Self-Publishing Data: Free Promotion Results

For the past ten days I put my book up for free on as many retailers as I could in celebration of my new cover designed by Emma Wakeling:

the-black-swan-inheritance-final-cover

I really wanted to see if I could shift 100 copies, and thanks to everyone who helped publicise it, 120 copies were picked up!

What’s interesting about these results is when I compare them to Charlotte Cyprus’ results. Charlotte Cyprus is also a self-published author, but she is enrolled in KDP Select, and it definitely seems (just by comparing our two sets of data) that KDP Select does help new authors promote books. Having shifted 5x the number of copies as me, that data doesn’t lie!

Of course, her book could just be appealing to more people than mine. Our books have more differences than similarities, I think.

The other downside to being non-exclusive to Amazon is that Amazon doesn’t allow free ebooks on its site UNLESS you’re KDP Select, and then you have five days every month or something where you can elect to put your book up for free. So no free sales via Amazon for me.

Having said that, I’m still content to not be Amazon-exclusive. It’s just what I feel more comfortable about. I’m a little attached to Smashwords, because it is a bit of a ‘free-for-all’ environment, and I know if I want to push some boundaries with my stories, there will always be someone else on there who has gone further than me. That reassures me, in a weird sort of way.

I also like the reporting Smashwords does, and how it gathers data from the other major retailers under their premium service plan:

Smashwordsresults

The only downside is that Kobo doesn’t report it’s free book sales to smashwords, but I also have an account with Kobo so I can check those numbers (I only sold 5 books through Kobo).

I was surprised about Barnes and Noble. Being Australian, I was only vaguely aware of it, but I guess there are quite a few people out there with Nooks.

So I learnt some things with this experiment. As always, I am willing to provide a free ecopy of my book in exchange for an honest review. For now though, the price is going back up, and then some. Comparing the length of my book to other books of my length, my book was very cheap, but it wasn’t garnering any sales. Maybe $0.99 gave the impression a 75k word book wasn’t going to be any good? Regardless, I have decided to increase the price to be on par with other similar books, so The Black Swan Inheritance is now $2.99 at all major retailers…

Although with some retailers the price change is taking a while to kick in. Barnes and Noble, for instance, is still selling my book for free. Give it a day. *shrug*

At least now with the price increase I have other options when I decide to next put my book on sale. I can do half-price, drop it to 99cents, or go for free again.

As a footnote, a few other people have added my book to their TBR on goodreads, and I now have 10 ratings and 7 reviews on the site! Amazon has 7 reviews up (with some reviewers different to the goodreads’ reviewers), and 1 review on Barnes and Noble 🙂 All up, 10 different people have written reviews on my book across the different sites (and some blogs!)!

Sequel status: 67k words out of approx 80k. Downhill run!

So that’s been my experience of my first sale. I think I’ve waffled enough now.

MdD

 

FREE EBOOK! The Black Swan Inheritance is ON SALE!

To celebrate the new cover of The Black Swan Inheritance the ebook is available for FREE on Smashwords until 6 Feb! That means you can get a epub, mobi or pdf copy by clicking here!

The Black Swan Inheritance Final CoverThe new cover design is by Emma Wakeling of Emma’s Artbox and DeviantArt!

Through the Smashwords Premium Status function, other retailers should have this option soon (Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, etc). Stay tuned!

Feedback Please! New Black Swan Inheritance Cover Design by Emma Wakeling

I introduced Emma Wakeling here in my previous post as my new cover designer, and now I’d like to ask you all for some feedback on the fruit of Emma’s labour:

Book Cover2

What’s your first impression? We welcome all sorts of criticism so don’t be shy to use the comments’ section below! Hell, even email me if you like: nogaku89@gmail.com

Book Cover2

I think it looks great in thumbnail form too 🙂

Emma reduced the moon a little after Jade from Scatterbooker pointed out that the title would look better with an entirely black background:

Before                                          After

Book Cover rough         Book Cover2

I miss the moon being as big as it was, but the title does ‘pop’ a lot more. What do you think?

