The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 28 Results
Conversions starting to roll in, more work to do. First Medium serial now started…
Published Words Fiction:
– free – 4,125
– paid – 14,801
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – 4,942
– paid – 0
Book sales this week:
Amazon – 1, Draft2Digital – 1, Gumroad – 4 = Total Week’s sales – 6
Pre-order sales – 0
Books (pre-)published this week:
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.
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.
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.
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:
- At least two (maybe three) new fiction books published
- Four horsemen into operation
- IF in maintenance mode
- Emails to my list groups (once email is back – Oh, it is now…)
Luck to us all.
Also published on Medium.