For Authors: Email Marketing Companies Compared, Pt3 : Launching a new release!

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I am a little late on this post, but it relates to my marketing strategy used back in June with the release of my 3rd book, Buried Lies. In this post, I plan on mostly focusing on using 99cents as a strategy for a new release, as well as discussing/comparing the email marketing companies I used to spread the word for the new release.

So, for the first time I decided to make my new release 99cents for a limited time. I saw a lot of other authors using this strategy, which helped get them great sales/ranking, so I thought- what did I have to lose?

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Part 1 of the plan: Include an extract from Buried Lies in my other books with a note that the book is at a special preorder price of only 99cents (before going up to $2.99). I put the link to buy directly before and after the extract. I also mentioned to my readers they can get all of my books at only 99cents when they’re released–so they might want to sign up for my email newsletter, so they’ll be the first to learn when my books are a/v for preorder or just released. (Note: Smashwords- you cannot mention price in your books, so I noted it is on sale for a limited time. Amazon- you can note the price of 99cents).

Part 2 of the plan: Preorder blitz – Had a blog company advertise (this to me was a waste of time) & I emailed my subscribers & boosted a post of my Facebook page. A lot of traffic was driven to my Amazon page, which prompted Amazon to quickly add the “customers also viewed…”- and I believe this adds some legitimacy. Once I had enough preorders–it switched to “customers also bought”.

I use a bitly address for the links in connection to my extracts in the back of my book to track how many people are taking action and (assumption is)- then preordering after reading the extract. Most of my preorders were from the extract. I had about 5xs the number of preorders than my other books- most likely because I’d begun to build a fan base (coupled with the seductive 99cents offer).

BURIED LIES (1)

Part 3 of the plan: Sign-up for email marketing companies for the week of release. Plus, I had a 2 week blog tour set up (I do this for reviews, not for sales… but now Amazon has begun to remove reviews related to blog tours–more about this in my next post)…

I chose Monday as the release date so I could maximize advertising for the entire week (normally Tuesday is the release day). My preorders credited to the day before (Sunday).

**Note: You need to meet the review/rating requirements on your backlist for most of these companies to feature a new release without any reviews**

Monday- Myromancereads.com ($90)

Tuesday- Fussy Librarian (2 categories) $24

Wednesday- Book Gorilla ($50)

Thurs- Bargain Booksy ($70)

Fri- E News Reader Today ($45-50)

*One day I had ERomance/Manybooks– I just can’t remember which day.

Note: PAIDAUTHOR- Great website, which gives coupons for some companies & offers real numbers about results: http://www.paidauthor.com/

THE RELEASE & ranking of above companies + results:

I don’t have individual numbers on hand, but in the 6 days I advertised, I generated about 1,000 sales across retailers. This was def. the best launch I had. Now, the royalties are only 35cents on Amazon (60cents on others), but the great thing was I began selling the other books in my series on a regular basis without any advertising.

Best results in order.

  1. Myromancereads
  2. ENEWSREADERTODAY)
  3. Bargain Booksy
  4. Book Gorilla – They had way too many books on their list in my opinion, and I wonder if sales were down because of that- or because it was a Wednesday (and I seem to have the lowest sales this day). I have read Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, and Friday’s are the best days to advertise…jury is still out.
  5. Others (about the same)

Other results:

I was in Amazon’s top 100 for my category briefly – and next time I may stack some of the companies together (my next month’s release)- to generate a higher ranker. BUT… Amazon had me for a few days in their “Amazon’s new release best seller list” for Romance Suspense and Romance military. I didn’t even realize this existed until I stumbled upon it accidentally. I did hit #1 in romance military in Canada (not too hard to do), but it was still pretty cool to see.

Barnes & Nobles was the real shocker. They featured me in their new release best seller list (overall + romance)- and I began getting dozens of dozens of sales daily + my backlist while I was on there, and even hit #4 in my category. A FIRST FOR ME.

APPLE– Looks like Apple does not feature books on their recent bestseller list if they are 99cents. They do list you as a new release though. As soon as my book went back to the regular 2.99 price- I was on their recent bestseller list.

