Libbie Hawker

Independent author Libbie Hawker blogs about her books, the publishing industry, writing, reading, and her personal life here.

Leonello, my love!

About a year ago, I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn. It'll come as no surprise to fans of my books that I LOVE anything set in the ancient days, and Mistress of Rome certain fit the bill nicely. Ever since then, Kate Quinn has been on my reader-radar, but when her first novel about the Borgias, The Serpent and the Pearl, came out, I resisted reading it in spite of how much I'd enjoyed Mistress. I had never before felt much of a draw to Borgia fiction -- maybe because it's so tied up in religious issues, and that tends to be low on (but not entirely off of) my personal list of intriguing fiction topics.

However, one day as I was pottering around on Audible, searching for a way to spend my monthly audiobook credit, I came across the audio edition of The Serpent and the Pearl. "What the heck," I thought. "I liked her ancient stuff. I should give her a chance to rouse me from my Borgia ennui."

Rouse me Kate did! I was sucked into The Serpent and the Pearl instantly; I couldn't stop listening for a moment, even stuffing my phone into my bra so I could listen as I painted the walls of my new home, and the moment Serpent ended, I sprang for the sequel, The Lion and the Rose. My Goodreads review of Lion says it all -- seldom before has a follow-up novel felt so deeply satisfying and so right for its characters.

Well, my experience with Kate's two Borgia novels launched her from my "pretty darn good author" list straight to the top of my "READ ALL BOOKS THE INSTANT THEY APPEAR" list. This is one writer who gets historical fiction, from top to bottom. One of the things I love so much about both reading and writing this genre is the way it can (if done well) show us how little humans have changed in a hundred years, in five hundred, in ten thousand years. It makes all people, regardless of their culture, their beliefs, or even the time during which they lived, feel more poignantly alive and precious. Kate Quinn seems to really understand not only how to deliver that feeling of universal brotherhood to her readers, but why such an experience is important. In my opinion, she's one of the strongest and most talented voices in the current HF milieu, and that's why it was such a treat for me to interview her recently for the New Books in Historical Fiction podcast.

I had the chance to chat with Kate about her experiences writing The Serpent and the Pearl, some of the incredibly strange and fascinating history behind the novel, and where she's headed next with her career. You can listen to the podcast right here.

I strongly encourage everybody to pick up The Serpent and the Pearl (especially the audiobook edition if you can -- the performances are wonderful!) and delve into this wonderfully strange, vivid, unforgettable story... even if you think the Borgias really aren't your thing. But if you prefer to stick to the olden days, Kate has plenty of magnificent ancient-Rome historical fiction for you to explore, too. You can find all her books on her web site, as well as more information about Kate and her career.

Kate, thanks for the opportunity to interview you! I'm looking forward to more books, which I will read the instant they are published. :D

New book, new chapter

Started the next historical novel today. It's about Zenobia, but I still don't have a title for it! Anyway, here's the first draft of the first chapter if you want to check it out. Enjoy!

 

Chapter 1: Purple 

The season had changed, and life with it. This was the time when winds came from the east, from Persia, from India beyond, slow and languid and heavy with the odors of spice: the bitter taste of golpar, the bright bloom of coriander; saffron and peppercorn; the low earthy hum of rose. Cinnamon, sweet and compelling as a lover’s voice. These were the odors of wealth, of gold – which was also the odor of blood.

Zenobia leaned across the stone sill of the narrow window, drinking in the scent of spice and change. Her deep breaths calmed the pounding of her heart and warded the sting of tears away from her eyes. She concentrated on the wind, its fragrance of fortune and its tang of power, so that she would not hear the weeping in her father’s palace.

