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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently, I made a post about how I'm still earning a really low income even with 20 books out. So far, none of my series have hit. I know I've made mistakes and see them clearly. I'm about to read Write to Market by Chris Fox as well as other books in the genre I'm aiming for.

So...I'm ready to start a new series. I'm going for a Witch Urban Fantasy, using a character from my newer UF series. She's a strong side character in the series, so I'm looking forward to writing her story.

This time, I want to do it right. And, I need your help to do that. If I can't get this series to work, I'll have to go back to full time work. This feels like my last chance.

I've not started writing the series yet, but here's some details.

Titles:

Magically Bound (Book 1)
Magically Bonded (Book 2)
Magically Breakable (Book 3)

Series Name: Hunted Witch Agency

Very Rough Synopsis:
Devon is a witch who has inherited the wizard leadership role, but she’s too busy building her hunting agency. A rouge coven have declared war, naming themselves as head witches to rule all of England. The new wizard leader is a strong witch, one that has a lot invested in her coven running the London branch. Her agency is pushed to the limit to find the deserters and make them pay for destroying an ancient ritual that will no longer provide London with the power it needs.

Cover: Done by Lou Harper

I'm planning on writing the first two books before I release them around November/December time.

Can you see anything missing? Do you know of any good blurb writers I could hire to get the best description? I've never been able to maintain book 1 sales. They start really well for a couple of days, then go down. How can I prevent this?

I know some of this is luck as well as pre-planning, but I thought I'd throw it out there for your advice. I've been publishing for three years, and for once, I would love to write a series that gets some traction.

Thanks in advance!
 

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I don't have much to say about the plan so far but it seems strong :)

One thing I'd suggest doing, especially since you are calling this your last chance, is work out your benchmarks for the book based on what you consider success. Eg. within 3 months, I want to make $xxx in sales. Or even have several levels to it - below $xxx in sales, you return to full time work, etc.

Good luck with the books :)
 

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I'm new at this, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But I've been reading and learning voraciously to try to accomplish the same thing.

The covers look nice so that's not it. It's a crowded genre so that could be it. I'd find someone who reads *a lot* and you can trust to give you good feedback on your writing. Ask for direct, blunt feedback on your latest books, to be sure that maybe you don't need a book coach before you invest so much time in writing more books. This is a mistake that Chris Fox openly admits to, and the book coach saving him. It's hard to be objective about our babies.

I'd avoid the gimmicky titles that all feature the same key word. To me, it just screams "me too" and 'gimmick' in a crowded field. The series title is good and should be enough. It's why I didn't do that with my books. It seems like a fad that could be becoming passe, but that's just my opinion. There's a *whole* lot of that out there now, and you want to stand out. Don't be "yet another series" in your genre.

Definitely read up on all of the great marketing info out there. I read all of Chris's stuff, plus the great launch threads here, and definitely all of Nikolas Erik's posts and blogs here and on his website. Plan your launch carefully, time it per the recommendations as far as each book in the series. Become a master of AMS ads, there's a great ongoing thread here about that also. You have to get the word out and it's tough these days.

Don't give up, and good luck!
 

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Since you're saying this might be your last chance I had a quick look at your previous work.

Your first series for what it is seems fine and it looks like there is minor success there; so this would suggest you at least have the potential to succeed in the future. The change in length for the final two books as a buyer raises minor questions such as a tired writer but no big deal.

Your second series "the avoidables" looks like it could be a really interesting series however the covers are meh and the title is oh well lets just say avoidable. You totally need to relauch this series with a new series title.  I see that one subset of characters are the avoidables and calling them that in the book is great but I don't think it works as a title. The fact that it seems to be doing quite poorly even for free would suggest to me that people are turned off by it.

Your third series seems just as to market as what you are currently planning except without great covers. I would take a look at redoing the covers.

Currently your idea for your "final chance" writing to market doesn't shout wow cool story yet for me, although the current titles with lou harper covers should grab the markets attention at least.

Good Luck!
 

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I'm not published yet, so massive bags of salt required. 

Firstly, wanted to wish you luck.

The only thing that leapt out at me as potentially missing from your plan is a mailing list and "magnet" story.  I'm planning to publish book 1 in September (eeek! not that long now) and straight out of the gate I will have a mailing list sign up and free "short" story (not written yet - I know what it's going to be about, just now how long / short it will be) as an exclusive for mailing sign up.

As you're an experienced indie, you probably have this sorted, but just wanted to mention it.

As well as Chris Fox's books / videos, which are great, have you checked out Nicolas Erik's threads here and his website? I find his posts really helpful.

Fingers crossed for you.  :)
 

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I wish you all the best with this. It sounds like you've really thought it through and paid attention to every detail.

Just one thought here about looking at this as your last chance. For me, the chapter of Write to Market that really hit home was the one where he talked about identifying your current tier and figuring out where to set a realistic goal. Is it achievable, or are you dooming yourself by trying too jump two or three tiers at once?
 

