packs a wallop – especially at the end. Anyone who enjoys stories of love, deceit, culture, adventure, travel, or growing-up will find something enjoyable in “Beauty Rising”

Please check it out!

Beauty Rising Mark W Sasse

 

My Biggest Promotion Ever is Coming Soon

You have to spend money to make money.

I really wonder if that saying applies to indie authors. Later this month, I will be having the largest, most expensive, and wide-spread promotion I’ve ever done.

I have no idea what the outcome will be, and I don’t pretend to think it will be successful. I’m simply following another saying: you never know until you try.

I’m pretty sure that all indie authors have felt the squeeze the last couple of years. The number of free and discounted websites have either dwindled or changed policies in order to keep up with their costs. It’s simply a lot more expensive to advertise today as an indie author than it was in 2013.

The competition is also much fiercer. I can’t imagine the number of new novels and books which are flooding the market each month. How many are from new authors? A lot, I bet. I also won’t pretend to evaluate the quality of the books either. In all honesty, it’s a rare book that grabs my attention these days. What I typically see on social media is simply not a draw for me. I have no idea how my novels stack up with the average indie novel, whatever that means.

For me, I’m satisfied with what I have produced. I’m not ashamed to put my name on the novels, anyhow. That’s enough for me. Of course, I’m always thrilled when I’m able to connect with a reader or have someone recommend my work.

So here I am, gearing up for my largest promotion ever. I’m dishing out some cash, okay if it never comes back. I have a novel I believe in, the reviews have been fantastic so far (received a great one today I’ll shared soon), and I’m willing to take that next step. Could it be one step forward, two steps back? Possibly. But it’s time to make a push, and if it fails, I’ll try again at another time, and if that fails … It’s okay. I’m not in it for the money.

More details on the promotions coming soon!

One More Day, the Thunderclap will Sound

On April 28, 12:00pm EST, my Thunderclap campaign which is supporting my Kindle Scout campaign will sound. About 1 day from now.

I have absolutely no idea what it will mean to my book in the long run, but I’m excited to find out. Here are the current numbers for my Thunderclap campaign:

thunderclap 112

 

I pushed hard to get to 100 supporters and I’m so grateful for everyone who signed up. Of course, the big number sitting there is quite enticing: 122,819.  Naturally, that is the total possible social reach and the actual post/twitter will not come close to that. It will be a fraction. But the network is built around two key constituents: my friends who have shown interest in my writing and readers/bloggers who are consumed by books. That’s a good combination. Even if just a tiny fraction of that 122,000 clicked on my Kindle Scout account, it would make a difference. I mean tiny. Like 0.5% or 0.25%. Once the original number is so high, it doesn’t take much to make an impact. I suppose that’s the point and genius of Thunderclap.

My novel will be on Kindle Scout until May 15. This Thunderclap is, I believe, perfectly timed to help push me during the final two weeks to a strong finish. I have no idea what may happen, but it’s been enjoyable to join Kindle Scout, and whatever happens, I’m prepared for it.

If you haven’t joined my Thunderclap campaign, you have about a day to do so at this LINK!

If you want to check out my new novel on Kindle Scout and possibly nominate it for a publishing contract, you may do so HERE!

Thanks for your support!

Exclusive Excerpt: The Recluse Storyteller (on sale for a limited time)

The kindle version of my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller, is on sale now through April 6 for only 99 cents.

You can pick up a copy: HERE!

I’m happy to give you an exclusive excerpt. If you enjoy, please check out the full story.

Escape from the Margaret Meeting

The Friday evening meeting commenced, and Janice started.

“First, I’d like to thank Mrs. Johnson for hosting us here this evening. I’ve called all of you together, so we could talk freely about my niece, Margaret. Each of us knows her in one way or another, and I wanted to get an opinion from all of you about Margaret and how you think she is doing.”

“Might I ask what prompted you to call us all together to talk about another person? I’m not really comfortable with that,” asked Reverend Davies, who sat next to Michael Cheevers, who crunched his way through a bag of potato chips.

The rest of the room consisted of Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Trumble, and Chester Tomsey.

“Mrs. Trumble, would you like to address this issue?”

“Yes, I most certainly would. Now I’ve never been one to speak ill of someone without cause, and I’ve been greatly tolerant of being the recipient of coarse manners from Margaret, but I have seen her behavior become much stranger and, should I even say, violent recently.”

“Oh, come now,” interjected Chester Tomsey. “We all know that Margaret does not have the most heart-warming of personalities, but she is anything but violent.”

Reverend Davies did not like the start of this. He kept thinking about what Margaret had said when leaning up against the supermarket shelves.

“Mr. Tomsey, is it?” Mrs. Trumble inquired.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“And just what is your relationship with Margaret?”

“My firm employs her on a job-by-job basis. She writes and revises technical manuals for us. Actually, she’s a verbal genius.”

“Verbal genius! I think you are talking about the wrong Margaret,” belted out Cheevers with his mouth half-full of chips. “She’s no Margaret Queen of Scots.”

“That was Mary,” said Reverend Davies.

