Archive for Strategy

Amazon Giveaways: An Update

A few weeks ago, I blogged on giveaways on Amazon and Goodreads. For us, Goodreads was an ongoing strategy, but Amazon was completely new. Pamela Fagan Hutchins tried it for her mystery Heaven to Betsy.

The promo ran for one week, which was the set period and not something that could be changed. That matches the time periods Pamela uses on Goodreads, though, so it was a good comparative.

Pamela gave away 20 books and had 2000 people enter. The readers received a paperback sent directly by Amazon, so while it wasn’t signed, Amazon handled fulfillment. The cost of the books to Pamela was full price, unlike when she does Goodreads giveaways and is able to buy at wholesale prices. So while she spent more, she did less work.

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The 2000+ entrants was two times as many as Pamela generally gets on Goodreads. However, she gave away twice as many books. She ran a giveaway where she gave away one book for each hundredth entrant. When she does it again, she plans to make it every 200 to 300 entrants, and experiment with the parameters.

Pamela had hoped to give away 30 books and to get 3000 entrants. However, it did not appear that Amazon picked the giveaway for promotion, which is what it would have taken to get that many people to enter. Plus, entrants had to follow her on Twitter, and that condition was a bar from some. An Amazon author page follow would be a much better condition, in our opinion, especially given Amazon’s recent move into letting authors craft messages about their new releases for Amazon to send to their followers.

The biggest benefit by far of the Amazon giveaway was Pamela’s ability to send custom 140-character messages to the winners and to the losers. It allowed her to let them all know that the first novel in her interrelated series was always free in e-book form, as well as provided the chance for her to ask for honest reviews. With Goodreads giveaways, she is able to include a message to the winners in book shipments, but to send messages to the authors gets kind of spammy as they aren’t necessarily fans or friends, plus they would have to be done one by one, a laborious and time consuming process.

For the benefit of being able to send these messages, Pamela felt that the Amazon giveaway is the better deal, especially as she experiments with the parameters of the giveaway itself, even though it is a little more costly. She does plan to continue Goodreads giveaways, though, as they drive reviews and rankings on Goodreads where book influencers hang out.

Has anyone had good experiences with either type of giveaway? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the contents.


New and Nifty Feature: Author e-mails to Amazon Followers

One of the most serious drawbacks to driving sales on Amazon (in the past) has been that an author can’t directly promote to her Amazon readers. It’s in the best interest of both Amazon and the author that the readers most interested in the author receive information that leads to future sales. Amazon has done its own promoting to its customers at its sole discretion until recently. To benefit from this type of promotion, an author had to generate robust sales and strong and numerous reviews. I can still remember clearly the first time I learned Amazon had emailed customers about one of my books. It was like winning the lottery. Heck, it still is. I’ve had most success with it recently when I put my books up for Kindle pre-order (although the pre-order strategy overall is not as impactful as it was in the past; read more on that, HERE). Here’s an example of the randomly wonderful e-mails Amazon sends, from August 13 (not in conjunction with a pre-order, but a week after a new release):

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Those Amazon emails are great, and they drive sales, but the followers of an author have indicated that they want to hear more about the author, and recently Amazon starting giving these followers (and the authors) what everyone really wanted: personal new release emails from the authors to their followers.

It helps to know what I mean by follower: Followers in this instance are people that have clicked Follow on the author’s Amazon page, and thus to hear from Amazon when the author has a new release. Amazon knows who those people are and how to contact them, but the author does not. Yet if anyone wanted to hear from the author personally out of all the people that shop on Amazon, these would be some of them.

So, for the first time ever, here’s what I got from Amazon last week when I released Earth to Emily (Emily #2):
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My reaction: O M G!!!!!!!

Um, YESSSSS!! So I drafted the message I wanted my followers to get, and here’s what Amazon sent me:

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I saved you the “Read More” text (you’re welcome)! And I just now saw the typo. Ay Carumba. Next time I’m running the text by my editor!

Here’s what followers got:


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I wish they hadn’t had to click to get the message, but . . . Amazon is moving in the right direction, so I’ll quit kvetching.

Or maybe I won’t. Now, here’s the drawback: there’s been absolutely zero reason to promote Amazon author page follows in the past. I have 12 books out. I’ve followed my own Amazon author page since the beginning. I’d never received an email (to my knowledge) as a follower. If I only published on Amazon, maybe I would have promoted it, but I publish in wide distribution, so instead I promoted my webpage with links to all my retailers. Yet 60% of my sales come from Amazon, so all of a sudden, I’m rethinking this and trying to decide how to gently introduce my contacts to the urgent need for them to follow my Amazon author page. I take that back. My contacts hear from me in many ways. They don’t need this follower new release email from Amazon. I need it to go to the Amazon customers I don’t already know, and I can’t promote my own Amazon author page to them for that very reason. Only Amazon can.


