Author Topic: In Need of Encouragement  (Read 1322 times)  

Offline Andres

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In Need of Encouragement
« on: January 19, 2018, 06:24:44 AM »
Dear All,

I'm hoping for some encouragement - or just the hard, cold facts. I published some non-fiction books, and without a launch strategy, they kind of withered at the vine. That's fine, re-launching is always possible. Chris Fox has written a book about that. I am getting ready to get serious about writing for a living, hoping to be able at some point to ditch my day job and devote myself full-time. But I'm halfway through Brian Meeks excellent book on AMS ads, and I feel seriously discouraged. It seems you need to be a data scientist to succeed on the Zon. A few years ago I took Mark Dawson's course as well, but since my book was a stand-alone non-fiction, I did not panic when I did not get any positive results from my FB ad experiments. For fiction, I understand the need to write in a series, or at least with the same characters as say, Janet Evanovich does. But with discoverability being the major obstacle (assuming good writing, copy, cover, etc), it appears to me that there is no hope for success as a writer until one is able to master running multiple ads, mastering Excel, constantly measuring data, etc... Seeing that people run 50+ AMS ads at a time, or that FB can wipe out hundreds of dollars, I'm feeling quite down. My plan was to write a series in the middle-grade genre (and I'm still trying to understand if it's a hungry market, as Chris Fox teaches). The upside of that market - writing books in the same category as Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja, who have done so well, is that I can publish multiple books in one year (average word count is only 14k). But even if I write quality stories, am I doomed unless I master FB and AMS? I just don't know if I am capable of becoming good at online marketing. Top authors spend hours and hours on it. I find the prospect of having to master display ads - which seems very complicated - quite depressing. Thank you for any advice.

Andres Pelenur | facebook | twitter

Offline ReaderPaul

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 06:33:51 AM »
Hi,

Don't get down. And try to stop spending money on FB. You are really up against it if you start spending money on FB ads. The horse has bolted with FB ads. People are happy with their familiar authors. Go smaller and make the world a bit easier to look at too.

Target your local market. As in the locality of where you live. Get a nice printer and get a few copies out there and build your audience, face to face. Get into the local book shops and start talking to traders. Maybe a store might stock 5 or 6 copies. Start slowly and forget about selling thousands of copies immediately. Word of mouth is still a much stronger advertising strategy than FB.

Best of luck.

Oh and nominate me on Kindle Scout. :-)

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Offline Anarchist

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 06:40:11 AM »
My opinion:

Commercial success depends on discoverability, continuous visibility, and audience engagement.

Ads are the great equalizer. Anyone can learn to do them well. The downside is that mastering them requires time and capital.

Are you doomed if you choose not to master FB and AMS? That depends on whether you can achieve discoverability and continuous visibility via other means.

Personally, I'm all about ads and email.
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Offline LilyBLily

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 08:16:06 AM »
The Meeks book is good, but it is complex. Try the Leigh book for an easier way to approach AMS ads. Check out your competition on Amazon, include every single author name of said competition in your keywords for a low-bid, low-budget AMS Sponsored Product ad, write a killer short blurb to go with it, and let her rip.

FB ads are a money sink. You can start very minimally with AMS and test your market. Ignore the $100 supposed minimum. You can do 2-cent bids and $1 daily budgets. I assume you don't have also-boughts yet, but you may have also-vieweds. Follow them to see what they are. If they're similar to your books, include those author names. And all the book titles if you want to, although I personally have not found that works as well as author names and major global keywords such as "meditation books" and whatever. Good luck.


Offline Seneca42

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2018, 08:39:58 AM »
You feel doomed because you listen to those yahoos telling people how easy things are (or how difficult they are but that anyone can do it if they try hard enough and learn their secrets).

Without a big budget, visibility is very hard to achieve. And your marketing dollars don't generate the ROI you'd want to see unless you have a big back catalog. Why do you think these guys are writing a book a month? They are building that catalog so their marketing ROI gets more sustainable. They can go in with bids of $1 per click if they have 20 book that a new customer will potentially read.

Stick to the promotional outlets that give you a good ROI for your money. All the pay per click channels are swamped with high bidders and content mills.


