Monday, July 16, 2018

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 28 Results

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 28 Results

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 28 Results

Conversions starting to roll in, more work to do. First Medium serial now started…

Metrics

Published Words Fiction:
– free – 4,125
– paid – 14,801

Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – 4,942
– paid – 0

Subscribers:
Mailerlite: ? (non-IF), MailChimp: 2, Instafreebie – 629
New Total: 3864

Book sales this week:
Amazon – 1, Draft2Digital – 1, Gumroad – 4 = Total Week’s sales – 6
Pre-order sales – 0

Books (pre-)published this week:

Falling
https://calm.li/Falling

Voices
https://calm.li/Voices

Analysis

Being able to let go of everything else and just write is great over the weekend. Because you aren’t getting a lot of the mundane marketing that fills your inbox with crud and can simply ignore almost everything.

I found that Instafreebie doesn’t take that much time, not even having to act on their emails more than once a day. Most of the comments are for and between other people. New giveaways don’t pop up that often, and they are usually (should be) weeks or months in advance.

And so this lead to easier writing production this week, as well as being able to post to Medium with one of my books as a serial. (Shows up as free fiction published.)

Four sales via Gumroad shows that my conversions are starting to work. I updated that New Releases page again (formerly “free books”) and emphasized that they don’t have to wait to get a book on pre-order, but can buy from me directly. This will also start going out in the email, although I should probably tag these so that I can tell them separately from the clicks via the page.

The two main analysis tools I use are Clicky and Bitly. Google is more or less useless, as it really doesn’t report everything I need (and is constantly pushing me to run ads to get more clicks.) Having Bitly links on my New Releases page tells me when they click to go somewhere else as well as on my site. Both tell me that my new fiction releases are now more popular than any of my giveaways. People don’t even really want the collected works. Three of the four sales were those two new books from last week. The bulk of my traffic to Gumroad is coming from direct email, but the conversions are coming from my site. Nearly 10% conversion, so that is something.

(And meanwhile, the sheer amount of bots out there competing to search my site throws any prediction about website traffic through the tubes. What counts is subscribers and books purchased. The only viewers I want to look at are those who spend more than a minute – everything that is a “glance” is simply some sort of bot – about 75% of search engine “traffic”.)

As I write this, Mailerlite has some snafu going with the subscribers and having to re-index everything. So my weekly mail will probably have to go out tomorrow at this rate.

Overall, I now can move over to building more audience via the Four Avid Reader Horsemen and will concentrate on that this week – other than writing.

Writing Breakthroughs

It comes from plugging in Dorothea Brande’s “Becoming A Writer” and Stephen King’s “On Writing” advices. Simply, first thing in the morning, don’t read or talk. Immediately go to the keyboard and type in the story. For me, this means I can get about an hour in before chores. And chores are simply non-verbal for the most part (other than talking to my farm animals, saying hello, etc.) What this does is to allow you to simply “stay in the zone” you woke up with.

Last night, for instance, I got three ideas for stories. And only one of them is working up to be something. During my breakfast and chores, I was just interviewing the main characters and finding their reactions, and what their problems are. So I’m quite read to crank these out.

You of course simply blank your screen of email and browser and anything else, so that you are only writing. The earlier advice about getting a separate machine has its uses. I’ve tried it, and the skimpy table as well an unsolid keyboard was slowing me down a bit. However there was no getting around that having a distraction-free environment that doesn’t remind you of other activities is vital. Just blanking the screen is enough for me.

I did find that the second part of King’s advice was good – of doing email only in the afternoons, so all your business can be slotted into those hours. The evening is saved for reading (or watching) fiction. Preferably a bit of both. You can’t really pay much attention to other work or to the video trying to multi-task.

