Author Topic: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy  (Read 4711 times)  

Offline sela

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Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« on: April 14, 2018, 01:14:53 PM »
So, folks around here know me as a romance author who has been writing for a living full-time since November 2013. I keep my pen name private to minimize any drama. Believe me, I've seen a lot of drama in the indie space and ain't nobody needs that! People in my romance mastermind group (closed to new members) know who I am, and that's good enough for me.

My books occasionally are bestsellers, on Amazon, iBooks and Smashwords, but I am not a big name romance author. I'm posting this as more evidence that it is possible today for an indie (aka self-published) author to make a good -- even great -- living. I've been making a six-figure income since November 2013, when I quit my day job and joined the self-employed indie author / publisher world. I like to call it my "yoga-pants lifestyle" because before I quit, I wore a woman's business suit every day of the work week and did the whole 8 - 5 commute to my mid-level professional job as a government analyst.

Recently, I had a lot of big life changes taking place, including a divorce (in progress and largely amicable), selling my house, moving across the country, finding a new home, and getting my two sons settled in.

I'm finally in my new home, have a dedicated purpose-built home office, and now have a year of indie publishing ahead of me.

Why I'm posting this? I haven't published a book in FIVE MONTHS! OMG!

My Q1 results are still just a hair under $10K a month but still work out to six-figures if I extrapolate to a full year.

Six years ago, I wrote down a five-year plan to become a full-time self-published author and quit my day job. I figured that if I could write a dozen romance novels, I could live off the income and then write whatever I wanted. While I read romance novels, I really wanted to write thrillers, or SFF. I read an article that women with graduate degrees who wrote romance novels had the best success in self-publishing, so I thought -- OKAY! SIGN ME UP!

I wrote a 3-book series of paranormal romance novels and self published them starting in June 2012. I released book 2 in July 2012 and book 3 in December 2012. I made just over $2200.



You can see how my sales were pretty dismal for the first few months. I did a lot of leg work, tried to find readers, sent out ARCs and by December, when I published book 3, I had better results, earning just under $1000 for the first time.



In early 2013, I looked around and decided to try the whole "write to market" approach. I picked books that where topping the romance charts at the time, like Fifty Shades of Grey, The Crossfire Series and then The Hacker Series and read the books, analyzed what readers liked and didn't like about them, and drafted a book that I felt fit in with that category. Steamy contemporary romance, in other words.

I figured that Fifty Shades had an audience of 100M readers, Crossfire had an audience of 10M readers. If I could even get 0.5% of the readership for Fifty, I'd be wildly successful.

I published Book 1 of that series in April of 2013. Here are the results:



In its first month, my book earned $16K and sold just under 5,000 copies. The retail price was $4.99 so I earned $3.49 for each copy sold.

I followed up that year with two more books in that series featuring the same couple and published a boxed set and in its first year, that series earned $161,726.61 on Amazon.



I followed it up with 8 more novels featuring the couple, 3 different boxed sets and 2 short stories in their world. So far, that series has made me over $800,000 on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Smashwords and Audible combined. That's over $100K a year.

I've also written several other full-length books, including 2 more in the first paranormal series and two boxed sets and a short story as a lead magnet. Plus, I've written 3 other contemporary / new adult romance novels as standalone novels. Taken together, I've made over $1M since I started.

I am not a big name romance author! I don't currently have books in the top 100 in any category. I've never attended a convention or had a book signing. In fact, many of my books are in the 50K plus rank, but I have enough of them earning steadily that with frequent promotions, including Bookbubs, I am able to keep my revenues around the six-figure range even when going 5 months without a new release.

That was my goal -- to get a big enough backlist built of selling novels that I could live off it and try to break into thrillers, science fiction and high fantasy.

To that end, I've written book 1 of a 3 book thriller / romantic suspense series and will be releasing it in May. It is a crime thriller / serial killer thriller in which a duo comprised of an amateur sleuth / journalist teams up with an FBI special agent on leave to solve the cold case murder of a girl they both knew growing up, as well as several others by the same killer. There will be a very slow burn romance between the two lead characters, with no sex on or off screen, but they end up together so I will cross-categorize it as romantic suspense, serial killer, police procedural. Book 2 will be put on a long pre-order and released 60 days later and book 3, the same -- a long pre-order and release 60 days after that. I'm writing romance novels in between to keep my existing audience fed and happy.