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Book trailer: I also used a book trailer I had made once my book was back at regular price. I had great results on FB using this trailer, and I was very pleased. Of course, the longer an ad runs on FB the cost per click tends to increase, so you need to delete the boost and retarget to lower the cpc.

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Will I do this again? I am already setting up the same plan now for my next release, Forever Rome, which comes out 9.20. As I mentioned before, I may stack a few email companies for the same day and I’ll see how this impacts results. My new release is the first in my new series & a different subgenre- so I will be targeting other readers.

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I recently made the first book in my romantic suspense, Hidden Truths series, free. This is a whole other topic–needing a new post. I plan on sharing the good, the bad, the ugly… and the fantastic… about advertising a free book next. So stay tuned!

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Advertising/Marketing for Indie Authors

 

Up until a few weeks ago I was paying $50 to have Facebook ads/banners created. I am not great at graphic design, so I didn’t think I’d be capable of creating my own. But when I saw how much I could purchase images from shutterstock.com (5/$50), I decided I needed to create ads/banners/teasers on my own.

This information is probably old news to most, but if I can even help 1 person I’d love to share what I have learned. After a lot of research I discovered canva.com. This website is amazing. The price for each ad/banner/design is between $0-1. Hmm. Free/$1 or the $50 I was spending before–not a tough decision. I can create so many different ads/banners/teasers.

I spent a lot of time playing around with it, and I am still learning, but here are a few sample ads/banners/teasers I have created. Just note- be careful for the ratio of text to image for Facebook ads (I am sure most are aware of their stringent – no more than 20% text rule)…

 

A lot of the above are teasers & are used mostly for Twitter or blog tours (the ones with a lot of text, that is)… I like using quotes on these images since you’re limited on how much you can type in a Twitter post.

A couple notes on advertising:

-I am releasing the 3rd book in my series at a preorder/new release price of only $0.99. Another successful author I know does this, and I was originally hesitant, but I realized the genius in it… 1) Having an extract to my book in the back of the others with a note about the price = A lot more preorders than I got on the other books. 2) I can use all of the wonderful email marketing companies for this book even though it is a new release (as long as my previous books meet the rating requirement). I already have 3 companies lined up the week of release (and the rest cannot be submitted until the sale is within 30 days). I had a lot of success with bookgorilla, booksends, ENT, and myromancereads on my previous marketing campaigns for books 1 & 2- so, I’m hopeful for this book.

-Facebook Spending… I have only spent a few dollars here and there, but every once and awhile I’ll do a $20 ad. What I discovered is I get the same amount of clicks on a $5 ad as I do a $20 ad. As for using the Ads Manager versus boosting a post… With Ads Manager I stopped allowing Facebook to put the ad on Instagram/Right hand side/3rd party (why?- Well, I was getting charged $1 or more per click on Instagram/Right-hand ads)–which is nuts… And I’d get a TON of click on third-party ads (but the conversion rate was SUPER low). Whenever I only had the mobile/desktop option selected–> Most clicks–>Most conversions (least amount spent!)

Boosting a post- interestingly I get a lot of likes/shares/comments (less clicks on the link though!). So for the last $3 ad I boosted on my page, I had 20 likes/5 page likes/9 shares (all within a few hours)… But less sales than when I used the ads manager (which usually results in 1-3 likes though)…

Okay. So there is my 2cents in all of this. I am not sure if it helps. I do notice though when I run an ad during the week only– the sales mostly appear on the weekend. My guess is they download a sample, read, then decide to buy. Have my results been successful with Facebook ads? If I spend $20, I usually make between $25-40 (so there is a profit of $5-20, but then when I do not advertise the following week, I see steady sales, so my hope is those customers have bought the next book).

PLEASE SHARE ANY WEBSITES/SUCCESSES/TIPS HERE. THANK YOU. And be sure to add a LINK to one of your books on the market!

