Seeing “The Martian” Two Times in Three Days

The title of this post could have been “Self-published author hits it big thanks to Mars.”

I have seen this film twice and plan to see it again soon a third time, and when the DVD comes out, I’ll buy the film and also watch it at home. The first time I saw the film was on Friday, October 2, and the second time was Sunday, October 4, and I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Next, I plan to buy the book and read it. Hopefully, I’ll find it on CDs and listen to the audio version instead.

This is the first time in my 70 years of life that I’ve seen the same film twice at a theater. I have seen “The Lord of the Rings” three times but only once in a theater. The other two times, I watched it at home. I’ve also watched “Avatar” once in a theater and then again at home after I bought the DVD.

I’m an avid reader, who has read “The Lord of the Rings” three times and the entire Horatio Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester two times, and I am also a film addict who is easily entertained, but this is the first film that I want to watch repeatedly.

“The Martian” started out as a 2011 science fiction novel and the first published novel by American author Andy Weir. It was originally self-published in 2011. In March 2013, Twentieth Century Fox optioned the film rights.

Then in 2014, Crown Publishing purchased the rights to the novel and re-released it the same year. The story follows an American astronaut, Mark Watney, as he becomes stranded alone on Mars and must improvise in order to survive.  The Martian, a film adaptation, was directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.

Since I’ve seen the film and haven’t read the book—YET—I’m going to copy a few pull quotes from reviews that I agree with.

“A great movie! It’s exciting, emotional, it has great storytelling and most of all, it’s surprising!” –Edgardo Resendiz, Reforma

“This is science fiction for sophisticated audiences and, as such, a fulfilling and satisfying experience.” – James Berardinelli, Reel Views

“What’s so stirring about the film is that, before and after everything else, it truly is about being human” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“The Martian is fueled by charm, curiosity and the scientific method.” – Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

The Martian should do far more than just make Fox a ton of money; it could conceivably rekindle interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of future astronauts.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Superior to both Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and (by a smaller margin) Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity,” – Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

“Easily one of the most engrossing, enthralling and entertaining films of the year … In essence, The Martian is the antithesis of a superhero movie; instead of one man trying to save the world, it’s about the world trying to save one man.” – Jim Schembri, 3AW

I’d share my favorite scenes but there were too many and that would more than double the word count of this post. It is often rare for media critics and the audience to agree on anything, but on Rotten Tomatoes, “The Martian” has an approval rating of 93% for all of the critics and 94% for the audience. Heck, even a New York Times critic liked the film, and that’s a rare event for any film or book.

Manohla Dargis, the NY Times critic, starts out with, “A space western and a blissed-out cosmic high, ‘The Martian’ stars Matt Damon as an American astronaut who, like a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, learns to survive on his own island of despair. At once epic and intimate, it involves a dual journey into outer and inner space, a trip that takes you into that immensity called the universe and deep into the equally vast landscape of a single consciousness.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Promotion Graphic OCT 2015

Where to Buy

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Complexity of Belief vs the Reality of Racism – a review of “Go Set A Watchman”

Do you know what a devil’s advocate is? If you don’t, here it is: One who argues against a cause or position, not as a committed opponent but simply for the sake of argument or to determine the validity of the cause or position.

That’s what I think Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” was, a devil’s advocate written to add some reality to the complexity of racism in the United States that has become too much of a black and white issue when in reality there are many shades of color at work.

When the sequel of “To Kill A Mockingbird” came out, the first thing I read was one or more of the politically correct mobs lashing out when they condemned the book because of an early scene in the novel that depicts Atticus Finch as a racist, but I didn’t let that stop me from buying an audio version of the book on six CDs at Costco, and I’m glad I did because the story in this novel offers a brutal reminder that hot-button issues like abortion, school reform and racism can’t be dealt with in a 14-second politically correct sound bite by one side or the other. Reality is more complex then simple and often ignorant thinking.