I was going to write book 2 and book 3 back to back and release all three at once, but I decided against that. I have a new release coming out in my main romance series in May, but don't want to wait that long to release a book. That would mean I went 7 months without a release and EEEK! That feels far too long. While I am holding on in terms of revenues, they are slowly slipping. Only regular Bookbub and other promos have kept me afloat these past 5 months. I don't want to push even more since I am the sole support for myself and my two boys. I have to space out the thrillers and romance novels to try to keep my revenues up.

Anyway, that's an update on my indie author publisher business and career. I posted a while back when I hit $500K in revenues and so wanted to follow up with an update when I hit over $1M.

What helped? Top 10 tactics:

1. Understanding the market
2. Writing in series
3. Publishing regularly
4. Making boxed sets (collections)
5. Professional covers (on the cheap side - mine were primarily $99 each and I stuck with my main designer for all my books)
6. Professional edits (once I could afford it, but until then I used a family member to proofread - edits are about $600 - $800 per book)
7. Mailing list
8. Regular marketing (succeeded in getting regular Bookbubs which makes a big difference)
9. Used permafree and wide distribution coupled with Bookbubs and new releases as well as cycling into KU.
10. Took Mark Dawson's courses to learn how to use Facebook and AMS to market my books. REALLY HELPED!

What's in my future?

Hopefully, breaking into thrillers, and then I have an alien invasion 3 book series to write and a 3 book high fantasy series planned, the first book of which I have already written in a draft form. Those will be released starting later this year and into next year, spaced out with romance releases. Plus, I want to start a podcast where I interview successful indie author-publishers who make a living at this about their own paths to success. That will start later this year once I get back into the full swing of things. I planned on starting that sooner, but my life upheaval has prevented it.

This indie author gig is great if you can find a niche that works for you and that you love to write. If so, who needs traditional publishing? There has been a lot of negative press lately about book stuffers and scammers on Amazon. It can seem disheartening for those of us who aren't into the whole black hat/grey hat publisher approach, that focuses more on hacking Amazon loopholes versus being an author doing what we love.

Don't be disheartened. Keep your eye on the prize.

While it's true that Amazon as a marketplace and the indie author-publisher space has changed since I started in June 2012, I still believe that it's possible to focus on being an author-author, being true to your own vision whilst understanding the market you love, and not succumbing to the grey-hat or black-hat scammer approaches to succeed. You don't need to remain in the top 100 books to succeed if you have enough relatively successful books in your backlist.

If you're just starting out or if you've been writing for a while without the kind of success you'd like, consider writing to market (as in understanding a market you'd like to write in and have read in and trying to fulfil those readers). Write in series if possible. Write as often as you can. I wrote 18 novels, 4 novellas and 3 short stories over 6 years, which works out to 3 - 4 novels plus collections and shorter works a year. 

It can be done. Not everyone will succeed who tries. For those who want a career as an indie author-publisher, if you have a plan and implement it, not giving up when things don't first succeed, and if you keep trying to understand the market and master marketing, you have a chance!









« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 01:20:40 PM by sela »

Online It's A Mystery

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2018, 01:18:04 PM »
Amazing. Thank you so much for posting.

Online Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2018, 01:25:54 PM »
Thanks for sharing, sela.  And congratulations.  :)
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Offline GP Hudson

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2018, 01:27:01 PM »
Great post, Sela. Thanks for sharing.


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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2018, 01:31:59 PM »
I love hearing these kinds of stories.  How brave of you to change genre too, best of luck with the scifi (all the best people write it  ;D ;D ;D)

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2018, 01:38:02 PM »
Great post!  What do you mean when you say wide distribution but cycling into KU?  Do you release KU to start, then go wide after three months?  I have a romance pen name, as well as my regular name, and I've been contemplating taking my main romance trilogy wide next month.  I've had two Bookbubs in the far past, and they both resulted in my biggest months ever.  The first book has always done well with any free runs, and thinking of permafree in also hopes of getting another Bookbub.  I'm starting to feel as if KU isn't doing as much for me as it once did.