I guess I should still promote to my contacts and ask them to promote it to theirs, and hope for some social networking magic.

Meanwhile, though, I’m thrilled about this development/feature. I hope this acknowledgement of the desire of readers to hear from authors is a trend Amazon pursues enthusiastically.

I’d be really interested in your thoughts on how best to promote your author pages in the comments below . . .


Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-10006025_10152294921092604_1598429323_oselling mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction, chairs the board of the Houston Writers Guild, and dabbles in employment practices resources investigations from time to time. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She blogs on writing, publishing and promotion at Skip the Jack and on her beleaguered family, and much-too-personal life at Road to Joy. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start). Check out her USA Best Book Award winning novel, Going for Kona, her permafree mystery (and series lead), Saving Grace, her writing/publishing/promotion Bible, What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?, her newest mystery, Earth to Emily (Emily #2).


Taking a closer look at Ken Oder: What works in indie fiction?

oldwounds ebook

Congratulations to author Ken Oder on the release of his second novel, Old Wounds to the HeartNot only is it his second novel, but it is the second in his series of Whippoorwill Hollow books.

When you take a closer look, it’s clear that Ken’s doing a lot of things right as an indie novelist. Things we can all learn from.

1. Ken is writing a series of books that sit side-by-side on the virtual shelf. He published his first in 2014 and his second in 2015. His third is slated for 2016.

2. His first novel, The Closing, won an IndieFab finalist award and broke the top 100 on Kindle.

3. Ken has worked hard to garner reviews, with 96 reviews and a 4.7-rating on The Closing and already 15 reviews and a 4.9-rating for Old Wounds.

4. Ken has parlayed his excellent reviews and awards into a BookBub promotion. Around it, he clustered promos with Books Butterfly, Kindle Nation Daily, BookSends, Bargain Booksy and OHFB.

5. Ken has priced his novels at the optimal price point for profitability, for indies: $2.99.

6. Ken didn’t publish until he was ready to invest in excellent editing and a great cover, on top of deferring publication until he received multiple objective opinions that his novels were “ready.”

7. Ken continues to work on his craft, attending conferences, workshops, and retreats to learn and get feedback from other writers.

So, again, congratulations to Ken, on both his success and his most recent novel. We’ll be following his progress eagerly.


End of Book Excerpts: Yea or Nay?

One piece of advice I’ve always received is to include excerpts from my other books at the end of each of my e-books to make it possible (and easy) for readers who wish to download any of others to do so. This is a post in which I’ll show and tell what I’ve down, explain how it’s worked, and seek your input on what you do, whether it works, and your opinion on my strategy. So here goes nothing!

Generally speaking, I include excerpts for the next novel in a particular series, the first novel in other series, and the nonfiction. To see an example—downloadable free anywhere—you can browse the table of contents of my novel Saving Grace, if you want. I don’t do the same thing in print books for a couple of reasons. First, it drives the price of the book up. Secondly, I don’t usually have my next novel finalized by the time one comes out. If we release later editions, I can add it, but we haven’t done it yet. I do think it would be a good idea to include if an author has it ready or for me if we release later editions.

Anyway, directionally, my royalties are increasing. It’s hard to say exactly why, but here are the things we’ve done in the last year that we believe have really worked:

1. Releasing more than two novels in a series (my sales increase with each, and I’m releasing my sixth in August 2015)

2. Making my first in series e-book FREE

3. Promoting the first-in-series-free e-book on Bookbub and

4. Promoting that same book WEEKLY using the most effective online promotion services I can find—for me, these are Bookbub, ereaderIQ/Booksends, Kindle Nation Daily, FreeBooksy, Books Butterfly, Free Book Service, and OHFB

Other things are important, but they’re part of the ante-up, in my mind: writing your best book, not skimping on top notch editing, not skimping on your cover, entering (and hopefully placing well in) contests, pricing appropriately, and working hard to get reviews/ratings. I price to achieve maximum revenue, and the sweet spot I have found is $2.99 for my novels, although I’ve recently started offering pre-orders for 99 cents (a whole ‘nutha strategy discussion) and I still price my newest release at $3.99, although I’m not sure whether that does me any good. To the end of getting reviews, I give away a ton of books, I use Author Buzz/Shelf Awareness, and I seek exposure with book bloggers (guest posts, reviews, author or book profiles).

My royalties are highest in the few weeks after a Bookbub, and taper slowly until my next Bookbub, six months later, which is the time interval between which they’ll run a promotion for the same book. I usually run Bookbub on a discount for a paid book some time in that interim, but for purposes of this discussion, we’ll ignore those.

