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Messages - DmGuay

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This timely read offers a partial view of the state of the industry. The takeaway: Indies have filled the niche that used to be the trad pubbed mid-list, because big publishing houses do not support new authors or mid list authors.

Best Sellers Sell the Best Because They are Bestsellers.

"Like Hollywood, which pours resources into universe-scale superhero franchises that are nearly guaranteed to get an audience, publishing has become increasingly reliant on blockbusters — a development that has left beginner and midlist authors struggling. Mass-market retailers like Target, Walmart and Costco — whose share of book sales has soared during the pandemic — buy books that are surefire hits, and often wait for an unproven author to hit the best-seller list before they even order copies.

“There are a few winners and there are far, far fewer books around the break-even point, and there are more that lose,” said Mike Shatzkin, the founder and chief executive of Idea Logical, which analyzes the book business. “The medium-sized publishers can’t sustain themselves anymore. They can’t compete for the really big titles, so they get bought.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/19/books/penguin-random-house-madeline-mcintosh.html?searchResultPosition=1

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Current state of the horror genre
« on: September 20, 2020, 07:09:04 pm »
A market doesn't have to be romance-sized to make a living.
Smaller niche markets have hungry readers, too.

Horror has been great to me! JOIN US!!

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Maybe because Florida has a population of about 21 million people, so it's the third most populated U.S. state?

I curious about these Louisville peeps. 10 per capita?? In Louisville?

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Launch Burst or Pre-order? Which would you do?
« on: September 17, 2020, 05:54:14 am »
If it were ME, I would...

1. Release book 1 with a very strong launch plan. Ads in place, promotions booked, graphics for social media and sharing/swaps ready to go. ARCs sent.
2. Book 2 on preorder when book 1 launches, Link to preorder in book 1.

Set up the preorder for book 3, right before the launch of book 2. Links in back of book 2, obviously.
Rinse repeat through the series.

Once you get to book 4 or 5, boost the launch with a countdown deal: Book 1 free or 99 cents, and books 2-3 99 cents. (If you are in KU). Run promos to it.

The real question is, do you have an audience, or are you in a genre where you can get a large audience quickly. Rapid Release can work great. But it can also flop if you do not have an existing audience or a solid plan to get one. 

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Where do all these ratings (not reviews) come from?
« on: September 14, 2020, 12:00:52 pm »
Alexa. She asks me to leave ratings on products and/or books every two weeks or so. I suspect if you agree to leave a rating once, you will be asked again. Since I started leaving ratings when Alexa asks me, I have also gotten emails asking for reviews/ratings more frequently than I used to. As an author, I love it. I am finally getting reviews/ratings and I don't have to do anything to get them. They have been overwhelmingly positive, although I have gotten a few low ratings.

Alexa? Crazy! I hadn't even thought of that!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: What is Your Genre and Why did you Choose it?
« on: September 14, 2020, 09:36:57 am »
I write comedy fantasy/horror.

I started out writing YA UF/PNR. And honestly, I didn't love it. And I wasn't successful, at least not sales wise. I won some RWA awards and got good reviews, but sales were flat and my newsletter felt like a pulling-teeth chore. I never knew what to write. It was not a good genre for me, but I started there because I thought that's what I was 'supposed' to write to get trad pubbed, because it was popular and selling.

Mistake! I'm glad I pulled back and regrouped.

If you're planning to be in this as a career, for the long haul, do some soul searching about who you are, what kinds of stories you really really like to read/to watch on TV and in movies, etc. If you do that, chances are it will lead you to the genre that's a good match for your personality.

Once I switched to my current genre? Sales/career took off, and I knew exactly what to say to my fans/newsletter/social media because I *am* one of them. They are my people.

This kind of authenticity is good for your career and good for your soul. I mean, who wants to write stuff they don't love for years on end? Sure, you might end up in a genre where you don't *think* you'll make a zillion dollars, one that's gathering dust on Amazon. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. Because if you love it, and no one is writing in that genre, you can own the genre and make a living, even if it is small. Because there are people out there looking for that type of story and waiting for someone to give it to them.

That soul searching is how I ended up in my current genre. I highly recommend it, if you're having doubts about your direction! My two cents, for what it's worth.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Would you do an audiobook if in my shoes?
« on: September 11, 2020, 05:57:05 am »
Audiobooks do not cannibalize sales. They are for a completely different audience.

There are so many factors.
-Like, how much do you estimate an audiobook would cost to produce?
-How will you promote it? (Promoting audio is a different animal.)
-If you're in nonfiction, are you also earning money in some other way related to the topic of this book? Like courses, etc., and would the audiobook bring in clients?


