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Brian's Sales and Marketing Thread

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by BWFoster78, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    As of a few hours ago, I am officially a self-published author! I'm a little disappointed that, despite the novella being live for those few hours, I have not yet made enough money to buy a private island, but maybe I should give it until tomorrow ...

    I thought that, for posterity's (or posterior's?) sake, I should chronicle my rise through the ranks of the great unwashed masses. This thread shall document my exploits.

    Each month (for the first few months anyway; if anyone is actually interested in the thread, I'll keep it going if it's not too much of a hassle.) I'll document what I'm publishing, my expectations for it, what I'm doing to promote it, and what my sales numbers were for the previous month. If you want clarification or details on anything, let me know.

    New Release: Abuse of Power, a novella that serves as a prequel for Rise of the Mages

    Total investment in Abuse of Power: $339.02

    Expected Sales for September:

    Here are the factors going against me - I'm an unknown author self publishing a debut work. I'm not doing any promotions or advertising. In fact, I'm planning on making the novella free for the first 5 days of October, so I'm actively encouraging my email list not to buy it (maybe I need to work on the fundamental concepts of how to market :) ). Anecdotally, short works don't tend to sell as well as longer ones. I love my cover (my artist did exactly what I told her to do!), but I'm not sure it communicates the story clearly enough.

    Factors going for me - KU/KDP raises the books' profile a little, and I get money for pages read. I've got reviews lined up, and so far, people seemed to have really liked it.

    My crystal ball is on the fritz, but I'd be disappointed with less than $20 total and astounded if it brought in more than $50. Therefore, I'm setting the over/under at $35. (New gambling game! Sweet!)

    Total spent on becoming a self-published author: $1641.21

    Total money made thus far off writing: $50.00

    Total Profit: -1591.21
     
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    One other thing that I meant to note: Keywords used

    clean sweet romance, fantasy romance, love story, happy happily for now ever after ending, character driven, wizard magic powers mages epic fantasy action adventure quest thriller romance medieval earl duke noble nobility heir ruler rich soldier army duty fugitive kidnap escape tavern courage imprisoned executed vengeance feel-good magic sword horse law justice book ebook novella kindle series

    I listed Romance -> Fantasy and Fantasy -> Epic as the categories. The keywords also put me in:

    Books > Romance > Fantasy
    Books > Romance > Military
    Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic
    Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Fantasy
    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Inspirational
    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Military
    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic
    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
     
  3. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Mine started in Romance -> Fantasy too, but they felt very out of place amongst all the nekkid men and billionnaire shifter stuff. Romance is also a h-u-g-e category, hard to get noticed in. Since yours is (I would say) YA, you might want to consider going for the Juvenile main cat instead (there's a fantasy/magic sub-cat). Juvenile doesn't mean children's, it covers YA as well, and if you set the minimum age to 13 or 14, you exclude the kids anyway. It's a much smaller cat, and easier to make a splash in.

    As an example, I never, ever showed up in the Romance lists, no matter how well the books were selling, but with the Juvenile cat, any rank better than about 30,000 gets me into the top 100.
     
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I agree with Pauline on this one. I'm about a third of the way through and I can see the developing love story, but Romance category readers are going to want to see the romance angle right away. What they get, right away, is military stuff. Except for the swords, this could be a Call of Duty op. The tone is far from romance, even in the second chapter. I'd lead with Fantasy but keep Romance somewhere in there.
     
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  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Pauline,

    I guess I was hoping it would rank in one of those 9 subcategories? Is that a bad way to look at it?

    Also, regarding YA, are you talking about the novel or the novella? I would think the novel could easily fit in YA. The novella, not so much it seemed to me.
     
  6. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Romance -> Fantasy is infested with shifters and paranormal stuff, not to mention stuff that really should be in erotica. Regular fantasy that happens to have a romance element simply isn't going to get anywhere near the top 100 unless it sells gangbusters. The #100 book is currently ranked at 17K. You'll show up in the hot new releases list, but it's still easier to avoid the Romance cat unless the book is outright romance. In my opinion. But you can tinker with this stuff. Nothing's cast in stone.

    As to YA, that's a very broad category these days, encompassing everything that's not outright dripping with blood and gore on every page. Your books are very clean in terms of sex, violence and theme, and the writing style is easy to read, so yes, I think the tone of both novel and novella is very YA.
     