Emma read the book and sketched some ideas after our first lot of brainstorming. I’ve including the sketches below to show the thought process behind creating the finished product.

FYI you can check out the rest of Emma’s art on Facebook and Deviant Art.

Sketches that lead to the Final Cover:

Anita’s Profile, with her black hair turning into a Swan:

Sketch_Anita

Emma decided to use soft features for Anita, which I really like. It reminds us how young she is, and her haunted expression says to me that she’s got something weighing on her mind, like she’s trying to psyche herself up up to do something. That’s my opinion anyway. What’s yours?

Black Swan, Head Bowing with the Moon

Sketch_Flighing Swan 1

I loved this image too so I asked Emma to combine this one with Anita’s profile. I think this makes the final cover look like the ‘thing’ that’s weighing on Anita’s mind is literally the inheritance of the Black Swan, with the image of the Swan dripping poison/blood into Anita’s mind. I know that’s not quite what the magic is about, but the inheritance has greatly affected Anita’s life, for better and worse. I love the trippiness of the final image and how Emma pulled off the combination of the two previous images 🙂

Other Sketches

Black Swan in Flight with Moon in Background

Sketch_Flighing Swan 2

Profile of Wicked, Snake-like Black Swan

Sketch_Swan 3

Book Cover2

Artist Showcase: Emma Wakeling

I contacted an old chum from my uni days and discovered that she has her own portfolio! So without further ado, here is Emma Wakeling, artist extraordinaire:

Emma Wakeling ProfileNo, she’s not a cat 😉 but she is very much a cat enthusiast, and a damned good artist. Above is a picture she drew of her Teddy.

I decided to ask her if she’d be interested in working on a new book cover for The Black Swan Inheritance, and also work on the book cover for the sequel further down the track (FYI, I’m currently 45k/~75k words into it). And Emma said yes! In fact, she is currently looking for any commission work to add her professional portfolio.

So I wanted to showcase my new book cover designer 🙂 Emma’s art is very versatile: she’s done mythological creatures, landscapes, abstracts, portraits and animals. You can check out all of Emma’s work at her Facebook page and her Deviant Art Profile. Here are the pieces that she’s completed that really wowed me:

The_Griffin_by_Disturb963

This is ‘The Griffin’ which has been very popular on Emma’s Deviant Art site. Someone even got it as a tattoo!

random_by_disturb963-d30pxtb

I love this piece! It’s called ‘Random’. Emma did this a while ago but the image could be perfectly applicable to the mind of the Black Swan Witch! ‘Cept the bird isn’t a swan 😦 How cool is it though?! Very, that’s how much. And Emma has let me use it as a banner! What will I use a banner for? It’s just up on my book page at the moment with some text, but I’ll think of other uses for it.

landscape_by_disturb963-d7exyxi

A beautiful example of what Emma can do with landscapes, lighting and texture. Just gorgeous.

my_brother_s_warframe__nyx__by_disturb963-d7gne2d

I just wanted to add this image in because I think it’s awesome. Emma says it’s her brother’s warframe Nix, which is a character from a Steam game that neither of us play. Cool but.

About Emma Wakeling:

Emma Wakeling is both a geoscientist and an artist. She has currently put aside her scientific self to develop her more creative side which includes studying graphic design. Emma started drawing at young age, she loved to draw demons, dragons and strange monsters. Nothing much has changed since those days, except that most of her drawings are now done on the computer. She is currently looking for any commission work to add her professional portfolio.

If you would like to contact Emma, you can send a message through either her Facebook or Deviant Art accounts.

Nerves & Necromancy

I have now created a page for my upcoming book, The Black Swan Inheritance and with it, a snippet of a scene from the book! Figured I’d post it as well, so please, read on:

I found the body where the werewolf had left it. Black blood stained the ground, as well as my clothes. I worried if I had stopped to shower and change I would lose my nerve. Nerves were about all I had now. Nerves and necromancy.

