Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Five Greatest Silent Films

It’s one week until my “silent film horror” book comes out! And yes I highly suggest you click here to see the “Jazzy Pre-sale Gifts.” Click, I dare you. Anyway, sales hat off: as part of my research for Flickers I watched a large selection of Silent Films. These were the five that stood out for me.

 1. The General
 I knew little about Buster Keaton before writing this book. Everyone talks about Charlie Chaplin. He is brilliant. But Buster Keaton is his equal. Today we live in a world with giant budget special effects and grandiose 3D spectacles. But nothing tops the live on the scene “real” special effects of this movie.
 2. Nosferatu
 Dracula! Well, not Dracula because they were trying to avoid copyright issues when they made this movie thus they called it Nosferatu. Bram Stoker’s widow won the court case and had every copy of the film destroyed. Except one. It was shipped to the US (where copyright had lapsed) and the movie was release there. Luckily for us, it lives! It lives! So many of these scenes will look familiar because so many horror directors paid homage to this film.
 3. The Kid
 Charlie Chaplin made better movies. Deeper movies. But boy…this is just so much fun.
 4. Metropolis
 It’s one of the first and greatest science fiction epics. And I have no idea what’s going on sometimes. But the grandeur of imagination comes across.

5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

 Okay. This is like a nightmare inside a nightmare inside a shadowbox full of nightmares. Artsy. Gutsy. Scary. It sticks with you.

 There are, of course, many more brilliant films from that age. Educate me! Leave a comment to tell me which ones I should have included.

 Originally published at www.arthurslade.com.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Writers: Using Giveaways to Build Your Newsletter/Email List

One of the latest “trending” theories on book promotion is the idea of creating a newsletter/email list so that you can communicate directly with your fans. Part of the reason there’s been a movement towards this is that Facebook and Twitter are so “busy” now. If you post on your own Facebook “like” page about 16% of your “fans” will see the post. You need to pay to “boost” the page to the rest of your followers (Clever move, Facebook). And I’ve seen numbers as low as (or even lower than) 5% of Twitter followers see a tweet. Like I said, it’s busy out there.
So an email list is a way of reaching out directly to readers. And more writers are catching on to this (which is why there are so many pop-ups and email boxes on writer websites these days). I’ve experimented with pop up boxes on my website with some success. But you have to drive traffic to get sign ups and that can be difficult and time consuming. And frankly, I like writing books instead.
My most recent attempt is to use a giveaway to encourage fans (or potential fans) to sign up. With the generosity of my publisher, who gave me five “adventure” books to giveaway, I ran two contests. One was with Rafflecopter where people could enter to win but if they joined the email list they’d get an extra entry. I ended up with 88 entries.

I ran the exact same “Adventure” prize a few months later, but this time used the KingSumo Giveaway Plugin (on Wordpress). I had read a rather amazing (and somewhat alarming) account of one person using the app and getting 200,000 email addresses. Read it here. Of course, I didn’t expect to get that many. The way KingSumo Giveaway works is that in order for people to enter for the prize they need to sign up to your newsletter. That’s made clear on the contest rules, so it isn’t a surprise when they get an email from you. And it’s also made clear that they can unsubscribe at any time. The clever thing about KingSumo is that if someone enters the contest then they receive a special link that they can email, Facebook, or tweet. And if other people click on that link and enter the contest, the original entrant gets more entries (3 in the case of my last contest). It’s a way to reward people for sharing the contest. In other contests every time you share it and more people enter then your odds of winning go down. This gives each entrant a way to stack the odds in their favour. And it can help build buzz about the contest.

The key is to pick a prize that will attract the type of people who would be interested in your writing. So I didn’t give away a Cadillac. Or two hundred golden ducks. Instead I gave away the Adventure Prize Pack that you see above.
And here were the results:

So 175 people entered. Because several of them shared that magic link there were 229 entries in total. And one person won (and I tell you, he was overjoyed!). I imported all of them into my newsletter list (I use Mailchimp) and ended up with 103 new subscribers (the other 72 were already subscribed). I sent them all a “hello” letter and explained that they were welcome to unsubscribe, but also mentioned how hilariously funny my Somewhat Clever Newsletter is (click here if you want to find out for yourself). Three people unsubscribed. Since my biggest month of signups was just under 100 people, this was a success in my books.

One caveat, I did spend $75 on Facebook ads. So that cost, added to the cost of shipping books, makes this whole experiment about $100. Or a dollar per new subscriber. Next time I’ll skip the ads and see what happens. (Actually speaking of next time; I am doing another giveaway at this moment: A Writing Critique Giveaway, contest ends April 8th, 2016).

Anyway, that was my experiment with KingSumo Giveaways. Thanks for tuning in!

Friday, April 01, 2016

Pro Writing Critique Giveaway

Well, I'm giving away a writing critique session with moi. Yes, you could have my scribbles on your text! Just click the image above for more information. Or click here. Contest closes April 8th, 2016.
Best of luck!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kindle Experiment: Changing the Name of my Steampunk series...

I recently changed the name of my THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS series to MODO: STEAMPUNK AGENT. Why would I do that since the series has had that title (in English speaking countries) since 2009? Well, because I like to experiment. And I only changed the title on the Amazon store in the UK. I happen to own the rights in the UK (sadly no British publisher picked up the series--but I did just fine on ebook sales) and after doing research on how titles can influence where a book is placed in various "shelves" on Amazon I changed it to what you see above. Since the most often searched term that finds my series is "steampunk" I decided to put it right in the title. I was also influenced by the recent movie news. The production companies settled on MODO as the right title for the movie. So, in a way, I'm market testing the name (oddly enough MODO was the original name of the series before my various publishers and I settled on THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS). I like the simplicity of the name. Sales had slowed in the UK so I didn't feel I was confusing the brand too much.
And the effect? Well sales have jumped. But that may be because I've priced the books dangerously low to get a bit of attention. In fact they're holding down the 7-9th spot on Kindle UK's Steampunk Children's Novels bestseller's list (don't you love all the besteller lists on Kindle?):

Of course they've only sold about five copies each to get to that station. But it's a start. And it's the very start of this experiment.
If you happen to be from the UK (the author says...putting on his sales hat) get them today! While supplies of the endlessly reproduced digital book last! Or, while this rock bottom price lasts! Just click here.
So that's my latest little experiment in the world of books. I'll keep you updated if something exciting happens.
P.S. The various series titles are THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS (Canada, US, Australia), The Agents of Mr. Socrates (France), Mission Clockwork (Germany) and...I don't have an accurate title for the Chinese version.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Flickers: Book Cover

Psst. Come closer. I've got something to show you. Something very scary. Just a little bit closer. Closer...
 Yep...it's the cover for my eighteenth novel: Flickers. A happy little story about twin girls who travel from innocent Alberta to join the glitzy world of Hollywood in the 1920's. One of them becomes a superstar and the other is not allowed to leave the estate of their guardian, Mr. Cecil. He's a Hollywood producer and director who has some rather nefarious plans for his next movie. Plans that one of the twins is starting to see through...
 Wait, didn't I say it was a happy story? Well, it's happy for Mr. Cecil. And here's the full dust jacket (click on it if you want to see if full size): FlickersDustJ   And finally, I do have a book page. And on the book page is a special gift for those who order early. And often. Anyway, that's the cover, folks! Have a good sleep...  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Adventure Book Prize Pack Giveaway...

I love free books. But I really love giving them away more. So...the Adventure Book Prize Pack Giveaway has returned. Five books that will change your life. Or at least fill your brain with adventure. Just click on the pic below to go to the prize pack page. adventure prize pack Art