Something different happened a few months ago. My royalties started picking up between Bookbub promotions just when we expected them to be falling. While I had released a new novel, I had also dropped the price on my last novel from $3.99 to $2.99, we’d dropped five of my nonfiction books (all of them except What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?) to 99 cents, and we’d offered the new novel at the 99 cent pre-order and new release price. Those of you that are e-book pricing savvy know that on most sales sites, i.e., Amazon, you make a lower percentage royalty on sales under $2.99. Amazon pays a 70% royalty on books priced $2.99. It pays a 35% royalty on a 99 cent book. So you have to sell a whole lot more books at 99 cents to make the money that you do on books that are $2.99. A whole lot more.

Sure, we expected me to sell more books over time, but we thought that the price drops might mean a short term royalty drop. But that didn’t happen.

Anyway, we couldn’t put our finger on the reason(s) for the royalties increase. Could it just be that at some point sales grow exponentially? Or could it be that before I released the new novel, I’d added the linked excerpts to all the other books? Could it be the pricing? Or both? Or something else, or none of the above?

I don’t know. We don’t know. All we know is that the nonfiction increased but not enough to account for the phenomenon; the overall sales of the fiction did. We suspect it’s an all-of-the-above answer, but we’re just guessing.

On the heels of this unexpected uptick in my moola, and less than two weeks before I was to run another Bookbub promotion on my first-in-series-free Saving Grace, I received two messages two days apart:

Message One:

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Message Two:

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I believe all feedback is a gift, and that you have to look for the learning even if you have to wade through some people being too soft and others not so much ;-). In the first, it was “feel good” feedback, and obviously the reader had discovered others of my books (non-fiction), and enjoyed them. In the second, the reader enjoyed a novel but hated the excerpts, and made sure she took a chunk out of me in how she chose to tell me. My best guess is she is referring to my narrative non-fiction, the same praised by the previous reader. I must say that I a) wrote the non-fiction as self-therapy b) wrote it before my novels became successful. Anyway, I’m human, so I (just barely) resisted sending her back a message as direct as hers. But, in the end, I am weighing these two messages against each other and looking for the learning, if there is any. It’s always possible these are just two totally different humans, and that I can’t please everybody all of them time and all of that yadda yadda.

Or maybe it’s not. And if there’s an important takeaway, well, then I need to move fast, because my next Saving Grace Bookbub promo is July 7. Today is June 27. Yeah, fast. If the inclusion of my non-fiction hurts my fiction sales, then it’s crazy to have those excerpts in there. Except both non-fiction and fiction sales are up. Fiction way, way up. But could it be up more???

Which brings me to my question for you guys (think of it as your payment for all the amazing free strategy info I just synthesized for you!): what is your opinion about excerpts for other books by the same author, at the end of one? If you downloaded Saving Grace (free) and browsed the book excerpts I put in it, what do you think about how I did it? Would you do it differently, i.e., remove the non-fiction? Leave it the same? Not do excerpts at all?

Personally, I always read the excerpts at the end of a book, and I am much more likely to buy more from that author if there’s a sampler platter available to taste from. I may not like what I taste (a la Ms. Shaw, above), or I may love it (the website commenter whose name I don’t know). I think the push toward me buying/finishing is much stronger when I’ve started an excerpt. But does the good outweigh the bad? I truly don’t know and welcome your thoughts.

In the meantime, I hope the above outline of my current strategy is helpful for you guys.



Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling mysteries 10006025_10152294921092604_1598429323_oand hilarious nonfiction, chairs the board of the Houston Writers Guild, and dabbles in employment law and human resources investigations from time to time. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She blogs on writing, publishing and promotion at Skip the Jack and on her beleaguered family, and much-too-personal life at Road to Joy. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start). Check out her USA Best Book Award winning novel, Going for Kona, her permafree mystery (and series lead), Saving Graceher writing/publishing/promotion Bible, What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?, her newest mystery, Heaven to Betsyand her Beat the Heat Writer’s Retreat in Nowheresville, TX August 7-9, 2015.




Proud to be a member of the Club.

When I first ran across Author Marketing Club, I resisted. I mean, come on, free stuff is good, but I’m getting nickel-and-dimed all over the place for paid services that will help me sell my books.

But Author Marketing Club didn’t promise to help me sell my books. Instead, they offered me services to make doing what I already knew I needed to do easier. Whether or not the book sold would still be up to me.

The services sounded good. Their review grabber. Their Enhanced Description HTML Generator for a jazzed up Kindle page on Amazon. Free Book Cover Art. They sounded really, really good. I read their free download, Sell More Books With Awesome Amazon Descriptions. It was amazing.

