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Messages - Hasbeen

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Writers' Cafe / Re: What drives readers price or story?
« on: September 15, 2020, 09:32:15 am »
First to clear up some confusion. I listed the types of books I had written simply to demonstrate that I had some experience in this business but am still struggling along. I use pen names for my fiction. I write in two very different genres and use different pen names for each of the genres. When you search one of my pen names none of the other genre books come up. I decided to focus on the sci fi it is my most successful by far. The first in the series had 250 plus reviews while the others have 30 to 50. They are years old but I just finished the series with a new release this year. 

I had a year long gap in producing any books due to medical problems and am trying to kick start my sales sci fi sales while while I write more.  The first series are priced at 3.99. The other series are shorter each book is between 50,000 and 60,000 words. They are dystopian sci fi and when I looked at the genre I saw a number were about that same length. They are 2.99.

I've tried pricing the first one in the the series at .99 and haven't seen any sell through. I've done some advertising using the usual suspects. They still just sit there with few new buys. I followed the relaunch strategy and replaced the covers and rewrote the blurbs. I saw a small increase in sales but nothing big or steady. 

My original question was too broad I think. It should have been how do you work your back catalogs to increase sales? Especially when you've had a gap in production. 

Writers' Cafe / Re: What drives readers price or story?
« on: September 14, 2020, 07:29:15 pm »
As far as cover and blurb. I always use a professional cover and the blurb I work hard at it and study other blurbs in the genre.

I've got everything from a textbook, to non-fiction and a couple of different fiction genre's. My sci fi are the money makers. I've got two series one five books and one three books plus a couple of stand alones. In addition I have two bundles of the two series.

I'm working on another sci fi series now but I'm trying to figure out how to make my sci fi catalogue perform better while I work at producing more books. 

Writers' Cafe / What drives readers price or story?
« on: September 14, 2020, 03:38:44 pm »
I have back catalogue that just seems to sit there. I have five star or four and three quarters reviews across the board.

I've tried dropping the price on the first book in my series. No big jump in sales for it or the series. I've done promotions but they still stumble along.

There have been a lot of threads about dropping the price of the first in a series but that did not work even with advertising.

The market is getting more and more crowded. What have you found that works to keep your catalogue working for you. I know writing more books works but how do I work my catalogue?

I beginning to think that story or subject matter is more important than pricing. Times are a changing.

The fifteen minute audition is the last part of the process of selecting a narrator, so it is their last chance to get the gig. You can still cancel but if you accept it then you are stuck with them for the whole book.

When i did my first book I didn't know that the fifteen minute audition was the last part of the audition and that I could say no. If I had I would have said no but I didn't and because of the way he did the book and I cringe when I hear it. It hasn't done well.

Remember this is a business and they should understand that. This is an audition and if you say yes they become your creative partner. The narrator is as important as the words on the page. Listeners rate both the story and the narrator in their reviews. Look at some of the reviews and you will see how important a narrator is.

It is not always an easy choice. This is from someone who made the mistake.

50 Shades is probably the most successful fanfic example (via Twilight). There are others.

I think where the benefit of being on one of these platforms is not in translating free readers there to paying readers but rather the honing of the craft, the immediate feedback from fans on those sites, and the knowledge that what you're putting out there is for public consumption. It's a "for real" place to publish where strangers will see your work, and that results in a different manuscript, sometimes, than one remaining only on the new writer's hard drive.

It's also a place where young authors feel free to fail. There's little risk in posting a half-baked book anonymously. Tons of books are started and abandoned online, then deleted only to have new ones started. Young writers producing for an audience try harder. After a while, (and lots of polishing), they may throw a book onto Amazon for the first time and make some money.

Another benefit is for those over age 30 or so to check out what the young folks are reading for entertainment. I am a fan of Royal Road, and I keep up with a couple titles over there. Web novels are perpetual, with new releases every week, and the author receives monthly support from Patreon users. It's a different model, but it does work for some. Others use Royal Road and Wattpad for different reasons, as mentioned.

Using Wattpad as research into what young readers are reading for entertainment sounds like a very good tool for understanding that audience. That is something that I had not thought of and it is certainly a look into an audience if you write  in that genre or are considering it. That kind of tool is rare. 

