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Help with a Marketing Survey

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by BWFoster78, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Phil,

    I think this is good information. If we're going to market books, it helps to know how people go about making the decision to buy them.

    This is one that never would have occurred to me. I pay absolutely no attention to the author other than, "Oh, I read something that I liked from that guy. Let me see what else he has."

    I think this is the biggest one in that most people are more likely to buy a book that comes with a personal recommendation. The only thing we can do is write books good enough that people will recommend it!

    So hard to figure out how to creatively promote...

    Agreed. Hugely important and so, so difficult.

    Yeah. Gotta get quality and quantity. Also tough, but worth focusing on.

    Absolutely critical. The first few chapters of your book have to be perfect.

    Agreed. The price I'm willing to pay is actually dropping. Used to, I wouldn't have blinked at paying $12.99 for Brent Weeks. Now that I've found so many indie authors that have good stuff available for so much less, I didn't buy his book. I'll wait until I can get it for $7.99. As for pricing my book, I'm probably going with $4.99.

    I'll definitely take Devor's suggestion on that one.

    Thanks!

    Brian
     
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    If I had to rank the importance of what I listed, I'd say they go this way:

    1. Recommendations (this is what almost always gets me initially interested)
    2. An awesome synopsis
    3. Good reviews
    4. Engaging sample chapters
    4. Affordability
    5. Creative Promotion
    6. Author's Personality-So in this case, this is usually the last thing that influences my purchase. If the writer seems like a jerk or is pretty boring, that can effect my decisions at times. However, sometimes authors post links to reviews which can sometimes help me make decisions as well. I downloaded Wendig's The Blue Blazes sample after I read a review he linked from Twitter.

    I think $4.99 is a reasonable price. I notice a lot of authors do promotions (free or reduced price) and that's often when they get a lot of their reviews. I think some readers may see it as "Well, I got this book for free, so I should do a review."

    Let us know if and when you post the survey/scene. I'll be willing to help out.
     
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    It'll probably be a couple of weeks, but I will. Thanks!

    Regarding the discussion of what attracts a reader, I see two distinct issues:

    1. What do you do to get a reader to your Amazon page?
    2. How do you convert that reader to a buyer once you get them there?
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    They aren't separate questions. What you do to get someone interested is what you do to keep them interested. I think I heard Judge Judy say that once. Your Amazon page is pretty straightforward - it's just more of the same marketing, plus price and promotions.
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    For the purposes of coming up with an action plan, it seems useful to separate the two. My plan to get people to my page involves: where to promote the book, building email lists, etc. My plan to get browsers to buy involves a solid description, getting reviews, and a good sample.

    Granted, there is overlap. I'll use the description and, perhaps, some of the reviews in my promotions.

    Again, though, there seem to be two distinct questions:

    1. How do people find an Amazon page for a particular book?
    2. What entices them to buy that book once they are there?
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I like your enthusiasm, BWFoster, but I do wonder, in terms of a purely cost-benefit analysis, whether spending a lot of time on this sort of thing is ultimately productive. It certainly can't hurt, if done correctly, and I suppose it is possible it will help, but from what I've seen the best way to improve your sales and gain a readership is to get your next book finished and published, and then get the next one finished and published, and so on. To the extent that doing surveys or trying to parse your potential audience so finely takes you away from writing, I'm not sure it's a net gain.
     
  7. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    I agree that they are separate questions. Finding the book in the first place is a very different thing from converting casual interest to a sale. It's also much harder, I think. If people have already clicked through to the Amazon page, they're already predisposed to like the book.

    I can't speak for 'people', but I find them because authors scatter the links about like confetti. It should be on every page of your blog, on your Facebook page (if you have one), and on every single promotional piece you put out. Check also that the automatic links from Goodreads (and similar) do actually work and go direct to the book page. Also, a small point, but as a Brit I am abjectly grateful for every author who also links to the Amazon.co.uk page so I don't have to search for it. The most successful promotional techniques seem to be building an email list, asking friendly bloggers to review it and (maybe) a Goodreads giveaway, but every author seems to have a different works-for-me recommendation, so good luck with that.

    I don't like to push my own blog, but I once wrote an exhaustively detailed post on this very point. Short answer (for me) is everything, in this order: title; cover; blurb; reviews; and (the big one, the deal-breaker) the sample. If I haven't been put off by the end of the sample, then if the price is right (under about $4.50 for an unknown author, but the cheaper the better) I'll buy.

    Very long version here: Pauline's Fantasy Reviews: Essay: On Choosing A Fantasy Book To Buy
     
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  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I agree completely.

    Spending time on this is an emotional decision rather than a logical one.

    1. One of the reasons I'm self publishing is because I like the idea of owning a business. Not much of a business without trying to sell the books.