I’ll cut to the chase: I caved and joined. $105. The question was, would it be down the tubes or money well spent?

I tried the Enhanced Description HTML Generator First. I wish I had taken before and after shots of my description, but check out a comparison of a normal Kindle description versus my new AMC-amped up description.





Using their HTML, I was able to update my CreateSpace pages too. I’m thrilled with the impact.

Next I used Review Grabber. Review Grabber goes out to the authors and books of your choice on Amazon and pulls the reviewers for whom there are email addresses and websites, so that you can contact them individually and ask them to consider reviewing your similar book. They even give you instructions and a sample letter. So I sent out 11 requests for reviews. Four of the reviewers said yes. As of the time of this blog, I have two new five-star reviews. One of the reviewers is a book blogger who decided to buy another of my books and feature both reviews on her website. Wowza!

I tried their Book Widget Generator. Here’s how it looks:

Nice, huh? Links to all my major sales websites, not just Amaon. And my Amazon Associates ID is built in. Much better than the Amazon Generated Widgets.

And it just keeps getting better. I was able to participate in Book Discovery Sundays,which emailed my book around to the membership. I will be in a Book Bundle promotion in December. I was featured as a new member to other members. Two Fridays in December AMC and the powerhouse World Literary Cafe will promote for free my sale of Saving Grace for 99 cents. That’s not even including the free book cover art, free webinars, and other features. I’ve used them all.

I am in love.  Is that because I’m selling more books? Well, yes, my sales did pick up in the week after I implemented some of the AMC features like the Description Enhancer. But the payoff for most of them awaits. I have the aforementioned sale of Saving Grace to relaunch Leaving Annalise in November, and with the exposure I hope to get through ads I am running in addition to the 99 cent Fridays promotion by AMC and WLC, more people will see my new reviews and new descriptions. My landing page is much higher impact, much more likely to generate sales.

Best $105 I ever spent.

Now, if I could just get BookBub to schedule Saving Grace during my November promotion . . .

Pamela Fagan Hutchins is an employment attorney and workplace investigator by day who writes award-winning and bestselling mysterious women’s fiction (Saving Grace) and humorous nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your Kids) by night. She is passionate about great writing and smart author-preneurship. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.


Kindle-Power Your Direct Email Promotion to Readers

Direct email contact is the most sure way to get in front of potential readers. But how do you achieve it? One way is to build your own list of interested opt-in subscribers that you administer through an online application like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, through your friends and contacts, through your website and blog, through building social media contacts, and through encouraging visitors at your events to sign-up for your list. I’ve been working on mine since 2008. It’s a great list, but it has only 5500 subscribers. The most important thing you can do with this list once you’ve built it is NOT EMAIL IT. The fastest way to get unsubscribes is to bombard your list every week (God forbid every day) with stuff from you about your books. I have kept my list intact by emailing only 2-3 times per year, when I am announcing a new release. Any other news that I hope they’ll care about I include in one of those releases. This has been critical for me: it’s a way to reach thousands of people who care about my books and/or me when I want them to consider one of my new books.

Another way to achieve email contact is to buy a list. This idea doesn’t generally work, though. These people don’t have any connection to you, and often resent their contact information being sold.

Yet another is to run a promotion through a site with a large email following. BookBub is a great example of how effective this can be. It’s pricey, though—currently $750 to promote a 99 cent discount to their 2,350,000 subscribers— and they accept only about 20% of the applications they receive. They’ve picked my books They’ve picked my books six times in the last 15 months, and it’s wonderful, but they’ve turned me down more times than they’ve picked me. Bookbub is just one of many promo sites, but they’re currently the best. Others I currently use frequently because of their great emailing lists: BookSends, Kindle Nation Daily, FreeBooksy, OHFB, and Books Butterfly. I was actually shocked at how effective my most recent Books Butterfly promotion was, and they’re a new addition to my “best of the web” promo sites list.

The last way is “free,” but it requires hard work and savvy, and that’s to get the sales sites to do your promotion for you, to their email lists. If you’re on the short list for advertising expenditures with a giant publishing company, this is a shoo-in. If you’re not at the top of their heap, you don’t get it because you ask for it or pay for it. You have to position yourself for their selection. One such way is the Kindle Daily Deal. Supposedly this is also something big pub can and does ask for. The rest of us haven’t figured out how to talk to humans at Amazon. But it’s a one-day 99 cent (usually) promotion of an ebook handpicked by Amazon. I think it goes without saying that this book is normally a well-reviewed book with a super cover that they expect to sell like gangbusters.

