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I have a standalone that is my worst seller--as in no sells at all. I know that standalones are a bad idea, now anyway. But I have this book, and I want to do something with it. I have it on Instafreebie, and join giveaways once and a while, but is there something else I can do with it to get actual sells? Or am I stuck with giving it away for newsletter sign ups? Not that I mind the sign ups, I just wonder if there's something else good that can come of it.

I would like to make money with it, not just move copies. Despite that, I've tried $0.99, $2.99, and $6.99, and am about to try $3.99. It's got no reviews, despite trying to get some. It is a YA fantasy.

Do you have a standalone? Have you sold copies of a standalone? What did you do to get them moving?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have!
 

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I just finished another stand-alone and feel your pain. One that I released a couple years ago has yet to show any signs of life. It's a terrible market-reality for folks who love to write stand-alone stories.
 

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Janeal Falor said:
I have a standalone that is my worst seller--as in no sells at all. I know that standalones are a bad idea, now anyway. But I have this book, and I want to do something with it. I have it on Instafreebie, and join giveaways once and a while, but is there something else I can do with it to get actual sells? Or am I stuck with giving it away for newsletter sign ups? Not that I mind the sign ups, I just wonder if there's something else good that can come of it.

I would like to make money with it, not just move copies. Despite that, I've tried $0.99, $2.99, and $6.99, and am about to try $3.99. It's got no reviews, despite trying to get some. It is a YA fantasy.

Do you have a standalone? Have you sold copies of a standalone? What did you do to get them moving?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have!
Hi Janeal,

The bit that bothers me is that you have no reviews even after having joined a few IF promos. Does your email automation sequence encourage a review of the book?
 

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Well, um, I only write stand-alones! I did bundle five more or less related short e-books into a larger book that I could sell as a paperback, and they pretend to be a series on Amazon, but they really aren't. Nor do I think they get bought as a series.

Interesting (to me) that a writer should focus on series fiction and not be in Kindle Select. I would think that series reading is what Kindle Unlimited is all about! I have read several series -- Daniel Silva, Philip Kerr, Donna Leon, and above all the magnificent Lee Child -- but I don't think such writers are to be found in Kindle Unlimited, or anyhow not in sufficient quantity to make the subscription price worthwhile.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Deke said:
I just finished another stand-alone and feel your pain. One that I released a couple years ago has yet to show any signs of life. It's a terrible market-reality for folks who love to write stand-alone stories.
I would say that I'm glad I'm not alone, but I'd rather your books were selling ;) I do like writing stand-alones, but I've stuck with series since this book didn't sell. Sad times.

LilyBLily said:
Some ideas:

1. Try Hidden Gems or Book Razor (have I got that name right?) for ARC reviews. There's no time limit on those. Just get some.
2. Price competitively with the subgenre.
3. Get some solid advice on whether your cover is working or not, and your blurb.
4. Try ads that don't require you to discount, like AMS and Facebook.

Don't most YA buyers prefer print? I don't know much about that subgenre but I've heard that YA readers don't buy many ebooks. Could that be an issue holding you back?
Some great ideas, thanks! I've not had much luck with AMS or FB ads yet with other books, but I haven't tried with this book, so it would be worth a go.

I have a YA series that sells fairly well, but I think most of the readers are actually adults. I do have a print copy of it available though, but I've not had much luck selling print of any of my works.

Marty South said:
A standalone book does not have to be a bad thing. I have a standalone that sold 4,000 copies at full price in December. I also have a standalone that sold one. For the latter, I've tried changing covers a number of times. Couldn't do much with the blurbs, but they're sometimes a factor. The real problem for my book was setting. Nobody wanted to read about it. I mean, what're you gonna do? *shrug* Sometimes people buy it after they've finished my backlist. For what it's worth, since you've mentioned pricing, I have noticed that it sells better at $2.99 or $3.99 than at $0.99. (It's a 100K-word book.) Anyway, I've arrived at a point where I'd rather not throw money at it. I've moved on to other books that do sell.
Interesting. Yeah, this book is bigger too, about 90k. I am worried about throwing money at it and not selling, but at the same time I wonder if I haven't given it enough of a go. It's so hard to know. Thanks for sharing your experience!

antcurious said:
Hi Janeal,

The bit that bothers me is that you have no reviews even after having joined a few IF promos. Does your email automation sequence encourage a review of the book?
Oooh, good point. I have requests for reviews at the back of the book, but not in my automation sequence. I should add something like that. Thanks!

