Friday, March 1, 2013

Turning to Weekly Updates

Units sold: 22
Amazon Sales Rank: #1,489,488 in Books

To say this is slow going is an understatement.  I am having trouble giving copies away.  I have sent the "free giveaway" offers to selected members of 5 key bridal/planning sites/magazines and haven't heard anything.  I am trying to decide how many follow-ups to send, before either trying a different person, or trying the unsolicited mailing.  Getting a positive review or some acknowledgement from one of the contests would be a smoother entry, but those results are 10 weeks away at a minimum, which is a long time to sit around.

In the mean time, I have reduced my radar to Cincinnati.  I have sent a similar letter of inquiry to an editor at CityBeat, the local newspaper.  I have also found a reporter at each of the local news stations to contact, but I am not sure what version of the story to go with.  As much as I like the shotgun approach, I will make myself, aim, fire, adjust as needed, but how to rank order local news reporters, I DON'T KNOW!  But I also shouldn't tell them they've been rank ordered, because each one is the most important. 

I also need to send some form of notice to my various alumni groups and see if some mention will help.  I am still firing blindly into the world as until I get a response, to something, as currently I can't even jump to a conclusion as to what the best way to get interest is.

I did receive a thank you note from Florie Jo, a Goodreads giveaway winner, upon receipt of the book, so hopefully there might be some movement there.  I would ask for help, but I think I am the only one looking at these posts.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Momentum fading

Units sold: 22
Amazon Sales Rank: #1,219,312 in Books

It has been 2 1/2 weeks since a book sold. I have entered all five contests I mentioned last post.  My USPS helper failed to actually put tracking on all the envelopes as requested, so don't have a guarantee that some arrived.  But have heard from the IPPYs and IndieReader of receipt.  Results coming in the next 3 to 6 months.

Writer's Digest Self-Published Awards - October 14, 2013
Next Generation Indie Book Awards - May 15, 2013
IndieReader Discovery Awards - at 2013 Book Expo America, TBD (looks like end of May).
The National Indie Excellence Book Awards - May 15, 2013
Independent Publisher Book Awards "IPPYs" - about April 30th, medals May 29th at Expo

The Book Expo America appears to be a central event.  That may need to be added to the calendar.  It is in New York and Chelsea Handler is the Master of Ceremonies at the Thursday Author Breakfast, I think I can count in Christa.

Now I need some momentum heading into these awards.  Fate would have it, that my Goodreads contest ends on Oscar Sunday.  It seems like such a long time ago I put that into place.  I would say that their recommended length of contest is too long, but none the less, we will have 14 lucky winners shortly.  There are 190 people requesting it currently.  I only hope some of the 176 unlucky will be motivated to purchase, but more importantly I hope there is some positive feedback from the 14 winners.  Maybe a 2nd-chance offering quick contest would work too.

I began the emailing of the select bridal content editors this week, so far no one has responded.  My research indicated a initial contact was helpful vs. sending semi-anonymous packages, as mail rooms don't smile upon them.  No bites yet.  I'll start naming names soon.  

Onto the Book Expo website...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Press Release & Contests

Units sold: 22
Amazon Sales Rank: #903,499 in Books

Selling books is not easy.  I am trying to get the marketing engine going.  Finally, today, I put the initial publicity release up on PRLog.  I need to add it to my "website."  My page o'info, more accurately.  I am hoping at least one person, contacts me regarding it. 

I am also entering a handful of self-published, independent writing contests.  I believe I will enter five total.

Writer's Digest Self-Published Awards - entered and mailed.
Next Generation Indie Book Awards - entered and mailed.
IndieReader Discovery Awards - entered.
The National Indie Excellence Book Awards - have info.
Independent Publisher Book Awards "IPPYs" - have info.

Also, I am going to submit to Midwest Book Review, in hopes of getting a review from there.

I still can't bring myself to pay $400 for a Kirkus Indie or BlueInk review. 

