Wednesday, 24 June 2015

An amorous disappointment

The film High Fidelity was on television the other night and it brought back memories of a rather disastrous date I had with the girl I took to the cinema with me to see it.

A bit of background first. I've never really been one for dates. My preferred way of meeting people has always been through contact in every day life, which for most of my single life meant the pub. However, from the conversations I have with my single friends now it seems that on-line dating has become hugely popular. Does it work? Well it didn't work for me on the one and only occasion I tried it - and that was way back in 1995. At that time internet users consisted primarily of Star Trek fans and people who didn't mind waiting roughly the same amount of time as a ZX Spectrum loading screen for a naughty picture to download on a 28.8k dial up modem.

It is very possible that I was the first ever person to go on an internet arranged date in Oxford. A friend based at the University had just set up a local online dating site and invited me to try it. Since there were only about four members (this wasn't exactly Tinder), my choice of potential dates was limited, but I emailed a promising sounding girl and amazingly, she agreed to meet. This was three days after Christmas and we met in the Turf Tavern. Although we hit it off quite well, it was quite clear early on that nothing more exciting than friendship was going to come of it. She was one of those many women in my youth who "didn't want to spoil the friendship" and we all know what that really means.

During the nineties and noughties, my life consisted of longish periods of being in relationships, sandwiching shorter periods of being single. As mentioned previously, arranged dating didn't really work for me. On the odd occasion I did find myself getting involved in the whole blind date thing, it was invariably a disaster. Nothing is more demoralising to the lonely soul than to meet someone on a blind date and see the disappointment in their face in the first two seconds of clapping eyes on you. No, it wasn't for me, if people wanted to judge me just on first appearances and find me lacking, that was their loss. I decided it was far better to be the life and soul of the party in the pub, get to know people the old fashioned way and let them appreciate my inner qualities. Whatever they were.

So we come to the summer of 2000 and the story of High Fidelity. I was slightly nervous about seeing this film in the first place, even without taking anyone along on a date. It was a movie that had been adapted from my undisputed all time favourite book by Nick Hornby. The book could have been written for me - everything in it from making compilation tapes to top 5 lists of all manner of trivia made me feel almost as if I was reading my own autobiography. Without a doubt, Hornby has had a huge influence on my writing. Maybe he is even a distant relative - my grandmother's maiden name was Hornby.

The book was set in London but the film was relocated to New York which set alarm bells ringing. English stories don't always translate well to the States, but in this case I had no need to worry. The film was every bit as faithful to the book as I had hoped, and Jack Black's casting was inspired - he truly stole the show.

It was perhaps fitting that a major part of the film's narrative was about the lead character's past love life and partners and dates that had gone badly. Because the date I was having was going extremely badly. It was probably even worse for her, because as far as she was concerned, she wasn't even out with the right bloke.

How had this happened? Well, I had been out the previous Saturday evening, and footloose and fancy free as I was at that time, I had spent a fair bit of the evening chatting to various girls I had met. One of these I seemed to be getting on pretty well with, so I asked her if I could have her number. She agreed so we tapped each other's into our clunky little Nokia's which we all had back then, and the evening progressed on, I went off with my friends somewhere else as did she.

The next day was Sunday and I was bit bored, so I decided to try my luck and text her. To my delight she replied straight back and was incredibly friendly. Planning to go and see High Fidelity on Monday night, I asked her if she wanted to come with me. I got a big fat yes in reply, full of enthusiasm, so went off to work on Monday feeling pretty pleased with myself. We arranged that she'd call round my house after work and I'd drive us both to Milton Keynes to see the film.

Dates can go wrong pretty quickly, but not as quickly as this one did. She knocked on the door and I opened up, expecting great things, but as soon as she saw me, her face fell. The first thing she said was "Oh - it's you".

To cut a long story short, it seemed that after we'd parted company on Saturday night, she had gone on to the Litten Tree and met another bloke also called Jason, whose number she had also put into her phone. Obviously this Jason must have been a great deal fitter and more attractive than I was, because if she was making any effort to conceal her disappointment at getting the wrong one, she wasn't making a very good job of it.

