Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Great Fiction Books Writing Challenge – Week 17 Results

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 17 Results

The Great Fiction Books Writing Challenge – Week 17 Results

Subscribers still rolling in from Instafreebie giveaways. Just a few emails to keep up with daily. 561 this month so far, which is less than .10 each. (And I didn’t have to give Facebook any of my data…) More progress on creating sales from direct emails…


Published words

Published Fiction:
– free – 0
– paid – 84792
Published Non-Fiction:
– free – 9711
– paid – 0

Total: 94503


Aweber: 0, Mailerlite: 185, MailChimp: 3, Rainmail: 3; Total – 190

Instafreebie – 208, Draft2Digital – 3 (no change)

Consolidated Subscribers
– New Total: 908 (That was Monday. By today  it’s 1,009…)
– Net: 13 added

Note: This finally took me into the paid category on Mailerlite (still cheaper than anyone else) at $10/month.

Book sales this week

– Amazon – 1, PublishDrive – 0, StreetLib – 0, Draft2Digital – 0 , Lulu – 0, Gumroad – 0, Medium – 0
= Total Week’s sales – 1

Books published this week:


Did some fiddling with Rainmail to take them out of the loop, telling them to sent to MailChimp instead. Even nixed Rainmail itself as a test. (But, the subscribers I’m supposedly getting aren’t showing up on MailChimp, so…) There are apparently some forms I haven’t gotten to, yet. But turning off AWeber integration at least cut off that nuisance. I just want stuff to go to Mailerlite. And I can import MailChimp subscribers simply through a form on Mailerlite, so that is at least a way to do this until I can get Rainmaker backend to integrate Mailerlite.

Instafreebie is down by half, and I couldn’t say why right now. I’ll have to do a count of giveaways I’ve been part of and spreadsheet these out with their numbers of downloads, etc.

Eventually, I should have the data being integrated directly from Instafreebie with all the books, giveaways, and other data. For now, I’m still scraping and converting to make sure I get the data.

List “hygiene” still goes along. Before I do anything else each week, I send a “still interested?” email to all those who have had at least 5 emails and haven’t opened any. This might sound severe, but it just keeps the list more real. This week, I worked out how to find people who haven’t opened anything in the last three months. And sent a “still interested?” to them as well. (These overlapped with each other and not surprising that neither were opened.)

The point is to have an active list. I’ll soon be above the “paying” line and don’t need to pay to send stuff to people who could care less. If they open it, then they get a reprieve. If they don’t, they’re gone. Now the numbers are still low for both of these. 19 this week for never-opened, and 22 for not-in-90-days. Next week, I’ll compile these into a single mailing and it will be more efficient.

That hygiene is done before I send any emails out, obviously. Probably Friday, late. My update is on Monday’s, with the Free Books mailing going out that day.

The non-actives are just a segment of the overall list, so they remain in their original group if they do answer up.

Breakthrough on Book Publishing

I’ve had a few books laying around that I hadn’t gotten out. The ebook I needed to write this week (“The Autists“) went very smoothly and was published in the same day I wrote it, from cover and description to the 5 outlets. So the next day, I hustled through and got all the rest of the fiction out. Finally have a clean slate.

Counting these up, and including the “Feeding the Beast” book (non-fiction) which started this scene out, I have 39 books up now. Nearly all of these are short stories. And I’m ready this week to do the next New Voices (002) volume to collect everything up in one book. Probably will fit these bigger works into them as well. The compilation isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it can go as fast as a new work, meaning maybe two days, or possibly just one.

Following that will be a four-month collection of individual pen names, which will be four volumes of fiction. I’ll skip the non-fiction for now.

The overall significant point here is that I’m still over 2 books published per week on average. While I’ve run out of backlogged fiction books to publish, all is good. Writing fiction is now completely on demand, inspiration coming when I’m ready to write. Production of two stories per week just means disciplining the other traffic into four days per week, a day each for producing (writing-publishing) each new short story.