But there’s another way to show up on their lists, and it’s a list TAILORED to you, and that’s to put your next novel up two to three months before it’s due to be released, as a pre-order on Amazon. Check out this amazing email that Amazon sent to its customers last week, about the pre-order for my next novel, especially the text boxed in red.

H2B email from Amazon












Holy Mother Goose and Grimm, right? They actually send these out. Ever heard the expression from popular advertisements of lotteries, “You can’t win if you don’t play?” Well, yeah. That’s how it works with Amazon emails about pre-orders, too. Now, if only five souls have downloaded your books on Kindle, this won’t mean much, but t’s still better than nothing. If you’ve sold books to someone on Kindle in the past, Amazon knows who they are and has their email address, and they’re willing to send them an email about you and you alone to encourage them to buy your books again. YOU don’t have access to those emails. YOU don’t know who those people are. The only entity in the world capable of reaching them is Amazon. And that is why I am recommending that you absolutely, positively do not fail to put your novels up for pre-order on all sites. Not all of them do this, but there’s cross-over interest on other sites when these emails get forwarded, or when they go to someone who’d prefer to buy on Nook next time, etc.

Some of the people on Amazon’s “Pamela Fagan Hutchins” list are on mine, too, and/or they’re on BookBub or Books Butterfly or some other promo site as well.  And guess what? That means they may hear about your book two or three times during your promotional push for your new release. And it takes most people multiple exposures to your book before they act, if they ever will. This early shot across the bow by Amazon sets your new release email to your opt in subscriber list and your first big promo with someone like Books Butterfly up for even greater success.

I’m putting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on my holiday gift basket list for next year. That email about went out last week to, oh, about 500,000 people. Squee! (You can reserve a pre-order copy of the e-book version of Heaven to Betsy (Emily #1), Katie & Annalise spin-off mystery series, anywhere online, if you want. Like Amazon KindleBarnes & Noble NookApple iBooksGoogle PlayKobo, or Smashwords.)

And you can get tips like this and more in the JUST UPDATED (January 2015) What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too? ebook. If you purchased it previously, just update your books on your device to get the latest version.


Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries 10006025_10152294921092604_1598429323_oand hilarious nonfiction, chairs the board of the Houston Writers Guild, and dabbles in employment law and human resources investigations from time to time. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She blogs on writing, publishing and promotion at Skip the Jack and on her beleaguered family, and much-too-personal life at Road to Joy. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start). Check out her USA Best Book Award winning new novel, Going for Kona, available now, everywhere.



Five Tips for Plotting a Mystery

GOING for KONA eboook shadow

When I wrote my first mystery by the seat of my pants, I bought myself a year of heartache by winging it. It took me three more years and three more mysteries before the secret of mystery plotting revealed itself to me: plotting is a deliberate act of research, outlining, and experimentation, done before a writer types her “Once upon a time.”

It was a wicked blow for a cliff-jumper, but I survived, because I hate bad writing worse than a lack of spontaneity. Now, when I start a mystery, I sit down with my resident plot-destroying expert, my chemical engineer husband Eric, and we brainstorm scenarios to improve upon my original idea. Here’s how we do it:

1. Start with an end and work toward a beginning.

Man, I should have this tattooed on my forehead. Who dies, who kills them, and how our hero(ine) survives to bring the murderer to justice. Write your ending first, at least in your head. Now, how do you get there from page one? Your beginning has to be possible even if highly improbable in order for us to reach the end with you. Eric and I work backwards over and over and over, until we find a storyline that works.

To read the rest of five tips for plotting a mystery, visit Fiction University: Take Your Writing to the Next Level, HERE.


Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries10006025_10152294921092604_1598429323_o and hilarious nonfiction, chairs the board of the Houston Writers Guild, and dabbles in employment law and human resources investigations from time to time. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She blogs on writing, publishing and promotion at Skip the Jack and on her beleaguered family She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start), and much-too-personal life at Road to Joy. Check out her latest romantic mystery,Going for Kona, available now, everywhere.

Online Promos: What’s Working Now

I’ve had the occasion to re-utilize a great number of the online book promo sites, especially those promoting free books, in the last four months since I made the first book in my Katie & Annalise mystery series, Saving Grace, perma-free. We’ve been able to see the real time impact on free downloads each service made, especially on Kindle during the downloading of 200,000 copies of the novel.

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So, what’s worked on Kindle (60% of ebook market) for my free mystery?