After listening to the novel, Atticus Finch turns out to be a complex individual and I don’t think he was the kind of racist that fits the stereotype that so many love to hate. He didn’t belong to the KKK. He was not a white supremacist. In fact, Atticus didn’t even own one of those white cloaks with hoods that have holes cut out for the eyes and mouth.

Instead, before the end of the novel, we learn that Atticus might believe in separate but equal, but he would also be the first one to put his body between a fire-breathing racist lynch mob and an African American the mob wants to hang from the nearest tree, because it’s obvious Atticus still believes in justice and equality for every person but maybe not everyone’s definition of what that means. Right or wrong, I don’t think Atticus deserves to be condemned. Reserve that anger for those who bomb black churches, murder minorities for just having a different shade of skin and/or block the right of minorities to vote.

I taught “To Kill a Mockingbird” in high school, and I’ve seen the film a number of times, so I was ready to read about the characters who were 20+ years older, and I was not disappointed. The audio book is read by Reese Witherspoon, and Jean Louise Finch—Scout—reminds us that she was a child once when she takes readers on journeys back in time to when she was a child and then an adolescent becoming a young woman. I think Witherspoon’s voice is exactly what we would want Scout to sound like as a young woman in her twenties.

Instead of jumping blindly on the politically correct bandwagon that defines what racism is, read this book and do what it was designed for: weigh all the factors and think for yourself. Then judge individuals like Atticus on an individual basis and not a blanket indictment written by an often angry and mindless mob.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Give the guy a break for having sex at age 15, and then doing it repeatedly

Two reader reviews that were recently posted on the same day on Amazon for my first novel gave me the idea for this post, and then I couldn’t get it out of my head. That’s why I wrote the post—to get it out of my head.

The 15-year old mentioned in the title of this post I wrote about in my first novel, and he died more than a hundred years ago. He turned nineteen in 1854 soon after he arrived in China. The novel, “My Splendid Concubine”, covers Robert Hart’s first decade in China. He stayed in China until 1908, and died in England in 1911.

“Hart’s devotion to his work played havoc with his emotional life. As a young man, in spite of his Methodist conscience, he had bouts of promiscuity. In 1857 he took a Chinese concubine, Ayao, with whom he had three children and for whom he developed genuine affection and respect.” – Wiki

Anyway, in 1999 when I started researching the life of the main character of “My Splendid Concubine,” I read the surviving journals that Robert Hart didn’t burn later in his life, and what I read clearly revealed a nineteen year old who thought about women and sex a lot. In fact, the evidence suggests that he had sex with so many women starting at age 15—when he was in college in Belfast, Ireland—that he ended up being treated for an STD, and when that news reached his father and family, it’s what propelled him to escape to China and into the arms of Chinese women.

The women he lusted after and had sex with during his early years in China were part of Robert Hart’s life, and I made a decision while writing the rough draft of that historical fiction novel that I was going to be true to who he really was and not write a sanitized version like the one his niece Juliet Bredon published in 1913. Click on the previous link, and you may download Bredon’s book and read it for free from Gutenberg.org.

Here are the two reviews that gave me the idea for this post. They were posted on Amazon on July 20, 2015 for “My Splendid Concubine”.

1-Star: Rita Schwartz wrote, “If all you want to read is about sex, this book might be for you. Again the description of the book made this sound like a historical novel. Maybe it was, I only got about three chapters read.”

5-star: Robyn Johnson said, “I couldn’t put it down. Memorizing! What a surprise and delight. One of the best books I have read in years! I usually never read a book twice, this one I will make the exception! I think it is a must read!”

In conclusion, maybe the book is fortunate that more readers enjoyed the story than those who did not. For instance, on July 21, 2015 at 3 PM, “My Splendid Concubine” had 192 customer reviews—182 were listed as verified purchases. One-hundred-and-eighteen of the reviews had 5-stars and eight of those were not verified purchases, 39 were 4-star (all verified purchases), 20 were 3-stars (all verified purchases), 9 were 2-stars (one was not a verified purchase), and 6 were 1-star (one was not a verified purchase).