Offline Piano Jenny

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2018, 08:59:55 AM »

Stick to the promotional outlets that give you a good ROI for your money.

What would those be, in your opinion? Thanks.

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Offline RScott

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2018, 11:19:39 AM »
If your goal is to earn a living by writing then yes, you probably will want to master that stuff at some point, but mastering ads alone is not what will make you a living. Focus more on that Chris Fox book than anything else. I can say this because i did it myself.

I learned all i could about Ads and marketing and spent 100's of dollars on them trying to get a not written to market series to make money. It just didn't work. 

I then took the time to find a market i could write in that was hungry and growing and the results have been like night and day. It wasn't a genre I though I would like, but I eventually adapted. The bonus was that all the marketing I learned trying to push the first series has been useful and augmented the success. But its the market that makes the money for you and the quality of your story. Not the Ads.

If you focus on those two things first then you wont need to worry about the spread sheets for a while. Luckily these are things you can control. If you engineer your book for marketing success from the beginning, it will have a much better chance of it. And by this I mean writing what readers want, rather than what you want. I thought i couldn't do it. But all it took was finding the right genre and letting go of the idea that I can only write what I like. Turns out I can like a lot more than what I thought. And maybe you can too.

So forget the ads. Focus on finding the genre that's big enough to support the return you're looking for and that you can adapt your writing to. 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 11:21:47 AM by RScott »
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Offline kw3000

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2018, 11:23:57 AM »
This business is easy. Write a book people want to read. Spend money on ads to make it visible. I had written a much longer response, but really why over-complicate things?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 11:29:30 AM by kw3000 »

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Offline C. Michael Wells

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2018, 12:34:24 PM »
I then took the time to find a market i could write in that was hungry and growing and the results have been like night and day. It wasn't a genre I though I would like, but I eventually adapted. The bonus was that all the marketing I learned trying to push the first series has been useful and augmented the success. But its the market that makes the money for you and the quality of your story. Not the Ads.

Hey, I came across your book in the LitRPG subreddit  the other day and just picked it up. Cool to see you here as well. When I started writing a few years ago, I never imagined the possibility of a LitRPG genre. But years after starting a overly large and difficult epic fantasy, the switch to LitRPG has done wonders for my productivity. I've done more in the last week than the last 6 months combined. I guess it's pretty much the epitome of write what you know.

Offline anniejocoby

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2018, 01:04:17 PM »
I wouldn't recommend MG if you want to do this for a living. It's my understanding that MG is an uphill climb for Indies, for whatever reason.

I write legal thrillers, which is a good genre. It's not oversaturated, yet it has a decent-sized audience.

Other genres that I wouldn't recommend at the moment are any kind of Urban Fantasy or romance, especially erotic romance. Romance has been overrun by authors who seem to be a bit aggressive in their sales techniques, and that has driven many people out of that genre and has blunted the sales of quite a few heavy-hitter authors who used to make bank and now, not so much. Urban Fantasy has just too many Indies in it right now.n

Thrillers, in general, is a genre that has potential.

Keep looking for the right cross-section of hungry genre + not-too-saturated and get to work on a series.

BTW, I haven't run a single ad, and I make decent money. I'm like you, in that I'm intimidated. I might try to hire somebody to do AMS, but I'm not going to attempt them on my own. Data analysis is not my strong suit, and I don't want to bother with it.

Good luck!

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Offline Jessie G. Talbot

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2018, 01:36:10 PM »
BTW, I haven't run a single ad, and I make decent money. I'm like you, in that I'm intimidated. I might try to hire somebody to do AMS, but I'm not going to attempt them on my own. Data analysis is not my strong suit, and I don't want to bother with it.

That's encouraging, thanks!

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2018, 01:48:52 PM »
There are some basic tricks to marketing that wont cost you a penny, but are worth ensuring theyre done.

1. Make sure the links to your other books are included in every book.
2. Have a series page created so readers can see the full suite.
3. Get ad cards created so you can post on FB, Twitter & Instagram.

You might also consider having more variation between the covers, otherwise people may not realize theyre different books. I notice your other books arent showing on the also bought list, which implies people arent buying all of them. This may be because they dont realize theyre different books or that you have more books. Not everyone is savvy enough to check your author page.