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I don't have much to add, since I am in a similar position. I've got a whole bunch of releases and so far nothing has caught fire. Sometimes that's just bad luck, other times it is something that you are doing wrong. In my case I am pretty sure I know what is wrong and it is my fault and one of these days I need to fix it.

That whole "one of these days" part of the equation needs working on.

Still, I will give you one suggestion.

I'm pretty good with titles. I've got a good ear, or at least I hope that I do.

I'd consider changing that third title MAGICALLY BREAKABLE to MAGICALLY BROKEN.

It just seems to sound better to my inner ear - BOUND, BONDED, BROKEN.

Or then again, I might just be full of old rope. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
kathrynoh said:
I don't have much to say about the plan so far but it seems strong :)

One thing I'd suggest doing, especially since you are calling this your last chance, is work out your benchmarks for the book based on what you consider success. Eg. within 3 months, I want to make $xxx in sales. Or even have several levels to it - below $xxx in sales, you return to full time work, etc.

Good luck with the books :)
Thanks, Kath, this is a good idea. I've never actually done this!

Thanks, BillyDeCarlo, I will think about the titles and ask someone who reads a lot too.

firstdraft said:
Your first series for what it is seems fine and it looks like there is minor success there; so this would suggest you at least have the potential to succeed in the future. The change in length for the final two books as a buyer raises minor questions such as a tired writer but no big deal.

Currently your idea for your "final chance" writing to market doesn't shout wow cool story yet for me, although the current titles with lou harper covers should grab the markets attention at least.

Good Luck!
Thanks for your reply, firstdraft, the last two books in the first series are still the same length, not sure why they're showing as less pages. Every single book is 50k words.

I'm working on the story concept, so will take this into consideration. I need that wow factor!

VanessaC said:
I'm not published yet, so massive bags of salt required.

Firstly, wanted to wish you luck.

As well as Chris Fox's books / videos, which are great, have you checked out Nicolas Erik's threads here and his website? I find his posts really helpful.
Thank you, Vanessa, I do have a fairly large mailing list which I'm going to try and engage as much as possible leading up to the release in order to gain reviews and sales. I will also check out Nicolas' threads too! :)

LadyG said:
I wish you all the best with this. It sounds like you've really thought it through and paid attention to every detail.

Just one thought here about looking at this as your last chance. For me, the chapter of Write to Market that really hit home was the one where he talked about identifying your current tier and figuring out where to set a realistic goal. Is it achievable, or are you dooming yourself by trying too jump two or three tiers at once?
This is a very good point, LadyG, I'm literally reading that book now, so I'll watch out for that chapter. Thanks!

Steve Vernon said:
I'd consider changing that third title MAGICALLY BREAKABLE to MAGICALLY BROKEN.

It just seems to sound better to my inner ear - BOUND, BONDED, BROKEN.
Oh, I love this Steve, I'm going to take your advice and chance the last one to Broken, thank you!
 

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I'd focus on newsletter swaps for your new book.  If you join a newsletter swap group and start setting them up for november, you should be able to set up plenty.  And best of all, they're free!

If you've already got a large mailing then that's fab, just work on keeping them engaged.  Then I'd use that mailing list for the launch (split it into 3/4 segments and email one a day so that your launch shows slow and steady sales).

Also, I don't think it will help your writing to look on the series as a last chance.  That's a hell of a lot of pressure.  Just focus on what you can change, what you can do better and do it in baby steps, a little every day.

And make sure the writing is your number one thing.  I have a rule - no messing about with marketing until I've got my daily word count.
 

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Its only over if you say its over.  ;)

My first year of writing wasn't very good. I had an ambitious Mythic-PA series (and a side series in the same universe) which never took off and only broke even after I Bookbubbed it.

But I didnt give up. I started two new series and the newest one is doing well enough to pay for my daily expenses. The key is to keep on trying. If a series isnt working out, work on a new one.
 

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I second changing the third title to Magically Broken. Actually, I'd probably shorten them to Magic Bound, Magic Bonded, and Magic Broken.

Looking really quickly at your other books...I have to admit none of the covers would have grabbed me. I assume Thunder Hunter is urban fantasy, but it doesn't seems to fit the mold. I've found that, in this genre, readers really, really like covers that match what they're expecting. Make the covers all blue or blue-green, highlight the magic element (fire around the sword?), and tone down the muscles. Since you're planning on making your next series an urban fantasy as well, it makes sense to relaunch the Thunder Hunter series and see if you can get it to stick first.

Witch urban fantasy seems to be my least favorite subgenre, so I can't give you advice on your new series. Sorry. :-/ But good luck!
 

