A Bad News and Good News Post

A Bad News and Good News Post

Greetings all,

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front CoverI’m a bad news (sort of) up front kind of guy. When I woke up today, I saw a one-star review for The Journals of Bob Drifter.  You can see that here.  You can’t please them all. Still, I’m truly grateful the reviewer took the time to offer not just a rating, but a line of review. Any review is a good review. This reader 1) purchased my book, which supported me; 2) rated my books, which helped my visibility; and 3) left a review, which also helped with my visibility.

To any who might feel compelled to defend me, please don’t. I truly mean that. I ask every reader to offer a review, even if they hate it. It is helpful, and it is kind to leave a review, even if that review doesn’t sing my praises.

Sojourn_Ebook_CoverSo not only is that news not really bad at all, but there is good news. I’m happy to announce that the audiobook for Sojourn in Despair is pretty much undergoing editing as we speak.  Courtney Sanello was selected to narrate the book, and I’m eager to see how she takes her fantastic audition and converts it into a full audiobook. She’s already submitted the first fifteen minutes, and I honestly think she’s about wrapped up with the rest pending my notes on the first fifteen.

Since I’m just posting some updates, AwesomeCon is next week, and I’ll be there with Steven D’Adamo and Jessie Gutierrez from Red String Paper Cuts. I’m stoked to see how the new titles (two new books from their point of view), do. I’m also thrilled to market alongside two friends. I’ve read Steven’s book, and I’m hoping it does well at the convention too.

Those are some bits of news from my neck of the woods. I’m always happy to share with readers. You all really do make this dream of mine possible.

Thank you, always, for reading,


Book Review: The Warden of Everfeld: Memento by Steven D’Adamo

Book Review: The Warden of Everfeld: Memento by Steven D’Adamo
warden of everfeld
Cover image taken from Amazon for review purposes under Fair Use Doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary: In The Warden of Everfeld: Memento by Steven D’Adamo Jaed is a young woman who’s sister carries a secret in her blood. When that secret threatens her family, Jaed takes her sister and runs. Aston has dreamed of being a warrior his whole life, but when he’s asked to track down the only woman he’s ever loved, he’s forced between his desire to be a fighter and his desire to be with the woman he loves.  NOTE:  Steven is a friend. I actually bought my copy directly from him while we were having dinner. He’s been a great source of support. You can factor that into your opinion of this review, but I assure you my opinion of this book is based on the book and not my deep respect for its author.


Character:  Jaed was a wonderful character.  I think her arc all by itself would have made for a wonderful story. She’s proactive and sympathetic. She’s smart without being too perfect. Sure she has a flaw or two, but what character doesn’t? The simple truth is I get her. She’s a sister watching out for her own, and that resonates with me.  Aston, well, not so much. There’s a lot of exposition (see below) and Aston suffers for it. Also, he spends a great portion of the book not really doing much, and that dragged the story down a bit for me.  Once Aston got moving, he got fun to read. I felt like his arc had some missed opportunities, but overall I enjoyed him once he was doing stuff.

Back cover taken from Amazon for review purposes under Fair Use Doctrine. Steven doesn’t seem to have an image I can find quickly, and this back cover is just stunning!

Description: Fans of bigger fantasy books with heavy description will like this.  I thought it was a bit much, but I’ll admit it didn’t drag the story down. It’s probably still more streamlined than some of the work I mentioned above, but it had more description that I tend to like, which  is less than most readers want.

Thanks for reading,


A Guest Post from Steven D’Adamo! The Basics of PPC Marketing with Taboola

A Guest Post from Steven D’Adamo! The Basics of PPC Marketing with Taboola

Greetings All,

I’m super stoked about this post.  I’ve known Steven since I’ve started blogging, and I consider him a friend above all. I also consider him one of my top marketing mentors, so when he offered to create a post, I jumped at  the chance.  His book, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, is out now, and I’ve already ordered my paperback version and added it to my impossible to whittle down TBR list on Goodreads.   So, if you’re like me, and you feel like marketing is a tough nut to crack, please see below.


When I tell people I used to use PPC marketing as part of my job, they give me funny looks. When I tell them that I am now using PPC marketing to promote my first novel, they’re downright flummoxed.

But Pay-Per-Click Marketing is really quite simple: you pay a particular service to feed your webpages, articles, or blogs to other content-driven websites, where they can be seen by a wider, more diverse audience. You then only pay the service provider when a user clicks on your headlines and visits your website.

In this post, I’ll provide a basic overview of how to create and manage a PPC campaign through Taboola.

