Author Topic: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie  (Read 2841 times)  

Offline AlexaKang

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Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« on: February 23, 2016, 05:38:57 PM »
I want to write this post because (1) I have learned so much from everyone here, and I hope this is my way of giving something back-- Kboard is the single most helpful resource for me in becoming a self-pub writer, and (2) I'm a newbie. I see other newbies here trying to find their way. While the more experienced and successful writers offer a lot of valuable advice, there are times when their advice are way too advanced for me. Using skiing as an analogy, what works on the black diamond isn't always applicable on the bunny hill, and on the bunny hill, we're just holding onto our lives trying to stand upright. Sometimes we need help with the most basic things that are not longer on experienced writers' minds, or the issues didn't exist when they started out years ago.

I released my debut novel exactly one month ago: Book 1 in a 4-book series. What I'll share are things I learned in the process and likely will be most useful to newbies looking to release their first book in their first series, but some parts may help other newbies releasing their first book anyway. I'll share my thoughts in 2 parts: (a) nuts and bolts suggestions, and (2) my own insights on the business side of things, which you may or may not agree with, but may be fruits for thoughts.

N0uts and bolts -- I won't discuss topics that are discussed ad nauseum already. I'll share things that I have not seen posted here:

Create 2 new email accounts (separate from your new author's email account) to keep things organized. One for handling new vendors (including amazon, your cover artist, your editor, your proofreader, formatter etc). A second one for signing up to book promo sites. Where you will receive the daily/weekly free or 99 cents books. You want to know how promo sites lay out their ads, and when you do your own promos, you will want to see where your book is listed.   

2.   Set up a system for organizing your passwords. You can use an Excel spreadsheet. I gave in and downloaded a keyword app. (I hope I don't need to tell you to not use the same password for all the accounts, especially those which you must use your credit card or other personal info.) Mark down 3 things for each account registered: (a) the website URL - yes, you might forget which site you registered, (b) the email account you used to register and the login name - you might remember the password but not your login name or the email account you used to register, (b) the password itself.

3.   YouTube is your friend. I used to Google for help, but not all web pages that help are easy to follow. Ultimately, I found YouTube to be the best way whenever I needed to do something I don't understand, like setting up my Wordpress website, setting up Mailchimp, setting up functions and operations within the website or Mailchimp or App Sumo, figuring how to do this or that on Scrivener, formatting your MS, uploading to CS or Amazon, the list goes on and on. There's nothing more thorough and easy than following a visual tutorial step by step. I am amazed at the number of kind souls who took their time and posted these tutorials. I basically watched and followed along. A few times I ran into questions, I contacted via YouTube the person who posted the tutorial, and they even wrote back and helped me. There are good people out there.

While you're at it, consider getting a notebook and taking notes so if you need to do something again, you won't have to re-learn everything.


4.   That said, reserve 3, 4, or even 5Xs the amount of time it will take you to do anything. There are more experienced authors here who may say this or that is easy, and by itself something may be very easy, especially if you already learned how to do it. But if you have never done it, and you are doing this on top of the 50 other things you need to do to release you book, the time it takes is very overwhelming. Even when watching YouTube tutorials, I often had to stop and rewind to understand what the person who posted the video just did. Add to that - you will make mistakes. Then you need to sort things out. Don't beat yourself up over it. You won't stress if you know to expect to spend the time. It's all part of the process with a huge learning curve. The second time around will be easier, but whatever time you think will take to do something, multiply that by at least 3 (possibly 5, or 10).

