Monkey Mailing Lists and Mind-numbing Stats

Finally set up a mailing list

Finally set up a mailing list

I’ve spent the last 24 hours catching up on all the internet-based work tasks I’ve avoided since about Christmas, when illness drove me away from Twitter and to the comforting arms of a good book.

My free promotion for Dragon Wraiths started at 8am yesterday and, in the hopes of making it more successful than my countdown deals (which resulted in one single, lonely, sale) I knew I would need to have an online presence.

There isn’t much you can fix in a day, but I did my best. I woke up my dormant twitter account, caught up on my writermummy facebook page and finally wrote the Goodreads reviews on all the lovely books I’ve read in the past few weeks (some of them, anyway, I still have a couple more to do).

The first day of my promotion has been okay, considering the lack of preparation. I even made it to number 1 in a category in France! You take success where you can! I don’t regret my six-week sabbatical from Twitter. I realised it wasn’t the platform for me: I got out much less than I found myself putting in. In the writer’s journey I’ve realised that I am happy with a slowly-slowly slightly haphazard approach while I concentrate on improving my craft and raising my kids. I intend to read the Kristen Lamb book I got for Christmas at some point, and I am implementing tips on sales and marketing I pick up on blogs and forums, but you can only do what you can do.

Reaching #1 in a category on :)

Reaching #1 in a category on 🙂

One thing I have finally got around to, however, is setting up a mailing list for people to sign up to if they want news on promotions and new releases. I’ve been meaning to do it for ages but was galvanised into action by realising that there are forty people on Goodreads who have marked Dragon Wraiths as ‘to-read’ and I have no way to tell them it’s currently free. I’ve been shy of creating a mailing list before, seeing it as a bit spammy, but now I can see there might actually be some people who want to know when I’m running a giveaway or when my next book will be out.

I’m still figuring out the ins and outs of Mailchimp, the provider I selected after a ten second internet search at 1am this morning, but I’ve tested the form and it seems to work (except it gives out my home address which I’m not thrilled about). If you want to add your email to the list, the link is to the right in the margin, or click on the image in this post, and I promise never to be spammy. 🙂

Now I’m off to see if I’ve reached the top ten in any more random categories on Amazon (I’m doing well in Coming of Age and Sword and Scorcery). It’s my favourite part of a free giveaway!

KDP Select Addiction: 2013 365 Challenge #188

Promo figures so far

Promo figures so far

For the last 48 hours I have been checking KDP Select (Amazon’s program for self-published books) every hour or so (where possible) to make a note of my download numbers. In case you don’t follow Twitter, and therefore haven’t been bombarded with my tweets, I’m running a free promotion for Dragon Wraiths in an attempt to get back up the rankings, since pulling out of the KDP Select program at the end of May.

It’s addictive.

Particularly the random sites I seem to be getting good numbers and rankings on. For some reason I have three times as many downloads on the German Amazon site than I do on the UK one.

Artistic little lady

Artistic little lady

I am ranked #1 in the Fantasy genre on (Germany) and #11 in the Sword & Sorcery category on the site (what a great category to be in: it wasn’t one I selected).

Do you think that means I can call myself a #1 Bestseller? In marketing that would have been fine if I’d put an asterix with *in top 100 free downloads in Germany for English Fantasy books!

Frustrating as it is that there are few statistics available from, it’s rather fun collating my own.

Thank you to Rinelle, and her great posts on her last KDP Select promotion, for inspiring me to be a bit more organised with my record-taking (if not more organised at getting my book on free sites. It was a last-minute decision to run a promo). And in encouraging me (unintentionally) to extend my free promo from two to three days.

It’s nice to see the numbers climb, and interesting that the numbers have trotted along whether I was around to tweet or not (I haven’t figured out how to schedule tweets yet). Thank you to everyone who has re-tweeted me!

Sparkly Fingernails

Sparkly Fingernails

Anyway, this probably isn’t very interesting to anyone but me, but it has taught me to be better at collecting what data I can as I publish books, so I can understand what works and what doesn’t.

Even with the gaps from sleeping, painting kiddy fingernails and taking the children out to the Farm yesterday (so Daddy could build the new playhouse – pictures later) I have a really good idea of how the numbers, and my rankings, are affected by the promotion.

Whether it results in an increase in sales, as it did for Rinelle, remains to be seen! For now, I’m having fun! Ooh another download…


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


“Hey, Sky, how are you, poppet?”