I tried it and couldn't get any views on my weekly posts. I got the impresson that the only way to get followers there is to be active in the writing forums and commenting on other peoples writing. And most of the people writing in those forums are very young and new to the craft.

Great place if you're a teen who's just getting started. And established authors who already have fans seem to do okay. Didn't work for me.

In short, it seems like a very good example of the social media rule of thumb: The best social media to promote your books is the one you're already using.

Yeah social media can be a mixed bag unless you know exactly what your doing. In the research I did, they did mention that it was mostly teenagers who posted stories. They also said if you wanted to create a following you needed to be active in the forums. The successes that were mentioned seemed to have been in the early days of Wattpad. So for us indies already publishing it might not be worth the time and effort.

I like Wattpad but quickly sank out of sight over there. I had much better success at Royal Road (fantasy site, mostly). They post new chapter updates on their home page, so you get some visibility if you make frequent updates. Without a fanbase willing to donate to Patreon, it's not very lucrative. But, it can provide a way to pull in a new audience and polish your craft.

Thanks kind of what I thought the experience might be.

I did some research on Wattpad and apparently it's the largest story telling platform on the internet. Allows new or old authors to get 'noticed'. There are around 400 million stories published on Wattpad. The audience is primarily YA according to the stats. Wattpad has it's own publishing house and connection to the film industry.

From what I've been able to find out Margret Atwood and other established authors are associated with Wattpad and have published works on the platform. Publishers like Random House and HarperCollins are supposed to have found authors on Wattpad who they signed to contracts. Apparently Beth Reekies first published parts of the Kissing Booth on Wattpad and that ended up as a book and movie. 

With all of that said it would appear to be a possible platform for us indies to explore as a outlet for finding an audience. Yet I'm skeptical I'm not sure if you wouldn't get lost in the shuffle and might not be worth the time and effort. 

Has anybody tried it? If so what was your experience?

The first book I wrote was a textbook for Wiley. It is listed on Amazon and sells reasonably well for a textbook.

I decided not to use my real name to write in different genres that have nothing to do with my textbook.

So I decided to use a pen name for the fiction books because I thought if instructors and students saw I wrote unrelated fiction that it would hurt my textbook sales.

I write in sci fi mostly but have written a books in what I call the Nickolas Sparks genre and even book for children. Each have a different pen name.

I just finished a memoir that is doing well under my real name.

So I have had a couple of editors suggest that I put all my books under my real name and stop using the pen names. They reasoning was that it would only widen my exposure. I don't know if that is true or not.

Have any of you tried switching to your real name after using a pen name? If you have do you have any suggestions or experiences you can share. 

Well I just spent a half an hour on the phone with Amazon to try and get an answer to my concerns.

First the customer service representative says the letter stating that you have to add the paperback ASIN to a SPONSORED ad to see it's sales was never sent out. Which is strange since I just noticed at the top of the AMS campaign page there is a similar announcement.

Secondly and more importantly if you choose to have a CUSTOM ad that means one with a description of your book in the ad you can't add another ASIN to that campaign so your numbers will reflect only your Kindle sales. If you want to understand your paperback sales using a CUSTOM ad you have to create a separate ad campaign for that version of your book. The customer service rep said I would not be paying twice for having two separate ads. He said that I would not have to pay for the click on the version of the book. For example if they clicked on the Kindle version and saw it was in paperback then they could click on the paperback version and we wouldn't be charged.

The best I could figure out from his confusing explanations the Amazon rep gave me is your still paying for two campaigns if you use the CUSTOM ad I don't see how you wouldn't be paying twice. I do have a children's book that AMS says I sold none this month but BOOK REPORT shows I've sold a number of them. So AMS certainly is a gateway to paperback sales. But having two campaigns to doesn't make sense to me. It feels as if they as squeezing us for more advertising money.

It is the same with the book I started this thread with BOOK REPORT shows me selling more books than AMS. So AMS is only showing my Kindle sales. To figure out your ROI will take you trying compare numbers from two different programs to get a good answer on your advertising.

In my experience advertising your Kindle version is a gateway to paperback sales. I don't think people search by just books or just Kindle. I think they just search for a Kindle and it always comes up first. If anyone else has a different experience let me know.

