Lúnasa Days, Writing

My Book Will Be Free For a Short Time

FREE BOOK

Starting Monday my novella Lúnasa Days will be free for four days only.

I wanted to announce that in advance here on the blog, because many of you loyal readers have already paid actual money to buy it, or even signed up as a patron to help fund it before it existed. Every sale has mattered to me a great deal, and I’m thankful to everyone who bought or funded a copy. I want to explain why I’ve chosen to do a free promotion.

Most indie books don’t sell a lot of copies, even in this fabled age of self publishing. At this point, the initial rush of sales is over. Quite a few of my regular readers (that’s you guys!) have already bought your copy (thank you), so sales have slowed to a trickle. This is normal.

However Amazon gives limited visibility to any individual book, and the exact amount of visibility you get depends entirely on your sales figures. If more copies have sold, the book is recommended to more people or shows up higher in search results. Without the marketing budget of a large publisher, most indie books quickly fall into obscurity.

To combat this Amazon allows an author to hold a “free book promotion.” For several days, the book is offered on Kindle for free—which means hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of readers download it. This has several helpful effects:

  • Amazon counts each free download as a “sale.” The downloads massively boost your sales figures, leading to greater visibility on Amazon.
  • These freebie readers are people who wouldn’t otherwise buy your book. Either they never would’ve found it or they only want free books. So you don’t actually lose any profit, but if your book is good you gain new fans.
  • After the promotion is over, the increased visibility and the sudden buzz mean you get a spike of actual sales—meaning the author finally makes some money.

I wanted to be transparent about this, because I don’t want anyone to feel cheated if you bought a copy of Lúnasa Days and now you see it offered for free. The book (and my writing career) would not exist if it weren’t for those of you who support good writing with real dollars. The free promotion can only exist because of all the support, encouragement and sales that come from my dedicated readers. Meanwhile the free copies make thousands of people happy and help me get my book in front of more readers. I’d like to think it’s a good deal for everyone involved.

Anyway, the book will be free only this coming Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday ONLY! (February 3-6, 2014) and I encourage you to tweet it, share it and tell your friends so they can read the same awesome book that you just read. Or that you’ve been meaning to read, so if you didn’t buy it before please grab a free copy!

I’m very proud of Lúnasa Days, including the work of my two professional editors and the beautiful, evocative cover. It has very good reviews so far (21 and counting!). I’ll post two excerpts over the coming days, or check out this excerpt that’s already available.

Don’t like free things? You can also just buy it:

L Days cover_front only_half size

Buy now!

Note: only the Kindle version will be free. If you want the paperback, you’ll have to buy it.

Thank you again for everything you do. From the helpful comments, to sharing my work, to just being there for me when I’m alone on the road. You guys are the best readers an author could ask for.

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Andre Sólo, Spotlight, Writing

How to Format a Guest Post

Photo by Michael Donovan

I had no idea what I was doing. My head was stuck in the age of the Word doc. I was happy just to see 20 page views; the science of blogging—and it is a science—wasn’t even on my radar.

But I saw that some things worked better than others. And by “worked” I mean led to more readership, farther sharing, and more reader engagement in the form of comments and response posts.

Every good blogger develops their own unique style, and we don’t need to be slaves to marketing advice. But I believe there are such things as “best practices”—especially when it comes to formatting—that make your blog more readable and more user-friendly. As a side effect, that also increases shares and traffic.

This is particularly true around guest posts. Most bloggers, including established high-profile bloggers, format guest posts in a way that’s awkward and hard to read or share. It basically kicks sand on the guest author’s face. Bad formatting means less clicks to the guest author’s site. Why did you even invite them?

Here is how I format a guest post to get the best results.

The Title Never Says “Guest Post”

The first line is in italics and says: This is a guest post by So-and-So. 

The very next line is their actual post. It dives right in with no prelude or commentary from me.

Their post goes on to say many great things in a snazzy, well edited style because I took the time to edit it before publishing. And since I’m not a jerk I made sure they were okay with the edits.

