Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Confessions of a Middle Grade Indie Author Part 2

Amazon Free Days, Blog tours and other tips to maintain your sanity.

Hi there. Today I would like to welcome back Julie Grasso. I recently interviewed her after the release of her first book.

She has just released her sequel Return To Cardamom, and I am delighted to close off her blog tour today.  Hop on over to the other stops to check out the buzz for her exciting Middle Grade Science Fiction books.

Julie is going to do something a little different. She will share with us her experience of publishing her first two books. Take it away, Julie.

Thank you, Cheryl, for the opportunity to share with your readers today.

To explain the title of this post, this is in fact part two. I have posted about my pathway towards Indie publishing on a fellow Aussie’s blog a few months ago so for anyone interested in that process.

However, Today I am going to focus on after I pushed that all intimidating “Publish” button on CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing.


If you can imagine the Law and Order classic one note introduction and that deep male voice over.

Escape From The Forbidden Planet was released on Kindle and Paperback. This article is about the independent publishing experience of Julie Anne Grasso, here is her story.

NB: At this point I didn’t actually know what an ARC was and a blog tour sounded side some weird form of marching slime lol.

Week 1: Amazon Ranking #96,203 Paperback, #899,388 Kindle,


Nothing, nada, zip, not even my parents rushed out to purchase.

All is not lost, I have a few things up my sleeve yet.

1. I started a Facebook page

2. I launched a simple website

3. I joined the Goodreads Author Program

4. I sent review requests to about 40 bloggers that I had narrowed down to taking middle grade and independent books

Fast Forward weeks 4-10: Amazon ranking unchanged, still in the stratosphere, but I had some reviewers agree to take the book.  Still, that takes time and apart from well meaning family and friends, my sales were

MEDIOCRE or shall I rephrase that to non-existent lol.

Buckets of tears… Why did I think I could do this on my own…

I Read this great article by Jeff Bennington about free promotional days

I decided to do 4 Things
  • Drop my book to 99c
  • Scheduled a 3 day Free Promo that just happened to be over Thanks Giving.
  • Post my Free Promo on the Kidlit Blog hop on
  • Post the info on a few free sites (there are loads, so plan 2 weeks ahead)

Voila: Action stations

3.30 pm, I was #4 in the Free Store for 9-12 free chapter books. My book was being listed alongside Jeff Kinney’s Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, and Rick Riordan’s Mark of the Athena.

How you ask? Because Amazon posts the top Paid and top Free books alongside each other.

The result: EXPOSURE

Over the next few weeks, I managed to rank#1,937 in the Paid Kindle Store, but even better even than that, I began to rank in my Genre.  #48 in Children’s ebooks, Science Fiction. #55 in Children’s ebooks, Ages 9-12

I even hit Number One for a few hours a couple of nights.

I also started getting some much sought after reviews, but how does giving away your book work you ask? Well, when I released book 1, Amazon treated free books like sales, and therefore your book was recommended exponentially.

But that’s not the end of the story obviously.

I have just released book 2, and there are definitely a few things that I have done differently this time round.

  1. I had my book edited again, but I also had it proof read by 7 separate people. You would be amazed at what one person picked up but another didn’t.
  2. I had Jo Harrison from format my book for Createspace and Kindle. She was excellent and it only cost me around $170 AU, well worth spending the money.
  3. I did a cover reveal and $50 Amazon card giveaway to coincide with Book week and the Kid Lit Blog Hop Giveaway. I set adding my book to a person’s Goodreads bookshelf the highest entry value.
  4. I offered ARC’s to bloggers and Goodreads friends who had actually posted a review for book 1 and let them know a possible blog tour may be happening.
  5. I made the ARC’s available 9 weeks prior to release, which is not a straight forward process when you are self publishing using Createspace and Kindle Direct publishing. How did I do it?
    • After I uploaded a formatted file to KDP, it gives you the option to download a MOBI and a PDF as a previewer. I used this as my ARC for people who were happy for a digital copy ( thanks to Steve Lothian for that tip)
    • For Createspace I found that once the file was uploaded, you are only able to order 5 copies at a time and to one shipping destination. As some people prefer paperback so I had to go through proof review process so that I could order a new proof each time and ship it directly to the reviewer. NB as I am in Australia, it is much cheaper for me to ship directly from Createspace then to get proof’s shipped to me and then reship them.
  6. I planned a Goodreads Giveaway of 5 ARC’s to run 1 month prior to my release. This had an added benefit of when people enter, they can also add my book to their goodreads bookshelf. The catch is that Goodreads will only let you offer paperbacks for giveaways, so I had to have the 5 ARC’s shipped to me first, then on to the winners.  A costly but worthwhile expense due to the exposure it gained me.
  7. I planned a Blog tour with the most super awesome, wonderful, innovative, blogger who’s specific reach and readers are Middle Grade.
  8. The lovely and super awesome Carolyn developed some great student pages to accompany my books.