Then there is the SPONSORED ad vs the CUSTOM ad. With the sponsored ad only the cover shows up no description of the book. Unless you have a very special cover or title I think that will not get the clicks or sales a CUSTOM ad does with it's brief description.

So you are stuck with choosing either a CUSTOM or SPONSORED ad or paying for two CUSTOM campaigns if you want to understand your Kindle and paperback sales.

So with all that said. I may do a short SPONSORED ad for one of my books just to see if it's worth it. I also my trying the two CUSTOM ads to see the cost of that.

Amazon just made things a lot more confusing and difficult for us independent  authors to understand our advertising costs. Something I think is hugely important for us little guys.

I just checked the ad and sure enough it is only showing the ASIN of the Kindle and does not include the paperback sales. I spent twenty minutes trying to figure how to add the paperback ASIN equivalent to the ad but I can't find out how.

No wonder all the sales numbers are off. Anybody know how to add the paperback ASIN to the add? Or do I have to redo the add from the beginning?


I had not heard of ACOS only counting Kindle purchases and not counting paperback buys.

If that is true there is no way to really understand how effective your advertising is on Amazon.

I've struggled with ads on AMS for years and never got one as effective as this ad before. So I'm at a loss. It was my bestselling book by far right now.

If AMS and Facebook don't work as I've read here many times then what is left to do. Just throwing out there and hoping for the best is not a strategy in today's market. How do you get attention to your book?

An editor I've used said she is booked months in advance now because as she said 'everybody' is writing a book. I wonder if that could be part of the problem, the simple fact that so many books are hitting the market now.

It's number 20 in Emergency Medicine Kindle and number 78 in Emergency Medicine Books. I have a paperback. Overall it's barely in the top 99 thousand and change in the Kindle store.

I'm not sure there is much room for change in targeting or keywords. Paramedics, EMTs, firefighters are the audience. It is a fairly specific genre.

My most successful campaign on AMS ever has been rolling along for over a year. It's a non-fiction book so you know what genre it is in. It's got 81 five stars on Amazon and over 200 five star on Audible. So it's not like it's a non-performer.

As I learned on this board when something is working well don't touch it. The ACOS was sitting around 20%, CPC was in the low .20 and I was selling a good number of books for the type it is for well over a year. 

Suddenly it has stopped working. The ACOS is now over 200% but the CPC is still around .22.

Is AMS doing something different? Or has the campaign run it course? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

I've read here stopping then restarting it after a while has worked but I frankly am puzzled. I don't trust AMS and use it sparingly.

Writers' Cafe / Re: AMS problem
« on: May 12, 2020, 11:40:11 am »
Ok a big smash my palm into my forehead for being so slow. I've never played with the date range for my data. Somehow it had been changed and now was only reflecting this month.

Writers' Cafe / Re: AMS problem
« on: May 12, 2020, 11:33:31 am »
No I have checked my date range. I've never used that before.  I'll do that thanks for the tip.

It does freak me out more than a little bit. 

Writers' Cafe / AMS problem
« on: May 12, 2020, 09:57:27 am »
I've been advertising using AMS for a couple years. All of a sudden all the previous data on campaigns is gone. They are literally blank.

In addition the campaigns I am running suddenly have lost most it's data. I went from over a million views, thousands of clicks to 25,000 plus views and a few hundred clicks.

When I tried to call the KDP help line they just said due to the virus they can't answer any calls. Then they hang up.

All my advertising data is gone. There have been no hiccups in payment or anything else.

Has anybody else run into this problem?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Reedit an early book in a series
« on: April 10, 2020, 11:34:28 am »
Thanks. I didn't pay for more than pure editing grammar etc.

I have been at the a few years now and still surprised at editors not only their work but their attitudes. The one that changed so much I had to redo her edits made me sign a contract before she began work. So you live and learn in this business that's for sure.

Writers' Cafe / Reedit an early book in a series
« on: April 10, 2020, 10:03:44 am »
The first book in my series get's bad reviews because of the editing. The repeated comments say I needed to get it edited. It has 250 reviews and overall a four star book.

