Author Topic: Engineering a Bestseller (+ 30-day Update!)  (Read 39337 times)  

Offline Dom

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Engineering a Bestseller (+ 30-day Update!)
« on: December 24, 2015, 03:38:37 pm »
EaBS
« Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 08:44:01 pm by Dom »

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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #1 on: December 24, 2015, 03:48:44 pm »
    You can't engineer a bestseller.

    I've watched several people lately trying to launch books in the top-whatever and some have succeeded and, despite previous successes, some have failed.

    Sometime it just fails, because.

    Nothing missing in that sentence. Because. It fails. If you could really engineer bestsellers, all the publishers would be rich, they'd push all their authors into more rigid moulds than they already use, and every one of their books would do well.

    What you can engineer, however, is a relatively regular income from writing.

    Offline SasgoraBooks

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #2 on: December 24, 2015, 03:51:21 pm »
    I love that cover! Is that Damonza's work?
     

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    Offline vkloss

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #3 on: December 24, 2015, 03:51:46 pm »
    Love the cover. I hope it works out for you! Curious as to why you chose the $3.99 price point as opposed to $2.99 or even $0.99 to maximise audience appeal.

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    Offline KL_Phelps

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #4 on: December 24, 2015, 04:12:45 pm »
    great cover

    Offline Dale Ivan Smith

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #5 on: December 24, 2015, 04:16:52 pm »
    Great cover! Thanks for sharing your battle plan. Please keep us posted, and best of luck!

    Offline LovelynBettison

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #6 on: December 24, 2015, 04:23:35 pm »
    I agree with everyone else that that is a great cover.

    I also think you've made a lot of interesting points. I hope the new series goes well.

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    Offline Abderian

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #7 on: December 24, 2015, 04:36:55 pm »
    After reading many advice posts on here it seems to me there are many paths to bestseller status but that all involve an element of luck. Sometimes books are published at the right time to hit a growing market, sometimes it might be something else less definable. One thing we all have control over is writing the very best books we can and having them edited.

    It seems like you have a well-thought-out plan, Domino, so I wish you that thing we can't control - luck!


    Offline Jim Johnson

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #8 on: December 24, 2015, 04:40:11 pm »
    Even if Dead Man doesn't generate a bestseller by itself, I suspect it'll be another healthy income stream added to your overall efforts. Keep writing and producing quality work for the backlist and build the career.

    Offline Anarchist

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #9 on: December 24, 2015, 04:47:13 pm »
    Domino, that was a helluva post.

    It made me want to go buy a couple of your books. :)
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    Offline blancheking

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #10 on: December 24, 2015, 04:55:12 pm »
    Great effort and hustle! :)

    I'm curious though, I thought the point of being an author was to have fun and tell stories. Otherwise, it has such a poor marginal return that it's not worth the time put into it. Don't most authors have some sort of day job? I can't imagine writing novels bringing in a six-figure paycheck for more than a handful of people, and for those who aren't among the handful, it seems like a lot of emotional stress for nothing.

    Offline ccruz

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #11 on: December 24, 2015, 05:35:48 pm »
    I liked the cover, but thought it super weird that a wizard would need a gun for anything. I love the use of dark magic, however. Sounds really interesting. I hope you engineer lots of bestsellers with your new plan.
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    Offline Not any more

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #12 on: December 24, 2015, 05:50:57 pm »
    Great effort and hustle! :)

    I'm curious though, I thought the point of being an author was to have fun and tell stories. Otherwise, it has such a poor marginal return that it's not worth the time put into it. Don't most authors have some sort of day job? I can't imagine writing novels bringing in a six-figure paycheck for more than a handful of people, and for those who aren't among the handful, it seems like a lot of emotional stress for nothing.
    This.

    I grew up in an arts city, and lots of my friends had family who were writers and artists. Ben Hur strike a bell? How about Matt Helm (maybe you're familiar with the movies)? One of my best friend's father published 45 YA books but still worked a job with the state government.

    I hope to bring in some money to help in retirement. I know people who are getting rich and some who are paying the bills. There are very successful authors who write far worse than I do, and some incredibly gifted authors who aren't selling anything. "Engineering" success in an artistic endeavor is kinda funny to me. (Amanda aside)


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    Offline Adrian Howell

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #13 on: December 24, 2015, 05:59:59 pm »
    Great effort and hustle! :)

    I'm curious though, I thought the point of being an author was to have fun and tell stories. Otherwise, it has such a poor marginal return that it's not worth the time put into it. Don't most authors have some sort of day job? I can't imagine writing novels bringing in a six-figure paycheck for more than a handful of people, and for those who aren't among the handful, it seems like a lot of emotional stress for nothing.

