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Simon Haynes said:
Declan, with those covers and those reviews, I don't think it would be hard to get things moving. I started from a really low base a couple of years ago - story below if you're interested. BTW I just gave Missing a shout-out on Twitter, although that never does anything for my own stuff so I don't know whether it'll help ;-)

For all of 2015, 2016, 2017 and the first two months of 2018 I was making $20 a month from my ~10 novels, combined. (By then I hadn't published anything for 4 years, lost all interest. Hadn't advertised since 2011.) I was working for myself, renovating houses, as a short-term stop-gap.

I started by setting up one Facebook CPC ad in Feb 2018, budget of $5 per day, targeted very tightly at my primary audience. I only switched it on for one day a week. But I did make $60 profit that month, and seeing the sales was enough to get me writing again.

At the end of March I published my first new novel in 4 years, and by the end of that month I'd made $460, still only spending around $10/wk.

The following month my royalties were double, and then double again. I've not looked back since. Even now my ad budget is always less than 10%-15% of my royalties.

I have a close friend with just one recently-published novel, and her ad budget is $10 per week. I'm running AMS campaigns for her across four stores, as a favour, and my goal is to make her $3/profit per day if I can. She doesn't even have any reviews yet, even though we did a free period of 5 days (850+ downloads - I put it into my newsletter and organised a swap with someone else.) It's going to be a struggle, but I'm keen to see how it works out starting from scratch like she is.
Appreciate the twitter shout out. Sounds like we were on the same boat, though I have made reasonable bank in past years. I'm the same in that I stopped writing 2 years ago or so, but I'm now well on my way to competing a trilogy to give it a last try. It was the changes to AMS the really finished me with ads.

Is it just Facebook you use?
 

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I haven't used Facebook for a while - saw all the posts about people getting their accounts suspended for linking to Amazon.co.uk and decided to steer clear. In the past I've used landing pages on my own site with FB ads, (bonus referral income), but I don't have enough time to deal with all that.

Aside from that, I can't target the authors I want to on FB like I can with BookBub and AMS ads.

I'm running a BB ad for a freebie starter novel at the moment, which is going well. I'm about to run a Freebooksy/ENT promo on a 99c omnibus next month, which usually gets things moving too. I'll create a BB ad for that, and get some newsletter swaps happening as well.


 

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Vidya said:
Alex, that's interesting. I didn't know German translations were so lucrative. Who did you hire to do them? Any recommendations?
I hired a random person on Upwork.

My main recommendation is, spend a little as you can on the translations. Be embarrassingly cheap. Also, hire a native speaker for about $5 to evaluate the quality of any sample texts submitted. And if you really don't trust the work, hire a proofreader. But, ultimately, readers will forgive a less than perfect translation. But, your wallet won't forgive you if you can't make a profit.

I've only lost money on 3 out of 250 translations. 2 in Japanese and 1 in Portuguese. Apparently the Portuguese never developed the taste for werewolf romance that the rest of the world did. :(

FYI, I now require all of my translators to make listening to a text-to-speech of their translation their final edit.
 

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I would not go cheap on Translation costs. You don't need to spend a fortune. Find a good deal if you can. But don't hire someone who will do a subpar job. You will pay in bad reviews, decreased sellthrough, and difficulty in building a brand. You're building from scratch in every language.

Translations aren't cheap but Germany is a very lucrative market. Think long term, not short term.
 

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I agree. Don't knowingly hire someone who will do a subpar job.

But, keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there trying to break into the translation business and they don't expect to get paid what they will get paid once they have reviews and a reputation. The challenge is finding them. And that's what separates those who consistently make a profit and those who can't... unless you're a superstar who will earn thousands per book no matter how much you spend on a translation.

All I'm saying is, don't be intimidated. I did my first translation in 2012. I paid almost nothing. One person even did it for free for the chance of future work. It's not that scary. And the only situation which is truly unrecoverable from is paying too much.

Just like with your English ebooks, translations can be edited later when you have more money, and be republished. I had one book that got a dogpile of bad reviews because of the bad translation... but it still made a profit. I then had it edited and I republished it. It made twice as much afterwards. And despite that, as soon as I released another book, it did just as well or better.

It ain't that complex.

Edit: Actually, here's another story about bad reviews. I released a French book last November and it got bad reviews because of the translation... which was weird because the translator had translated about 8 of my books before this one and had never gotten me a single bad review. But, the next French book I released (last month), by the same translator, just spent a week in the top 50 on Amazon.fr.