“That’s right, Reverend. She’s no Mary Mother of God either.”

The reverend exhaled heavily and rolled his eyes in Cheevers’ direction as did everyone else.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have said verbal genius. What I meant was that she has a way with words—written words. I can’t tell you how much grief and stress that she has eliminated from my life. I think you are sorely mistaken if you think she is violent,” said Tomsey, trying to clarify his point.

“And how many times have you actually met her?” pressed Mrs. Trumble.

“None. I’ve never talked with the woman. We do everything over the Internet.”

“Well, I hardly think that makes you an expert on her character and behavior.”

“I’m basing my judgment on the quality and judicious nature of her work. She has an impeccable work record. Punctual. Detailed. Insightful. Any company would be lucky to have her. I know her character because it comes through in her work. If we are to suggest that she is anything but a wonderfully productive member of society, then we are mistaken.”

“And what exactly are we suggesting here?” Cheevers added. “Mrs. Johnson, do you have any beer?”

“No.”

“Mr. Cheevers, please be patient. We are trying to get to the heart of the matter. Mr. Tomsey, your opinions about her work habits are duly noted, but I would like Mrs. Trumble to continue,” voiced Janice with a slight hint of annoyance.

Mrs. Trumble stood up and started addressing every incident and run-in that she ever had with Margaret. Everyone sighed with resignation that they would just need to wait it out. As the address continued, Sam and Pam crawled along the living room wall on all fours. The only person who could have seen them was Mrs. Trumble but not in her state. Sam reached safety first behind the kitchen island and waved Pam over. By the time they reached the door, Cheevers had a small window of opportunity to see them between the corner of the island and the wall of the hallway which led to a spare bedroom, but he was busy licking his fingers and sticking them back into the bag, trying to pick up the last few crumbs on his saliva-wet finger tips. Sam reached up and unlatched the door, quietly opening and closing it. They had spent the whole dinner hour planning their escape once they heard that the meeting was on. Pam even volunteered to cook her world-famous three-egg omelets so that their mother wouldn’t be in the kitchen. As Pam cooked, Sam got the WD-40 out of the hallway drawer and sprayed the front door hinges, so they wouldn’t squeak during their escape. They made it safely into the outdoor hallway.

Another Lesson for Indies: “Restaurant, you have one chance to impress me.”

A new restaurant opened up in my neighborhood quite a few months ago. From the outside it is attractive, a cafe-throwback, a large outdoor blackboard with a hand-written “Open” sign, a large stack of firewood neatly arranged into the exterior of the restaurant, and attractive indoor and outdoor seating. Even the signboard was well designed with fonts that popped out, easily pulling in the attention of passerbyers. The initial reports about food quality I heard from several people was not so complimentary, so I decided to skip trying it and stuck to the tried and true.

Over the course of several months, I heard a few good things about the restaurant, still mixed with some negative opinions. But yesterday, as I found myself alone for lunch and most of the other restaurants around were closed for Chinese New Year, I decided to give it a try. I realized up front what I was doing – I was giving them the benefit of the doubt that had been sowed in my mind. They had one and only one chance to turn those negatives around and make me a believer and a loyal customer.

One chance. Were they up to the challenge?

First, the ambiance was nice. The walls were decorated with some beautiful photographic art which was actually for sale for rather exorbitant prices. But I wasn’t there for the art. It’s all about the food.

The prices were do-able, not the cheapest, but they were reasonable enough.

What to order?

For me, when testing a restaurant here in Malaysia, it’s all about the hamburger. If they can make an excellent hamburger then I know I can trust them with other food. It’s not difficult to make a great burger IF you start with great ingredients. And that’s always the issue here in Malaysia. Most of the beef just isn’t tasty. It’s dry, boring, and tasteless.

So I ordered the cheeseburger and waited. It wasn’t too long when it was served on a round wooden platter. The presentation was quite appealing, actually. They had obviously put some thought into their restaurant design and experience.

But as we all know, all of that stuff – the presentation, the ambiance – is peripheral. I would know within one bite whether I would ever go there again. They had one bite to prove to me that their food was worth my money. One chance.

I took a good healthy bite and I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be back at that restaurant again. Why? They had shirked on the quality of the beef. It was dry, boring, and tasteless. I finished the meal, paid, nodded my appreciation to the waitress, and walked out knowing that they unfortunately didn’t earn me as a customer.

I think any indie author can see the analogy working here. We also have one chance. The peripherals can be meaningful and helpful to an author. Book cover, of course, can attract readers, like a well designed signboard at a restaurant. A well-formatted book can create a good ambiance for the reader to make them feel at home. Book reviews can either drive people to your book or keep them away, much like the word or mouth from a restaurant customer. But all of this matters little when a reader actually sits down to taste our writing – all that really matters at that point is if your writing is delicious – does the story bring them in – do the characters reach into the life of the reader? One bite and the reader will know if they will be a long-time customer of your literary buffet.

So while it’s important to think about all aspects of writing, nothing is every more important than the actual writing. That’s where the beef is.