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I don't write (or read) UF and I couldn't write to market if my life depended on it, but I have friends who do very, very well in the genre. From watching them take off, I'd say the biggest factor in their success is the launch of book 1. Obviously, you have to have the genre-specific cover/blurb/style, and you need the craft to ensure read-through later, but to propel a book into the stratosphere and give it the chance to do well straight away, the launch is key, and a big part of that is through mailing lists (your own or other people's). If you can connect with several other authors of similar books and organise newsletter swaps, that will give you some real momentum.

I'd also echo what others have said - don't call this the last chance, that's just so much pressure. Call it a new start or a personal relaunch or whatever, but view it as a positive thing, an opportunity. Good luck with it!
 

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Read about reader funnels. Read about purity of email list. Read about promo stacking. And good luck!!
 

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I would suggest reading Chris Fox's new book on backlist while you're writing your series. You have 20 books, and while none of them were the hits you wanted out of the gate, that's still a reasonable amount of product.

Just from glancing at the covers for the thumbnail they do seem very... self-publishy. The models look pasted from two different locations onto a standard background. If you have any budget for it, I would suggest a redo.

And good luck! We're all be rooting for you!
 

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Indie publishing has matured to the point that a high-quality product with solid packaging isn't enough. Sustained sales success requires ongoing marketing and promotion (ads, mailing list, platform, etc.).

I'm making a generalization. There will always be authors whose books succeed without ongoing marketing and promotion. They're the exceptions.

OP, what is your launch plan? And how do you intend to market and promote your books going forward?
 

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Right now the foggy misty type covers with blue and purple and some magic glows are very in for this genre.  Some orange, pink or green can be added too - but you need to have the smokey style with characters a bit smaller in size than what you have, mostly only a single female...your present covers just don't fit.  I am not saying this because I design UF covers (I do that too) but also because I read a lot in the genre and I'm like the rest of the reader sheep out there - we keep looking for the same type of cover, as it signifies the type of book we enjoy.
 

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Domino Finn put up a series of posts about doing a full reset of his writing career, and from what I understand he's doing pretty good. He did this a year or two ago (check his profile to find it... hang on... got it from my bookmarks:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,228614.0.html

I'd go through that and maybe PM him asking for his advice. Be specific with your questions etc.
I don't have anything to offer insofar as your genre b/c I don't read it nor write in it.
BUT...
You got some great covers in your sig, and that's the first hurdle.
Your blurbs are okay too.
Most importantly, you DO have the writing chops. I did the Look Inside of the three series, and you open strong; you immediately go about world building in a manner that sucks the reader in (thanks a lot! I just burned an hour! LOL :p )

As well as Domino, I'd look at Fox's book about relaunching old series. Twenty titles is a heck of a lot of work.

You need to plan. You wear two hats in this gig, biz and creative and you need both to achieve a sustainable income. Now I've seen that this thread sort of mirrors the one you put up in May insofar as your feelings of discouragement. That's a long time w/ that monkey on your back.
The best way for me to dispel that draining parasite is that action cures it. What I've done when I was in your position was:
1. DECIDE. In or out of this gig. I don't think sustainable Indie success comes from PT effort. I also don't believe FT effort's a guarantee. What I do believe is that CONSISTENT effort is the key. Decide on the number of hours you're willing to devote to this and stick w/ it. $1K/month is a great income booster, but it ain't on FT living, sure.
2. SET A PLAN. This is the heinous part. Stay away from ephemeral goals and make realistic, achievable ones that aren't overwhelming to you. Spend as much time as necessary nailing this plan down. Go over it a few times, and consult w/ others on it.
3. STICK WITH IT. A reboot needs 6-12 months to implement b/c of the business cycle of book selling. 6 months minimum. After you lock into your plan, start implementing it and have metrics established that can tell you if you're hitting your goals.

I wish you the best, but really; this is a great job, but it is a job, OK? It's what we do that's pretty rewarding, yeah; but life occurs away from the computer and outside your office.
 

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rachelmedhurst said:
Thank you, Vanessa, I do have a fairly large mailing list which I'm going to try and engage as much as possible leading up to the release in order to gain reviews and sales. I will also check out Nicolas' threads too! :)
If this is a new genre for you, I'd recommend starting an entirely new mailing list specific to your UF. Launching an UF series leveraging non-UF readers will screw up your also-boughts and kill any momentum your non-targeted mailing list will be able to build. If you don't have a dedicated UF mailing list, then I'd leverage NL swaps (or purchases) from authors who write books very similar to your target audience.
 

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I don't read too much urban fantasy so I could be way off...

I just stuck Thunder Hunter in my reading pile for my upcoming trip so I think your blurb is pretty darn good! The first paragraph and tag line are very enticing. The second paragraph could be mention whether Chloe is his love interest or not? Maybe expand on the poison and clarify his age and whether he's totally human or half-human?

Cover-wise I might do something with the guy. Sword--yes. Leather Vest thing --meh. Bright colours and wisps of magic/fire seem to be in this year.
 
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