Ashes of Deceit Blog Tour + Giveaway

I’m feeling pretty lucky today. I haven’t been eaten by vampires. If you want to stay safe also, I suggest you check out 101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire. Best of all Joleene Naylor is here to share some wisdom with us as she celebrates her new release!


The Power of the Freebie

First I would like to thank Reena for hosting me and my giveaway (see details at the end of this post) on the eighth stop of the blog tour celebrating the release of my newest book in the Amaranthine series, Ashes of Deceit. Reena is a not only a sweet heart but a wonderful author (check out her books if you haven’t before!)

Most of the stops on this tour have been geared towards readers, but today’s is more for fellow indie writers. Writers are always looking for promotion ideas. I’ve seen suggestions that range from the practical to the bizarre and back again and, while I am not a million book selling author, I am clearing a couple hundred sales a month. I’ve tried many of the suggestions – a facebook author page, twitter, blogs, blog hops, blog tours (though this is my first), free ebooks etc. etc. But the one that seems to work the best for me are my Vampire Morsels.

Since I write a series, I have a “universe” rich in side characters and bit players. The vampire morsels are short stories (between 3,000 – 5,000 words) about some of those side characters, which I then upload to Smashwords (and through them Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc) as freebies – but not to Amazon because they don’t support free without hassle– and I’m fairly certain this is why I sell more books on Barnes and Noble than I do Amazon. In fact, I’ve gotten emails from readers stating that they read the free stories first and liked them so much that they went on to buy the novels – which aren’t free.

Why does this work better than, say, giving away book 1 in the series for free? It seems that there are different mindsets about what is worth money and what isn’t among readers who download freebies. As with any kind of marketing, different tactics work on different groups. For the sake of simplicity, I am breaking it up into three categories. (Like anything this is not written in stone and does not apply to everyone or every situation).

The Free Hoarder: I am one of these. I used to download a lot of free ebooks – in fact every free ebook someone sent me a link to – but truth is I rarely got to them (and still haven’t) because I’d usually rather read that book I paid for – after all, I wouldn’t have paid for it if I didn’t REALLY want it (yeah, I’m a cheapskate.) and now, let’s face it, with Amazon’s KDP select promo weeks, there are free, full length ebooks EVERYWHERE, not to mention those that were free to begin with. So you give away a hundred free books, but how many of those actually get read?

The Why-Should-I-Pay-if-It’s-Free?: As I mentioned above, there are a LOT of free ebooks, so even if someone reads all the free books they download, you now have to deal with “assigned worth.” Everything – housing, food, clothing, books – are only worth what someone is willing to pay, and with a glut of freebies, some readers don’t see the point in paying. “Why buy when you can have another one for free”? Sadly, it is an economically sound idea. So, unless your book REALLY strikes a chord with this reader, chances are that, even if they liked it, they will simply download another free book by another author rather than buy your other books.

The Some-Things-Are Worth-It Reader: People have long given little worth to the short story (despite the fact that it is often harder to write!) One complaint I see on reviews of paid short stories is that readers are “angry that I paid for this! It’s not even a full book!” Which means that, in these readers’ minds, a full book is worth money, but a short story isn’t. So, while they don’t want to pay for your short story (heck, you can find those on blogs nowadays!) if this reader likes the free short story, they’re more likely to buy the full length book because they believe that the full length book has a monetary value.

The question is, what group do you want to cater to? That depends on your goals. Ruth Ann Nordin made an amazing start for herself with free full length books – which later led to headaches and complications when she wanted money because she was no longer targeting the I-Want-It-Free-group – where she’d built up a huge fan base – but was suddenly targeting the I-Will-Pay-For-It group and the I-want-it-Free readers only sometimes turn into the Here’s-My-Money kind of readers.

If the short story is long enough, it will give readers a taste of your style, and if you can make it tie into your newest book, even better, but I don’t think it’s necessary. While I’ve had readers say they were “curious about the characters” and so went on to the full length books, most just say “I liked your style/sense of humor/etc.”.