TwistedTales said:
I have two standalone that don't do much. Both have good reviews. One was a bit bashed by a few reviewers because I marketed it badly at one point, but most are five star.

I've always been puzzled what to do with them. Occasionally they sell now without marketing, but mostly they do nothing. I've come up with a few ideas, but I've yet to decide.

1. Bonus books. (I'm not in KU)
2. Make them free. (but take them down from Amazon)
3. Bundle them as a taster set and price at 99c.
4. Delist them altogether. (Seems a shame to waste the work)
5. Put them under another pen name & load other platforms I'm not on.
6. Ditch one altogether and rewrite the concept into a series.

I could go on. They don't do anything so I have nothing to lose. There are just so many things I could do with them, but I've yet to hit on an idea that strikes me as right.

Don't have an answer for you, but these are some of the ideas I'm contemplating.
Some good ideas. I think that's where my problem lies - wasting the work. I feel like I've put all this time, effort, and money (into editing) and it makes it hard to do nothing with it.

notjohn said:
Well, um, I only write stand-alones! I did bundle five more or less related short e-books into a larger book that I could sell as a paperback, and they pretend to be a series on Amazon, but they really aren't. Nor do I think they get bought as a series.

Interesting (to me) that a writer should focus on series fiction and not be in Kindle Select. I would think that series reading is what Kindle Unlimited is all about! I have read several series -- Daniel Silva, Philip Kerr, Donna Leon, and above all the magnificent Lee Child -- but I don't think such writers are to be found in Kindle Unlimited, or anyhow not in sufficient quantity to make the subscription price worthwhile.
I've not had much luck with KU. I don't know why, but my books never seem to do very well there. I almost always sell more wide than I make in KU. That's cool to hear you only write stand-alones though. Sounds like you've tried something interesting with them. Unfortunately, this one is 90k, and I'm not certain I want to write more stand-alones to bundle them with. I do like the idea of a bundle though, if I could figure out what to bundle it with.

TwistedTales said:
I haven't had any issue selling series outside of KU. If anything, since I left my read through rates have improved to around 75 - 80% and that's at full price. Readers wanting series isn't unique to KU readers.
This is my experience too. There's a lot of readers in KU, but I'm finding for my books, out of KU works better.

Thanks for all your thoughts everyone!
 

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What are you doing with it on Instafreebie? Are you giving the whole thing away? If so, I wouldn't do that. I would give away a sample. When you don't have other related books to draw the reader into, you want to be more selective about free promotions. You'll also need to promote the IF in some way. (I sort of assumed you're doing that). 

Try to get a $0.99 Bookbub. If you can't, put together some careful promotions using the smaller sites. You are right, making ROI on a standalone promotion can be a challenge, but if you don't get eyes on it somehow it won't sell.

Build your newsletter. Make sure the book and links are in every newsletter, even if you aren't running a promotion.

Promote the standalone in the back of your better-selling books, especially the last book of any series.

I'm not sure what to do about reviews at this point. I make a big push to get them on release, then let them build organically.

Yes, I have standalones. None of them are bestsellers or anything, but they are all in the black and making a little money.

Final thought: As much as we hate to admit it, we all have that one book that never performs like we think it should. You can try changing covers, relaunching, promotions, all the things. Maybe something will shake loose. Sometimes it just won't fly.
 

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Perhaps you should consider placing the book in the Kindle Scout program.

Even if it doesn't win you can get some good exposure.