In the baking sun, Palmyra was redolent with the smell of brick, the bones of the city – the hot white fastness of limestone from the fine homes of the merchants, the dry yellow clay blocks that made up the warehouses and market shops and the humble huts crowded along avenues and splaying from the edges of the city like the fringe of a dropped shawl. The heat of the day, reflecting from the carved and painted bricks of Palmyra, beat upon Zenobia’s face, while her father’s store room was dark and cool at her back. Her fingers trailed a length of Serican silk. It was as light and fine as the evening vapors that drifted above the Euphrates, and it reached from the window’s pool of light back into the store room’s dimness, coiling itself like a snake inside the cedar chest where Zenobia had found it.

She rubbed the silk between her fingers, wondering absently at its slippery smoothness while the crying in the palace doubled. Word was spreading among the servants. It pushed out from the mistress’s chambers like ripples in a cistern – out from the place where Zenobia’s mother and sisters keened a grief which was not unexpected, but cut deeply all the same.

“Our good master,” a man’s voice moaned from somewhere in the walled garden. “Cut down by the Tanukh – for shame, for shame!”

“Dead,” a woman’s voice called from a lower chamber. Her voice floated up toward the store-room window like the cry of an evening bird. “Zabbai, dead!”

Zabbai. The sound of her father’s name shattered Zenobia’s studied calm. She turned quickly from the sill, jerking the streamer of silk behind her back so her hot, heavy tears would not mar it as they fell.

Zabbai was not his true name, of course. He was ’Amr Ibn Zarib, sheikh of the ’Amlaqi tribe. But everyone in the city of Palmyra, from the wealthy merchants to the brawling caravan guards, referred to him affectionately as Zabbai. Even his daughters and his wife called him Zabbai, and he was more loved than ever a father or husband had been.

It was no great shock to learn that the Tanukh tribe had done for Zabbai at last. Jadhima, the sheikh of the Tanukh, had hated Zabbai for years, ever since Palmyra’s governor had raised Zabbai to great favor. Zabbai had been granted not only the fine palace where his family now dwelt, but oversight of the river of wealth that coursed through Palmyra. Jadhima and his tribe – scraping, howling animals of the desert that they were – coveted the goods that flowed down the Silk Road and the other routes of distant trade. The Tanukh wanted for their own the fine cloth of Seres, the spices and precious stones that crossed the burning dunes in single file, the endless casks and bundles of riches strapped to the swaying humps of dromedaries.

Under Zabbai’s rule, the Amlaqi thwarted Tanukh ambition. For though Zabbai, with his full gray beard and long-sleeved tunic, was an Arab to any eye that looked upon him, the grandfather of his grandfather had been the great Antiochus IV Epiphanes, companion to Alexander the Great and father of the Seleucid Empire. Zabbai’s roots among the Amlaqi had made him a great trader, cunning and hardy, at home in the desert where the dry sands and harsh sun had darkened his olive skin to the burnished brown of worn cedar, and carved into his face the deep traces of his ready smile. But Zabbai’s Seleucid heritage had given him a certain erudite grandness, and a respect for all things civilized and orderly and fine.

It was his Seleucid blood that had compelled Zabbai to stand in the path of the Tanukh, for Jadhima hungered after chaos and wild fear. Only in chaos could such an uncivilized creature hope to reign – and Zabbai would not suffer glorious Palmyra to fall into that sorry state.

Zenobia could hardly recall a time when the Tanukh had not threatened Palmyra – had not threatened her father. Even when she was a small child, when Zabbai had been only a merchant-sheikh with his caravans, when he had kept his wife and daughters in a narrow, stuffy mudbrick house that was scarcely more luxurious than a nomad’s tent – even then, Zenobia had known of the threat. Zabbai had hired guards to watch over his three girls as they lugged water from the cisterns to the caravans’ camels. At the evening meal, their mother Berenikë, as splendid as the Egyptian queens from which she claimed descent, would stroke her belly beneath her robes and promise the girls, “Soon I shall give you a brother to protect you from the Tanukh.”

