Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Do you buy books off Twitter promotions?

Okay, so it's a little more complicated than that. It's actually two questions in one:
  1. Do you follow accounts on Twitter, who do nothing but tweet links to books (their own, or other people's)?
  2. Do you actually click the links in those tweets, and buy the books?
I ask because, over the past few weeks, I've been involved in a rather heated discussion in one of the author marketing groups I belong to, about how authors (especially independent authors) use Twitter.

It seems that many of my author colleagues use Twitter in exactly the same way as I describe in question one, almost always automating those tweets, and sometimes making sure to tweet no less than once every five to seven minutes!

Personally, I don't use Twitter like that, and my first reaction was that I abhor people who do. I feel that it completely contradicts the purpose of Twitter, which in my mind is to be social, be useful, and be yourself. Obviously, as an author, I would love for people to buy and read my books, but I wouldn't have thought this strategy would be the way to get people to do that.

Some of these authors, however, have been experimenting, and many have found that when they stop tweeting in this way, sales of their books drop dramatically. It obviously works for some people, then, but personally I find it... scaly, slimy, dirty. It goes against some deep seated moral conviction in me. I unfollow people (or decline to follow them in the first place) if I look at their profile and see that the past five or so tweets have been tweets or retweets of products for sale.

On my own Twitter account, I strive to always be useful, interesting or entertaining. I do share mostly links to articles, but they're all articles that I've read myself, and which I think that my target audience (hopefully readers of my fiction) will find interesting. Of course, I post the occasional more personal tidbit, because I want people to realise that they're following a real human being and not some robot. Finally, I do tweet links to my books, and other self-promotional stuff, but I try to keep that to no more than about twenty percent of my total tweets.

I'm looking for answers from two different types of people, who use Twitter:

  1. Authors, which way do you use Twitter, what are your goals for using Twitter, and do you think it helps you achieve those goals?
  2. Readers and book lovers, which kinds of people do you prefer to follow on Twitter? Do you want people who tell you about books, and only people who tell you about books, or are you looking for an actual connection on Twitter?
I know that this blog post may make it sound like I'm biased, and it's true that I am. But I'm not looking for people who I can berate and judge, so I promise I won't be doing any of that. I'm genuinely interested in how different authors use Twitter, and how readers prefer to engage with authors on Twitter.

Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Crossword Puzzle - February 2015

Okay, everyone, it should be an easy crossword puzzle this month. There are lots of intersecting words. Feel like giving it a go?

Clues


Across

3 Indian conference (6)
9 backbone (5)
12 evil (6)
13 having muscle definition (5)
14 The Isle of Death (6)
15 old (3)
16 almond (8)
17 god of strife (3)
19 capture (3)
22 he causes consternation (8)
25 account (3)
26 she died for love of Pyramus (6)
29 tobacco cylinder (5)
32 Gretel's brother (6)
33 paradise in the desert (5)
34 envelop (6)

Down

1 upon (3)
2 denoting an inhabitant (3)
3 throwing the shot (3)
4 receptive for mating (6)
5 a silly person (6)
6 panaceas (11)
7 old; (3)
8 departing (6)
9 crazy (4)
10 representing God in human form (11)
11 writing that pushes the boundries (4)
18 cut teeth (6)
20 tennis player Andre (6)
21 regular drinker of wine (6)
23 folded tortilla dish (4)
24 on either side of your head (4)
27 Solo (3)
28 Extract, Load, Transform (3)
30 Ian (3)
31 aim (3)

So here's how it works: be the first to solve this puzzle before 24 March 2015. E-mail me your answers. If you're right, I'll mention you on this blog, along with any link you'd like me to use (such as a link to your professional website, or perhaps your Twitter account). Your name will also be mentioned in the March 2015 issue of my monthly newsletter. You'll be immortalised for all eternity!

Sound like a plan? Well, what are you waiting for? Read... steady... go!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Crossword Puzzle - January 2015 Answers

It's that time of the month already, folks. 2015 is well under way, and it feels like we were never on leave. Most people have finally stopped writing/typing 2014 in dates, and are desperately looking forward to the next public holiday (21 March, in South Africa).

So how did you get on with the January 2015 crossword puzzle? Let's take a look at the answers:

Clues

Across

1 Go in a specific direction (4) move
5 Cry feebly (4) mewl
9 Never-ending (7) eternal
11 Shaped like an egg (4) oval
12 Garment worn by Hindu women (4) sari
13 Single-celled animal (6) amoeba
14 Danish King (4) Eric
15 American equivilant of Matric Fairwell (4) prom
16 Solutions of NaOH (4) lyes
17 Roofed colonade (4) stoa
18 By means of (3) via
21 Leaves boiled in water (3) tea
23 Not stiff (4) limp
26 Horse-back game (4) polo
29 Frankenstein's assistant (4) Igor
30 Rear-opening (4) anus
31 Lunatic (6) maniac
32 Of abundant vegetation (4) lush
33 Plant used as herbal medicine (4) aloe
34 Canadian province (7) Alberta
35 Make a hissing sound (4) siss
36 Old English for "ash" (4) aesc

Down

1 Leprous (5) mesel
2 Eared seal (5) otary
3 More very (6) verier
4 Fines paid to a victim's family (5) erics
5 Nibbles (5) moops
6 Turns inside-out (5) evert
7 Type of protea (6) waboom
8 Animal, related to camel (5) llama
10 Between eggs and pupae (6) larvae
19 Greek island (6) Ithaca
20 Rwandan city (6) Kigali
22 South American parakeet (6) conure
23 Beans (5) limas
24 Monochrome pictures (5) monos
25 Inquires too inquisitively (5) pries
26 Upper bract of floret (5) palea
27 Has strong sexual desire for (5) lusts
28 Gum plant, smells of ammonia (5) oshac

See you next week, for the February 2015 puzzle!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tales from Virdura: The Captain's Heir

“Where is Clyde?” asked Sheriff Camden Maynard, over Helena's screams, which were emanating from the adjoining room. “He should be here for the birth of his child.”

“Still on the lake,” replied Davina. “The Sail's not back yet.”

“Damn and blast!” said the Sheriff. “They should have been back an hour ago. In the name of princess Tricia, he's going to miss it!”

Abruptly, the woman's screaming stopped. Davina and Sheriff Maynard looked at each other in silence, with expressions of horror on their faces. Moments later, a new scream erupted. It was not the scream of a woman, however, but that of a baby.

The door to the room was thrown open, and the midwife stormed out. “Where is that fool, Clyde?” she asked. “He's just missed the most important moment in his entire life, I'll wager: the birth of his son!”

Just then, Clyde came bursting through the door, huffing and puffing. “Sheriff Maynard,” he spluttered, “You need to come quickly. And bring as many men as you can. We've just caught the biggest fish I've ever seen.”

Knowing Clyde's propensity for tall tales, the Sheriff waved him away with a chuckle. “Clyde, I'm sure that whatever you and your crew have can wait. You need to go and see your wife, and your new son.”

“What?” said Clyde, and took a step backwards. Then he composed himself, and went on. “Well, yes, that's wonderful. I'm sure she's beautiful... I'm sure he's beautiful. But Sheriff, if you don't come quickly, this monster's going to sink the ship!”

Sheriff Maynard sighed, and followed Clyde out the door.

***

Maynard whistled when he saw the fish, resting on the deck of The Carrington Sail, the village's only fishing boat. The fish was as long as nearly five people, lying head to toe. And Clyde hadn't been exaggerating about the weight, either; the water level was right up the side of the boat, and some of it was even seeping onto the deck. The ship was indeed slowly sinking.

“Do you believe me now?” asked Clyde. “If we can get that thing to shore, it will feed the entire village for a year. If we don't, then it might be the last fish we ever catch.”

Maynard screamed for as many people as possible to get onto the boat, and help to get the fish, but it quickly became apparent that they weren't going to bring it ashore in one piece. He gave the order for the men to start hacking away at it, with knives, swords, saws, and whatever other implements were at hand. After nearly an hour of work, over twenty people had finally carried the last of the fish onto the shore.

“And now,” said the Sheriff to Clyde, as they were admiring their handiwork, “you have another matter to attend to.”

***

When Clyde and the Sheriff arrived back at Clyde's home, Davina was still standing in the living area, waiting for them. She gave Clyde a reproachful look.

“Your wife is inside, with the midwife, and your child,” she said. “She almost died giving birth to your son, and she's not happy with you for not being there to support her. Best you go in, now.”

Clyde's excitement and smile disappeared as the gravity of what Davina was saying sunk in. He could have lost his wife, that day. Without another word, he opened the door and walked in.

***

Clyde walked into the room, prepared for a tongue-lashing from his wife. “My love,” he said, “we almost lost The Sail tod-”

He was cut short when she looked up at him, beaming from ear to ear. In her arms, she was holding the most beautiful baby boy that he had ever seen.

Upon seeing that face, and the baby boy in his wife's arms, he immediately rushed to her side and clasped her hand in his.

“Oh, my dear!” he exclaimed. “You're beautiful. He's beautiful. We saved The Sail today, as I said, and one day, that boat will be his. My dear, sweet, beautiful Albert. What do you think of that?”

Image: http://campadmin.itamtam.co.kr/web/uploads/camp/pic_src/201410/baby-20939_640.jpg

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Help Sell E-Books to Earn Extra Cash

Okay, so that headline sounds a little scammy. But come on, you know me. I promise it's not! I'm not promising that you'll get rich quick, be able to leave your day job, or earn $5000-$10000 per week, or anything stupid like that. Just a little extra pocket-money, if you're interested.