As I said, readers will forgive a less than perfect translation. But, your wallet won't forgive paying too much.
 

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I would not ask someone to work for free with promise of future work. I try to pay all my contractor's a fair rate. Yes, I may take advantage of a deal is someone is offering a sale, or if they're new and have lower rates, but I won't pay below market rates.

I was not so concerned with this earlier on my career when I was hard up for cash, but now I have enough profit I really have no excuse to underpay.

Different people have different philosophies but I do find, for the most part, good work isn't cheap. It isn't necessarily expensive, but it's not cheap.
 

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Crystal_ said:
I would not ask someone to work for free with promise of future work. I try to pay all my contractor's a fair rate. Yes, I may take advantage of a deal is someone is offering a sale, or if they're new and have lower rates, but I won't pay below market rates.

I was not so concerned with this earlier on my career when I was hard up for cash, but now I have enough profit I really have no excuse to underpay.

Different people have different philosophies but I do find, for the most part, good work isn't cheap. It isn't necessarily expensive, but it's not cheap.
I agree with everything you just said. In fact, just yesterday I voluntarily increased the pay for my German translator. She's translated about 6 of my novels and has done a good job. So, she deserved a raise.

But last week I posted an ad for a few new Spanish translators. I posted my price and found my 2 translators. However, there was another person who quoted me a price 1/4 of what I was asking. I first ignored him and then I decided to have his submitted sample evaluated. It turned out he did a very good job. But he had no reviews, no real editorial plan past the basics, and there is a possibility that he could flake if I assign him anything of substance.

I decided to contact him to feel him out. I asked him his price again and he lowered it even more saying that he is really looking for reviews. Now I'm giving him his first shot at translating a book and I'm getting a superb price for my willingness to take a risk. FYI, he offered to lower the price even more than what I settled on.

There are translators out there thinking about the long term. There are other who live in parts of the world with a lower cost of living. And, there are people who just enjoy translating books in their spare time. Working with freelancers isn't a one size fits all situation.

Just food for thought.
 

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Alex Anders said:
I agree with everything you just said. In fact, just yesterday I voluntarily increased the pay for my German translator. She's translated about 6 of my novels and has done a good job. So, she deserved a raise.

But last week I posted an ad for a few new Spanish translators. I posted my price and found my 2 translators. However, there was another person who quoted me a price 1/4 of what I was asking. I first ignored him and then I decided to have his submitted sample evaluated. It turned out he did a very good job. But he had no reviews, no real editorial plan past the basics, and there is a possibility that he could flake if I assign him anything of substance.

I decided to contact him to feel him out. I asked him his price again and he lowered it even more saying that he is really looking for reviews. Now I'm giving him his first shot at translating a book and I'm getting a superb price for my willingness to take a risk. FYI, he offered to lower the price even more than what I settled on.

There are translators out there thinking about the long term. There are other who live in parts of the world with a lower cost of living. And, there are people who just enjoy translating books in their spare time. Working with freelancers isn't a one size fits all situation.

Just food for thought.
Hi Alex Anders. I think you make a lot of sense. Would you be willing to share the contact info of your German translator with me?
Cheers,
Marco
 

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Marco de Hoogh said:
Hi Alex Anders. I think you make a lot of sense. Would you be willing to share the contact info of your German translator with me?
Cheers,
Marco
Haha. Umm... I think I'll let you find your own. The last thing I want is competition in getting time with the translations I've been working with for years. I keep my translators pretty busy. :)
 

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I still say, it's not about how many books, but how much you need to invest to reach and maintain that monthly income you aspire to.

If you are struggling with finding excess money over what you you need to live without publishing, then the answer is likely to be it probably won't matter how many books you publish, you'll likely not achieve your goal as an ongoing income

As for German translations if the translator is native to Germany, they are entitled to a % royalty on each sale by law, beside payment for the initial translation They may not ask for it, but make a success of it, and they likely come knocking. There's no such thing as "work for hire" as there is in the US. Same for Brazil and Portuguese translation. Don't think you can contract out of it either.

If I'm wrong, please put me straight, but that is my understanding when I did the research

I'd recommend looking up the laws for the applicable countries before looking for a translator. It's a minefield. Especially Chinese by a native of China. If I remember correctly after a period of a few years the translation reverts to them to do with as they please.


Even trad publishers can get caught out as case law proves. Just ask the Portuguese translator of Lord of the Rings

They even managed to get payment for the use of their translation used for film sub-titles after the event, besides back royalties for book sales after it became a bestseller in Brazil, none of it contracted with the publisher. Can't be certain because it was some time ago I read it, but I could have been Harper Collins.