 But Berenikë never had produced the promised brother – not one who had lived long enough to walk upon his own little feet. Zabbai had buried three baby boys, one for each of the daughters who lived and thrived. And now he would go into his tomb without a son to carry on his legacy.

Zenobia pressed a palm against her chest, as if she might push back the sobs that grew there. The cries of the household servants rebounded from the garden walls. She twisted the length of silk around her fist and steadied herself in the darkness of the store room, for through its door she could hear footsteps approaching: two sets of feet, light and sure in their step, and just before the door swung open she heard a sniffle, a feminine sigh.

Her sisters entered the store room with a flash of light that bounced off the adjoining hallway’s mirrors. Zenobia blinked in the sudden dazzle and wiped the last of her tears from her cheeks.

“Where have you been?” Nafsha demanded. Her eyes were red from weeping, but the eldest of Zabbai’s daughters was impeccable in appearance, now as always, with a saffron silk veil falling in precise pleats from the flat top of her turban to the middle of her back. The brilliant blue wrapping of the turban could just be seen, peeking out from the wealth of medallions and chains that adorned it. Nafsha’s robe, the same sun-gold hue of her veil, was exactly as loose about the shoulders as fashion demanded, cinched tight below the breasts with a blue sash bearing a carved plaque of Egyptian electrum.

Zabibah, the second-born, was disheveled in her sorrow. Her face was pink and swollen, and she swiped at her fine, sharp nose with the back of one hand as she sniffed. She had cast her turban and veil aside; thick waves of deep brown hair streamed about her shoulders, tangled here and there with a thin golden chain or a strand of tiny seed pearls, as if she had torn at her lush ornaments in a fit of grief.

Zenobia’s fist tightened around the silk. “I have been here.”

“Here?” Nafsha said, glancing around at the stacked trunks of imported goods and the unlit lamps. “In the darkness, all morning? Don’t you know what has happened?”

Zabibah pressed her hands to her face and moaned.

“Of course I do,” Zenobia said calmly. “Father has been killed.”

Zabibah seized locks of her own hair as if she might tear them from her scalp, but she only swayed, eyes closed, her hands trembling like a boy’s on the lead rope of an unruly camel.

“How does Mother take the news?” Zenobia asked.

“Terribly,” said Nafsha. “The moment we heard, she threw herself onto her bed and wailed, and none of us can persuade her to get up.”

“Leave her be,” Zenobia said quietly. “She will come around with time. After all, it is nothing more than we expected. Father is not a young man any longer.” Was, not is. Zabbai was gone now – he would forever belong to the past. She resisted the urge to press her welling sorrow away again, and left her hands hanging at her sides, hidden in the flowing skirt of her rose-colored robe. “Each time he rode out to meet the threat of the Tanukh, for so many years, we feared he would not come home again.”

“Yes,” Nafsha snapped, “but he always did come home.” She rounded on Zabibah, whose face had crumpled, and who had begun to make a thin, wavering sound in the back of her throat. “Stop now,” Nafsha said brusquely. She reached up to untangle Zabibah’s hands from her own hair. “Enough of your crying. It does none of us any good.”

“You cried, too,” Zabibah protested.

“Yes, but not any longer. There is work to be done. Pull yourself together, Zabibah; there’s a good girl.”

Dull curiosity shouldered through Zenobia’s grief. She eyed her eldest sister, half-suspicious. “What work?”

“It was no mistake that Jadhima attacked that caravan while the Governor of Palmyra was on the Sasanid front. He knew Father would rush out to defend the traders – he always does. Always did.”

Zabibah whimpered again, but subsided when Nafsha cut her a stern glare.

“It would have taken only one lucky blow to bring the great Zabbai down,” Nafsha went on, less harshly now. Even she, matter-of-fact as she was, lowered her lashes in sadness.

 “Do you think the Tankuh will actually attack Palmyra?”

“Why else have they wanted to kill Father for so long? Get rid of the sheikh, and the whole tribe of Amlaqi will be in disarray – at least for a short while, until we sort out who’s to lead next.”

