book promotion, book sales, Literary Agents

Collective Marketing

A while ago, I made the following post on the Facebook SciFi Roundtable group:  

I’ve seen the question raised: how much do you hate marketing your books? I’ll put it this way: If you believe you can effectively market my books, I will split the royalties with you. Fifty-fifty. Not a me-pay-you-and-maybe-you-can-sell-my-books deal. A simple fifty-fifty split, after the sale.

Let me know.  

It got a few responses, ranging from the “Yep, me too” variety to the “There’s no money in marketing books” type.

For the record, I wasn’t expecting anyone to take me up on my offer.  And no one did.

***

We’ll teach you how to market your book!

Join our service and realize more sales!

We’ll show you the secret tricks to make Amazon’s algorithms work for you!

Do you get these sorts of ads? I do, and fairly often. I’ve even tried a few of those services — did my best to follow their instructions, kept an open mind — and never once made even my minimal investment back. But, hey, maybe that’s my fault.

Maybe my books suck.

Maybe I did it wrong. 

But here’s the thing: In the old days, authors had agents who sold books for them (to publishers) and earned a percentage (usually 10 to 20%) of the royalties. That model seems to be nearly gone now (or, at least, very hard to access. I tried for over a year to get an agent for my first book, querying almost fifty agencies. But that’s another story.). So, instead, we do it ourselves these days. Self-publish, self-market, self-medicate. Amazon is making plenty of money; editorial services and book cover services are probably doing okay (at least on a job-by-job basis). But authors? Mostly not so great. There is a whole industry designed not to sell books, but to sell services to authors who want to sell books.

Here’s looking at you, Bookbub

And that brings us to Bookbub. They have, for some time now, been the most successful of the email book marketing services. The gold standard. Readers sign up (for free) and get weekly emails promoting a list of books selling at a discount. The list changes constantly, and you can set some preferences in terms of genre and price points.

Authors apply for spots on these lists, and they pay Bookbub for the privilege. (There’s the key difference: in this model, authors pay the agents to market their books.)

For instance:  if you want to have your science fiction novel listed at the free price point ($0.00), you will pay $519 for that listing. This, according to Bookbub’s website, will result in an average of 29,900 downloads. If you list it for $0.99, the price of the listing goes up to $754. Different genres and different price points result in different fees. Listing your book for $3.00 or more could cost you over $2500, depending on genre.

So the service is not cheap, but they claim to get results — and most of what I’ve read agrees that they are effective. Bookbub doesn’t break down stats for the various price points, but they do report an average sold figure — excluding the results for free listings. For that Sci Fi book of yours, the average number of sales generated is 2,040 copies.

So let’s crunch the  numbers. Assume a $0.99 price point. If you are running a promotion through Kindle Direct, then you can earn a full 70% royalty on all sales made during that promotion (minus their delivery fee, which is a few pennies per download), so say you earn 67 cents per sale. If you achieve the average number of sales (2,040) you will earn $1,366 in royalties. Not bad. Subtract what you’re paying BookBub, $754, and you’ll make $612. 

So, still not bad, at least when compared to the negligible returns most of us see. And you might do better. That’s only an average. (Or you could do worse, ’cause that’s how averages work, natch.) In addition, your book gets some notice, and that aint bad either. But remember, you’re out the $754 whether you knock it out of the park or hit a weak dribbler to third. Bookbub takes their cut before the promotion even begins.

So, Is it worthwhile? Most of the time, absolutely. We’re still talking about pretty small numbers. I would be delighted, frankly, to be making $612 per month on book royalties, but it wouldn’t represent a radical change in my finances.

What’s more to the point, did you notice that word “monthly?” I know of people who work in exactly this manner — crank out a book a month, run Bookbub ads, build up a following, get noticed by the Amazon algorithms and then fame, fortune, and endorsement deals. Personally, I can’t imagine producing more than a book or two a year at the very most, so this wouldn’t for me. 