    The vast majority of authors have a day job (I certainly do) but I would guess many of them would like to get to the point where they could write fulltime. As many authors right here on Kboards have demonstrated, you don't need to be a NYT bestseller to achieve this goal. You simply need to get to the point where you have a large enough (and ever growing) backlist and a moderately large readership. Even if you weren't making as much money compared to a fulltime office job, if you could get to the point where you were making enough to scrape by (and didn't have large financial resposibilities such as kids or a pet polar bear), there's certainly a lot of joy in being self-employed and working your own hours. Of course there's stress too, in the form of a constantly changing publishing landscrape, but even day jobs aren't all that stable in this economy.

    While there's no sure formula to write a bestseller, the OP's points would certainly increase the odds.

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    Offline James R Wells

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #14 on: December 24, 2015, 06:46:02 pm »
    The vast majority of authors have a day job (I certainly do) but I would guess many of them would like to get to the point where they could write fulltime.

    Full time is a great goal (I'm for it!) but also progress anywhere along the spectrum can be really important. More sales can ultimately mean more time to write. For anyone approaching retirement age, it can be an opportunity to phase over to writing in stages.

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    Offline Cactus Lady

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #15 on: December 24, 2015, 07:01:06 pm »
    I liked the cover, but thought it super weird that a wizard would need a gun for anything. I love the use of dark magic, however. Sounds really interesting. I hope you engineer lots of bestsellers with your new plan.

    Urban fantasy, or high fantasy in more modern/industrial settings, yeah, wizards have guns. (another example: The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson, and my own character Silas is a wizard/gunslinger with a magically modified six-shooter) I kinda have a thing for wizards with guns  :D definitely checking out Dead Man!

    As for engineering a bestseller, there's only so much you can do - you can't actually make people buy your books. But whether you're shooting for bestsellerdom or not, whether you're relying on writing to support yourself or not, it doesn't hurt to go into it with a well-thought-out business plan that addresses your specific goals.
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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #16 on: December 24, 2015, 07:31:36 pm »
    The cover and blurb sure sucked me in! Looking forward to reading it. Good luck, Domino! :)

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    Offline JTriptych

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #17 on: December 24, 2015, 08:23:52 pm »
    Great cover and great attitude, Mr. Finn! The key is to always keep trying until you succeed! I'm rooting for you.  :)

    Offline 77071

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #18 on: December 24, 2015, 08:54:51 pm »
    If you look inside the Look Inside, it says cover design by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design LLC. 

    I hope it works for you.  It's a great idea & looks really cool.   :D :-*


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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #19 on: December 24, 2015, 09:28:26 pm »
    Love your drive and I think you have many of the ingredients it takes to sell. Great covers, great blurbs. I'll be keeping an eye out!

    Offline Dom

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #20 on: December 24, 2015, 10:44:52 pm »
    Thanks for the enthusiasm everybody! I'm overwhelmed by the responses. I just got back from a family gathering so I've had a bit of mulled wine. And Christmas sangria. And Taiwanese whiskey. Don't hold it against me.

    First thing's first. Rank seems to be lagging but I've had over 20 sales after being live for 16 hours. The important thing is that I haven't announced the release AT ALL (besides this very thread). After I check in here I'll send it to my mailing list. (and a few free outlets should cover the sale over the weekend.) I know today and tomorrow are busy but the sales should trickle in over the weekend regardless.

    Thanks to everyone who wished me luck. I'll try to answer any other points individually.

    You can't engineer a bestseller.

    No doubt, Patty, we are not in 100% control. I hope my post didn't come off that way. But I believe there's value in studying what is successful, finding your best pool of readers, and giving them what they want.

    I love that cover! Is that Damonza's work?

    Thanks! For everyone asking, credit goes to Bookfly Design (same with the covers of all my full-length novels below).

    Curious as to why you chose the $3.99 price point as opposed to $2.99 or even $0.99 to maximise audience appeal.

    You know, I'm friends with several urban fantasy authors, and believe it or not, the go to price is not $0.99 or $2.99. Some even get away with $4.99. (I price my Sycamore Moon series at $4.70).

    The main thing I want to do is attract an audience that will pay several dollars for my books. I'm not the fastest writer around and these aren't novellas. But big picture, I want to have promo opportunities available when the sequels launch, which means a higher price now. And then, when I have other books out, I can revisit the pricing of Book 1.

    It seems like you have a well-thought-out plan, Domino, so I wish you that thing we can't control - luck!

    I could definitely use some of that as well! I think, barring luck, what I'm saying is, the most important thing in this business is: audience. (Which does NOT mean we should ignore craft/editing/etc.).

    Keep writing and producing quality work for the backlist and build the career.