Zenobia considered what she knew of tribal politics. “The next sheikh ought to be…”

“Antiochus. My husband. I am Zabbai’s eldest child, so my husband will be the next to rule. Assuming…”

Great gods, Zenobia scolded herself, her face heating in sudden shame. I did not even ask how their husbands fared in the battle. “Is Antiochus well? I pray it is so. And your husband, Zabibah – have you any word of Wakat?”

“We’ve no word yet,” Nafsha said. Her face was pale and grim. When she spoke again, there was a distinct barb in her words. “But it is good of you to ask.”

“Ah – I who have refused to marry. Are we to have that argument again, Nafsha, even now, as our father is carried toward his tomb?”

“If you had married when Father wanted you to, the Amlaqi and Palmyra would both be safer now.”

“Safer?” Zenobia could not help but laugh, even if it was a short, sharp, bitter sound. “How? How can the well-being of the desert’s greatest tribe and the finest, richest city in all the world depend on the wedding of one seventeen-year-old girl?”

“You are not a girl, Zenobia. You are a woman of marriageable age, and yet you scorned every suitor Father brought before you.”

“They were all beneath me.”

“Any match Father had presented to you would have done nicely. Zabbai was no fool. If you had a husband, the tribe would still pass without pause or conflict to a new sheikh, even if Zabibah and I were both made widows this very morning.”

Zabibah gasped, but Nafsha’s words trampled on like horses cut loose from a chariot. “And do you forget that you are the daughter of a caravan merchant? What sort of husband are you holding out for, Zenobia – the Emperor of Rome?”

“I am the daughter of ’Amr Ibn Zarib, the greatest sheikh of the greatest tribe of the greatest city in the whole of the world. I am descended of the Seleucids, and of the Empress Julia Domna, and of Cleopatra and Queen Dido.”

Nafsha snorted. “Do you still believe Mother’s tales? If she were truly the great-great-granddaughter of Cleopatra, why would she have wedded a camel handler with sand in his beard?”

“Look around you, Nafsha. We live in a palace – a palace Father earned by his own greatness.”

“And what of it? I still remember hauling water for the caravans. I remember the blisters on my hands from the weight of the buckets. I remember the stink of camel shit beneath my feet. And yet you forget where we came from. How pleasant it must be for you, to have such an agreeably selective memory.”

“What does it matter where we came from? We are here now, and I will not marry below my station.”

“While you swoon over your imagined station, the Tanukh gather in the desert. They eye our city – defenseless, with the leaderless Amlaqi and the Governor far away – like a jackal eyes an injured lamb.”

To Zenobia’s surprise, Zabibah laid a hand on Nafsha’s arm. Zabibah had composed herself – a rare occurrence during the best of times – and looked between her sisters with earnestness in her dark eyes. “Please don’t scold, Nafsha. It’s only your anger and fear that make you so harsh. We must come together today as grieving sisters, not poke at one another’s pride. Even if Zenobia had a husband, what could she do about the Tanukh and the Amlaqi? After all, she is only a girl of seventeen.”

An especially loud wail of mourning rang from somewhere close by. Zenobia started at the sound, and the long swath of silk fluttered beside her skirt. Nafsha’s eyes locked on the sudden movement and stared.

“What is that?”

Zenobia lifted her fist until the light falling through the store-room window pierced the fabric. The silk seemed to ignite in the sun, bursting into a bright, shimmering glow. She saw – she had not noticed before, as she rummaged through Zabbai’s storage chests, blinded by sorrow – that it was dyed imperial purple. The color was as deep as the skin of a ripe fig, and yet as vibrant as a polished mirror. As she stared at the purple silk, the plight of Palmyra seemed to unfold before her, spreading itself to the brilliance of her understanding like a jasmine bloom opening to the sun.

