The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 35 Results
Fascinating breakthrough – what you can do with short stories as building blocks…
Published Words Fiction:
– free – 0
– paid – 306697
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – 5200
– paid – 3203 (Medium)
Book sales this week:
Amazon – 8, Draft2Digital – 3, Gumroad – 1 = Total Week’s sales – 12
Books (pre-)published this week:
A Mystery Reader 001: Short Stories From New Voices – https://calm.li/MysteryReader
An SF/Fantasy Reader: Short Stories From New Voices – https://calm.li/SF-FantasyReader
A Romance Reader: Short Stories From New Voices – https://calm.li/RomanceReader
A Mind’s Eye Reader: Stort Stories From New Voices – https://calm.li/MindsEyeReader
A Humor Reader: Short Stories From New Voices – https://calm.li/HumorReader
A Writer’s Reader: Short Stories From New Voices – https://calm.li/WritersReader
New Voices 004 July-August 2018 – https://calm.li/NewVoices004
- Hooman Saga: Book Two, Part Two, Section 01
- The Calling Crow Mystery
- For the Love of Cagga
Total fiction books published:
73 (Should be at or over 70 by now to make 100 by year end. Next target is 100 short stories…)
Two breakthough points this week – one sad, one better.
The sad breakthrough
…is that Instafreebie isn’t turning out to be the resource it should be. Essentially, to “succeed” on that platform, you become part of their machine. Become a verified organizer, play by their rules and add a lot more subscribers – and so what? Free subscribers aren’t fans and need to be converted to such. Right now, I don’t have any real conversion plan, and there aren’t any plans out there for converting IF or other free giveaway subscribers into buying fans. (Since I had to write the book on best practices for Instafreebie, I know all about crickets chirping in the night.)
A spot check of the subscribers shows that their opt-in’s are running close to 40%. But when I check back to what these produce, I wind up weeks later with around 9%.
I got 5665 and have spent over $160 on IF and $115 on Mailerlite to get them. While that is just around 4 cents each, they haven’t resulted in paying for themselves. I have very little to show for that investment that I can prove came from that investment. (Last month, I spent $55 on subscribers and got: $7 from Gumroad. 12 books sold on Amazon for about $3.60. Draft2Digital did better with 16 books and about $30 earned. Or maybe $40+ total. Still in the hole for the year. I did check on D2D and you can add another $30 for the year on top of last month.)
My mailing list service now just wanted me to upgrade another $15 per month to enable me to double my subscribers to 10K. Great. Now I’m paying $55 a month to get subscribers that haven’t been buying my books, well not enough.
When cheap isn’t cheap enough
Instafreebie has some great things going for it. Obviously a great way to build a list of subscribers – but no one has the conversion formula or pattern figured out. Meaning you then become part of that machine – feeding people with free books.
Sure, it’s probably the cheapest way to get subscribers. But the core principle to this Great Fiction Writing Challenge is that it pays its own way. You start for little or nothing and then leverage the sales you get in order to pay for its own progress. You don’t keep borrowing from you day job, even in micro-loans. Every single expense is tracked and made to pay itself back.
Again, this points to having an idea of building a “sales funnel” (horribly inaccurate phrase) for every line of interest you start producing content for. That is the biggest lesson here.
Freezing giveaways is the next options
I’ve just frozen all my current giveaways and am accepting no more entries. I’ve taken down all my alerts for new giveaways. Until I sort this conversion scene out, I’m not worrying about free giveaways at all. If I have some to offer, fine. Otherwise, I’ll just run my own giveaways and put my own books up there. Yes, for free – to people who visit my site. I’m not too curious about people who don’t want to come in off an in-book opt-in link.
If I don’t sort this out by the end of December, I’m going off Instafreebie and all giveaways. I’ve concluded that whole scene is flawed right now.
If I instead invested that $55 a month into Facebook ads getting people to buy my books on Amazon – and then out of those I’d have some opt-ins who should be (closer to) real fans. Meanwhile, those ads would be positive ROI and so would be worth more investment. Sure, that’s probably the Dawson route, but those are profitable ads which result in sales. Subscribers are a plus for new releases. Even as cheap as IF is, it’s still got to pay its way – which it hasn’t. More like an addiction than profitable.
I still have quite a few giveways organized, and the only reason I intend to keep paying Instafreebie until the end of December. Just to see what happens.
Building the automated conversion pattern
Otherwise, my time is freed up to build the automation and offers people should be getting to turn them into active, buying fans. Because I don’t need to keep throwing good money down holes. (How many over-priced coffees could I treat myself to? A few dozen, I imagine.)
All this is pointing me toward ads, but after I get my automation set up and a set of conversion actions in place.
What I predict is that I could probably blow off half of these subscribers as I gradually quit offering giveaways. It just means I need to set up other lines for them. And that will save that scene. Once a conversion pattern is in place, I can re-start them.
One of those might be a podcast where I spill the beans on these books as I publish them. That takes considerable time. But would attract a new type of public. And would also probably mean getting these created as audiobooks. The podcasts take time, and will need their own conversion pattern set up.