With the publicity release officially out.  I need to work on my power list from the main players in the wedding planning arena.  I think getting some kind of press there will be worth any effort it takes.  This will occupy my time until I can start winning contests.  But really, just an honorable mention in one would be great.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pre-publish checklist

Units sold: 22
Amazon Sales Rank: #533,508 in Books

Two more units sold to unknown readers. Awesome!  Ranking still in the toilet.  

Apparently, there were about 87 things I should have been doing in anticipation of being published.  The publicity release is being reviewed by my new best friend and IU alum Courtney Caudill.  She works at Wordsworth, a local PR firm.  This is an alumni/LinkedIn type favor, so don't tell them.  The publicity release will be added to the website, which I just threw together.  You'd be proud of it if your 3rd grader told you they built it during arts and crafts hour. 

Obligatory Link: 

The website is being used as a online media kit, something that reporters can use to build stories about you, given how awesome your publicity release is.  Your media kit should also include testimonials, which are "everyday citizen" praise for your work.  I couldn't actually get these until I published the work, so I facing a chicken/egg situation.      

Speaking of reviews, barefoot sparkler, has posted a wonderful endorsement on Amazon.  I am not certain who barefoot sparkler is, but she is five stars in my book.

Speaking of Amazon, apparently when you include your ISBN number in your Kindle version info, it overwrites your paperback feed.  So, my Kindle version is available, but my paperback has disappeared from search results.  I made an update and hopefully over the next 24 to 48 hours everything will be back to normal.

I also met Kristen, a former co-worker for lunch yesterday and she graciously accepted seven copies to distribute, so my book a day policy was cleared for the week.  I also gave one to Kat, my hair stylist, who has known another funny man, Drew Hastings, for quite a while, so she should have good feedback on the caliber of my funnies.  I don't actually style my hair in anyway, but if I ever did, it would look lovely.  Her skills are beyond "the lady who cuts my hair" label.  Check the profile pick.  My one step in the morning, is rub with towel if wet.  

P.S. Just had my annual review and it looks good for keeping my day job as I try and get my ranking out of the toilet.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Good Wednesday

Units sold: 20
Amazon Sales Rank: #226,271 in Books

3 units sold on Amazon on 2/5/13.  And this is the first time I don't specifically know who bought them! That actually makes me excited.  I am not taking phone calls or checking email while I write this so I can maintain that excitement for at least another 5 minutes.

I believe the publicity release is ready.  And it appears PRLog is the place to send it out.  Since it is free. I will post it here within a few days just for public record. I also read somewhere that I should have a dozen press releases ready to send and tie my book to various newsworthy items.  Since Brad Pitt is in my book, I mean literally his name is in it, and in reference to my inviting him to the wedding, I think a tie-in to World War Z is not uncalled for.  "The xylophone of genius has tinkled again." 

The marketing strategy has been refined to going after 5 prime candidates for media coverage.  These have been chosen due to the relationship of the book's content to their offerings.  WEDDINGS!  HELLO?!

In semi-order of importance:
1) The Knot
2) Martha Stewart Weddings
3) Wedding Wire
4) Brides Magazine
5) Cincinnati Wedding Magazine

I have been researching key people at each entity.  My current idea is to create an invitation for them to read the book, from Tiny Prints most likely, and then send them a package containing the invite, a cover letter, the publicity release and then a nicely wrapped set of 4 or 5 books to enjoy.  This is the focus for the next week.

Other minor details are getting the book mailed to Writer's Digest and Midwest Book Review.  I will need to order some more copies of the book also, given the Goodreads contest will close before I know it. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Publicity 101

Units sold: 17
Amazon Sales Rank: #891,468 in Books

Bad News first.  No one simply buys a book they don't know about. 

Good News: First book review has made it to Amazon.  Written under an alias, but thank you Randy Smatthews.  68 people have entered the giveaway at, and 31 people have put it on their "to read" shelf, although clearly no one has purchased it yet.

What I have now learned about publicity releases:
1) They are fact-based, I would say a summary of the book and its newsworthyness.
2) They should include a quote from someone involved.  They should not include testimonials, which are quotes from someone who has read the book and encourages others to do so.
3) Testimonials come from "actual" people, endorsements come from "celebrities."  Either way, they don't belong in a publicity release and therefore I need my "personal celebrity" endorsers to post their info in another way, say Amazon.