Offline ThirdWish

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2018, 02:26:16 PM »
Thanks for posting. Very inspiring :-)

Offline PermaStudent

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2018, 02:33:47 PM »
Thank you so much for this post.  :)

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Offline Nicholas Erik

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2018, 02:52:36 PM »
Thanks, Sela, and congrats on passing the $1m milestone.

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Offline Indiecognito

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2018, 02:53:04 PM »
Thanks for this, Sela, and congratulations on all your success!

Question: If you had one piece of advice for AMS users, what would it be? I'm still fidgeting, I've taken Dawson's course, and I have some decent results but am still wondering if the simple fix would be to tweak more, more often. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Offline DrewMcGunn

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2018, 03:08:13 PM »
Thanks for sharing your success. It's nice to know that hard work and an attention to detail, coupled with a strong understanding of who your market is, can pay off.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2018, 03:51:47 PM »
Great post. Kudos. So pleased for you.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2018, 04:13:49 PM »
Thanks for sharing, sela! I hope your thriller/romantic suspense books hit it out of the park. :)

Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2018, 05:16:45 PM »
Thank you, Sela. Your posts are always helpful and a great morale booster.

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Offline kw3000

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2018, 05:23:14 PM »
*adopts whiny voice* bbbbuuuuuuuuuttttttt Seeeeelllllllaaaaaaa...that all sounds like real, actual hard work. *folds arms* I don't wanna. Aw, shucks... *kicks at the dirt*  :'(

(just kidding, thank you for all of your advice  8))

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2018, 06:02:46 PM »

It can be done. Not everyone will succeed who tries. For those who want a career as an indie author-publisher, if you have a plan and implement it, not giving up when things don't first succeed, and if you keep trying to understand the market and master marketing, you have a chance!

Very true. Congratulations on your milestone. Great post!

Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2018, 06:31:13 PM »
Congrats, Sela! Just out of curiosity, will you be starting new pen names for your various new genres?

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Offline levolal

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2018, 06:40:43 PM »
Woah, I can't even imagine writing 8 novels featuring the same couple. It is hard to do 3 novels for one couple for me. Very interesting post. Thanks for taking the time to write it out! Writing to market is both the easiest and hardest thing. For those of us who consider ourselves "above" the market (in terms of liking 'classier' books), it can be frustrating. But if I gotta churn out the millionth badboy romance novel for a fraction of the pie... well, I'll build a bridge and jog over it!

Offline VLH

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2018, 06:49:05 PM »
Just awesome. Thank you for sharing. :)

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Offline KinkyCat

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2018, 06:52:20 PM »
I can vouch for Sela's method.  I didn't quite break the six digit mark last year, but doing the same as she did (publish regularly & write to market) got me that far.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2018, 06:57:58 PM »
Woah, I can't even imagine writing 8 novels featuring the same couple. It is hard to do 3 novels for one couple for me. Very interesting post. Thanks for taking the time to write it out! Writing to market is both the easiest and hardest thing. For those of us who consider ourselves "above" the market (in terms of liking 'classier' books), it can be frustrating. But if I gotta churn out the millionth badboy romance novel for a fraction of the pie... well, I'll build a bridge and jog over it!
Writing to market and writing to trend are two different things. You don't have to write to trend in order to write to market.

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2018, 07:56:29 PM »
Congratulations, Sela.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2018, 08:05:26 PM »
Very encouraging post! Thank you!

Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on the big picture rather than counting the words and minutes in between... this helps!
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Offline Secret Pen Pal

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2018, 08:30:59 PM »
Inspiring. Thanks and congrats!

Offline sela

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2018, 09:26:38 PM »
Great post!  What do you mean when you say wide distribution but cycling into KU?  Do you release KU to start, then go wide after three months?  I have a romance pen name, as well as my regular name, and I've been contemplating taking my main romance trilogy wide next month.  I've had two Bookbubs in the far past, and they both resulted in my biggest months ever.  The first book has always done well with any free runs, and thinking of permafree in also hopes of getting another Bookbub.  I'm starting to feel as if KU isn't doing as much for me as it once did.