Flee
 

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Janeal Falor said:
I have a standalone that is my worst seller--as in no sells at all. I know that standalones are a bad idea, now anyway. But I have this book, and I want to do something with it. I have it on Instafreebie, and join giveaways once and a while, but is there something else I can do with it to get actual sells? Or am I stuck with giving it away for newsletter sign ups? Not that I mind the sign ups, I just wonder if there's something else good that can come of it.

I would like to make money with it, not just move copies. Despite that, I've tried $0.99, $2.99, and $6.99, and am about to try $3.99. It's got no reviews, despite trying to get some. It is a YA fantasy.

Do you have a standalone? Have you sold copies of a standalone? What did you do to get them moving?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have!
I have a lot of standalone novels and I get lots of SALES for all of them. If it is not selling, perhaps there is another reason other than it being a standalone novel.
 

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All my books are standalones (except for Leon Chameleon PI). I started in 2011 with But Can You Drink The Water? at 99c. It took off in the UK with no advertising and was #1 in three categories for a couple of weeks and got to #20 overall in the UK. I sold over 25 000 copies. BUT that was back in 2011. Sales slowed down and I raised the price to $2.99. I'm lucky to sell a couple a month now, except when I do a countdown at 99c. There is so much more competition now that it's difficult to sell without a marketing budget.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
IreneP said:
What are you doing with it on Instafreebie? Are you giving the whole thing away? If so, I wouldn't do that. I would give away a sample. When you don't have other related books to draw the reader into, you want to be more selective about free promotions. You'll also need to promote the IF in some way. (I sort of assumed you're doing that).

Try to get a $0.99 Bookbub. If you can't, put together some careful promotions using the smaller sites. You are right, making ROI on a standalone promotion can be a challenge, but if you don't get eyes on it somehow it won't sell.

Build your newsletter. Make sure the book and links are in every newsletter, even if you aren't running a promotion.

Promote the standalone in the back of your better-selling books, especially the last book of any series.

I'm not sure what to do about reviews at this point. I make a big push to get them on release, then let them build organically.

Yes, I have standalones. None of them are bestsellers or anything, but they are all in the black and making a little money.

Final thought: As much as we hate to admit it, we all have that one book that never performs like we think it should. You can try changing covers, relaunching, promotions, all the things. Maybe something will shake loose. Sometimes it just won't fly.
I am giving away the whole thing on IF in exchange for a newsletter sign up. I hesitate to do a sample just because I've had readers complain about signing up for newsletters when they get only a portion of the book. I'll have to think about them.

I'm always trying for BookBub but I think with no reviews, I don't have much of a chance. Fingers crossed that will change one day though. I definitely am working on building my newsletter. Promoting it in the back of a better selling series book is a great idea. I should give that a shot. Making a little money would be so nice, but yeah, maybe it's just not meant to be. Thanks for your thoughts!

Flee said:
Perhaps you should consider placing the book in the Kindle Scout program.

Even if it doesn't win you can get some good exposure.

Flee
I haven't thought about Kindle Scout before. I'll have to look into that. Thanks!

Doglover said:
I have a lot of standalone novels and I get lots of SALES for all of them. If it is not selling, perhaps there is another reason other than it being a standalone novel.
That could definitely be. I just changed the cover, but the blurb could probably use some work.

bobfrost said:
I'd consider giving the book away free as a mailing list building incentive for your more popular series.
Definitely doing that. It's gotten quite a bit of traction there. :)

Lorri Moulton said:
I put mine on audio with ACX for a royalty split. It's doing fairly well. :)

A lot less competition and it's a historical romance. Applied and got accepted into the romance package, but we won't have any numbers for a little while.
ACX is an interesting idea. I wonder if I could get anyone to do a royalty split where it's older with no reviews though. It's worth a try though. Good luck in the romance package!

Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
All my books are standalones (except for Leon Chameleon PI). I started in 2011 with But Can You Drink The Water? at 99c. It took off in the UK with no advertising and was #1 in three categories for a couple of weeks and got to #20 overall in the UK. I sold over 25 000 copies. BUT that was back in 2011. Sales slowed down and I raised the price to $2.99. I'm lucky to sell a couple a month now, except when I do a countdown at 99c. There is so much more competition now that it's difficult to sell without a marketing budget.
Things do seem to have a lot more competition now. I'm wondering if I haven't put enough of a marketing budget into it. Hard to do when I'm not sure it's going to make a good ROI, but maybe I just need to buck up and give it a try.
 