When you are about 10k – 15k words away from finishing the rough draft of your next novel, “The Last Sorcerer”, you should be working on that instead of writing a post comparing two recent reviews for your first book, but it’s all about lust and sex so that should make this post okay, I think.

Book One on July 20 - 2015_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Giving away a Concubine 38,892 times in 16 days—Was it worth it?

UPDATE on July 25, 2015

It’s been more than a month since the BookBub ad ran on June 11th when “My Splendid Concubine” had only 117 reader reviews. This morning there were 204 reader reviews on Amazon.com, and all but one of them was a verified purchase. Most of the new reviews have been 5-stars. The 1-star that was not a verified purchase alleged the book was kiddie porn after most of the review praised the writing and the story. Regardless of the alleged opinion of that one review that was not a verified purchase, the book is not kiddie porn. The reviewer based her claim on the fact that in 1855, Robert Hart, who was still 19 had sex with a concubine who was age 14—in a country with no laws that restricted sex with an adolescent female who had reached puberty under the age of 18. In fact, in the 19th century women in China (and even in the United States) of almost any age were considered the property of men to be bought and sold.That practice didn’t end until 1949 in China, but by then Robert Hart would have been dead for almost fifty years.

Do we condemn a man and the book that is based on his life in the mid 19th century for doing something every man could do legally based on today’s laws in the United States?

Paid purchases are up slightly compared to where they are on those months when I am not promoting the book running ads. Before the ad ran and the giveaway ended, the book was getting about one or two reviews a month. In July there have been days when eight reviews appeared in one day. Paid sales are not dramatic but they have increased and sales are up from almost nothing for my other three titles.

— Original Post —

This is about the almost 8-year long journey before I offered my Concubine FREE for 16 days in the United States, Canada, Australia, India and the United Kingdom (free copies were downloaded in all five countries) between May 29 – June 13, 2015, and it wasn’t an easy decision to make—to give away a novel that took more than a decade to research (with an emphasis on research), write, revise, edit, revise and edit again several times. A lot of time and work went into writing Robert Hart’s story set in 19th century China.

To be clear, My Splendid Concubine is not a woman, and this post is about what happened when the novel was offered for free for the first time in tandem with a BookBub advertisement. Concubine is a historical fiction novel based on the real life of an Irishman who went to China in 1854 when he was age 19.

I started writing this novel in 1999 when I was dating Anchee. We dated for several months and were married December 1999. When we were dating, before we got married, she was working on her fifth novel, “Empress Orchid”, and she mentioned an Irishman named Robert Hart, who had worked for the Qing Dynasty until 1908—for about 50 years.

The first edition of “My Splendid Concubine” (December 2007) was followed by the sequel, “Our Hart”, in 2010.  Then in April 2013, I combined the prequel and sequel in the 3rd edition of “My Splendid Concubine” and stopped publishing the first two. By then, all of the editions had sold a combined 12,000 copies.

  • 221 in 2008
  • 341 in 2009
  • 2,375 in 2010
  • 4,641 in 2011
  • 4,158 in 2012
  • 5,044 in 2013
  • 4,192 in 2014, and about 300 copies sold over the first five months of 2015

In early 2013, sales started to slip after the 3rd edition came out, so I submitted My Splendid Concubine to BookBub, and the historical fiction novel was accepted for a $0.99 sale that ran on June 16, 2013. By the time that first ever $0.99 sale came to an end, about 2,900 copies had been sold—at the time that represented 22% of total sales since the 1st edition had been published in 12-2007.

Concubine was submitted to Book Bub again in 2014 and was accepted for another $0.99 sale in June of that year. This time, Concubine sold more than 3,000 copies at the reduced price, and the novel picked up a review from:

251 Positive Reviews on Amazon

In 2015, I submitted Concubine to BookBub for another $0.99 sale, and they rejected it. I submitted another one of my books for a $0.99 sale, and they rejected that one too.