5.   One technical solution will lead to more technical or other things you have to do. It can drive you crazy. Setting up my platform gave me ADD for which I'm still recovering from. By way of example, you started out wanting to do a blog post. Now must learn to create your blog page, next thing you know, something on the blog administration page asks you to enter keywords. That leads you to google blog and keyword. Somewhere along the line you saw something about BISAC and keywords and you start reading about metadata, now you're very confused and you wonder if you need to care about metadata. You come on Kboard searching for answer. Now you're reading Evenstar's Monster Post on keywords and you start worrying what keywords you should use for your book on Amazon. You throw up your hands and go on Fiverr to search for someone with more expertise to help you with keyword optimization. Now you read about something called link wheel and you are all distracted. What were you doing again? That's right, you were trying to write one blog post. --- I'm not saying you will be easily distract like this. I'm saying that it's very confusing when you're learning, and you sometimes can go down the wrong path because you didn't know if something was important or not. Again, give yourself time. Have a glass of wine (or a shot of whiskey in my case), take a step back and go back to what you set out to do in the first place. Take one thing at a time.

6.   Colors - if you're designing anything on your own, be it your website, or your mailchimp form, or what not, mark down the colors. Your computer's the palette will show you the palette number for the color. If you want to create consistent looking forms or pages (good for branding), it helps to know what was the last color you chose.

7.    Blurbs - They're hard. You spent a lot of time perfecting it. It was really difficult because you had to tell what your book is about in just 2 or 3 paragraphs. But guess what, you'll need something even shorter. In fact, several versions. Do one in 300 characters. Now do one in 200. Then do one in a log line, and a twitter-length version. This is because when you sign up for promo sites, they will all have different requirements as to length. Some sites do the opposite and tell you to write as much as you want. A few don't have length requirements but specifically ask you to not copy and paste your Amazon blurbs. So you might as well have multiple versions all ready. At some point, you will give up being a perfectionist, and do what's practical - at that time, you know you've arrived! :D

8.   Murphy's Law - throughout the entire process of setting things up, Murphy had been with me. I wish he wasn't there but he was always there. He might decide to show up too when you do your launch. So just offer him a beer and chill. Life will go on and this too shall pass.


No, onto my own insights. These are my own opinions only. I'm in no way an expert and I'm still figuring my way too. But if what I share will help you in any way, be it trying the same thing or convincing you to do the exact opposite, then I hope at least I've helped you figure out what works for you.

A. Promos - Conventional wisdom on most writers forums is: don't do ads and promos until you release Book 3, and definitely not when you're only release your first book in a series. I won't go against what has proven to be tried and true for experienced authors whose goals are ROI. I will however share why I chose to do an ad promo for Book 1 in my first time release.

What I think is, as a first time author with a debut novel, we shouldn't focus on ROI at the onset. We should look at our Book 1 as a loss leader. I don't mean loss leader as in giving it away to get new readers. I mean we should chuck up losses and investments in Book 1 as a learning experience. If Book 3 is where we should do the big push, then we should make all our mistakes with Book 1 and maybe Book 2, so by the time Book 3 comes along, we have a well-greased wheel. We don't want to be learning the ropes when we sing our show-stopper. We want to make the errors in the prelude.  A promo will help by:

(a)   Testing whether your book/series has potential, and gather data. We are first timers. We have no historical record to look back on to determine what works for us. The only way for us to get data is to get our book out there to as many people as possible. You don't want to have written 3 books and paid for all the covers and editing before you found out you should have done this or done that, or your book is not being well-received.

(b)   You get to learn how to set up promos, what is entailed, and which promo sites work for your book. Not all of promo sites will work for you depending on your genre. You can pay the lowest rate now to test a few, and see the results. Then when Book 3 is ready, you can spend more and do the big push.

I did a stack promo for my Book 1 with the sole goal of triggering Amazon's algorithm. I am glad I did it against conventional advice because I discovered so much. For one thing, I found it is not true that readers won't download and read first in a series. I had a very satisfying result from my free promo followed by my 99 cents week-long promo. During the free promo period, my book went as high as #103 on the Amazon free book list, and # 3 in the Historical Fiction category and #9 in Coming of Age. It's been 2 weeks since, and people are still buying and reading it in KU, so I think there are people out there who will read a first in the series. I will qualify it by saying that I published a schedule of release for the remainder of each book in the series, so that might have helped. I also have a soft cliffhanger which doesn't leave readers hanging, but I don't think that made a difference because they couldn't have known that without reading to the end.

