Poll

Which author would you like to see analyzed?

J.S. Scott
23 (23.2%)
Alexa Riley
26 (26.3%)
Christopher Greyson
10 (10.1%)
Remington Kane
4 (4%)
Isaac Hooke
22 (22.2%)
D.K. Holmberg
14 (14.1%)

Total Members Voted: 99

Voting closed: March 25, 2017, 06:40:21 PM

Author Topic: Analyzing a Best Seller  (Read 6772 times)  

Offline StatBabe

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Analyzing a Best Seller
« on: March 18, 2017, 06:40:21 PM »
I like to play with numbers. Of the six options (randomly selected authors from the best selling lists, I tried to pick indies or hybrids with decently sized catalogs) -- who would you like to see analyzed? Stats I'll be looking at include # of titles, distribution across genre/sub-genres, length, pricing, KU vs. Non-KU, etc. Should be educational all around. :)
Liv Long

Offline BellaJames

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 12:35:28 AM »
I have removed my post since Statbabe thinks I am being hostile.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 10:53:57 PM by BellaJames »

Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 06:37:20 AM »
You can research any of them you like, but I think you'll find that they chose a genre with lots of readers, studied what sold, and wrote a lot of that. Most of them probably started years ago, when there were fewer indies, have been writing for years -- possibly under other names, and know a little about marketing.

It all comes down to telling a story people want to read, making it look good (covers and so on) and getting it in front of readers. Sounds so easy, in theory, but in practice, not so much.
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Offline jaehaerys

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 02:08:45 PM »
I feel like that poll is giving me the finger.  8)


Offline Lydniz

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2017, 02:18:03 PM »
You can research any of them you like, but I think you'll find that they chose a genre with lots of readers, studied what sold, and wrote a lot of that.

Also, in at least one case, put their books in the wrong categories, I can only presume deliberately.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 02:20:21 PM by Lydniz »

Offline StatBabe

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2017, 03:33:50 PM »
I feel like that poll is giving me the finger.  8)

Haha, I see what you mean there.

To the others, obviously there is a lot that goes into making a best seller out of an author, but I'll only be looking at the info gleaned from the author's catalog at this time. This exercise is intended to be fun and informative to those who are interested in following along (and voting, it's open for a week).
Liv Long

Offline BellaJames

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 12:17:15 AM »
 
You can research any of them you like, but I think you'll find that they chose a genre with lots of readers, studied what sold, and wrote a lot of that. Most of them probably started years ago, when there were fewer indies, have been writing for years -- possibly under other names, and know a little about marketing.

It all comes down to telling a story people want to read, making it look good (covers and so on) and getting it in front of readers. Sounds so easy, in theory, but in practice, not so much.

Edited.

As she-la-ti-da said, some of these authors started a while back in the days when it was easier to get visibility. Some authors might have written under another pen name and tried out a few things and worked out what works and what does not work.
On Reddit many members on there think some of these authors were writing under a few different pen names before they found success with their current pen name.


« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 10:53:12 PM by BellaJames »

Offline StatBabe

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 12:54:17 AM »
Bella, is there a reason you're in here stomping all over my thread when I've barely even gotten started? I put up 6 authors in the poll (and it's open for 6 more days) so no guarantee Alexa Riley will be the one I analyze. I haven't got a preference, and I'm a little taken aback by your apparent hostility.

Since taking a look at successful writers' catalogs is part of the research that goes into studying the market, I would think that having the analysis done and easily accessible gives interested parties a head start on their research. After I share the results of my analysis, those who are interested would be welcome to take the initiative and delve deeper into the promo, ads, networking, PR, etc. Never did I say I was going to reveal the secret sauce behind an author's success, or gave any indication that self-publishing is a slip'n'slide to riches. ::)

As a side note, I frankly doubt that even the average, savvy self-publisher takes apart catalogs or analyzes charts the way I do. Not because they can't, but because it's so time-consuming that they'd prefer to just write more. So I come back to my point that this is intended to be fun and informative to those who are interested in following along.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 01:53:11 AM by StatBabe »
Liv Long

Offline oakwood

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 01:06:32 AM »
Ugh.. It's too bad Alexa was included in the poll because it's a given the majority will choose her, while the analysis of what that brand is doing is somewhat easier to see/figure out given the humongous amount of material, list presence and other analysis. A lot has been studied and many writers in that genre actively try to study/mimic the Alexa approach.
It's like having superman in a list of heroes, the outcome is given, killing the poll  :P
Anyway, I voted Isaac Hooke. Just look at that output!