In April, I ran the $0.99 sale for Concubine anyway and advertised through several sites instead of BookBub: The Fussy Librarian, The Choosy Bookworm, and eReaderNewsToday — 177 copies sold, and that represented about 46% of the total sales of all four of my titles for the first five months of 2015.

Then I resubmitted Concubine a 2nd time to BookBub in early May, but set the offer for FREE, and BookBub said yes and scheduled the date for their ad to run on June 11.

This was the first time I’d offer one of my books FREE, and it isn’t as if I didn’t know that this was a viable method to market books and reach more readers.  I’ve read about the success other authors have had offering at least one of their titles for free, and I understand that it works best for the first book in a series, but I didn’t have a series (I #AmWriting a five-book series now, and I plan to publish the first one in about a year and maybe sooner).

The idea behind offering a book for free is to generate word-of-mouth for an author’s work, but, as long as my work was selling several thousand copies annually, I was reluctant to make that decision—until the sales fell off a cliff from a four-year (2011-2014) monthly average of 385 copies a month to an average of 81 a month for the first half of 2015.

When I heard back from BookBub that Concubine had been accepted for a free ad, I let a group of authors that I belong to at Historical Fiction eBooks know—we share information and support each other—and I was advised to start lowering the price immediately, because Amazon doesn’t make it easy to set a price to FREE. I was told that Concubine would have to appear FREE on Barnes & Noble and iTunes before Amazon would match the price.

I logged on to my Draft2Digital account and submitted the price changes the same day, and Draft2Digital submitted the changes to: B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, and inktera, and it took about three days for all the prices to change.  That was when I logged in to my Amazon kdp account, scrolled down to Contact and left a request for a price match with links to B&N and iTunes.

Once Amazon dropped the price to free on 5-30, I attached the following image to a Tweet and penned it to the top of my Twitter page. During the next 16 days, I swapped that Tweet out and penned a fresh one several times a day for my more than 12k Twitter followers to Retweet. I have no idea how many times that Tweet appeared on Twitter, but I think it was probably hundreds and maybe even thousands of times.

251 Hall of Fame Positive Reviews on Amazon.jpg

I also paid eBookBooster $35 to submit Concubine to 45+ sites that advertised free books for free. I only know of five that announced the free offer: FreeBooksAndMore.com on June 5; bestebooksfree.com on June 7; Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books on June 9; Booklover’s Heaven on June 10; and eBookDaily on June 12.

On May 30, the first day after Concubine was listed free on Amazon and the other virtual retail book stores, 1,038 copies were downloaded. Another 1,151 were downloaded on May 31 followed by 291 on June 1st. Then the number of downloads started to drop—77 on June 3 – fifty-nine on June 4 – forty-three on June 5 – thirty-four on June 6 – thirty-two on June 7 – twenty-six on June 8 – Forty-Five on June 9 ( the day Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books ran its free ad), and nineteen on June 10.

Amazon Sales Chart on June 11

Then on June 11th, the BookBub ad appeared early in the morning, and 21,791 copies were downloaded for free on Amazon that day. On June 12, another 3,813 were downloaded followed by 1,412 on June 13.  An additional 7,573 copies were downloaded through Draft2Digital, but there may be more to come (D2D has to wait on the retailers to report sales. For instance, 4,730 free downloads were not reported until June 18 and those were only from iTunes and Barnes & Noble so there may be more to come when the remaining retailers report in.).

Draft2Digital Sales Chart

By the time I submitted the price change for “My Splendid Concubine” from FREE back to $3.99 early in the morning on June 14, 33,703 copies had been downloaded for free for a book that in almost 8 years had only sold 20,895 copies. Concubine also made it to #5 free in the Kindle store for the Top 100 List.

