This is a guest post by my author friend, Effrosyni Moschoudi. She is well versed in all things Indie and an expert in book promos. She kindly agreed to share with us her experience with Story Origin, a newsletter-swapping service that has helped her promote her work. I hope you find her post as interesting as I did!
Marketing your Book with Story Origin
Let’s face it. Being an indie author is hard work. Anyone who enters the sphere of self-publishing will find out sooner or later that having organizational skills is a must in order to succeed.
Even so, no matter how organized we are, finding time for the mountain of tasks that await us each day is always a challenge. We all could use a little help, but few of us can afford a virtual assistant. This is why for most of us promoting becomes a tedious task.
Let me tell you something. I used to be one of those authors. Promotion to me had become an aversion. I could only manage doing major promotion 3-4 times a year tops. I’d spend money on promo sites ads that didn’t pay off, and also paid to participate in group promotions with other authors, but they often didn’t result in any significant ROI either.
And then came Story Origin. And just like that, I started to promote without any hassle, because this brilliant—and absolutely FREE—author platform helped me organize everything swiftly, saving me hours of work. And I saw a rise in my sales too.
Story Origin Features
Story Origin’s founder and developer is Evan Gow from the USA. From the moment you sign up, you get a warm welcome from him by email where he invites you to ask any questions you may have. And that’s on top of the online tutorial, which I didn’t have to use by the way, because Story Origin is self-intuitive and thus easy to learn.
From the moment you sign up, there’s a fair amount of hand-holding. Before I knew it, right off the bat, I had created an entry for my next newsletter (Story Origin calls them ‘Campaigns’), registered the universal links for all my books, and started to swap book slots with other authors!
The features of Story Origin include everything you need to organize your promotions and to extend your platform.
Namely, the features on offer are:
- Newsletter Swaps
- Group Promotions
- Reader Magnets
- Review Copies
The first thing you do on Story Origin is set up your mailing list. This is just a description of your newsletter. Story Origin is only where you organize your newsletters. You still get to create them where you normally do, like MailChimp, AWeber, MailerLite, or whatever. Story Origin integrates stats from some mailing list providers, including the above three, but that’s optional. I use Mailpoet, a WordPress plugin on my site, so integration is not possible. And that’s okay, because you can still prove you’ve done your bit to promote others in your newsletter and I’ll tell how a little later.
You control everything through your author Dashboard.
After you’ve created the description of your mailing list, Story Origin will prompt you to set up your next newsletter (remember, it’s called a ‘campaign’). You don’t have to choose a frequency for it. You can create the next ones whenever you’re ready.
This, in itself, is the best benefit I have reaped from Story Origin. By having to decide on my next newsletter date early on so I can apply for swaps and group promotions, my mind soon got used to thinking far ahead. I never knew before when my next newsletter was coming. Now, I know one month, even two months in advance if I’m doing a launch, what these dates will be. Naturally, I soon got greedy, and found myself sending out two newsletters per month, filling them to the brim with 12-15 books and 3-4 group promo banners each.
Did I get punished for my greediness?
Not really. Quite the opposite.
What I got was wonderful spikes in my book sales in the USA, something I’d never seen before, as I used to sell mostly in the UK.
I even had up to 1,000 KENP spikes on days I did no promo and hence could only attribute these to newsletters of authors I swapped with or group promotions running.
What I also got from using Story Origin was sales in many different books in my backlist at the same time – books that hardly sold anymore. And that’s because every month, thanks to the group promotions, I can promote up to 3-4 books at the same time.
I am sure you know how much work it is to do this on your own. But with Story Origin, all you have to do, is register the books in 3-4 different group promotions, put the banners in your newsletter, and tweet about them individually a couple of times. That’s it. And what do you get for this little trouble? While the promotions run, that’s 2-4 weeks usually, you get sales without having to do a thing from day-to-day. Great, huh?
Group promotions can be generic (e.g. ‘May Romance Sale’ ,’Beach Reads For a Buck’) or very particular (‘Characters With Protective Instincts’, ‘Love Found in Unusual Places’). Your books don’t always have to be 99c. Some promotions accept books priced up to $5. Make sure to read the rules of each promo to the letter, though, and stick to your commitments. Slowly, you’ll build a good reputation, which means the same group promo organizers will accept your submissions again and again.
