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Messages - erikhanberg

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51
Writers' Cafe / How I revamped a dying two-year old book
« on: January 26, 2016, 09:42:55 am »
I always enjoy reading these kinds of stories in the Writers Cafe, and since this community has been so helpful to me as I write these books, I thought I should share my own turn-around story.

So here was my problem.

Back in late 2013, I released The Lead Cloak, a science fiction book that I already billed as Book I in a trilogy. Unlike some of the incredibly fast paced writers on this site, my writing speed is slow, so I was releasing the book with only 5 pages of Book II written.

I was really happy with it though, and sales kicked off modestly well. 59 the first month, 96 the second, 50 the third, 108 the fourth (my first month of a real promotion).

And then sales really started to drop. I had a high price ($4.99 for 100,000 words) and from the readers that actually read it, I heard great things. I knew I had something, but didn't worry about the marketing and focused on writing Book II.

Slow pace, new child, and suddenly it was May of 2015 by the time I finished the first draft of Book II, almost two years later. That same month, I'd sold just a single copy of The Lead Cloak.

One copy, and I'd just spent years working on a sequel. Who was going to read the sequel if they hadn't read the first book?

I started to get really clinical in my assessment of what needed to be done. I believed I had a good book. (Two good books!) But how to sell them?

I turned to the two most common tools we have for these things: price and cover.

Cover

Thanks to the commenters here, they confirmed what I was already realizing: my covers weren't the right genre for a science fiction adventure. They had a certain old-time sci-fi feel, but it wasn't obvious. And for a book with big action and global stakes, I needed to be obvious. So I found a new cover designer (Rachel, also on this forum) and set out to match cover to reader expectations. (New covers in signature)

Price and Promotions

First, I decided to set a low cover price for Book II. So I settled on $3.99 there. With a highly discounted Book I price.

I was able to get The Lead Cloak into a sci-fi Storybundle. I was in the second ever StoryBundle, so I knew it was effective, and I had some amount of relationship with the site. I was ready to assemble a bundle myself if I came to it, but I was included in another bundle. That was the anchor for my pricing and promotional strategy:

  • As soon as Book II of the trilogy was ready for pre-order in October, I dropped the price of Book I to $0.99.
  • A few weeks later, it went into a "pay what you want" bundle.
  • A few weeks after that, I was able to secure a BookBub (after several previous attempts with the old cover, so clearly the old cover had a lot to do with this) and made The Lead Cloak permafree, which is its status now.

The result:

In three months, I've sold more than twice the number of copies of Book I that I'd sold in two years. Even with the book in permafree as of January 1, I had a good number of sales from the Whispersync for Voice matching with the audiobook, which was a welcome surprise.
Nearly 45,000 free downloads of Book I in the last few weeks, thanks to BookBub.

  • Reviews more than doubled, from 22 to 52.
  • I added 70 addresses to my email newsletter.
  • I got 195 pre-orders of Book II at $3.99.

I know a lot of people don't like pre-order, and I totally get it. But for where I was right now, I felt like it was the thing I needed to really help Book I sell. I'm not sure all of those things would have been as effective if Book II wasn't even out. AND, I didn't want to wait for Book II to get out before doing the promotions. I felt like it would have led to a really slow first 30 days for Book II. Instead, I feel like I'm primed to have a lot of sales over the next 30 days.

We'll have to see how that goes for the real report on Book II, but the way Book I shot up makes me very hopeful.

It wasn't a lot of re-tinkering, but with some good planning and reader-focused changes to price and cover, I was really able to kickstart this all-but-dead book into something kind of cool!

I truly don't know if I would even be in a place to have diagnosed my problem, let alone fixed it, if it weren't for all the wisdom everyone has shared here. Thank you!
 

52
I had a three-pack of my mystery series in BookBub in similar circumstances: it had low reviews but the other books in the series had high positive reviews and two had been accepted.

I secured a $0.99 promo (wide).

4358 sales the first month
24 the next
20
19
12
...

Effect on sales of the other books was meh.

I got a nice payday out of it! But little lingering effect. I hope that helps!

53
Writers' Cafe / Re: How does KOLL pay if you're not in Select?
« on: January 13, 2016, 08:23:26 pm »
Wow, it was only in Select for 3 months in 2014. KU1. There's a really carry over for that long?

