It’s been a while …

I last posted in March. Yes, March. I can’t believe it’s been so long but WordPress doesn’t lie. If you’ve been waiting in tenterhooks since my last post then:

  1. You need to find a hobby
  2. You also need to stop telling lies

So what have I been doing? Well, I’ve been spending time with my family (always a good thing), working (sometimes a good thing), and finishing something I should have finished a long time ago.

Yes, I’m very pleased to say that it won’t be long, maybe only a few weeks, before the third and final part of The Transcendence Trilogy is published. It has taken much longer than I thought it would but I’m very proud of the finished article and how it pulls the full trilogy together. When I first set out on this journey I had no idea it would end up with me writing about the same group of characters four years later. There have been many ups and downs, but mostly ups, and I’ve had an awful lot of support from many people, more of which I’ll go into in a later post.

Anyway, to celebrate its forthcoming release I thought I’d share with you something I’ve been keeping under wraps since January.

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What do you think? I love it and think it works really well with the other two books in the series but I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise you won’t have to wait until November until I answer!

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

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My recent promotion – the results

Two Covers

If you’re a regular follower of this blog you’ll know I ran a promotion over the weekend for both Second Chance and Absent Souls and I wanted to share my results with you.

Background

Outside of blogging and the rare promotional tweet, up until June this year I’ve rarely run a book promotion. Second Chance was published in January 2014 and has stayed in the minor charts on amazon.co.uk ever since. Its sequel, Absent Souls, was published November 2014. There is a third book due out later this year (if I pull my finger out).

I’ve been lucky that I’ve had success with both books on Amazon.co.uk but my efforts of getting noticed in the US have been virtually zero. This is bad news for my sales (the US is by far the largest single ebook market) but good news for testing promotional effectiveness.

I’m not intending to heavily promote my books until book 3 of the trilogy is finished but I wanted to test the effectiveness of different forms of advertising beforehand to see where to focus. I ran my first paid ad in June this year through Booksends, offering Second Chance for free. At the same time I put Absent Souls on a 99c/99p countdown deal. Over the three days Second Chance was downloaded 1000 times and I should enough copies of Absent Souls to cover my costs. While my sales on amazon.com since then have been flat, my pages read (both my books are in Kindle Unlimited) resulted in a higher income than before but were starting to tail off after two months.

The Goal

As in any business, your book promotion should have a goal. My goal was to increase awareness of my two books on Amazon.com, gain new mailing list subscribers and to cover the cost of advertising. I would also hope to see an increase (read: any) in sales and/or pages read over the following weeks.

Promotion Plan

Use the same offer, Second Chance for free and Absent Souls for 99c/99p over three days.

Day 1 – Promote only on my blog, a promotional post by the wonderful author Tammy Salyer, and one or two promotional tweets.

Day 2 – Two adverts placed, one with Ereader News Today (ENT) and the other with Robin Reads. I’d originally planned to promote only with ENT but I’d heard Robin Reads had a good UK following, and as they had a space free I thought I’d try them as well. The cost of both came to the same amount as the cost of the one promotion with Booksends.

Day 3 – No promotion other than the odd tweet.

The Results

IMG_3394Day 1228 downloads of Second Chance.

This was a surprise as I’d expected maybe 50 with so little promotion, so thank you to everybody who took the time to support the promotion with tweets, reblogs or by telling their friends.

Day 21830 downloads of Second Chance.

Because both mailing lists are US based, the first (Robin Reads) didn’t go out until 3pm UK time. I immediately noticed an upsurge of downloads at this point, from around 30 to over 300 by the time the ENT mailing went out at 5:30pm UK time. This is when things went crazy. By the end of the day I’d reached no.2 in the free science fiction/cyberpunk charts, no.8 in the science fiction charts and had broken into the overall top 100 at no. 65. This was well beyond my wildest expectations and a little surreal.