I have never released in KU before but I will with the thriller series, the SF and the High Fantasy since they will all be under new pen names and I will be starting from scratch.

What I have done is release wide and wait until the tail starts to dive on iBooks (which is my second biggest market) and then put the books in KU for a 90-day term. Then I take them wide again and try for a Bookbub. If successful, I keep the book / series out for whatever time it takes, which is usually 30 days or so, for the Bookbub. When the Bookbub boost dies out, I will put the books back in KU for another 90 days. My steamy contemporary romance series does well wide, especially on iBooks, but my paranormal romance doesn't seem to ever gain traction. I tend to pull it once or twice a year for Bookbubs but keep it in KU the rest of the time.

KU works well for some -- just look at Mark Dawson's recent experience putting his books in. He's killing it!

If you can time it right so that you get a Bookbub soon after you take your books out of KU, you can get good results and gain traction as Bookbub has a big audience on those non-Amazon markets. Good luck!


Offline sela

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2018, 09:28:45 PM »
Thanks for this, Sela, and congratulations on all your success!

Question: If you had one piece of advice for AMS users, what would it be? I'm still fidgeting, I've taken Dawson's course, and I have some decent results but am still wondering if the simple fix would be to tweak more, more often. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks! I'm still learning AMS. I honestly haven't focused on it as much as I should have, due to everything going on in my life, but I intend to really focus in the next month or two. I'm re-watching Mark Dawson's AMS for Authors video series coming up soon because I will need that refresher when I start marketing my new thriller series. :)


Offline sela

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2018, 09:31:57 PM »
Congrats, Sela! Just out of curiosity, will you be starting new pen names for your various new genres?

Thanks and yes, most definitely! I will really need a pen name for my SF and High Fantasy series since I don't want my also-bought to get influenced by romance readers. I love my romance readers -- don't get me wrong! But I've read Chris Fox's books and watched his video series and know that it's important to get the Amazon algorithms trained to show my books to the right kind of readers and get those all-important also-boughts so the system works to sell my books.

Offline sela

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2018, 09:41:35 PM »
Woah, I can't even imagine writing 8 novels featuring the same couple. It is hard to do 3 novels for one couple for me. Very interesting post. Thanks for taking the time to write it out! Writing to market is both the easiest and hardest thing. For those of us who consider ourselves "above" the market (in terms of liking 'classier' books), it can be frustrating. But if I gotta churn out the millionth badboy romance novel for a fraction of the pie... well, I'll build a bridge and jog over it!

First off, writing to market is not the same as writing to trend, as usedtoposthere points out. One is style and the other is fashion, if you think in terms of the world of clothing. Style is more general and long-lasting. Fashion is seasonal and changes a lot. You can make a lot of money writing to trend -- designing fashion -- but you have to publish faster, and you have to nail the tropes because the trends move quickly. If you want to capitalize on a trend you have to write fast and publish in volume or else the readers will have moved on by the time you get your next book out.

When you write to market, you are able to publish less often because the readership is evergreen. Your books have a chance to be as well. They will keep selling when trendy books disappear from the ranks. Last year, the first 3 books in my main series still earned me high five figures and they were 4 years old.

Offline sela

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2018, 09:48:00 PM »
And I just want to say a big thanks to everyone who posted who didn't ask questions. When I was starting out in this biz, I really appreciated when successful authors posted their stats and advice and experiences. It's tough to be an author-preneur -- there's a lot to learn, but thankfully, the indie crowd is very generous. We truly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats and that our products are different enough that we truly don't compete with each other. Besides, readers can read a lot faster than we can write! And luckily, self-publishing isn't rocket science! Most of it is being a good reader (so you understand story), a good marketer and of course, writing commercial books.

Offline Vale

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2018, 10:18:01 PM »
Thank you so much for the update! I found it really interesting. Weaving books in and out of KU isn't something I've heard other authors talk about.

Offline sela

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2018, 11:27:51 PM »
Thank you so much for the update! I found it really interesting. Weaving books in and out of KU isn't something I've heard other authors talk about.