Kneeling down next to the dead creature, my bare legs soaked up the heat of the day from the bitumen. I swallowed audibly and picked up the head to reposition it. That done, I took the small pocketknife I had been given when I joined scouts (I left after about a month) and opened the blade.

“Blood of the Black S-swan.” I was trying to command the dead to rise, and I couldn’t manage that through chattering teeth. I cleared my throat and started again. “Blood of the Black Swan binds you to me. I call you from the grave and into the night. If you shall accept, rise.”

I sliced the inside of my left palm and blood pooled. I coated my red blood against his black, running my hand around his severed neck. Then, finally, I placed my wounded palm over his mouth.

I looked away when I heard movement of flesh against stone, but forced my eyes back upon the scene. I watched as his blood coagulated with mine and brought the head back to the body. I watched as the fatal wound healed itself. I watched as the skin and muscle knitted before my eyes. I watched as the vampire’s eyes snapped open, and he grabbed my hand with both of his and pressed it hard against his mouth.

The feeding was disgusting. The vampire rose a little but only to force more of my blood into his mouth. It reminded me of a man bucking during sex. He drank with greedy desperation, as if frightened the blood be taken from him at any moment. I let him feed, but when I felt my strength wane, I had to put a stop to it.

“Enough.”

The vampire stilled with the command.

“Release me.”

He relinquished my wrist, and I checked my palm. The clean cut was marred with hickeys – bruising from the vampire sucking so desperately he brought the blood up through the skin. My vision became spotty, so I let my hand drop to my side, hoping that if I hid the sight of it I could manage to remain conscious.

“I have claimed you, do you understand?”

He nodded, but his eyes were glassy.

“Are you still hungry?”

“Yes,” he whispered in a weak voice.

“You can no longer feed on me. Is there anything else that can be done to heal you?”

“No blood?”

“No blood.”

He didn’t answer for a moment. Then he said, “Bury me. I need rest.”

I blinked. “Bury you? Bury you where?”

“Somewhere safe.”

I didn’t even own a shovel. I lived in an apartment, after all. Where would be safe?

There was a park right next to where we were, but that could hardly be safe. There was sort of a common, a grassy back garden at the apartment block where the clothesline was. How was I to dig up the ground?

Wait, the management hired a gardener. He came every week and kept his tools in a little shed, next to the hot water systems. There should be a shovel in there.

I just hoped I wasn’t caught.

“C’mon.” I helped the vampire to his feet. “You’re coming home with me.”

The Black Swan Inheritance will be out 1st December 2014!

Copyright © 2014 Sarah Thomas writing as Marigold Deidre Dicer

Also, I am pretty bloody sure I’ll be using this cover. I definitely liked the other ones but I had to choose, and I personally prefer the Black Swan to be in all her glory.

Black Swan GOODfirst

Original cover photographed reproduced here by permission of photographer Nicholas Raymond of http://freestock.ca/animals_insects_g29-cygnus_p1486.html

The Black Swan Inheritance Covers, plus Blurby Fun

Hear ye, hear ye! Well, actually I want you to do the talking and for me to listen! I’ve got a few different concepts thanks to your input last time, so I hope these new covers are a little more exciting than the last ones. Leiah said she liked the glowing feathers and seeing more of the swan. Rosh liked the original picture the best so maybe I should just use that but I can’t help fiddling with things! Bethany advised I work on the font, so I’ve played around with a few different types as you’ll see below. Wlloydjr suggested focusing on the texture of the wings, which I definitely like the idea of as it makes it much simpler, in an ‘uncomplicated and pleasing to the eye’ sense.

I’m still loving the photo, but as far as making it a cover I can’t really commit to any of the ones I’ve made. Leiah said that I should use a cover I’m happy with, but truth be told I just don’t know anymore! Help! Do I go with dark or elegant? I like both! And I think both hint to the story within… so I’m at a bit of a loss.