1. Bookbub: June 27; $320; 1,580,000 mystery subscribers (not all Kindle; see below)

2. Kindle Nation Daily’s Kindle Daily Deal: August 29 (BookGorilla added on free); $99; 158,500 non-genre-specified subscribers

3. ereadernewstoday: July 19 (positively impacted by ongoing Bookbub success); $25; undisclosed subscriber list size (not all Kindle; see below)

4. Book Sends: July 25; $75; 34,000 mystery subscribers

5. OHFB: August 8; $75; 26,000 non-genre-specified subscribers

6. FreeBooksy, not shown; $100; 60,000 non-genre-specified subscribers

Who do I use to promote my books elsewhere (38+% of ebook market)?

1. Bookbub: see above; Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords = 38+% + Kindle

2. ereadernewstoday: see above; Nook, iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo = 37+% + Kindle

3. Story Finds: $15 donation; 160,000 page “visitors,” but no email; Nook, iBooks, Kobo, with = 36+% + Kindle

4. Fussy Librarian:$14; 36101 subscribers; Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords =36+% + Kindle

5. ebooksoda: $10; no numbers given; Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords (includes UK Kindle & Nook links); 36+% + Kindle

Note that each promotional vendor also reaches readers through social media and their website. I mention subscriber list because it is the most powerful. I find that even Kindle-only promos positively impact my downloads on other sites.

The sites have minimum time periods until you can submit a book again, and some for how often an author can be featured. Bookbub, for instance, will run a book a maximum of every six months, and an author only every two months.

I have tried a number of additional sites, free and paid, during this time period but the ones listed above were the most effective. Other sites I would continue to use without a doubt: Pixel of Ink, Bargain ebook Hunter, FK Books and Tips, Bookpraiser (multi-promo site aggregator), and Book Marketing Tools (ditto). There are a number of sites that I couldn’t see an impact from, but most of those are free so I would continue to use them simply because they don’t hurt.

I advertised each Friday from July 19 through the present, to keep my rankings up. I’ve found that once you let rankings fall and your book loses visibility, it’s much harder to get it back up again. I find that the amount of paid books I’m selling to people who read my first-in-series-free mystery more than offsets the cost of the promotions. Much more. However, this type of advertising did not pay off for me before I had the entire series out and took the series lead perma-free. That being said, I still think the sites in the first list above are the most effective.

Generally, I try to do a high impact promo once every three to four weeks, and I use the lower impact promos on the weeks between. It seems to work for me, although I wouldn’t discount all the previous marketing and promotion that has gone into positioning the book for success prior to the summer of 2014.

If you want to see how I did financially during these last few months with all this free download promo, read How Bookbub and Permafree Changed My Life Last Week.

I hope this is helpful to you. If you’ve had great success with other services, please let us all know in the comments.


Pamela Fagan Hutchins, Board Chair and Past President of Houston Writers Guild, is an10006025_10152294921092604_1598429323_o employment attorney and workplace investigator who writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries (perma-free Saving Grace, Leaving AnnaliseFinding Harmony) and hilarious nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your KidsWhat Kind of Loser Indie Publishes?, and others). She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start. Visit her website, or follow her on Facebook You can pre-order her next release, Going for Kona, everywhere, now.

WTF: Amazon, ABNA, & PW Passing the Buck?

Normally, I write posts sharing our experiences to help YOU. Today we are asking for your help. Read from the bottom up this series of contacts to Amazon Author Support, Publishers Weekly, and ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) “Admin”/Support. We are totally getting the runaround.

Someone, anyone: how do you get your author support issues addressed with Amazon?





Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We will investigate this request
shortly and get back to you with an update within 3 days.

Thank you,

The Amazon Author Central Team

P.S. You received this message because received
the following message:


Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:45:31 +0000
From: Pamela Fagan Hutchins
To: “” <>
Subject: Other

Topic: Other


This is getting BEYOND frustrating. At your express instruction, I tried to handle resolution of my issue through ABNA customer service, first on August 13, then on August 15, to I have not even received confirmation they received my two emails, much less acknowledgement of an issue or RESOLUTION. What the heck do I do about this??? PLEASE ESCALATE THIS TO A MANAGER. I started contacting you on August 3rd. I have made six contacts and gotten nowhere. Things you have told me to do that did not work:

1. get the review from PW (they gave me a reference number and sent me back to Amazon)
2. get this resolved through the ABNA support


The entire string is copied in below.


From: Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Subject: Re: Quarter-finalist: Where’s the Publisher’s Weekly Review?
Date: August 15, 2014 at 9:58:43 AM CDT
To: Self
Cc:, Eric Hutchins <>

Hello, maybe you need more information, because its been 48 hours and I have not received a reply or even acknowledgement of my contact to you, so hopefully this additional information will help. I have been corresponding with Kindle customer service because no one could locate the Publishers Weekly review for my ABNA 2014 Quarter-finalist book, Finding Harmony. I have been in touch with PW at the Kindle CS request, which is how I obtained the reference number below for the review of Finding Harmony that PW says they sent to ABNA. Kindle CS directed me then to contact you (ABNA Customer Service) with this information.