Now, what I discovered from doing the promo: First, even though it was the free list, it was a very happy experience and I had a kick telling my friends and family about it and watching the book climb the chart. I felt like an indie musician and my song hit the Top 40. If you have finished your book and released it, you deserve to have a little fun, so give yourself a chance to enjoy the moment. You did a lot to get to the point of releasing your first book.

But a few things more important:

(1)   At the minimum, you will know whether or not you're on the right track with the cover. Until you put your book out there, you can keep asking people on writer's sites, but the best way to know if your cover is working is the fact that more than a thousand people are downloading free or more than a hundred is buying your book. You can argue some people might be downloading everything free, but if your cover sucks, then people wouldn't likely download, and you won't get a tail, so the promo will let you know if you are on the right track or not before you pay for the covers for Book 2 and Book 3 and so on. We are not experienced authors. We have no record to rely on. We need some way to know if what we're doing works.

(2)   You might get the Amazon algorithm working for you. I know I did. First, you start getting "Also Boughts" on your book's page. The first few days those books will be odd sorts because people who downloaded free books of other genres during the same promo period will show up. But it only took a few days for Amazon's algorithm to sort it out. The "Also Boughts" on my book's page now show other books that are more the types in line with my story. The subsequent buyers continue to affirm that.

You might ask: why is this important?

For one thing, you want to maximize your Amazon real estate. You want to be on the Also Bought list on other books' pages. The number of downloads I got from the free promo gave me that. I checked the Also Boughts on my page and I see my own book showing up on some of those books' pages. That is your continuous free advertising on the Amazon site that can trigger readers to buy. Second, even though you may have your idea of target audience, the more people read you book, the more you see what your readers also bought, and you start to get a better idea who your real audience are. Finally, it is very valuable data to see what kind of books readers who downloaded your book are reading. (Especially if you plan to do FB ads, you might be able to target readers of those authors.)


(3)   The promo got KU to work for me. But the free promo also triggered KU reads. My numbers are not earth shattering. Nothing close to what the experienced authors here get. But before the promo, I couldn't get anything moving. Now, I see the KU page counts continue. Here, I'll say another controversial thing - ignore what everyone else is saying and put your first book in KU. Forget the pay rate and page count, etc. etc. Do it at least for the first 3 months. What you do after that is your call. Remember, your goal with this book in the beginning is not ROI.  Not yet. What you need to know is whether people are reading your book all the way through. No beta reader, ARC reader, editor or anyone can tell you that more than real, live info on KU everyday to tell you if actual readers - random strangers -- are reading your book all the way through. This is such incredible, valuable data. It's like the number of downloads that help to show if your cover art is working. If your KU count is low after a promo, you might have a problem, or at least you have things to figure out and fix. It's better to find out now than to wait till you have written 3 books down the path.

It is also a very rewarding experience when you see that people are reading your book all the way. Even if they are not leaving you reviews. As a newbie, this is a morale boost. But once again, more important is that it tells you if you are doing things right. Unlike experienced authors, you have no historical record to get sales feedback. But KU, post promo for your first book, will tell you whether your story has potential.

B. Mailing List vs. Facebook. Everyone tells us we must have a mailing list. Of course, we will do our best to build that up. But we can't control where readers go. We can steer them to our website but maybe they prefer using FB. They decide to check your FB page instead, so what can you do??? First, we're newbies. We're beggars not choosers. We'll take whatever we can get, so let's not even get into the Mailing list v. FB debate at this point. Second, I've discovered FB to have some great features in gathering data. Every time someone views my author's page, I get an immediate notification. In the beginning, the viewers didn't "like" my page, but I got "view" traffic regularly since I did my promo. It wasn't heavy traffic, but again, it's data. Someone saw my book, either read it or at least read the blurbs, and got interested enough to check out my FB page. That is another good sign, or a bad sign if you get no action.