So, do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Want to earn some extra cash?

I'm not sure if you've ever noticed, but if you visit many books on Smashwords while you're signed into your Smashwords account, and you scroll right down to the bottom of the page (past the reviews), you might see something similar to this:

(Click the image above to enlarge it)

The text after the "ref=" will be your unique Smashwords username, and the number before the question mark will be the unique ID number of the book on Smashwords.

Go ahead and give it a try, with Stingers, Heritage of Deceit, or A Petition to Magic (you must be signed in to Smashwords first, so create a free account there and sign in, if you haven't already).

So here's how it works:

  1. Each book contains a unique URL. If you want someone to buy a book, send them the unique affiliate URL of that book, including "?ref=" and your unique Smashwords username.
  2. If the person visits the link you send them, and ends up purchasing the book in the same session, you will earn the stated percentage of the book's list price at Smashwords. 11% is typical, but some books may offer more or less commission, or none at all (free books offer no commission at all). All my books offer 11% commission, at the time of this writing (except Billy's Zombie, which is free).
  3. Even if the person ends up not buying that specific book during that session, but buys another qualifying book, you will earn the stated commission (if any) on the book that the person eventually ends up buying.
  4. Similarly, even if the person does end up buying the book you sent them to, and then buys another qualifying book during that session, you will earn commission (if applicable) on all books purchased during that session.
As you can imagine, it could end up being quite a lucrative proposition for you!

Smashwords accrues your income immediately, as you sell books, but "banks" all money owing to you until such time as you have at least USD$10 in your account. Then, once a quarter, you will be paid the amount owing to you (if it's over USD$10) into your PayPal account.

So what do you say: do you want to help me spell some books?

If any of the above is unclear, or you need help getting started, just hit me up in the comments below, and I'll try my best to help you out!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Crossword Puzzle - January 2015

As always... solve this puzzle, and send your answers to graham@grahamdowns.co.za before 17 February 2015. If you're the first person to send me the correct answers by then, you'll be mentioned as the winner.

Up for it? Let's go!

Clues

Across

1 Go in a specific direction (4)
5 Cry feebly (4)
9 Never-ending (7)
11 Shaped like an egg (4)
12 Garment worn by Hindu women (4)
13 Single-celled animal (6)
14 Danish King (4)
15 American equivilant of Matric Fairwell (4)
16 Solutions of NaOH (4)
17 Roofed colonade (4)
18 By means of (3)
21 Leaves boiled in water (3)
23 Not stiff (4)
26 Horse-back game (4)
29 Frankenstein's assistant (4)
30 Rear-opening (4)
31 Lunatic (6)
32 Of abundant vegetation (4)
33 Plant used as herbal medicine (4)
34 Canadian province (7)
35 Make a hissing sound (4)
36 Old English for "ash" (4)

Down

1 Leprous (5)
2 Eared seal (5)
3 More very (6)
4 Fines paid to a victim's family (5)
5 Nibbles (5)
6 Turns inside-out (5)
7 Type of protea (6)
8 Animal, related to camel (5)
10 Between eggs and pupae (6)
19 Greek island (6)
20 Rwandan city (6)
22 South American parakeet (6)
23 Beans (5)
24 Monochrome pictures (5)
25 Inquires too inquisitively (5)
26 Upper bract of floret (5)
27 Has strong sexual desire for (5)
28 Gum plant, smells of ammonia (5)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Crossword Puzzle - December 2014 Answers

Greetings from sunny Wellington, in the Western Cape!

How's your January going? Are you back in the swing of things at work, yet, or did you do what I did, and take leave in January, when everyone else was back at work?

So how was December's crossword puzzle? Too easy? Too difficult? Dying for the answers?

Well, wait no more, as your wish is my command:

Clues

Across

1 Of Jesus Christ (6) gospel
3 With me, says the hymn (5) abide
5 Citizens of the Bible's "chosen nation" (8) Israelis
6 Era (3) age
7 Orthodox Christian symbol (4) ikon
9 Made with egg (3) nog
11 Prophetess from Kings and Chronicles (5) Hilda
12 Where people are imprisoned (5) goals
13 Jesus Christ (3) Son
15 What the song was (4) sung
16 Fuel for candles (3) wax
17 People suffering loss are doing this (8) grieving
18 A non-Muslim (5) Kafir
19 The Son is one of these (6) aspect

Down

1 They stole Christmas (8) grinches
2 Mournful songs (8) elegiacs
4 Remain motionless and quiet (5) doggo
8 People given to finding faults (8) nigglers
10 Lamp heated with gas (8) gaslight
14 Third stomach (5) omasa

See you next week (27 January 2015) for the first crossword puzzle of 2015!