I do it because I never figured out how to really promote books on Apple or the other retailers. Maybe it's because I never really tried but it seems that it's becoming easier to target readers on those other platforms now. I find KU is good for my sales for a month or month and a half but then they fall off and I've found that KCDs and free days aren't quite as good as a Bookbub, and Bookbubs are harder to get for books in KU vs. Wide.

So I rely on Bookbub promos to keep my sales up on the wide platforms. As long as Bookbub keeps taking my books, I'll keep putting them wide when they're eligible. I imagine I'll run out of fresh eyes on Bookbub soon, though, and so it's necessary to keep writing new books.

Offline Michele Brouder

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #31 on: April 15, 2018, 03:03:03 AM »
Thanks for sharing your insight and congratulations on your success! I love reading about other people's success because it inspires me and gives me hope.
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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #32 on: April 15, 2018, 03:29:09 AM »
Thanks for sharing! Congratulations on your milestone and best of luck with your new ventures.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2018, 04:50:28 AM »
Congratulations and thanks for posting. Always enjoy these 'how I got here' postsand almost always find something to learn from them. Good luck reaching the next milestone.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2018, 06:10:05 AM »
Fantastic post, Sela. I hope you find the same great success with your new thriller.

Cycling between wide and KU seems pretty smart to me. Do you know if there is an Amazon list for new KU content? I wondered if there was a specific list or a way for readers to find "new to KU" books even if they have been released wide and been out for a while.

Offline evdarcy

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #35 on: April 15, 2018, 06:37:26 AM »
Writing to market and writing to trend are two different things. You don't have to write to trend in order to write to market.

This is what I always confused! It's taken me a long time to realise that these two things are not the same--and only now am I getting the hang of what 'market' means. 

ETA to include:

First off, writing to market is not the same as writing to trend, as usedtoposthere points out. One is style and the other is fashion, if you think in terms of the world of clothing. Style is more general and long-lasting. Fashion is seasonal and changes a lot. You can make a lot of money writing to trend -- designing fashion -- but you have to publish faster, and you have to nail the tropes because the trends move quickly. If you want to capitalize on a trend you have to write fast and publish in volume or else the readers will have moved on by the time you get your next book out.

When you write to market, you are able to publish less often because the readership is evergreen. Your books have a chance to be as well. They will keep selling when trendy books disappear from the ranks. Last year, the first 3 books in my main series still earned me high five figures and they were 4 years old.

This is the kind of description I wish that I had seen when I started looking at writing to market.  Thank you for explaining it very well and clearly.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 06:40:20 AM by evdarcy »

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Offline evdarcy

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #36 on: April 15, 2018, 06:42:28 AM »
Congrats, Sela. I always enjoy reading your replies on k-boards. They're usually well thought out and level-headed and I appreciate quietly learning via such things.

I'm glad that you're moving into what you really want to write and I hope that even if it doesn't pan out for you the way that your romance does (although I don't see why it wouldn't!) that you keep at it. Everyone deserves to write what they love and have a passion for :)

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Offline My Dog's Servant

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #37 on: April 15, 2018, 06:58:46 AM »
Congratulations, Sela, and thank you for your amazing generosity in sharing your journey. Here's to the same or more success with your "passion" books!

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2018, 08:45:24 AM »
Congratulations, Sela! Thank you for your always generous, encouraging, and insightful posts.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #39 on: April 15, 2018, 11:50:51 AM »
Thanks for this Sela. It was a real inspiration and encouragement to me. I am trying to written to market route after a lackluster series debut and the results are exactly as you have experienced. It's great to know that if I keep going the potential is there to earn more and more.
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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #40 on: April 15, 2018, 11:56:46 AM »
Congrats! And great post Sela. Thanks for sharing; it's tremendously helpful to we noobs, both from an info pov and an inspirational one.  :D

... after a lackluster series debut and the results are exactly as you have experienced. It's great to know that if I keep going the potential is there to earn more and more.

