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Author Topic: Looking for some encouragement...Update!  (Read 12488 times)  

Offline anniejocoby

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Writing what you love is vital. As for your dud series why not try rewriting them? Find something to love about them and make them worth YOUR while, then re-release with new covers. You're extremely prolific so sparing a few minutes for your red-headed stepchildren shouldn't interfere with writing the legal thrillers.

And what a lesson learned. Ouch. My heart goes out to you.

Oh, that's a good idea! Red-headed stepchildren - that just made me laugh. They are red-headed stepchildren for sure. I want to beat them all into submission, but the very thought makes me insane.

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Offline Emilia Winters

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That's encouraging! Sounds like you've been where I am and came back. Give me hope that I can do the same. Congrats on your new success! Sci-Fi romance is something where you can clean up, from what I hear, because it's underserved. Or it was. Maybe it still is? That's an interesting idea, too. Thanks!

I think there are already signs that SFR is slowly filling up.  Shifter romances were HUGE in 2015/2016, so the market became oversaturated.  I think a lot of those authors are coming over to SFR because the two niches aren't all that different and the readership is very similar (ie. many paranormal/fantasy romance promo sites take SFR).  I think, ultimately, it's about finding your niche where you can make lists to get visibility--and the great thing (and the frustrating thing) is that these niches are constantly changing based on what readers want.

Offline anniejocoby

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I think there are already signs that SFR is slowly filling up.  Shifter romances were HUGE in 2015/2016, so the market became oversaturated.  I think a lot of those authors are coming over to SFR because the two niches aren't all that different and the readership is very similar (ie. many paranormal/fantasy romance promo sites take SFR).  I think, ultimately, it's about finding your niche where you can make lists to get visibility--and the great thing (and the frustrating thing) is that these niches are constantly changing based on what readers want.

You were smart for getting in while the getting's good! I remember Lindsay Buroker on a podcast talking about doing a sci-fi romance a few years back. Back then, I think that there weren't many books in that genre. She said that she made $3,000 on that book the first month. I don't remember what all she did to promote it, but it does sound like it's a good genre. Congrats!

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Offline WriterSongwriter

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I write books, but music is my day job so to say. In music a hit song makes 80 percent of its money in the first year. After that it becomes less and less. Is that the same for a hit book or series? I thought it worked different for books. 

Offline anniejocoby

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I write books, but music is my day job so to say. In music a hit song makes 80 percent of its money in the first year. After that it becomes less and less. Is that the same for a hit book or series? I thought it worked different for books. 

Well, yeah, that's probably right. The Broken series still sells, though. Not a lot, but it's the only one of all my series that sells something every day. And when I promote it, it still does well. But it's aging and every promo for it does less and less. The first book in that series is three years old, so I basically haven't had a decent series come out since before 2015.

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Offline PamelaKelley

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Thanks Stella! That was my initial thought - concentrate on the legal thrillers and only them. I've found something out about myself - I get sick of writing the same thing, so I have to take long breaks between books. Like a month or more where I do little but watch trashy TV and reading. I'm trying to see if I can write consistently, without breaks, if I alternate between genres. I have to keep feeding the beast right now. I can't afford to take time off. The upshot is that the legal thrillers have to be written in a month or less, and they're going to be long. I might burn-out with that schedule, so I might just go ahead and do what you advise - stick with the legal thrillers, but take time off.

I would vote for this too. But I would start a new legal thriller series and put it in KU. That is where people are doing so well with thrillers and legal thrillers seem to be an underserved niche-plenty of room for someone who can do them well. Plus....the people I see killing it with thrillers are not necessarily releasing every 30 days. More like 60-180....so you can take a bit more time for something more complex if you need it.

Offline ToniD

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Annie, I always read your posts because you are such a smart and generous poster!

So sorry to hear that you've had a downturn. I don't have any new advice, but do echo the 'write what you love' sentiment. Given that you did have success writing what you love!

Once when I was struggling with a chapter--and grumping about it--my husband said sounds like you're not having fun. I said, well yeah. He said, when you're having fun writing, how does that turn out? Well the answer is, it usually turns to be much better writing and storytelling!

Offline Silly Writer

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I don't have much advice but wanted to pop in to give you a (((Big Hug))). You always have inspired me and again, I'm inspired that you're willing to come in here and admit you've fallen down the ranks and take your licks.

That said, don't think you're alone. I know a dozen Indies that were 6 figures just last year and they too are suffering, selling houses, going back to day jobs. It's rare to see one come in and admit yeah, I'm not doing well anymore and don't know why. I think this industry is just getting so much harder.