In the end I tried to laugh it off and suggested that since she was here, we should go anyway. Big mistake. She said it was the worse film she'd ever seen, citing the phrase "nothing happened" a few times. I've heard this levelled at films (Lost in Translation is one that springs to mind) and books before (including some of my own). Unfortunately it seems for a large percentage of the movie-going public, a film is not a film unless it contains some huge car chase, lots of "unexpected" twists and some huge over-arching plot. For them, a film about ordinary people leading ordinary lives just doesn't cut it, apparently.

So, my favourite book of all time had been made into a film which my date considered to be the worst film of all time. So was there any future in this relationship? Unsurprisingly not and I never saw her again after that night.

As for dating, I only went on one more after that. She turned out to be a teetotal vegan who didn't believe in sex before marriage. Clearly we had nothing in common, so I didn't see her again either. Now that I'm settled down with a family, thankfully I shall never have to put myself through the horror of dating ever again. Amen to all that.


 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

Thursday, 18 June 2015

ENT & Choosy Bookworm promotions

Yesterday was the 3rd day of my Countdown Deal and I had 3 partners lined up to promote my book. These were Booksends, Choosy Bookworm and ENT.

How did it go? Absolutely brilliantly - compared to Monday I saw some serious uplifts in sales. But is it possible to identify from which partner?

Let's deal with them one at a time.

Booksends - I am unsure about how effective they have been. The book appeared on their website as promised, but a couple of things concerned me. Firstly, I have twice signed up for their daily email of bargain books but have received no emails. Secondly I noticed on checking out their social media pages that they suddenly stopped posting tweets and Faccbook updates on November 15th 2014. Obviously the site is still active, but these things don't inspire confidence. Bearing in mind I paid $25 for this ad, with no tangible results I don't think I'll use them again.

Choosy Bookworm - this site is a delight to use, very user friendly and the proprietor, Jay, comes across as a really nice and approachable guy. I paid more for the ad with them than any other ($36). The email from them arrived at 3.36pm UK time, and I immediately started to see a boost in sales - 30 or more by 7pm. However, the biggest gun was yet to fire.

ENT - the email from them arrived at 7.15pm and then sales really took off. They were flying all evening, and by the end of the day, I'd sold 132 copies in total. I have to conclude that ENT has been the most effective of all the partners I've promoted with, and best of all, I paid just $20 for this ad.

Undoubtedly Choosy Bookworm made a big contribution to this too, and if could only use two sites in the future, it would definitely be these two.

As of now, my paid rankings stand as follows:

US: #1,904 - this is serious stuff, and the undisputed #1 in Dark Comedy.
UK #4,016 - pretty good considering I have done no promotion here at all - yet.

Overall sales for June now stand at 536 which puts me nicely on target for my target of 1,000.

I still have one final blast of promotion to come - today's feature will come from Bargainbooksy. I also mentioned that I'd done no promotion in the UK so far. That is about to change. I am going to do a Facebook ad today - that's a sponsored post on my author page - I did one of these before and it was very effective - just £14 and it reached 4,000+ people. More on that tomorrow.

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Kindle Countdown Deal Day 1 Results

Yesterday, the first day of my week long promotional campaign for My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday began. I have reduced the price for a week to 99c in the US and 99p in the UK, and supported this by taking out advertising with seven different promotional sites. These were cherry picked after much research as I felt that they were the ones that could give my book the best possible exposure.

The prime focus of my campaign is to build awareness and ranking though increased sales during the promotional period that will position my book for long term success. Whatever I achieve in sales during the promotion itself is fantastic, but it is what happens afterwards that really counts.

A recap on where I am in June so far. My target was to sell 1,000 books this month. By the end of yesterday (the 14th) my sales stood at 283. This was some way behind the target figure of 466 at this stage of the month, but with all the promotional activity to come, I'm confident of catching up.