54
Writers' Cafe / How does KOLL pay if you're not in Select?
« on: January 13, 2016, 07:41:05 pm »
I feel like I should know this, but I just can't track it down. I had a permafree book really take off (thanks to a BookBub). The column for KENC shows 90. But since it's not in KU, I assume those are KOLL? And if that's true how does that payout?

Let me know if anyone knows how this works! Thanks.

55
Writers' Cafe / Re: What's "ideal" schedule when releasing a trilogy
« on: January 11, 2016, 01:56:26 pm »
I published Book I of my trilogy in October 2013. Book II comes out in two weeks. Faster than that. ;)

56
Writers' Cafe / Re: ENT Book of the Day submissions- 2016 style
« on: January 06, 2016, 03:01:35 pm »
Does ENT accept permafree submissions for BOTD? Does anyone know?

57
I don't know what percentage is fair because it is determined by a whole bunch of factors. My very short musings:

Whoever takes the majority of the financial risk should get the majority of rewards.
Whoever brings the biggest audience should be rewarded for that.
Whoever will be managing ongoing sales, pricing, and marketing should have incentives, likely tied to performance.

58
I write mysteries, nonfiction, and sci-fi (see signature below). There's a lot to be gleaned from what fantasy and romance authors are doing, and plenty of other mystery and sci-fi authors here. Less nonfiction, it's true, but much of what works for the others can be helpful for nonfiction.

59
Writers' Cafe / Re: First BookBub! (Sci-Fi) - With numbers
« on: January 04, 2016, 09:14:49 pm »
It's interesting to compare your numbers to mine, since my sci-fi Bookbub ran on the 1st (a holiday) and yours ran on the 4th (the first Monday after a holiday).

I hit #4 in Amazon.com free store with only about 22,000 downloads for the whole day. Probably less competition that day than you have today.

But my tail has been pretty good. 3,700 downloads on the 2nd, 1500 on the 3rd, 1500 on the 4th.

I don't have the sequel published, it's in pre-orders, so my buy-though there has been much smaller than yours. But those are climbing steadily now.

As I said in my thread (that I think you commented on) the audiobook tie-ins have been awesome. Big returns there to make up for lower (initial) buy-through of Book II.

Anyway, congrats on the wild ride!

60
Belinda, can you elaborate further on ACX benefits, with specifics, please,  and are you doing the royalty share option?

I can answer some of this:

* Getting your book into audio gives you the option for added income, thanks to the Whispersync for Voice feature.
* It opens up possible sales in a new market (a market with fewer competitors, thanks to a higher barrier to entry).
* The market itself is interesting too because most people in it are on a subscription of some kind. So they aren't deciding between spending money on your book and not spending money on your book. They've spent the money. So if your book is the one they want to read right now, they'll probably do it.
* I've made more than a $1,000 from bounties from ACX. Most people won't have as many bounties (mine have all been from earned from nonfiction) but that's a great extra perk when it happens.
* Knowing a book will be read aloud makes me a better writer.

As to royalties, I paid someone in a local studio to produce the books for me for a flat fee. I get all the royalties with no split. One book still hasn't made back the cost, but the other three have done very well.

61
This is the first time I've run a Bookbub for a book I also had in audio. I was counting on earning the cost of the sponsorship back from pre-orders (and then sales after January 26) of Book II in the trilogy.

What I didn't count on was 269 audiobook sales in two days. The audiobook is published through ACX at the 50% revenue rate, so at $1.99 for the audiobook tie-in with the Kindle, that right there paid for Bookbub.

Additional download numbers for context: 26,000 downloads on Kindle, 8500 downloads between Nook and iTunes. I reached #4 in the free Kindle store and #6 in the free iTunes store. I'm guessing that since this was a January 1 promo that a lot of people weren't on email that day so it's possible I could have gotten higher on a different day. Alternatively, I'm probably seeing a longer tail as people check their email: I'm still at #16 in the free store!

Pretty happy with how it's gone, but if you didn't know about the extra boost from audiobook sales, here's another reason to try to get your book in audio before a Bookbub!

62
Writers' Cafe / Re: Technical question about running FREE promo
« on: January 03, 2016, 01:45:20 pm »
I unpublished from Nookpress and put it back through Smashwords, then made sure BB had the new link. Only way I know to do it.

63
Writers' Cafe / Re: Bookbub, Freebooksy etc - which do you use?
« on: December 16, 2015, 06:32:36 pm »
Search the forums and you'll find several lists of them and, for the big ones, threads about results for each one. Many people will get a big one and then stack little ones around it for maximum effect.