Besides, there’s another problem:  Bookbub advertising spots are very much in demand, and Bookbub is highly selective. I’ve submitted Spark three times — once for a 99 cent promotion, twice for free promotions — and been rejected each time. The problem? My book doesn’t have very many reviews on Amazon, they said — I should wait until I get more, they said — and maybe consider pricing the book at a lower price point, they said (and yes, this was the advice that Bookbub gave me, even when I wanted to price the book for free, because it was obviously a form-rejection letter). The internet rumor mill estimates that Bookbub accepts fewer than ten percent of applicants, and they prefer people who are already famous and have hundreds of Amazon reviews. In short, the more you need them, the less likely they are to accommodate you.

So, where does that leave us? Certainly, there are other book marketers out there in the BookBub mode. I’ve used them (and written about it here  and here .) None of these services are as big as BookBub. They don’t charge hundreds of dollars up front, but they also don’t suggest that they will generate thousands of dollars worth of sales. Some are even free, but, well, they tend to generate commensurate numbers, if you get my drift.

Which brings me back to my original subject: marketers. I’m still waiting for some marketer to respond to my offer: a 50/50 partnership. I write. You market. Half the royalties on actual sales go to you, half to me.

I expect I’ll be waiting for a long time.  

Meanwhile, here’s a serious question:  would it be possible for us, as a collective, to replicate, even in some small measure, the Bookbub model? Instead of paying Bookbub for access to their list, generate a list of our own? Send out our own newsletter? Even if it was significantly less effective than theirs, we’d still be saving a lot of money by not having to fork out $700 (and up, up, up) to Bookbub every time we advertised.  I have no expertise, no knowledge about what might be involved or how long it might take to build up a list. No doubt others have tried this, but since there are (at least) dozens of us, each with our own varied contacts and resources, might we have some leverage they do not?

Is this a pipe dream? Probably. But until you ask, you never know. 

So I’m asking.

Any ideas?

 

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book promotion, book sales, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, Writers Co-op Anthology

TheRabbitHole.biz

“The Rabbit Hole, Weird Stories Volume One” is the Writer Co-op’s first anthology. The plan is for a volume two in 2019, a volume 3 in 2020, etc.. It’s a long term plan. To that end, we need a business domain name linked to a sales page.

The domain name, TheRabbitHole.biz, has been linked to our anthology’s business page. Authors and promoters may feel free to use the domain name in any promotion of a Rabbit Hole anthology.
(Note: The domain forwarding was requested Monday A.M., 17 Dec 18. It will update on the ‘Net’s hubs during this week. If it’s not working when you first try it, it will, and in the meantime, you can use:
https://writercoop.wordpress.com/weird-stories-volume-one/ )

The purpose of the TheRabbitHole.biz web page is to promote The Rabbit Hole anthologies.

The current business page is a great start. Curtus Bausse set it up to do exactly what we needed for the launch. But like any business web page, it needs to change over time to accommodate marketing changes, new additions, and useful suggestions.

Please take a look at the page and let us know what should be changed or added. Suggestions are greatly appreciated. But keep it simple. We’re authors, not webmasters. (Though y’gotta be a little of both, these days 🙂 )

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book promotion, book sales, Google Ads, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Welcome

When Is A Book Not A Hershey’s Bar?

Always, of course. So, why do we market them like Hershey’s bars? Here’s two thoughts on that.

1. Most books, like Hershey’s bars, are not advertised. When did you last see an ad for Hershey’s bars? Hershey does not need to advertise them because they are everywhere candy bars are sold. Like J.K. Rowling’s books are in all the book stores. Yes, her publisher will advertise her new book, but that’s just sensibly putting the cart after the horse. They want fans to know she has a new book.

2. When books are marketed, they are marketed like Hershey’s bars, as if they too, were a commodity and people should buy a package of the same thing and if they like it, come back for more of the same book. Books are not commodities. Each one is unique. So, there are no repeat sales of the same book to the same consumer.

What to do? Consider yourself – yes, you, the author – as the commodity. One thing of which we can be certain is that when a reader is looking for something to read, they usually do not envision a cover or make up a title to look for. They will, however, consider a novel from J.K. Rowling if they have enjoyed reading her.