What to Do With Non-Fiction?

Mostly, I need to get the best stuff up on Medium as a paid outlet. I’ve been saving up drafts there of all my non-fiction article-posts. Since I can schedule these out into the future, I don’t have to do a data-dump on them.

This is probably the next line to work up, even though I haven’t gotten a workflow set for Wattpad. (Actually, I was waiting to publish these books before I started syndicating anything there. Because I need to link to the book in the author notes so people can get that book if they don’t want to wait.)

This will then result in a boost in paid non-fiction publishing, excatly what I need to do.

More Email Understanding

In my email analysis this week, I see that I can incorporate my non-fiction book subsccribers into my non-fiction mailings. This will then enable me to simply push these forward into becoming active buyers and beta readers for my material.

I saw that the key to having beta readers is to only send to the “clickers” as they have the most interest. (Another Mark Dawson figure-out.) If they only open, they are very close to couch-potatoes. And they simply need a lot more content.

With a simple way to get more subscribers, I’m finally starting to see how to utilize all this data I’ve been absorbing about building lists and so on.

Also, I figured out how to instantly send an email to everyone who subscribes from Instafreebie. The point is to avoid those people who would unsubscribe or complain later. (So I put an obvious “unsubscribe” link in the first line.) Then in a few days, they’ll get one of my regular weekly emails, or a couple (depending if they downloaded a non-fiction book.)

The point is to keep them hot and getting value from me.

Today, I reimported the whole Instafreebie list again, which was 790. Of these, I found another 63 new names, and 104 that had unsubscribed (and the one that complained.) 688 names were “updated” with new information. (No, those numbers still don’t add up to the 790 I should have – it’s 855 – but more is better, regardless.) It also turned out that out of the 10 new Rainmail subscribers, all but 3 were already on the list. Meaning that I’m starting to get the duplicative opt-ins sorted out – and my Instafreebie subscribers are signing up on my site.

As I write this, I’m now up just over 900, which isn’t much compared to last week’s jump. The main scene seemed to be the list hygiene above lowering the new count, as well as not getting as many opt-ins from Rainmaker. That Instafreebie CSV spreadsheet should give me the data to mine. (Might have to put a queryable database to pull the data out of it more easily. Not a today job.)

And there is an upcoming article on how to analyze completed Instafreebie giveaways, so you can see who are the heavy-hitters with downloads. (And also see how you can improve your own cover and descriptions.) Being able to run these through a set format (I’ll have to scrape the data and convert it into a spreadsheet) will then start telling me more about what gets more downloads in general. Beyond that, it’s the quality of cover and descriptions, also whether they are requiring opt-ins, which is a turn-off for many.

I can also mine my own list to see who came from where – even though this is a bit inaccurate as it’s been evolving – it’s updated with all possible data right now. Lots of data to sort through.

Sending Traffic To My Own Site

Now it’s painfully obvious that I can now send the top traffic to my own site through email. I beat out all the Google and other search engine bots this week.

The only other time this happened was for a few weeks with Flipboard. This is the failed “rented land concept.” They’ve been fiddling with their backend (machine learning) over there and I’m not getting the reach and response I used to. Also, I’m getting a bunch of useless stuff “selected” for me. The net result is that I’ve mostly quit looking to Flipboard for content. Flipboard has now become just another place to syndicate to, like Facebook and Twitter. The key use of it is to be able to curate and share interesting data. (If I ever had the time for it, I’d do a newsletter of interesting stuff each week – and why it’s interesting. But not anytime soon.)

Best tool I’ve found for saving stuff to digest later is Instapaper, which removes ads and puts the data into a very readable format, so speeds my understanding. Once you update it, then you have the data available offline. Handy. And it doesn’t have weird and expensive upgrade options for saving your data. The point is to curate all the interesting stuff and sock away the stuff worth fully reading (as opposed to just scanning) so I can then distill the concepts or recombine them with other data. Some of these actually become inspiration for fiction works (like “Cats Typing Romance.”)