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  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I'll do a full monthly update tomorrow, but I had to say this:

    After being released for only a little over 24 hours, my novel has already outsold and had more pages read than my novella did in an entire month.

    Is that good or bad?
     
  8. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Yikes, it's out already! For some reason, I thought it was tomorrow. {Rushes off to download it}

    PS Outselling is good! Very, very good. :)
     
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  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    The original plan was to publish on 10/1, but I'm doing a promo with Abuse free on 10/1 to 10/5. I wanted to put a link for Rise in Abuse, and I wanted to give reviewers a little time before I (hopefully) get all those promo eyeballs on it.

    It's just kinda funny that I got, literally, more in one day than for an entire month. I realize that it probably won't sell like this for the entire month, but it's fun seeing those spikes!
     
  10. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Good Luck with it.
     
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  11. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Yeah, being a published author is fun. :) And it's already at 19K in the store - which, in case you were wondering, is awesome. Congrats, and enjoy the ride!

    PS Don't forget to add it to your sig.
     
  12. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    It's at 65 in YA Sword and Sorcery, exactly one spot behind Wearing the Cape, a book I've read and enjoyed. Who Hoo!

    I shall add it to my sig post haste.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  13. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Just bought my copy. Will try and get it reviewed within the next ten days or so.
     
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  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Nice job, Brian. That's great news!
     
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  15. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Sweet! Best of luck with it. :)
     
  16. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    Congrats, Brian.

    I was just poking around on Amazon and found an author named Brian W. Foster who wasn't you. I guess you're already aware of that, but thought I'd just mention it.
     
  17. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Incanus,

    Yes. I am aware.

    To all the well wishers: Thanks! To be clear though, sales are good in comparison to my meager expectations, not in absolute terms.
     
  18. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    A month of actual sales and ... I still can't afford that island. Bummer.

    Sales for September (Note that I released Rise a little early and had some sales. I'm going to count those sales on next month's totals, though. Also, note that the pages read and the quantity sold are hard numbers but the money is soft since there are conversion rates and other factors that I'm estimating.):

    Abuse of Power - 12 sales, 1381 pages read = $25.80

    If you bet the under, you won! Still, it's above my "disappointed with" number.

    That brings my total "profit" on the novella to -$313.22.

    I also had some more production costs (mainly beta reading for Repulsive) and a surprise royalty check for Man in White ($3.36!).

    Total spent on becoming a self-published author: $1854.03

    Total money made thus far off writing (including estimates from September above): $79.16

    Total Profit: -$1774.87

    I'm going the wrong way!

    Lessons Learned:

    An unpromoted debut novella doesn't seem likely to generate a lot of sales.

    Facebook is kinda worthless for selling books. My announcement posting for Abuse of Power got more traction than any post I'd ever made on FB. It reached over a thousand people. Several promised to buy the novella. The resulting sales jump? Nada. Maybe a few of the subsequent sales the next week came from FB friends, but I have no way to verify that.

    Expected Sales for October:

    In the first two days going live, I sold 17 copies of Rise of the Mages, and I've already surpassed 5000 page reads. From my experience with Abuse of Power, it seems like sales spike the day of the release and slow way down after that. Still, I'd expect at least another 10 sales and 10 reads (almost 600 pages/read) minimum over the course of the month. The big question is what will happen with my Abuse of Power promotion. I'm running it free from 10/1 to 10/5 and have that information scheduled to be run on several sites. Since the novella is basically a big advertisement for the novel, I'm hoping for some sell through.

    I'm still having trouble getting my crystal ball to work, but I'd be disappointed if I made less than $100, but I think that over $200 would probably be optimistic. Therefore, I'm setting the over/under at $150.
     
    PaulineMRoss likes this.
  19. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Thanks for the on-going and detailed status Brian.

    I have nothing like you level of detail, but my exploits in the self-publishing (non-novel world) have been meager. Over the last three years something enough for a few nice meals out and that's about it.

    Wishing you the best! Looks like you are definitely on the way!
     
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  20. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Brian, I'm finding it fascinating to watch your progress. Once you start doing some promotion, revenues will rise, but those pesky expenses keep going up, too!

    I'm still in negative profitability, although I've now had 5 straight months of $1,000+ royalties, which has helped. I'm hoping the fourth book will get me to the $2,000+ level, but we'll see.

    PS You have no idea how pleased I am to see Rise of the Mages out there in the world, after brewing for so long. :)
     
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