So how did the first day go? I was hopeful of a good start as I had activity from the first 3 of my partners, these being People Reads, Books Butterfly and The Fussy Librarian. The Countdown Deal itself started at midnight in both territories, so it started several hours earlier in the UK. In the USA, it started at midnight PST, which is 8am over here in the UK. So unsurprisingly, not a lot happened in the first few hours as everyone was asleep. By mid-morning here in the UK, I had 4 sales and 4 borrows for the day, not far off what would be expected for an ordinary day. Before lunch MTYY was ranked as follows in the UK:

#9,983 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#9 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Humour & Satire > Dark Comedy
#14 in Kindle Store > Books > Romance > Time Travel
#22 in Books > Fiction > Romance > Time Travel

And in the USA:

#19,087 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Humor & Satire > Dark Comedy
#41 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel
#62 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel

The first partner to kick off with some activity was People Reads. The main thrust of my activity with them was to be the subscriber email which was due to go out around teatime, UK time. However, I got an email from them at 9:17am informing me that they were now featuring me on their website, and I got my first tweet promoting the book an hour or two later. This had been retweeted 19 times by lunchtime, which is pretty encouraging. Bearing in mind that it was still early morning in America, I still wasn't expecting much to happen until late afternoon here, so I was quite pleased to see that by 2:30pm, my sales were up to 11, with borrows at 5.

The real action kicked off around teatime. The first email to go out was from The Fussy Librarian. That hit my inbox at 4:11pm, just in time for breakfast in LA. Within an hour or so, I was starting to see my sales ticking over nicely. The People Reads email followed at 5:35pm, and finally the mail from Books Butterfly at 10:19pm. By the time I went to bed I was up to 40 sales on the day, and when I got up in the morning, I was up to 57 (with 10 borrows). Most of these extra sales had come in America as I expected - that is where most of the subscribers to those sites are based.

So, how do I feel about day 1 of the promotion? Pretty pleased. The performance is about what I expected. But did I get my money's worth? Well, let's look at what I paid and what I got.

The Fussy Librarian has a nice easy to use site, and my feature cost me $16. My book was the first of two in the science fiction email they sent me. My People Reads feature was $15 and lasts all week - in addition to the email I'm featured on their site and they are putting out regular tweets. Finally, there is Books Butterfly. Their site isn't the easiest to negotiate, and it's not easy to judge the effectiveness, as the promotional activity is spread out over a number of sites. They do offer a guarantee with their campaigns - I had a "Silver 25" which means a guaranteed 25 sales for $25. However, this is based against your normal daily sale when not on a deal, and does not take into account any other activity going on. So there is no real way to measure it. One thing I will say for this site is that the owner is very friendly and approachable and will talk over your campaign with you. It is also a two day campaign with them so I am only half way through. Tehnically I've met their criteria of 25 extra sales, but how many of those were as a direct result of my feature with them I cannot tell.

So how many extra sales did I get altogether? Well, I've calculated this based on past experience and performance, and I estimate that about 35 of my 57 sales yesterday were down to the promotional activity from these sites. So have I made my money back yet? Well, technically, no, because between them I invested $56, and at 70% royalty on 99c, I'm looking at about $24 returned. But that is only so far...the campaign continues today so there will be more sales, and crucially, those extra sales have given my book a strong boost in the rankings that will stand it in good stead when the really big guns come out tomorrow. Just basic sales figures are not the whole story.

Tomorrow is the real centrepiece of my campaign - when I will be featured on ENT, Choosy Bookworm and Booksends. The fact that the book will already have a strong ranking by the time those emails go out can only help with consumer confidence. So I'm very happy with the contribution that my first 3 partners have given me and that $56 was well spent.

I spoke about rankings, well, as of this morning, the rankings are as follows:

US: #7,749 - and crucially it's hit #1 in the Dark Comedy category which means it gets an attractive Orange banner declaring the fact that it is a bestseller.

UK: #5,205 - not as dramatic a climb as in America, but all the focus of my activity is over there this time.

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

Friday, 5 June 2015

On yer bike, son.