Google analytics will tell you if you have visitors to your website too, but I really like that FB alerts me immediately when I get views or organic likes. Next, when someone organically like my page, I can find out who they are and check their profiles. The access to data of who are reading my book is not something I can get from email addresses. It is interesting to see the demographics of your readers. If you plan to go the FB ad route, having organic likes will only help. So if some readers choose to engage you on FB instead, you might as well make the most use out of it. These are reasons why I strongly advise creating a FB author's page in addition to a webpage.


C. Reviews.

This is strictly my own opinion so take it with a grain (or a rock) of salt. You may disagree with me. It's just a possible solution you may consider.

With the exception of certain genre organizations, I've decided that reviewers and bloggers are not worth my time. So if you're a romance writer, then of course do whatever you can to get Romance Readers of America to give you a review. If you can get a review on NYT or something similar, please go for it. But IMHO, I prefer not to spend my time on: (1) review bloggers, top Amazon readers, Goodreads, etc. or (2) asking fellow authors to help do reviews. My reasons are, (1) the pool of people who do reviews is very small. Many are overloaded and are not taking more requests. (2) Reviewers and other authors tend to be more critical. They take pride in their opinions. You might not get the favorable reviews you need. I'm not saying one should not accept criticisms. I AM saying the Amazon review page is not where I need to do my book critique. We should continue to improve our skills, but do that on some writing forum. Go to Scribophile and let critters shred your writing to pieces so you can find out what's wrong with your writing. Get some very honest beta readers or other authors to tell you straight to the face what you need to work on. Find yourself a tough as nail editor. But Amazon reviews? Whoever leaves the reviews is but one person. There's no telling what that blogger or requested reviewer's qualifications are, or what they personally prefer. Their negative reviews might hurt your sales, and their opinions may or may not be valid. I've seen reviews where the reviewer rated a book 3 stars because "this is not the genre I like to read" but "I received an Advanced Copy in exchange for an honest review." How is that helpful? Or, your ACR reads high literature, but you wrote a commercial fiction. You have the skills to write high lit, but your goal is not the Pulitzer prize and you wanted to write something entertaining. Again, you get dinged by something that isn't part of your plan.

The people you want to leave reviews on your page are people who are fans of "your thing." You want to build a group of target audience who are into your thing and what you write. Follow the 80/20 rule. Focus on people who would be fans. Everyone else is not as relevant. You want your reviewers to be your fans who will entice other fans of "your thing" to buy and read your book, because those are the people who enjoy what you write regardless of whether your book meets some nebulous standard of good or bad. Those are the people who will buy your book because your book gives them the entertainment or escape they need.

(This, BTW, is why I am glad I did my promo. In the process of your launch, there will be people who, for all good intentions, tell you this is wrong with your book cover, or that is wrong with your blurbs, or what is wrong with your opening paragraph, etc. While all these are helpful in shaping your book, when your only feedback is from writers" forums, every little imperfection gets magnified. Any one person's opinion may start to give you doubt. But it is impossible to know how significant that one person's opinion is. You will only really know when you put your book out there. When you see that a lot of people have downloaded your book, are reading and finishing your book in KU, are viewing and liking your FB page, every single one criticism becomes less an issue in the big scheme of things. You start to focus on the big picture.)

In my opinion, the best way to do this is to build a fan base. Here's an idea how to do it - find your niche where fans of "your thing" gather which has a space for posting fanfictions. Post your story as your write it. If you're a fantasy writer in the tradition of JRR Tolkien or George RR Martin, go to their fan sites and the space where people post fan fictions, and post your story there. Do make sure it's a place where you can take your story down later when you're ready to publish, and be cautious if it's the source's official site. That's their promo space, maybe you shouldn't be there. I can't advise on what is appropriate and what's not. It depends what site you're visiting but use good judgment and use your common sense. For any site, observe those sites' etiquette, whatever those may be. Same if you're a gamer, or a Hunger Games type YA author, etc. If you're writing something Scottish highlands romance like the Outlander then go there. Go where your people hang out.