“Sell yourself first.” That’s what any professional sales manager teaches. Don’t expect a stranger to trust what you sell if they do not trust you. How do you get readers to know you well enough to try your book? One writer here that understands this is Perry Palin. In many ways, he sells books to people who have first come to know him. Another may be Mimi Speike. She plans to initially stir up her market with Guerrilla marketing techniques which may make her infamous.

How do you get yourself known as a writer? Use the Comments section to let us know. We, obviously, need all the ideas that we can get!

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About Writers, book promotion, book sales, publishing, Research, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

WRITING TRENDS

INDIE AUTHORS
Indie authors will continue to grow ebook share. Traditional publishers will continue to price their ebooks above market and will focus on print and audio sales in 2018. They will also continue to focus on their go-to franchises and signing authors who have a built-in audience (celebrities, politicians, successful indies). Indies will continue to fill the void by publishing high-quality, affordable ebooks and writing to niche audiences (something blockbusters cannot do as they require mass appeal). Bestselling romance author, Rachel Van Dyken says, “2018 is bound to be a year for books and a year for readers! Trends come and go but one thing I see coming back in a huge way is sci-fi and fantasy romance. Contemporary will always do well but I think readers are starting to get overwhelmed with the same old rom com with the similar fonts, colors, and titles. I say bring on the other genres—a great palette cleanser for 2018.” As authors like Rachel continue to stay ahead of the curve by innovating on content and design, and become ever more sophisticated at book publishing, readers will continue to shift ebook market share to indies. [Ricci, Written Word Media]
https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2018/01/08/publishing-trends-indie-publishing/

SOCIAL MEDIA Relevancy
Social media has become the main source of information for everyone. It is logical that people tend to filter content relevant to them in these platforms and ignore junks. Current authors should learn how to utilize social media smartly to leverage the power of these media. For example, setting up a high profile where their target audience is many to capture majority while they interact with the platforms. For instance, if you are doing public relation for a company, you need to build trust and address customers’ concerns to avoid being flagged as a scam in Facebook, Linkedin and Google Plus among others.
https://www.topteny.com/top-trends-for-writing-in-2018/

SHORTER BOOKS
While longer books will never go away, shorter, focused content or short stories will pave the way for big new sales numbers in 2018. So what’s the average length of a short book or novella? Twenty-seven thousand words (give or take) or fifty pages. Book strategists insist that the reason these books take off is because, in the case of fiction, readers sometimes just like that quick story, with an uncomplicated plot and a quick reward at the end. In the case of non-fiction it’s generally very focused content.
https://www.amarketingexpert.com/18-exciting-book-marketing-predictions-for-2018/

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About Writers, book promotion, book sales, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

$67,000 In Three Months

Adam Nicholls, Author
Posted on Facebook 13 Jun 18 at 5:16am / 20BooksTo50K
$67,300.88 earned between March 2018 and June 2018

I’ve been in two minds about doing this because it feels too much like bragging, but I was finally persuaded to suck it up and write this on the off chance that it might help someone. Please note, this is from an 8-book rapid release. With that out the way, here are some tips that you may or may not know already (and bear in mind this isn’t gospel – it’s just what I did):

– Use K-lytics to find a hot genre and then dig in deeper to find that niche. When you find something that interests you, hit the top 20 chart and read like it’ll get you out of jail. You need to learn those tropes and give readers what they expect when they buy your book.

– Write. Don’t make excuses, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it 24/7. This is hard work for some people (myself included), but remember that in order to sell a product you must first create that product.

– Get a cover that fits the genre. A great cover can be a useless cover if it doesn’t fit the tropes. Again, check out the top 20 to look for common themes. At the end of the day you’re looking to recreate what’s currently selling, so why stray from the path?

– A decent editor is absolutely vital, and a good proofreader is, too. There are plenty here in the threads, and most come as recommendations rather than just self-promotion.

– Mailing lists are another commonly discussed topic. I use Mailerlite and I love it. You can use Instafreebie and Bookfunnel to build that list, as well as running Facebook ads (more on this below). What changed things for me? I started sending out an email every Monday, and I don’t keep trying to push sales. I talk about my dog, what I’m reading, and where I’ve been this week. Readers enjoy this. They email back, and you should, too. Be more than an author – be a friend. This part hurts to say because it feels like I’m betraying them, but those readers/friends are now guaranteed sales on release day.

