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Friday, April 29, 2022

How Authors Can Properly Gage the Performance of Amazon Keywords

    The use of Amazon ads and list of keywords to sell books are effective tools that authors can incorporate in their marketing campaigns. However, authors will need to know what keywords make a monthly profit and what keywords are dead weight to be deleted so that they won’t lose their shirts in the process.

Amazon Keywords

    For example, a keyword should yield no less than a ten percent conversion rate (one paperback book sale per ten clicks), or else it should be archived because it will eat away any revenue the author earns in the long run. A great way to determine if a particular keyword is worthy of keeping is to see if it’s profitable after three months or eighty-six it if the cost exceeds the net profit of sales (gross profit minus the 40% Amazon split and print cost).

    This is just a quick PSA for new authors who are ready to take their marketing campaigns to the next level. An author wants to take the best performing 15-20 keywords that garner sales month after month and discard the remaining bulk of useless keywords. Do this in addition to building a catalog of good books and witness a steady growth of sales for years to come.

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Is There a Market for Short Story Paperback Books? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Gill’s: A Short Story

    “Make sure you take out the garbage before you leave, Marcel,” his mother said.

    “Okay,” he said.

    Marcel tied the two drawstrings together after he closed the bag of smelly trash and placed the new bag in the garbage can before he went out the back door of the house. He waved at one of his neighbors who lived two houses over, and he opened the back gate and dumped the bag in the outside trash can. He then saw one of his childhood friends washing his car down the alley and decided to walk in that direction.

    It was shaping up to be a hot day on an early Saturday afternoon in late May, and Marcel had some time to kill before his college roommate Dave and his boy Trent stopped by to pick him up. He gave Melvin some dap and said, “You got the new ride looking all fresh and shit.”

    “You know me,” Melvin said. “I can’t be driving around in a dirty-ass ride.”

    “What you got going on today?”

    “I’m hanging out with Sheryl for a little while after I finish waxing my car.”

    “Sounds like a plan.”

    “What about you?”

    “My boy Dave just hit me up, and he and his boy Trent are coming by to scoop me up in a few minutes,” Marcel said as Melvin continued to wipe the wax off of his brand new black 1989 Chevy Z24. “We’re heading on over to Gill’s and hit the beach afterward.”

    “Word? What beach are y’all going to?”

    “Probably La Rabida or maybe Rainbow…shit, I don’t know.”

    “Maybe me and Sheryl will come up there later after we get something to eat.”

    “Cool, I’ll let you know where we end up.”


    There was brief silence before Melvin asked, “What’s Dave’s crazy ass been up to?”

    “Same old shit. I don’t think he’s going back to Prairie View next semester, though.”

    “Why not?”

    “I think his ass flunked out because he had been ditching class all semester. Now, I’m probably gonna have to find another damn roommate.”

    “Damn, he basically wasted his parents’ money down there.”

    “Yeah, and the sad part about it is he’s smart as hell but lazy as hell at the same time.”

    “That’s crazy.”

    A brown 1984 Buick Cutlass turned the corner at 85th Street off Jeffery Boulevard and stopped at the entrance of the alley. Trent was bumping Heavy D’s new album Big Tyme loud enough to serenade the whole neighborhood. He backed up slightly and entered the alley before pulling up in front of Melvin’s car, and Dave and Trent got out with the car still running and music blaring.

    “You got that bass bumpin’, homeboy,” Marcel said, giving Trent dap.

    “What’s up, roomie?” Dave asked Marcel, giving him a fist bump.

    “Nothing much,” Marcel said, “just ready to get buzzed.”

    “Yeah, man,” Trent said, “that’s the plan.”

    “What’s up, bro?” Dave gave Melvin a fist bump.

    “Just tightening up the ride,” Melvin answered.      

    “This is my boy Melvin, Trent,” Marcel said.

    “I know Melvin,” Trent gave Melvin a fist bump. “Hell, the whole neighborhood knows Superstar right here. Are you gonna enter the draft?”

    “I don’t know yet,” Melvin answered. “I don’t have an agent because I wanna see how I do in the pre-draft camp next week.”

    “Everybody’s saying you’re a lottery pick,” Dave stated. “The Bulls need a point guard as bad as Oran Juice Jones needs another hit record.”