Most of these fanfic places are pretty lax, and you can post your book even if it is not directly tied to the main story, if you tell fanfic readers that you wrote something similar and would like to share. Or, you can add an original source character very peripherally, with the plan to edit that character out for your published version. Fanfic readers are die-hard fans who are looking for things to read that is your/their "thing". They also do not expect your writing level to be in publishable form, so you can even post your first draft up. What you do need are compelling characters and a good story. The rest you can fix when you revise and edit for publication. If they like your story, they will engage you, or give you comments and feedback as you go along. You build a following who, when you tell them you want to publish your story for real, they'll be your biggest group of cheerleaders. If that happens, be mindful to treat them well. That means they get to read your story for free when you post it, and they get to receive a copy of your book for free. But you would be doing the same with random ACR readers anyway, and ACR readers aren't even fans.

OTOH, because the fanfic readers are fans, even when you offer to give them the book for free, some of them will still choose to buy it. Some will even want the hard copy and not the e-copy, because they want it for keeps.

This worked for EL James. We might not make the millions she's making, but it can at least work for you to get the reviews you need when you launch. As a way of getting reviews, I think it's a much more pleasant way than chasing random ARC reviewers who may not be a good fit for your book. If you gain just a handful of committed fans, they will be excited for your book release. When you tell them you've released and you need reviews, they'll happily share their opinions on Amazon on what they liked about it because they really do like your story and they want to talk about it. They're emotionally invested in your characters. Some might even go to bat to tell other like-minded people about your book.

This option takes time. I don't think it'll work if your plan is to start right away as a one-book-per-month author. But if you are writing your series and you're taking some months to write it, you might consider giving it a try. I stumbled upon this when I was writing my series last year. I posted my story on an obscure forum of something that has a cult following. I told the fanfic readers in there that my story was an original story of its own, and the MCs are my own original characters. There were only tangential ties to the source, which I easily edited out for my published story since the original source really has nothing to do with my story. I ended up building a small but very committed following. The only extra time you need is time to post installments of the latest of the draft you've written, and to engage with anyone who comments on your story. In any case, engaging someone who likes your story is so much fun, it's not even "work".

I can't guarantee this will work for everyone. Your story may never take off where you posted it. But you may be surprised how many people who are fans of something will step out of the source if you show them your story. Fanfic readers are voracious readers. They're hungry for something similar to what they like. For you, it's minimum effort. You got nothing to lose and everything to gain in terms of reviews, and possibly building a following before you publish.  The worst that can happen is the people there don't like your story. Then you'll have to figure out if that's because people there aren't into something outside the source, or if your story is not good enough.

There are some sites like Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, and fanfiction.net where you can post stories to try this approach. I think those places are harder because then you really do have to post a fanfic for your story to be found. But if you're on say, an unofficial Harry Potter forum and there's a fanfic space there, you can go there and let people know you wrote a book of the same genre and want to share, and see what happens.

Your "thing" might not even need to be a book or have a fanfic space. I can see how if you're a gamer, you can find some place to post a story and some other gamers might follow it because they're all into that "thing". You know better than me where people of your thing hang out.

Finally, for all newbies starting out, if your book has potential, the indications will come from many things, not only reviews. When someone purchased your book, or when you get a high number of free downloads during the promo, or when someone liked your FB page or followed you on Twitter, or when some read the book in KU, or when someone subscribed to your mailing list. Look at the overall picture, don't focus of the lack of one thing or another.

Anyway, I hope the above helps to contribute to your journey. I'm only still trying to figure things out too.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2016, 06:03:26 PM by AlexaKang »

Offline KeraEmory

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2016, 06:07:55 PM »
My first thought was: this is really really long!

Then I started reading and realized basically every word of it is relevant to me (launching first novel in mere weeks).

You've even got me second-second-guessing KU (I'd planned to go wide).

Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

Offline dancing squirrel

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2016, 06:12:50 PM »
Thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom.