At the end, in italics again, is the complete byline or bio for the author: André is a philosopher who blogs about adventure. It always includes a link to their site and it can be as long as they want; chances are they wrote the blurb themselves.

This kind of post gets results. Again, “results” means traffic and sharing, but in this case it also means clicks through to the guest author’s work. Clicks are always low but should be as high as possible; your guest essentially wrote you free content. Hook a brother up.

The Reasoning

There are specific reasons for each of the steps I recommended. They are:

  • In the title, I never mention “guest post” because it reduces traffic. It does this twice over. First, because your audience likes you and doesn’t necessarily care what some other person has to say. Second, because most of your traffic is determined by how good your titles are. There are several ways to write a good title or headline, but none of them involve adding administrative clutter like “Guest Post.”
  • The first line is just one sentence for a reason. It’s a barrier between the reader and actually reading the post. The more blah blah you put here, the less people actually end up reading the article. Honestly I wouldn’t put anything here, except then people would think it’s my own writing.
  • Editing their post should be self explanatory, but often it’s skipped. You are a publisher. Make their post look the best it can.
  • The bio goes at the end because that’s where it’s most effective. At the beginning, no one cares who this person is. Let the post speak for itself. At the end, if the post was good, the audience wants to know more. Now you can put in their paragraph-long bio with links to their work.

Anytime I submit a guest post, I expect the blog owner to be professional enough to format it like this, or very close. And I always do it for the guests that I invite on my blog, because it helps lift up their great ideas and carry them to the most readers possible.

If you have improvements on my best practices, or if you do it differently, I’d love to know. Please leave a comment and share.

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Writing

Why My First Book Will Be No More

Photo by Spencer Finnley

Imagine knowing exactly what spirituality is.

Picture a world where it doesn’t come from scripture, church, or doctrine. A world where it doesn’t come from what your parents told you, or your pastor.

Imagine a version of yourself with a calm, self-assured confidence that comes from experiencing the sacred firsthand.

You can have that experience.

These words open my first ever ever book, Walk Like a God. They were written two months before I deployed.

Rich in photos, Walk Like a God expresses a way of spirituality that doesn’t follow religion. It roots the spiritual search in the act of challenging yourself, and the simple practice of walking.

It’s a love song to the natural world, to the human spirit, and to our ability to find our own way without doctrine.

And on Sunday, Walk Like a God will no longer be available.

Why?

Authors change.

In the paper-laden past, books went out of print. If all copies sold they became hard to find. Only a huge demand could conjure more.

In the digital realm authors can ride a product forever. But I don’t want to. I’m no longer the person who wrote Walk Like a God. My journey changes me, and I want my work to change too.

Digital publishing is supposed to free writers from a corporate mentality. So instead of selling and selling till the sales run dry, I’m taking it off the shelf.

I want to be clear: I still think Walk Like a God is a great book. I’m proud of it, and when I read back through it I still feel happy with what it teaches.

So you have a little time left.

Whether you’ve been putting it off, just heard of it, or simply want to have a “complete” Rogue Priest collection:

grab Walk Like a God here

But only through 11/11/2012. At the end of Sunday, it’s gone.

Many thanks to everyone who bought, read, enjoyed, or reviewed my first book. The big question is: what do you want in my next book on spirituality?

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Lúnasa Days

An Update on Lúnasa Days

In the last few months many of you have become patrons to support the creation of my first novella, Lúnasa Days. (If you haven’t, take a sneak peek.)

Here’s the latest.

Lúnasa Days is on schedule. As planned, the manuscript will be ready in late November. I’ll send it out to those select patrons who get to read and comment prior to publication. Expect an email around Thanksgiving, and know that your reaction will help shape the final draft.

The edited, final version will be ready in December. Patrons will receive their advance copies directly and then Lúnasa Days will be released as an ebook on Amazon.

The goal is to release it in time for the holidays. Price is TBD.

Patrons have a number of special perks available to them. If you want those perks too, move quick.

Let me know if you have any questions, either about patronage or the book itself. Thanks for all your support everyone—this novella would not be possible without you.

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