    “I doubt if Chicago drafts me,” Melvin affirmed. “I think they have the sixth pick and the eighteenth pick, and I know for a fact that they’re looking to draft a big man first.”

    “Well, I for one, hope that you stay home, bro,” Marcel added.

    “We’ll see,” Melvin said.

    “Y’all ready to roll?” Trent asked.

    “Yeah, let’s jet,” Marcel said.

    “Yo, wait,” Melvin said abruptly.

    “What’s up?” Trent asked.

    “What beach are y’all going to?” Melvin asked.

    “La Rabida first,” Trent answered. “If we can’t get no action over there, then 31st Street.”

    “Okay, cool. Page me and let me know where y’all at, Marcel.”

    “I got you, bro,” Marcel said.

    The three of them hopped in Trent’s ride, and Trent backed out the alley before he cranked up the sound even louder. The track Big Tyme was erupting out of the woofers and subwoofers in his trunk that were worth almost as much as the car itself.

    Flowin like water you oughta, get your tape recorder So you can sorta sporta, the new order From the Overweight Lord of, Lovers Brothers get respect because I give respect to brothers And others on the agenda, try to remember I can rock a party from September to September Meaning all year round, I can throw down Sound for sound, round for round, pound for pound Now~! I'ma take charge, still "Living Large" I'm not soft, soft as the moth, soft is DeBarge I'm a giant, a major, apply it to the industry…

    Neither of them said a word as they cruised down Jeffery Boulevard on the way to Gill’s liquor store in Hyde Park―they were entranced by the sound of the booming bass of Heavy D’s featured track, who had one of the hottest albums of that summer. Dave lit a joint and took a couple of puffs before he passed it to Trent.

    “You wanna hit this, Marcel?” Trent asked.

    “Nah, I’m good,” Marcel said. “They do randoms at the job, so I gotta be careful.”

    “Word?” Trent asked rhetorically.

    “Yeah, and I haven’t smoked since I landed my internship last summer,” Marcel said.

    “More for us then,” Dave added, taking another puff after Trent passed the joint back to him.

    They entered Lake Shore Drive, and the hot air circulated throughout the car as the Drive opened up to three lanes. People were jogging and riding bikes along the bike path to the right, and the color of Lake Michigan was a rich, dark blue.

    Almost ten minutes had passed before they pulled up at Gill’s and parked. Marcel reached in his pocket and pulled out a twenty.

    “First round is on me, boys,” Marcel said.

    “I knew it was a reason why I liked you,” Dave said jokingly.

    Trent popped the trunk and said, “Grab one of those empty bottles.”

    They each grabbed a recyclable gallon jug and walked inside. One of the cashiers took the bottles to be filled, and Marcel paid $11.50 for the beer. A few minutes later, they placed two of the bottles in the trunk and popped open the first bottle of beer before they headed over to the parking lot next to the La Rabida Children’s Hospital that was several yards away from the lakefront. Gill’s had also supplied them with several paper cups free of charge. Marcel found a payphone along the bike path and paged Melvin. Melvin called him back a minute later.

    “What’s up?” Melvin asked.

    “This is Marcel…we’re at La Rabida.”

    “Okay, cool.”

    “Where you at?”

    “We’re at the Pancake House off 87th and Cottage Grove.”

    “Oh, okay.”

    “I’ll see y’all in a few.”

    “Okay, later.”


    There were still a lot of empty parking spaces in the lot, but they were starting to fill up fast. A block party type of atmosphere was forming, and Trent had opened his trunk so that the music could reach its full decibel level. Marcel poured himself another cup of beer, and it was then that he noticed a beautiful young lady standing a few feet away next to the car parked a space from Trent’s car.

    “She’s fine as hell,” Marcel said as he filled Trent’s empty cup.

    “Yeah, and her friends are just as fine,” Trent said. “Damn.”

    Dave took the lead and introduced himself to the group of women. Trent and Marcel followed his lead as the introductions took several seconds. Marcel sparked the conversation with the girl he liked while Dave and Trent conversed with the three other women of the clique.

    “So, what do you do, Marcel?” Cynthia asked.

    “I’m a senior at Prairie View, and I’m an intern this summer at IBM,” he answered.

    “Prairie View?” Where’s that at?”

    “Texas…near Houston.”

    “Oh, okay. You like it?”

    “Yeah, it’s cool.”

    “Computer science major?”


    There was a pause, and then he asked, “Are you in school?”

