Going for a Kindle Scouting Merit Badge, Part 2
Before I start begging for nominations again, let me vent. I just made some absolute-last-minute edits to Altered Seasons: Monsoonrise. The reason was that in a few scenes I caught Isabel thinking of and referring to her father as “Dad” (how I think of my father) rather than “Pop” (how she thinks of her father). So I had to go back and change those. As a writer, this is the sort of inconsistency you have to watch out for. If you have an editor—especially a highly recommended editor who’s being paid upwards of $500—this is the sort of inconsistency that editor is supposed to catch. It’s a lot more important than, say, making sure year numbers are written out in dialogue. * * * I learn from this blog post by Justin Sirois that between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the worst possible time to do one of these campaigns. On the other hand, (a) his campaign, which ran at the exact same time last year, was a success, and (b) he got 330 page views total, and spent 71 hours on “Hot & Trending,” mostly towards the end. In four days I’ve gotten 56 hours on “Hot & Trending” and 1,255 page views. The thing is, though, nobody really knows what will work. You need to get on the Hot list to come to the attention of the publishers, but ultimately they’re the ones who make the decision. They say you need a good story (check, in my opinion), a good cover (check), and even though they have their own editors, you should already have had editing done by a professional in keeping with the Chicago Style Manual (check). So, what exactly am I doing to get the word out? For one thing, I'm on Goodreads. (Nominate my book!) Also I did a bunch of Facebook posts. I posted a couple of times at alternatehistory.com, where this story truly began, but the mods have made a polite but firm request that I dial it back. I haven’t tried LinkedIn yet, but I will. (It’s a 30-day campaign. I’ve got to leave something in the tank.) At the same time I’m doing all this, my family and some of my friends are making their own efforts on my behalf in their own social networks. And of course I’m using Twitter. The problem is that Twitter’s analytics are looking about as trustworthy as a Magic 8-Ball. I have tweeted links stories from DeviantArt, checked Twitter’s stats and found no link clicks, and then gone to DeviantArt and found 11 views. I’ve seen online contests on Twitter screwed up because the number of likes and retweets wasn’t being recorded properly. And don’t get me started on my fluctuating number of followers. And there’s a weird gap in the number of impressions—first it told me I had no impressions on the 21st, then it said I had no impressions from the 21st through the 23rd. Twenty-three likes on the 21st, twenty-six likes on the 22nd, twenty-four likes on the 23rd, two replies each on the 21st and 22nd, one retweet each on the 22nd and 23rd… but somehow no impressions. Now it’s re-remembered the impressions of the 21st and 22nd, but forgotten those of the 24th. You’d think a system built around limiting people to 140 (now 280) characters would be able to do math. Speaking of analytics, Kindle Scout’s analytics are really good, but they have one big flaw—they update only once a day, just after 4 a.m. EST when even I am usually ready to go to bed. Which means I basically have to wait a full day to find out what worked and what didn’t. About half my external page views come from various Facebook posts, but of course I have no way of knowing which ones. The biggest single source was one of those AH.com posts. One interesting and hopeful sign is that almost all of the page views I’m getting (91 percent, as of Monday morning) come not from my own efforts, but from people already looking at Kindle Scout. From what I can tell, this is not normal at all—a half-and-half split is more normal. There’s a whole community of people who frequent the site. I assume not everybody there is an author, and that in fact most of them are just looking for good books for free.* And in addition to this community, there are the people who are drawn there by various authors’ pleas and who (as book shoppers always do) stay to look around. Apparently these people are liking what they see. But from what I’m told, the crowd of regulars always show interest for the first few days but soon get tired of looking at your campaign every day. I probably won’t get much sleep for the next month. * At some point it would occur to authors that (a) you have to spend at least some time on the Hot & Trending list to even be considered for nomination, and (b) only twenty books can be on that list at any one time… so as much as we like to say we aren’t in competition with one another, in this case we kinda are.