book marketing, experiment #29

Because book marketing is tricky and what works is constantly changing, I have to be experimental, agile, and forgiving about my misfires. (And there have been many misfires.)

And quite a few lulls.


that spike on June 23? It’s a giveaway of about a 900 books. Kicked things into high gear for about a week and then it flattened out again.

So then I was sent a link to this book:

How to Hit #1 in the Amazon Free Store by Jeff Bennington, and I decided to apply his steps. Come to find out that first giveaway, wasn’t big enough. I needed a giveaway that was enormous and would move me up the Amazon rankings. And to do that my friends I would have to spend some moolah.

I set my free days for August 15, 16, 17. At first it was for Bright, then I added Beyond and Belief too. See that negative dip above? That’s probably someone who bought my books saying, hey, what the heck, refunding them and getting them for free instead.

See this graph below? That’s the free books in that first green hump, mid August:


First, I asked to promote my giveaway, they’re expensive, also considered the lead-maker, also too exclusive for my books, they turned me down. So whatevs, this is what I did instead:

  • ran a free promo for Bright, but then I added the $30 Deal/Book of the Day
  • cost $60 for Bright on August 15th in the Young Adult category
  • cost $75 for Bright in Young Adult on August 16th
  • I asked BKnights@fiverr to run a promotion for Bright on August 15 to 4800 for $5, but to schedule it fast I paid $11
  • Fussy Librarian $5 for a listing for Bright
  • Then on the days of the giveaways I boosted two posts through, they were photo memes and cost $25

I did the math, total: $206

During the giveaway I got to the top of the Amazon Bestseller list for Dystopian (Free books, which is seperate.) for both Bright and Belief, and Beyond was just a page down. I was really psyched.


But I realized I made a mistake. I paid for marketing for the first two days then continued the giveaway for another day with no buzz. That day my book downloads fell off sharply. And then when my books went to full price there were barely any accidental or intentional buys. Oops.

Then it seemed like not much happened for a few days and then this:screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-9-57-58-am

see that rise in the blue? Those are page reads through the Kindle Unlimited program. It took a few days but readers were findng my books. And this happened:

On August 28, Bright jumped to #88 on the Amazon Best Sellers Dystopian Romance paid list. That’s top 100, baby, same list as Divergent. Not overall, but still, so good compared to what came before. And readers read the heck out of my book that week, too.screen-shot-bright-88-dystopian-aug-28

In the three weeks since the Giveaway of Bright, Beyond, and Belief started, I made back $132.49. Not in the black yet, but hey, I’ll let you know how it goes.

I hope that helps you as you strategize and market, I’d love to hear your successes and failures. I’m scoring this a success, though I need another soon.









Reviews needed

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Perhaps you didn’t know that I now have six books out.

I do, it’s true.

(Also two more on the way, but that’s beside the point;o)

You have probably read a few of them, if not most of them, and for that I am very very grateful.

But perhaps you forgot to leave a review? I know you liked it, but maybe now you could tell the world. For me? Pretty please?

My reviews are great, but there aren’t many, and the lack thereof is hindering my ability to sell, market, and seek accolades.

So, if you’ve read any of the above books, and liked them. Please follow the links below and leave a simple review.



This story knocked my socks off, literally and figuratively, but I wear flipflops now, so it’s all good. Bravo!

See how easy that was?

Here are the links:

Bright (Book One of The Estelle Series)

Beyond (Book Two of The Estelle Series)

Belief (Book Three of The Estelle Series)

Fly: The Light Princess Retold

Violet’s Mountain

Leveling (a novella)

1000 e-books released to the wilds!

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Here’s the truth about self-publishing. It is a difficult, perplexing, self-flagellating experience. You might write beautiful prose, publish exquisitely designed books, and spend a little of most days marketing in some manner and still…

I’ve been told that I must take the long-view. To not worry about sales today, but build a bookshelf of great books and someday…soon…hopefully…they will come.