Rick Scott, re the "lackluster series debut", I assume you mean a series under a penname? Or one unpublished now? Because your Crystal Shards Online series is doing great! 👍 :) and seems to be very to market as far as I can tell (not being a litrpg guy but dabbling in it because I read everything except erotica)
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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #41 on: April 15, 2018, 01:38:13 PM »
Congrats! And great post Sela. Thanks for sharing; it's tremendously helpful to we noobs, both from an info pov and an inspirational one.  :D

Rick Scott, re the "lackluster series debut", I assume you mean a series under a penname? Or one unpublished now? Because your Crystal Shards Online series is doing great! 👍 :) and seems to be very to market as far as I can tell (not being a litrpg guy but dabbling in it because I read everything except erotica)

Hi Luke. Yes, that was under a different penname. It wasn't successful commercially, but going through the process taught me all the skills I needed to write to market. Financial success it seems is far more dependent on genre and market than the product itself.
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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #42 on: April 15, 2018, 04:52:47 PM »
Congratulations, Sela, and kudos on all the hard/smart work. It's great to see that you're still thriving and making it work, and very inspirational, too. Cheers!

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #43 on: April 15, 2018, 05:47:52 PM »
Congrats Sela. Look forward to "seeing you" in fantasy and sci-fi.


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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #44 on: April 15, 2018, 06:08:22 PM »
Hi Luke. Yes, that was under a different penname. It wasn't successful commercially, but going through the process taught me all the skills I needed to write to market. Financial success it seems is far more dependent on genre and market than the product itself.

It's great to hear you're having more success with the write to market method!

Publishing under a test pen name is one way to learn about the business. One an author has some sense of how their writing and stories are received, they can alter course if necessary as I did with the contemporary steamy romance novel and then series. Some people -- very few and very rare -- have success with their first book. Most of us either flounder around trying to find something that sticks, or at least have a few near misses before we have a hit. Patience and persistence is key.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #45 on: April 15, 2018, 06:20:15 PM »
Very interesting to read, thanks & well done :)

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #46 on: April 16, 2018, 04:46:47 AM »
This is my favourite kind of post ... the concrete information about how you succeeded is great, but I think just knowing its possible, with enough hard work, has an even bigger effect. On me, anyway. Thank you, Sela, for sharing! And I hope your journey into other genres is wildly successful.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #47 on: April 16, 2018, 05:19:43 AM »
Love these posts. Practical and straight up. Thank you.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #48 on: April 16, 2018, 09:03:52 AM »
This was the pep talk I needed. Thank you!

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #49 on: April 16, 2018, 12:02:18 PM »
Always love these posts, thank you for sharing.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #50 on: April 16, 2018, 05:56:08 PM »
Good stuff!  Can I ask how many are on your mailing list, and how you built it?

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #51 on: April 16, 2018, 07:27:12 PM »
This is terrific...thank you for posting.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #52 on: April 16, 2018, 10:24:26 PM »
Thank you for posting. Im glad things are still working out well for you Stella.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #53 on: April 16, 2018, 11:30:45 PM »
Thanks for the enlightening and inspirational post, Sela. What you've accomplished is remarkable! I love everything you post. Again, thanks so much.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #54 on: April 17, 2018, 12:25:20 AM »
Good stuff!  Can I ask how many are on your mailing list, and how you built it?

My mailing list is about 8,000. Part of that came via several group promos I did with several romance authors back in 2014. About 2500 I think. Maybe 3000 came via a call to action at the back of all my books offering a free story (sometimes a novel, sometimes 3 novels and sometimes short stories related to my series depending on what is in KU at the time). A couple of thousand were obtained via Facebook ads following Mark Dawson's approach in his course. I offer a novel or short story as a lead magnet. Also, I get some off my website home page which has a free book offer for subscribers.

The contest entrants are the worst of the bunch. They really only signed up for a chance to win a free book. I've had the worst conversion from them and wouldn't recommend contests as a strategy. The next warmest are the ones obtained via Facebook ads. They convert reasonably well - better than the contest entrants for sure. The warmest are the ones who read my books and subscribe because they liked my book.