I am seeking access to the review, and, given the apparent difficulty in finding it, to find out why no can seem to find it and what that meant for my book in the ABNA contest, if anything.

For your convenience, I will now copy the entire string of correspondence on this issue below my original email to ABNA Customer Service, including email with Kindle CS and with PW. Obviously, you should read from the bottom up.

Please help me. Please.

Thank you very much,


On Aug 13, 2014, at 10:26 AM, Pamela Fagan Hutchins wrote:

Hello. My novel Finding Harmony was a 2014 ABNA Quarter-finalist. Where can I view the Publishers Weekly review of it? PW said that it was sent to Amazon with reference number YFQNJ4SF.

Thank you,


From: “ Author Central Team” <>
Subject: Your Inquiry
Date: August 13, 2014 at 4:29:58 AM CDT
To: Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Reply-To: “” <>

Author Central Amazon
Your Account
Message From Customer Service
Hello Pamela,

I’ve reviewed our previous correspondence with you, and I’m very sorry your concerns weren’t addressed and about the incorrect information you received.

I understand that you’ve multiple questions regarding the issue with the 2014 ABNA Contest. In this case, I request you to contact the ABNA administrative team at the below given email address as they would only be able to address all your concerns and provide accurate information:

I realize at this point of time asking you to contact again would be disappointing, however, please understand that ABNA has its own dedicated customer service team who would be able to provide appropriate resolution.

Thanks you for your continuous patience and understanding in this matter.

General information about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, including a timeline and rules, is available here:

If you still have questions or would like to contact us about any other matter, you can reach us by phone or email through this link:

I’m sorry I couldn’t provide more assistance. We hope to see you again soon.

Best regards,
Preethi H


Original Message
Pamela Fagan Hutchins has sent the following contact-us request.

Topic: Update information about a book – Other


Dear Sir/Madame

I am writing with regards to the 2014 ABNA Contest entry Finding Harmony by me, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, which made it to the quarter-finals. I am highly concerned that the issue that I am trying to have addressed through repeated contacts with your staff members (see string below) is not getting the level of attention warranted due to the serious nature of the problem. I respectfully request that this message be passed to a supervisor for review before another unhelpful and inconclusive response is sent to me.

In order to understand the full scope of the matter please first read through the entire string of messages that I have attached below.

Then consider this: I understand that it is a privilege (a huge one) for authors to be able to enter their books into the Amazon ABNA Contest and I am grateful for that opportunity. However, once all of the entry criteria have been met and the book entry is accepted, it is Amazon’s responsibility to ensure that all of the qualified entries receive the same fair opportunity to be evaluated, and selected to advance if worthy. This contest provides an unparalleled opportunity for authors. Books that receive the Publishers Weekly reviews, and then have those reviews made available to the public through the high profile visibility of the contest, get enormous exposure that is incredibly valuable, and that Amazon has committed to providing in the ABNA contest. In addition, books that advance beyond the quarter-finals of this contest gain additional positive exposure that results in sales and rankings unheard of for most authors. I have no doubt that your statistics bear this out.

I need answers to these questions:

#1 Was a review done on Finding Harmony by a Publishers Weekly Editor, as promised for all books which reached the Quarter-finals of the 2014 ABNA Contest? Below, PW says one was done and sent to Amazon. They provided an identifying number (below) to help you confirm and locate their review.

#2 Were the reviews performed by Publishers Weekly part of the evaluation process used by Amazon to select the books which moved on to the next round in the contest past quarter-finals?

#3 Where can people see the review by Publishers Weekly for Finding Harmony? If it is not up know, where will it be posted once Amazon locates it with the identifying information provided by PW?

#4 Why are Amazon representatives unable to locate this review after repeated requests, and why are they pushing it back on me, the author, when it was something Amazon committed to have done in the ABNA contest?

#5 If the answer to #2 above is YES, is it possible that those responsible for selecting the books which advanced beyond the quarter-final round NEVER SAW the Publishers Weekly review for Finding Harmony and therefore were not able to properly evaluate and consider Finding Harmony, in this contest?

#6 What can Amazon do to rectify this situation?

Because of the apparent breakdown in communication between Publishers Weekly and Amazon with regards to the book Finding Harmony, there is no doubt that opportunities for sales of this book have been lost. It will not be possible to enter this book in the contest in 2015. It will not be possible to announce the release of the Publishers Weekly review DURING the contest as should have been the case or for that announcement to gain the exposure created by that opportunity, because the contest is long since over, and the publicity of it diminished.