Indeed, Nafsha was right: the Tanukh had not timed their attack frivolously. The Governor was gone. Valerian, current Emperor of Rome, had allowed himself to be captured by the Sasanids. Zenobia’s mouth tightened in scorn. Count on a Roman Emperor to achieve such a pinnacle of folly. There had been a proliferation of Roman Emperors in recent decades, none of them strong enough to rule an empire.

But the Palmyrene Governor was ever faithful, and had sent gifts to the Sasanid emperor, hoping to buy Valerian free with the wealth of Palmyra. Shapur the Sasanid had spurned Palmyra’s gifts – Sasanids were a haughty and ungrateful lot – and the incensed Governor had struck out to free Valerian by his own sword.

A man who is as erudite and fine as a Seleucid, and as brave, as able as an Amlaqi. That is the man I shall wed – a man as great as my father.

The Tanukh were a real, immediate threat. Zenobia saw that clearly now, tearing away the veil of her sorrow. If they could, they would fall upon Palmyra while the city was weak and helpless, and rape Palmyra of every bright and good thing she possessed. The Tanukh would scatter her worth across the desert sands, dissipate her culture until there was nothing left of it. Only a man of refinement and ferocity could keep the Tanukh at bay. And neither of her sisters’ husbands was the equal of Zabbai – of that, Zenobia was certain.

The gods kept me apart, she thought, dizzied by the realization. I have been saved for just the right bridegroomI have been saved that I might defend Palmyra, as my father defended her.

“What is that?” Nafsha said again, advancing a step into the store room. “What are you holding?”

Zenobia gave the silk one great pull. It snaked from the cedar chest and lifted in the air, a drifting ribbon of purple fire. Her sisters gasped at the color. The richness and rarity of the dye made the silk a treasure almost beyond value.

She caught and stretched the purple length in her two hands as it floated down before her face.

“It is my bridal wealth,” she said, and winding the silk in her arms, she brushed past Nafsha’s red-eyed fury and Zabibah’s delicate grief toward her own chamber, trailing purple down the halls of her father’s palace.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Kindle Unlimited (For Writers)

Hello, everybody. I know I don't usually make posts about writing here, or I should say, I don't typically post stuff that's really only of interest to other writers, and not to my readers. However, there's been a lot of confusion and speculation on all my usual online writers' hangouts about Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited service. I have books to write, and I can't spend any more time helping to keep my fellow authors from panicking -- so I decided to write out all my thoughts on how to utilize KU effectively. I'm posting this ginormous dissertation here so I've got a link to point people to when they freak out.

If you're not a writer, this will probably bore you, so I direct you instead to this incredible video of Stains the Dog, staring in consternation at a plate of cupcakes. (I can't get enough of this video, and I guarantee you, it's way more interesting than what I'm about to say below, if you're not a writer.) (Plus, Joel McHale is really cute.)

If you're a writer concerned about how the heck you can turn KU into an effective selling tool, rather than allowing it to suck all your profits away, read on:

----

Okay. This is how you make this work for positive discoverability, even on other platforms. This will take a little bit of setup to explain properly, so bear with me.

Let’s say your current list looks like this:

Stand-Alone Titles*:
Book A
Book B
Book C

Series:
Vol1
Vol2
Vol3

You could utilize KU in three different ways:

1) You could put all your titles into it. I wouldn’t recommend that, because even though you’ll still get regular (non-KU) sales, it’s likely that most of your income from KU titles will come from the KU pot, just as the KOLL currently generates income from the monthly pot. The pot will probably be pretty lucrative at first, but as more authors join the payments will decrease, due to distribution among a larger number of titles/authors.

So instead of looking at it as an all-or-nothing participation, look at it as a discoverability tool to funnel NEW readers toward your other, full-price titles. This is exactly the way people are currently using Permafree. That strategy leaves you with the other two options for utilizing KU.

2) Put the first in a series in, and treat it like you’d treat a Permafree title. This means you don’t expect that title to earn you any significant money by itself — its purpose is to act as a loss-leader and to direct new, exploring readers toward your full-priced items.