I too think you should go full throttle on the legal thrillers. But maybe under a new pen name? That would give you a shot at a clean slate with Bookbub. You HAVE performed for them very well in the past, and you can again. If you've already published the first one under your regular pen, maybe re-publish now with new name? And then all other new books under that new name from now on.

Then, poll your newsletter peeps and FB followers and ask them one question, "Do any of you read Legal Thrillers?" On that newsletter, suggest two really good legal thrillers that you've read for them (I'd pick John's best-selling for one of those and maybe another best-selling legal thriller author.) Watch the clicks. If they say yes and/or click to buy the suggestions, migrate them to a separate list. Only announce your legal thrillers to THAT list so that you don't get low reviews due to expectations of your old genre from your old readers and as a bonus, you'll be settling in with some also-boughts of legal thriller when you pimp your legal thrillers to same readers. Also, garner a handful of those yes people for a beta team/review team so you're publishing with some feedback/reviews behind you.

Good luck, Annie. I know you can do this. I watched you go like gangbusters the first time, and you've not 'forgotten how to write a story,' it's just that someone has moved your cheese.  (blatant steal from the book, Who Moved My Cheese)   8)

Offline anniejocoby

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I would vote for this too. But I would start a new legal thriller series and put it in KU. That is where people are doing so well with thrillers and legal thrillers seem to be an underserved niche-plenty of room for someone who can do them well. Plus....the people I see killing it with thrillers are not necessarily releasing every 30 days. More like 60-180....so you can take a bit more time for something more complex if you need it.

Such a great idea. But I messed up, big time. I uploaded the book wide and put it into Kobo Plus. Kobo Plus is Kobo's answer to KU. I think it's kinda experimental for them. Well, I didn't read the fine print, which is that, once you enroll in Kobo Plus, you have to keep the book with Kobo for six months. I wanted to pull the book from wide distribution and put it into KU, and found out that I couldn't do it. So, I'm stuck, unfortunately. Too bad, too, because John Ellsworth's newsletter is doing great for me today. He's KU, so I probably could have had a chance for the book to take off had I put it into KU.

Live and learn, as always... :(

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Offline anniejocoby

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Annie, I always read your posts because you are such a smart and generous poster!

So sorry to hear that you've had a downturn. I don't have any new advice, but do echo the 'write what you love' sentiment. Given that you did have success writing what you love!

Once when I was struggling with a chapter--and grumping about it--my husband said sounds like you're not having fun. I said, well yeah. He said, when you're having fun writing, how does that turn out? Well the answer is, it usually turns to be much better writing and storytelling!

That's true - time to fall in love with my characters again! I think that's why I write emotional stories - it makes me feel closer to the characters. I struggle in my own life and I like to put that on the page. I got away from that for awhile, but I need to get back to it.

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Offline anniejocoby

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I don't have much advice but wanted to pop in to give you a (((Big Hug))). You always have inspired me and again, I'm inspired that you're willing to come in here and admit you've fallen down the ranks and take your licks.

That said, don't think you're alone. I know a dozen Indies that were 6 figures just last year and they too are suffering, selling houses, going back to day jobs. It's rare to see one come in and admit yeah, I'm not doing well anymore and don't know why. I think this industry is just getting so much harder.

I too think you should go full throttle on the legal thrillers. But maybe under a new pen name? That would give you a shot at a clean slate with Bookbub. You HAVE performed for them very well in the past, and you can again. If you've already published the first one under your regular pen, maybe re-publish now with new name? And then all other new books under that new name from now on.

Then, poll your newsletter peeps and FB followers and ask them one question, "Do any of you read Legal Thrillers?" On that newsletter, suggest two really good legal thrillers that you've read for them (I'd pick John's best-selling for one of those and maybe another best-selling legal thriller author.) Watch the clicks. If they say yes and/or click to buy the suggestions, migrate them to a separate list. Only announce your legal thrillers to THAT list so that you don't get low reviews due to expectations of your old genre from your old readers and as a bonus, you'll be settling in with some also-boughts of legal thriller when you pimp your legal thrillers to same readers. Also, garner a handful of those yes people for a beta team/review team so you're publishing with some feedback/reviews behind you.