Yesterday I did something I haven't done for at least a year. I went for a bike ride.

Yes, my poor unloved bicycle had been sitting in the shed all that time, neglected and unloved, with tyres going flat and a colony of spiders building webs among the spokes.

This is a crying shame, because for as long as I can remember, I've loved riding my bikes, and there have been a fair few over the years. Why haven't I ridden it for over a year? Because it's just turned into one of those many things on the ever growing list of things that I "used to do".

Growing up and growing older is a strange thing. There are all manner of things that we stop doing at various points in the process, without perhaps realising at the time we last perform them that it is in fact the last time. For example did I know, growing up, that I was having my last game of "tig" with my mates? I can't remember when the last one was, but I subconsciously stopped at some point. It's quite sad looking back at these things and realising that maturity takes away so many of the unbridled joys of youth. Thankfully, I'm still a big kid at heart which stands me in good stead as a father - I love joining in again now with my kids and doing these things all over again - though some of them are a little trickier now than they were in my youth. Hide and seek is definitely not as easy when you're my size and trying to wedge your ample frame onto the windowsill behind the curtains without leaving too much of an obvious bulge.

So what about bikes? I loved them. There's a famous family anecdote that apparently when I was about two, my parents went out for an evening leaving me with a babysitter. When they came back about midnight, I was out in the front year riding round and round on my tricycle, the legendary "Crazy Driver".How accurate this story is, I don't know, it seems to get more exaggerated over the years like the size of an angler's catch. But clearly I loved my bikes from a young age.

By the time I was primary school age, my friends and I biked everywhere, all over the village. There seemed to be very little in the way of supervision then, but it was in the 1970s and that was just the way things were. From about the age of 7 I could go wherever I wanted. Bikes formed a large part of games with friends as we got older, including a fantastic scrambling track we created around a felled tree, a victim of Dutch Elm Disease. It even had it's own pits area. Happy days.

When I got older, it was the only way to travel. When I chatted up a girl on my CB radio in 1983 (we didn't need the internet), I cycled over to meet her in Kidlington, a few miles away. I was only 13 at the time, and rather inexperienced in such matters so confident chat on the CB turned into awkward teenage shyness - needless to say, it didn't go anywhere. On another occasion, my mate and I staged an elaborate accident outside the house of two sisters we fancied in order to get them running to our mercy like young Florence Nightingales. Unsurprisingly this was not successful either, and a waste of £1.50 spent on fake blood from the joke shop in the Covered Market. Just two early examples of the many amorous disappointments destined to plague my life during my teenage years.

In the absence of a driving licence, my teenage years were spent cycling all over Oxfordshire. What a lean, mean, flying machine I was then. And I really could shift it. Once I bet a friend I could beat the bus back from Oxford to Eynsham (about 5 miles), and I did it - that's no lie. It nearly caught up with me as I entered the village, but all that time wasted at bus stops in Oxford had given me the head start I needed. Thinking about it now, the first thing that springs to mind is that the road to Eynsham was incredibly dangerous, but did I wear a helmet? No. Why? Because I had a deathwish? No - because no-one ever did back then - this was the 1980's and hardly anyone did. These were the days when health & safety was in its infancy and I was possessed with the arrogance and immortality of youth so didn't give it a second thought.

In the 1990's my trips grew shorter, my most regular one being from my house on Southwold down to The Plough, and then back again, six pints later in a somewhat less than straight line. Sometimes it was further afield. Drink driving was something I never did and never will - but somehow drink cycling seemed acceptable. However, after a lengthy session in the Red Lion at Stratton Audley one Saturday evening that ended with the bike somewhere in a ditch on the other side of the A421, I decided to review this strategy. When I came back the following day and saw the jagged rocks and broken glass all around the entry point of the ditch I realised how amazing it was I hadn't done myself serious injury. Somehow my beer coat had saved me, but it was a sobering scene.