Number 5 in Top 100

Since June 11—the day the BookBub ad ran early in the morning—to June 18th, Concubine picked up 8 new Amazon reviews marked as a Verified Purchase: seven 5-stars and one 4-star. Before the sale, Concubine was picking up about 1 or 2 reviews a month.

What about sales after the price returned to $3.99? Concubine has sold 22 copies, Crazy is Normal sold one, Running with the Enemy sold four, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova sold two. In May, all four books only sold 30 copies, but so far for June, forty-four have been sold with twelve days left before the end of the month.

Do you think giving away almost 40,000 FREE copies and paying more than $300 for the BookBub ad was worth it?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Is it wrong to pay an entry fee to a literary contest?

Back in April 2012, a critic wrote this comment for one of my blog posts: “It’s quite an accomplishment to boast of winning book contests that one pays to enter. It’s like bragging about charming a lady of the evening onto her back.”

My response—would it surprise you to discover that there is an entry fee for the two most prestigious literary awards in the United States: $50.00 for the The Pulitzer Prizes, and $135.00 for the National Book Awards? If you don’t believe that, click the links and read the evidence.

In addition, Poets & Writers Magazine lists many reputable literary contests that charge fees, and for decades I paid the fees and entered some of those contests often not placing, and the literary contests that I did place in are not listed on Winning Writers.com’s list of Contests and Services to Avoid.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

I have also entered Writer’s Digest’s literary contests several times and the fee is $100 each time.  I have never placed, but with that $100 fee comes a judge’s detailed commentary and score that authors may quote for promotional purposes—that is if the judge says anything nice about the book. There is no guarantee.

What counts is not the fee but if the contest is juried. There is nothing wrong with a literary contest that charges a fee that goes toward the costs of running the contest and a cash prize for the grand prize winners.

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Every literary contest does not have a foundation or grant to pay the costs of running a literary contest. In fact, Writer Beware says, “Is the contest free? If so, you probably have nothing to lose by entering—though be sure to read the fine print. If you’re a poet, be aware that a ‘free’ contest is one of the major warning signs of a vanity anthology scheme.”

Many legitimate contests charge a fee to cover processing expenses (which sometimes include an honorarium to readers) and to fund the prize.” Source: Writer Beware ® Blogs!

Poets and authors enter reputable contests to establish the fact that what they write might be worth reading.

For use on Twitter Created January 29 - 2015

And when poets and authors place in a reputable, unbiased literary contest, they should publicist it, because if they don’t, who will? Published authors and poets are responsible to promote their own work, and if they are traditionally published, the publisher still expects the writers to promote their own work and build an online author platform.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

 ON SALE - Cover with Blurbs

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Twitter Hash Tag Magic for Authors and Bloggers—You Decide

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday every week, I join several hash tag groups on Twitter, and we support each other by Retweeting each other’s Tweets that might lead readers to view our blog posts, and if we are authors—not all of us are—our blogs support our books by attracting readers who might buy one or more of our books after reading a few free blog posts.

#ArchiveDay is on Saturday; then there is #SundayBlogShare, and last #MondayBlogs. Out of curiosity I wanted to see if my books sold more copies on those days than the rest of the month, so I went back and compared the sales numbers for January, February, March and April.

January through April covers 151 days, and Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays took up 47 of those days or 31.1% of the total. During that four month period, my books sold 325 copies or an average of 2.1 a day.

During the Twitter hash tag days with #ArchiveDay, #SundayBlogShare and #MondayBlogs, my books sold 132 copies or 40.6% of the total for almost 3 a day.

To break it down further:

  • There were 17 #ArchiveDays, and 35 books sold for an average of 2 a day.
  • There were 15 #SundayBlogShare days, and 44 books sold for an average of 3 a day.
  • There were 15 #MondayBlogs days, and 53 books sold for an average of 3.5 a day.

How about Blog traffic?
Were there more views on the three hash tag days?

Only April was available for daily totals. To be fair, Saturdays have always been slow for views even before I joined the three hash tag groups. It would be interesting to see what would happen if #ArchiveDay was on a Tuesday or Wednesday. In fact, Fridays, Saturdays and national holidays (for instance, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the early weeks of the summer when kids are out of school and many families take off on vacation) is almost always lower in view counts compared to the rest of the week or year, and I think the reason #ArchiveDay on Saturday still hit the monthly average in book sales instead of ending up lower says a lot.

Lloyd Lofthouse.org had a total of 4,267 views that arrived from Twitter; 15,064 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 355 Posts by May 7, 2015

  • April total/daily average = 1,306/44
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 159/39.7 (90.2% of daily average)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 193/48.2 (109.5%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 307/76.7 (174.3%)

Crazy Normal – the classroom expose had a total of 2,549 views that arrived from Twitter; 17,727 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 775 Posts by May 7, 2015.

  • April total/daily average = 2,174/72
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 272/67 (93%)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 343/85.7 (119%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 315/78.7 (109.3%)

iLookChina.net had a total of 1,293 views that have arrived from Twitter; 313,563 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 2,010 Posts by May 7, 2015.

  • April total/daily average = 9,341/311
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 913/228.2 (73.3%)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 1,131/282.7 (90.9%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 1,469/367.2 (118%)

The Soulful Veteran had a total of 556 views that have arrived from Twitter; 8,402 from search engines, and the Blog had a total of 212 Posts by May 7, 2015.

  • April total/daily average = 771/26
  • #ArchiveDay—April total/daily average = 272/67 (257.6%)
  • #SundayBlogShare—April total/daily average = 343/85.7 (329.1%)
  • #MondayBlogs—April total/daily average = 315/78.7 (302.6%)

In conclusion, I think the results show that on the three hash tag days, on average, there was more traffic to my blogs and more book sales—especially for The Soulful Veteran blog where views increased dramatically by more than 250 percent, and this blog has a very poor search engine rank when compared to my other three sites through Alexa. I think it’s safe to say that increased traffic coming from Twitter on hash tag days also increased book sales—at least for Sundays and especially Mondays.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

ON SALE - Cover with Blurbs

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Promoting the Same Book for Seven Years—info for authors

First—a brief history of my first novel (I’ve published four so far and have started a fifth that I plan to turn into a series).

I started researching and writing “My Splendid Concubine” in 1999 (total copies sold to date are almost 21,000).  During that time, we visited China nine or ten times and traveled extensively throughout that country doing research. Concubine, after a stack of printed revisions almost as tall as I am—I was six-foot-four but as we age, we shrink—the novel’s 1st edition came out in December 2007, and it sold 562 copies in its first two years. In 2010, the novel went through more editing and revisions, and then the 2nd edition came out with a new cover. Between 2010 and 2013, the 2nd edition sold more than 11-thousand copies. The 3rd edition, after more editing, revisions and another new cover, came out in 2013 and has sold more than 9-thousand additional copies and is still selling.

During those seven years, Concubine was promoted in several local brick-and-mortar book store author events, through thirty-one traditional talk radio shows where I was a guest expert on China, and three book blog tours in addition to two BookBub ad campaigns: one in 2013 and another in 2014.

What follows is a brief report of the most recent $0.99 promotion of My Splendid Concubine from April 13 – April 19, 2015.  When that promotion ended, I submitted a price increase from $0.99 back to $3.99, but as I’m writing this post, I see that Amazon has kept the price at $0.99—and it has now been more than five days since the official promotion ended.

Starting Sunday, 4/12, I pinned—after I made sure that price had been dropped by Amazon and Draft2Digital—a Tweet promoting the sale to the top of my Twitter page and tweeted fresh tweets to support the sale several times a day in addition to the pinned tweet that was always there.

To discover how to pin a Tweet to the top of your Twitter page so that it’s what everyone sees first when they visit, I’ve included this video from YouTube that explains how to do it.