This seems like a great idea on the surface, and it’s not a terrible strategy, but there’s a way to make this strategy work smarter and more effectively to increase your brand awareness — even on other platforms.

And that way is to utilize KU in the following way:

Option 3) Rotate your stock in and out of KU on a regular schedule.

So going back to that hypothetical list of titles I mentioned at the head of this post, maybe that means your rotation schedule looks like this:

Jan – March: Book A
April – June: Book B
July – Sept: Book C
Oct – Dec: Book A

OR, if your series doesn’t happen to sell gangbusters on other platforms and you’d rather increase the series’ visibility on Amazon, it might look like this (see my double-asterisk note below for more info on how to make this work):

Jan – March: Vol1**
April – June: Book A
July – Sept: Book B
Oct – Dec: Vol1

Meanwhile, on all the non-Amazon sites, you are likewise rotating your stock off and back on the sites. This means you probably won’t retain reviews on those sites for whichever books you’ve chosen to be your loss leaders, but I’m not convinced that reviews are such a strong driver of sales on those sites, and in any case, the “newness” of your rotation books might actually be an advantage there. Bear with me; I’ll explain further.

In ALL your books (not just the Loss Leader titles), stick in some brief, clear front matter that says something like “More books by Libbie Hawker are coming for your Kobo reader (or Apple, Nook, etc.) all the time! To find out when new books will be available on your favorite ebook seller, join Libbie’s mailing list (link) or visit LibbieHawker.com (link). Reader satisfaction is very important to me… if you have any questions about my books, please contact me directly at (email).” Obviously, you also want the mailing list call to action at the end of the book, too. But the invitation to contact you directly to ask you any question is important at the FRONT of the book — something the reader will see in a sample, before they buy.

Then on your site, when a reader clicks on the title of any book, you have this quickie note at the top of the page — something they see before they see any other information about the title:

“Dear Reader, I occasionally rotate my books in and out of exclusivity on Amazon. That means sometimes this title is available on other sites, and sometimes it’s not. Right now, this title is available here: (link to all places it’s available, whether on Amazon or elsewhere.) This title will be returning to (all other sites where it’s currently NOT) on this date: (Date it comes off the Amazon rotation, according to your schedule.) If you’d like to be notified when this book returns to your favorite ebook retailer, please join my mailing list! (link.) If you have any questions about this book or any others, please contact me directly at (email.)

The two clear invitations to email you directly are crucial. Once in a while you’ll get emails (maybe angry emails!) asking why this book isn’t available on Kobo or wherever, when all the rest of your books are. Find out which book they’re after, then send them a free copy of it. Don’t balk at this. If it’s not available on Kobo that quarter, it’s because it’s in rotation on Amazon, and you’ve already designated it as your Loss Leader for the quarter anyway, so you should have no problem handing that title out without any expectation of profiting from it directly. It’s a gesture of goodwill toward a customer, and giving miffed or confused readers free books is a great way to ensure their future loyalty to you.

The net effect of this type of front matter will be to generate more mailing list sign-ups. And I love this rotation thing, because it gives even the authors like me, who don’t send out a mailing list alert unless they have meaningful news to share with their audience, a reason to shoot out a newsletter. Now I’ll have a newsletter going out not only every time I have a new release, but also every time I change the Amazon rotation. It creates a natural and welcome relevant opportunity to keep your brand in front of your readers.

And it helps you subtly “push” titles some of your established readers may be ignoring. If they keep seeing the title “Book A” in your newsletters (i.e. “Just a heads up, gang! Book A is now available once more on Kobo, etc.!” and then a few months later, “Now is your last chance for a few months to get Book A on Kobo! It’s going back to Amazon exclusively for a short time.”) they are likely to finally try that book of yours they’ve never read, Book A.

