Author Topic: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?  (Read 1607 times)  

Offline katewrath

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Hi, all.  I am just getting back into the game after taking about a year and a half break due to "real life" happening.  I feel like I was going pretty strong before I had to just up-and-disappear for a while, but now that I'm back, everything is different, and I'm trying to get my head around how to bring my books back to life.  Specifically, I would love advice from those of you who write sci-fi/fantasy/dystopia, as I know that some things that work in other genres just don't work in sci-fi/fantasy.

I have a complete series of six books-- a dark, moody, slow-brewing dystopian series that people either love or hate.  The majority of my fanbase is female.  And I have two books in a new series, that probably wasn't a great marketing idea, because it's really different from my first series and my readership doesn't seem to transfer well.  This one is an urban fantasy/comedy romp.

Before my break, I took my books wide, and made the first book in my complete series permafree.  So that's where I'm starting out now.  I'm concerned, because it sounds like everyone is on the Select bandwagon these days.  My sales on other platforms are a joke (not that I'm not laughing at Amazon sales right now, too).  I have set up some promos and so far, one free promo ran on ENT last week... incredibly disappointing.  Whereas ENT used to get me 2000+ downloads, I had like... 400 and something.  I suppose it is possible that I have overused ENT in the past with this book, but it has been resting for a long time, so I really expected more.  This has me a little worried about the state of free promos because I have a Bookbub deal coming up on the 18th.  I was really excited that I got it (only my second one) but after reading more online I am worried that it will be incredibly different from my last one (after which I bought a new car with the payout).  In trying to prepare for that week, I have booked FKBT, Freebooksy, and  Robin Reads for the three days leading up to the Bookbub day.  I've updated all my back content in all my books, updated my website, made sure I've got my mailing list sign-up front and center, etc.

Things I'm bad at: 
     I suck at marketing through my newsletter.  I never know what to say, and I don't like to send a lot of stuff out, so I usually only send it out for new releases.
     My blog is pretty boring-- same deal.  Writing about writing is not exactly exciting.  I mean, spoilers.
     Facebook ads-- I dumped a ton of money into this after trying Mark Dawson's course a couple of years ago, and it was all just a waste.  I don't think it works for this genre, and it definitely hasn't worked for my book.
     
Things I haven't tried:
     Bookbub ppc ads, Amazon ppc ads  -- just thinking that if FB ads don't work for me, I'm not sure these will.  Along those lines, Google ads???  Anyone use this and have any luck?  Does anyone use an "ads expert" kind of person for this stuff and see it make a difference?

Worried about:  Last time I ran a BB ad, I was in Select, and the book wasn't permafree, so when the promo was over, it went back in the paid store at a really high ranking, which drove tons of sales on the first book in addition to all the buy-through.  This time, it's just going to stay in the free category, and from what I'm reading, the volatility will sink it right back to the bottom in no time.  Last time I rode that high for months, and I'm thinking this probably won't happen this time.  So I'm kind of thinking maybe I should take the book off permafree, but not sure.  And I don't even know how to do that, or how long it would take to accomplish.

I guess I'm wondering if I'll gain any traction on other retailers with this promo (as my books are invisible on them, now), or if I should consider yanking them right after the promo and jumping into Select.

So I'm asking... what would you all do?  What has been REALLY working for you recently?  What should I stay away from?  Please, blast me with your wisdom and knowledge.  :)  Thanks!
     

Kate Wrath | Kate's website

Offline C. Gockel

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2018, 12:03:20 PM »
I had a BookBub on a sci-fi freebie in February (post-apocalyptic-opera-ish). The returns were really good, so I think you'll be happy. I would NOT set an end date to the ad. Keep your book up as long as possible on their site. I'm still getting 50 DL a day on my freebie from my Bub in February on Amazon.

That said, very few of the other advertising sites have the return they used to. BookBub advertises super aggressively for new readers, whereas too many other sites just advertise for new authors. Also, email is less effective in general.

If I were you, I might add BookBotBob to your lineup and a Kobo in house promotion if you go direct with them.

I don't know what to tell you about cross over between series. I went the opposite way--humorous UF to darker sci-fi! It actually worked out though. I think because Sci-fi is less saturated, I started out in Select, and I had an awesome cover.

