Review of MEASURING THE NETWORKED NONPROFIT by Kanter & Paine

 Reviews  Comments Off on Review of MEASURING THE NETWORKED NONPROFIT by Kanter & Paine
Jan 212013
 

WM-expenses-pie-2006 Attempting to become more effective in my volunteer capacities with nonprofits and social media, I read “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. Published in Autumn 2012, I was hoping for something up-to-date and this book did not disappoint. Most of the references and tools mentioned are current. That hasn’t always been the case for me when reading books related to social media where things tend to change rapidly.

What is excellent about this book is it takes models and theories, for example “ladder of engagement,” and presents these in everyday language, tying in practical advice, current means of measurement, and examples. This helps make complexities of measurement more accessible to those in nonprofits who deal with social media and presenting its results to decision makers. My perspective is that of a volunteer for largely volunteer run organizations, so I had to translate for that regarding the small staff discussions throughout the book. I imagine the same would be true of mid-size nonprofit employers, having to translate back to a smaller scale concern, but I believe this book would be applicable for quite a range of nonprofits.

That is not to say I found the book perfect. For one, transitions between topics can be rather abrupt within chapter narratives, even for a nonfiction book about technical issues. Also, future editions of “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” should correct the one key weakness within it – the examples were rather hit or miss. First, the hypothetical Katie’s Kat Shelter (KKS) was used so many times that it hindered rather than forwarded the points being made. How likely are such concepts and measures to work in the real world if the text’s examples have to be imagined to write about? Even the real world examples needed more care. The full-page SeaWorld example in the chapter on relationship building may indeed be applicable to social media for organizations in crisis, but SeaWorld is a business, not a nonprofit. That’s not to say that business applications aren’t applicable for nonprofits, it just wasn’t presented that way within this book specifically about measurement for nonprofits.

Those concerns aside, MEASURING THE NETWORKED NONPROFIT is an excellent resource for the times. Making complex analyses more accessible is a worthwhile contribution to those involved in helping nonprofits that seek to help in the world.

A bit on Outlines

 General writing practices  Comments Off on A bit on Outlines
Nov 212012
 

I’ve been reworking the outline for the second half of my work-in-progress ‘The Peace Cipher.’ As I clear up the muddy third quarter of my second novel, I thought I’d give a plug for using outlines, particularly if a plot has some complexity.

I understand the “pantser” approach to writing has its advantages in terms of discovery for authors and I think that can work well for many. But, I’m finding that the few readers of early drafts of my work are more likely to appreciate the story elements if I’ve outlined extensively compared to when I have not. Again, this may be because of more complex plots, but I find that’s where I find a novelist can offer readers something different.

There are a variety of tools available for writing effective outlines. I like ‘Scrivener’ as a program for that purpose, but the old-fashioned ‘cork storyboard with notecards’ can work just as well. Whatever method of outlining authors choose, I’ve found it yields more helpful suggestions and comments during initial feedback sessions with early readers.

KDP Select experience – free days were worthwhile for this debut author’s goals

 Tangled Ties to a Manatee, Uncategorized  Comments Off on KDP Select experience – free days were worthwhile for this debut author’s goals
Aug 202012
 

Earlier this month, the exclusive 90-day period with KDP Select for my debut novel concluded. While I chose not to renew it for another period, I did feel it was worthwhile for achieving my goals as a debut author.

I’d read recent blog posts where among those that were still enthusiastic about their KDP Select experience, many were talking about hundreds of downloads a day instead of thousands such as were described back in January. So, I went in thinking that over five free days, 1000 free downloads total was a decent goal. While the final two free days on the 25th & 26th of July mimicked those numbers even while ranking decently in the suspense category, my overall experience was better than anticipated.

Tangled Ties to a Manatee spent much of July 26th ranked in the 20’s for free downloads in the suspense category for Amazon kindle. But, just like any retail store’s department can have slow or busy days, that rank translated to an average of 200 downloads per day in the final third round of free day promotions. Ranking in the 20’s in suspense yielded many more downloads per hour during the second round of promotion for the novel.

