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Messages - Russ Munson

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Writers' Cafe / Re: About those also-boughts...
« on: January 07, 2018, 04:56:09 AM »
I've never had anything but strange behavior with also boughts.

One of my titles didn't get also boughts for about six months. I suppose this is because it took that long to get 50 sales. Fair enough.

HOWEVER, one of my other titles shot up the chart organically. It only sold about 7 books, but had lots of KU reads and got tons of also boughts almost instantly. In this case, it looked like KU reads DID affect also boughts since I had way more also boughts (17 pages of them) than I had sales.

Also, I have found that when you republish a title, Amazon sits on it forever. I've had them upload a new book to the store within hours, but a republished one took nearly the full 72 hours. I don't know if the republished material was triggering internal checks, their way of discouraging republishing titles, or just the luck of the draw.

My sample size, of course, is small, but those have been my experiences.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Removing Arc Reviews (thread no. 2)
« on: December 01, 2017, 01:09:17 PM »
Glad to see this thread, but not glad it's happening. I had 2 reviews disappear in the last two days (they had been up for months). The reviews were also ARCs, these ones through Hidden Gems. I have no idea if they were good reviews or not, I just noticed my number of reviews dropping. These reviews came from total strangers. I sent an email to KDP early this morning, but haven't heard back yet.

Make sure your download page is set up to REQUIRE email addresses (if I remember correctly, they encourage you not to click this button when you sign up). When I signed up for my free month, I was bummed I wasn't getting any signups. Then I realized I hadn't checked the box and people were in fact signing up at a rate of 1-3 per day--with no promotions.

Writers' Cafe / Re: New release flop = rest of series flop?
« on: July 24, 2017, 04:48:47 PM »
I spent the most I've ever spent on promos for this one because I knew I had to find new readers as my previous readers were from my PA series. I did a bunch of the mid-high promoters like GenreCrave mini book blast, kindle daily deals sponsorship, I love vampire novels, etc. but they were all with the bad blurb :/ so I might as well have tossed the money out instead.

Unfortunately, GenreCrave does not deliver readers. That might contribute to the problem. There are lots of threads covering the issues with that particular service.

I love heists. Unfortunately, I noticed the problem in this category over a year ago. It's been a problem for a long time.

As a reader, the entire catalog here is off-putting.

As a writer, the problem is that I'm not competing against the books in this category for eyeballs, I'm competing against EVERY book on Amazon for eyeballs in this category--so my heist book (a small audience) would have to sell better than all of these romance books (a giant audience) for a place at the heist table. Sigh.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How to REALLY succeed as a full time author.
« on: June 26, 2017, 03:37:18 AM »
The GenreCRave was $400 and worth every penny in terms of performance. I think I got like 160 sales that day. But I don't think they were high value sales as there wasn't a lot of follow through after it.

Not to derail the thread, but I feel it must be said: sadly, GenreCrave will give you sales (at a discount), but no readers. Because of the methods they are using, there's a long thread about the dangers of that particular service. I used it for the relaunch of one of my books and it was one of the reasons I am now starting over.

Despite getting a 100 "sales" GenreCrave's promo didn't translate to pages read, sign ups, follow-through, or fans. And this is a book that had performed well with other promos in the past. I felt embarrassed and frustrated at getting duped, not to mention the waste of all that money. I will NEVER use GenreCrave again and will be doing serious research before I book any services other than ENT, Bookbub, or BargainBooksy.

Sorry to be a downer here, but what's the point of spending hundreds of dollars for a loss if none of those people read your book?

Same here. Out in Loudoun Co. Its pretty expensive in this area. I'd have to find a way to replace my income as well as 40-50k extra. So right around $150-160k consistently to feel like I could quit my day job.

I'm also in Loudoun. Must be something in the water.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Whispersync for audiobooks--exact match?
« on: May 06, 2017, 11:05:25 AM »
Thanks for the replies!

So just to clarify, if the audio is more than 10% different, it won't sync? That seems like a pretty liberal margin.

If that's the case, I'd imagine you could get away with making a whole bunch of little changes in the ebook without affecting the audio?

Writers' Cafe / Whispersync for audiobooks--exact match?
« on: May 06, 2017, 07:35:19 AM »
I'm in the process of proofing an audiobook against the actual text and noticed that the narrator has made a number of unconscious changes to the text (small things like saying this instead of those). I'd estimate there are between 5-10 such small discrepancies per chapter. The audio itself sounds good and you can follow the story just fine when you listen to it--it just doesn't match the book 100%.

My question is, how exact must the audio be? Does anybody know at what point the audio might be too far from the text to get Whispersync enabled?

Thanks in advance!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is soft launching a new book a bad idea?
« on: January 26, 2017, 05:32:38 PM »
Nicholas, you killed me with this! "I can tell you what will happen with zero promo: absolutely nothing."