Good luck, Annie. I know you can do this. I watched you go like gangbusters the first time, and you've not 'forgotten how to write a story,' it's just that someone has moved your cheese.  (blatant steal from the book, Who Moved My Cheese)   8)

Thanks Lisa! I was going to do a pen name, actually. That was one of the things that I struggled with. I had the name "Rachel Sinclair" ready to go. I ultimately decided against it because I wanted BookBub announce my book to my followers. I have 744 followers there. I don't know if they've announced it or not, but I'm starting to think it won't matter if they do or not. I announced it to my own followers, and to say that it resulted in crickets is giving a bad name to crickets. LOL. But I might just do that in the future - republish the book with a new pen name. Getting a BookBub for book one would be my ultimate dream, after I write a few more in the series, so that's food for thought.

Good to see you here, btw. :)

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Offline A J Sika

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You know, Annie, I think you might have something there.

Readers put you in some kind of box when they first find you, kind of like 'go to for Romantic suspense', 'the writer I go to when I'm looking for a slow-burn', 'when I'm looking for some hot vampire fun' etc. When you stray from that 'box' especially to something they wouldn't read for a whole series you end up losing them.

I experienced the same thing last year. I 'debuted' in 2014 with a Romantic suspense series that didn't exactly burn up the charts but it contributed heavily to my 'explosion' in 2015 with another Romantic Suspense series. I was riding high with those series through 2015 and early 2016. In the last half of 2016 I decided to try out a family drama type romance that was supposed to follow the same couple for three books. To say my book-report was anemic would be an understatement. I think Book 1 of that series peaked at the 20,000s. Even though the reviews that came in were glowing, my regulars just weren't biting. A panic attack later, I decided to wrap up that series with two books instead of the planned 3 (I had to finish book 2 because book 1 stopped at a cliff-hanger - silly me).

This year, I've come back with another romantic thriller and decided to test KU at the same time. And wouldn't you know it, I'm back in the game. The book I published on the 20th of last months has hit the high 500s without any money poured into promotions whatsoever and is currently riding in the 800s.

What I'm saying is that you can always try going back to your original bread and butter. Your readers could just be waiting for you there. Anyway, if you don't try, you'll never know. In this industry there is no such thing as a has-been, you only get better the longer you're in it and every new book is a chance to become a sensation again.
"If you have a dream don't just sit there. Gather courage to believe you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality." - Roopleen

Offline anniejocoby

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You know, Annie, I think you might have something there.

Readers put you in some kind of box when they first find you, kind of like 'go to for Romantic suspense', 'the writer I go to when I'm looking for a slow-burn', 'when I'm looking for some hot vampire fun' etc. When you stray from that 'box' especially to something they wouldn't read for a whole series you end up losing them.

I experienced the same thing last year. I 'debuted' in 2014 with a Romantic suspense series that didn't exactly burn up the charts but it contributed heavily to my 'explosion' in 2015 with another Romantic Suspense series. I was riding high with those series through 2015 and early 2016. In the last half of 2016 I decided to try out a family drama type romance that was supposed to follow the same couple for three books. To say my book-report was anemic would be an understatement. I think Book 1 of that series peaked at the 20,000s. Even though the reviews that came in were glowing, my regulars just weren't biting. A panic attack later, I decided to wrap up that series with two books instead of the planned 3 (I had to finish book 2 because book 1 stopped at a cliff-hanger - silly me).

This year, I've come back with another romantic thriller and decided to test KU at the same time. And wouldn't you know it, I'm back in the game. The book I published on the 20th of last months has hit the high 500s without any money poured into promotions whatsoever and is currently riding in the 800s.

What I'm saying is that you can always try going back to your original bread and butter. Your readers could just be waiting for you there. Anyway, if you don't try, you'll never know. In this industry there is no such thing as a has-been, you only get better the longer you're in it and every new book is a chance to become a sensation again.

Now, that's an inspiring story! Makes me think that my instincts might finally be right. Go back to bread and butter, which is what I'm working on right now. I love your story because hopefully that will be the same for me - I'll keep writing stories similar to Broken and I'll see how that goes. Took me a long time to figure out what went wrong, but that's it. I think. I'll see. :) But I'm also going to alternate in legal thrillers. That's such an easy genre for me to write in. It's the genre I grew up with, and I know a lot about litigation and the courtroom. Hopefully that one-two punch will carry the day.

Thanks for your story! It gives me hope!


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Offline Marian

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Echoing what others have said: write what you care about, write what makes you want to get to the next page, and your readers will feel what you feel.

You can do it, Annie! You did it before and you can do it again. I'm cheering for you!!!