After that, things started to tail off a bit. I still went out on the occasional bike ride, but it was no longer a necessity. I still tried to use the bike as much as possible for local trips, such as nipping to the supermarket with a rucksack in tow to carry the goods, but all that went out of the window when the kids came along.

Me on my bike, about three years ago.
Not done much mileage since then,

Now they are a little older, and I desperately want to persuade them to join the cycling fraternity. It would be so much better for all of us. Our school is relocating to a new site over a mile away in January and I know it's going to become much more difficult to do this trip on foot every day. If they could both cycle with me it would be so much better for us all round, but Ollie remains resistant. His autism makes him incredibly scared of trying any new experience, and cycling is no exception, but we conquered his swimming fear so I live in hope. Jamie is getting a bike for his birthday next month, complete with stabilisers and I'm hoping if I can catch Ollie in a good mood, with the bribe of some sweets I can encourage him to take the plunge.

Just before I go, an update on my 1,000 book sales in June challenge.

Day 4 Sales: 18
Running Total: 86
Running Target: 133 (behind by 47).

MTYY UK Rank: #6255 (down from #5,555)
MTYY US Rank: #22,820 (up from #26,071)

More tomorrow!

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Magnificent 7

Well, I hope they are going to be a Magnificent 7.

Eventually, after many hours of research, I was left with a list of 7 sites that I decided to apply to for my big promotion on MTYY. As mentioned in previous blogs, a large amount of research went into this, largely looking for anecdotal evidence based on other's experiences.

Here's another tip that might come in useful: When I was assessing the sites, I subscribed to all of them so I could monitor the performance of the books they sent me as their daily deals. This is a great way to gauge a site's effectiveness and something I'd definitely recommend if you are considering signing up to one of them for a promotion.

What I suggest doing is as soon as the daily email comes out, go to (better than the UK as most of the sites are based in America) and check the book's rank before the promotion kicks in. Let's say for example, it's #50,000.

Then go back the next day and check again. If it's showing something like #20,000 then I wouldn't be massively impressed. Yes, it's gone up, but it doesn't take a huge amount of sales to move a book from #50,000 to #20,000, and if it's on a price deal, it may have gained that much anyway. If however you see that it is now at something like #2000, you can start getting pretty excited - that's shifted some serious copies, and bearing in mind the money most of these ads are costing - around the $20 - $30 mark, that's a good return on investment.

Of course you still have to be accepted by the sites, and they can be very choosy about which books they do and don't accept - they have to be. After all, they have their reputations to think of. I'm pleased to say that despite my earlier failure to get into Bookbub, all of the other seven sites I applied to for this promotion accepted me.

The perfect scenario for me would have been to have had each of these sites promoting on a different day of the week (hence why I picked seven) however, in practice it did not work out like that. The sites are very popular and get booked up very quickly so to give myself the best possible chance of being accepted I gave them a window of dates and asked them to fit me in as best as possible. Ultimately I've ended up with the following but I'm quite happy with the outcome, Here, each partner is listed next to the day their promotional activity starts on:

Monday 15th: Books Butterfly $25, People Reads $15, The Fussy Librarian $16.
Tuesday 16th
Wednesday 17th: EReader News Today (ENT) $20, The Choosy Bookworm $38, Booksends $25
Thursday 18th: Bargainbooksy $35
Friday 19th
Saturday 20th
Sunday 21st.

NB: These prices are for a Science Fiction feature - other categories cost more or less, depending on the popularity, with Romance usually being the highest.

I'm quite pleased with the line-up. Effectively I've got two bursts of activity, the first three sites kicking off the first day of the Countdown Deal in style, and then another big push on the Wednesday and Thursday. The deal runs all the way until Sunday, so hopefully I'll have enough momentum to carry me through until the second half of the week.

All of that adds up to $174 by the way, which comes in well within my budget. I have every confidence in these sites and their ability to deliver but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I'll be reporting regularly as the week progresses and hope that I'll have some positive news that may be of use to you when planning your own promotions.

Latest update on the 1000 sales challenge:

Day 3 Sales: 27
Running Total: 68
Running Target: 100 (Behind by 32).