That’s not to say that as a romance author you should promote your books with sci-fi stories because while they like your style, they also like the genre of short story or else they wouldn’t have read it. My Amaranthine series has sex, violence, and romance in it (heck, there’s even a bit of a murder mystery in Ashes of Deceit) and so I have tried to come up with short stories that reflect these various “topics”, if you will, because a reader who did not get what they expected is very often an unhappy reader. And unhappy readers leave unhappy reviews.

And if you get enough of those, all the free promos in the world won’t save your book.

And now for the giveaway!

(Yes, I recognize the irony of this, but I’m counting on you to be that reader who breaks out of the mold and goes on to love the rest of the series!) One lucky commenter will receive a coupon code for a free ebook from Smashwords. Since this is a series, the winner may choose which of the books they would like to receive:

Book 1: Shades of Gray – Katelina’s “friend-with-benefits” is murdered for stealing something from a coven of vampires. Hunted as an accomplice, she must rely on Jorick to survive. But what happens when her knight in shining armor turns out to be one of the monsters?

Book 2: Legacy of Ghosts – For Katelina and Jorick, peace is hard to come by. Kateesha plans to fight the same battle as Jorick’s fledgling, but a common enemy isn’t enough to overcome previous betrayals. Drawn into a deathly conflict, Jorick and Katelina must overcome old regrets, or lose their future to the ghosts of their past.

Book 3: Ties of Blood – A trip to Katelina’s home starts a chain reaction; she and Jorick meet Verchiel, a too friendly vampire, then the police arrest Jorick for kidnapping. Worse, The Guild wants to question them. Will Malick, the head of the vampires, punish them? Or will the mysterious vampire following them do the job first?

Book 4: Ashes of Deceit – Katelina and Jorick must rescue a captured vampire and discover who kidnapped him and why. The truth isn’t easy to find. As Oren’s attack on the Guild draws closer, Jorick and Katelina are led back to the Citadel. When the flames of war ignite, can they rise from the ashes, or will they be consumed?

Follow the tour for more chances to win!

(here’s the link to my blog post with the dates/links to other posts – )

You can find more of Joleene Naylor and her vampires at her website: or check out her blog at or her facebook page at

0 thoughts on “Ashes of Deceit Blog Tour + Giveaway

  1. Interesting…I have to admit, I have a LOT of freebies on my Kindle, but I also tend to BUY books, from these same authors, if I like their work enough. I think it’s a tightrope walk. You don’t want to literally sell yourself short, but as an Indie, you still need to get your name out there. Great post!

  2. I totally agree, Jull… when it comes to freebies, it is a balancing act. If no one knows you exist, it’s rather difficult to develop to an audience. Yet at the same time, writers want the freebies to mean something, know their works are doing more than taking up space, that someone took the time to read it.

    Personally, I love giving out review copies and wished more individuals would ask me for them. I’m going to go on a limb and speak for authors in general (particularly indie authors). I think it’s a thrill to have someone take interest in an author’s work so much, they not only put a personal request, but also offer to review it… spread the word to others if they like the work in the end. Like most people, authors like praise. 🙂

    I’ll be honest, it always surprises me when review bloggers enter one of my giveaways. I wonder, why not just ask for a review copy. haha Cause I tell you one thing, it’s a LOT of work scouring for reviewers.

    Give it a try. Ask one of your favorite indie authors for a review copy in exchange for a review.

  3. Pingback: Blog Tour – Day Eight « Amaranthine Night

  4. I like freebies who doesnt. However i find if you give the first free to me and i like it i will pay whatever for the rest of the series, but i dont care much for the free trail like one chapter of a book…usually takes more to get me convienced i should buy.

  5. First want to say that this is an amazing site, full of visual interest and groaning with tempting content. Having followed Joleene’s blog tour this is by far the most impressive technically, and some of the others are pretty ok.

    Now – Jo your comments are very much appreciated. I am not sure how much I can take them up, or if it’s worth it. But I put out four e-books just over a year ago, and have since added a fifth, just hoping to get some net chat that would have a ripple effect and bring me to the notice of readers oh so starved for the kind of thing I write (erotic intellectual thrillers – yeah, I know). They came in droves. No, they didn’t come in droves. They came hardly at all, despite having really good covers.