One nice thing about select is that 99-cent promos can have positive ROI. I would advertise the first book in your other series at 99-cents about a month after your Bub at places like ENT, RobinReads, and BookBarbarian. You can advertise the sale to your list, and hopefully, peeps who had picked up your Bub deal will take a chance on your new series. Also, after a Bub you're likely to have as many as 1,000 new subs.

Other things that are working: Instafreebie, newsletter swaps--especially in sci-fi these seem important as it is a much smaller niche than fantasy, and author group giveaways. I would stay away from any group giveaways that are giveaways of famous trad books and stick to ones that feature the authors in the giveaways.

Good luck!




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Offline katewrath

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2018, 01:47:30 PM »
Thanks.  That is definitely encouraging to hear.  On your Bookbub, was the book in Select, or wide?  I'm still not sure how to go from permafree back to paid on Amazon, as they have price-matched and my dashboard doesn't do anything to price.  Do you know, if I pulled it off of other retailers, would that change?

I've added Bookbot Bob and applied to Kobo, per your recommendations.  I've never used Kobo's promotions before, so this should be interesting... if I get it.

As for the other series... I forgot to say that I just advertise both books at 99 cents, as I only just released the second one and wanted to try to get a readership going for it.  So far, it's nothing compared to my first series.  (That went out to my mailing list.)  Maybe I should keep the books 99 cents for now and advertise again?

I used instafreebie a couple of years ago, but I find that the newsletter subscribers I get from it are fickle.  I mean, half of them probably don't even read your book after downloading it.  I had a ton of unsubscribes on a newsletter right after instafreebie, and Mailchimp dinged it as possible spam, so that kind of makes me nervous.  On the other hand, it was a good way to get my book out there.  I'm thinking maybe it would be better to do Instafreebie without requiring an email sign-up.  If anyone knows of any good author giveaways within the genre, I'd love to get in on that.

Thanks a lot for the advice and encouragement.  It is totally reassuring to hear that some things are still working.  Whew.

Kate Wrath | Kate's website

Offline Marti talbott

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2018, 02:07:40 PM »
I just had a spectacular Bookbub, and like you, not a lot of success with the other promotion sites. Freebooksy is probably the next best. A little unsolicited advice. I  noticed that "E"  and "Evolution" don't have the series name in the same place as the others. It's an easy fix to make them look cohesive, also more of your blurb would show. Your prices look reasonable, you have a good number of reviews, and the covers are good. If you can afford it, I'd try another bookbub and I'd leave it permafree. With KU the way it is, readers seem to expect something for free these days. Hope this helps.
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Offline Marti talbott

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2018, 02:14:16 PM »
Thanks.  That is definitely encouraging to hear.  On your Bookbub, was the book in Select, or wide?  I'm still not sure how to go from permafree back to paid on Amazon, as they have price-matched and my dashboard doesn't do anything to price.  Do you know, if I pulled it off of other retailers, would that change?

I've added Bookbot Bob and applied to Kobo, per your recommendations.  I've never used Kobo's promotions before, so this should be interesting... if I get it.

As for the other series... I forgot to say that I just advertise both books at 99 cents, as I only just released the second one and wanted to try to get a readership going for it.  So far, it's nothing compared to my first series.  (That went out to my mailing list.)  Maybe I should keep the books 99 cents for now and advertise again?

I used instafreebie a couple of years ago, but I find that the newsletter subscribers I get from it are fickle.  I mean, half of them probably don't even read your book after downloading it.  I had a ton of unsubscribes on a newsletter right after instafreebie, and Mailchimp dinged it as possible spam, so that kind of makes me nervous.  On the other hand, it was a good way to get my book out there.  I'm thinking maybe it would be better to do Instafreebie without requiring an email sign-up.  If anyone knows of any good author giveaways within the genre, I'd love to get in on that.

Thanks a lot for the advice and encouragement.  It is totally reassuring to hear that some things are still working.  Whew.

Just raise the price at the other stores, wait until the change is made, and then email Amazon and ask them to change the price.

I have learned lately, that readers judge the price on the number of pages. Silly, I know, but I think $.99 might signal a short story or a novella. Something to think about, anyway.
       
