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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys

I come for advice.

I have four books ready to publish: three novels and a collection of short pieces. My plan so far is to give the first book away for free — the collection, that is — to build up my list. Then I was thinking to publish the novels one every three months after that.

The first one I’m looking to launch at the beginning of December. I'm going to offer a big discount on second copies — printed copies — for people who’d enjoyed the book and might want to give it as a Christmas present. I’m hoping it’s that kind of book — mostly funny; kind of a stocking filler.

Aside from that, I’ve got no idea really how best to market the books, or price them.

Unfortunately the novels are completely unrelated. One is a supernatural erotic thriller about a 200-year-old woman who gives lethal orgasms; one is a family saga-cum-road trip with two estranged brothers coming together over buried treasure and Mafia connections; one is the story of an Amsterdam tour guide who is obsessed by inconsiderate people and sociopaths, and becomes a reluctant vigilante.

I think I’m going to try with Bookbub for the novels.

Any advice at all — including any unmissable articles or websites dealing with self-publishing — will be incredibly gratefully received.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Write 4 books in a series to start.
Pay whatever you need to ensure all books in-series have market-standard covers.
Make sure the blurbs are professional quality.
Release book 1 once you've started writing book 4.
Finish book 4. Start writing book 5.
28 days after releasing book 1, release book 2.
Finish book 5. Start writing book 6.
28 days after releasing book 2, release book 3.
Finish book 6. Start writing book 7.
28 days after releasing book 3, release book 4.
Upon book 4's release, start advertising book 1.
Finish book 7. Start writing book 8.
28 days after releasing book 4, release book 5. Keep advertising book 1.
Rinse, repeat. With each subsequent book's release in-series, keep up the advertising on book 1.
Once you get to 9 releases, determine how many books you want to write in this series, what's the ROI, is it worth continuing, etc.

ymmv
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Corvid said:
Write 4 books in a series to start.
Thanks for your advice, Corvid. Unfortunately, I have four books that are not in a series. I'm asking for advice for the best ways to market the books I have written rather than throwing them out and starting again.
 

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Are they at least in the same genre? Or with a little tweaking, could they be in the same genre? Could your brothers be two vampires who know lethal orgasm woman? Could the Amsterdam tour guide be some kind of supernatural? If they could, I'd make the characters cross over, and voila! you have a series. 

There's really not a lot of advice anyone can give you about marketing 4 books that are in 4 different genres, except, don't do it (and while that's useful for the next go-around, it's too late for that now.) Even if Bookbub accepts your book, it's unlikely to help - there's a very small minority of readers willing to follow authors across genres, and there's not enough of them to make your Bookbub profitable.

 

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KP_Webster said:
Thanks for your advice, Corvid. Unfortunately, I have four books that are not in a series. I'm asking for advice for the best ways to market the books I have written rather than throwing them out and starting again.
Yes, I understood what you meant. You also said "any advice at all" in your OP.

Honestly, if you're aiming to make a living at this, and not throwing good money after bad, you'd be best served by starting again. Write 4 full-length novels in-series, etc etc, as per above.

I get that starting again seems daunting, and a waste, BUT - trust me - you will get farther faster doing that than you will trying to do what you're trying to do with four books not in-series.
 

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First, I suggest you decide what your goal is.

If your goal is to make a career out of indie authorship and make enough money to live on, genre fiction series are the way to go.

If your goal is to follow your muse and passions and write to those passions, and hope for success along the way, and you don't care much about sales and money, then simply publish.

If your goal is somewhere between the two, I suggest you do as Tara said and try to brand these together. Rather than a chronological series, they will be more like some of the traditional authors like Stephen King or Dean Koontz, where their books were often unrelated but you always knew more or less what you were getting.  something like that. Make the covers look similar in general tone and try to create something to bring them all together--so that when someone looks at your author page, it looks like a brand rather than a mishmash of stuff. Brands inspire confidence in the author/publisher and entice readers into believing that if they like one, they will like them all. Readers want to discover something or someone once, then keep going back to that well. They get tired of endlessly trying something new. That's why the Patterson brand works, even though many are not written by Patterson himself. Consistency and confidence in the brand.

I'd say if you want sales success from this group of standalones, you must work to establish a strong brand. And don't worry about a bit of puffery, as long as you're not lying. Fake it till you make it. "KP Webster, Master of the Supernatural," something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
TaraCrescent said:
Are they at least in the same genre? Or with a little tweaking, could they be in the same genre?
Ha! It's a nice idea but no, it's really not something I'm prepared to do.

TaraCrescent said:
...there's a very small minority of readers willing to follow authors across genres, and there's not enough of them to make your Bookbub profitable.
And yeah, that's what I'm after.

Bugger.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Corvid said:
Yes, I understood what you meant. You also said "any advice at all" in your OP.

Honestly, if you're aiming to make a living at this, and not throwing good money after bad, you'd be best served by starting again. Write 4 full-length novels in-series, etc etc, as per above.