I have officially entered the Writer's Digest self-published book contest.  My entry is not official until I get them the book, but I am mailing to a location roughly 2 miles from my house.  Results in Oct.  Not holding my breath as that is several months away and no one to my knowledge has survived a breath holding of that length.

Once the press release is ready.  There are different services for distributing it that I am still researching.  Had I known how much work this part (promoting) was I would have started months ago.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Little things

Units sold: 17
Amazon Sales Rank: #623,437 in Books

I didn't even check the official sales log, I can tell from the ranking no books were sold.  I have convinced myself that the book is not going to magically disappear, so I am beginning to process the "long run" nature of promotion.  I am continuing to reach out to people I know and have gone from asking them for a purchase to seeing if I can send them copies to give out.  I also lost access to Hotmail in a workplace security enhancement, and emailing through my phone is a pain, so correspondence is going to have to shift to night time.

Through discussions with Angie, my sister-in-law, I have made progress towards a better publicity release which includes a couple of quotes from people who already have the book.  These I think are sound endorsements. 

“I’m cracking up. From "Will You?" to "I Do." is so funny. I should probably stop reading it though; I am always complaining about how buried I am at work. Shoot. I want to go hide somewhere and read this.”  - Dominique R. 

“67 pages in, it's embarrassing how many times I laughed out loud.  From "Will You?" to "I Do." is a definite gift for one of my buddies getting married this year.” – Todd N. 

Aren't you convinced?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Book A Day

Units sold: 17
Amazon Sales Rank: #313,386 in Books

The first tweet recommendation went out by a friend (solid Todd).  Plus, one additional copy sold. 

I read that Bowker, a book-industry-focused market-research firm, estimated 250K self-published titles were released in 2011, and the number is growing.  A lot appear to be titles such as "The Cowboy Who Loved Me," which I imagine involves a man's intimate relation with his horse, told from the horse's perspective.  To be the cream of the self-published pack I need to get to and maintain a 5-figure rank based on these numbers.

Because I believe I have written something good enough to be recommended, I am going to try and giveaway a book a day to either a stranger or acquaintance with a "tell a friend and post a review if you like it" clause.  That is the game plan.

I also learned that I can request that the Cincinnati Public Library purchase it through a website form.  Trying to decide when that should be submitted.  And will be mailing a copy to one of my high school English teachers, Mr. Hays.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Publicity Release

Units sold: 16
Amazon Sales Rank: #597,526 in Books

Sold one copy since Jan 23rd.  Not looking good.  The task for this week is to create a publicity release.  My understanding is that this is a "News Flash" for people who make news flashes so they don't have to work as hard making a news flash about your "News Flash."  You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to pass on your vital info in a one to many situation.

I am networking to try and get some help on my "News Flash."  I need my "News Flash" to
1) Submit to Midwest Book Review in hopes of scoring a review
2) Neatly package with promotional copies of my book to media outlets

In terms of media outlets, The Knot is my most desired national media target.  I believe I have a shot with them giving the subject matter, and they featured portions of the book when I posted them as blog entries there a long while back.  Locally, Cincinnati Weddings magazine is HQ'ed in my building and it appears like a good match that I can "visit" easily.

All of this is based on getting a book in their hands and the quality of the writing and humor winning them over.  As it is abundantly clear I am going to need help in reaching any goals containing at least 3-digits.  ONLY 84 TO GO!

I did deliver 15 signed copies to my mom this weekend, so the true circulation is going to surpass 30 soon, depending on her plans.

Sent another gentle bribe to my friends to get the first Amazon review.  I hope my gentle bribes are entertaining enough not to annoy them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Charting a Path to Succes

Units sold: 15
Amazon Sales Rank: #252,067 in Books

One of my friends picked up the book on the 23rd.  I assume that was the reason for the bump in sales rank of roughly 60,000.  Or maybe 60,000 other books managed to sell negative copies and dropped.  Maybe it is net of returns, but I wouldn't think there would be that many returns of books only selling single copies.  I am going to give Amazon some credit on its analytics and figure that it involves more than just daily sale tallies.  But it won't stop me from trying to creating to terribly non-comprehensive model if it. 

5 books got me to 80k something.  1 book got me an improvement of 60k to 250k.  Crack open Excel.  Create basic table.  Create plot and curve fit with an exponential series.  Solve for y = 1 as equal to Sales Rank #1000, round to get: Answer = 243.  That is not as intimidating as I thought, but still 16x more than I have sold to date.  And when I think of that as a daily rate, it will be a miracle to achieve it. 

Check that R-squared though, you know its true at .9988.  Almost like guessing last week's lottery numbers.     

Units Sold Sales Rank
0 311
1 250
5 83

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Status Report

I am trying do something each day that will help make progress toward selling 1,000,000 copies.  In addition, I need to track that progress. 

Metric #1: Units sold
Source: Createspace account
As of today: 15

If your goal is selling a certain number of units, then tracking units sold, very well could be the most direct way to measure that.  In fact, I am so confident that tracking units sold is the best way to measure yourself against a goal of units sold, that I am not going to devote any time researching an alternative.

Metric #2: Amazon Sales Rank
Source: Amazon book page
As of today: #311,804 in Books

I am going to use this as a momentum indicator.  My best day was Jan 16, 2013 with five copies sold.  I did not record the Sales Rank, but I recall it as being 80 thousand something.  To sell 1,000,000 copies at 5 a day will take 200,000 days, which is just under 548 years, so clearly this metric needs to get to sub-1000 at least.  And I am glad they specify "in Books."  I am probably #345,735 in Books and Refrigerators, but that does imply there are at least 33,931 refrigerator models available and selling better than my book.  I feel that might be a little high, so I am probably more like #328,872 in Books and Refrigerators.  Yes!  I just jumped 16,863 by make believe fact-checking a made up number.

Others to consider:
Metric #3: Amazon # of Reviews
Metric #4: Amazon Average Review (# of stars)

My initial goal is to get a review, and hope that it is 4 stars or better.  And follow that up with one that is from someone I don't know.

Report format:
Units sold: 15
Amazon Sales Rank: #311,804 in Books

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway

In researching what options are out there for self-published authors, I found the Goodreads website.  I signed up, reviewed some books and then registered myself as an author.  As an author I could register to giveaway copies of my book.  In this case 14 signed copies.  The contest runs until Feb 24, 2013.

Goodreads claims that ~60% of giveaways winners review the book they won.  So to avoid having to request a statistical distribution of their results, I opted for 14 giveaways, estimating that would give me about a 90% chance of getting at least 5 reviews.  Hopefully what is below is a link to that giveaway.

The good news is that 24 people have already requested it, so I am relieved of the initial embarrassment of not being able to giveaway the book.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

From "Will You?" to "I Do." by Drew Lloyd

From "Will You?" to "I Do."

by Drew Lloyd

Giveaway ends February 24, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

In the Beginning

Roughly nine years ago, I got engaged, decided to move back to the Midwest, didn't get a job for several months, became the default wedding planning assistant, and typed some of the planning episodes into a word doc that grew to 70,000 words.  Tried sending it to a couple literary agents to no avail. 

In the summer of 2012, I finally committed to taking this word document, which was as long as a book and make it into a real book.  I engaged Createspace to formalize this process.  Another round of editing and then layouts and cover design.  Finally, on January 9, 2013 I had created an actual book.

I am going to use this blog to track my progress on selling 1,000,000 copies.  Yes that is a stretch goal, but I figure that would be enough to not have to write another book.

On January 23, 2013, I stand at 14 copies sold.  This is the impact of notifying friends and family and puts me at 0.0014% of my target.  I will make notes of my progress and what I am trying to do to get readership and mentions, etc.  I have taken a few steps already and will try and note those so you can follow along at home.

Accomplishments:  Typed "Drew Lloyd" into Amazon search enough times to get it to the top of the results.  That may be on my computer only, so someone may need to verify.

Short-term Goal: Get one of my dearest 14 friends and family to review the book on Amazon.