My shelf has grown to six books.

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A trilogy is now complete. A romance. A fairy tale. A romantic novella.

The reviews are rolling in:

Bright- “I greatly enjoyed this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I read it a second time soon after reading it the first – mostly because the first time, I was so enthralled, I read it very quickly and the second time, I savored it instead.” -K. De Haan

Beyond- “I’ve loved Estelle since first meeting her in Bright and I never expected her journey to come so far. Now I can’t wait to see what she and her friends and family do next. She makes me want to save the world and remember to always star gaze.” A. Goins

Fly- “This is a great book for young readers and teens, even a good read out loud book to share with littler ones. Amelia and Hank are inspiring and fun heros.” Jillydag

Violet’s Mountain- ” I found this book to be a passionate love story with all the twists and turns of a tragic romance, but with a happy ending.” Janzen.

But the sales, not so much.

So yesterday I did the equivalent of kicking the jukebox, or shaking the gold pan, or shuffling the deck—I put three books for free and in one day gave away 1035 books. That’s a big number up from zero. The long view is in play.

If you downloaded one of my books yesterday, thank you and welcome. I think you’ll like them. And I’d love to hear from you if you do.

I write about environmental disasters disorders from a hopeful point of view, because no matter what is happening in the world, people will still live, still create, still love. People, still. It’s a long positive view, one that I’m getting used to taking.

Free e-books for Memorial Day Weekend!

Three to be exact.  On May 27th 12:00 am EST to 11:59 pm EST. Free. Download them now and read them over your holiday.

Bright bestBright, Book One of The Estelle Series. If you haven’t read it yet, what’s taking you so long? If you have, now would be a good time to gift a copy to a friend, the e-book is FREE May 27th. 24 hours only.

BeyondBeyond; Book Two of The Estelle Series, will also be FREE. So pick one up and refresh your memory for when Belief; Book Three of the Estelle Series comes out June 24th. (It would be awesome if you’d pre-order it now, too!)Belief-best-cover-smallest


My romance, Violet’s Mountain,  will also be FREE tomorrow, because what better to do than read about hot sexy surfer boys this summer break?

leveling better finish orange font half submergedAnd if you want more hotness, preorder my new novella, Leveling,  It’s a romantic sexy story in only 20,000 words. Not for kids


Signed Copies…

Would you like Bright, Beyond, Fly and Violet’s Mountain? Signed?


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perfect with NAME MEDIUM SIZE


Purchase and Shipping Options

Tell me which book(s) you want in the message for seller section.

Use the drop down shipping options for the first book. For second, third, fourth books, add multiples of the LA local price. So that you’ll only pay for shipping once. For instance, if you’re in Canada, buy one book at the far away price-$20 and your second, third, and fourth books at the LA Local price.

And if you have any questions let me know, hd @ hdknightley . com

To KindleScout or Not – The Cons

Most of you know that my book Beyond was submitted to KindleScout from August 19-September 19 2015. I heard, two days after the campaign ended, that I did not get a publishing contract. Instead KindleScout wished me “the best” and they hope I’ll “consider Kindle Scout again for your next book!” I was pretty disappointed. That being said, I also learned a lot. Which is what people who are optimists like to think of as a ‘win.’ I’m not sure if I’m an optimist today. Hopefully I’ll come back around later.

I wrote a bit about my decision to submit to KindleScout in the post KindleScout and Beyond. I researched, reading a lot of pros and cons, all from the perspective of having had a successful campaign. Such as, are you willing to accept a low advance? Or are you willing to have no control over the price? I thought these cons were pretty good considering, and submitted to KindleScout anyway, because like everyone who enters a contest, I believed I could win it.

So here’s some cons that you should consider because there is a chance (Dear reader/Author there is a slim slim chance) that, like me, your book won’t get chosen. And I believe your chances are getting worse by the day.