– Rapid release. If you can, save up four or more books and then release one weekly. I don’t know too much on the science of this one, but Martha Carr has a great video on it, so search the files.

– KDP Rocket. Is it a must? It was for me. I personally only used it for my seven Amazon keywords, but it’s worth every penny spent. Others use it for Amazon ads, which I’m yet to explore.

– Network. Make friends. The more people you know, the more you can learn from each other. It could be that everything you needed to know was obvious to someone else, so communicate and be helpful. Which brings me to…

– Pay it forward. To put it bluntly, I was an introvert writer making no money. Since I started helping people out and doing favours (yes, even to those who were clearly using me) I’ve become an introvert writer who’s making lots of money. It pays to not be a total dick most of the time (it turns out my mother was right). I’ve learned so much from the people here, and giving some back is good karma, if nothing else.

– It never hurts to collaborate. I recently completed a book with another 20books author and it was a HUGE success. You split the work, you share the profits, and you find new readers in each other’s lists. Use this to your advantage and help each other out (by the by, I’m always looking for thriller authors to work with, so drop me a message if you’re interested).

– Advertising can be a chore, but I stick to the basics: Bargain Booksy, ENT Reader, Robin Reads, and Facebook ads. A quick Google search will give you the first three, and Mark Dawson’s Facebook course is a fountain of knowledge that can’t be ignored. Set yourself a budget and work at it. It took me 2 years to learn this stuff, but here I am.

– Most of all – and this is by far the most important thing – ENJOY IT. A love of writing doesn’t have to become a daily slog. Get up in the morning and put some words on the page. Open your email and talk to other writers. Communicate with your readers. Host competitions and look for places to get interviewed. You have one of the most interesting jobs in the world (especially if you moonlight as a Playboy photographer), so get out there and have fun with it!

Any questions? Ask away. I’ll do what I can to answer them, although I’m having a bit of a busy day so please forgive me if I don’t respond immediately.

Adam Nicholls, an urban fantasy author from the south-west of England, has been creating stories since before he could legally drink. Inspired by the works of Stephen King, Karin Slaughter and Gillian Flynn, Adam starts writing each new book by asking himself how best to shock his readers.

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About Writers, book promotion, book sales, Research, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Kindle Unlimited

That is, is it worth it to the Author?
Kindle Unlimited (KU) is a subscription service. With Kindle Unlimited, customers can read as many books as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee.

Author Jon Cronshaw recently asked the question, “Is there anything (beyond the usual wide versus KU debate) that makes wide or KU better?

Author Brian Meeks responded, “That’s a really good question. I’m not sure I can speak to your genre, but I do have some thoughts.

Over the last six months, I’ve noticed something. The conversions I track across all 5 genres in which I write, have changed. It used to be about 50% sales and 50% KU downloads. That’s not the case anymore. The shift has been toward KU.

My data shows 40% sales and 60% KU downloads. This tells me that more people are joining KU and enjoying it like we all do with Netflix. It also makes me think the shift will continue.

There’s one other point that often doesn’t get mentioned. It’s that the MOST voracious readers, naturally, gravitate toward KU.

I hope these thoughts will help you a bit. Good luck.”

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book sales, publishing, scams, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

An Independent Voice

leechman

I find it illuminating and pathetic that a market exists wherein writers pay 3rd parties to “try” to find them a publisher or pay publishers to “consider” their work. Pathetic because it reeks of desperation. Illuminating because it works so well.

Make no mistake. These leeches know what they are doing, that it is legal (no refunds), and that they will have customers. I say leeches because, well, isn’t it obvious they make money off the blood & sweat of gullible writers? I include in this category of leech “marketers” who refuse to work on commission because they know their efforts on your behalf is not worth a percentage of sales.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care what you do. I’m just hoping new writers will consider ROI before paying money to sell their book.

If you know of any of these questionable enterprises, please do new writers a favor and note them in the comments.

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