The first point will be these automations and copying all my existing subscribers from IF over into the new Groups where they can get these mailings. About the same time, I need that ARC membership up and running so they can get into it. And I can give them extra bennies if they are interested in my books. That will start the conversion pattern.
Meanwhile, I start up my Medium and Wattpad publishing for real, which automatically funnels people into the books for sale and my own site where they opt-in to the ARC membership. That’s a pattern that can be pushed. Audience first, then conversion is simple. Subscribers have to come from investing value in them, not just throwing candy from a parade float.
The better breakthrough
…is being able to build books for different markets and uses out of short stories.
Like Lego’s or something, where they become building blocks for bigger things.
Part of that conversion was to work out separating the incoming giveaway subscribers over into their genres, and then offer them a set of six short stories in that genre for a buck. While it’s listed at $2.99 everywhere else, including Amazon.
So I got busy. Built 6 books and published them all in one day. Well, to D2D, anyway. I still have KDP, Lulu, PublishDrive, and Streetlib. Frankly they might work well on Medium and Wattpad, taking a single story at a time. But not right off.
On Tues this week, I built the Jul-Aug New Voices anthology, which was 16 short stories, nearly 102K words, 351 pages. That’s a big enough book to get profitable ads running.
This has proved the concept of writing short and publishing long.
The other point of publishing long will be to get all my books up on PubD and SL to harvest that long tail.
Now you have to see that I just now have 5 books I could run ads on profitably. Each of the New Voices collections, plus the Hooman Saga Part One. It’s taken me 8 months to get to that point. That is the same as writing 5 200+ page novels (and that last collection was over 350 pages.) This proves the workability of this system, even if I’m pushing it a bit by working to publish 2 per week. It turns out that I’m at 51 published individual short stories out of 79 books published. Meaning that I’ve built 26 books (minus the two NaNoWriMo winners.)
I didn’t expect to have that many anthologies as a result. But then, I added 7 this week alone. So writing short stories is potentially even more profitable and versatile than I suspected.
What is a probable conversion plan?
Having a membership for ARC is the biggest part. Otherwise, it’s making sure you have good opt-in ads in every book, and lots of books out there on Wattpad and Medium – with ads for those books and my site (where they are faced with an opt-in on every page.)
I’m not sold on free-book subscribers. If they bought a book and then subscribed, that would be much better. This confirms using Instafreebie on their free plan.
A breakthrough down this line…
While I was busy publishing these six books above to this site, I came up with the dirt-simple pattern that anyone can use with no cost. It actually uses Instafreebie to host the preview PDF’s on an “available until” date, so they expire after that.
I’ve long heard that Blogger can have the whole site password protected. I’m going to check this out to see if it is the case. If so, the whole membership is a password-protected blogger site, with nothing to lose if the password is shared everywhere. Every new book has a post, and that includes the books2read, Lulu paperback (with discount), and gumroad links – just as are available here. The preview link (available until: date) is there, but there are no uploads to the site that can be scraped. I’ll post my podcast there additionally – and that is just a player script.
I can give out the password via an automatic response from my Mailerlite form and/or landing page, so there is no hassle.
Instafreebie (free plan) then takes care of the security completely. If someone does hack/share the password, all they get is a PDF with ads to opt-in and links to my other books by that/those authors. Giving away advertising without having to pay for it.
I really ought to put a link in all the books that says – “please share this.”
Additional to that, a person can get a feedburner feed to make sure they get every book as it goes live. I can even put the latest releases on that site to this site in the sidebar – and people need to have a password to get in (another reason to join the Advance Reader Club.)
And is so simple and robust that I’ll probably implement it tomorrow – and maybe never take it down or replace it.
Expect a post tomorrow or soon about how to do this. Just a single more step in the publishing – and start out with a dozen books to put up.
Three Books In Progress
Not what I’d planned. But I had a guest this week at my house (an old friend) and we recorded a podcast about writing and what I’ve found out. But it took a couple of days away from me.
He did get to see how I worked, and built covers before I started writing. And the discipline of just simply working right ahead with what I have instead of dispersing on all sorts of possible projects. I tend to be very focused on a few things. I have 6 possible covers waiting for me to write them, in addition to the above I’ve partially started. And on top of that, I have maybe that many partial stories written that can be picked up and worked into something (if I can get behind them.)
My system works well.
The free giveaways didn’t, by real analysis.
So this next week will simply be to work on conversions and writing more stories – finishing what I’ve started.
To Do List Last Week:
- 2 new books, one anthology written/edited and published.
- Membership debugged and working properly.
- Full publishing recipe to all outlets including Medium, Wattpad.
Only the books got published, and those in the first and last day of this week. Now I’m well ahead for the year, but want to start for the next goal of getting a hundred short stories out in a single year. That one didn’t budge this last week.
To Do This Week:
- 2 new short stories published, to all outlets (Medium & Wattpad.)
- Conversion automation set up.
- Membership debugged and operating.
- Oh – and get my Createspace books over to KDP