The campaign dashboard is almost completely useless.
Once your book goes live, you have a bit of time where you’re blind because all your information is delayed by a day. This meant that my book entered the campaign without being hot and trending and I had no idea how much I needed to step up my game until the following day. I stepped up my game and got my book in hot and trending very quickly but the only way to know on an hour by hour basis was by checking KindleScout. Pretty much hourly. The dashboard looks pretty but doesn’t tell you what you really need to know, like how many page views make a person hot and trending, how many page views translate to nominations, or even how many of any of them you need over all and finally, how many anyone else has ever gotten. And don’t go to sleep because you’ll need to keep cranking the Hot and Trending machine, by anywhere from 10-200 page visits, or something, your guess.

Don't sleep, gotta keep that Hot and Trending orange bar up, a day ago
Don’t sleep, gotta keep that Hot and Trending orange bar up, a day ago

The author has no idea what the goals are.
Okay, your goals are to get a lot of nominations. But pretty early on you realize that the name of the game is hot and trending. Or is it? And sorry but you don’t ever get to see how many nominations you have, instead you get a page visit tally, delayed of course, by a day.
stats for campaign 2

The rules of the game are shifting.
In August, it looked like about 40+ books were listed on the site. (there is no overall tally) I looked back over the months preceding and books were being published all the time, every few days, sometimes more than one a day, 7-12 a month. By the end of the month, the number of books on the site had doubled and a new category, YA, had been added. (I wanted in that category but they wouldn’t add me mid-campaign sadly.) In September 2015, so far, two books have been picked. Also, and I didn’t figure this out until halfway through the month, the Hot and Trending seems to be capped at 20. I was excited that I was there almost every day, considering, but as the field fills up how will mere mortals get to hot and trending, every day, for 30 days?

I’m not sure how positive news is delivered, but the negative news is fully automated.
KindleScout says that it takes a few business days to decide, but I recieved my letter at midnight on a Sunday, two days after my campaign ended. At the exact same time that all the lovely people who nominated me found out. The letter was a form letter without any information and ‘do not reply.’ In hindsight, and just guessing, I don’t think any human actually read my book, or even much looked at it. I think my campaign never got to the right number of nominations, or level of hot, or whatever, to warrant eyes on the page.

And finally, if your campaign ends in failure, there is literally nothing in it for you.
Either I just marketed my arse off for an entire month to get KindleScout 1300 new customers, with no plus side for me. Or, I just marketed like crazy for my next book, contacting every friend, fan, stranger, and person within a 3 mile radius, and then after a whole month of working my arse off, KindleScout told all of those people, 1300 according to their dashboard, that my book wasn’t good enough to be published. Thanks KindleScout, glad I could help.

I think if I were you, this last one is a huge negative. A screaming pile of stay away. Even if your Aunt Edna believes in your book, she may question her wisdom after hearing how Amazon feels about it. And that new book club that was going to read it in October after it was published, well, they probably just changed their mind.  Until authors have more information about what works, and what KindleScout is looking for, your month is just free marketing for their program, and is at your own detriment.

I saw that a few people were publishing their statistics so that others could see, and try to piece together how this whole thing works, here’s mine: 480 hours of 720 in Hot and Trending, 1300 page views.
stats for kindlescout campaing

If you nominated my book, thank you so much. I plan to publish it in a few days and will let you know when, please sign up for my newsletter to be one of the first to know.
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KindleScout and Beyond

My book, Beyond, could use your nomination: Beyond (Book Two of The Estelle Series) on KindleScout and if you already have, thank you, heaps.


My journey through the world of self publishing has been full of lessons, many difficult lessons. I promise to spend some time writing about what I’ve learned in the near future.

But in the near present, I’ve learned that every time I write a book, (that’s about every 6 months), I’ll need to spend a couple of weeks or more re-learning how to publish and market that book. Things are changing lightning fast. And what worked in February of this year is something totally different in August. It makes things, um, exciting.