When I checked my Twitter Analytics page (I’m not sure you can open this link), it turns out that the Tweet that promoted the sale (the pinned tweet) was the Top Tweet for the last 20 days with 4,178 impressions (number of times users saw the Tweet on Twitter—I have no idea how they measure that). Using Twitter analytic, I learned that the same pinned Tweet was Retweeted 54x, the image was clicked on 7x and the link that led to Amazon was clicked 5x, and that was just the pinned Tweet.

I have no idea how many times all of the other promotional tweets were seen. For instance, I found one of the same Tweets that was not the pinned version, and it was viewed 904x and engaged 23x. Engaged means the number of times a user has interacted with a Tweet, and I probably posted the same Tweet three to five times a day during the sale.

But what about the four ads I ran with The Fussy Librarian, Choosy BookwormeReaderNewsToday and Riffle?

The price drop to $0.99 was submitted on 4/11. Note: Seven copies sold for the full price at $3.99 between 4/1 through 4/4.  No copies sold between 7/5 – 7/10.

Sales by Date During the Promotion

  • 4/11 – 2
  • 4/12 – 20
  • 4/13 – 29 (two ads ran: The Fussy Librarian and The Choosy Bookworm)
  • 4/14 – 50 (one ad ran: eReaderNews Today)
  • 4/15 – 14
  • 4/16 – 13 (I think the ad from Riffle ran—a site with a high Alexa rank in Canada—but there were no sales from Canada during the promotion, and I’m not sure if the ad ran the day it was scheduled, because I never saw it even though I searched.)
  • 4/17 – 3
  • 4/18 – 3
  • 4/19 – 3
  • 4/20 – 1 (I submitted the price change from $0.99 to $3.99 at 7:30 AM)

During the same time span as the Concubine promotion, my other three books sold 12 copies at the full price of $3.99.

The result: More than 160 copies have sold so far in April for all four of my books—but most of the sales were for “My Splendid Concubine”. The total number of sales for January, February and March were 148 or an average of 49 copies a month. I think that an increase of sales of more than 326% for April was a success.

 
I think exposure is more important than profit. If the work is worth reading, the exposure might lead to those profits in the future.

For instance, Amanda Hocking didn’t earn much money or sell many books for her first eight years as an indie author, and then her sales went viral making her an internationally known author and a millionaire.  For those eight years, Hocking worked part time jobs for poverty wages, and lived at home with her mother who nagged her relentlessly to get a real job that would support her. Hocking said she worked really hard developing her social media platform. I wonder if her mother is nagging her today.

In May and June, my 4th book, The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova, will be going on a book Blog Tour with a $0.99 price drop from $3.99 in addition to plans to run ads on several sites, for instance, BookBub (if the ad request is accepted), Fussy Librarian, and eReaderNewsToday.

UPDATE August 11, 2018

For a little more than a year now, I’ve been experimenting with Amazon ads and learning what works. The focus is on “My Splendid Concubine” because it has the most reviews, three hundred and twelve with 251 four-and-five stars. Amazon has run more than 800k impressions resulting in 4,169 clicks (as of today) since the start of the campaign.  The cost of the clicks so far is $1,167.47 offset by $1,059.31 in royalties from the 380 sales that Amazon has linked to the clicks, but that number is misleading because of sales not related to the clicks from the ad impressions. Total sales are closer to 600 resulting in more than $1,600 in royalties. My guess is that readers that clicked the ad, bought the book, and liked it enough, talked to other readers who bought the book without clicking on one of the ads.

At 5:27 PM today, “My Splendid Concubine” was ranked #15,082 Paid in the Kindle Store and #11 for its specific genre.  Sales for the e-book for August broke 100 copies this morning with twenty days to go before August ends.  I plan to write a blog post about what I’m learning. I just checked and there have been another ten sales so far today.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

 Covers for first 3 novels

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