I'm not sure I entirely agree with this (love your posts, tho Nick). I think it's probably true for most genres, but for popular genres like romance, sometimes you can upload a book and walk away. I did this with a brand new pen name and appropriate covers. I uploaded the books (3 novellas at once) and walked away. No promo, no nothing. Didn't tell a soul. The books sold steadily for six months. Not big money, but steady sales and KU reads. The first book sold within half an hour of uploading it. So there are definitely genres where things will happen without promo.

On the other hand, my last launch with promo was a terrible experience. This was for a relaunch of a book that did moderately well in its first iteration (The Watershed, under the pen name Wilden Turk). On the relaunch, I booked half a dozen promo sites, including Rebecca's New Release Blast. The book sold about 150 copies in the first few days and ranked high enough to make some hot new release lists.

What shocked me, however, was that the book got NO page reads. Also, it didn't get any Also Boughts, not for six months, and even then, it only got 2. I have no idea why Also Boughts never kicked in.  The whole experience was incredibly disheartening. I don't know if it was a glitch or something, but the promo money was completely wasted.

Needless to say, I'm eagerly refreshing this thread and looking for whatever insight comes along.

Hmmm...I made a couple Hot New Release lists this afternoon (#8 in Post-Apoc at the moment), but have zero page reads. Is that normal?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Re-Release, 2nd Edition, New Title....New ASIN?
« on: October 04, 2016, 05:54:18 PM »
I just republished the first book in my sig. I wanted a fresh start with my real name, so I did a new cover, completely revised it, and gave it a new title. To keep the reviews, you can just update this information, although the book will retain its sales history. But if you "unpublish" the book and then start a brand new title, all the reviews will be gone (I took a screen shot of the reviews and included some in the product description). Just in case people accidentally buy it again, I added a line about the revision and the original title, both in the front of the book and in the product description.

Best of luck!

Writers' Cafe / Re: How important is cover series branding?
« on: September 28, 2016, 04:49:57 PM »
Well kboarder's led me astray there, one of my initial questions we if they could tell if they were in the same series when I post a cover critique
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,241441.msg3362837.html#msg3362837Makes sense, that's what I originally wanted but it didn't happen that

Hmmm...but the covers I see in that post are different than the ones linked to at the beginning of this post. Maybe I'm looking at the wrong things.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How important is cover series branding?
« on: September 28, 2016, 01:14:49 PM »
Ultimately, I think the follow-through sales from Book 1 to Book 2 will be your best answer. That said, my immediate reaction was that the two books were in different series.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Effectiveness of FKBT for new releases?
« on: September 27, 2016, 04:51:53 PM »
I've got one too. Early October. We shall see.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Just pushed the button for the first time...
« on: September 26, 2016, 05:26:04 PM »
Congrats! Looks like you're ranking pretty well right out the gate :)

What the others have said is soo true. Nothing matters more than that next book!

Writers' Cafe / Re: New Cover Reveal
« on: September 26, 2016, 01:05:02 PM »
Thanks all!

I like this one. it's reminiscent of a lot of very memorable (some less memorable) 1980s horror movies. Jaws, Deep Star Six, the Abyss, etc.

I'll be keeping my eye on this one.

Thanks! I'm a huge fan of Jaws and The Abyss. The novel itself is a character-driven Clive Cussler-esque thriller (and was inspired by "true" events), although there are definitely some horror elements. I keep telling myself I'll write something that conforms strictly to one genre...if anything to make the cover design easier :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: New Cover Reveal
« on: September 26, 2016, 02:51:29 AM »
Thanks everyone! I'm so glad that the cover is passing muster. Just like writing, it's really easy to lose that critical eye on your own work.

Writers' Cafe / Re: New Cover Reveal
« on: September 25, 2016, 01:52:05 PM »
I really like the text, very slick.

Thanks! I did the text in illustrator--found out later I could do the same effects in PS. Go figure, haha.

Looks good, also looking forward to the release of The Big Drink, feels like I have had it preordered for ever

Thanks!!! It feels the same way to me :). The Big Drink was finished quite a while ago, but I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to get the sequel ready before it launched on Oct. 4th. So far so good  8)

Writers' Cafe / New Cover Reveal
« on: September 25, 2016, 12:40:45 PM »
Back in this thread, http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,239487.msg3335581.html#msg3335581 I talked about my long journey to become a somewhat competent cover designer (I still have a loooong way to go!).