Also if doing a deep analysis, regardless of which author, it would be interesting if writing style between series would be included. I for instance, regularly use ghosts which all have their own voice, something which limits their use in standalones under the same panname.

Offline BellaJames

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 01:35:42 AM »
Bella, is there a reason you're in here stomping all over my thread when I've barely even gotten started? I put up 6 authors in the poll (and it's open for 6 more days) so no guarantee Alexa Riley will be the one I analyze. I haven't got a preference, and I'm a little taken aback by your apparent hostility.

Since taking a look at successful writers' catalogs is part of the research that goes into studying the market, I would think that having the analysis done and easily accessible gives interested parties a head start on their research. After I share the results of my analysis, those who are interested would be welcome to take the initiative and delve deeper into the promo, ads, networking, PR, etc. Never did I say I was going to reveal the secret sauce behind an author's success, or gave any indication that self-publishing is a slip'n'slide to riches. ::)

As a side note, I frankly doubt that even that average, savvy self-publisher takes apart catalogs or analyzes charts the way I do. Not because they can't, but because it's so time-consuming that they'd prefer to just write more. So I come back to my point that this is intended to be fun and informative to those who are interested in following along.

Where was I hostile?

You are a new member who wants to give information to others about what goes into a bestselling author/brand but I don't think you can give much insight without knowing more about when the author started, what research they put in, if they experimented under another pen name and all the things you mentioned.
Maybe your research will be thorough and I will eat my words.

There are bestselling authors on here who have already talked about their process, research, promotion, chosen genre etc.... Authors like Rosalind James, Mark Dawson, Sela etc.......

Do your survey, I just don't see how it is going to be informative without more knowledge, background/behind the scenes information.

I see other authors writing similar stuff to Alexa Riley (one person even used the same name) and they have not managed to have the same book sales, except probably Penny Wylder.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 01:44:02 AM by BellaJames »

Offline A J Sika

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 02:12:14 AM »
Where was I hostile?

You are a new member who wants to give information to others about what goes into a bestselling author/brand but I don't think you can give much insight without knowing more about when the author started, what research they put in, if they experimented under another pen name and all the things you mentioned.
Maybe your research will be thorough and I will eat my words.

There are bestselling authors on here who have already talked about their process, research, promotion, chosen genre etc.... Authors like Rosalind James, Mark Dawson, Sela etc.......

Do your survey, I just don't see how it is going to be informative without more knowledge, background/behind the scenes information.

I see other authors writing similar stuff to Alexa Riley (one person even used the same name) and they have not managed to have the same book sales, except probably Penny Wylder.


Sure, her data may not be as extensive as you'd love, but that doesn't mean she won't find something useful. Even if it's just confirming what we already know... it's still useful, especially because it will reassure as that that 'secret sauce' is still working and is not outdated. All the writers you've mentioned are great but it doesn't hurt to compare their results and advice against the successes of newer authors. No one ever complained of having too much data.


Stat Babe, do it. Do it!

.... I'm really interested.
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Offline Sarah Shaw

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 02:18:18 AM »

Sure, her data may not be as extensive as you'd love, but that doesn't mean she won't find something useful. Even if it's just confirming what we already know... it's still useful, especially because it will reassure as that that 'secret sauce' is still working and is not outdated. All the writers you've mentioned are great but it doesn't hurt to compare their results and advice against the successes of newer authors. No one ever complained of having too much data.


Stat Babe, do it. Do it!

.... I'm really interested.

I agree. Anyone who offers to collect and analyze data is performing a useful service. Of course it's possible the data will be incomplete, there will be flaws in the methodology or the correlations will prove to be spurious- etc. etc. -but anything that adds to what we know is good to my way of thinking.

Offline DanaG

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2017, 11:37:39 AM »
I voted for Isaac Hooke. 

I love to analyze best-sellers.  Honestly, that's why I am a bestseller in my field - I looked over the lists, read bestsellers in my genre, and experimented with different sub-genres until I found what worked (for me).

Can't wait to see your findings!

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2017, 01:28:09 PM »
I obviously don't read the "right" books because these names are pretty much meaningless to me.   8)
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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2017, 01:35:52 PM »
Why do I want your name to be "StatBae"? The internet has ruined me.