So I have some covers that are complicated, some that are simple, and I’ve included the original picture too in case people still like that one and want me to stop messing with it!

Black Swan Feathers Cover

Final Copy8Feather Texture

Black Swan

And just for reference’s sake, here’s the first cover I worked on:

Book1_3_without_beakI hope I’ve improved!

 What did you like? What didn’t you like? Whole picture or zoomed-up texture?

Once again, my book should will be released December 1st! This is the current blurb, completely different from the last one I posted:

The striking Black Swan is native to Australia, unrelated to the seemingly pure White Swan of Europe. She is found in the strangest of places – from ugly mines to cultivated farms, beautiful bushland to violent coastline.

Yet, she always shies away from humanity.

The Black Swan is always beautiful, surprisingly resilient and very, very powerful. Most Black Swans are wise enough not to use that power to challenge the status quo.

Most…

And this is the blurb that I posted a while ago and got great feedback on, but like the lazy busy person I am I haven’t gone back to edit the blurb based on those comments. Well, not properly at least – I did change the last line, and made a minor change of the last sentence of the first paragraph. If you’re interested in reading that post and those comments, you can find it here.

Anita had the kind of reputation in high school that no one wants to carry into adulthood, especially since she wants to be a doctor like her dad. Now at university, she is determined to be good, but one little end-of-semester celebration can’t hurt, right? Well, it can if she ends up having a one-night stand with a werewolf that triggers a dark awakening. Turns out Anita’s over-active libido has become more than something hormonal – it’s magical.

The Black Swan is a powerful legacy that brings both temptation and danger. Having now inherited the title and all that comes with it, Anita finds herself beset upon by ancient abominations that won’t take no for an answer. No wonder the Black Swan had been driven to seclusion and banishment in the past. But Anita is determined not to run away – she is here to help, whether the medieval dragon-wolf or the undead cultists want it or not.

She will be no one’s pawn. She will rise to the challenge.

If she can just manage to deal with her own flaws first. Anxiety, panic-attacks, and bouts of bitchiness does not a successful diplomat make.

I should also mention that you can find all the posts to date related to my book under the “Black Swan Inheritance” category. Because I like to believe I have fans 🙂 Hey, you gotta be optimistic when you’re pursing a career in something creative, or anything you love.

To be fair, I will always write, regardless of what the future brings. But since I have the option to self-publish: YEAH! Of course I’m going to try that!

Shamelessness. It is incredibly liberating 😀

Messing Around with Covers for The Black Swan Inheritance

Well, I had thought I had done a pretty good job playing about with images for my cover of The Black Swan Inheritance. That was until I decided to take the result to my biggest critic – my mother. She didn’t like the beak.

Book1_1Book1_2

I liked it. I thought the cover looked pulpy and cool. But her comments were valid – I am not, after all, an artist. I don’t exactly have an artistic eye. And I can’t draw or paint or any of that. I do like to think I can write though, and I’m sticking to that idea no matter who tells me otherwise!

Anyway, to help my self-esteem and non-existent art talent, I tried again. This time, without so much beak:

Book1_3_without_beak2

And I really should stop there. I’m being helped by a friend who’s a bit more clued in than I am with the art thing so together hopefully we’ll be able to get something more professional-looking.

I had looked at lots of photos of black swans, but I do love this image (or you can see it below) which I originally found on rgbstock.com, but the photographer has asked me to reference and link back to the freestock.ca website. I think the picture is just perfect for my book. The black swan is just gorgeous and the blood-red beak and eye dominates the centre of the picture. I love the colours of black swans ^-^

So I’m kind of stuck on this image for now. Who knows, maybe I won’t even end up using it. Anything could happen.

Having said that, I have tentatively set myself a publish date of December 1st of this year. Just in time for Christmas! Maybe. Should be. We’ll see.

So, what do you all think? I know the font is rough, I just wanted to see what it looked like with all the bits attached. Anyone else hate the beak? Like the photo, don’t want to change it? Any other ideas? Let me know!