The down side was that I made hardly a ripple on amazon.co.uk, so either the information about Robin Reads was incorrect, or the majority had already bought my book. 🙂

Day 3385 downloads of Second Chance

Over the same period Absent Souls hit no. 13,000 in the overall paid charts, with total sales more than covering the costs of the promotion.

Conclusion

It’s always a little dangerous drawing conclusions from such little data, however it’s clear promoting on two mailing lists was more effective than one. I know this may sound like common sense but remember I paid the same amount of money for the June promotion and the one last weekend.

I also believe you need momentum for a successful promotion. The promotion in June met my goals but it only got Second Chance into the top 50 of the Science Fiction charts. Breaking into the top 10 of science fiction, and the top 100 overall, meant Second Chance was visible to a much larger audience, giving it a second chance (no pun intended) to be seen and downloaded by readers other than those on the mailing list.

For the longer term goals it’s too early to say. I know from Kevin Brennan’s blog earlier this year, that high free downloads doesn’t automatically mean higher sales, but even if I don’t reach this goal as yet, I’ve learnt another lesson on the effectiveness of different promotional options and strategies.

What about you? If you’re a writer, which promotional routes do you find most effective? Or if you’re an avid reader, have you signed up to any bargain book mailing lists and if so, which ones? I’d love to hear from you.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

Second Chance is #Free on #Kindle this weekend

Two Covers

I’m delighted to let you know that Second Chance, my near-future thriller is available as a FREE Ebook on Kindle from the 29th – 31st August. You can download it today by clicking on one of the links below.

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.com click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.co.uk click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.ca click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.com.au click here

 

And if that isn’t a good enough bargain, you can also buy the sequel, Absent Souls, for just 99p/99c from amazon.co.uk and amazon.com.

To buy Absent Souls for 99c from Amazon.com click here

To buy Absent Souls for 99p from Amazon.co.uk click here

Two great books for just 99p/99c. Happy Friday!

Praise for Second Chance

“Political intrigue, neuroscience, a missing-persons investigation – this well-written novel has it all.” – Carrie Rubin, author of The Seneca Scourge

“a highly entertaining and thought-provoking first novel” – Vaughan Stanger, author of Moondust Memories

“Overall I enjoyed this novel greatly. I recommend it to readers looking for an engaging science-fiction or political thriller.” – Dave Higgins, Davetopia Blog and author of Greenstar Season 1

“This is a slick, well written book with a strong storyline and plenty of narrative tension.” – Sarah J Higby – Brainfluff blog

Praise for Absent Souls

A pacy story with a cast of vividly drawn characters and plenty to keep the reader engaged.” – Julie Lawford, author of Singled Out

Thought-provoking, well-written and very enjoyable.” – Roughseasinthemed blog

“Absent Souls plunges the reader into the action from the first chapter, and the pace doesn’t let up. ” – Katrina Montfort, author of Future Perfect

KU pages read stats – a new obsession

reading-over-shoulder

image source: bookriot.com

When Amazon announced they were changing their Kindle Unlimited payment scheme from ‘flat rate per loan’ to a payment for each page read there was a lot of debate about its impact on publishing. One thing missed, however, was its impact on authors themselves, specifically being able to ‘see’ people read your work.

When Amazon KDP launched their new scheme they also launched a report allowing authors to see how many page reads were captured per day, and like KDP’s other reports, this one is updated on a regular (hourly?) basis. For many authors, especially those selling at reasonable volumes, the report will show the thousands or tens of thousands of pages read per day in a steady stream. For those of us with more modest sales, the experience is very different.

It took a couple of days before I received my first KU download under the new system. I’d seen the sales rank bump – because I monitor my sales more often than is healthy – and waited with excitement to see the pages read appear on the new report.

And waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened. Perhaps the report has a few teething problems, I thought, or the reader is finishing another book before starting on mine. I tried not to let the lack of activity bother me, but the lack of activity needled me more than I wished to admit. Then, on the second day, the graph had changed. It registered 51 pages read from the day before. Somebody was reading my book!