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I know that standalones are a bad idea, now anyway
I know this is often touted, but I have to respectfully disagree. All of my books are standalones, and they have done very well. I know I say this over and over again, but I can't help myself. So much of the strategies and tactics discussed are dependent on genre, and you have to view things through the lens of genre. I write psychological thrillers in the domestic suspense vein. Readers expect books to be standalones.

When I started this journey, I had to take the conventional wisdom and modify/alter accordingly. I knew I wasn't going to write in a series, so many of the discussions didn't apply to me. However, I found what worked.

I share all of this to let you know that you can be successful! It's totally possible even if you don't write in a series. Sometimes you just have to get creative.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Berries said:
I know this is often touted, but I have to respectfully disagree. All of my books are standalones, and they have done very well. I know I say this over and over again, but I can't help myself. So much of the strategies and tactics discussed are dependent on genre, and you have to view things through the lens of genre. I write psychological thrillers in the domestic suspense vein. Readers expect books to be standalones.

When I started this journey, I had to take the conventional wisdom and modify/alter accordingly. I knew I wasn't going to write in a series, so many of the discussions didn't apply to me. However, I found what worked.

I share all of this to let you know that you can be successful! It's totally possible even if you don't write in a series. Sometimes you just have to get creative.
Thanks! I like hearing a different perspective. I'm not sure if standalones do well in YA. I should do some research to that affect. I've read tons of YA fantasy like what I write, and they're usually in series, so I'm thinking YA fantasy might be different than psychological thrillers, but perhaps if I can find some YA Fantasy standalones, it will give me an idea of what others have done. I really like that idea.
 

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Janeal Falor said:
I am giving away the whole thing on IF in exchange for a newsletter sign up. I hesitate to do a sample just because I've had readers complain about signing up for newsletters when they get only a portion of the book. I'll have to think about them.
So, imo, you need to decide how you want to treat this book. You can either use it as a magnet to gain subs and hopefully readers for your other book, or you can try to find a paying audience for it. If you are happy with it being a magnet, that's fine. If you want people to pay for it, you have to stop giving it away all the time, especially if you're mostly giving it away to your existing readers.

Those two things aren't completely mutually exclusive, but the answer will inform how you do your promotions.

In short, you can give away fulls of first-in-series all day long, because instead of a "partial book" you are giving readers a "partial series." You expect them to buy the rest of the series.

With a standalone, you don't have a specific other paid place to funnel them. Hopefully, you can then send them to one of your series, but it's a lot harder to get someone to jump from a standalone to a series than from Series Book 1 to Series Book 2.

You see where I'm going? If you give away the whole thing, what are you hoping people will buy? Consider if it is your best option for a freebie. As long as you're giving away a full novel, would a series starter be a better option? What about a novella written specifically as a giveaway that feeds into either one of your series or has some relation to this book?

FWIW, when I've given away a partial, I clearly labelled it a "preview copy." It won't necessarily stop all the complaints, but it's upfront. I'll give away a longer sample than is available in the "look inside" and I'll do a big group promo with it - I'm looking for new readers, not people already in my circle of influence.

And again - maybe it's serving it's purpose as a reader magnet, in which case you mark it up to a promotional effort rather than a money-maker on its own.

Good luck!
 

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I'm currently writing a standalone that's also part of my series - it's a complete story that doesn't require knowledge of the other books, but shares the same world and timeline of major events. The main cast differs from the series. Series characters are mentioned or make brief appearances in the standalone.

I'm writing this book to help me advertise the series. As an alternative entry point that I can advertise on its own. Whether or not it's going to work out that way - we'll see! At the very least, I'll be able to submit it to the next SPFBO.
 

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1. Is your stand alone in the same world as your series, or is it truly a stand alone fantasy with no relation to your other books? If it's related then you'll want to cross-promo emphasizing the tie-in.