In the Spring I came across Kindle Scout, did my research, and passed. I was, on the one hand, happily self-publishing and, on the other, mailing agent queries. I didn’t want or need to enter a popularity contest for a publishing contract. I was above that kind of thing, and uninterested in a third way.

Which is odd for me because ‘third ways’ are kind of my thing.

After the agent queries didn’t work out (I sent an excerpt of Violet’s Mountain, which is AWESOME, yet didn’t even get one response out of twelve. And I’m not talking about positive response, I’m talking about any response at all.) Perhaps it’s my gender? But then again, like a good girl, I’ve hidden my gender behind the initials in my name, right? But not even one response? Not one?

The truth is there are too many books being queried and not enough people to read them all. I get it. The gatekeepers are swamped. They built the gate and it’s too small, so there is a literal chaotic press of people trying to get through. It’s ugly. And so, to deal, agents and publishers create instant biases:

  • “Not interested in more books by women.”
  • “Vampires are so three years ago.”
  • “If the query doesn’t grab me in the first three words, I pass.”
  • “If I read another story about quirky cancer kids I’ll scream.”
  • and lastly, “If the author self-published before, then, of course, pass.”

I revisited Kindle Scout when I finished my sequel to Bright . I was doing my ‘What’s Changed?’ research and this time thought, This is an interesting way to get to the front of the line at that gate.

These are the basics:

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

There are some great articles about Kindle Scout. My favorite is, Kindle Scout, the pros and cons of Amazon’s new crowd-sourced publishing program I decided I was okay with the cons. And because it’s all one big experiment, why not?

I very much liked this take on Kindle Scout:

We need Kindle Scout to succeed.

If novels presented on the Kindle Scout platform are solely selected as a popularity contest, we all lose. Authors, readers, even Amazon. What we need are active readers selecting those works that are truly deserving of a publishing contract, helping to sift through some of the slush and promote great work and up-and-coming novelists.

I agree—this might be a great way to turn off those gatekeeper biases and help more writing, from more voices, through the gate—by readers vouching for the books they’d like to read.

So if you haven’t yet, please go over to Kindle Scout and nominate my book, Beyond. And while you’re at it nominate a couple of others. It’s fun! And if you nominate a book that becomes published, it will appear (like a miracle) inside of your kindle-reader-thingy. My book *I hope I hope I hope* in your kindle, because it’s published by Kindle Press, and it would all be thanks to you!
Thanks dear friend for reading all the way to the low down bottom of the page,

Book Club Questions for Fly

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Will your book club be reading Fly this year? Would you like a list of good questions?

  1. Does Amelia view her constant flying as a curse or a gift? How does her view change over time? And would you like to be able to fly?
  2. Before Amelia met Hank she was happy and carefree, but he explained to her about the water shortage, put her in dangerous situations, and caused her to feel sadness. Do you believe her life was better having met Hank? Was being brought down to earth a happy ending for Amelia?
  3. Amelia’s flight gave her independence and carelessness, and when she felt connected to others, she regained her gravity. Which state, independence or connectedness, do you prefer? What are the downsides and benefits of both?
  4. Though Hank was a lowly guitar-strumming, surfer-boy, he had enough confidence to try and change the Princess’s views about the drought. Once Amelia believed she mattered, she changed the course of her Kingdom’s history. If you believed you could fix a big problem, which would you choose, and what would you do to solve it?
  5. Read Fly by H.D. Knightley along with The Light Princess by George MacDonald. One of The Light Princess’s themes is that gravity, weight, and sorrow are necessary for love. Compare this to the themes of Fly—what are the similarities and differences?

Learn more about the water issues in Fly:

Water Privatization:

Patagonia’s Dam Removal documentary

Local Water:

A list of International Water Organizations:

 Buy your copy here: (Want to order a stack? Drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do to help!)

Here’s a print-out:

book club questions fly– Fly by H.D. Knightley


Let me know if I can help in any way!