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Topics - Athena Grayson

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Writers' Cafe / 99-cent No-Bub Experiment Suggestions
« on: September 17, 2017, 12:31:59 PM »
I think I've gotten about as far as I can on the no-budget promo for a series, and I want to take it to the next level. "Get a Bookbub" is a FABULOUS idea, but I haven't figured out the correct ratio of goat sacrifices, dancing naked under the moon, and randomly assembling weird scavenger hunt items to make that happen. So I thought I'd try doing a "No-Bub" instead. Give myself a budget, a week, and see how far I get. This is the first time I've planned a real, honest-to-Dog promotional campaign for one of my own books (I can give halfway decent, insightful advice to other people, but myself? Cobbler's kid has no shoes right here).

Experiment: To drop the price on a 3.99 series-starter title to 99 cents, promote it, and see how high it goes without a BookBub.

Methodology: Using a 99-cent sale because it's more reliable to be able to price-drop rather than price-match, using a series starter to promote follow-on sales, complete series. Grow in modest increments that are sustainable and repeatable once a quarter. Measure the "short-tail" and the "long-tail" effects in direct sales, reviews, and copies moved/sold. Share workable information for other prawny plankton with limited budgets who need to goose their sales.

Goals:
-Boost a book that bobbles in the mid 6-fig rankings up to 5-figures
-Make back 50-75% of my spend budget in 2 weeks
-Make back 100% of my spend budget in 4 weeks
Factors:
-4 book series of character-oriented space opera
-Oldest title is 2 years old
-Never been heavily promoted anywhere
-No permafree lead-ins (although book 1 is reader magnet via instafreebie)
-Recently updated covers and re-written blurbs
-Available wide
-Not a lot of reviews, but positive ones
-Series sell-through is about 60-75%
-Budget of around $300 for paid promotions

Approach:
-Tuesday through Friday advertising
-Newsletter swaps with other authors
-Possible posting in Facebook book groups
-Patty Jansen's Ebookaroo or 99-cent promo weekend if it's available
-Possible rafflecopter giveaway of a Kindle Fire and/or Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Gift cards (would love some guidance on other vendor rewards, too)

Targeted ad buys:
-AMS ads (current one runs at $8-10/day but NEVER spends the whole thing)
-Book Barbarian
-Robin Reads
-Bargain Booksy
-Ereader News Today
-Lola's Blog Tours Series Tour (including this one for general visibility purposes - I'll post a write-up in the comments as to why)

Questions for the Peanut Gallery:
-Any other ad places or ideas, free or not, I might be leaving out?
-Are Facebook ads a viable thing for a week-long promo, or just a waste of money?
-Is a Twitter Headtalker/Thunderclap worth it?
-Potential pitfalls?

Thanks, everybody!

Athena

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Writers' Cafe / AMS Ad advice
« on: June 09, 2017, 08:24:15 AM »
Hey gang - hoping someone can give me a few ideas. AMS keeps punting the cover for #1 in my series back for star ratings or reviews (I have no star ratings on it, and the reviews do actually come from that book, but whatever) and "firearm pointed out." Since I specifically requested the cover artist to lens flare the heck out of the firearm on the stock image, there's nothing but a lens flare pointed out.

I just started running ads at $2/day for the entire series, the other 3 books are getting about a click per 1k impressions (no sales, yet, but that could be because people are looking for book 1, but there's no way to know that because Amazon).

Before I bug my cover artist to make a change, I'd like to guide him in the right direction so we aren't wasting time for another random kickback from AMS, and at this point, I'm not even sure if it's worth the effort. Soo...feedback? Advice? Experiences? Greatly appreciated.

The covers are all in my sig line, but here's the cover in question, a bit larger.


Thanks,
Athena

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My mailing list is growing from prawny to guppy and I want to keep it healthy and free of spam complaints and unengaged people. Thus far, I have set up a system between two different services. Mailchimp is my usual bunch of subs from in-book offers and the form on my website, while Mailerlite is where I've begun filtering in the multi-author list-building promo giveaways. My current system is this hammed-together process where I dump the emails into the mailerlite account and send them a single email that reminds them where they put the email address and why I'm contacting them, extends them an offer to subscribe to my actual mailing list, and offers a big, easily-seeable "unsubscribe" link.

Thus far, I've gone through a few contortions that basically involve uploading and reversing .csv files in order to clean out already-subscribed members from the new batches of emails (I went into detail and deleted it because the process makes me look unstable and possibly dangerous).