    2. I have to try to swing for the fences. If I put the book out there without any promotion, no one is going to buy it. If I do some promotion, at least I have a shot.

    3. I need to see some benefit immediately. Writing is hard work. Not selling any copies would be very discouraging.

    Since I know marketing isn't the logical choice, I'm trying to minimize the time I spend on it, thus trying to make sure whatever I do end up doing is as efficient as possible.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Makes sense. I'll certainly be interested to learn how it goes!
     
  10. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Pauline,

    I read the article. Fantastic job and very helpful.

    I haven't seen my cover yet, but I'm hopeful it's going to turn out okay. I hired the same artist who did Terry Erwin's books, and I really liked those. They just pop at thumbnail size.

    I think the sample will be good. It has lots of tension, and I think those people who are inclined to like what I'm trying to accomplish will enjoy it.

    I worry about the blurb as I haven't quite been able thus far to get it right. I also think that my title, Power of the Mages, could probably use some work.

    For reviews, I'm going to solicit as many as I can and let the chips fall where they may.

    The concept of the story isn't all that original as it falls in the "boy from young village becomes powerful figure" mold. At least I don't make him a long lost king :) . I was really going for my take on Wheel of Time but with more focus on relationships (though some similarities are coincidental such as having three boys and 1 girl from a village start out as the main characters).

    As I near completion of the book (I'm waiting for the next set of comments from my editor), I can't help but worry about how it will be received. Overall, I think I'm pleased with how the final draft is turning out. My editor is really helping me ramp up the tension and portray the emotion much more realistically. On the other hand, I know that the work I would produce if I waited another year would far surpass it.

    We'll see.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  11. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    First off, I'd try for one of the smaller publishing houses that doesn't require an agent. That is pretty much my 'plan A', as it were. Worth noting: I'm seeing more and more smaller press releases on the shelves at the local library (the one remaining new bookstore in the area is tiny, oriented towards tourists...but I have seen works by local authors on the shelves).

    Main reason is, you'd get the publishers perspective of whats wrong with your work. These people take a huge gamble with each book they go for, therefor it stands to reason they'd understand what sells and what doesn't. I figure this to be especially true of the smaller houses, where a wrong choice means going out of biz.

    Also, get feedback from five or six publishing houses, and even if they reject you each time, there are people in the industry going...'This BWFoster guy might amount to something someday.' So between that and a moderately successful self pub or two, and they might be willing to give you more consideration next time around.

    If you offer to a major house and get published, then that publicity transfers over to the self pub end of things. Can't wait for the next BWFoster book to come out on print? It's online.

    -0-0-0-0-

    As to myself, most of my stuff is on the shorter side: Even 'Labyrinth' is not much more than half the length of 'Power of the Mages' - but since coming here, I've turned out about a dozen short stories and novelletes, and properly fleshed out, most of my other stuff will probably be novella length. Looking through the listings at Ralan, I see a number of mostly online publishers who appear interested in works of that length. Hence, I see nothing wrong with trying the E-Mag or Novella publisher route first, before going over to self pub.
     
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  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I don't know - I think I'd start at the top, whether you're doing short stories or traditional novel publications. I think Tor will take submissions without an agent. If that doesn't work, move down the list to smaller publishers.
     
  13. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Pauline, sometimes pushing your blog pays off. I want to follow it now even though I can't figure out how to. You've got a reader now!

    I agree with Steerpike in some ways, but that's only because my ultimate goal is to be published traditionally first. I don't begrudge anyone that goes the other route though. If you find that route just doesn't work for your own personal goals though, I wouldn't push something that feels like it makes you anxious or impatient.

    BW, I think this where having an awesome synopsis is an absolute must. If you're offering another boy from a village becomes a powerful figure story, what sets it apart from other such stories? If I read a synopsis that basically said as much, I would need some more reasons to want to buy it. Is there a distinctive flair to the writing? Does the plot sound like something I'd be into? Does the world sound interesting? If you're heavily focused on character-driven stories, how are you going to relay that through a synopsis or sample chapters? I think character-driven stories can be a hard sell for a synopsis, so that's where a strong plot helps out a lot.

    That's why, I believe Steerpike mentioned, writing and finishing the book and beginning the next one is important. I've seen many reviews where people say "This was a good first effort and I'm looking forward to what this author offers up next." This isn't a glowing review by any means, but if you engaged the reader in any way, you have a potential new reader that will buy your next book and next book. I don't believe in developing a readership with one book. Sure, the first book is your first impression to the world and it's good to be nervous or anxious about it. But it's also like going to the first day of school. You may make some friends, but there may also be some people that don't like you and push you around. Once you get used to things (writing more books) I think that feeling subsides some.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2013
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  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    This is not bad reasoning. However, I think I'm at the point where I'm ready to make the fixes my editor recommends and move on. I have quite a ways to go to become the author I want to become, and I don't think I'm going to get there on this book.