 

 

For Authors: Email Marketing Companies Compared, Pt 2

Back in January I published a post about my first real attempt to utilize email marketing companies to gain new readers for my book. At the time, only the first book in my series was out. In the post, I compared different email marketing companies, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t yet: Email Marketing Companies Compared.SaleHiddenTruthsSeries-BSahin_FINALWith the release of the 2nd book in my series, I decided to place both books on sale. For my first novel I used the $0.99 price point, and I offered a 25% lower price if the 2nd book was purchased via pre-order (or around the time of the release). Below, I will tell you about which companies I used as well as my results.

Note:

  • I emailed BookBub (hey, why not)- and submitted Silenced Memories. They responded quickly by saying no. Their reason: The book was on sale less than 90 days ago. I never read the fine print, because to be honest, I never expected to get in…
  • I also hoped to get my book back in ENT (E-Reader News Today). The promotion I ran last time had my book in the top 100 for Romance Suspense for–well … about two hours. But still … Unfortunately, by the time they responded to me, they said they had zero availability.
  • I also tried Books Butterfly– They slotted me for April (even though I requested the first week in March, saying they were booked up until then). My book is not on sale in April though, so that did not happen as well. *Books Butterfly has a sales guarantee*

What was my strategy?

My goal was to get back in the top 100 for Silenced Memories, and I hoped that those sales would lead to sales for my 2nd book. Because I could not get into ENT or BookBub, I decided to use several companies- and hoped for the same effect.

DID IT WORK for Silenced Memories? Well, close…

*I got back into the top 100 for Romance Military on Amazon.com (and around 1,000 in the overall Kindle store. (Lasted for over 24hrs this time)… Top 50 in Amazon France for romance military and romance suspense. Top 30 for Romance Military in Canada.

*I also went from 196,000 on B&N to 996 for one whole day! Woohoo.

Who did I use for my 2nd book?

  1. Tues (3/1) Fussy Librarian for my NEW RELEASE. Yes, they accept new releases. Did it generate sales? It is hard to tell for Amazon/Nook/Ibooks, because I had the ad out the day of my release. I do know that it drove a lot of traffic to Smashwords, because I didn’t advertise my book as being in Smashwords (other than with Fussy Librarian)–and some sales were generated on there, so I assume I can correlate those sales with this ad.
  2. Sun (3/6) Romance E-book Deals (only $15)- and they also will advertise a new release. Again, it is hard to say how many sales were a direct result of this ad, but it was almost a week after my release (so I’d say at least 10 came from this ad)…
  3. 2/29-3/4: BLOUR TOUR. 39 Blogs Advertised my book.

Silenced Memories, book 1: Due to the close proximity of the ads it is hard to guarantee which ad created the exact number of sales, but this should give you some idea..

  1. Thurs (3/3) Romance E-book Deals for Silenced Memories as well. (11 sales the day of the ad).
  2. Fri (3/4) Book Gorilla – 70 sales on Amazon (zero on others)
  3. Sat (3/5) BookSends – 58 sales on Amazon (3- other)
  4. Sun (3/6) MyRomanceReads (hefty ad fee of $90)- 120 sales on Amazon, (16-Other)
  5. Mon (3/7)- Sale but no ad: 50 sales on Amazon (still in top 100-hit the night before); 7-other
  6. Tues (3/8)- Sale, no ad: No longer in top 100 -32 sales on Amazon; 2-other

What is crazy is that ENT only cost $45, but produced the same results as those 4 campaigns above combined … So, I recommend ENT!!

Now, what will I do when my books are back at full price for adverting? Stay tuned for my next advertising post in regards to Facebook ads!

Please, share what has worked for you!

 

 

 

For Authors: E-mail Marketing Companies Compared

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During the holiday season I decided to try out 3 different e-mail marketing companies for my first novel, Silenced Memories. I will discuss the results of each below. I did attempt to submit my book to 3 other websites as well, but they were booked (because many other authors were probably thinking the same thing-holiday promotion!)

  1. December 5th- ENT- E-Reader News Today

Sale price Dec. 5th-Dec. 6th

Price for ‘romance suspense’ – $45 (price varies depending on genre)

E-book discounted from $2.99 to $.99

Books sold on day 1: 208 Amazon; less than 10 between ibooks & nook

Books sold on day 2 (no promo running): 46 Amazon; less than 5 (ibooks/nook)

Overall results: I think this campaign was very successful. Gaining that many new readers was great. I also reached #69 on romance suspense on Amazon (for a few hours!) & #49 on romance military. I made my money back, which is always nice. And my sales remained steady each day after the sale ended.