Another breakthrough was to go through and make covers in advance. Some covers (Pixabay images) are very inspiring for new stories. I can take a cover that interests me and come up with a story immediately. But I’m graphic-oriented by nature. I write from the images in my mind. Watching TV-series tends to set these images to the various plots. I started “Murder, She Wrote” (10 years of about 22 episodes per year) but took a break as I found “Angel” (the Buffy spin-off) and also picked up “The Librarian” TNT series, which ran for 10 years and had some 15 episodes each week. This is my current distraction, as they are thrillers – quite different from the cozy mysteries of “Murder.” You have to pay attention in thrillers. Also, they have the ongoing scene of a team which is evolving, as well as unrequited love between the two main characters. And a female hero is always a great interest, especially since many of my stories involve one.

There are several more complete sets of TV-series to study, I won’t run out anytime soon. But my hobby is to check the shelves at Wal-Mart as they come out with interesting specials (like the fairly obscure “Librarians”) every now and then.

I did have to take a break one day for an errand in town. I simply set this to happen right after I had lunch, which meant that I was already interrupted. Blanked the screen when I got back and then continued writing.

One book, the shorter one, took about a day, including the editing. With interruptions, the longer one took nearly four. (It also had about 15 chapters, most being scene jumps back and forth – very complex.) On Sunday, I wrapped them all up and published.

Last night, I then got this next book burning for me to start writing. But of course, I send out a Monday email to my list about the new releases, so I have those characters on hold while I finish this analysis. But tonight will be more “Librarians” and I just got a couple of short story/novella collections on Contemporary Romance by new authors, so that will probably put me to sleep.

At least I have a streamlined production going.

Wattpad/Medium

I got one book split into its four chapters and posted these to Medium, as I was able to pre-schedule and link each to the prior chapter. Nice test. The last one is on their paid line. And I’d probably work this up that way, giving the first three chapters away and then putting the rest as a serial up for the paying readers. Each has links front and back to buy the book (via my site) so they don’t have to wait.

These four chapters are all through this week in four days (the first is out today.) In the future, I’ll probably set them up as weekly installments. I have books with 20+ chapters, and so can get out a big blank calendar to schedule them. For those, I can then pre-schedule for Fridays.

Another idea would be to take a book with a horrible cliff-hanger at the end (“Hooman Probe” is one) and set that for a straight week just like the book above (“Walkaway Blues”) and then pitch the preceding sections, as well as the completed book.

Wattpad, if I can’t pre-schedule, will then be on Tues. Along with updating my lists on Goodreads and LibraryThing.

That gives me Wed – Sun for simply writing fiction. Of course, I can write before breakfast every day, and then push my business to the afternoons.

At least the above gives me a schedule to test.

Advertising/Marketing Breakthrough

One of my fiction books, oddly, gave me a framework to think this through. The point is that the majority of the users don’t care that Facebook rips off their personal data and that Amazon is a cold-blooded profit-sucking monster. They really don’t mind. And that is where I can sell books.

So that finally gives me a way to do a “just business” approach to this. Meaning, I can start working over the article I wrote that broke into “writing to market” – building books that are themed around marketable premises. Re-collecting stories that are profitable to advertise.

It means a restudy of the courses I already have on FB and AMS ads. Those are the only two channels I know of that are routinely effective. Once I crack these, then I’ll be able to simply invest as much as I can to increase sales, as long as I stay profitable. Mostly, it’s reinvesting the Amazon income directly back into FB/AMS ads, as a positive feedback loop. Crack 5-, then 6-, then 7-figure income that way. Start small, leverage well and hard. Since I don’t count on the Amazon income to pay my bills right now, it can simply be converted over to FB ads. And that leverage will then become so much that it will actually become too much to reinvest.

Meanwhile, continuing to come out with more short stories increases the back list.

My target is over a hundred new original books published this year, and I’m well into the ball park. Increasing this to three per week will almost guarantee accomplishing that well before the year is out. Collections will have enough return to be profitably advertised.

The point has been to keep this all broad-based, and not concentrate on Amazon to any degree. Pre-orders has required me to again publish directly there. At some point, I’ll get back to working up multiple and more optimal categories for every book, and then messing with pricing every week to keep things on Amazon’s front burner.

I know all these details, even though they are personally untested. Figure the last quarter of the year (although I may start in just a few weeks, once the Four Horsemen are working) will be in rocketing this scene with ads.