Happily, the cover for my second book didn't take anywhere near as long :)

This was a combination of 3D and about 6 different texture layers. As my own designer, I'm constantly tweaking things when I get new ideas. It's almost tempting to hire a pro just so I leave the darn things alone :)

Thanks for looking!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Are promotion sites seeing a downturn?
« on: August 26, 2016, 01:47:06 PM »
No, BOOKBUB readers want free books, because Bookbub specifically caters to people that want free books. The problem is that all of the promo sites go for the low-hanging fruit. It is ridiculously easy to give away stuff. It is harder to actually build a market. The problem is that indies have always depended on the "but we're cheap, so give us a chance" mentality. I get heat whenever I say this, but the real problem is that too many indies are much better at promoting AMAZOn than they are themselves. They are too dependent on Amazon algorithms to generate sales. They salivate at the prospect of needing to make a bestseller list in order to be successfully, and give away hundreds or thousands of copies of their work hoping it will push them into a bestseller list.

And you know what? The free sample DOES work...if you have an exceptional product that people will want to pay for in the future. But most indies aren't exceptional. They are competent but there is nothing all that different between author A or author B or author C. Everyone is 'writing to market' and creating interchangeable books, which are being priced as interchangeable commodities.

if you look seriously and objectively at the people who do really well with a "first book free" marketing plan, they are both A. producing something above average that really resonates with readers and B. Are also building strong infrastructures outside of Amazon (if not other sales outlets, their own mailing lists and fan bases).

My kid sister is a beauty manager at an upscale store in a poor area. Her store, however, is the second most profitable in the state. People are amazed at how she can be so profitable in a low-income area.

She does it with her free makeovers at the counter. Now a lot of cosmetic places will do basic makeovers. They will put a little foundation on your face or let you test a lipstick. But she does full-scale makeovers, like you would pay for in a beauty salon. She does exceptional work and the result is people desperately WANT the cosmetics she uses on them when she is done. She also has a bit of a following on Facebook now because of what she does. People drive an hour to HER store for a makeover and to shop because she is so good. Her employer just spent a lot of money to send her to a beauty convention to learn more because she is so successful.

The point is, if what you are giving away is exceptional, people will clamor for it and be willing to pay for more. But if your freebie is just a generic sample available everywhere else, it won't do you much good. Because I can already get tons of generic samples if that satisfies me reading needs.

I don't pretend to have all the answers. I don't write full time so to many people my opinion doesn't count, anyway. But if your marketing plan depends on low prices, you are a commodity and consumers will treat you accordingly. You need to become a brand that people want and are willing to pay for. The problem isn't that readers only want free books. The problem is that they don't see the point in paying for interchangeable commodities when there is so much free content.

Wonderful post. Thank you  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: A Writing thought for the weekend . . .
« on: August 14, 2016, 04:37:54 PM »
Wonderful quote. Thank you for posting.

I love the beginning: "I decided early on to focus on my devotion to the work above all."

It doesn't get better than that :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Adventures in Cover Design
« on: August 01, 2016, 08:12:08 AM »
Thank you so much! The response has been amazing, especially rewarding to hear from those whose work I admire so much (I've been lurking in these forums for about five years now and trying to soak up as much as possible).

I'm nearing completion on my second cover, so if anybody who is thinking about going DIY is concerned that the process takes too long, take heart that it's the learning phase that's the longest. Once you figure out your pipeline, it goes much more quickly--and in my opinion, it's a totally viable way to minimize financial risk. For example, banner ads, audio, and print covers now only take me a few extra minutes and cost me nothing. Furthermore, my second cover is for my reader magnet, a book that will not directly recoup its costs, something that I would lose sleep over if I had to spend a lot of money on it.

I am constantly in awe of professional designers and think that they are worth every penny if it makes sense for your business. Just to be clear, I'm not trying to steer anyone away from hiring a designer; the whole point of my thread is simply to say that if you have the passion to do your own covers, you shouldn't feel like you are doing something taboo (something I was--and am still--wrestling with  8)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Adventures in Cover Design
« on: July 31, 2016, 07:21:32 PM »
Nice! Some good lookin' neighbors there  8)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Adventures in Cover Design
« on: July 29, 2016, 04:09:50 PM »
Thanks for all the kind words! So helpful as I fret over the next one :)

You have sharks in your cover, so do they play a role in the storyline? I didn't see any mention of them in the blurb.

Ultimately, I wanted something that captured the protag's sense of being overwhelmed, as if danger was always closing in and there was no easy escape. The sharks are mostly metaphorical; however, they do correspond directly with a scene in the book, something that will hopefully "click" as readers get near the end  8)

At one point in the journey, I thought it might be cool if the cover itself told a story. As long as it conveyed the genre, I thought I'd give it a try. I guess we'll find out if readers like it when the book launches :)

That is so inspiring.  I'm only just beginning on my journey, and am looking at all of the options available. Your cover looks amazing. You must feel a complete sense of ownership, no compromise as it's all yours. ;0)
I'm currently looking at stock photos and how to enhance them. It's really hard to find a stock photo that ticks all of the boxes.

Thank you! The sense of ownership is wonderful :)...and I agree. I had a devil of a time finding decent stock photos. Now I just use them for certain elements that are too hard to do with 3D: clouds, splashes, fire, etc.

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