64
Writers' Cafe / Re: BookBub follow-up sales -- what to reasonably expect?
« on: December 06, 2015, 10:40:21 pm »
My bumps (all in mystery so far) have been very good, but they haven't taken off and gotten legs of their own. I think the consensus in these forums is that Amazon has changed their algorithms to keep BookBub from having too great a long tail. You will probably do great and earn a bunch of money and see heightened effects for a while. But you may want to take "turning point in your career" down a notch. ;)

65
Writers' Cafe / My new writing theory: raid the spam folder
« on: December 06, 2015, 10:30:44 pm »
While trying to think of a character name, I happened to check my email (because I'm easily distracted) and deleted a piece of spam from a Milten Mike. And then I thought: say... that's an interesting name.

Turns out there are loads of great names in here! Bertha Savage, Florence Mayer, Brigitte Justice...

I bet there's a whole novel in here if I dug deep enough.  ;)

66
Writers' Cafe / Re: Why does no one talk about Non Fiction?
« on: November 22, 2015, 10:59:10 am »
Selling nonfiction is a very different game than fiction.

For example, my nonfiction is incredibly niche. It sells substantially more in paperback than ebook. I barely have to market it and can still rely on it for a stable (but three-digit) income. A lot of the income potential comes from things other than book sales too. Consulting, coaching, and other services. I've had some great success with that.

Certainly at a base level, cover, mailing lists, categories, keywords is important. But it's not likely to spike like fiction can. The stable revenue from my nonfiction has been one of the main reasons I've had the motivation to keep writing fiction. It's been a real source of income for the last 5 years.

67
Writers' Cafe / Star Trek Friday
« on: November 20, 2015, 02:52:40 pm »
No one started the Star Trek Friday thread until 2:50 PM Pacific Time.

Did it really die after only its second week?



My writing these week. I revised a particularly thorny Chapter 1, so yay?


68
Writers' Cafe / Re: Star Trek Friday
« on: November 13, 2015, 10:59:50 am »
Sorry about that...here, have a space puppy.  It will make you feel better.



Space puppies make everything better.

69
Writers' Cafe / Re: Star Trek Friday
« on: November 13, 2015, 10:34:01 am »
Not a good writing week for me. Just checked: I wrote less than 500 words this week.


70
I am so down for Star Trek Friday. Every Friday until we get a new show!

71
Man, this thread went in an unusual direction.

Not to pile on, but...


72
Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Worlds Worthwhile?
« on: November 06, 2015, 11:25:08 am »
I loved the chance to write and publish in the Veronica Mars world. Sales are low but consistent. I want Amazon to put the books in KU (I feel like there would be a lot potential pages read there, and since they have to be exclusive to Amazon anyway, why not?)

73
My aunt Mildred emailed me. She heard something on CNN that Amazon is going to do this thing that will destroy everyone not in KDP Select. It was either about Amazon sending a plague of locusts to descend upon us from the heavens or altering their search algorithm slightly.

I wasn't quite clear what it was, but I'm already freaking out. Going to unpublish my books and wait out the storm. Wish me luck.

74
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Bookstore Opening November 3
« on: November 06, 2015, 07:46:48 am »
How can you identify a CreateSpace book just by looking at it? Unless you know who the author is and that they use CS? There are too many variables. Authors can use their own imprints. There's countless small presses. You could be surrounded by hundreds of CS books and not even know it.


I know hardcover books aren't CS. Books with raised lettering aren't either. After that it narrows the options. And in a bookstore with such small selection, that doesn't leave much.

POD bindings are different than traditionally published books, so I checked that. Also it is frequently tagged in the copyright page or back page. I also looked for publisher imprints. Not foolproof, since many indies set up a publisher name, but put together I felt pretty confident that in the several genres I checked I only found two. And those were in parenting and self-help.

My assumption is that Amazon is stocking based on paperback sales trends, not combined sales of Kindle books and paperback.

75
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Bookstore Opening November 3
« on: November 05, 2015, 11:07:23 pm »
After going to the store, I recorded a podcast with my co-host Brent Hartinger. We do our best to talk about "what it all means" if you're interested. Check it out:

http://mediacarnivores.com/whats-the-point-of-the-new-amazon-bookstore-episode-053/

Also, sorry to miss you, Stacy!

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