2. Dec. 29th- FUSSY LIBRARIAN

They have you list dates for your sale (so mine ran until Jan 3rd). Since readers know this, they have more time to download and sample before buying. So, I assumed results would be more scattered. Fussy librarian will also advertise your book at an every day low price (so next time I plan on doing that at the reg. price of $2.99). I also plan on using them for my new release in March. They will promote the book (without reviews) as long as another one of your books meet their review requirement.

Price: $17

Sale price: $0.99

Books sold on day 1: 13 on Amazon; 5 nook; 2 ibooks

Dec 30th-Jan 1: 20 on Amazon; 6 more between nook/ibooks

Overall results: Not the greatest results, but I am also wondering if New Years (parties/family, etc.) might have impacted number of views. Again, I will try them again with my 2nd book – because the cost is low (so minimal risk). Continued sales is questionable considering I ran another promo on the 2nd (so I cannot analyze that data).

3. Jan. 2nd- Manybooks.net

Manybooks contacted me after viewing my book on Fussy Librarian and asked if I’d like to run a promo for a discount ($19). Since my sale ended on the 3rd, I decided–why not? They ran the promotion on the 2nd.

Books sold on day 1: 27 on Amazon; 10 between ibooks/nook

Books on day 2 (last day of sale): 8 on Amazon; 6 between ibooks/nook

*Sales in Italy, U.K., Canada, and Australia from this campaign as well, which was nice.

Overall results: I was surprised by the results, as I was not anticipating too much since I’d never heard of the company before and it was hard to access my book on their website (and they didn’t update their facebook page because of the holiday)- so sales were strictly from their email. Clearly I had better results than with Fussy Librarian. My sales on ibooks, nook, and Amazon have continued each day following this sale at the regular price. I have made more profit post sales (at reg. price) than I did during the sale, which is always a plus. But being new in the game of publishing–I value each sale (each new reader)- so I am def. more excited about the increase in new readers (and subscribers to my website) than I am about sales!

*A side note- Amazon did not update my price on the 4th after several requests. The were incorrectly price-matching. I always change the price at ibooks/nook before Amazon to avoid this (because nook takes the longest to update). When I called Amazon – they apologized (discovered I was right)- and at least gave me 70% commission off the sales (opposed to 35%) & a little more money as well to compensate for their error!

 

***** Well, I hope this helps any of you that have yet to embark on the marketing/sales journey***

If anyone knows of e-mail marketing companies that DO NOT require a discount (aside from Fussy Librarian) – please comment below. THANKS!

Snapshot of the 1st 30 Days of a first time Indie Published Novelist

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So, it has been a little over a month since the launch of my first novel, Silenced Memories. I thought I would give a little bit of an update on the progress and my discoveries as a first time published author.