This was my first book and I had it edited, twice but apparently neither were very good. I was a brand new author and depended on the editors to fix my grammar, punctuation etc. I'm lousy at it.  My fault of course but it is hard to find a good editor. I have had several bad experiences with editors accepting their own changes before I saw them, angry if I asked any questions about their editing, to making changes in the book that went beyond just grammar, punctuation etc. 

My question is this is a years old book but it is the first in the series. I'm getting ready to release one last book in the series and want to promote the series again.

Is it worth the time and money to fix the editing in this book? Should I send it to a new editor and then republish or leave it and go on.

I can highly recommend C.B. for your editing needs. I sent her a simple sample to see if I wanted to use her for the whole book. She saw things in that small sample that convinced me to hire her for a full developmental edit. I couldn't be happier with her work and suggestions for my book. So if you're looking for a good editor who works with you then I recommend C.B.

Writers' Cafe / Re: book report
« on: March 22, 2020, 08:21:01 am »
Mine is still not working. I got in a circle. It asks me to log in with Amazon and asks me again to do the same.

My only other suggestion is to read books in the genre to get a feel for how they flow and maybe you'll see something wrong with yours.

The good news is the book will still be there when you can afford a developmental editor. It's not going anywhere unless you don't save it on different devices and you have an oops (heaven forbid!). Keep writing and you might find your growth as an author lets you finally see where this one is failing. If not, then pay for the developmental editor.

Thanks for the encouragement. I will put it aside and go on with other books.

Thanks for the advise to walk away from it for a while and come back to it or not working on it then trying again. I finished it several months ago and when I recently went back through it is when i realized I might need a developmental help.

So yes I've been working in a completely different genre and let sit hoping it was just the fatigue of finishing a book then going back over it to clean it up. No I think I need help this time.

My big issue is the money it's surprising how expensive developmental editors are I understand it now and why it's expensive but that doesn't change the numbers. A lot of food for thought.

Stuff like line editing and copyediting is something that can be done linearly. You do a "round" where you start from the top and work your way to the bottom (typically). You rarely need to go back and reassess things unless you made a mistake or you noticed a pattern and need to change something. Some editors read the manuscript first, others don't. For the most part, a copyeditor is someone you could say no more than a single email to and they'll still do a good job. They get the manuscript, they make the changes, they send the manuscript back. Sometimes there'll be a Q&A with the author, but for the most part, it's a straight line from start to finish. Line editing can be more complex but can largely end up following that same straight line so long as major rewriting/revision isn't necessary.

This isn't so with developmental editing, which is far more invasive and far more collaborative. Developmental editing involves a lot of back and forth. The editor will need to read your manuscript at least once, sometimes multiple times, leaving notes during each read-through. Then they need to dissect your overarching ideas and concepts, figure out if they fit right, and if not, figure out a better way. A developmental editor can read each chapter several times during a dev edit, with each read coming with more notes, more changes, more questions. If the developmental editor takes on a coaching role, they'll also work with you during revision to actualize some of their suggestions with your feedback. And this developmental editor will regularly find themselves reading, say, Chapter 18, and then realizing they need to go back and re-read Chapter 5 to make sure things are connecting as they should. It's not linear. There is no straight line.

In other words, developmental editing takes a lot of time. Even if the editor in question has perfected the formula for a to-market book in your genre, actually conveying their thoughts, highlighting passages, making changes, and so on, takes time. You're paying for that time, but also for the expertise that comes along with it.

This is the best explanation of how a developmental edit works that I have seen. It also helps me understand the reasoning behind the difference in pricing. There is significantly work involved. Thanks for the explanation it will help me make a decision.

As I said before I have never felt the need for a developmental edit but this book is different and I think it needs it. Someone suggested reworking it myself. I've tried and something is off. This is the first time I have written a book and felt this way about the plot and characters. I care about this one. I understand I'm not writing the next great book I view myself as a pulp fiction kind of guy but I want to get this one right.

Any more feedback would be much appreciated.

Thanks it is a help. I'm surprised at how much more a developmental edit costs than a edit. It would seem to me that editing and looking at the details would take more time and effort than reading for plot and character development.

Then again that is why I used editors. I know what I can do and what I can't do well.

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