I’m grateful for each of the free downloads because it means my novel reached more readers. Amazon’s kindle store being a little slower overall on the 25th & 26th (at least in the suspense category) likely has something to do with the Olympics coverage starting the next day. Folks may have had other entertainment plans for upcoming weeks than reading.

The first round was just one free day promotion coinciding with Summer Solstice. Given my lack of experience with KDP Select, I started with a one day promotion so I could learn the lay of the land. I primarily relied on social networks that day without many listings, though there were a few, for the event. I believe using the hashtag #solstice on twitter helped me reach readers that may not otherwise have seen my listing for that day. So, I was lucky in that not many others emphasized that and the message was retweeted, reaching many streams. On that one day, the novel had about 450 free downloads, better than I anticipated given recent postings about KDP Select outcomes.

The second round, on June 15th & 16th was when Tangled Ties to a Manatee did surprisingly well. Several things led to that. First, there were more listings prescheduled to promote the novel’s free days. Second, a virtual blog tour had started after the first promotion day the month before. Third, there were more reviews by readers posted, both on Amazon and elsewhere. While there was a slow build in the ranks on Sunday, the 15th, the rankings placed well thereafter, particularly in the PM of the 16th. Tangled Ties to a Manatee reached #7 in suspense among free Amazon kindle titles and broke into the top 100 in the overall kindle titles list. Over half of all the downloads during the KDP select program happened during that 12 hour period – Monday PM, July 16th.

One thing to realize about Amazon rankings, the top 10 is where most of the downloads are happening each hour. The difference between being #7 and #27 was hundreds during the evening of July 16th, whereas the difference between #27 and #47 rankings might have been ten downloads for a given hour. So, I was fortunate to ride out a wave that evening and I’m certain my connections on the social networks tired of reading about my novel’s promotion that day.

I was fortunate to have a total of just over 4700 free downloads during the five free days allotted during the 90 days exclusive on KDP Select. Among promotional opportunities that are part of an overall ebook sales emphasis, I believe there is not a better program out there for getting a debut author’s novel to readers choosing the book from a major retailer. I found the experience validating for the work I put into storytelling for the novel.

In hindsight, I would schedule just two rounds of free days, a first round of two days and a second round of three days. It takes time to move up the rank, and that is if one is fortunate since having a free day alone is no guarantee the book will move in and of itself. Listings and promotion during free days are critical. So, it is much easier to ride out a wave for a second day when already placed well in the rankings, than to build each free promotion day individually.

A second thing I would do differently in hindsight is I’d quickly adjust the schedule if ranked in the top 10 in my category and move one of the days remaining from later to the 17th. I had to work my hourly job that Tuesday and had already posted about the remaining two free days in a few venues, so I decided not to do that. But, even at the time, I knew I was unlikely to get that opportunity back for reaching the same number of readers on an hourly basis with the final promotion as scheduled. I just chalk that up to the realities of being a self-published author with a full time job, otherwise. But, if authors have that opportunity, I suggest rescheduling the next day’s promotion when doing well to better optimize free days.

A bit on how this translated to paid sales. I’ve read other authors’ posts, some stating it helped them well with paid sales, others saying it did nothing or even slowed down paid sales while free days were available. My experience is somewhere in between. After those free days where downloads numbered in the 100’s, I did not see a bump up (or down for that matter). After the round where free downloads numbered in the 1000’s, I saw a bump up and had the best week to date in paid sales for Tangled Ties to a Manatee. Part of that may be due to a few paid promotions I had later that same week as a way of layering promotions within a limited budget. But, the bump did occur.

Overall, I would suggest the KDP Select program for introducing a novel for debut authors based on the five free days promotion available during a 90 day ebook exclusive commitment. While results are not guaranteed, there are opportunities to successfully distribute the novel via a major retailer to more readers as authors also maintain that professional sales responsibility while doing so. To reach this author’s goals, the KDP Select program was worthwhile.