I get that starting again seems daunting, and a waste, BUT - trust me - you will get farther faster doing that than you will trying to do what you're trying to do with four books not in-series.
You may well be right, but I still have to try with what I've got first. And if it is a total failure, I will try with the series thing.

Actually, the last of the four books is crying out for a sequel, so I guess at least that can be the first of a series.

Thanks for your time and thoughts. It is appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
David VanDyke said:
First, I suggest you decide what your goal is.

If your goal is to make a career out of indie authorship and make enough money to live on, genre fiction series are the way to go.

If your goal is to follow your muse and passions and write to those passions, and hope for success along the way, and you don't care much about sales and money, then simply publish.

If your goal is somewhere between the two, I suggest you do as Tara said and try to brand these together. Rather than a chronological series, they will be more like some of the traditional authors like Stephen King or Dean Koontz, where their books were often unrelated but you always knew more or less what you were getting. something like that. Make the covers look similar in general tone and try to create something to bring them all together--so that when someone looks at your author page, it looks like a brand rather than a mishmash of stuff. Brands inspire confidence in the author/publisher and entice readers into believing that if they like one, they will like them all. Readers want to discover something or someone once, then keep going back to that well. They get tired of endlessly trying something new. That's why the Patterson brand works, even though many are not written by Patterson himself. Consistency and confidence in the brand.

I'd say if you want sales success from this group of standalones, you must work to establish a strong brand. And don't worry about a bit of puffery, as long as you're not lying. Fake it till you make it. "KP Webster, Master of the Supernatural," something like that.
Thank you.

Unfortunately I'm not prepared to cross-fertilise them, so they're definitely standalones.

I'm definitely making sure they share a strong visual brand though. I ordered the covers today.

Yeah, everything you say makes sense. I definitely want to make a living from indie authorship, so I will start thinking about a genre fiction series. I think I've probably been following my muse for far too long. At least, exclusively.

Cheers!
 

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Don't merely write to trend or even market if that kills your muse. I've made a living as an indie for the last 6 years because I happened to write a saga of 17 books I was passionate about, then another saga of 6 so far, along with some other things. Those have been my bread and butter as far as sales and earnings.

So, try to write a story you've been wanting to write, but something that doesn't have to end with one book.

In fact, does any of your current three lend itself to sequels or prequels? you could expand that.

Or something new--but preferably within the same broad genre (supernatural horror and sci-fi suspense?). the key is to keep gibving your readers more of the same but different, and keeping yourself interested and enthusiastic to write what you love.
 

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ok since the books are unrelated there's no point in giving one of them away for free-- i say Don't Do That

i've also not heard great things about Bookbub for Literary Genre, which i assume is your genre (altho i love Bookbub for my commercial genres)

instead, i'd be hitting very heavily on making the books look like trad pub books + AMS/FB/BB clicky ads

my go-to price for standalones is $4.99 (you gotta pay for those ads)

for the erotica one you can go a little higher if you package a little classier
 

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At least don't use the same author name. The books seem to be too varied to have a good future being on one pen name. Honestly, it pays to research before you write, as self publishing is hard enough without making mistakes you don't have to.

I'm not big on the "write to market" deal, but some things hold true:  you have to stick to the genre norms, the covers have to work along side those of similar books (cover is the first sales tool, it signals genre and tone), and you have to write blurbs, AKA back cover copy, that will make people try the sample, and the sample has to make people hit that buy button (or the KU download button).

Stand alone books can work, if they're similar in genre and tone, but it's harder to sell them. The biggest readers seem to be those for series (not me, I dislike them, but I'm weird). Shorts and collections are hard to sell, they don't really build your fan base, at least before you actually have one.

It's not easy to get a Bookbub, so prepare yourself to use other sources for ads. Free books can still work, but it's tricky.

All in all, listen to David. He knows the score, he won't set you on the wrong path.
 

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Listen. Yes, the going advice is write in series. And there are reasons for that from a marketing perspective. BUT. This is your career. There are many paths up the mountain. You choose which way to go. You don't have to go back and rewrite stories you're already happy with. Maybe keep the series advice in the back of your head for your next new future projects.

Also: Keep in mind your first books are the learning books. Self pub has a steep learning curve. These first couple of books and launches are the ones where you will learn the business. How to advertise. How to write blurbs. How to manage your Amazon keywords and categories. All of that. Your goal should be to learn as much as you can, make the launch of book one as good as it can be, and then take all you've learned--the mistakes, the triumphs-- and make the next launch a little better. And the one after that a little better. That's how you build your career: each book, each launch, a little better than the one before it.

Every book is a brick. An author career is built on a wall of bricks, which is your backlist.

As for the ones you already have. Give them the best chance for success possible. Edit them, give them the best keywords, genre-appropriate covers, and the best blurbs as you can. Launch a small budget AMS ad campaign.
Don't rush to launch. Take the time to learn. There are a lot of resources out there, many of them free.