The most logical thing to do at this point would have been to close the report and get on with my life, but no, I had to know more. So I tried to work out the exact point they had read up to. The Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) for Second Chance is 524 pages. The print book has 305 pages so at roughly 1.72 KENPC per print page I deduced that the reader had stopped at page 30 or the start of chapter 5. I was thrilled, it’s the point where the multiple threads of the opening chapters start to pull together. They were clearly enjoying the story.

At the same time, another emotion surfaced, one I hadn’t expected. Most authors will recognise the emotional rollercoaster when somebody you know reads your book. On the one hand you’re desperate to find out if they like it but you know it’s bad form to ask – there’s nothing worse than a needy author badgering you for your thoughts on the mine of their book to put you off a story. So whenever you meet your friend you deliberately don’t mention the book but at the same time you hope they bring it up in conversation to satisfy your need for validation.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, watching somebody read my book remotely elicited similar emotions, but this time I had both more and less information to go on. I believed I knew exactly where they’d read up to but had no visual signals, no reassuring smile to comfort me. All I had was the data, so being a story-teller I built my own narrative. In my head they’d loved the book so far and couldn’t wait to read on.

The next day I registered a KENPC of four, the day after that eleven and then a big fat zero. I was mortified. What had gone wrong? My imagination went into overdrive. When I’d first published Second Chance, a number of friends mentioned that it took four or five chapters to get into the story and then boom, everything started to fit together and they were hooked. Yet this reader had got that far and stopped. Did that mean they hated what I’d written? Had they given up and moved onto another book? Had they found it – god forbid – boring? It was torture. What had started as a wonderful new experience to remotely bond with my audience had turned into ego death by a thousand cuts.

Before the new payment process was introduced, all I had to worry about was whether I sold (or rented out) a book or not. Clearly I wanted the reader to enjoy what they’d bought as I had another book for sale and a third on the way, but once a sale was registered, it was a sale. It was a small piece of success, a balm for my ego.

Not any more.

Now I had the agony of watching somebody dump my novel for something more interesting. It took me back to my youth, bringing back feelings of dating the most beautiful girl in high school only to lose them to the football team captain the very next day.*

I woke the next morning and immediately checked my report. I had a KENPC of 485. Woo hoo! The football team captain was clearly a jerk and she loved me all along. I knew it. I’d always had faith in the wonderful, anonymous reader. Doubts? Pah!

Since then my KENPC graph has taken along the look of the Himalayas, with high peaks of many hundreds of pages read to low troughs of none. And it makes sense. For a start, many people don’t read every day, and even if they do they may not necessarily connect their Kindle to the internet until they’re ready to download their next book, only then passing on the data of where they’ve read up to. At the same time I’ve picked up more KU downloads, so it’s become almost  impossible to build a narrative as I’ve no idea whether I’m seeing one person reading 300 pages or one hundred people reading 3 pages (actually, I know it’s not one hundred people at a time – I wish – but you get the point). The point is, my short-term obsession has waned, settling down to monitoring my KENPC score as often as I do my sales (which is still far too frequent than is healthy).

Although it’s early days, I’m finding the new KU payment scheme is much better for me than the old one. I’m only halfway through the month, have had similar downloads than previous months but have made over three times as much money (if the $o.oo6 per KENPC figure widely publicised is correct). I’ve no doubt things will change as the scheme settles down but for the moment I’m happy.

The best part, though, was seeing my first reader, having enjoyed Second Chance so much they’d read it in three days, move on to Absent Souls and do the same thing. At least, that’s the narrative I’ve built in my head and it’s one delusion I’m happy to maintain.

So what about you? Are any of your books in Kindle Unlimited and have you had similar experiences? What are your thoughts about authors being able to remotely look over your shoulder and see what you and other readers have read? I’d love to hear from you.

*This never actually happened in real life, but I’ve seen enough movies to empathise.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

Thank so much for your support

Two Covers

I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everybody who have been kind enough to support my promo weekend. I’ve been blown by the response. At the time of writing, Second Chance is the no.2 in the amazon.com free science fiction/cyberpunk charts (damn you Rationality Zero and your better sales!) and 318 overall. Also, Absent Souls has sold enough copies to virtually cover the cost of the promotion, which has been an unexpected bonus!