    • Advertising/Marketing:
      • The first 4 days of my book release, about 40 blogs hosted a book blitz of my novel. Although I am not sure if this translated into many sales, I do think it helped spread the word about my book. I used a service for this, as I just didn’t have the time to contact all of the blogs myself.
      • Goodreads giveaway – 3 signed books (2 went to the U.S., 1 to Italy)- 500+ added the book to their “to read list”
      • Aside from the release blitz, I have yet to really advertise or market. An occasional Tweet or post on Facebook is about it. The only time I have seen any direct correlation between a Facebook post/ad and sales on Amazon is when I directly targeted my hometown.
      • Why am I not investing in advertising/marketing right now? –I know there is debate about this, but I really want to have 1-2 more books available before I push my novel. I’d like my readers to be able to become “attached” to me as a writer by reading several of my books – and then they’ll be more apt to sign up for my email subscription. If I only have 1 book, they may forget me, and I need to spend money again to try and find my original customers + new ones.
    • ACTUAL SALES
      • In the first month, I sold about 500 books at a price of $2.99 E-book ($9.99- paperback)
        • I honestly have no idea if this number is a good one or not – but I am happy with the number, considering I didn’t really market (and this is my first book)
      • 80% of my sales have come from Apple.
        • Yes, this is not the norm, correct? How did this happen?
        • Well, for some reason, Apple included my novel on the “featured page”
          • I was listed as a romance suspense new release for about 7 days
          • I was selected as a Romance “Our Pick” – about 15-20 books are featured for 1-2 weeks before rotated.
          • My book was also on the Apple Featured Homepage under “popular romance”
          • Because of being featured as an “our pick” – I sold about 20-35 copies a day for 7 straight days, which got me onto the Romance Suspense Recent Best Seller List –which then got me on to the “all-time best seller list” –made it to #2 on the Romance Suspense recent best seller list at one point.
        • VISIBILTY = SALES (obviously) – I am still scratching my head as to how I ended up hitting the lottery in terms of visibility (as Mark Coker from Smashwords says you have about a 1 in 200,000 chance (or something) of an unknown being featured. So, of course, I am super happy & excited about this –but again, no idea how it happened –so I have no advice to offer in terms of how to make it happen (or for it to happen again for my next book.)
        • Clearly, the “OUR PICKS” listing was what drove my sales –because as soon as they rotated books and picked the next group of new releases, my sales slipped to less than 15 a day – and then less than 5 a day. It has been a bit like the stock market in terms of sales the last week.
        • Also, Apple’s best seller lists are DIFFERENT than Amazon’s. Amazon uses algorithms to choose their authors – Apple has a marketing team (humans!) who make the decisions.
        • My book is also listed as a ‘customer also bought’ book for other novels
  • AMAZON
      • Without being a KDP member, I don’t really see any sales, unless I advertise- and by advertising I mean I have spent maybe a total of $20 on Facebook ads.
      • I basically have anywhere between 0-3 sales a day (e-book/paperback)
      • My first 3 days of sales were about 50 (and I think 40 of those were people I know!)
      • My book (despite only 7 reviews) is listed as a ‘customer also bought’ book for other novels
  • B&N/Kobo + everyone else
    • 9 total sales (e-book sales) – So far my paperback has only been purchased on Amazon and not at BAM, B&N, etc (where it is sold online)
  • REVIEWS
    • Amazon – 7 reviews – and I think the number is low here because so many people who bought the Kindle know me (and cannot leave a review)
    • Goodreads-12 ratings/10 written reviews
    • B&N- 4 reviews
    • Apple- 32 ratings/5 written reviews
    • Blog review

Okay, so here is an honest picture of a self-published novelist in her first 30 days. I am pretty sure my numbers will drop, unless I begin to advertise (but again, I think I am holding off until the March/April release of my 2nd book) . . . I am providing these numbers and this information to other indie authors who are curious about results. ANY SUGGESTIONS?

Check out my book on ibooks, Amazon, or one of the other major retailers. Check out my website at: brittneysahin.com

Book #2: What I am doing differently this time around . . .

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I have less than 7 weeks to meet my deadline of sending book #2 off to my editor. My goal is to complete my manuscript before my baby arrives in November. I will probably not be able to write much the first month my baby is born—so what a perfect time for my editor to critique my novel (more like a red link explosion on MSWord ).

So, what am I doing different for my 2nd book?

  • Outline sent out to my editor before I even began writing the book. For a little over a hundred bucks, my editor critiqued my 8page outline (plot/characters, etc.) + included a 3 page feedback letter. Why did I do this? Because with my first book –I had to make major plot changes after the first round of editing, which resulted in rewriting half the book to match the new plot sequence (this resulted in spending a lot more money than anticipated)
  • Writing in 1st person POV instead of 3rd, which is a bit of a challenge for me, as I have always written in 3rd person—but it creates an intimacy with the protagonist that I really like. I sent a sample scene of my book written in 1st and 3rd POV to my editor, and she agreed with me that the 1st person POV made the scene feel much more personal/more dynamic.
  • I also sent the first 10K words to my editor (and am taking a mini-writing break these few days she has it—while I continue with research, etc.) –because 1st POV is new to me, I want to make sure I am writing it properly & I am staying in the correct tense, etc. I am being much more cautious with this book (ahead of time)—in hopes of having less work later. I would hate to write 85-100k words and have messed up without knowing it!
  • So, while I have the outline and critique –I am also veering off the plot a little (not enough to change the plot), but as I write, I tend to come up with better ideas as I become deeply entrenched in the scenes (hopefully I don’t veer too much), that it results in my outline (being critiqued by my editor)- to be a waste of time!!
  • Format from the get go (not right before publication). Now that I know how to format from my first novel, it is so much easier to properly format prior to writing (will save me from a major headache later!)

