Sunday, June 24, 2012

The $750 Budget Vacation (no camping required)

Author: Lyza Ramona Rodriguez
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel
How long it's been on sale: 6 Months
Current price: $2.99


Blogged, emailed friends and told people I know, participated in budget travel and general budget sites and forums and left responses with a "sig", emailed dozens of blog and site owners about guest blogging and offering their readers a free book - zero responses. And lastly I used a shorter eBook and joined KDP select to see if it helped sales across the board.

Total sold so far: 18

Link to book on Amazon: The $750 Budget Vacation (no camping required) (BSM)

Product Description:

2012 Edition

Do you find yourself at work daydreaming of spending a week lying on the beach while your kids are building sand castles? Wishing you can whisk them away for a week to a great theme park? Or how about taking in the bright lights of a big City?

Broke Single Mom: The $750 Budget Vacation, is a how-to travel book for Single Mothers (or Fathers) on a super tight budget. In this book I explain how I travel frequently as a single mother of three with an annual salary of around $19,000 while never going into credit card debt. You will find detailed sample itineraries on several fun filled destinations. Ways to make extra money and tips and tricks to help you save before and even during your trip.

You will get details on how I have been able to vacation in Denver, Chicago, Baltimore, Orlando and Virginia with my children, each trip costing me $750 or less. All without every setting foot on a camp ground, we have stayed in many 3 and 4 star hotels and you can too.

So if you think you can't have a nice vacation saving only $5 a week, I'll show you how because I've done it.

First 300 Words:


Thank you so so so much for purchasing my book! I am hoping for two things here, first that you enjoy it and secondly that it helps you and your family in planning your next vacation on a shoestring budget.

You shouldn’t have to go into debt to have a great vacation.

While most tips in this book are based on you saving money each month for 12 months you can still use my guide even if you only have 3 or 4 months (or less) to plan and pay for your vacation. How? Just pay close attention to Chapter 13 on ways to earn extra money, especially the first few on the list and you should be fine.

So, let’s get started shall we?

Chapter One
Deals I’ve found and how I got started

Right off the bat lets discuss how some might say that a lot of my suggestions are common sense, yet if I have learned anything these past few years from helping family and friends and their family and friends, is that it really isn’t. And that is especially true for the non-frequent traveler as well as for those that are usually so pressed for time that researching and cross referencing low price hotels, attractions and transportation seems daunting.

For example, my mother’s best friend has a daughter that wanted to take her 2 girls to Disney and she had $2,000 as her budget which had to include their Disney tickets. She called me because she couldn’t find anything under $1,800 for air and hotel. I had errands scheduled for lunch that day so instead of doing a search for her I just advised her to search our towns surrounding airports. Later that night she called to thank me and said that she was able to get it down to $1,300 by flying out of New York City and she was about to book it while we were on the phone. 

Comments: I think the cover looks pretty good. I can't read the author's name or the Broke Single Mom very well, but I don't think it's a huge issue. The places pictured on the cover look good. The type looks professional. I think the cover isn't the issue.

The title might be a problem. It's worded a bit awkwardly. And when I see $750 vacation, it makes me think of hotels that I'd really rather not spend the night in, and restaurants I'd rather not eat at. Plus it boxes you in. I might buy a book that promises to give me hints on saving money when I'm on vacation, but I don't want to only spend $750. If I saw this book sitting next to one titled: How to Vacation for Less, I'd buy the second one. I'm all for saving money. I just don't want to get bed bugs sleeping at a questionable hotel. The dollar limit makes me squirm. I'd give this book a new title.

I'm also not a single mom. I'm wondering if putting the single mom part in the title is limiting your audience too. I think you're going for a brand, which is fine, but it's something to think about. Are people subconsciously passing this up because they aren't single? I'm not sure. Maybe get some more opinions on it.

Your marketing is targeting the travel and budget blogs, which is nice, but I'm thinking this isn't going to be effective unless these people are Kindle/Nook owners. Unfortunately, the percentage of ereader owners is still small. (Yes, I know you can read ebooks on your computer, but how many people really know this and do this?) Select is a good program, but isn't very effective on shorter works and cross-over sales don't usually happen unless you're putting the first book of a series up for free. I just blogged about Select, and how to make it work for you. You can read it here. Maybe try it again with this book, but make sure you have at least three good reviews first.