FB have a number of meditation groups, plus there are website that specialize in the subject. You might do well to post to these groups rather than run ads. You can certainly try to run ads, but I would suggest FB simply because you can target people with an interest in meditation, and run the ads at low bids and budgets. The upside about being in a very small niche is not many people will be bidding for the same keywords so the bid price should be quite low. Just make sure you use interest appropriate images for the ads.

Your subject matter doesnt lend itself toward an easy sale on Amazon. Based on history, self help books dont seem to do very well. This is why some posters are suggesting you change genres, but that assumes you want to write about something else. Im not sure Id rush off and start writing crime thrillers or LitRPG unless youre hell bent on making your living as a writer of whatever you think will sell.

On the other hand, if youre writing in this niche because its your field of expertise, which it appears to be, then you might need to lower your expectations. That said, I jazz up those covers and do some of the things Ive suggested before throwing in the towel.


Offline RScott

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2018, 02:43:15 PM »
Hey, I came across your book in the LitRPG subreddit  the other day and just picked it up. Cool to see you here as well. When I started writing a few years ago, I never imagined the possibility of a LitRPG genre. But years after starting a overly large and difficult epic fantasy, the switch to LitRPG has done wonders for my productivity. I've done more in the last week than the last 6 months combined. I guess it's pretty much the epitome of write what you know.

Hey thanks so much for the purchase! I hope you enjoy it! And yes I'm right with you. I didnt even know litRPG was a thing until about a year ago and when i saw it i kinda scoffed at it as ridiculous. I mean, who would want to read a book about basically playing a video game? But literally what I've done myself for the last 30 years. Finally I picked up one and gave it a read and a lightbulb went off. I basically cranked out Dodge Tank in 6 weeks by drawing on my gaming experience and translating it to the page. The sequel is comign a bit slower but way faster than my previous sci-fi stuff. It's an amazing thing for sure.
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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2018, 02:59:21 PM »
This business is easy. Write a book lots and lots of people want to read. Spend money on ads to make it visible. I had written a much longer response, but really why over-complicate things?

Fixed for you.  ;)

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Offline Arches

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2018, 03:23:25 PM »
Dear All,

I'm hoping for some encouragement - or just the hard, cold facts. I published some non-fiction books, and without a launch strategy, they kind of withered at the vine. That's fine, re-launching is always possible. Chris Fox has written a book about that. I am getting ready to get serious about writing for a living, hoping to be able at some point to ditch my day job and devote myself full-time. But I'm halfway through Brian Meeks excellent book on AMS ads, and I feel seriously discouraged. It seems you need to be a data scientist to succeed on the Zon. A few years ago I took Mark Dawson's course as well, but since my book was a stand-alone non-fiction, I did not panic when I did not get any positive results from my FB ad experiments. For fiction, I understand the need to write in a series, or at least with the same characters as say, Janet Evanovich does. But with discoverability being the major obstacle (assuming good writing, copy, cover, etc), it appears to me that there is no hope for success as a writer until one is able to master running multiple ads, mastering Excel, constantly measuring data, etc... Seeing that people run 50+ AMS ads at a time, or that FB can wipe out hundreds of dollars, I'm feeling quite down. My plan was to write a series in the middle-grade genre (and I'm still trying to understand if it's a hungry market, as Chris Fox teaches). The upside of that market - writing books in the same category as Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja, who have done so well, is that I can publish multiple books in one year (average word count is only 14k). But even if I write quality stories, am I doomed unless I master FB and AMS? I just don't know if I am capable of becoming good at online marketing. Top authors spend hours and hours on it. I find the prospect of having to master display ads - which seems very complicated - quite depressing. Thank you for any advice.

Andres, you're getting a lot of good advice about how to sell better. I have a slightly different perspective on the dilemma you're facing in trying to find paying readers.

Writing can be a lot of fun, but beware of relying on it to provide a steady income. As you've seen, the competition is intense, and many authors do this as a hobby, like me. We aren't as sensitive to the cost-benefit part of the writing business. That means some of your competition is willing to accept starvation wages for their work, and they make it harder for full-time writers to price their books high enough to make a decent living.

In my experience, writing can be immensely satisfying, and it might even pay for a week in Paris every now and then or a new boat, but most of the time, it's no substitute for a steady paycheck month after month. Best of luck to you in the future.