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Offline WasAnn

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2018, 02:20:13 PM »
To get off the free price match, just set your new price at the other retailers, then if Amazon doesn't do it automatically, send them an email through the "contact us" button on the kdp help screen and ask them to change the price.

BUT, don't do that until you really want to do that. It can happen fast and then you have to run the hoops to get it back to free if you change your mind. Like C. Gockel said, the key to a better bookbub result these days on a freebie seems to be leaving it open ended in terms of date. Loads of people scroll those book lists on their site, and yours will stay up and keep getting downloads for a long while.

As to AMS...yes. I do those and they work for me, but I don't bid super high and I work my keywords and cull as necessary. It's not a huge return, but it does get eyeballs on them and if the book is appealing, they'll grab it. Mine are all for paid books, so not sure what the expected return would be for freebies.

BB ads can really rack up the bucks (as in, bucks you pay) fast. If you do those, you either need to set aside time to laser focus on them, work A/B testing, and all sorts of bother. I hate all that, so I don't. AMS is about as much fiddling as I can handle.

Instafreebie still works, but you have to make trade-offs. Only use optional sign up. It will get you less signups, but the ones who come want to be there. Also, the book you give out should have the signup in the back, like a regular kindle book would, because if they love the book, they might change their mind and sign up anyway.

Also, I wrote a book specifically for Instafreebie. Full novel, stand-alone, no cliffies. It's a prequel to one of my series, but they don't have to read the series after that. They will if they love it, which means it should be great writing with a great cover. That might seem like a waste, but the goal is quality signups, so it's worth it. Also, they now have a bunch of group giveaways. I got loads of signups from those, even though I'm all optional. Plus more that used the link in the back of the book. And because I gave Instafreebie a full novel exclusive, and it did well compared to other books in the various giveaways, they put that book into one of their in-house promos. Loads of copies moved there, loads. Plus signups. My opinion, Instafreebie is once again worth using, if it's used wisely.

I took time off to go back to sloooow writing, deciding to take the hit in terms of visibility and churn just to keep loving writing. It was burning me out. That said, depending on your general standing before, you can get most of that back with some new releases and smart advertising. It just takes time.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 02:23:38 PM by WasAnn »

Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2018, 02:29:31 PM »
One thing about coming off of free--some folks have been reporting in another group that they're having issues getting Amazon to do it. So I wouldn't plan anything around coming off of free.

Also, I'd stay wide after your Bookbub. A lot of people have recently been abandoning KU due to various issues and a Bookbub is probably the single best way to get visibility wide. You lose that if you jump right back into KU.


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Offline C. Gockel

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2018, 09:34:28 AM »
On your Bookbub, was the book in Select, or wide? 

Wide.

Quote
Do you know, if I pulled it off of other retailers, would that change?

If you change books wide back to paid, your book will go paid again. Don't do it until after your BookBub ... I'd say waaayyyyy after your BookBub.

Quote
As for the other series... I forgot to say that I just advertise both books at 99 cents, as I only just released the second one and wanted to try to get a readership going for it.  So far, it's nothing compared to my first series.  (That went out to my mailing list.)  Maybe I should keep the books 99 cents for now and advertise again?

I don't know. I would only do the first at 99-cents, but that may just be me. Also, I only had my UF in Select way back in the early days before KU1.

Quote
I'm thinking maybe it would be better to do Instafreebie without requiring an email sign-up.  If anyone knows of any good author giveaways within the genre, I'd love to get in on that.

That's the only way I do them.

To find giveaways just go to the Giveaway link on the Instafreebie dashboard.


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Offline katewrath

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2018, 02:47:16 PM »
I  noticed that "E"  and "Evolution" don't have the series name in the same place as the others. It's an easy fix to make them look cohesive, also more of your blurb would show.

Thanks, that's a great catch.  I will definitely get that updated.

Kate Wrath | Kate's website

Offline katewrath

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2018, 03:17:47 PM »
To get off the free price match, just set your new price at the other retailers, then if Amazon doesn't do it automatically, send them an email through the "contact us" button on the kdp help screen and ask them to change the price.

BUT, don't do that until you really want to do that. It can happen fast and then you have to run the hoops to get it back to free if you change your mind. Like C. Gockel said, the key to a better bookbub result these days on a freebie seems to be leaving it open ended in terms of date. Loads of people scroll those book lists on their site, and yours will stay up and keep getting downloads for a long while.