This actually can increase sales from your non-Amazon readers. The suggestion in all your front matter that new stuff is always coming, plus the repeated contact about the rotation schedule, can remind your non-Amazon readers that you’re out there, and stimulate them to buy more of your titles. Sure, at the moment they can’t have access to whatever your Loss Leader title is, but in the meantime you’ve got all these other titles available, right?

* Asterisk The First: Clearly working with a series can pose more of a problem when you take KU and a rotation schedule into consideration. If KU turns out to be a bigger game-changer than I think it will be (I’m anticipating a moderate game-change, but I don’t think the sky is falling), then the current strategy of writing in series might be less of an advantage than it used to be.

You might be wise to take your Loss Leader titles from your pool of stand-alone titles. If you don’t have any stand-alones at present, take heart: it only takes one to kick off the stand-alone-as-loss-leader. And you only need four of them to keep a fresh rotation going in and out of KU all year long. So get writing, son.

**For series, yeah, it’s a sticky wicket, but it’s not the end of the world, either. You can do a few different things:

Series Thing A) If you have more than one series, dedicate one to Amazon. But only put the first volume into KU as your Loss Leader. Keep the rest at full price/paid-only access on Amazon only, since the first in the series is in Select.

Series Thing B) Write an small exclusive piece that leads into your series (such as a novella prequel, or a companion novella… which is what I’m planning to do with my Egyptian series.) Enroll the exclusive piece in Select as your permanent Loss Leader to funnel Amazon users into your series. The whole series will still be available elsewhere, but KU users get a little juicy bonus material. Do not put this Loss Leader into rotation; it remains in Select permanently, for as long as KU remains profitable to you.

Series Thing C) Put Volume 1 into Select, leave the rest out, and keep all the rest available on other ebook sites. When angry customers contact you to ask where Book 1 is, send them a free copy and explain why you’re doing what you’re doing.

I don’t like Option C all that well, but if you only have one series and no other potential Loss Leaders, *and* you really want to try KU out NOW instead of waiting for a few months (and writing a stand-alone in the meantime), it probably won’t sink your business to do it this way. It’s just not as elegant as Option A or Option B.

So there it is: my dissertation on how to make this work for you.

I’ve noted that the people who have the bleakest outlook on this are assuming they’ll have to enroll ALL their books in Select in order for it to be effective, but I actually think that’s the least effective thing you could possibly do. By maintaining a rotation, you keep content fresh for the more established KU users, and you keep ALL your titles popping up periodically on non-Amazon sites, to continue to net readers there.

AND, by seeing “new” books pop up from you on Kobo, etc., those readers perceive it as new content. Remember, the pool of readers is always growing and changing and fluctuating. You might put Book A into rotation on Amazon for three months, and when it goes back to Kobo, Reader Bob, who’s just joined Kobo and has never heard of you before, finds it and thinks it’s a great deal. By the time Book A rotates again nine months later, it’s had a lot of time to find you some new readers on all the non-Amazon sites, and they’ve now moved on to your other books which do NOT rotate. Book A comes back around again after three months on Amazon, and Reader Amy, who is new to Kobo, finds it and discovers all your other titles. And so it goes.

Also remember, any book you designate as a Loss Leader will have the primary purpose of netting NEW readers. That’s its job. You have to think of this as a continual chumming of the waters with an ever-rotating selection of delicious fish heads and guts. You’re not trying to make all your money off of KU; you’re trying to use KU to funnel readers toward the place where you make all your money: full-price, paid books.

Peace out.

 

Vlog: How to Write Awesome Blurbs

...Even though they're not actually called "blurbs." ;)

I hang out a lot of writing and self-publishing forums, and fellow authors are often stumped by how to write a good product description for their books...or query letters if they're pursuing agents. It seems like a really tough proposition on the surface, but these two videos show how to distill your book down to the features that are guaranteed to be compelling to your target audience. And the trick is, ALL books have the same compelling features, no matter what the genre!

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