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2016, 03:54:31 PM »
You're welcome guys. I guess one last thing I would add is: make friends. Like in any community, you need your own group of author friends. If you see someone who needs help, reach out and lend a helping hand and don't ask what you'll get in return. If someone helped you but you can't help them back, pay it forward. Karma really does go around. The author friends I had made have been my biggest support. You can't have enough friends as you go through this process.

Offline MKK

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2016, 04:25:01 PM »
Thanks for posting this. How much of the promo work did you do in advance? I'm trying to get my head around timing relative to release.

Mark Kelly | Facebook

Offline dancing squirrel

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2016, 04:39:32 PM »
You're welcome guys. I guess one last thing I would add is: make friends. Like in any community, you need your own group of author friends. If you see someone who needs help, reach out and lend a helping hand and don't ask what you'll get in return. If someone helped you but you can't help them back, pay it forward. Karma really does go around. The author friends I had made have been my biggest support. You can't have enough friends as you go through this process.
That's excellent advice.

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2016, 05:13:46 PM »
Thanks for posting this. How much of the promo work did you do in advance? I'm trying to get my head around timing relative to release.

You can't really start until your book is up and released, because all the sites ask for your ASIN. Some sites like ENT and Robin Read are booked for months already so it may not be possible to get in with them. I would allow for 2 weeks if you plan a stacked promo. You'll be waiting for each site to get back to you by email. Most get back to you within 3 days. If you're only doing a few sites it'll be easier.

This is also where keeping separate email accounts and a list of passwords and sites really helps. It's quite time comsuming to fill out all the submission forms online. Once you registered, you also get on their mailing list so you'll start getting their daily or weekly emails of books they are promoting. Pros -- you see how your book will be listed and how other books are featured. Con - your inbox will clog up.

I did it this way and maybe you can try too:

1. Get a physical calendar --It's sort of still new year so there are tons around. write on each date which promo site you want to list your book. This will give you a visual of how your promo period looks. All the sites ask if you want a specific date, or if you might be flexible. Some like Books Butterfly may give you 2-3 days. So your calendar might change a bit as you go depending on your choice.

2. Separately, when your dates are confirmed, keep a record of which date will be promoted by which sites, and how much you paid for each. I still say ROI is not your goal for your first book, but it's good to get an idea of number of downloads in relations to your spending.

3. Try to start the promo on a Thursday and run it through Sunday. You can do longer if you plan to run the promo for a while, but Thurs - Sunday is the best period.

4. Have all your versions of blurbs in different length ready. I didn't know this beforehand and it was a lot of pressure to come up with so many on a fly.

5. For very short versions, try to make them grammar error proof in case the promo site decides to edit it. I had one that started out "...an epic WWII love story...". The site edited to "...an WWII love story..." and it went out that way.  It was placed in a very nice prominent position on their newsletter too and probably the one time I wished it wasn't. I don't blame the site. The promo was free and they were very nice about it when I told them and changed it on their website, but the newsletter already went out.  I wish I had written "...a WWII epic love story...". Just be careful to not give room for such mistakes by others. It doesn't look good when you're an indie and we're already trying so hard to fight that reputation that indie books are badly edited.


Offline MKK

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2016, 05:41:17 PM »
Cheers...will try as you describe when i get to that point.

Mark Kelly | Facebook

Offline geraldmkilby

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2016, 05:21:43 AM »
Thanks for putting all this info together, it's very informative.

A quick question on on promos for a new book. It is possible just to put it on pre-order and then line up the promos for the go-live date?
That way they kick off a the very start.

Thanks

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2016, 05:27:44 AM »
Thanks for putting all this info together, it's very informative.

A quick question on on promos for a new book. It is possible just to put it on pre-order and then line up the promos for the go-live date?
That way they kick off a the very start.

Thanks

I don't know. I haven't tried the pre-order yet. But I would not recommend it if you want to do a promo because I've heard from other authors that it cuts into your launch sales numbers. The pre-orders won't  count for your release date downloads and you want every download to count for triggering the algorithm.