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Offline Crystal_

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 02:26:17 PM »
As a romance author, I'm really only interested in looking at other romance authors. IMO, Alexa Riley and JS Scott don't have all that much to analyze because their strategies are incredibly obvious to anyone who knows what they're doing. I would rather look at authors who are high midlist because I think it's more interesting and useful for authors who are new, low selling, or middle of the midlist. Authors at the high best seller level have resources that newer authors don't (cash flow for huge ad spend, big mailing lists, friends with big mailing lists, etc).

Now, I'm a vet at this point (first book published 2014) and I sell six figures a year in romance, so I don't think this is aimed at me. I'm happy to step aside.

In the case of AR, they explain their brand in every blurb-- short, smutty, instalove romances that verge on erotica (and sometimes straight erotica), with OTT alpha males and a lot of taboo themes, especially barely legal heroines. They have pretty, classy covers with custom photography and clear tropes hooks. They do write novels sometimes. I have heard that they spend a lot on ads, but I don't know if that's true. They publish every two weeks most of the time so they're always in the HNR. Not my thing. Never read one. Don't wish to.

There are a ton of authors going for this strategy at the moment (some even using Alexa as their first name) with varying success. Some have slightly different spins on it.

With J.S. Scott, she is writing broad billionaire series with clear hooks, alpha males, and sexy covers. She has changed her covers a few times since I read The Billionaire's Obsession. She also has a Montlake series, so that must help with overall Amazon visibility. I would love to know how JS Scott keeps her rank so low on The Billionaire's Obsession (usually sub 100 when I look at it, always sub 1k), because I know how much it costs in FB ads to maintain a ranking under 2k (about $150-200 at 3.99. Ah, I remember when that spend kept me around 1k... *nostalgic sigh*) on an old title and I know how spend scales, and I have no idea how you'd get it to scale well enough for that, but then my stuff is much less broad. I imagine it would have to be at least 1k/day if not 2-3k (if all the promo is coming from FB ads).

Offline RomanceAuthor

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2017, 02:36:22 PM »
I would love to know how JS Scott keeps her rank so low on The Billionaire's Obsession (usually sub 100 when I look at it, always sub 1k), because I know how much it costs in FB ads to maintain a ranking under 2k (about $150-200 at 3.99. Ah, I remember when that spend kept me around 1k... *nostalgic sigh*) on an old title and I know how spend scales, and I have no idea how you'd get it to scale well enough for that, but then my stuff is much less broad. I imagine it would have to be at least 1k/day if not 2-3k (if all the promo is coming from FB ads).
I'd also be interested in this. . .in my experience, doing this ONLY with fb ads is hard. A spend of more than 1K will bring diminishing returns fast (yeah, I've tried a couple of times. You burn through audiences VERY VERY fast)

Online Usedtoposthere

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2017, 02:45:49 PM »
At a certain point, Amazon does a lot of advertising for you. I'm nowhere near J.S. Scott level, but I haven't spent anything at all on advertising for 3 months other than some AMS money--mostly on one old, completed series, which has paid off well. That's been a lot of spend by my standards--but "my standards" means 1K a MONTH is a whole, whole lot. I've done very little with Facebook ads--meaning I tried it, it didn't work, and I gave up. :) Ditto BookBub ads. Some people make those things work, but I think it's easier with the really sexy stuff. Just a guess. Or else I'm just clueless, which could also be true!

For J.S. Scott, who has a huge hit Montlake series--Amazon is I'm sure pushing it like crazy. No idea otherwise what she does or doesn't do.

My 2 cents. I'm interested to see the results of the study, whatever author it is.

I do have a question for Crystal--what is "broad" vs. not? I don't read other folks' books, so I don't know much other than the titles, but what does "more" or "less" broad mean in terms of, say, a billionaire series? 
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 02:51:57 PM by Rosalind J »

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2017, 03:14:22 PM »
I'd also be interested in this. . .in my experience, doing this ONLY with fb ads is hard. A spend of more than 1K will bring diminishing returns fast (yeah, I've tried a couple of times. You burn through audiences VERY VERY fast)

Yes, I've spend $500/day during release before and that can work while you have the HNR advertising you, but once you're out of it, it's hard to break even at more than $100-200/day (at least at this moment. Six months ago it was more doable). I advertise book one at a loss and make it up with sellthrough.

Bella Forrest is the other person who is able to keep a much older book sub 100. I'd love to know either of their secrets.