Offline anniejocoby

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Echoing what others have said: write what you care about, write what makes you want to get to the next page, and your readers will feel what you feel.

You can do it, Annie! You did it before and you can do it again. I'm cheering for you!!!

Thanks Marian! Long time no see! :)

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Offline Becca Mills

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We'll all be pulling for you, Annie! :)

Offline anniejocoby

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We'll all be pulling for you, Annie! :)

Thanks!!!! Great to know I have you guys. I haven't been around that much because I've been feeling like a failure and feeling like I don't have much to contribute anymore. I think I should come back and be a regular again here. You guys are the best!

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Offline JaclynDolamore

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Thanks for this post. Sometimes it's hard to post about things going less than well and attempts and learning, but I get a lot out of these posts. I know I'm always trying to speculate my next move and it's always hard, right? Lots of second guessing. I just wrapped up my trilogy but my next series is very similar to the last. Preorders so far are not as strong as they were for book 3, so...cue second guessing again! But then, at the same time, maybe I'm doing the right thing by just steadily delivering the same sort of book...losing some fans but maybe making deeply loyal ones in the process. *shrug* Won't know until I try! Anyway, I think there's something to be said for following the sort of books that really excite you to write. I wish you the best of luck with the new endeavors.

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Offline Douglas Milewski

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After Tom Sawyer, the legendary Mark Twain repeatedly lost money on his books. You walk in the footsteps of giants.

Disclaimer: I sell horribly. Set your filters accordingly.

Offline anniejocoby

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Thanks for this post. Sometimes it's hard to post about things going less than well and attempts and learning, but I get a lot out of these posts. I know I'm always trying to speculate my next move and it's always hard, right? Lots of second guessing. I just wrapped up my trilogy but my next series is very similar to the last. Preorders so far are not as strong as they were for book 3, so...cue second guessing again! But then, at the same time, maybe I'm doing the right thing by just steadily delivering the same sort of book...losing some fans but maybe making deeply loyal ones in the process. *shrug* Won't know until I try! Anyway, I think there's something to be said for following the sort of books that really excite you to write. I wish you the best of luck with the new endeavors.

Good luck! This is a scary business, but I'll be pulling for you! It's so hard to crack the code to where you can expect just keep selling well forever. Good to know that we're all in this together! And I'm sure you'll do well. As I said in my post, I think that if you continue on with similar things, you can keep your fan base. Of course, there are those like Amanda who write all kinds of different genres and does well in all of them, but she's a goddess. :)

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Offline anniejocoby

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After Tom Sawyer, the legendary Mark Twain repeatedly lost money on his books. You walk in the footsteps of giants.

Me and Sam, having something in common! :) I didn't know he was a one-hit wonder of his day!

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Every time you post, I feel like we are going through the same thing! I've had a big downturn in sales, released a series last year that didn't take off, my last Bookbub was meh... and have spent the whole day today questioning what I'm doing. From about halfway through last year things started going downhill. I thought it was a temporary thing but it seems not. One of the things I've found has knocked my income is that I'm not getting any kind of push at ibooks/apple. I'd never made big dollars on Amazon but previously made a decent amount on ibooks.


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I can't help but think that you've diluted your brand so much that readers don't know what to expect anymore.

I would try to build a more solid brand by building on what you already have. Take what sells best (no matter how pathetically it sells compared to what it used to sell) and do some more of that. Make it slightly different but related and write three books. I would not start yet another subgenre before you've done that.

Then strongly build and reinforce the pillars of what you write. Angsty, non-sexy romance, legal thrillers, UF (or whatever you choose). Make sure people can see all three on your website even if you use three different pen names. Don't flip-flop about so much. If you've done best wide, don't dilute your stuff further by putting it into KU, or only do it for a complete new series for three months only.

Work like the blazes on your mailing list. Unfree your permafrees and put them up on Instafreebie instead in return for people's email addresses. Join the gazillion author cross-promos out there. Collect subscribers like crazy, market to them, and weed them out. Forget Facebook. It's too expensive, takes too much fiddling, and takes too much time away from writing.

Offline lisamaliga

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Hi Annie,
I hope that your sales pick up soon.
Have you considered sharing your knowledge and writing about how to write romance books. Or how to write [legal] thrillers?



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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Good luck, Annie!  There's lots of ups and downs in this business and many don't know what to do when they hit a down period. But it sounds like you've got a plan of action.  Picking a direction and fighting for it is the first step in climbing back up the mountain. Rooting for you all the way!


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