As to AMS...yes. I do those and they work for me, but I don't bid super high and I work my keywords and cull as necessary. It's not a huge return, but it does get eyeballs on them and if the book is appealing, they'll grab it. Mine are all for paid books, so not sure what the expected return would be for freebies.

BB ads can really rack up the bucks (as in, bucks you pay) fast. If you do those, you either need to set aside time to laser focus on them, work A/B testing, and all sorts of bother. I hate all that, so I don't. AMS is about as much fiddling as I can handle.

Instafreebie still works, but you have to make trade-offs. Only use optional sign up. It will get you less signups, but the ones who come want to be there. Also, the book you give out should have the signup in the back, like a regular kindle book would, because if they love the book, they might change their mind and sign up anyway.

Also, I wrote a book specifically for Instafreebie. Full novel, stand-alone, no cliffies. It's a prequel to one of my series, but they don't have to read the series after that. They will if they love it, which means it should be great writing with a great cover. That might seem like a waste, but the goal is quality signups, so it's worth it. Also, they now have a bunch of group giveaways. I got loads of signups from those, even though I'm all optional. Plus more that used the link in the back of the book. And because I gave Instafreebie a full novel exclusive, and it did well compared to other books in the various giveaways, they put that book into one of their in-house promos. Loads of copies moved there, loads. Plus signups. My opinion, Instafreebie is once again worth using, if it's used wisely.

I took time off to go back to sloooow writing, deciding to take the hit in terms of visibility and churn just to keep loving writing. It was burning me out. That said, depending on your general standing before, you can get most of that back with some new releases and smart advertising. It just takes time.

Thanks so much.  This is super-helpful.  I'll just hold out with the permafree based on what you and the others are saying, but at least I know how to change it now if I do decide to go that route.

I will probably steer clear of the PPC ads for now, because, like you, I hate messing with all that.  I don't seem to be any good at it, anyway.

I love your idea of having an exclusive book for Instafreebie.  I've not heard of anyone doing that before.  That will take a while to achieve, but in the meantime I'll try Instafreebie again with an optional signup.  I do have the link in the back of my book that leads to my landing page mailing list sign-up, but I have not been able to figure out how to put a direct link to my mailing list since I started using Mailchimp.  It used to be no problem, but Mailchimp seems to take over a lot of things.

I understand what you mean about burnout.  We just had about five thousand family emergencies hit at once, but before that I was definitely burning the midnight oil, working a full time job and also working full time on my writing.  But honestly, the writing part is totally energizing and renewing to me.  The marketing and formatting and all that is what burns me out.  Now that I have a chance to work on it again, I am trying really hard to focus on the writing, do what I absolutely need to for the rest of it, and not waste time on things that won't have a lot of impact.  That's easier said than done, but I think keeping that frame of mind is helping a lot.

Thanks again for all the help.  It is much appreciated.  :)

Kate Wrath | Kate's website

Offline katewrath

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2018, 10:55:54 AM »
One thing about coming off of free--some folks have been reporting in another group that they're having issues getting Amazon to do it. So I wouldn't plan anything around coming off of free.

Also, I'd stay wide after your Bookbub. A lot of people have recently been abandoning KU due to various issues and a Bookbub is probably the single best way to get visibility wide. You lose that if you jump right back into KU.

Good to know.  I will definitely keep the books where they are for now.  Thanks.

Kate Wrath | Kate's website

Online MissingAlaska

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2018, 11:32:00 AM »
In regard to Bookbub ads, does anyone find it worthwhile it to advertise CPC ads for books at full price?  It seems to me that anyone receiving the Bookbub newsletter is a bargain shopper.  I've run one CPC ad on a full-priced ($2.99) novel with poor results despite a good click-through rate (the price wasn't in the ad).  Anybody's results differ?

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Offline Scarlett_R

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Re: best practices and advice 2018-- what's really working for you?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2018, 02:19:10 PM »
I recommend keeping an eye out for my chapter on marketing that's coming up on my blog (hope it's ok to post this, delete if not pls admins): https://www.thebookdesignhouse.com/the-concise-self-publishing-guide-for-beginners/