The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 22 Results
Same old success, as usual. People still coming in and leaving, overall improving trends on subscribers. More improvements as the tests continue…
Published Words Fiction:
– free – 0
– paid – 16478
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – 4886
– paid – 0
Instafreebie – 500
Book sales this week:
Amazon – 1, PublishDrive – 0, StreetLib – 0, Draft2Digital – 3 , Lulu – 0 = Total Week’s sales – 4
Just to make things simpler, I’ll drop PublishDrive, StreetLib, and Lulu from my sales metrics. These should be monthly workouts, essentially as the main outlets are all covered by Draft2Digital as an aggregator, and my sales through these are from those main outlets, where they occur, almost always (chiefly public domain books that I can’t publish through Draft2Digital or the trolls at KDP.)
Books published this week:
Hooman Probe PartII: Salvation – https://calm.li/HumanProbeIISalvation
Becoming Michelle – https://calm.li/BecomingMichelle
Analysis & Notes:
Weird thing happened on the subscribers. It turned out that by re-importing the Instafreebie list, I re-imported the people I had just deleted (instead of un-subscribing.) I re-import their whole list as they don’t always send everyone to my lists. In working this up, I discovered they do have a way to export just this last week’s subscribers. Good news.
(What’s interesting is that when you re-import subscribers you deleted, the records are still there. So they still show up on your segment that detects no-openers – how I actually re-discovered them.)
Now, Instafreebie says I got an even 500 subscribers this week. And that data on a spreadsheet tells me a lot about where my subscribers came from in the earlier week, like what books they chose, and what specific giveaway they came from.
This line is really efficient. With the 3 added from Mailchimp (via Zapier from Thinkific) I only found 1 other subscriber that had been missed. (And Mailerlite has a built-in way to import anything/everything from Mailchimp, so that’s another plus.)
When I looked up the new subscribers I’ve gotten in the last week that weren’t part of this readers group (Instafreebie subscriber list) there were only 10. But my other lists have grown, so this means these are cross-pollinating. The bulk of my list is these , although I have more of the rest than I started with from my December 2017 move to Mailerlite.
Another interesting thing is that I recommended my free courses to some special lists and got some sign-ups. Promoting to authors has added to another list, indirectly from Instafreebie (the authors I work with in my organized giveaways.)
While better, this is still an area of study for me. The conventional books in this area are filled with a lot of (surprise) conventional wisdom, and that seldom pans out.
I did work out a game that could result from small books that cover the five points needed to find more books to read. I haven’t been back to this project since I worked it up last week. But that is the core pain point (apparently) that the avid readers have.
Setting out a series of dollar books (and an optional $5.99 book they could buy to get the data right now) then makes them take the extra steps they need to start buying my books. This will take surveying on Amazon to see what people are looking for (and buying) to solve this. And that market survey needs to be done before I start to write.
It is working that by putting my own releases at the top of the “free books” page, I get people clicking on those books, and a few purchases. I also have to create a form (or link to a form/landing page) to put at the top of that page that will grab people who find it otherwise. That will take building a form and probably a simple landing page.
At least I’m thinking down this line.
While I didn’t get started until Saturday (again) I did force myself to crank through two short stories this week. One Saturday, one Sunday (and finished on Monday am.) Those two would have set me up for publishing to pre-orders, only to find that D2D can’t submit pre-orders to KDP. While I’ve got a query in, this might mean I have to put the pre-orders in directly to KDP and so lose the updates from D2D except manually.
I’m shooting for 3 books this week, as I did last week. Figuring to get over that hump will then set me up for a decent amount of production this week.
Tonight, I’m pushing to get all this non-fiction done so I can get started tomorrow (although I’m getting distracted by a bull who leaves holes in fences for my other cows and calves to follow – currently my milch cow is AWOL, but I’m sure to find her tomorrow.)
Once I crack the pre-order scene for real, then I’ll be able to have a far more flexible schedule and experience the true joy of simply writing and publishing.
Schedules and Decluttering/Minimalism –
This brought home the point of King’s “On Writing” schedule. You write in its own slot of time. While I’ve tried the idea of having a second computer just for writing (and it’s actually a very workable system, but means a different desk and best is its own room) the alternative that also works is to simply minimize all the windows except for a simple text editor. And maybe a browser to look up details, but then minimize it when you aren’t using it.
While I like Google Docs to write in, it will interrupt you to save your work. But on the second-computer option, it’s pretty good for transferring files – instead of the old sneaker-net with a thumb-drive.
King wrote in the am, did email in the afternoon, and read in the evenings. A workable scene, as you recharge your imagination during the evening and then rise with stories ready for writing in the am.
Plan your work, work your plan.
Four Avid Reader Horsemen –
This is still on a front burner. Hopefully this week I’ll be able to dedicate Friday to simply publishing to Wattpad and Medium. I consider that LibraryThing and Goodreads are a bit overblown with the social thing. With my volume of publishing under pen names, I simply have to work a system up of updating my lists and making them available for discovery.