Offline geraldmkilby

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2016, 05:34:27 AM »
True, but a lot of promo sites are booked out 2-3 weeks ahead. Meaning you might only get a promo kick in sales on the last week of the 30 day hot new releases. So my thinking is to try and get this going from the outset. Just a thought. Might try it on the new book and report back.

Offline KeraEmory

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2016, 05:34:48 AM »

Thanks for putting all this info together, it's very informative.

A quick question on on promos for a new book. It is possible just to put it on pre-order and then line up the promos for the go-live date?
That way they kick off a the very start.

Thanks

I have a thread around here about my debut novel launch, and people recommended I DO use the pre-order feature so I can line up promos. I don't have a link on hand but can probably find it by clicking my profile.

Offline TommyHill

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2016, 05:38:30 AM »
Interesting read. I'm still not sure I'm sold on KU, as I'm planning to go as wide as possible to build up something for the series. I understand book 1 is kind of the proving grounds, so I'm not expecting miracles, but wouldn't it make more sense to get as many eyes on your work as possible? From my understanding, KU keeps your work locked up in exclusivity for 3 months...
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Offline geraldmkilby

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2016, 05:51:51 AM »
I have a thread around here about my debut novel launch, and people recommended I DO use the pre-order feature so I can line up promos. I don't have a link on hand but can probably find it by clicking my profile.

Found it, perfect. Exactly what I was looking for. I have been debating with myself if I should bother to promo for the first book in a series. But the OP has convinced me. Better to get as much visibility / sign ups / likes as possible than revenue at this early stage.

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2016, 06:36:36 AM »
Interesting read. I'm still not sure I'm sold on KU, as I'm planning to go as wide as possible to build up something for the series. I understand book 1 is kind of the proving grounds, so I'm not expecting miracles, but wouldn't it make more sense to get as many eyes on your work as possible? From my understanding, KU keeps your work locked up in exclusivity for 3 months...

Hi Tommy,

My advice is not for book 1 of any series. It's specifically for Book 1 of a new series of a debut author. I recommend KU because it is the only thing that will tell us if people are reading our book all the way through. We are first timers so there is no way to know if our story is truly commerically viable. The KU page count will show us yes or no. If the answer is no, then maybe we can figure out and fix what's wrong before we continue writing and ending up with 3 books before we discover we aren't ready for show time.

If you're not a first time, debut author, my advice above is not applicable.

Of course, one can go wide and try to expand the channels of sales. My point is, even if you sell and get a lot of downloads from a promo, how do you know if people are reading your book? We have an untested product by an untested author with no following. As for the 3-month lock up, that is true. But if conventional wisdom is true that a series doesn't really take off till Book 3, then I don't think a 3-month lock up of Book 1 will cause any serious drawback. Going wide on Book 1 of a debut series by a first timer will at most garner modest success, generally speaking. A 3-month lock up in exchange for data to know whether your book is good enough to keep reading all the way through, IMO, is valuable data. Big companies do market tests and research. This is an option to see if the market will take our story.

Offline JMB

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2016, 10:31:26 PM »
what is an ARC/ACR readers?

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2016, 11:04:39 PM »
what is an ARC/ACR readers?

ARC = Advanced Reader Copy.  An ARC reader is someone who gets to read the book before release, usually final proof or galley that may or may not still need minor formatting or proofing corrections.  Most often you'd provide ARCs to reviewers so that they can have their reviews ready and posted on or before launch day.

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2016, 11:18:31 PM »
Yeah, I'm sold about the idea of letting your readers read your work instead of other writers for critque. Before I forget, thanks for the post Alexa!

ARC = Advanced Reader Copy.  An ARC reader is someone who gets to read the book before release, usually final proof or galley that may or may not still need minor formatting or proofing corrections.  Most often you'd provide ARCs to reviewers so that they can have their reviews ready and posted on or before launch day.

Thank you.


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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2016, 12:17:36 AM »
There are some sites like Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, and fanfiction.net where you can post stories to try this approach. I think those places are harder because then you really do have to post a fanfic for your story to be found. But if you're on say, an unofficial Harry Potter forum and there's a fanfic space there, you can go there and let people know you wrote a book of the same genre and want to share, and see what happens.