As to #6, I respectfully request that not only does Amazon find and send me the review done by Publishers Weekly, but also provide the book with the exposure that has been lost by this error. Two possible suggestions that would be of no cost to Amazon would be:

1. Make Finding Harmony a Kindle Daily Deal Book. (Please note that Finding Harmony currently has 100 reviews with a 4.9 Star average. It is an outstanding book, worthy of consideration on its on merits, at any time.)

2. Include Finding Harmony as one of the books you recommend to all of your customers by email in the periodic genre specific emails that Amazon sends to its book buying customers.

Let me reiterate that I request that this situation be escalated to a supervisor, and that I humbly ask for help in making this situation right.

Thank you very much,

Pamela Fagan Hutchins


From: “ Author Central Team” <>

Subject: Your Inquiry

Date: August 12, 2014 at 12:29:40 PM CDT

To: Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Author Central Amazon

Your Account

Message From Customer Service

Hello Pamela,

Thank you for contacting Author Central Team.

Firstly, I apologies for the inconvenience caused by this situation.

Thank you very much to writing back with the reference of the reviewer (publisher weekly) and as well from the publisher.

We’ll be glad to add the editorial review on the book page. However, we at Author Central do not have the exact text of the review (from publisher weekly) to update. Please write back to us with the exact text of the review from the publisher weekly.

If we can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact us again. You can reach us by phone or email through this link:

I appreciate your patience, understandings and continues support with these regards.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Best regards,

Ghouse. G


‘Pamela Fagan Hutchins’ has sent the following contact-us request.

Topic: Update information about a book – Other


In response to my email query last week (below) about my book Finding Harmony which reached the ABNA 2014 Quarter-finals, I am now sending the information I obtained from Publisher’s Weekly at your request. Please read up from the bottom of the string:


——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Re: Review for Finding Harmony by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

From: ***

Date: Mon, August 11, 2014 1:26 pm

To: Eric at SkipJack Publishing <>


PW definitely submitted this review to Amazon

The reference number was YFQJN4SF

I suggest to connect them with this information

Reviews Director

Publishers Weekly


From: Eric at SkipJack Publishing <>

Date: Monday, August 4, 2014 5:27 PM

To: ***

Subject: Review for Finding Harmony by Pamela Fagan Hutchins


I am writing to you on behalf of the author, with regards to a review of the book Finding Harmony by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. This book was one of the finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Contest in 2014 and as such was to receive a review by Publishers Weekly. To date we have not been able to locate that review. I wrote to Amazon regarding this matter and they indicated their surprise in being unable to find the review either and suggested that we write to you directly.

Thank You for your assistance.

Eric Hutchins


Author Central Amazon

Your Account

Message From Customer Service

Hello Pamela,

I understand that you are concerned about the Publishers Weekly Review that your book “Finding Harmony” earned.

To help you immediately with this issue, I checked the official website of ‘Publishers Weekly’ website, however, I regret to inform you that I was unable to find the review, which your book has earned.

Given the situation, I request you to contact ‘Publishers Weekly’ and I’m sure they will be able to provide you with the content of the review which you’ve earned. You can find a complete list of Publishers Weekly’s editorial contacts in the below link:

Once you are able to content of the review which your book has earned, I request you to write to us from the below link with the content of the review and we will be glad to update the same for your book on your behalf.

Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to seeing you soon again.

Best regards,



Original Message

Pamela Fagan Hutchins has sent the following contact-us request.

Topic: Other


I am trying to locate the Publishers Weekly Review that my Book Finding Harmony earned as being a part of the ABNA contest. The book made it to the point where it was to receive a review but I have been unable to locate this review. Thank You for your help.

Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Indie Publishing with Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Christine Munroe, US Manager, Kobo Writing Life

Christine Munroe, US Manager, Kobo Writing Life

If you follow this blog, you know I’m a big fan of Kobo, for their international presence, their forward-mindedness with indie authors, and the human touch to their service. You can read about those things HERE and HERE.

I am also blessed to have spent time with Christine Munroe, the US Manager for Kobo Writing Life. She presented at the 2014 Houston Writers Guild Spring Conference, and we followed up with this conversation-turned-podcast a month later.

I hope some of our insights and thoughts are valuable to you in your publishing journey. Thanks, Christine, and thanks, Kobo Writing Life, for spreading the word.

To access the podcast, click below:


Pamela Fagan Hutchins, President of Houston Writers Guild, is an10006025_10152294921092604_1598429323_o employment attorney and workplace investigator by day who by night writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries (perma-free Saving Grace, Leaving AnnaliseFinding Harmony) and hilarious nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your KidsWhat Kind of Loser Indie Publishes?, and others). She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start. Visit her website, or follow her on Facebook