Overall, the consensus is audiobooks aren't worth it unless your book is selling steadily and really well.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Where do all these ratings (not reviews) come from?
« on: September 11, 2020, 05:53:55 am »
On your Kindle (mine at least) as soon as you hit "The End" on a book, a window pops up where you can leave a rating.
I believe this is responsible for the uptick.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Does my launch 'plan' sound okay to you veterans?
« on: September 08, 2020, 10:04:28 am »
That was all very useful thank you, especially to DmGuay!

Aw, thanks.
I remember all too well how overwhelming the process was at the very beginning. I didn't know how much I didn't know. And I made all the mistakes you can make. If I can save someone else the trouble...

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Does my launch 'plan' sound okay to you veterans?
« on: September 08, 2020, 07:10:28 am »
Wow, that's great. Thanks a lot for all that info. There's a lot of stuff in there I completely forgot - like my author central page, duh. I see your point about the ads. I will probably do as you advise and stick to Amazon, though it hadn't occurred to me to run multiple ads on there from the off.

What's the general feeling around keywords (for the book itself rather than ads)? I've heard some people say to separate each one with a comma and others who say that the commas can have a negative effect. Or is this yet another mysterious Amazon thing no one knows for sure?

Don't use commas. And use all the space. Put in phrases that make sense and that people might actually use to find books like yours.
And yes, run multiple AMS ads. You never know which ones will stick and which ones won't. I have about eight going right now, all different types and keywords. Bryan Cohen does a free Amazon ads course for authors that will be a very good introduction to the process for you.

And as for rapid release: Don't worry about that. It doesn't work if you don't already have some sort of audience. Get this launch in order. Set the ads and forget them, and concentrate on writing the next book. All of us start as nobodies from zero. It takes time and good books to build a career. Everything you do is another brick in the wall!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Does my launch 'plan' sound okay to you veterans?
« on: September 08, 2020, 05:53:24 am »
Yes to:
facebook author page (skip the book page)
Goodreads author profile
Claim your amazon author central profile and take the time to fill in your author page details.
Get a basic web site with your bio, book information and buy links, mailing list sign up, contact page with your social media links. If you have a news feed or blog, you can link that to your goodreads and author central profiles, so those are always updating with your new content.
Set up a mailing list, and put the link in the front matter and the back matter of your book.

2.99 is fine for launch as well, as is KU.

As for your ads...
Ad platforms take time and money to master. Concentrate on learning one, before branching out. For most of us, that one is AMS. (Amazon).
You can easily set up one category ad (wherein Amazon advertises your book in your general category, like UF, Thriller, etc.). Then set up one auto target ad where Amazon chooses the targets. These are quick and easy and a good way of gathering data for future ads/keywords. Then, set up some manual targeting ads using books/authors whose readers you strongly believe will like your book.

CAVEATS: Your amazon keywords, blurb, and categories need to be spot on from the start--for lots of reasons--but especially to get AMS ads to serve. That metadata is teaching Amazon who to show your book to, who your audience is. So it matters. David Gaughran's Amazon Decoded is good for explaining this in more depth. Also, don't spend a ton on bids for Amazon ads. Ignore the suggested bids and stick with something under 40 cents a click.

Take it from me, take the time to get that stuff right.

Now, sometimes I break my own advice. When I launched a new series as a nobody, I also ran $30/week of Bookbub test ads for 3 weeks. My targets were only the authors I wanted in my Also Bought section on my Amazon product page (see: showing Amazon who your audience is). This really helped my launch. From the Amazon side, and by making me take the time to really think about who my audience was.

Random thoughts:
Running all those different ad sites all at once might be confusing. It's always best to try one new thing at a time, so you know what's actually working. If you start out of the gate with AMS, Bookbub and Facebook, will you know where the sales are actually coming from? It isn't always clear.

Also, if you would like to launch with reviews, BookSprout has a free version of their Arc service. You can get up to 20 reviewers for free. So that is an option for you if you're worried about launching with a couple of reviews.

Your other questions:
Yes. The promo sites are really only worth the $ for a 99 cent or free book. You can use your Kindle countdown deal days for this in the future. These sales sites aren't really effective at full price, as people sign up looking for discounted books.

Preorders: There's really no wrong or right answer for preorders. I did a short, 7 day one for my new series/no name launch. And that was helpful just so I could get an ASIn and the link to the Amazon product page, and start sharing it before the book went live. It also gave me time to tinker around with product page/author page, etc. before it went live.

Good luck!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Getting reviews
« on: September 06, 2020, 06:46:41 am »
KatyRW, can I just say, "OMG. Awesome profile photo!"

And don't worry TOO much about reviews. Reviews are a result of sales, they don't magically create sales. And the whole "You need 50 reviews to X" rumors flying around are just that, rumors.

If you focus on everything else, the reviews will follow. Finish the book. Get a good cover. Make sure your keywords, categories, and blurb are on point. Set up a mailing list, plan some sort of book launch, even if it's modest. Reviews will trickle in.