- When you apply to a group promo, you’re allowed to put in a little note. If you share your newsletters wide on your social media, say it. If you have a large following on, say, Facebook, and are willing to share the promo there, make sure to mention this too.
- Before you hit the button to apply to the group promo, make sure to go to the very bottom of the page and check how many authors have already applied. The more you see on there, the better, obviously. Though, if it’s early on, you may see only a few, but it doesn’t mean they won’t fill up later.
- Two group organizers I soon learned to work with are Art of the Arcane (CJ Perry) and Katie Carver.
The Campaign page
Whether it’s a swap or a group promotion you’re featuring in your newsletter, make sure to use the specific tracking link Story Origin gives you for each book and group promo. i.e. You cannot use the direct link to Amazon for a book, because then the author of that book will never know how many clicks it got in your newsletter. With the tracking links, this is possible for both authors and group organizers. See this detail from my last campaign page:
The campaign page lists (among other things) the books and group promotions that I featured in that newsletter. As you can see, each has their own tracking link. On the right, you can see the clicks each got among my subscribers. The authors and organizers also get access to this information so they can check if I fulfilled my obligations to them.
On your campaign page, you also get to see what the other authors are doing to promote your books, i.e. which of your books are getting promoted, by which authors, when, and how many clicks they got.
HOT TIP: On the day of your newsletter, or anytime before that, when you wish to finalize the content, it’s best to ‘mark the slots full’ and also delete all the pending requests for swaps you made to other authors that never got accepted. If you don’t do that, and if you don’t check your campaign page one last time before sending your newsletter, you may have an entry you don’t get to honor with a slot.
IMPORTANT: After you’ve sent out your newsletter, you need to go back to your campaign page and add your newsletter link (it’s called an ‘archive link’). This way, other authors and the group promo organizers will be able to view your newsletter. They’ll need to check that you featured their book or promo, for example, if your tracking link shows 0 clicks. It’s fine if you put it in the newsletter and it got no clicks, of course. In any case, for me, posting the archive link is common courtesy (if not the mark of a true professional) and I strongly suggest that you provide it.
Searching for newsletter swaps
Here’s a suggestion to make it easier for you to find swaps for your books: Narrow down the search by using tags that relate to your own work. If you write about witches, angels, or ghosts, use these words as tags. Or use genres, for example, ‘paranormal’, ‘romance’, ‘clean’ etc.
When you swap, you swap books that will take readers to Amazon (these are marked as ‘UBL’, i.e. ‘universal book link’) or Reader Magnets or Review Copies. The last two are freebies stored on Story Origin. You can cross-swap among these things, no problem. Anything goes, as long as both authors are happy. I’ve swapped UBLs with reader magnets many times, for example.
Reader Magnets and Review Copies are books that the authors have uploaded on Story Origin as freebies to get new subscribers or reviewers for their books respectively.
If you have a reader magnet to swap, your best bet is to pick reader magnets to apply to. The author you apply to will be more likely to accept your reader magnet if they’re looking to promote their own too. To promote your reader magnet, I advise you also enter it in the ‘Giveaway’ group promotions. This works like a charm: Upload an ARC copy of your preorder book as a reader magnet and promote it heavily for at least two months on Story Origin, both in swaps and giveaway group promotions. I got nearly 900 subscribers (a CSV file download) when I did that with my new novel “Running Haunted” and it cost me sweet nothing! Just make sure to not have your preorder book on KDP Select when you’re giving it away for FREE on Story Origin.
VERY IMPORTANT: All your associated swaps and group promotions must run their course fully before you delete your reader magnet on Story Origin. That includes the newsletter dates of the authors who are featuring your reader magnet, obviously. And only after everything has run its course you may register your preorder book on KDP Select, let us not forget, as Amazon demands exclusivity of all KDP Select-registered ebooks. So double-check your dates when you set up swaps and enter promotions for reader magnets (or review copies).