Offline kw3000

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2018, 03:27:16 PM »
Fixed for you.  ;)

Yes, that's a good edit...absolutely true.  8)

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Offline gilesxbecker

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2018, 03:51:28 PM »
I just read an interview with an author --- his book is Senlis Ascendant --- can't recall his name right now, but his book languished for a year before he learned to market it and it is doing very well right now. Look it up. Are you going to change genres or are you going to continue to write books on meditation/eastern spirituality? There has to be a way to reach that niche. Also the author mentioned above did a lot of hand-selling at conventions, he said it really helped online sales. 

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Offline Andres

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2018, 04:52:50 PM »
Dear All,

Thank you so much for the thoughtful advice. I apologize for not offering my thanks sooner. I have other books in the yoga/meditation space but I'm not looking to make a living from those books. I also write fiction and I'm trying to choose a hungry market that will give me a real chance to earn a living. I'm made a classic rookie mistake in that I am about to publish a stand-alone novel in a genre (religious/christian fiction) where I have no intentions of writing subsequent books. But I'm very proud of that book and look forward to sending it out into the world, sales or no sales.

As far as a hungry market, I take it from Chris Fox that it boils down to a sub-category with a high ranking for the first book and a low ranking for the 20th book on the popularity list. Are there any additional metrics to determine if a market is a hungry market? Number of reviews relative to publishing date is also an important metric. Anything else?

Really great advice here. Thank you so much.

Andres Pelenur | facebook | twitter

Offline Andres

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2018, 04:55:24 PM »
I wouldn't recommend MG if you want to do this for a living. It's my understanding that MG is an uphill climb for Indies, for whatever reason.

I write legal thrillers, which is a good genre. It's not oversaturated, yet it has a decent-sized audience.

Other genres that I wouldn't recommend at the moment are any kind of Urban Fantasy or romance, especially erotic romance. Romance has been overrun by authors who seem to be a bit aggressive in their sales techniques, and that has driven many people out of that genre and has blunted the sales of quite a few heavy-hitter authors who used to make bank and now, not so much. Urban Fantasy has just too many Indies in it right now.n

Thrillers, in general, is a genre that has potential.

Keep looking for the right cross-section of hungry genre + not-too-saturated and get to work on a series.

BTW, I haven't run a single ad, and I make decent money. I'm like you, in that I'm intimidated. I might try to hire somebody to do AMS, but I'm not going to attempt them on my own. Data analysis is not my strong suit, and I don't want to bother with it.

Good luck!

Annie,
I'm so happy for you that you are doing well with legal thrillers! (I'm a practicing lawyer, by the way). If you haven't spent anything on ads, what are you doing for discoverability? Just writing in a hungry market and nothing more? How do you launch your books? At .99C? Do you use the promo sites? I would love to learn more of how you are making it work.
Regards,
Andres

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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2018, 03:31:57 PM »
Quote
Write a book lots and lots of people want to read.

If there's any secret sauce at all in this business, it's this. ^^^ The problem is, no one can say with absolute certainty what those books are. Sure, we can point at X genre, or X author, and say, that's it, that's the ticket, and then someone writes a book like that and gets nada. Cue the disappointment, the anger, the desire to wring necks.

Also, MG is going to be very, very hard to get anywhere. Best chances to get out of a day job is to not write children's books, poetry, memoirs, nonfiction that's something basic and easily found on the web, short stories and literary fiction. Some people will point to an author and say, well they did okay, but they're outliers and while anything is possible, if you're looking for something that has the best chance of selling, look elsewhere.

And if I took my own advice, I'd be rich and far too busy to post here. But, I'm a rebel in my youth (snicker). One day I'll get the message and do better.
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Offline Andres

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Re: In Need of Encouragement
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2018, 05:47:48 PM »
Sh-La-Ti-Da

I appreciate your words of advice. And I agree with them. The only argument in favour of writing MG is that I can create 3 or 4 books in a matter of months. If the writing and production is strong enough, if it catches hold, it might get me out of my day job. If it fails, a few months are lost and a few bucks, but not much more. But I hear you. I'm looking at other genres that are "hungry".

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