Converting Traffic From My Site into Sales

Short answer: haven’t cracked the back of this yet.

It does finally make sense to have an email list. Because I can get half of an email list to open the email, and a third of them to click through to one of the links inside it. And then know which of those links got the most traffic, even down to which book outlets they were sent to.

Social media traffic, like search engine “traffic”, is completely out of our control. But when you send an email and give them one or a few or a handful of links, and you can track each of those links inside the email (with forwarders/link shorteners) then you know almost down to what email address did what. (I can tell what they clicked on out of the email, but not what they clicked on inside that page, or which person bought a book exactly. We’ll leave that to the privacy thieves at Facebook and Amazon.)

The old phrase that “I know I’m wasting 50% of my advertising, but I don’t know which half” is gone. And that’s because you can track your own emails directly, not depending on Facebook doing it for you (by ripping off many someone’s personal data.)

The Penny-Pinching Amazon Forces a New Solution

The problem with my pricing is with Amazon and their penny-pinching policies. Below $2.99 gives you lousy royalties. To get around this, I may need to simply sell my books directly from my own site using Gumroad, which will at least confirm the emails. And I’ll get 90% royalties all the way down to the $0.99 level. No, these won’t show up on Amazon, but who really cares? Cry all the way to the bank, and so on.

I’ve been resisting putting my fiction books up on LiveSensical into the library there. Because it’s like a sixth outlet. Lots of data entry to do. That said, the lines are already set to absorb all these. I’ll start doing this today, so this page is ready for access.

The trick is that I can have three links for any book, as its built into this template. The top one is the Books2Read link, which takes them wherever they usually buy their books. The second link would be to my Lulu “showcase”, where they can get the paperback (if available) for 50% off. The third link is to Gumroad, where they can “pay what you want” above a certain minimum that I set. So the short reads become $1 books locally, and $2.99 on Amazon. But Amazon can’t scrape my site (as the data is on Gumroad) so it doesn’t violate their “we must be lowest and you will obey” fixation. Also, since it’s “pay what you want” they can’t say that I’m fixing the price at a certain point. Nice trick.

90% of $1 is 90 cents. 35% of .99 is 34 cents. I’d rather have the customer loyalty than pad Amazon’s wallet some more.

Also, with Gumroad, I can implement affiliate offers and bundles. And then offer these to the people who buy through them. Lots more options.

I’ve never considered this before, mainly as I didn’t have a list worth anything to send people to.

This week, I’m updating my “free books” page to include my latest releases and install that option. Another iteration. We’ll see when the tests are in after a few weeks.

An interesting point of sending people to a Books2Read link is where you are actually sending people to Amazon, which in turn will raise your visibility to them (and result in some affiliate sales for other people’s books and maybe other goods.) A bitly redirect link shows you how many clicked there. Your affiliate account with Amazon shows you how many clicks you got that day – so now you can track it all the way from here to there.

Discovered Instafreebie Feature

This week I added that new book as its own new free book giveaway  and saw yet another feature. You can have Instafreebie tell you all the giveaways that are upcoming that you can join with that book. All according to what genres you put your giveaway into. So I had about 40 or so giveaways to check out for this new book. Mainly that many because it’s a romance, and science fiction. Lots of those out there. That got me into a slew of books that were just starting up in the first of May. So: 13 new giveaways starting this week.

The key one advantage was to find giveaways which had well over a hundred books in them, meaning some 90 or so authors promoting that giveaway to whatever list they have, plus their social media.

Now I always look up the giveaways that are sent to me, but that doesn’t mean I get all of them. And when I find a giveaway, I can then put a few more books into it. That’s the advantage of the top-end subscription – you have five pen names, and when a giveaway is limited to three books each, that’s still 15 books you can put up there. (But, no – I don’t have that many books for each pen-name.)