I just haven’t wanted to before this, as I hate ads personally, and dislike FB and Amazon as platforms almost as much.

To-Do this week:

  1. At least two (maybe three) new fiction books published
  2. Four horsemen into operation
  3. IF in maintenance mode

Too simple.

Luck to us all.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 27 Results

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge - Week 27 Results

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 27 Results

Now we are over the Instafreebie maintenance hump, time to get started on conversions…

Metrics

Published Words Fiction:
– free – 0
– paid – 14063

Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – 988
– paid – 0

Subscribers:
Mailerlite: 14 (non-IF), MailChimp: 0, Instafreebie – 751
New Total: 2970

Book sales this week:
Amazon – 1, Draft2Digital – 1, Gumroad – 0 = Total Week’s sales – 2
Pre-order sales – 0

Books (pre-)published this week:

The Case of the Walkaway Blues
https://calm.li/WalkawayBlues

Our Second Civil War
https://calm.li/2ndCivilWar

Analysis

The overall is that now I’ve got IF to a point where I don’t have to work it over every single day. Most of the guts of it are worked out. With Verified Status, I can get IF to crank through promotions for me. Means I can really make these happen.

I analyzed my own books this week and found out that they are coming in from Mystery and Romance, which backs up what I found have been most successful for me. Right now, I have too many personal giveaways running in general, although I at least don’t have two that are conflicting with each other.

I was worried this week that I was going to have a problem winding up in the top 10% of the authors, but then I simply extended it another two weeks and my ranking improved. Again, I mail on a Monday to my list and so my giveaways should proabably start on Saturdays and end on Sundays. Three weeks (22 days) is probably a good average length. Set it for two weeks, and then add on an extra week at the end to milk the promotion.

Always have a giveaway of my own that I’m promoting. Join as many as I can. New giveaways are added to the top, and expired ones are deleted. My own giveaways are “sponsored” above the rest.

Most authors only promote a single giveaway at a time – or they are scamming and not promoting any. What I’ve seen is that the authors give one or maybe two pushes and that’s it. We’ll see how adding a week to short giveaways works.

The main point is now being able to force IF into some time slots and leave it alone to do its job. Leaving me more time to do my own.

Email hygiene starts on Friday, as all my emails went out earlier in the week. On Monday, if they are now no-openers, that’s fine. I simply delete the lot, trusting Mailerlite to keep that list updated. Over a hundred this week, which is fine. I don’t need to spend on these emails if they are never going to produce anything. If they come back, fine, but will inherit their old records and will probably leave the next week again. They got their free book(s), anyway.

Overall, my concentration is on getting subscribers and getting published works out there. Second to this is the promotion that will result in conversions. With IF now settled down, I can work up the four horsemen. This will be Tues. Once this gets under control, I’ll move into podcasting.

But if I can routinely crank out three books a week over the summer, then I’ll have my 100 short stories and preschedule everything right out to the end of the year, giving me time to set up next year’s projects in the fall/winter. Crank up the promotion and still keep at least one new book coming out each week. Next year will start off with three books a week, but one will be non-fiction, and another will be a properly promoted PD work, after needful editing.

Books Published This Week

Fun with satire. Getting the angst out of my system from so-called “news.” I did manage to sort out that book hung from last week and crank it through. Then another which also got off on a wrong foot with a weird cover. That last one wrote like a one-act play, four parts, but all in one setting. Elements of mystery and romance in it. All clean/cozy.

I did publish one of them directly through D2D as it is timely to the news. This will be a test on Medium this week, with four installments over a week – just to see how it does.

The other went on pre-order. At this writing, I also have to get the paperback version up.

My proofing system seems to work pretty well now. I write on a straight text editor, with the cover set up on my screen and everything else minimized. The Saturday/Sunday scene seems to work well, getting a book done each day. But I think I’d rather simply work Wed – Sun to see how many books I can crank out. Some are longer and won’t finish in a week.

I proof by smartphone (phablet) as the reformatting allows me to read word-by-word and not scan ahead. About three times through, and then a final fourth after a few days of letting it sit. I can highlight by word and make the changes I see there.