My question is this: I'd like to take the people who marked me as spam on the Initial Contact list (the Mailerlite list) and put them in the Mailchimp list as an "unsubscribe" or some sort of "do not contact" corral. I don't want to bother those people again, or give them a second opportunity to complain, either.

Also, if you've got a system that's better than one made out of duct tape and cat hair, please share it. I am losing the ability to discern the difference between "cunning plan" and "hot mess."

Thanks in advance!
Athena

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I'm chugging along on a new Star Empire series. It's another one of my off-the-wall structured sets of twelve novellas, only this time, I'm not wasting the time releasing the individual episodes (it's a pain finding advertisers that will take novellas), and instead going straight to the 3-ep bundles (which will end up around 60-70k each in length). It'll end up being a 4-book arc when all is said and done. I could release the first book in August, and follow up with a new novel every month until November. Or I could wait and crash the whole series, potentially sooner than November, but more like October. Just release all 4 books at once and let 'er rip. My plan is to put them in KU for 2 runs, then go wide and set the first one free.

This will also be the first launch I do with an actual marketing plan (because I can actually sort-of afford to this time around).

Thoughts? Opinions? I'm good at making cunning plans (as cunning as a fox what used to be a professor of cunning, mind you), but not as good at seeing if they're viably workable in the real world. Appreciate any and all input.

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Writers' Cafe / Any place that takes ads for a sampler collection?
« on: May 14, 2016, 07:11:02 AM »
Okay, picking the collective brain, here. I'm part of a collection of samplers (first chapters, first 5k words, etc.) of SFR from 40 authors, being released in four volumes as permafree titles. We're going wide, we've arranged ourselves into four volumes according to "heat" level of the romance, and we're sort of considering this a "debutante" coming out of our subgenre. We have a modest advertising budget, but we're doing this as much out of love as for promo opportunities, and we're focused on promoting the genre itself. We've developed a group website ( http://sfrportals.blogspot.com/) and an SFR genre readers' newsletter, too.

But as you might imagine, few places are forthcoming with marketing slots for sampler titles. Has anyone else done anything similar, and if so, where did you advertise it? Do you know of or run any promo places that allow or would consider sampler collections?

Thoughts, brainstorms, good wishes, speculations on our sanity--all welcome.

We plan on using BKnights right away, and experimenting a little with Facebook later on down the line. We just need more ways to get our samplers out there into the hands of readers who don't yet know how badly they need us.

Thanks!

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Writers' Cafe / Discoverability: Going From Zero To One
« on: March 07, 2014, 12:20:20 PM »
I figured it's high time I asked the board sages and see if you all have any ideas I haven't yet come up with.
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYlCVwxoL_g" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYlCVwxoL_g</a>

I am, as ZeFrank would put it, "stuck in a place between zero and one" in terms of discoverability. I refer to Courtney Milan's brilliant post (which I have remembered even though it's almost 2 months old, and she probably doesn't, but to refresh your memory, it's here: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,176583.msg2491160.html#msg2491160 )


And this is one of the things that I think needs to be talked about in terms of discoverability. It's much, much harder work to go from being five-sales-a-month-Joe to one-hundred-sales-a-month-Joe than it is to go from being one-hundred-sales-a-month Joe to two-thousand-sales-a-month Joe.

Discoverability has phases. Acting like "discoverability" means one thing to all people is wrong.

Phase 1: Nobody knows who you are, and you work for every sale. You market your butt off and wonder why your books barely ever move. You spend a lot of time watching your books bop around from 90,000 to 35,000 (ooh! a sale!) before sliding back up to 140,000.

(much snippage and many apologies for that, but the link is there. If you haven't read, go do that)

I am stuck between zero and one. Actually, probably less than zero right now. So I'm looking for ideas to boost my visibility. I'm at the realization where it seems to be that I need to be making myself/my brand visible now, while I have fewer titles. So what worked for you? What are you trying out to push the envelope from zero to one? Anything worked for you? How do you define a "win" at this level.

I'm curious. I know we can't all expect a fool-proof plan for success, but I'm wondering if there's at least a trend, or at least a collection of behaviors that can be emulated to at least improve one's chances and raise a little visibility.

Usually the first step is word of mouth from friends and family. So far, it's been friends that have generously re-posted news from me on the publishing front. Family? Sigh. People would think I was joking when I said my family is "The Croods" in real-people form, but I could not walk my father through buying a kindle edition of my book *from his kindle.* It is permanently stuck in "I let my preschooler play with it" mode, which makes him perfectly happy 99% of the time, because Angry Birds.

So where do you go to hustle for those sales when you're still striving to break fifty copies of anything, period?

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