Your description starts off slow, but ends well. I would think about cutting the first paragraph all together. If I'm reading it, I'm obviously wanting to go on a vacation. You don't have to sell a potential customer on vacationing, you have to sell them on this book. Your second paragraph interested me, and the third paragraph was very good because you gave actual destinations. If I were planning a trip to Orlando, I would buy this book because you say in the description you've been there and found ways to vacation for less.

Your beginning makes me nervous. You are selling me a book on how to have a vacation without spending a lot of money, and yet you say in the beginning of the book that most of the tips are about saving money all year long for your vacation. I don't want tips on saving through the year. I have my vacation coming up next month. I've already budgeted and planned for it. Giving me tips on saving through the year isn't going to help me. I want to know how to save money on nice hotels, where to eat for less, and how to get cheaper tickets to things. This is the information I feel like the cover and description are promising me. If you start by telling me most of the tips are going to be how to save money through the year, I'm not going to buy the book. I'm going somewhere else.

I did like the story about saving money on airplane tickets by flying out of another airport. Sometimes it's not too far to drive, and you can get cheaper tickets. I'd like the book to have more tips like this. If it does, I would definitely take out the beginning warning about tips on saving money through the year. If a large part of the book is saving money through the year, I would change the title and how it's marketed. (I'm sure there would be plenty of people who want to know this!)

My suggestion would be to figure out the main focus of the book, and make sure the title, description, and beginning of the book are all in line with each other.

What do you guys think?


  1. I like the cover in general, but it's too geometric. It's like going in to a store and finding everything set up in perfect symmetry. You don't want to touch anything. But put a few things in a pile on a table and right away, you want to touch.

    The blurb is good, but I think I would drop "Broke Single Mom." This should be a book for anyone who wants to take a vacation without spending a lot of money.

    "All without every setting foot on a camp ground, we have stayed in many 3 and 4 star hotels and you can too.:

    "every" s/b "ever." You don't want mistakes like that right on the front page.

    This is a book that will only appeal to those thinking about going on vacation. It's not something that will be picked up on impulse for a bit of light reading. That, in and of itself, will limit sales.

  2. I agree with Victorine...the title needs to be changed. The dollar amount might throw people off.

    The tag line and blurb: What is wrong with camping? You might turn some readers off by this, as many people enjoy nice vacations staying at hotels AND like to camp. (The husband and I spend a week at the beach every summer in the Outerbanks, NC in our RV. We spend roughly $400 for the entire week.) I'm not suggesting you add budget vacations to include camping, but rather, scrap the camping line in the blurb and title.

    Married couples (or those in relationships) are interested in budget vacations too. Why gear it towards single moms or dads? Oh, and some couples don't have kids! (ahem, my hubby and I) We like to go on vacations too!

  3. The mom part is not helping you, I think. I don't have kids, so if I see this, I'm going to think this is about places to go with kids, and I'm not going to buy it.

    I like the cover. I don't think that's the problem.

  4. Yeah. What they said.

    The Broke Single Mom says "Nate, this book ain't for you." You're limiting your audience to women, which isn't a bad thing but are they the only vacation planners?

    The other thing about the title is...well...the title. I'm cheap. A $750 vacation isn't really cheap enough that I'll spend the money on a book to help me do it. There's a reason all those "Outer Mongolia On $5 A Day" books sell. I realize that I'm unrealistic in this but I think Vicki's right. You might want to consider a title change. Putting the price tag on the cover tells me I'd have to spend more than I want to even before you've convinced me that it's a Really Great Deal.

    Finally, this:
    "Thank you so so so much for purchasing my book! I am hoping for two things here, first that you enjoy it and secondly that it helps you and your family in planning your next vacation on a shoestring budget."

    Um. no.

    That first sentence does nothing to enhance your credibility. Sure you're grateful but save the thank yous for the end. A tasteful, "Thanks for reading and I hope you found some fun and informative ideas and tips to make your next vacation on a shoestring one to remember" would probably be more effective in the long run. (Is that title taken? Vacation On A Shoestring? If not, might be a good choice.)

    Also check the grammar rules for "first/ly." You start with "first" and then use "secondly." A lot of people won't notice but those that do will "remove from device" pretty quickly. As small as this market is, you can't really afford to lose one.

    Good luck. Seems like a nice idea.