There is no revising, other than minor points.

And I start with the cover, as it keeps me focused on the result.

This then gives me a schedule of sending out my email with an updated giveaway page on Monday, then Tues should be posting to Wattpad and Medium, plus any I want to send to my non-fiction list-groups. Wed – Sun is all writing, with upkeep on IF and other email 3 times a day around meal times.

Because I like writing. Sat and Sun have worked the best as there is very little curation to wade though, and emails are also light and can be ignored.

Meanwhile, proofs came in from Lulu for some paperbacks. A short stack. Need to get these approved or fixed.

Conversion Theory

First point is that your list is as good as you train it. I’ve been emphasizing free books and so getting a lot of people to visit the giveaways. But I’ve also started putting books up as featured on that page. A few days ago, I essentially re-named it to New Releases. (It’s still “…\free-books” as a link and I’m even considering making a new page to change that link (since Google mostly sends me bots, anyway.)

The point there is to start telling people I have new releases. I’m going to do the low-route on pricing. Get a lot of dollar books out there. Rough plan right now is to lower all prices on anything that is a short read to .99 and then 2.99 up to about 150 pages – or any collection. When I get over 200 pages, then that is 3.99 and I can consider advertising.

Before I get into running ads, I need to complete the research and testing on both Medium and Wattpad. Because those two should be sending buyers to online outlets. Similarly, taking up LibraryThink and Goodreads to get my lists of books updated.

Next after that as part of audience-building is to get into radio/podcast interviews. I might even start recording my own books, or the introductory chapters of them (ending on a cliff-hanger, of course.) Or simply record the descriptions of them, only 5K characters (about 500 words) each. Simplest. That will get me into podcast land with new material. When I revive my PD publishing next year, it will give me the practice on publishing these reviews – or prove them useless. “New Voices – sponsored by Midwest Journal Press.”

We’re going to try this “dollar-special” approach for now. Sure, I get next to nothing (only 29 cents on D2D) but I should get readers. The whole point is to work these as buyers. Free books are great to get a list, but have to be converted into buyers. Getting people to come in as buyers and join my list will give me a better quality of subscribers.

Wattpad and Medium (and the other two horsemen) should start that. As covered, after that will be the podcasting interviews, and then I can look over advertising on FB (yuck) and Amazon (double-yuck.) As long as they earn me enough sales to be worth it.

Improving My Writing

I’ve pretty much given up on IF as a source of books I should read. Because of the 90% crud rule. Something like two or three of them were worth anything, out of close to a hundred books I started and put down immediately.

My time is better spent with perennial-selling books – L’Amour, Max Brand, Robert Erwin Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. Stuff that never goes out of print. Especially romances, especially mysteries.

Right now I have to work up getting these read, with some time for them. I’ve been working right through with other jobs and watching TV series at night. I’ll probably cut those down to two per night and then read a short story or two after that. All fuel for my inspiration. I’m way ahead on series of books I’ve ripped to my hard drives, so I don’t really need to get more. (And I’m currently ripping “Murder She Wrote” to start digesting those as a study of mysteries – over 10 years worth – should be great.)

Again, my books and my giveaways say that mysteries and clean romances are selling best for me – at least in terms of giveaways. Once sales pick up, I’ll have it set.

To Do This Week:

1. 3-4 short stories written and pre-published.
2. Content to Medium and Wattpad, regardless.
3. Emails out to my other list groups.
4. Some time re-pricing my books to .99 specials – if not updating all of them.
5. Maintain my IF work – do a short article (with research) on hook-descriptions for my author list-group.
6. Get the proofs either approved or fixed and re-ordered.

 


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Friday, June 22, 2018

Self-Publishing: You Have An Instafreebie Book Feature – Now What?

Self-Publishing: You Have an Instafreebie Book Feature - Now What?

Self-Publishing: You Have an Instafreebie Book Feature – Now What?

Death by Advertising - New Fiction Writing - J. R. KruzeJust got this email from Instafreebie Production:

Congratulations!