Look it up on the net if you want to veryfy what I'm saying.
 

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I've got to agree that it's solid marketing campaigns and frequent promotion on a few or many of your titles. Of course, considering all other ducks are in a row. I'm primarily trad published with 17 books and nowhere near that monthly intake allotment. A Big-5 hit via my agent would turn things around but we're not seeing action there--pretty much of a closed shop for little mid-listers like me. Very rough and tumble out there.
 

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Alex Anders said:
Haha. Umm... I think I'll let you find your own. The last thing I want is competition in getting time with the translations I've been working with for years. I keep my translators pretty busy. :)
Haha yeah I can appreciate that. :)
The upwork tip was good - I posted my job and am reviewing proposals. I also reached out to some freelancers on fiverr.

Decon, thank you for your response. It's good food for thought. I appreciate the caution and the warning about royalties but I don't intend to make millions. If I do, they can come get their 2% LOL
 

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Myself, I'm almost twenty books in and I've yet to see any significant dollars. I'm also highly inattentive to my marketing, so that's on me.


There's an alchemy to selling well which makes comparisons difficult. I've seen lots of folks hit it with a series, try to start another series, and bomb. Same writer, same skills. There's no guarantees.
 

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I'm on 11 books in my main series presently. Not quite at 'quit the day job' money.

But close enough that I know with a bit of a marketing push, I can do it...

Problem is, we're living in hard times, and with being furloughed from work earlier this year, bills need paying, food needs putting on the table, a roof over our head.

So every penny that's come in from books the last couple of months has gone to keeping the wolf from the door.

However... bills will soon be caught up to. And another book is soon to be released.

Come Dec/Jan, I'm gonna be releasing another book AND simultaneously ramping up the marketing. Hoping next year will be the year that all the hard work finally pays off. We shall see.

I can dream, eh?
 

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I'm blessed in that I was able to do it with one book, but I'm obviously an outlier. As I'm sure others have said, I don't think there's a certain magic number of books that will assure you of reaching your goal, but more titles is obviously better.  However, it's worth bearing in mind that other factors can also play a role: genre, marketing, etc.  Frankly speaking, it's just hard to pin it down and say that X number of books will get you there.

 

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Alex Anders said:
Haha. Umm... I think I'll let you find your own. The last thing I want is competition in getting time with the translations I've been working with for years. I keep my translators pretty busy. :)
I have to call BS. This is a crappy attitude to have. By refusing to give credit to your translator, you're screwing them out of a lot of potential work that they might need to make a living. People should allow their service providers to determine their own schedules rather than do it for them. If your translator gives you good service, you should want them to succeed and make lots of money, not withhold their name and screw them out of a lot of potential business.
 

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ShayneRutherford said:
I have to call BS. This is a crappy attitude to have. By refusing to give credit to your translator, you're screwing them out of a lot of potential work that they might need to make a living. People should allow their service providers to determine their own schedules rather than do it for them. If your translator gives you good service, you should want them to succeed and make lots of money, not withhold their name and screw them out of a lot of potential business.
not BS at all

i've lived to regret giving an enthusiastic review or reference to a provider who does something that isn't scalable... several times... it's a stupid way to cost yourself money with no upside...

"loose lips sink ships"
 

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nightwork said:
not BS at all

i've lived to regret giving an enthusiastic review or reference to a provider who does something that isn't scalable... several times... it's a stupid way to cost yourself money with no upside...

"loose lips sink ships"
It totally is. Because providers don't stay in business very long if they don't get work. And one of the best ways for providers to get work is to get referrals from satisfied customers. Trying to keep a provider all to oneself is simply selfish.

Also, how on earth does giving a reference to someone cost you money?
 

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ShayneRutherford said:
I have to call BS. This is a crappy attitude to have. By refusing to give credit to your translator, you're screwing them out of a lot of potential work that they might need to make a living. People should allow their service providers to determine their own schedules rather than do it for them. If your translator gives you good service, you should want them to succeed and make lots of money, not withhold their name and screw them out of a lot of potential business.
Haha. Good for you for taking that attitude. However, I've shared a major sales strategy to the readers of this forum, and the platform I found them on. And I did it to be generous. Yet, you chastise me for not giving you more. How very gracious of you.

FYI, there isn't a minute this year when I haven't kept my German translator working. So... you know... assumptions.
 
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