  5. I don't have too much to add. While I think the "Broke Single Mom" is cute, I can understand that you limit your appeal that way. And the dollar limit could date your book very quickly, the way inflation is rising these days ...

    *Definitely* scrap the first sentence, like Nathan said. Not everyone who will be reading the first couple of pages will actually have bought your book -- a lot will just using the try before you buy feature. Which means you want to get content up front, something that will make the reader want more. The anecdote about the Disney trip is much more of a hook. Maybe also mention some details of cool trips you've taken without spending a lot of money? The kinds of things that will make the reader think -- oh, I want to do that!

    Ditto Vicki that the blurb may have too much on an emphasis on saving rather than finding the cheap trip. Tips on saving can be part of the book, but the marketing should emphasize how you found those deals and how others can too.

    Good Luck! Hope some of this helps.

  6. This sounds like a great idea, and I think that the market would certainly be more than 18 copies. So... just have to target that market more squarely!
    I personally liked the cover... the places shown are very attractive and enticing, so I think that's good.
    The title certainly could stand a change. Like everybody else has said... Make it "Your Dream Vacation for Less" and then add a subtitle, "4 Star Hotels, great Theme Parks, Big Cities... you [i]can[/i] go, (and have a blast,) on a Budget!"
    Or something.
    I also agree with the others concerning the first sentence and the typo. Definitely the typo needs to go. So, edits?
    And Definitely ditch the (BSM)! Like others said, that limits your market... and I'm not sure where all you've gone on this internet-y thing, but there are some dark corners, and that BSM strikes me of something Un-Savory-orientation wise.
    NOT what you're going for, I'm thinking.

    Just me take on things. I could be wrong!

  7. I agree about the $750 being off putting. Maybe something like
    "Great Family Vacations On A Budget" might work for you. I would also mention how many children you have.

    Pointing out that you aim for good hotels and nice restaurants is important. I thought the account of the discount in flight prices worked well too. Maybe you could highlight some other examples like this to show that you know what your are talking about and draw people in.

    I like how your put your own figures up front. This makes it easy for others to identify whether or not they fit with your experiences.

    I think you may have a problematic sentence where you mention discussing how some might say that your suggestions are based on common sense. You seem to have omitted 'it' and finish instead with "is that it really isn't". I'm suggesting an 'it' before the 'is'. Also I think you started that sentence with a plural, in relation to your ideas and finished with a single, your second 'it'. I hope I am making sense.

    Best of luck with this project I think you are really onto something.

  8. The title must be changed. I am not a mom, not single, but I could benefit from a low-cost vacation. The description is solid. Kudos! The intro to the book is too short, and the first paragraph needs to be removed. Readers don't care what YOU want, they want to extract something of value for themselves. The sample requires heavy editing, as the writing quality is poor and unprofessional.

  9. I don't find $750 particularly cheap. Maybe it is for a family of four, but then you're limiting your readers to married couples with two kids. Then you're also limiting the readers even more by saying "mom" (so goodbye men and goodbye couples with no kids or single people). It's too narrow.

  10. Hi all, I know it’s a little (a lot) late but I wanted to make sure to come back and just say thank you to everyone who took the time to look over my book and give me advice.

    I really was going for a brand and as a single mother I wanted to create a series to help other single mothers, it just isn't going as well as I'd hoped.

    Answers to some of the observations:

    -The reason I put “no camping required” is because so many budget travel books end up being about camping.

    -I choose a specific price point, again because so many of the articles and books I have read over the years about budget travel have such a high price point.

    -As for BSM, it never occurred to me, lol.

    As Elizabeth K mentioned there seems like there is a market for it, I just haven't found my way to them yet.

    Also I got my first fan email and guess what? You guys were right on the money, she was a mom, a married mom. :)

    She used my tips and she and her husband were on their way to their first ever family vacation with the kiddos.

    I am going to consider what I want to do going forward, which is why I've yet to list them on Smashwords. My bestselling book right now is "A real mom's guide" and doesn’t have the word single anywhere in the title.

    So I am thinking of maybe reworking my titles around that angle.

    Also, thanks for pointing out the typos, gotta get on those.

    Thanks again to all of you and to Victorine for this valuable blog and all the help it gave me as well as other writers, thanks for paying it forward.

    Continued success to us all!


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