That said, the idea for having that many books means that some will appeal when the others don’t. And regardless, with the D2D book links in the back of each book, you are setting up simple promotion for each of these. So it’s promotion even if it’s not a subscription.

I went back later to check a non-fiction book and found 0 giveaways I could enter with it. (Which means I simply need to keep a non-fiction giveaway running at all times to help these authors out.

I counted it up yesterday. 39 books since Jan 1. Four months worth of publishing. The writing tests I started back in October. And meanwhile successfully completed NaNoWriMo twice.

It’s just been 16 weeks, so that’s more than 2 books published per week. And includes all the fiction I’ve written, ever. Better out there than just sitting around my little office where no one could ever see it.

Exactly what I would suggest anyone out there do. And use pen names to get started.

Analytics, Google, and Reality

Analytics are all over the place. Google isn’t really helping. My downloads are ranking better than most pages, but there isn’t anything that is bringing real traffic to my site. So the Google bots are more of a distraction than anything. Cut your traffic in half from searches, figuring most of the search traffic is just bots doing the scraping – if not more.

I’ve got Clicky installed as well as Google, and there is a world of differences. The Rainmaker Platform has its own metrics as well, which align to Clicky more than Google. Let’s face it, Google Analytics are there to sell you advertising.

My Google Analytics doesn’t track what links they used to leave that free books page. Bitly links do that. Then I look at timing on Amazon and the outlets. Did something get bought or not?

That then takes us close enough to see whether I’m getting conversions. So far, not really.

The key progress indicator is subscriptions. With a few more hours left to this month, my subscriber count is now 921. Its risen another 13 since I started writing this.

This month, I’ve made 764 subscribers. Last month was 198. I think I’m on my second month of paying at the pro level, so that’s about $120 paid to Instafreebie for getting me 811 subscribers. subscribers. I show that 706 are still here, so 7/8ths are sticking. About 6.75 cents per subscriber, 5.91 cents that didn’t unsubscribe or get unsubscribed.

Last I checked, that is around the figures Mark Dawson was giving, which compares to about one-third of what it would cost running Facebook ads.

The only trick is in keeping up with the emails from Instafreebie, but that’s not all much of a problem.

The next action on this will be to see how big the list will have to go until I can start seeing some real conversion percentages. Or how many freebie non-openers I have to weed out in ratio to the clickers before I can get the back of this cracked. Just number-crunching, while I continue to add more subscribers.

Instafreebie Training in the Making

I got a comment last week that I may be sitting on a wealth of data about Instafreebie already. So I might offer this up as a course in order to get authors’ emails and feedback on what I’ve found and additional data on what they are running into with their own experience.

I certainly know what I see that works at this point. Just a bit more studies on everything.

Instafreebie won’t let you have emails, so you have to broadcast a comment to everyone to get someone’s attention. I can appreciate this. It preserves everyone’s privacy. So the endaround is to consider the authors as their own subset and do something like set up a free course on Thinkific that they can opt into and give you their emails. (A short search shows that there isn’t any such thing out there. Fascinating.)

You can hear my gears turning from there, can’t you?

I’ll start with sending out that link (shortened with Bitly) to my current errata post to all the giveaways I’ve currently organized. Then it will build out from there..

. . . .

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. (After burning through over 3K words.)

To Do List For This Week Coming.

0. At least one new book written and published.
1. Regular emails out to list, per group.
2. Update the Errata post with this week’s discoveries.
3. Post that Bitly link on all the giveaway’s I’m running and announce it to all of them.
4. Do the homework on setting up a short Thinkific course with audio and graphics just for learning the backend of Instafreebie.
5. Go through my drafts on Medium and make the best live, and best-of-best paid.
6. In time left, take the three pen names with long amounts of work and start serializing these to Wattpad, about 2500 words per week, posting on Friday evenings.

Until next time…

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