    I really do think that my best bet is to finish it up by making it the best that I can make it and put it out there. I'm not sure that hearing about its problems from small publishers would help me a lot as I feel I can fairly accurately assess its problems.

    It flows well, is tight and tense, features what I believe to be 3D characters, and has, I think, an engaging plot. It also isn't as creative as I'd like in terms of storyline and magic system, doesn't evoke the emotional response I want, and isn't as thrilling as it could be.

    Basically, I think it's "good" but not "special." I don't realistically see how I can get it to "special" at anywhere close to my present ability. At this point, I think I can live with both its pluses and its minuses and move on.

    I'm viewing my career as a long road, and this is the start. Right now, I can produce something that is easy, and hopefully fun, to read. My next two steps are: 1. make my writing grab the reader by the throat and pull them forcefully into the story and 2. make my readers so invested in my characters that they experience the same emotions as my characters.

    Over the next several novels in this series, I hope to come closer to those goals.

    If I can combine that level of ability with a Cool Idea, I have no doubt I'll achieve success. The only problems are:

    1. Getting my ability to where I want it to be
    2. Figuring out a Cool Idea

    Like I said, "Long road."

    I think my first book is good enough that it will win me some readers and not turn off many who would normally comprise my audience. That's the best I can hope for at this point.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Brian
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  15. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Phil,

    I agree.

    I need to spend A LOT of time on my synopsis. It's not nearly there yet.

    I think the goal with this book is to try to reach my core audience because they're the ones most likely to stay with me and buy future books. Perhaps the key to target my blurb more and emphasize the character's personal story over the epic fantasy? I'm not sure my core audience is going to be super thrilled by battles, political maneuvering, and the next phase of an old conflict as much as they would be seeing a lonely guy searching for acceptance while trying to do the right thing against the backdrop of world-changing events.

    Exactly.

    I've worked on this for 2 and a half years. It's time to get it finished and move on.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Brian
     
  16. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Slightly off the original topic, but since we seem to have veered onto more general aspects of publishing and marketing, this might be of interest. Lindsay Buroker is one of my favourite self-published authors, and I highly recommend her blog for advice for other self-publishers. I came across this article recently where she lists the things she now thinks are useful for those just starting out (as opposed to what she actually did!):

    How Do You Establish a Fan Base *Before* You Launch Your Book? | Lindsay Buroker

    On the subject of self-publishing versus traditional, it's hard to see any advantage to traditional, apart from the rather nebulous concept of 'validation' and the print distribution network. Seems to me that all that querying/rejection business is like banging your head against a brick wall. But to each his/her own.
     
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  17. CandaceKroslak

    CandaceKroslak Acolyte

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    If one is going to promote his business or work one must know about various secrets related with it such as targeted group, product etc. Information shared by you is knowledgeable and useful.
     
  18. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    Hey BW, something to think about (although it's possible I have misinterpreted your attitude to your own work). If you have doubts about the worth of your first effort and don't feel like putting in the work to get it up the level you'd like, there are two paths you might consider.

    Just put it in the bottom drawer and start on something fresh...with a higher level of ability than you started the first work; OR
    publish the first work under a nom-de-plume. If it goes berserk with success, continue writing under the NDP. If not, publish the next book as BW Foster (or not...)
     
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  19. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I do have some doubts. As I always say, an author is probably the worst person to determine the quality of their own work.

    I was thinking about a different route: establishing a Go/No Go Team. Basically, get a few people I trust (hopefully, I can draw some from this forum) to read the book and tell me if it's good enough.

    If not, go back to the drawing board. If so, release it.

    Thanks!

    Brian
     
  20. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    That's not a bad idea Brian. Dark One has a good point too. There's nothing wrong with having unpublished work locked away before you're ready.

    I myself have three that will never see the light of day. I never tried to send them out because I knew they weren't good enough. There are members of this forum that have three to four times that amount stashed away. Hold yourself to a standard.

    That being said, it's easy to be over-judgmental of our own work. I find that most winters fall in one if two camps:
    Either they are blown away by their own work, always thinking it's the next big thing and astounded by their brilliance. -OR- They have a negative view, always of the opinion they don't measure up, or the piece they labored over for years isn't up to snuff. In my opinion, the latter is more productive. Depressing huh?

    Question:
    I know you use beta readers. Have you had readers finish the book without critique, just giving you opinions on story?

    I think it's helpful to get opinions from writer/readers as well as reader/readers.

    EDIT: I just realized how disheartening my response might sound. I have no idea if your book is ready, or if it meets your standard. I certainly don't mean to discourage. I simply wanted to say that it's okay, and natural, to have completed works that are for no one else but you. No writing is ever wasted.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
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