2. If it's 90k and a stand alone, can you re-frame the story to build up two climaxes then break it into three sort novels? Even with minimal additions you'll probably end up with 3 35kish books, which is plenty for a short novel--set it up for print and format it for approx. 200-250 pages each.

3. Really, I think if you sit down and brainstorm ideas, you'll be able to easily come up with a couple more book ideas with at least the same world setting, if not the same characters. You've put the 90k work into world-building, so don't let all that thinking go to just the single story :) Think Star Wars Rogue One--the 1977 trilogy had been finished for more than a quarter century, and they still went back and created a prequel. And if you think about Rogue One, on it's own, pretending you don't know about Luke, Leia, Solo, Vader et al...well
considering all the major characters die in Rogue One
, you'd think that it was a stand alone.

I think the fantasy genre is particularly difficult for stand alones--readers want to feel like they're investing in this cool new world you've created. But that's also it's strongest point...once the readers are invested, they'll also tend to stick with you as long as you don't betray their expectations.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
IreneP said:
So, imo, you need to decide how you want to treat this book. You can either use it as a magnet to gain subs and hopefully readers for your other book, or you can try to find a paying audience for it. If you are happy with it being a magnet, that's fine. If you want people to pay for it, you have to stop giving it away all the time, especially if you're mostly giving it away to your existing readers.

Those two things aren't completely mutually exclusive, but the answer will inform how you do your promotions.
I hadn't really thought about it that way. I assumed, perhaps erringly, that I could find two different audiences--one who wanted a free book for a newsletter sign up and one who would rather buy the book. I guess I'll have to think about that a little closer. And thank you!

C. Rysalis said:
I'm currently writing a standalone that's also part of my series - it's a complete story that doesn't require knowledge of the other books, but shares the same world and timeline of major events. The main cast differs from the series. Series characters are mentioned or make brief appearances in the standalone.

I'm writing this book to help me advertise the series. As an alternative entry point that I can advertise on its own. Whether or not it's going to work out that way - we'll see! At the very least, I'll be able to submit it to the next SPFBO.
Yeah, I should have tied it into one of my other world's somehow. I think you've done it a very smart way!

Guy Riessen said:
1. Is your stand alone in the same world as your series, or is it truly a stand alone fantasy with no relation to your other books? If it's related then you'll want to cross-promo emphasizing the tie-in.

2. If it's 90k and a stand alone, can you re-frame the story to build up two climaxes then break it into three sort novels? Even with minimal additions you'll probably end up with 3 35kish books, which is plenty for a short novel--set it up for print and format it for approx. 200-250 pages each.

3. Really, I think if you sit down and brainstorm ideas, you'll be able to easily come up with a couple more book ideas with at least the same world setting, if not the same characters. You've put the 90k work into world-building, so don't let all that thinking go to just the single story :) Think Star Wars Rogue One--the 1977 trilogy had been finished for more than a quarter century, and they still went back and created a prequel. And if you think about Rogue One, on it's own, pretending you don't know about Luke, Leia, Solo, Vader et al...well
considering all the major characters die in Rogue One
, you'd think that it was a stand alone.

I think the fantasy genre is particularly difficult for stand alones--readers want to feel like they're investing in this cool new world you've created. But that's also it's strongest point...once the readers are invested, they'll also tend to stick with you as long as you don't betray their expectations.
1. It's definitely a standalone, no other worlds :(

2. Interesting. It's definitely got the makings of 3 acts. If I played around with it, I'm certain I could get it to work.

3. That's true, I could build off of it. Just have to find time to squeeze it in with all my other projects, lol.

I guess I need to think about if I want to work with it, leave it as a magnet like IreneP said, or build it into it's own whole world. I like the idea of building on it since, you're right, I did spend all that time making the world. Thank you so much for your thoughts! They're really helpful.

Lorri Moulton said:
Thank you! I emailed 'producers' I liked, rather than waiting to see who applied for the opportunity. I've had some wonderful narrations so far. :)
Oh, good thought. It definitely pays to be pro active :D
 
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