So thank you to everyone who has shared this blog, retweeted any of my promotional tweets, shared on Facebook, Instagram or any of the millions of other social networks out there. You are too many to mention individually but if we ever meet in real life, remind me I owe you a drink!

The promotion still has a couple of days to run, so don’t panic if you’ve yet to take part. You can buy/download the books on the following links.

Second Chance

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.com click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.co.uk click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.ca click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.com.au click here

 

Absent Souls

To buy Absent Souls for 99c from Amazon.com click here

To buy Absent Souls for 99p from Amazon.co.uk click here

Second Chance FREE! 12th-14th June

Two Covers

 

I’m thrilled to tell you that Second Chance is available as a FREE Ebook, direct from Amazon, from the 12th – 14th June. So what are you waiting for? You can download it today by clicking on one of the links below.

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.com click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.co.uk click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.ca click here

To get Second Chance FREE from Amazon.com.au click here

 

And if that isn’t a good enough bargain, you can also buy the sequel, Absent Souls, for just 99p/99c from amazon.co.uk and amazon.com.

To buy Absent Souls for 99c from Amazon.com click here

To buy Absent Souls for 99p from Amazon.co.uk click here

Two great books for just 99p/99c. Happy Friday!

Praise for Second Chance

“Political intrigue, neuroscience, a missing-persons investigation – this well-written novel has it all.” – Carrie Rubin, author of The Seneca Scourge

“a highly entertaining and thought-provoking first novel” – Vaughan Stanger, author of Moondust Memories

“Overall I enjoyed this novel greatly. I recommend it to readers looking for an engaging science-fiction or political thriller.” – Dave Higgins, Davetopia Blog and author of Greenstar Season 1

“This is a slick, well written book with a strong storyline and plenty of narrative tension.” – Sarah J Higby – Brainfluff blog

 

Praise for Absent Souls

A pacy story with a cast of vividly drawn characters and plenty to keep the reader engaged.” – Julie Lawford, author of Singled Out

Thought-provoking, well-written and very enjoyable.” – Roughseasinthemed blog

“Absent Souls plunges the reader into the action from the first chapter, and the pace doesn’t let up. ” – Katrina Montfort, author of Future Perfect

 

Promotion Warning

Two Covers

This is just a little heads up that I’ll be running a free ebook promotion on Second Chance and a 99p/99c offer on Absent Souls for a few days from Friday and may be posting and tweeting about it. For those of you who dislike author promotions, you may want to avoid my blog / twitter feed from Friday and through the weekend (although I promise not to overdo it. After that normal service will be resumed.

For the rest of you lovely readers, if you’d be willing to share or retweet my promotion when it starts I’d be eternally grateful, but if you’d prefer not to I won’t hold it against you.

Of course, for those of you who can’t wait that long, you could always sign up to my mailing list and get your choice of book absolutely free!

Love and hugs,

Dylan

Interview with Author Dylan Hearn

I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by the wonderful Sacha Black earlier this year. If you haven’t done so before, I highly recommend you visit Sacha’s blog, especially if you’re new to writing, as she has lots of helpful hints, tips and writing prompts, and is also very open about the ups and downs of the process.

Sacha Black

Dylan Hearn

Interview slots are now closed until September 1st, when I am opening the slots up for author book release and promotions (i.e. without the interview).

I had the pleasure of being recommended Second Chance by Geoff Le Pard, which is now sitting high up on my list of to read. I then stumbled across a particular post of Dylan’s, ‘You Know You’re A Writer When‘ and after a fit of giggles and eye rolling because I did most of the things on his list, I knew I wanted to interview him. You can find his blog here. I am delighted to present an interview with Dylan Hearn:

View original post 3,377 more words

Goodreads Giveaway: Second Chance and Absent Souls

dfw-dsh-1sc-cover-3d

To celebrate the publication of the new paperback edition of Second Chance, and the first paperback edition of Absent Souls, I’m running two Goodreads giveaways where you have the chance to win one of two signed copies of each book. The giveaway is open now midnight on StarWars day (May 4th). For more information, simply click on the links below. Best of luck!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Second Chance by Dylan S. Hearn

Second Chance

by Dylan S. Hearn

Giveaway ends May 04, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Absent Souls by Dylan S. Hearn

Absent Souls

by Dylan S. Hearn

Giveaway ends May 04, 2015. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

The bad, the good and the beautiful of the cover design process

In November I published Absent Souls as an ebook only. This wasn’t because I didn’t have a paperback ready but because I’d planned to have new covers for my books and it made no sense spending extra money on a paperback cover which would only be replaced in a few weeks. Or so I thought.

The need for change

When I first published Second Chance, I couldn’t afford to have a bespoke cover designed and I have the drawing skills of a three-year-old, so I used a pre-made cover service at goonwrite.com. I went on the site, chose a cover I liked, had my book title and author name added and published. If you are looking to publish on a budget, I would thoroughly recommend this approach.

After a couple of weeks I’d sold enough ebook copies to justify buying a paperback cover. It was more expensive, but many people had contacted me asking for a paperback so i knew it would eventually pay itself back.

While I love the cover for Second Chance, I realised quite early on that the combination of title and cover art wasn’t eye-catching enough to attract a reader’s attention, or to convey what the book was about. However, I needed to sell enough copies to justify the expenditure.

The bad

Nine months later and I was in a position to move. I’d done my research, identified a well-respected cover designer who was very busy but was taking on commissions from mid-December. I paid my 50% deposit, was sent a briefing document, completed it and was told it would be 10 working days before I received my first designs, so I happily waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I chased a couple of times, received apologies and the offer of a discount for my trouble, then six weeks after the work started, I received the first designs. They were good, not exactly what I wanted but they showed promise. I sent my feedback as requested and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I chased on numerous occasions but received no reply. Eventually I was forced to contact Paypal to get my money back, which the designer did quickly and with no complaint. I still have no idea what went wrong.

The good

It was now three months since the process had started, four months since Absent Souls was published and I was still no closer to having the new covers I needed. I started to research online once again and saw this post by Julie Stock, raving about the cover for her new book, From Here to Nashville. I looked up the site of her designers, Design for Writers, and liked what I saw. I contacted them and as luck would have it they were able to slot me in for mid-April.

I was clearly nervous after my last experience but I was soon put at my ease. the briefing process was so much more refined. I was asked questions about the book, the story, the lead characters, but also about how the book makes readers feel, the atmosphere it creates, the type of book covers I like and why, and those I don’t, along with many, many more. Where my answers weren’t clear, Andrew – the designer – asked pertinent questions to help me think about what I was looking for.

The team at Design for Writers use basecamp to manage their projects, so I had access to anything that was said at any time and knew exactly what was going on. There was interaction, and lots of it, and best of all Andrew positively encouraged ideas,  but was also not afraid to say when things wouldn’t work and why. I told them to design the covers I need, not necessarily what I wanted. Thankfully they delivered on both counts. If you are ever looking for cover designers, I couldn’t recommend Design for Writers enough.

The beautiful

So here is the end result. These are my beautiful new covers. For those of you who’ve read my books, hopefully what you see will correspond with what you’ve read (although please don’t give away any details).

dfw-dsh-1sc-cover-middfw-dsh-2as-cover-mid

 

The paperbacks for Second Chance and Absent Souls have been updated and are now available to purchase, the ebooks are in process of having their selling pages updated in the next day or so. I’ve also included the full paperback spreads below as I think they’re truly stunning.

dfw-dsh-1sc-cover-spread low res dfw-dsh-2as-cover-spread low res

 

So what do you think? Do you like my covers? If you’re a writer, how did you go about getting your covers designed? Was it a bad, good or beautiful experience? I’d love to hear from you.

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here.