    “Not at the moment,” she answered. “I still have sixty credit hours to go after sitting out a year.”

    “Where do you go?”


    “What’s your major?”


    “And what are you doing now?”

    “My mother got me on at the County, so I’ve been stacking my money ever since so that I can go back to school this fall.”

    “That’s great.”

    The flow of the conversation was awkward at best―Marcel’s game was a little weak. Luckily for him, Cynthia still found him very attractive.

    “So, do you have a girlfriend?” she asked curiously.

    “No…nobody to speak of. Do you have a man?”

    “No, I don’t have anyone.”

    “Would you like to go out sometime?” his mouth was dry, and he was beginning to sweat from the heat and alcohol.

    “Yes, I would love to go out with you.”

    The ice seemed to be broken after that―they knew everything there was to know about each other in the next couple of hours. The beer was now gone, and Dave and Trent were ready to make another run to Gill’s.

    “Yo, Marcel,” Dave shouted, “you coming?”

    “Yeah, give me a second,” he answered.

    “It’s okay,” Cynthia said. “Go with your friends.”

    “Are you gonna be here when we get back?”

    “Yeah, we should be. Let’s exchange phone numbers just in case because I’m not the one driving.”


    She reached in her purse for a pen and pad, and she wrote her number down before she tore off the small sheet of paper and handed it to him.

    “Here, write your number in my notepad,” she said.

    He wrote down his number and handed the notepad back to her.

    “I’ll be back,” he said, motioning toward the car.

    “Wait,” she said abruptly before she grabbed his waist and French kissed him. He placed his hands on the small of her back while she wrapped her arms around his neck, and they began to kiss passionately.

    “Come on, lover boy,” Dave said. “She’ll be here when you get back.”

    “I gotta go,” he let go of his embrace.

    “Bye, Marcel,” she said, pecking him on the lips.

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Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Three Most Difficult Facets of Writing for Me

    Writing is something that has always come naturally to me. As an introvert, I’m able to express myself via script better than speech on many occasions. However, there are times when writing is an arduous task, and I would unsuccessfully fight through periods of being unproductive only to discover that pressing the issue was futile.

 Writer’s Block.

    Prior to 2018, writer’s block was something that I experienced on a regular basis. There were times when my energy level was high, and I was cranking out novels with ease. Subsequently, my motivation would wane when my book sales didn’t match the effort that I was making in writing. Everything came to a head in 2015―my personal life was in shambles, and I quit writing for two years afterward. My entire life changed from that point on, and I had to make a major adjustment to my writing style once I refocused and mapped out my short-term and long-term goals.

 Lack of Time and Energy.

    Life happens more often than not and juggling time between work, family, and writing is challenging at best. Finding the time to write after a five-day work week on top of maintaining family obligations can be very taxing, and fatigue will kill an author’s creativity. I’ve learned not to force things and ultimately pick my spots. I tend to be more productive when my mind is fresh, and my writing flows organically as opposed to everything being contrived.

 Finding a Balance Between Writing and Marketing.

    I sometimes wish that I could focus solely on creating stories that readers love and not have to worry about the marketing aspects of writing. Man, if it were only that simple. Unfortunately for the average author, marketing is a key component of being successful in the self-publishing world―you simply can’t sale books without a solid marketing plan. My problem isn’t finding topics to write fiction wise or on my blog―the Lord has downloaded into me enough themes or subjects to expound upon until kingdom come. The problem is finding a healthy balance between book promotion and composing fiction novels and/or valuable blog topics.

    Writing is something that I genuinely love―even if I didn’t make a dime doing it. I’ve learned to naturally incorporate writing into my daily life without neglecting my equally important work and family responsibilities, and though I may be faced with obstacles that derail my creative juices, I don’t allow those setbacks to deter me from reaching my goals as an author.

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Friday, April 15, 2022

The Self-Publishing Game Is Rigged for Authors to Fail

    First of all, I want to sound off by saying that according to the statistics, I shouldn’t still be writing and publishing books in 2022. I originally began self-publishing books in 2007, and I hadn’t earned more than $1,000 per year for the first twelve years of my writing career. In fact, most self-published authors never earn more than $1,000 yearly according to the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey―77% of self-published authors make $1,000 per year or less, and 53.9 % of traditionally published authors and 43.6% of hybrid authors earn $1,000 or less yearly as well. Only 0.7% of self-published authors, 1.3% of traditionally published authors, and 5.7% of hybrid authors earn $100,000 per year or more. Needless to say, not much has changed since then, and the top 2.5% of authors make a good living while the vast majority of writers don’t earn enough to quit their jobs and write full-time.