    So just lately I have feebly tried to promote my books a bit. I’ve joined goodreads which has an “author programme”* and have just started a blog there, which one entire person, uncut and unexpurgated, has read. And I’ve cut the price of my books from US$4.99 to US$1.99 on the advice of some one who is pretty cool. And have sold a book!

    But there is a lot more to this I think. I’m going to make a copy of this post and think about it. I am not sure I have the spiritual power to do all the things Joleene does, but if I have to, I will. The idea of writing short portraits of my characters is a good one I think right now – it’s a discipline if nothing else – but maybe I won’t think so tomorrow.

    Anyway thank you very much for this Jo it is as always from you enlightening.

    Go well.

    * I live in NZ, which uses kind of English spelling and punctuation.

  6. Pingback: My First Blog Tour :) « Amaranthine Night

  7. Exactly, Reena! If someone asked me for a review copy I’d ship it them with gift wrap (well, e-gift wrap 😉 ) I know I wish I had more time to read and review!

  8. I like a free book or ebook I only get the ones I will read however sometimes I well get something I don’t normally read just for a change. When I find a author I really like I usually try to buy all her/his books.
    crystaley73 at yahoo dot com

  9. Thank you, Steve.

    I know you’ve heard it before, but there’s something to say about patience. 🙂 If you just started a blog, it might take a bit of time to get a readership. For a quick boost–just to get your blog on the radar–you might try joining a giveaway hop. Hops happen every month. For example, Labor Day (US holiday) is coming in September. Holidays are big times for hops. A simple search like “Labor Day Blog Hop Giveaway” would probable yield results.

    Once readers arrive, it’s up to you to find ways to get them to return. If you feature authors, some like Joleene, bring their readers with them. Again, it’s up to you to find ways to get them to return for other features.

    Anyway, try not to be discouraged. It sounds like you still have a lot of resources you’ve not tapped into.

  10. I’m a freebie hoarder. In fact, I’m on 3-4 newsletters which send me freebie alerts. What’s sad is I know I’ll probably only read a fraction of a percent of the books I pick up. The ones I plan to read for sure usually end up on my up-next list. Others, I don’t even know what I’m thinking when I download them.

    I’m that hoarder reader whom authors frown upon. haha Shame on me.

    The books I do get around to and like, I often put the next in the series on my reading list. Depending on how much I like the prior book determines if I purchase the next book immediately or not. I do find new faves through freebies, but it’s rare since I don’t get around to reading most books I pick up.

  11. Thank you for the advice, Reena. It is much appreciated. While I struggle personfully both to adapt to and use the er “new media” I am pretty hopeless at it. Still, I have learned a mountain of stuff in the last year and while all this has really done is to reveal the gargantuan mountain range behind the mountain I just climbed, it does give me hope.

    You really seem to have it all together, and that is nice to see.

    Go well.

  12. Loved this post. It’s interesting to see what works and what’s maybe overused.
    As for me, I’ve cut wayyyyy back on the free books. I have tons I still haven’t read.

  13. Feel uneasy about the freebies from what has been said here. Indeed, I’ve cut back on the percentage of free reading for my books. Smashers recommends 20 per cent but I just reckon, if people’re not taken enough to buy sooner than that they’re not going to be. In a bookshop – one of those real ones you see occasionally especially in big cities – people don’t read more than a few pages, and often not even that. They buy for other reasons. So I stripped my free percentages back, and will strip them back further soon in a er o gosh planned strategy. And according to me I need to beef up the o my ancillaries that get people to buy in shops, the blurbs and pull-quotes etc. I think I’ve left these too weak. Have great covers so that’s not a prob.

    Meanwhile I have never given away a book. Decided early on I would not give them to friends except as test readers before publication – the friends I have who’ve written books have not given them to me, and I didn’t expect them to do that. They would want me to buy, and I have. So if I’m giving them away it’s the way people say to do it here – as prizes or in lightning raids (“log in between Friday at 3 am and Friday at 6 am and get a free copy!”). But will work this out.