What am I doing the same?

  • Sticking to a schedule
  • Having an outline
  • Using editors and beta readers
  • Using a professional cover designer
  • Using all major distributors (Amazon, Smashwords, Ingram sparks)

Any tips/advice? Please share 🙂

 

Cover Design Misstep: Time to Change?

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So, I recently had my cover design created, and I thought I was happy with it, but something was still kind of tugging at me every time I looked at it . . . but I ignored my feeling, because I already had the designer revise the cover eight times.

My dilemma in the creation of the cover was trying to marry romance and suspense. I felt that the book has such heavy issues (and with a name liked Silenced Memories)—how could I have a happy couple running through the wind on it (like one of the designs proposed to me)? I wanted to make sure the elements of suspense, etc. were evident.

Apparently, suspense is TOO obvious, because the romance aspect of the book has been lost. I uploaded my cover to various book cover rating websites (with the categories of both romance and suspense), and the feedback was, for the most part, negative. Thank goodness I found this out now and not after I release the book!

The main problem(s):

  • color of my name
  • font type for the title/size of title
  • too suspense-driven
  • does not read romance

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I feel like I am always seeking help/advice on this blog, but I guess I am just hoping to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s before release date. And I value everyone’s opinions a lot. So, I have to figure out what I will do now. I doubt my designer will do another cover for free, but the extra expense is worth it if it means I am not going to alienate my target audience (romance readers).

I read several articles about how to know what category/genre your book falls into (especially when it crosses genre). I knew before writing my book that I was writing a Romance Suspense novel. The question that was popping into my mind was how to tailor my cover to fit both categories. After reading several posts about this, I discovered the answer to my dilemma (if only I asked this question before commissioning the work on my cover). My book should gear toward the romance market, despite the mystery/suspense within it.

If you have a second and you don’t mind, could you take a glance at the cover? I really want honest feedback, because my friends/family (of course) liked it a lot–but anonymous people online (not afraid to hurt my feelings) mostly hated it . . . .

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Great Website/Info for Self-Published Authors

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I was scouring the internet last night for information and tips about marketing and how to release my next book (cover reveal, etc.), and I stumbled upon a website, which was amazing. I just wanted to share it with all my fellow writers, in case it could be of use to anyone else as well!

http://www.digitalpubbing.com/7-strategies-and-94-tools-to-help-indie-authors-find-readers-and-reviewers/

What is great about this website is that the author has compiled a very organized list with hyperlinks to the sources/info they are sharing. For instance,

    1. Free Promotions/Giveaways – There are links to websites that help authors promote their books- ones I had never heard of (aside from the obvious Goodreads). Such as, http://books.noisetrade.com/
    2. Crowdsourcing– Links to sites for this topic
    3. Advertising – a list of FREE links. Such as: http://addictedtoebooks.com/submission
    4. Interviews– a list of websites that interview authors. Such as: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1D4DMa2CFNpaRd6C5C8ZVQ8kh1tCzWviW_FomKJx6LZQ/edit#gid=0
    5. REVIEWS – http://www.theindieview.com/register/
    6. Book Tour
    7. Showcase/Sell

There are 119 links to websites within this article. I have not been able to go through every link yet, but I am excited about the wealth of information within the website!

This website, which was linked in the blurb of the above article, was also a good read: http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/promote-and-market-your-book/

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Are there any great websites/info you would like to share as well? THANKS!