Creating a Taboola Campaign

There are many PPC services, but I chose to use Taboola, because of the two PPC services I used at my former job – Taboola and Outbrain – I found that Taboola has a better user interface and can be done more cheaply than Outbrain.

Setting up a new campaign is fairly straightforward.

  1. In your Taboola dashboard, click Campaign Management on the left menu, and click New Campaign.
  2. Name your campaign. I use a simple convention: RSPC – Publish Announcement – Smartphone, so I can differentiate the website, content, and platform for the campaign right away.
  3. Select your timeframe. The shortest campaigns should be 10-14 days, but I think 4-6 weeks is optimal.
  4. Campaign Settings 1Select your targeting locations. Taboola lets you get into regions, cities, and even zip codes, but for most campaigns, you’ll want to stick with one country, like the US.
  5. Choose your platform: desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Some people like to include Tablet and Smartphone together, since these are both “mobile,” but I prefer to use each platform separately.
  6. Then, set your Cost Per Click bid and spending limit. You may have to start with a higher click rate, like $0.45-$0.50 per click, but Taboola lets you adjust this throughout the campaign. Your spending limit puts a monetary cap on your campaign, so you can plan the length and limit of your campaign based on your budget. 

Campaign Settings 2There are other settings you can use, but those are the primary ones you will want to consider.

Next, you’ll want to create your content by adding URLs for the webpage you want to promote. I highly recommend using only one URL per campaign. If you have multiple URLs to promote, set each one up in a distinct campaign. However, for each URL campaign, write 3-6 unique headlines. This will help you capture the widest audience for your content.

For my content, I chose to promote my blog post announcing the pre-order period for my novel: https://redstringpapercuts.com/2018/06/19/the-warden-of-everfeld-memento-is-being-published/

Taboola Headlines

I used the above four headlines across three campaigns for Tablet, Desktop, and Smartphone, targeting the U.S. – basically casting a wide net just to gauge initial interest in my novel.

For the image, I asked my cover illustrator to provide me with a high-quality image of my full cover without any of the text – Taboola does not like text in images. I then tried to diversify my headlines between a few key themes:

  • Giving a quick tagline about the main characters
  • Announcing the publication date for a new novel
  • Presenting the reader with a question to make them curious
  • Enticing readers interested in world-building or fantasy universes

One or two of these headlines will certainly perform better over the others, but finding out which ones will tell me a lot about my target audience.

Here is how my campaigns did on the first day:

Taboola Campaign Comparison Day 1

Impressions tell me how many people saw my headline, while Clicks tell me how many of those Impressions actually clicked on my content. CTR, or Click-Through-Rate, is simply a ratio of clicks to impressions. Average CPC tells me about how much I’m spending per click on each campaign, and Spent gives the total dollar amount spent.

Now, a few notes on my actual results:

  • I received the fewest clicks (15) on my Desktop campaign, but spent the highest amount to get them ($7.50, tied with total Spent for Smartphone).
  • The CTR for Desktop is also a bit low – 0.03% (An average CTR is 0.03%-0.05%)
  • By contrast, my Smartphone campaigns received the most clicks (32), with the highest CTR (0.12%), and a high Spend ($7.50).
  • The Tablet campaign performed well, and still way better than Desktop.

Conclusion: I should consider re-allocating my budget away from the Desktop campaign, and toward the Smartphone and Tablet campaigns. These results are only from the first day, so I’ll wait another day or two before adjusting to see how things shake out over a longer period. A single day is really only a snapshot of my campaigns’ potential.

Next, I’ll want to see how my individual headlines are performing against each other. I already know that Smartphone and Tablet are doing well, so I’ll look at all of my headlines together to see which of the four stand out across all three campaigns.

Taboola Content Day 1

The above screen only shows eight of my 12 total headlines, but that’s okay. The other four have received 0 clicks so far. And, Taboola’s content algorithm promotes headlines that perform well, so these already have a head-start over the rest.

Now for some quick notes on my headline performance:

  • “What do honor and memory mean…” This is performing well across all platforms: 34 total clicks for an average CTR of 0.05%. The Desktop version may sink with its poor CTR of 0.02%, but this headline is a winner overall.
  • “Explore the Unique World…” is showing some potential, but it has a lot of catching up to do.
  • The other two headlines appear to be scrapping it out for second place.

Conclusion: I can already see that my top-performing headline is successful at drawing in readers, so I can consider using this one again for a later campaign.

The overall order and performance of these headlines will certainly change over the course of these campaigns, but I’m betting one of the current top three maintains its current dominance.

That’s all for now! I’ll keep an eye on each campaign’s performance over the next 10-14 days and decide then if I want to extend them. Visit Red String PaperCuts in a couple weeks for an update on how my PPC campaigns performed.