  14. @Juli & Syeve – I don’t want to say free is a bad idea, it just depends on what your strategies are,. I have experimented a lot with it over the years. When I had only Shades of Gray out I gave away 88 free ebooks to “get my name out there” but, because there were no more books for anyone to buy – this did pretty much zero and got me no reviews and my sales dropped for three months afterwards (I sold 13 that march but only 8 in April, 7 in May etc.) . after Legacy of Ghosts came out I did another promo in december and gave away 132 of SoG, which again netted no reviews (there was a sales leap earlier that month because I joined the Indie Author’s group and we did a bunch of cross promotions, so I sold 70 but only 10 of those were after the free give away) and LoG saw 22 sales (11 of which were after the giveaway but hard to judge if they were purchasers who’d just finished reading or freebie downloaders). in 2011 I gave away no free books, did almost no promotion, but started publishing the vampire morsels and the 101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire went free on Amazon. with three other books for people to buy, these both helped and I had a jump in sales (the month 101 tips went free I gave away 11,632 of it on Amazon alone and sales went from 51 to 281 of Shades of Gray and 123 of LoG (most of this was in the first week). sales dropped back off and stayed between 40 – 80 for SoG for the rest of 2011, with Log selling just over 50% of what SoG did 9aka just over half of the people who bought SoG went on to the next book) Meanwhile, in jan of 2011 I sold 1 book on B&N (5 in feb). I published the first morsel in march and sold 20 books that month. By September I was selling more books on B&N than I was on Amazon because of the freebies (I don’t put them on amazon because there are too many complaints about short stories on there! B&N seems to LIKE short stories). In March of 2012 I gave away 119 copies of SoG again – and again got no reviews. two weeks later there was a sales jump on SoG on Amazon because that was when 50 Shades of Grey got popular. however the rise in sales for the other two books (LoG and Ties of Blood) were not significant enough to say that giving away that free novel contributed. As I said, i gave away 119 of it, sold 239 – most of those again in a week – for a total of 349 copies of SoG in people’s hands but sold only 84 of LoG and 77 of ToB (at any given time my ratio is pretty much 50% of people who buy SoG go on to get LoG ) it could be argued that a higher percentage of the people who bought SoG did not go on to buy the rest because many of them were not my target audience, which is obvious even by the 236 to 88 ratio, but I don’t think the freebies did much to improve my sales.

    so while i think freebies do work, giving away whole, free novels has not done a lot for me yet. There are other factors that could contribute to it (such as a small backlist, the genre, advertising of the freebie promo etc.) , but I have had far more success with the free shorter works. I won’t say that someone who did get SoG for free didn’t then go on to get the rest of the series, but I don’t feel that a significant number of people did. I never had anyone mail me to say that they got it free and went on to read the rest (nor did any of them bother to leave a review) but I have had not only reviews on the short stories (some of which say “Oh, I went on to buy the books) but also mails from people saying they read the shorts first and went on to buy the books.

    Of course, as an author we’re not out anything by giving free coupons – those 119 downloaders were probably NOT going to buy the book for cash – so it doesn’t hurt, by any means, and one new fan out of 100 freebies is still one new fan. This is why I say it depends on what your strategy is. if this works into your strategy, then by all means! I may even try giving away SoG again at a later date, but if I do, I really expect to see pretty much the same thing – if not even fewer downloads. An example – as I said, I gave away 11,000 copies in basically a week with NO advertising (i did not know it had gone free until five days after the fact) meanwhile many people using the KDP and advertising their butts off consider a few hundred to be good numbers. 101 Tips is not amazing, nor is it even ‘a real book’ and it has a three or three and a half star rating (last I checked, LOL!) so I think that really says something. I imagine if I put something free on Amazon now to have the same lukewarm results everyone else is having.

    (i know, giving out sales numbers… ah well, so I am not a big time author and that’s okay with me!)

  15. @reena – I am also a hoarder and… I do not do reviews very often. there, I admitted it. I am the reader/downloader everyone hates. So don’t feel too bad 😉 And, even more so, I rarely go on to buy books because I have sooooo many stacked up to read already that I know there is no point. there are a few exceptions, though, for some certain ladies whose books I love 😉 I just buy them as they come out and know that someday I will get to read them, LOL!