There was another kindred soul who wrote an article debunking social media as necessary for authors. He also said the same points of building a subscriber list and also networking with authors. Other than spending time writing, that’s the core factors to be working on. And is all I’m doing.
I have to get Instafreebie back to a simple minimum of time invested. (Probably by working up that daily schedule above.) It’s too easy to crank around and “twiddle-fidget” with things. The key is to get a system in place and use it consistently, persistently. That frees your time up for other things. Handling email at meal times seems to be a simple approach, and that takes care of a lot of the various announcements. I also have opted onto only two lists of authors (well, stayed on their lists.)
So most of my data comes in as “updates” from Instafreebie.
Right now, my free books page says I’m on 26 concurrent live giveaways currently. This is my usual Firehose treatment and testing of things. I also have three giveaways currently running that I organized, and another 8 scheduled within the next 6 months. That is extreme. And a great acid test. (Don’t try this at home without adult supervision.)
Public Domain –
What has become a fascinating side-bar is the idea that one could actually pitch public domain books to the Instafreebie audience and build a list of these that you could then port to more PD books and/or your own original fiction.
It would be another $20/month to set an extra account up on Instafreebie to get these subscribers flowing in, and then a workup of a backlist of books to interest them in. Technically, I could create a private giveaway that would run for months at a time and have all sorts of classics there. Each classic would then point to a page with low-cost classics for purchase in that genre as part of the book back-matter.
An interesting test. With gumroad, I would get 90% royalty on a dollar book, and make this an alternative to sending them to Amazon. Also, the books2read.com links could be configured to enable a big sales page of books, separated by genre (as series) so the reader could find the books they want. In those cases, they’d be sent to the other non-Amazon outlets which would be serviced through PublishDrive/StreetLib.
All the parts of this puzzle are there, it’s only a question of working them up. Probably publishing new editions of these classics – but most of them need modern genre-specific covers and engaging descriptions anyway. So I might as well publish them from scratch.
But not a front-burner item.
UPDATE: I wrote a post about cliffhangers, which also says you want to study perennial-sellers to improve your writing. The top public domain works are a great place to start. Dissect these at your leisure (suffering through the archaic prose as needed) so you can understand the greater theme involved and the ways it somehow touches the eternal soul of different generations. What you read is what you’ll be writing.
As far as reading the 90% crud of modern books, when you find yourself kicked out of a book and putting it down, backtrack a little to find what that author did in error. And if you find a book you can’t put down, then go back to it again and dissect it thoroughly – especially if you really want the next book in that series. I claim a lot of books on Instafreebie in order to write blurbs for other authors (and so get blurbs written on my own.) Only a tiny few do I read all the way through. Again, this is the core problem of Avid Readers finding really good books. And probably a method to recommend…
But I should really take these Gutenburg top 100 for the past 30 days and sort them out 10 at a time. This would be the core of rebuilding my “Classics You Should Know” as a way to both train myself as a writer and also promote my own fiction, non-fiction, and courses. Plus, sell a lot of copies of these great classics. Read them, review/dissect them, podcast what I find. Put a link to the book club in the back of all these PD books. Help people improve their lives.
By the end of a hundred books (or so – many are non-fiction) then I’d have a great deal of information about the human experience and what makes a perennial-selling book/story.
A Breakthrough In How We Live and Think
The problem we all face, and what makes books so engrossing, is that we actually don’t think linearly. Our chain of thought is constantly interrupted by our unconscious bringing up related tidbits for us to review. So we’re busy working on something and get this idea from 12 years ago, or our childhood. Let alone someone emailing us or calling or texting. (Did I mention you should turn your phone off when you’re writing?)
Your thinking is not linear, but you want it to be, and this is how flashbacks work in books. And changing between viewpoints, and setting changes, etc. All of these are cliffhanger points, since we are so fascinated with trying to “make sense” of things and make them flow linearly. We want to build a system (mindset stack) that we can use to solve life’s puzzles.
Our fiction mirrors our mental process, which is scattered in the extreme.
A beautiful example of this is Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”. The whole book was aligned around an altered time-line, which then made sense of the world. The main character’s death wasn’t the climax, it was the birth of his son on a different world while a prisoner/zoo inmate there. Beautiful – concept, execution, everything.
Our best books aren’t linear, because our thoughts aren’t. Another reason to study the perennial-sellers.
Key points to concentrate on are Conversions and Syndication (get in front of more audiences.)
I did record a podcast episode this week and have someone who wants to work with me on a podcast series that would promote the courses I have. And be profitable for both of us. So some things are coming up. At some point, I would probably have to give in and invest in a half-hour webinar that would be a long sales letter. Or a launch sequence with a sideways sales letter of four videos total.
Not right now, though.
To Do This Week:
1. 3 books written and published. All on pre-order.
2. Newsletters to all my lists (tomorrow)
3. Set up and post serials to Wattpad and Medium (starting this Friday.)
4. Marketing homework on the Conversion puzzle.
5. If time, research Goodreads and LibraryThing to set up simple system.
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Also published on Medium.