    I’ve amassed a great wealth of experience and knowledge over my fifteen plus years of writing, and the most important thing that I learned was that an author must have perseverance. Self-publishing is essentially the long game, and success will come to those who put in the time and work. I liken the world of self-publishing to a casino―a world where the house almost always wins, and the goalpost is constantly being moved by the powers that be. Setbacks like the creation of KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) in KDP Select where authors are being paid by the number of pages read by Amazon Prime members, who through their memberships can download Amazon eBooks for free, as opposed to being paid a one-time royalty for each sale have made it more difficult for authors to earn a significant monthly income for their eBook sales, for example. Since the majority of Amazon customers are Prime members, most eBooks are downloaded for free, and authors enrolled in KDP Select are mostly paid by the number of pages read by Prime members collectively.


    The last three and a half years have yielded respectable earnings for me as a writer―I’ve placed myself in the middle of the pack by consistently earning gross sales of $15,000 - $25,000 per year and roughly half of that after expenses, and I’m on pace to do the same in 2022. However, that’s still not enough money to quit my job and write full-time. I’m always looking for ways to increase revenue but ascending to the next level is extremely difficult. One trick that I’d like to share is that authors should focus more on paperback sales―yes, paperback books aren’t dead. I was able to drastically increase my earnings once I concentrated on advertising paperbacks on Amazon’s advertising platform―AmazonAds.

    All things considered; writing has been a rewarding experience for me. With that being said, authors must have a genuine love for writing, or else they won’t succeed in this game. Roughly only 3% of writers ever reach six-figure earnings, and unfortunately, there aren’t many shortcuts in the process of self-publishing books.

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Friday, April 1, 2022

Should Authors Sell Books Directly from Blog or Link Them to Amazon?

    It’s a well-known fact that Amazon is one of the largest marketplaces on the Internet, and authors like me rely heavily on selling books on this platform. However, the question is whether or not authors should sell books directly to their readers via blogs as opposed to linking them to Amazon. In reality, selling books directly to readers from a blog depends solely on one factor―blog traffic. If an author’s blog is in its infancy stage and isn’t getting much traffic, it’s best to link books directly to Amazon until the site’s popularity increases.

 Why Blog Traffic Is an Important Factor in Selling Directly to Readers.

    Amazon is a name that everyone knows and trusts, and its brand is second to none. With that being said, most customers are still going to purchase an author’s book off Amazon even though one is selling directly from his or her blog. Unknown authors won’t have the trust factor in their favor initially, so selling books directly to readers will ultimately be a waste of time in the beginning―building trust with customers doesn’t happen overnight. For every one hundred customers that an author has, only one or two of them will actually buy a book directly from a website or blog. I’ve experienced this firsthand, so I won’t be selling my books directly to my customers until my blog is in full swing.

Young Author

 Some of the Advantages of Selling Books Directly from Blog.

    Selling books directly to readers from a blog undoubtedly has major advantages such as better earnings, an immediate payout, and garnering a direct connection to the reading audience. Email lists are like gold―a plethora of book reviews that an author gathers from having an email list after a book launch is invaluable. This can be achieved through sweat equity with very few shortcuts. The goal of every author should be financial independence, and a higher profit margin coupled with receiving the money from instant sales can make this dream a reality.

 A Disadvantage of Selling Books Directly from Blog.

    The shipping costs of paperback and hardcover books will present the biggest challenge for authors, especially in the international market. Authors will need to decide if it’s worth selling the physical copies of their books directly from their respective blogs and hope that paperback, hardcover, and eBook sales will far exceed shipping costs.

    In conclusion, selling books directly from one’s site is counterproductive in the short run, but selling books both directly from a blog and on platforms like Amazon should be the goal of an author in the long run. My goal as an author is simple―to sell directly to my readership once my blog is relevant enough to make a profit and continue to link my books to Amazon.

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Five Things I Learned After Self-Publishing My First Book

     I can remember how excited I was like it were yesterday when my first book titled What Happened to Little League Baseball in the Inner ...