  16. @steve (whom I mispelled as syeve earlier. Forgive me 😉 ) reena is right. Building readership takes time, and it takes work. you have to be seen – commenting on other blogs, having conversations, engaging others, etc. Also, as she suggested, you can find readers from hosting guest spots, but this is really only successful if their readers are in your target zone. i used to think “bah! this isn’t true!” but I’ve learned that it is. For instance Ruth Ann Nordin is a lovely woman and I enjoy her books, but she writes historical, christian romance. How many of her readers will go on to check out my books? Not to say I might not catch a couple, so it’s not a bad thing to host someone from a different genre than you, but there won;’ be HUGE results from it. This is why my core readership (14 people LOL!) tend to be a hodgepodge of tastes and personalities – because I drew them form all kinds of various sources and did not concentrate on looking for my target audience. I appreciate those 14 people more than they will ever know, and would not trade them for the world but, from a business point of view, had I gone after readers who were in my target area, I might have doubled or tripled that number. who knows. It all depends on what your goals are. While I’d like to sell millions of books, if I don’t, that’s okay, so hodge podge pokey is working for me. But if your goal is a business one then it’s best to take the most direct path and not meander around like I do. 😉

    the best things to do though are:

    1 – have interesting content that appeals to the kind of people you want to attract as book readers.
    2 – only post on a few subjects. Like reena here, for instance, posts on indie publishing, promos form other authors or her books.
    3 – work in something funny in the post. people love funny. even on Fb the posts that get the most shares are the funniest.
    4 – end with a question. people love to answer questions.
    5 – read other blogs in your target zone. leave thoughtful comments.
    6 – make sure that your gravatar etc. etc will link back to your blog/website but do NOT advertise it unless asked. People will follow it if they want to and advertising without being asked makes people mad.
    7 – as Reena said – be patient. Rome was not built in a day. Real success takes time. in fact, I know where there’ s a good article on this – lemme find the link –

  17. May 12, 2011 I believe the day was. Amazon decided to price match a bunch of indie books which were free on other sites. Now that was a service for a lot of authors. Back then, free was a novelty. Free meant something. Since there were fewer free books, those free books really got noticed. I saw a boost in sales all around. How I wished I had more books out at the time. 🙂

    “The first one is free, but the next one will cost ya” sounds good in theory… especially from the readers’ standpoint. It doesn’t always work out well from the publisher/author standpoint though… at least not from the business side. It’s unfortunate free trade doesn’t really mean free. 🙂

    Like Joleene said, providing a work for free (particularly an only novel) doesn’t necessarily mean more readers in the future. It can turn into a “thanks for the free book” with the readers moving on to the next free book, or worse “I’m glad I didn’t pay for this” followed by /rude gesture haha

    Don’t think of this as a sob story, but rather the practical side of the writing business. Let’s say an author finishes a first draft in a month (which is a challenge). NaNoWriMo here I come!!!! The second draft takes a month. Next, we have a month of beta reading. Slip in another month of polishing, then off to the editor. The editor spends another month on the draft. Meanwhile, the author is getting the cover art ready. Add a month to implement the changes suggested by the editor, reread the document for the introduction of new errors. At last, it’s time to format and publish the novel. So we wrap it up at 6 months to get a novel to market. Half a year with no pay, then stick it on the market for free while spending the next 6 months working on a new hopefully profitable book.

    On the business side, it doesn’t work. That’s why you don’t find traditional publishers offering the works of debut novelists for free. Or even the second, third work of a novelist. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a traditional novel offered for free (at least not one still under copyright). If you take a quick peak at traditional novels on Amazon… particularly those by debut authors or those who have fewer than two books, you’re probably going to see a price of about $9.99… a far cry from free. And the thing is, readers purchase them!

    Don’t believe me? Check out the bestsellers book for romance:

    Only in the indie world do we see full length novels offered for very low price of $0.00.

    Novels don’t need to be free to attract readers. Before the free indie eBook rave hit, free wasn’t even an option. Surely readers found some way to pick out books before the market was flooded with free. 🙂

    Sometimes free works (particularly before the ability to list books for free was limited), but these days free usually doesn’t work in the best interest of the publisher/author. And after all, most writers are running a business… even if the business is unsuccessful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *