Another marketing post – yuck!

Here are my experiences so far:

I initially priced A Warrior’s Path at $5.49. I chose a number I felt was worthy of the work I’d put into the novel, and I factored length of the book into the equation as well. Many indie titles are selling at $2.99-$3.99, but those titles are usually half as long as mine. I thought $6.99 was too much to ask (although there is one indie novel titled Crucible of Souls that is about the same length as A Warrior’s Path that is listed occasionally at $7.99 – a brave choice and it seems to be working out for the author) and $4.99 was too low. Thus, I chose $5.49, which I hope is a reasonable compromise.
As for marketing, I initially purchased a Kirkus review. I think it takes courage to do this because there is no guarantee that the reviewer will like the book (and it costs $495). However, more than anything else I’ve done, I think the Kirkus review has helped sell the book and has paid for itself many times over.
Before launch, I asked over 50 reviewers to read the book and of those who responded, 5 said ‘yes’, but only 2 actually read the book. I won’t go this route again. Too much work for too little return.
The book then launched and landed with a thud, but somewhere in January it took off. I don’t know why it suddenly started selling. Possibly it was because Amazon listed it as a ‘New fantasy to read’ on their blast emails. I wish Kobo and Nook did the same because for every one sale on both those platforms, I’ve had over 100 on Amazon.
I ‘boosted’ a Facebook post about the book, and got lots of ‘likes’, but I didn’t see an increase in sales. Overall, I can’t say that Facebook has helped with sales much, but I’ve heard other authors had greater success.
I’ve also advertised on Goodreads, but that hasn’t been very helpful except to vastly increase the number of people who’ve added the book to their to-read-pile. I also did a Goodreads giveaway, and I included basically the world. Again, that boosted the to-read-pile numbers, but it also cost me an arm-and-a-leg in shipping expenses since one book went to Sweden and another to the UK.
I also started a Twitter account (@DavisAshura) and purchased a marketing plan through Selfpublish Showcase. It only cost $37/year, and they send out blast tweets daily about the book to their >37k followers and those often gets re-tweeted. I don’t know if this is helping, but it didn’t cost me much, and it’s another data point I can use for book 2.
I did a price drop last week for 5 days. The first 3 days, I saw a definite uptick in sales, but the last two days, not so much. I think the moral is to not leave the price low for too long.
The book continues to sell well, although it’s starting to taper off, but that’s life. Can’t stay on top forever. 🙂

Good and bad news

So here’s the bad news: The sale on A Warrior’s Path ended and it’s now back to its original price of $5.49.

But then here’s the good news: I did a final edit and got rid of some annoying dropped words, misspelled words, etc. The updated version also has easier to read maps.

The Elenium

The-Elenium-9780345500939

It’s always a little scary to read books that I loved when I was younger since my tastes now are so different. That said, even though I never liked The Elenium as much as The Belgariad: Volume One, I sure did like it a lot when it first came out. So when I saw it at my local Barnes and Noble, I thought I’d give it a try.

Wish I hadn’t.
It’s not terrible, but it’s really nothing more than a travelogue with characters having witty banter as they kill people or threaten to kill people. The characters themselves were amusing enough, archetypal all, but with little growth or character development beyond their archetypal nature. I will say sometimes The Elenium was laugh out loud funny, which is an attribute missing from many epic fantasies being written today. The series had a lightness of tone that sometimes redeemed the otherwise interminable traveling.
Nonetheless, all the clever characters, witty banter, and humor just weren’t enough. It was a dull read despite the new episode of action or intrigue seeming to occur every twenty to fifty pages. There just wasn’t any sense of danger or challenge. I was also depressed by the underlying racism of the world Edding’s created – such as such race is known for their stupidity, religious zealotry, etc – wore thin the first two times I read about them. I don’t remember it from my first time with the series, but there it was like a giant slug on a cake.

Facebook advertising

As an experiment, I advertised on Facebook between 2/22/2014-2/24/2014 to see if I could increase sales of A Warrior’s Path. My dollar limit was set pretty high at $25/day for the first two days and $15 for the third day. I targeted the ad to include people from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and India who were interested in popular fantasy/sci-fi authors like Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, and Brandon Sanderson as well as Game of Thrones and ebooks. Overall, the target audience was listed at 42 million. Pretty big I thought.

Also, I made sure the ad linked directly to the Amazon page for A Warrior’s Path

When I first started the ad, it was included in my timeline as well as a right-hand ad. At first, almost everything I got was a click to the timeline ad, and people didn’t go on to the Amazon page. So the ad increased awareness, and I even got some more ‘Likes’ for the FB page, but I don’t know if it did anything for sales.

The next day, I deleted the inclusion of the ad as part of my timeline and left it solely as a right-hand ad. I can’t say I noticed much of a change even then in terms of sales.

At that point, S.G. Night, author of Attrition: The First Act of Penance (btw Sam is only 18, but my goodness, his writing is so much more mature. He has a wonderful future ahead of him and his future might be now) suggested some changes I make to the ad. Sam has had success advertising on FB, and he had some good advice on changes I should make to my target audience.

Thus, further changes to my ad campaign were made on 2/24/2014 to be implemented on 2/25/2014. I got rid of Game of Thrones and readers of ebook , and went with George RR Martin and many, many more authors, such as Janny Wurts , Stephen R. Donaldson, and Jennifer Roberson. My audience went from 42 million to 2 million. That’s also when I dropped the daily total I was willing to pay to $15, but kept the max bid for an ad at $0.60/click – I ended up paying $0.24/click for the entirety of the campaign.

So. Did advertising work?

I’m not sure. My sales were at their peak about two weeks ago, and since then have steadily trended downward, although they’re still healthy. Nevertheless, I wanted to see if I could halt the decline. On 2/22/2014-2/23/2014, my sales were about the same as they have been over the past week, or possibly even a little lower, but on 2/24/2014, I had a slight bump in sales. I’m not sure what to make of such short trends and small data points.

Also, one rather large caveat is that I had a Goodreads giveaway that just ended on 2/25/2014, so that obviously factors into things.

The bottom line is that I think I need a lot more data points and trends to see if the FB ad can or has helped, but I’m going to keep plugging away, and I’ll keep on posting about my results.

 

An experiment

Over on my Facebook page, I’m running an ad to see if I can drum up sales for A Warrior’s Path.

As a self-published author, I kinda have to worry about silly things like marketing since there isn’t anyone else to do it. More importantly, I’m following along the paths laid down by Michael Sullivan, Joe Konrath, Lindsay Buroker, and many other authors who have shared their own experiences on how they built their readerships. It’s all part of giving back.

The Facebook ad is an experiment, and once I have the details on how much it finally costs and how many sales (if any) it generated, I’ll let everyone know.

Slow burn success

A post from the wonderful Janny Wurts about the history of sales in fantasy and expectations of success. A useful reminder in today’s world, which seems to be all about instant gratification.

The Unrecognized Trajectory of Slow Burn Success by Janny Wurts

BTW if you haven’t read Janny’s Empire series with Raymond Feist, you’re missing out on a great trilogy. Sadly, it’s not yet in ebook format. 

 

Wonderings

The title of the post is lifted from my youngest son. He’ll get a thought in his little noggin and say something like, “It wonders me why the sky is blue?”

Love that phrasing.

I’m still stuck in the Purgatory of studying for my Boards, but there is a small ray of hope. While I don’t want to write new material-I shudder to think what I might write in my current state-I do think I can edit some of the 90,000 words of book 2 that I’ve written so far.

Next item of business: song lists. A lot of authors let readers know what they listen to when they write, so I thought what the heck. I’ll do the same. I like a lot of things, but when I’m writing battles, I gravitate toward this kind of music

Clutch-The Regulator

Heard it first on The Walking Dead.

 

Inside Out & Back Again

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My wife suggested I give this sweet, lovely book a try. It’s different from anything that I usually read since it is essentially a story written in blank verse. I read it over a period of a week – five minutes here, 10 minutes there.

The book is an quick, easy read, but by easy I don’t mean simple. It was a poignant, bittersweet walk down memory lane, especially for those of us who are immigrants to America. So many of Ha’s experiences and impressions resonated with those from my own childhood. The simultaneous alienation and hopeful desire to be a part of America – all of it  struck a chord.

The writing is crisp-no wasted words-and with a few pithy sentences Lai was able to create a multitude of characters and breathe life into them; everyone from the cowboy to Missss Wasshington. It’s a lesson for all of us who write.

If I have a criticism it’s that the story  ended too quickly. I want to know what else happens to Ha and her family. Hopefully, the author will let us know in later volumes.