At a certain point, Amazon does a lot of advertising for you. I'm nowhere near J.S. Scott level, but I haven't spent anything at all on advertising for 3 months other than some AMS money--mostly on one old, completed series, which has paid off well. That's been a lot of spend by my standards--but "my standards" means 1K a MONTH is a whole, whole lot. I've done very little with Facebook ads--meaning I tried it, it didn't work, and I gave up. :) Ditto BookBub ads. Some people make those things work, but I think it's easier with the really sexy stuff. Just a guess. Or else I'm just clueless, which could also be true!

For J.S. Scott, who has a huge hit Montlake series--Amazon is I'm sure pushing it like crazy. No idea otherwise what she does or doesn't do.

My 2 cents. I'm interested to see the results of the study, whatever author it is.

I do have a question for Crystal--what is "broad" vs. not? I don't read other folks' books, so I don't know much other than the titles, but what does "more" or "less" broad mean in terms of, say, a billionaire series? 

I spend A LOT on Facebook ads. Oddly, I can't get them to work on my billionaire series. Okay, it's actually not that odd. That's two books vs. five books in my other series, so there's much less sellthrough potential. FB ads don't usually break even on their own, but they do help build your organic visibility on Amazon.

As to broad, I would say that it's something less likely to put people off. No niche stuff (billionaire is probably as niche as you can go), nothing quirky or offbeat, no politics, popular tropes, typical gender roles for the hero and heroine. It's more typical.

Broad stuff might not have as much voice. It might seem flat or generic to some people. Having broad appeal often means rounding out the edges that make stuff interesting to some. It's all in the eye of the beholder. One person's broad is another person's quirky and visa versa.

I don't know that going broad is the right strategy for all. You tend to have more loyal readers when you are a little offbeat, but you also have a harder time selling book one.

Online Usedtoposthere

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2017, 03:20:14 PM »
Yes, I've spend $500/day during release before and that can work while you have the HNR advertising you, but once you're out of it, it's hard to break even at more than $100-200/day (at least at this moment. Six months ago it was more doable). I advertise book one at a loss and make it up with sellthrough.

Bella Forrest is the other person who is able to keep a much older book sub 100. I'd love to know either of their secrets.

I spend A LOT on Facebook ads. Oddly, I can't get them to work on my billionaire series. Okay, it's actually not that odd. That's two books vs. five books in my other series, so there's much less sellthrough potential. FB ads don't usually break even on their own, but they do help build your organic visibility on Amazon.

As to broad, I would say that it's something less likely to put people off. No niche stuff (billionaire is probably as niche as you can go), nothing quirky or offbeat, no politics, popular tropes, typical gender roles for the hero and heroine. It's more typical.

Broad stuff might not have as much voice. It might seem flat or generic to some people. Having broad appeal often means rounding out the edges that make stuff interesting to some. It's all in the eye of the beholder. One person's broad is another person's quirky and visa versa.

I don't know that going broad is the right strategy for all. You tend to have more loyal readers when you are a little offbeat, but you also have a harder time selling book one.
Ah. Thanks. Gotcha. Interesting.

Offline RomanceAuthor

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2017, 03:37:58 PM »

Bella Forrest is the other person who is able to keep a much older book sub 100. I'd love to know either of their secrets.

Bella is never off the HNR lists though. I think that gives her a push beyond what we can calculate/imagine, magnifies every kind of advertising. I suspect she's dropping a lot of money on ads, but even if I were to have her cash and invest it in ads, no way would I get those results, because I publish every 3 months. I think Bella is now publishing faster than a book a month in various series.

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2017, 05:00:24 PM »
I obviously don't read the "right" books because these names are pretty much meaningless to me.   8)

I've read Isaac Hooke's work, but none of the others.  I voted Hooke.  *shrug*
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Offline StatBabe

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2017, 05:36:37 AM »
Some interesting feedback so far, and the vote is getting close. :)
Liv Long

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2017, 05:47:09 AM »
Bella is never off the HNR lists though. I think that gives her a push beyond what we can calculate/imagine, magnifies every kind of advertising. I suspect she's dropping a lot of money on ads, but even if I were to have her cash and invest it in ads, no way would I get those results, because I publish every 3 months. I think Bella is now publishing faster than a book a month in various series.

You can't compare that way. I suspect Bella is not a person but a managed team. Even is she had started out as a person, I suspect she now uses ghostwriters

Offline PhoenixS

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Re: Analyzing a Best Seller
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2017, 06:27:26 AM »
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 11:53:35 PM by PhoenixS »
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