Amazon is seems has now changed the way they do things. Indie writers are reporting that Free book days are no longer effective, and I have to say, I agree. Goliath seems to have won this round but done worry, the David’s of the book industry, ( indie’s like myself will soldier on).

And here we are at the close of the blog tour.

Huge thanks all the bloggers and friends that got on board and supported me by reviewing and interviewing me over the tour. Special thanks to Sue, Steve, Jemima, Christine, Erik and Cheryl and Carolyn for encouraging me, sharing your wisdom and support. You are truly wonderful souls.

To Renee for your unfailing optimism, savvy blogging skills and all round fantastic chick. To my sisters, Linda and Dawn for endless support and to Danny and Gigi, the light of my dreary old life.

Return to Cardamom Blog Tour

About Return to Cardamom

Return to
Cardamom by Julie Anne Grasso

Title: Return to Cardamom (Caramel Cardamom Trilogy, Book #2)

Author: Julie Anne Grasso

Publisher: Independent

Publication Date: July 17, 2013

Pages: 136 (Paperback)

Recommended Age: 9+

Summary: Life is sweet for Caramel and things are finally getting back to normal. Well, as normal as it can be for a telepathic elf who can train trees and control computers, but she soon finds life on Cardamom is not all cupcakes and apple cider. A saboteur is hiding in the rainforest canopy, and the elves’ precious cardamom export has been wiped out. Caramel is certain it’s another trick of Alexander222 and her Aunt Isabel, but no one will believe her, and the clock is ticking. She must expose the saboteur in time to save the crop or the Elves of Cardamom will lose their livelihood. Caramel won’t rest until her theory is proven. While she is on the hunt, she makes a shocking discovery, one that will change everything.


The Buzz About Book 1: Escape From the Forbidden Planet

Escape from the Forbidden Planet by Julie Anne
Grasso"Julie Anne Grasso has created an action-packed story featuring a range of interesting and imaginative characters (i.e., elves, the Alexanders, and other creatures), intergalactic travel, advanced medical and scientific technology, and complex environmental and conservation issues. Escape From the Forbidden Planet contains an intricate plot which slowly unfolds until you're hooked and you are left on the edge of your proverbial seat wondering what will happen next." ~ Mother Daughter Book Reviews, 5 Stars

"It's part geeky, part science, and part fun, all brought together to become this awesome book called Escape From The Forbidden Planet. I would recommend this book to reading age kids and adults who like sci-fi kids books. Definitely something different. I really enjoyed reading it!" ~ Michael S., Amazon, 5 Stars

"I loved this book. Super great series for middle graders. I loved Caramel. She has a great attitude and determination. I really admired how she was focused on getting home, saving her family but also made the best of being stuck on an alien planet. Definitely a book with great role models for kids. I really hope there is more to come where this came from. Kids need books like this with catchy stories, solid characters who have good values that they can relate to." ~ Unorthodox Mama, Goodreads, 5 Stars.

About the Author

Julie Grasso -
Author Julie Anne Grasso is an Australian author with a background in paediatric nursing. She spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf just like them. Add in some very funky technology, her love of science fiction and desire to impart great values through her little girl elf named Caramel and there you have it, the Adventures of Caramel Cardamom Trilogy was the result.

Julie lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little elf Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai lattes, chasing a toddler, and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.

Facebook page: Julie Anne Grasso Books
Twitter: @Jujuberry37
Goodreads Author: Julie Anne Grasso

Return to Cardamom Blog Tour Schedule (2013)

July 17

July 18
July 19
July 20
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 24
July 25
July 26
July 27
July 28
July 29
July 30
July 31

*** Return to Cardamom Blog Tour Giveaway ***

Return to Cardamom by Julie Anne GrassoAmazon $50 Gift Card


Prize: One winner will receive a copy (print in U.S./Canada & e-copy interntionally) + a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash

Contest runs: July 17th to August 7th, 11:59 pm, 2013

Open: WW

How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send us an email!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Oh Julie!!! We all love you back!!! This is an absolutely FANTASTIC post. Every newby indie author should read this (and Part 1). I didn't know about the Amazon free days no longer being effective. We'll have to chat about that - I'm very curious.

    Thank you so much for your kind words about me and our site. You are quite a fantastic chick yourself, Thel! ;)

    Big thank you to Cheryl for agreeing to host a blog tour stop!

  2. Thank you so much to Cheryl for taking the time for me today and for joining in my blog tour. It has been a wild ride and I have loved it. Best Wishes, Julie

  3. Looks great Julie! I wish you all the luck in the world! So exciting!

  4. Julie, Thanks for sharing your story with us. Best of luck on your writing!