    Thanks, Jim! This is definitely a serious business plan for a serious business. For me, one of the things I always want to be able to say is that I'm proud of everything I released. This is hard, but it's worth it.

    Domino, that was a helluva post.

    It made me want to go buy a couple of your books. :)

    Ha, ha! Don't let me talk you out of it! I've definitely put my heart into this. (Hopefully my brains as well.)

    Great effort and hustle! :)

    I'm curious though, I thought the point of being an author was to have fun and tell stories.

    Thanks. It's funny, because I was just telling a buddy this the other day. My previous books are low fantasy and lower magic. Black Magic Outlaw breaks away from my usual style, but I'm having more fun than ever writing this series. So I totally agree that this would not be worth it if I was selling out or not having fun. I love this and my main goal is to do nothing else for the rest of my life. As far as an income, I'm shooting for 6 figures (screw the percentages), but I'd start with less. :)

    I liked the cover, but thought it super weird that a wizard would need a gun for anything. I love the use of dark magic, however. Sounds really interesting. I hope you engineer lots of bestsellers with your new plan.

    Thanks, Claudette. The gun thing is part of urban fantasy's nature. It's a way of saying "this is modern." Popular series like the Dresden Files feature gun usage as a sometimes more practical alternative than magic. It's something that should definitely be in the book, but it's fair to question if it should be on the cover. I thought it set the right tone for my brand.

    There are very successful authors who write far worse than I do, and some incredibly gifted authors who aren't selling anything. "Engineering" success in an artistic endeavor is kinda funny to me. (Amanda aside)

    I think this goes partially to my point. I don't think craft is the end-all-be-all (although I love it). I actually think, financially, audience is more important. This is an artistic endeavor, for sure, but that doesn't mean you can't apply a business perspective to it.

    (And I totally agree with your pragmatic points, Adrian and James!)

    I kinda have a thing for wizards with guns  :D definitely checking out Dead Man!

    As for engineering a bestseller, there's only so much you can do - you can't actually make people buy your books. ...but it doesn't hurt to go into it with a well-thought-out business plan that addresses your specific goals.

    Awesome! That's exactly what it is, Kyra. I look at it as targeting the largest pool of readers I can. That doesn't mean I'll bowl a strike, but there should be more pins on the ground for me to knock down.

    Whatever can be engineered, it seems you have done the work for and that's to be applauded. It takes real dedication (dedication to the business side, that is) to do that much to lay your foundation with so much attention to detail.

    I hope it works for you and the lightning comes forking down for you next.

    Thank, Ann! Giving the business side of this career the proper attention is the main message of my post. It's a strategy, but not a guarantee.

    And thanks for the kind words, everyone. It'll be an exciting weekend, but I'm more curious about the coming months.

    Offline D-C

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #21 on: December 24, 2015, 11:25:04 pm »
    Hi Domino,

    As a reader and writer of UF, it sure sounds like you've ticked all the right boxes. You have a solid plan and experience behind you, I'm sure this new series will do well.

    You have more patience than me. I simply cannot hold off publishing once a book is ready to go- I just can't, even though it makes perfect sense.

    Best of luck and I hope the Amazon algos shine upon you ;)

    (On my phone - hence short reply)

    Offline going going gone

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #22 on: December 25, 2015, 04:00:32 am »
    Gorgeous cover that tells me genre/situation at a glance...and I wish you the best of luck with it!
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    Offline Catana

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #23 on: December 25, 2015, 05:54:03 am »
    The most concrete details I've ever seen showing the difference between books that are written and books that are manufactured.

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    Offline DanaG

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    Re: Engineering a Bestseller
    « Reply #24 on: December 25, 2015, 06:05:45 am »
    "You can't engineer a bestseller"...I couldn't disagree more.  Not everyone can, but lots of people are capable of it.  I'm capable of it.  I deliberately picked a popular genre.  I studied other bestsellers in that genre - their covers, their blurbs, the necessary tropes for the sub-genre.  Since I started specifically writing to market, more than 90 percent of my books have made the Kindle top 100. 

    If you look over the bestseller list, it's full of people who "engineered" a bestseller. After 50 Shades came out, I can't even count the number of people who wrote billionaire bdsm and made six figure incomes.  Same thing with New Adult books that came out after popular books like Beautiful Disaster.  Same thing with the current trend for "stepbrother romance" themed New Adult novels. 

    This isn't a swipe at people who write exactly what they want to write, without thinking about the market. More power to them.  This is just me pointing out, for those who want to make a living from their books, that one effective, proven method that has worked for a lot of authors, is to deliberately emulate bestsellers.  Otherwise known as "engineering" a bestseller.

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