THE ONLY FAULT I FOUND WITH STORY ORIGIN: Deleting a reader magnet will delete the record of all associated swaps i.e. the tracking link for your reader magnet and the one of every author’s book it got swapped with.
If everything has run its course by the time you delete the reader magnet it’s not so bad, but the lost record means your stats will not reflect all the clicks the book had, plus you won’t be able to see the full past history of your associations with other authors. A way around this would be to mark the reader magnet as ‘unavailable’ instead of deleting it on Story Origin. I didn’t know this and deleted mine… So the tracking links disappeared and didn’t work in my newsletter. My readers wrote and complained… I had to apologize to seven authors and make it up to them in my next newsletter. Not deleting another reader magnet, I’ll tell you that!
Getting reviewers is the only thing I haven’t done yet on Story Origin but from what I can tell, the platform does all the work once again, collecting the readers’ details and distributing your book to them. And you get to screen every single application! Story Origin shows you each reader’s review history on Amazon so you can decide if you’re accepting their application or not.
Both reader magnets and review copies are available in MOBI, EPUB, and PDF on Story Origin. It’s obligatory to upload your book in all three formats. The MOBI you can get from your KDP bookshelf. Here are free online converters that work for me to convert your book to PDF and EPUB:
- WORD to PDF converter: https://www.freepdfconvert.com/
- PDF to EPUB: https://www.zamzar.com/convert/pdf-to-epub/
Once you’ve grown familiar with Story Origin, it’s worth checking out all the other options on your author dashboard. You’ll find, among other things, great stats from its powerful database.
I hope this information has given you a good idea of what awaits you on Story Origin, if only you give it a try! Evan Gow is always readily available to answer any questions if you get stuck, but I’ll also be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge any basic questions on the comments below.
I urge you to try this wonderful platform while it’s still in beta as all its features are FREE right now. So many other authors like me are reaping the benefits so why shouldn’t you? If you write paranormal, sweet, humorous, or fantasy romance, I hope to see you there!
Interested to see how my newsletter looks like with Story Origin’s group promotions and swaps? Here is my latest newsletter of May 18, the day I launched Running Haunted – quite successfully, I might add! Thank you Story Origin!
Visit Story Origin!
Kelly ran a marathon… and wound up running a house. With a ghost in it.
Kelly Mellios is a stunning, athletic woman, who has learned—the hard way—to value herself. Having just finished her first marathon in the alluring Greek town of Nafplio, she bumps into Alex, a gorgeous widower with three underage children, who is desperately looking for a housekeeper.
The timing seems perfect, seeing that Kelly aches to start a new life, and Nafplio seems like the ideal place to settle down. She accepts the position on the spot, but little does she know that Alex’s house has an extra inhabitant that not even the family knows about…
The house is haunted by Alex’s late wife, who has unfinished business to tend to. By using the family pet, a quirky pug named Charlie, the ghost is able to communicate with Kelly and asks her for help. She claims she wants to ensure her loved ones are happy before she departs, but offers very little information about her plans.
Kelly freaks out at first, but gradually finds herself itching to help. It is evident there’s room for improvement in this family… Plus, her growing attraction towards Alex is overpowering…
Will Kelly do the ghost’s bidding? How will it affect her? And just how strange is this pug?
Just launched on Amazon! Grab it at $0.99 before the price goes up!
About the author
Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she loved to sit alone in her garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies, and ants. Today, she writes books for the romantic at heart. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens but her mind forever drifts to her beloved island of Corfu.
Her debut novel, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, has won a silver medal in the 2017 book awards of Readers’ Favorite. The Ebb, her romance set in Corfu that’s inspired from her summers there as a youngster, is an ABNA Q-Finalist.
Effrosyni’s novels are Amazon bestsellers, having hit #1 several times, and are available in kindle and paperback format.
Join her email list for her news and special offers. You’ll get two FREE books seconds after you join! http://effrosyniwrites.com/yours-for-free/
Visit her website to browse through her diverse blog, to watch book trailers, to discover delicious Greek recipes, and more: http://www.effrosyniwrites.com
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