If you really want to have something on that product page when you launch, Booksprout is easy and free for the first 20 people who claim your book. Try that. But seriously. Don't spend time chasing reviews at the expense of all the other things you need to be doing ahead of launch.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Weird Sales Numbers? Help...
« on: September 06, 2020, 06:31:43 am »
Anecdotally, it seems we are in the summer, back to school slump.
People in all of my writing groups and forums are talking about it.
This is a cyclical business. All we can do is carry on, working on new projects.

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I don't mind talking about writing to non-writers. What I dislike is talking about what I'm currently in the middle of writing. I also hate having someone try to stand over my shoulders and read what i'm typing. Leave me alone until it's done!

TOTALLY!
No one is allowed to see it until it's time to hit publish.

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Interesting. I haven't found this to be true at all. Maybe about the whole publishing thing (though my husband & friends have been helpful with that as well), but definitely not about writing. I've always talked over stories with my sister, husband, sons, friends, whoever. It's no different from talking about people you know, really. Also, many of my family/friends have much more imagination than I do.

But then, I don't really know "how it works" either. I just write stories.

ETA: The creative process really seems similar to other creative fields. I had a sister who was a designer--she was the one I talked most with about stories. I have one who's a choreographer. All of our processes, fears, feelings have been similar, right down to when the project really starts coming together & you get immersed, the need to try stuff until something works, the need to be alone in order to work, etc.

You are lucky to have creatives in the family. That makes a huge difference. I come from auto mechanics, computer geeks, HR people. The conversations are painful. They mean well, but they always ask me something so "HUH?" That I end up totally stumped. I can't think of the specifics off hand, but next time it happens, I will come back and post it here.

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My family is supportive, in that they encourage me to write and love when they see the royalties coming in and are happy for any success that I have.

Huge caveat, and this will sound mean at first but is important for sanity preservation: I do not talk about writing or any part of the process with people who are not writers. Because it's always painful. Normal people know nothing about how any of it works. ANY OF IT> And I've been on the receiving end of so many dumb, weird , left-field, stereotypes about writers from movies questions because people don't understand. I I just stop them and say, "sorry. I don't talk about writing. It's too hard to explain."

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Audible Plus
« on: September 04, 2020, 10:35:34 am »
When I look around, I don't see a whole lot of books included, and a lot of the ones that are come from dead authors. Not even all Audible Originals are included. It'll be interesting to see over time how this affects people's sales. As a listener, I switched to Plus as an alternative to cancelling entirely, since I have one credit and there's an upcoming book I'm waiting for, and last I checked, Audible doesn't let you keep credits you've already paid for if you cancel without using them. All/most of the books in Plus that I've marked to listen to are ones I didn't have enough interest in to listen to otherwise, and I still likely won't get to them. I'm hoping Plus will end up begin something that has more people coming up to it from "never buys audiobooks" than people coming down to it from "buys all their audiobooks". If you get what I mean.

This is an interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Watermark on paperback cover
« on: September 02, 2020, 05:06:31 am »
Yes that's right. I'm talking about what shows on screen in the Amazon store for the paperback. I know it doesn't appear on the printed copy. I don't particularly want it showing on screen either, and other authors seem to have found a way of getting rid of it.

Can you take a screenshot of it and post it here? I have never seen what you are referring to, but maybe we can get you better answers if we can see what you mean.

Also, is this in the US Amazon store? And does it appear on your ebook cover as well? And if not, are your paperback and ebook editions linked?

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Watermark on paperback cover
« on: September 01, 2020, 03:49:25 pm »
Where are you seeing this? What site? Amazon?

Could you possible screenshot this so we can all see?

That would help us help you.

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OMG. DUH!!!

Thank you so much!!

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Hi all.

I'm poking around the KDP dashboard. I need to generate a year-to-date 2020, and a full-year 2019 sales report for each of my titles on Amazon. But, I can only see the option to do monthly or only 90 days back.

Am I missing something?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Questions about preorders
« on: August 31, 2020, 01:32:45 pm »
Hey. Amazon has changed preorders so that

1. You can have a preorder live in the store for up to one year. and
2. You no longer need to upload any file at all--you can upload nothing-- when you set up the preorder. Of course, you still have to submit the final file about four days in advance or else the preorder will be cancelled. (There's a countdown clock in your dashboard.)

I hope that helps!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: What do you do when sales are slow?
« on: August 27, 2020, 10:51:45 am »
Keep writing.
Right now, I think sales are down overall. I'm not selling nearly as much, but my rank is fine, so I think everyone else is in the same boat. The late August summer sales slump is well document, so just plan for it every year.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Bookbub gained me so many reviews!
« on: August 22, 2020, 07:47:52 am »
I wish there were more options for those of us in the humor and comedy genres!

I have noticed Bookbub is featuring more fiction, and more comedy fantasy fiction in the humor category lately.

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