Bryan Cohen has a FREE Amazon ad challenge that is a great introduction to the Amazon ad platform, which IMHO is the first one you should learn and master.

David Gaughran has a lot of helpful books like "Amazon Decoded" and "Strangers to Superfans." As well as a free introduction to self publishing course. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=david+gaughran

Self Publishing Formula has a Youtube Channel with tons of great guests and topics.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5Qu8GvA0lUm3GmzBqmmfeg

And if you have a collection you are willing to give away for free, do it. BUT only do it as a reader magnet for a mailing list sign up. Don't give it away for nothing and just hope people will read on. No. require a mailing list sign up. Services like Story Origin and Bookfunnel exist just for this. Or, just put it up along with a sign up form on your web site.

Do not underestimate the value of a mailing list. I did in the beginning, and now I'm playing catch up!

Good luck!
 

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KP_Webster said:
Ha! It's a nice idea but no, it's really not something I'm prepared to do.
So, are you saying you have four standalone novels and a collection of short stories that are all different genres? If that is the case, you'll get little or no read through and that is what makes the money. If you're not interested in making them the same genre, you are going to have to write more books in each of your four genres and that will take time. I would also suggest different pen names for each genre.

Of course, you can try them as they are, but if you are going to do that, I think you should release one a month, not every three months. The thing is, if one book does well, people look to see what else you've got to offer. If they don't see anything they are looking for, they move on to someone else and by the time you've caught up, they've forgotten all about you.

This business is too competitive to be jumping around.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
David VanDyke said:
...does any of your current three lend itself to sequels or prequels? you could expand that.

Or something new--but preferably within the same broad genre (supernatural horror and sci-fi suspense?). the key is to keep giving your readers more of the same but different, and keeping yourself interested and enthusiastic to write what you love.
The last one is ripe for sequels. I'm making notes on the second book already, yes.

Unfortunately, supernatural horror and sci-fi suspense are not really my thing. I only wrote the immortal sex-lady book because someone sent me an article about Amanda Hocking and I got angry.

Anyway, thank you for your thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
nightwork said:
ok since the books are unrelated there's no point in giving one of them away for free-- i say Don't Do That

i've also not heard great things about Bookbub for Literary Genre, which i assume is your genre (altho i love Bookbub for my commercial genres)

instead, i'd be hitting very heavily on making the books look like trad pub books + AMS/FB/BB clicky ads

my go-to price for standalones is $4.99 (you gotta pay for those ads)

for the erotica one you can go a little higher if you package a little classier
I've already set that ball a'rolling I'm afraid. The free ball, that is.

There seems to be a general feeling here that readers are not particularly interested in writers, only in stories. I have to believe that there are still enough readers out there, however, who will follow a writer they like through different genres.

I guess I'll see.

Thanks for your thoughts.
 

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KP_Webster said:
I've already set that ball a'rolling I'm afraid. The free ball, that is.

There seems to be a general feeling here that readers are not particularly interested in writers, only in stories. I have to believe that there are still enough readers out there, however, who will follow a writer they like through different genres.

I guess I'll see.

Thanks for your thoughts.
As a reader, one of my favourite authors has always been Peter James. But a few years ago, he changed from horror to a detective series. I read one, because it was Peter James, but no more. He still writes the odd horror novel, which I will read, but there are better detective writers; I don't think we need another one.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
unkownwriter said:
At least don't use the same author name. The books seem to be too varied to have a good future being on one pen name. Honestly, it pays to research before you write, as self publishing is hard enough without making mistakes you don't have to.
Why would it be better to release four unrelated books under four different names? I don't understand that. Even if you're correct in your assumption that nobody is going to like anything I write enough to want to read anything else I've written, but where's the advantage to four entirely separate books?
 

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KP_Webster said:
Why would it be better to release four unrelated books under four different names? I don't understand that. Even if you're correct in your assumption that nobody is going to like anything I write enough to want to read anything else I've written, but where's the advantage to four entirely separate books?
Nobody is making that assumption. All four of your books could be excellent, but that will make little difference if nobody ever sees them, will it? I don't think you realise how many millions of books are on Amazon; some of them are sheer junk, others are wonderful. But if nobody knows they are there, nobody is going to discover you or your books.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
DmGuay said:
Listen. Yes, the going advice is write in series. And there are reasons for that from a marketing perspective. BUT. This is your career. There are many paths up the mountain. You choose which way to go. You don't have to go back and rewrite stories you're already happy with. Maybe keep the series advice in the back of your head for your next new future projects.
Yep. Doing exactly that.

DmGuay said:
Don't rush to launch. Take the time to learn. There are a lot of resources out there, many of them free....
Excellent. Thanks for that.

DmGuay said:
And if you have a collection you are willing to give away for free, do it. BUT only do it as a reader magnet for a mailing list sign up. Don't give it away for nothing and just hope people will read on. No. require a mailing list sign up.
Yep. Currently I have this.

Thank you for your thoughts.
 
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