We selected your book “Death by Advertising” to be featured on our blog, email, and social media on 7/3/18, as well as on our homepage for the week! Our readers go crazy for featured books so remember to share and spread the word!

Maximize your Promotion:

  • Share the blog link with your fans through email, social media, and your website. Your fans will want to share in the excitement!
  • Monitor Blog.instafreebie.com that day to connect directly with readers thanking you!

So what does a featured book mean?

Lots of promotion. They have well over 300,000 subscribers on their list. And lots of traffic on their site.

So it’s a bit like having a one-week giveaway all on one book. And all the twitter and facebook stuff that they do. (Of course I don’t really believe in social media or tooth fairies or Sasquatch, especially as I’ve not seen a lot of books claimed or sold that way – but it’s free promotion, so who am I to “cast a gimlet eye?”) Mainly, it’s that huge email list. That should mean a ton of subscribers. Or at least a lot more.

It’s an interesting selection, since its also one of my most-claimed books from all my giveaways.

Obviously, as this is a couple of weeks away, I’ll have to do some updates on what happened after this point.

What did I do next?

A. Checked the book content – 

I made sure that the book that I was giving away was completely updated and very clean.

The additional things you want in every book on Instafreebie or elsewhere is that they can opt-in to your mailing list, and have a set of hot-links to buy additional books by the same author from anywhere. Your book, every book, should be a lead generator for selling your backlist.

As I’ve covered elsewhere, I’m a big fan of Direct2Digital and have them format and distribute my books wide. Checking the design of the book showed that I’d evolved quite a ways since I’d written that book early on. So I took out my old hand-made list of book titles from that time, cleaned up the original book’s formatting, and re-uploaded a new LibreOffice file so they could re-generate a new one. And I made sure to check all the add-on’s I could.

This updated the book with those I’d even written and published even this week, the entire list. And also added an opt-in so they could be emailed when another J. R. Kruse book comes out. Lots of goodies.

Then I made sure to upload those files (epub, mobi, PDF)  up to Instafreebie so the latest were up there.

(And made a note to go through my earlier books to update them all with the “related books” into every book I had up there, plus re-upload these updated books to Instafreebie again.)

I also found that I’d never gotten the book up for sale on my own site (where I make 90% royalties), so I got that done as well. (Click on the image above.)

B. Checked the description

Instafreebie only uses the copy you provide. Since it was getting claims, I didn’t want to change it much. But I read it over carefully for typos.

Then – checked out the ending… You have 800 characters there, and it simply cuts off too many. But you really need to use all of them. The main thing was to emphasize the extras – two bonus short stories. Reworded that.

Main thing I see missing in almost all descriptions (99+%) is a Call to Action (CTA) – “Claim Your Copy Now.” Tell them what they should do next. You’ve got them all excited about the story, drawn into it. Now tell them to go ahead and pick up one up. Simple, direct, classic marketing.

And that’s all I can do. Readers select based on cover and description. Period. No previews. Any inserted links don’t work, so that’s a waste of words. Make sure your links are live inside the book so they can subscribe to your list, find your other books. Here we are simply telling the hook of the story in 800 characters. Then tell them to claim it. Simple.

What should I be doing next?

Other than a lot of back-patting, I have a couple of weeks to wait. This post is going as a link on my Instafreebie resources page so there’s a record of this scene.

As Instafreebie likes the social stuff, I’ll probably log into their blog when it goes live and make a comment so people can reply to it. And I’ll retweet their tweets, and like and comment on their Facebook post (making sure to log out when I’m done.) And I’ll feature my book on my own site on the free books page so my list can get their copy and so on.

You’ll note that I used the Books2Read author and books page links everywhere I can. I’d made some changes, so these all needed to be updated and ensure that they linked to my email opt-in and Publishing Imprint pen name on Instafreebie (see the Errata sheet to see why I’ve moved from having individual Instafreebie pen name author pages (short answer: can’t make it pay for itself.)

So this is forcing updates that I need to get done meanwhile.

As well, I have more books coming out between now and then, some compilations that will also show up on that related book’s page.

Look for an update soon…


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