I didn't start a mailing list until 2014 and wish I had done more work on it sooner because I really rely on it during release week to get the word out about my new book. I send out emails to my list based on their rating (2, 3, 4 or 5 stars based on open rate) as a way to build the book's sales curve and hopefully tickle Amazon algorithms.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 12:28:50 AM by sela »

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #55 on: April 17, 2018, 10:56:29 AM »
Huge congrats, Sela. And thanks for posting this.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #56 on: April 17, 2018, 11:12:41 AM »
My mailing list is about 8,000. Part of that came via several group promos I did with several romance authors back in 2014. About 2500 I think. Maybe 3000 came via a call to action at the back of all my books offering a free story (sometimes a novel, sometimes 3 novels and sometimes short stories related to my series depending on what is in KU at the time). A couple of thousand were obtained via Facebook ads following Mark Dawson's approach in his course. I offer a novel or short story as a lead magnet. Also, I get some off my website home page which has a free book offer for subscribers.

The contest entrants are the worst of the bunch. They really only signed up for a chance to win a free book. I've had the worst conversion from them and wouldn't recommend contests as a strategy. The next warmest are the ones obtained via Facebook ads. They convert reasonably well - better than the contest entrants for sure. The warmest are the ones who read my books and subscribe because they liked my book.

I didn't start a mailing list until 2014 and wish I had done more work on it sooner because I really rely on it during release week to get the word out about my new book. I send out emails to my list based on their rating (2, 3, 4 or 5 stars based on open rate) as a way to build the book's sales curve and hopefully tickle Amazon algorithms.

Thank you!  Great info.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say "I wish I had started an email list sooner...."

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #57 on: April 17, 2018, 05:03:39 PM »
Thanks Sela, very encouraging and informative post.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #58 on: April 17, 2018, 05:06:46 PM »
This was one of the most motivating posts I've read since I started exploring the whole writing-for-Kindle thing... thank you!

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #59 on: Yesterday at 09:55:31 AM »
Thanks for the post and especially for all the answers to questions. If you don't mind another one, I'd love to know how you sold 5000 books in the first month for your first write-to-market novel. What was that secret sauce? Thanks again.

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #60 on: Yesterday at 03:25:55 PM »
Thanks for the post and especially for all the answers to questions. If you don't mind another one, I'd love to know how you sold 5000 books in the first month for your first write-to-market novel. What was that secret sauce? Thanks again.

No problem!

I published a written-to-market book after studying the big selling series at the time and trying to understand what it was that readers liked about them. Then, I wrote my own version, trying to fulfil those reader expectations. I got a decent cover (still cheap at $99) and had the book edited for a cost of about $800. I posted about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. I paid for a $25 sidebar ad on a popular book blog. That was it. It was in a new romance sub-genre - contemporary romance / erotic romance versus paranormal romance, which was what I started out writing.

It just sold pretty much organically.

Back then, the Amazon algorithms really seemed like they did most of the heavy lifting with a book, especially one that it calculated had an audience.

I think the whole playing field is different now and can't tell you what would work today. My most recent book that did as well was released in July 2017, which sold 5,977 copies in its release month, but because it was released at $2.99 instead of $4.99, I made less. In total, I made $11,761.22 on all retailers in its release month. That was my mistake but I didn't feel I could release at full price because the market is different now. I second-guessed myself. If I had it to do over, I'd release at $3.99 but I put it on pre-order and wanted a special pre-order price for my most ardent readers.

ETA: I paid $200 for the cover for the recent book, plus $800 for editing and about $200 for a release week Facebook ad. I had a Bookbub new release email go out on release day, plus I had my 8,000-plus mailing list to help get the word out. Draft 2 Digital also sent a new release email to my followers on that platform. A lot more work and effort went into its release, and cost, but because of my pricing strategy, less profit overall. I'm writing a sequel to it -- and I should have done that last year -- but it won't come out until July, a full year later.

Live and learn!

 
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 03:30:13 PM by sela »

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Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« Reply #61 on: Yesterday at 08:59:02 PM »
Quote
This indie author gig is great if you can find a niche that works for you and that you love to write. If so, who needs traditional publishing? There has been a lot of negative press lately about book stuffers and scammers on Amazon. It can seem disheartening for those of us who aren't into the whole black hat/grey hat publisher approach, that focuses more on hacking Amazon loopholes versus being an author doing what we love.

This is the part I like the best. Thank you for sharing your story.

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