Your post contains a treasure trove of valuable advice for newbies, but I have to disagree with this section here.

I've been writing web fiction for almost 2 years now - original fiction, not fanfiction. I skipped the fanfic part altogether. You don't have to write fanfic to be 'discovered'. I'm listed on Webfictionguide / topwebfiction and was lucky enough to have a small follower base right from the beginning. Since the beginning, my blog pages (where I post serialized chapters) have been viewed over 160K times.

The neat thing about serializing original web fiction on your own blog is that you can immediately see what works and what doesn't. On Wordpress, you get fairly detailed stats on which pages (chapters) get viewed the most, how many people come back for the new update every week, and so on. Readers can also leave comments, which are immensely valuable as feedback - and a big motivation booster!

Checking the Wordpress stats helped me determine which chapters still needed work. For instance, the read-through after my first prologue (which was very, very dark) was abysmally low, so I changed the prologue and my read-through increased. The same is true for other chapters. Over time, I edited the whole serial several times - chapter 1 alone has seen about 15 edits, and my reader stats increased more and more. By now, I can tell that there's an audience for my story and that I've succeeded in fixing the initial problems. You know, the usual 'first novels suck!' issues. :)

There was a time when my weekly readership numbers dropped by about 50% and I had no idea why, so I asked the readers who were still hanging in there. The discussion that followed helped me improve the story immensely.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2016, 12:19:08 AM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline MawBTS

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2016, 02:02:37 AM »
Good post. Good value.

Quote
4.   That said, reserve 3, 4, or even 5Xs the amount of time it will take you to do anything.

Yeah, see Hofstadter's law. "Things will always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law"

Offline George Saoulidis

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2016, 02:45:39 AM »
Yes, the OP is quite informative. Good job!


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Offline PJ_Cherubino

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2016, 03:08:36 AM »
Wow!

Thank you * 1000

This is fantastic work. I started reading it and go to impressed I just had to post. So forgive me if you've said you have, but I'd like to suggest you add this to your blog.

I would like to link to this post on my own blog. I'll have to check the etiquette/board rules on that first.

Extremely helpful.

The saying that comes to mind when I read posts like this is: a rising tide lifts all ships.

Great work!

 :D

 

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Offline Cherise

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2016, 05:30:20 PM »
... specifically for Book 1 of a new series of a debut author. I recommend KU because it is the only thing that will tell us if people are reading our book all the way through. We are first timers so there is no way to know if our story is truly commerically viable. The KU page count will show us yes or no.


It doesn't really show you that, though. It hints, but it doesn't outright show you.

KU shows you how many pages got read on each book each day, but it doesn't show you how many people are reading that book. If it says 220 pages were read today, you don't know if that was one person reading 220 pages or ten people reading 22 pages each.

You can guess how many people are reading your book by your book's sales rank, but you don't really know how many people borrowed your book that day, or if they borrowed it last week or last month and are just now getting around to reading it.

Offline dancing squirrel

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2016, 06:26:39 PM »

It doesn't really show you that, though. It hints, but it doesn't outright show you.

KU shows you how many pages got read on each book each day, but it doesn't show you how many people are reading that book. If it says 220 pages were read today, you don't know if that was one person reading 220 pages or ten people reading 22 pages each.
That's true, but if one has published a 220-page book and sees repeated instances of 220 pages being read in a day, it's not a stretch to assume that one person is reading the book in one day.

Offline T S Paul

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Re: Let's Talk: Newbie to Newbie
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2016, 06:58:57 PM »
That's true, but if one has published a 220-page book and sees repeated instances of 220 pages being read in a day, it's not a stretch to assume that one person is reading the book in one day.

   I totally agree with this. I have a 31 pg book. Its pretty easy to tell how many have read it. A twist on that might be this, occasionally my wife reads my KU books. She might, later, say get that for me. But, 2 people have now read the same pgs
   
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