“Auntie Claire! Mummy didn’t tell me you were coming to visit.” Sky threw her arms around Claire’s knees and hugged hard.

Claire dropped down to return the hug, surprised at how right it felt to pull Sky’s tiny frame into an embrace. Her niece smelled of chocolate and fruity shampoo. Conscious of tears tugging at her throat, Claire loosened her hold, and held Sky at arm’s length.

“Where’s your Mummy? How is she?”

Sky’s face fell into a familiar pout. Claire never thought she would find it endearing. “Mummy’s boring. Nana says she’s still poorly and can’t do anything interesting.

Claire wanted to sweep Sky up into another cuddle. For all her worldly-wise savvy, she was still only a little girl.

“Well, how about a visit to that Farm you talked about so much?”

The pout magically vanished and Sky’s eyes sparkled. She span in a spray of blonde hair, and pelted down the hallway.

“Mummy, Mummy. Auntie Claire is here! She’s going to take me to the Farm. Say I can go, Mummy, please.”

Laughing at the receding sound of joy, Claire followed in her wake, hoping Ruth wasn’t asleep. She found her sister tucked up on the faded terracotta sofa in the lounge. The TV flickered with what looked like an old Cary Grant movie, although there was no sound.

In the three weeks since they had last seen each other, Ruth’s face had filled out and regained some of its colour. Claire smiled as she met Ruth’s gaze, relieved that her sister seemed to have walked away from death’s door.

“Hey, sis, I hope I didn’t wake you.”

She leaned over and gave Ruth a kiss on the cheek. Her skin felt cold and papery. Now she was closer, Claire could see the marks of illness still ravaging her sister’s face. The black scarf tied around her hairless scalp had slipped, and Claire could see the bare skin beneath. The reality of her sister’s treatment swooped on her for the first time, and it felt hard to breathe. Suddenly, gallivanting round the country visiting hostels seemed a frivolous undertaking.

While the thoughts raced through Claire’s mind, Ruth pushed herself up on one elbow, and reached out a hand.

“I’m so pleased to see you. I’ve been following the blog. I have to thank you, it’s keeping me sane. You’ve no idea how boring it is, being stuck in here all day watching the same movie reruns, until I want to scream.”

Claire perched on the end of the sofa, careful not to sit on Ruth’s feet. She grasped Ruth’s outstretched hand briefly, before gesturing to Sky to climb into her lap. She could tell that Sky’s bouncing and urgent desire to speak to her mummy was irritating Ruth.

“Hush, Sky. We’ll ask Mummy in a moment. Let me have a chat with her first.” Claire saw the bottom lip begin to jut out, and she held her finger to her lips. “Would you like to borrow my iPad, while I talk to your Mummy?” Again, Sky’s face lit up in delight and she nodded.

Once Sky was curled up in the corner, happily painting imaginary nails and dressing digital princesses, Claire turned to Ruth.

“Can I get you anything? Tea? Something to eat?”

Ruth shook her head. “I can’t. I’ve gone off tea and mostly I feel too sick to eat. Mum’s always round here forcing food on me. Where is she? She should be here by now.” Her face creased in a petulant frown.

Claire listened to her sister’s words with a mixture of empathy and irritation. Her emotions twisted in her stomach, as she realised how inappropriate her irritation was. Of course Ruth is taking Mum for granted, she has no one else. And who wouldn’t complain when they had been through what she has.

Shaking off the black cloud, Claire shone her brightest smile. “Well, I’m here to take care of you today, to make sure you and Sky eat, and to entertain my niece so my lovely sister can rest and recover.”

She was rewarded by a wan smile.

“That sounds wonderful.” Ruth rested her head against the sofa. “Sky’s been driving me mental. She means well, but she has so much energy. Just watching her leaves me feeling wobbly.”

That much Claire understood, from her time travelling with Sky. Mostly she envied the girl her endless energy, but there was no doubt it was tiring to watch.

“Well, I will take her to this Farm place this afternoon, and to school in the morning.”

“There’s no school tomorrow. It’s May Day. Bank holiday weekend.” Ruth’s voice was low with exhaustion.

A jolt stabbed at Claire. It didn’t seem possible that it was only Sunday; that the wedding had been less than 24 hours before. May Day? M’aidez, s’il vous plais? 

Pushing her own troubles aside, Claire sat with her sister and concentrated on doing good where she could.