MTYY UK Rank: #5,555 (up from #8,284)
MTYY US Rank: #26,071 (down from #25,291)

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Planning book promotions

I'm preparing to embark on the biggest ever promotional push I've run on any of my books.

My Tomorrow Your Yesterday is going on to Kindle Countdown Deal for the second time on June 15th. The first time was back in the spring, soon after launch when it was a lot less established than it is now. Even so, I was very pleased with the results. Despite very little promotion on my part, sales soared during the week it was reduced, and have continued at a very nice level ever since.

This time, I've decided to go in all guns blazing and invest some serious money in the promotion to get the word out there. This is not as straightforward as it sounds. It is very easy to spend a lot of money on book promotion and not get results - there are literally hundreds of advertising options out there which can be quite daunting for an inexperienced author. How can we make sure we are investing our money wisely? Something that might only cost $5 might not seem much of a risk but is it really worth spending that on someone who will "tweet your book to my 25,000 followers". I would suggest not. I would ask yourself this question. How many of the endless tweets in your news feed do you click on? Do you even read them?

I feel that it is far better to investigate some of the more established sites out there who are dedicated to books and do more than just share on social media. Those that have an established mailing list are probably the best option - you know they are promoting your book to people who have specifically signed up to be informed of book deals. How do we know which ones are good, though?

The only sure way to measure their effectiveness is to try them out. However, by doing a lot of homework first we can certainly help ourselves. I have spent hours and hours every day for the past month reading up every single scrap of information I can on these sites to try and identify the good, the bad and the ugly. This means not only looking at the sites, but also going to many forums and other author groups to find out what people who have used these services offer. Having done all of this, I came up with a plan of action, based on a budget of around $250. That might sound a lot, and it probably is more than many reading this would want to invest in a promotion,but my view is that you have to speculate to accumulate. This is what I did when I set up my own business 7 years ago - for the first year, I ploughed every penny back into the business, not only advertising but also investing in the best possible equipment.

I've followed the same principle with my books - the money from my early sales all went on covers and proofreading for the next one. It's certainly paying dividends. Hence my decision to put so much money into this promotion. I've actually ended up spending significantly less than $250 across 7 different sites - roughly $25 per site.. Hopefully, by the end of all this I'll have some pretty good ideas of which were the most effective. I do realise that many of you reading this will not want to spend anything like this amount on a promotion. However, should you have a budget of say, $25,  for your promo, hopefully my experience will give you some help with your decision as to where to invest it.

Initially, after I'd done all my research, it was clear that I had two options and I ended up with the option 2) below.

1) Spend the entire budget on Bookbub.
2) Spread the budget among lots of other sites.

Bookbub are hugely more expensive than the other sites, and with good reason. They are by far the biggest and generate thousands of sales. Authors spend several hundred dollars on ads with them, but are more or less guaranteed a huge return on investment. Being featured by Bookbub is pretty much the equivalent of being recommended by Richard and Judy - it will send a book viral.

To give an example, last week they sent me a recommended book in my daily email that was langusishing at a rank below 1 million on This would suggest that it had not sold a single copy for many months. By the following day, it was ranked around #210, meaning it must have sold many thousands of copies. Bookbub truly is the holy grail of book marketing. Unfortunately it is very difficult to get into, and I don't know many people that have. They can only take a fraction of the books submitted to them and I have been turned down several times, including this time. If they had taken me, an ad would have cost me at least the $250, possibly more. Expecting that it was likely I'd be turned down I decided not to waste the time waiting for the inevitable rejection and got on with researching other sites. That's not pessimism, it's realism, and I had no intention of wasting that week.

I concluded that there are a lot of very good sites out there which charge a lot less than Bookbub do. Of course, the expected uplifts are not as great, but for the money spent, I have high hopes for those that I have selected as partners for this promotion. Most of these sites do also have selection criteria - they are looking for attractive, well formatted and error-free books, and a minimum number of reviews - usually around 10. I'm pleased to say that all 7 of those I applied to have agreed to feature me. Total invested? A very reasonable $174 (£117). So who are the sites I am hoping are going to be my "Magnificent 7"? All will be revealed tomorrow.

A quick update before I go on the 1,000 sales in June project. Yesterday I had 16 taking me to a total of 41 - the on target figure is 66, so I'm 25 behind, but remain confident. Tuesday, on average, is my slowest day, so 16 is a perfectly reasonable tally. UK sales rank has gone back up to #8,284, but in the US, I've dropped down to #25,291.

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

1000 sales in June - Day Two

Things got off to a flier on Monday with 25 copies sold/ borrowed. Of these, 13 were borrows and 12 were sales. Kindle Unlimited has worked wonders for me, it has really helped to open my books up to a wider audience.

It is probably worth noting that in order to reach 1,000 sales for the month, I need to be averaging 33.3 recurring per day, so 25 leaves me lagging behind, but I'm not at all worried about that at this stage. As I said yesterday, things won't really start moving until the 15th when my big promotional campaign kicks in.

Speaking of campaigns, I've seen many people on forums remark that Kindle Countdown Deals don't work. As I've said before, I think this is true of books that aren't selling well to begin with. Dropping the price makes little difference. My second book, Austerity Dad, went on to a deal yesterday for a week and is yet to trouble the judge. I'm not really expecting it to do much, to be honest, and I haven't even mentioned that it is on promotion anywhere other than in this blog. Why am I not promoting it? Well, my focus is elsewhere, getting ready for the big push on MTYY starting on the 15th.

Sorry, Austerity Dad, you're on your own this time. It was good to see The Sausage Man pick up a sale yesterday, though. A nice surprise. The rest of my sales were split pretty much as I'd expect, in line with their overall percentages last month, all UK and US apart from one in Canada.

As for ranking, MTYY stood at #14,303 in the UK this morning and #20,665, so not a great deal different to yesterday.

I am very pleased with how my novels are doing at present. I've talked before about the things I have done to give them the best possible chance - such as proofreading, cover, blurb, categories and using Amazon Marketing Services. I like to think that it's not just down to that, though, and that I'm growing sales through producing stories that people want to read.

I'm convinced that time travel is an underutilised genre. Give any story or setting a time travel element and it immediately enhances it. You only have to look at the enduring success of Doctor Who to see there is a ready made army of fans out there. I definitely think it's a category with some mileage in it and because it's something I love myself, it's reflected in my writing. I don't think I could ever just write a standard detective or romance novel - it wouldn't stand out or have anything special to offer the reader in a saturated genre.

Which brings me on to my next key point: Originality. I didn't want to embark on writing a time travel novel if it was just going to be a re-hash of an old idea. I really do believe that both The Time Bubble and MTYY are pretty unique concepts. Global Cooling possibly less so, but it's a story I really wanted to write and it made sense to weave it into The Time Bubble trilogy. I'm pretty sure people are picking up on this, and it's being reflected in some of the reviews that have been coming in on Amazon. Here's a few quotes:

"Refreshing slant on time travel"

"The concept of life reversing is fresh, interesting and entertaining"

"The idea of time travel isn't new, but spontaneous time travel backwards is definitely different"

"Wow! I can honestly say that I have never read anything like this before!"

Not all reviewers were as complimentary, but that's to be expected. I don't believe the book has been written yet that's been universally loved by all.

I strongly believe that the originality is a one of my strongest selling point. Quite why no one has come up with this particularly idea before surprises me, but then, maybe it's just me. I've often thought that my mind doesn't seem to work quite in the same way as everybody else's - I seem to recall the word "weirdo" being directed at me more than once in my younger years. Still if that is the case, I may as well make some good use of my weirdness.

Back tomorrow with an update, and I'll start to talk about the promo sites I have signed up to for the big push!

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

Monday, 1 June 2015

30 days in June - The 1,000 sales challenge

I've had a tremendous response to the last blog entry I made on marketing and selling Kindle books. One kind respondent on one of the Facebook groups I participate in even went so far as to say:

 "that was one of the best blog articles on marketing books that I have ever read"

Encouraged by this, and with the risk of ending up with egg on my face, I've decided to put my money where my mouth is and "go live" throughout the month of June when I'll be tracking what I'm doing via this blog. Apologies to readers who don't follow me for the book stuff but I'll endeavour to entertain too.

To make it more interesting, I am going to set myself an extremely ambitious target, that target being to sell 1,000 copies in total of all my books during the calendar month - that is including borrows which pay out at just under a quid a shot, so they all count.

If you'd said to me a year ago I'd ever be contemplating selling 1,000 books in a month, I'd have thought I was dreaming. At that time, 100 in a month seemed unattainable. A year before that I would have been congratulating myself on getting 10. Let's hope it's exponential and next year I'm sitting here going for 10,000! OK - now I really am dreaming.

So, how am I going to do this? Through a combination of maximising my usage of the Amazon Select programme and spending a good wedge of cash on a number of promotional campaigns - about $200 in total. If you are wondering why I am stating that in dollars rather than pounds, it is because all of the sites I am promoting with are in the USA, so it makes sense to stick with the currency I am dealing in.

So, 1,000 books - can I do it? In April and May I exceeded 500 for the first time in both months. I had very little promotion in May, other than a Kindle Countdown Deal on poor old unloved Fortysomething Father in the final week which yielded no sales whatsoever. This in itself proves a point I've made before - promoting a book that doesn't sell at all will not make it sell just because it is on promotion. I've seen 4x and 5x uplifts on Countdown Deals on my books that do sell. So you could argue that happened on Fortysomething Father too - as 5x zero is still zero. To be fair, I did nothing to promote it either, not a single tweet or post to let people know, but I don't think it would have made much difference.

In this month, June, each of my other books will be on Countdown Deal during the month, though all the action will focus around the third week of the month. All of the marketing budget is going to be spent on one book only, My Tomorrow Your Yesterday, and it is all going to be during that week. This is the full line up of Countdown Deals for the month:

1st - 7th June: Austerity Dad
8th - 14th June: The Sausage Man
15th - 21st June - My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday
22nd - 28th June - The Time Bubble
29th June - 4th July - Global Cooling.

I expect the first two weeks to see very little activity. Those two books don't sell in any great numbers either, it is only my fiction books that sell. So by the time we get to the 15th, I'll probably be lagging some way behind my target but I hope to make it up in the second half of the month.

To put everything into context, here's a breakdown of what I sold in May:

609 in total (61% of this month's target)

By Type:

Sales 349 (57%)
Borrows 260 (43%)

That alone is a very convincing argument for being in Select.

By Country:

USA 330 (54%)
UK 272 (45%)
Others 7 (1%)

That's fortunate, as it is only in the USA and UK where you can run Countdown Deals so these are clearly the two markets to concentrate on. Interestingly, this is the first month where my USA sales have exceeded my UK sales - well they do say the secret to success is to crack the American market.

By Book

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday 306 (50%)
The Time Bubble 208 (34%)
Global Cooling 89 (15%)
Austerity Dad 3
Sausage Man 2
Fortysomething Father 1 (Thanks, whoever you were!)

As you can see, the new book is doing best, and it seems to make that the focus of my promotional activity. As for the bottom 3, they are very much in the relegation zone. It is not worth spending any time on them, I'm quite happy to let them bump along and let them surprise me with the odd sale. Funnily enough, The Sausage Man does shift a few paperbacks. They aren't included in this analysis, accounting for very few sales overall, It is Kindle all the way.

So that's the state of play as of today. Each day I am going to report the previous day's sales, as well as giving an update on the sales ranking of My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (from here on referred to as MTYY).

So as at lunchtime on Monday 1st June, MTYY is ranked as follows:

UK: #15,584
US: #19,310

Not a bad point to start from. In my next entry, I'll talk about where and how I am going to spend my marketing budget for the big push during week 3.


 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here: