The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 39 Results
Some breakthroughs, some coming. The trick is, as usual, to leverage everything…
Published Words Fiction:
– free – 10336 (Wattpad)
– paid – 13833
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – 1370
– paid – 10336 (Medium)
Book sales this week:
Amazon – 5, Draft2Digital – 2, Gumroad – 0 = Total Week’s sales – 7
Books (pre-)published this week:
- The Lonely Witness
- Beltway Gremlin
Caught up in writing – 12 to finish publishing
Total fiction books published: 82 (94)
Total short stories published as individual ebooks: 69 (81)
Total anthologies published: 16
Countdown to 100: 21 in 12 weeks
Flash Fiction Breakthrough – in finding what books I hadn’t published as the lead title in their own book. Too short for publishing on their own, but with another t00-short book, they make the minimum. Ended up being 12 books. All short reads.
This came up as I’m getting a lot of demands on my time going into fall, and was inspired to acquire more practice in writing the short-short story, or “flash” fiction. And after I finished up one 5K+ book (Synco), I then wrote a couple of 1.4K books and each had their place in the sun as a title for their own book – own cover, description, the works. (You can see this in both Beltway Gremlin and The Lonely Witness above.)
So turning around and finding that I had 12 good stories that had only played second fiddle so far made it a simple action to turn these around in a single day.
Leverage. Key part to this whole challenge. Make everything you have count.
(Meaning that flash fiction may be my way to hit that 100 short stories target, as I can do a flash fiction story in a couple of hours from idea to publish-ready. Three or four per week would be as simple as writing two 6-8K books. And many ideas I’ve discarded as they have only been scenes or character studies.)
Note that flash fiction doesn’t run the same gauntlet as I’ve used for my other shorts – these spring fully-armed from my brow without a cover ready, or content hook. (Although the content hooks should always be first – and practice on just these would give me springboards to great stories…)
Content Inc. Revisited – Another key strategy for fiction writers is that single book. Of course, it has to do with non-fiction, especially, but the content-production model is still that same point.
And I’m only narrowing in on this after 9 months on this challenge. The second-best time to start. So I’ll get this stripped down to basics and probably have a good followup to my other post on this from earlier.
Of course, I still have my two/three books to write this week, so it might wind up being another week off. How you do one of these is to get a copy of the book and strip out all the examples, and fluff. You wind up with the essential materials to test for yourself. But then you re-write it all in your own words.
Again, in something like this, you look for commonalities with other texts, and also what books that author references (in this case, Think and Grow Rich, and Covey’s 7 Habits.) Still, you have the points I’ve mentioned before of Philosophy, Principles, Patterns, and Product – using these as an analysis machine to develop your own best system. Or completely disprove anything as unworkable.
As I review this, it will also need a review of Copyblogger material (I have access to their inner circle stuff as I pay for their hosting of this blog with that.)
The full Content Inc. treatment may be the backbone to the full summary of what I learned this year – which will then become a course on it’s own as well as an audiobook, etc.
Instafreebie Name Change – and a glimmer of how to use it. This is expanding on the idea of being able to use a Verified Status to get opt-ins. Then set up free accounts to test your direct opt-ins from actual readers, but keeping those two lists separate.
I’ve narrowed it down to four genres, which I’ll run three giveaways for each over a year. Romance is definitely out. Just too polluted with GRQ spammers – who won’t read descriptions to save their life. Clean Romance doesn’t draw good claims compared to Cozy Mysteries. But both of those only attract some heavy-hitter authors with good, big lists. And make it hard to be in the top 30% you need to keep your verified status. This means having a lot of people who have tiny lists as well. The key seems to be limiting your submissions per author to two, and still refusing the people who have built their reputation on not promoting.
With the Verified Status, I’ll simply drop trying to be in all these other giveaways and only run my own. Of course, my free accounts will have their books there. That’s the exact point. The overhead won’t be so furious that I have problems keeping up with any of them. I was trying to promote 30 giveaways at a time, and that was getting obnoxious to me and to my list. The ones I’m part of now will run out, and that will be fine.
This week or next, I’ll set up my first quarter giveaways, maybe the first half. And this is a wildly different approach than earlier.
Yes, they are going to have their name change, and announce a few more things they are working on. About the time this hits, so I’ll have some study to do in order to keep up with them.
Medium Payments – Of all things, I got about a dollar-thirteen this week from Medium. One of my non-fiction pieces was fairly popular. At least this opens that door. (And if I wanted to work this up as a test, I’d then go back to resurrect all my drafts to post as finished works there – as almost all of my non-fiction is sent to Medium as a draft.)
I did start syndicating a longer work on Medium and Wattpad this week, the Book Two Part One of Hooman Saga. And with 29 chapters in this book, it will take awhile…
Wattpad and Medium with Content Inc. does take this full circle back to the beginning, a better way to start to do things from scratch – and the second best time is always now.
These two areas are also simply having faith in yourself and the system you are running. It’s borrowing their big audience to invite them to join yours (and maybe get paid for it.)
Conversion Still Haunting – this is what drives this process, and what will now drive next year’s challenge. I’ll be investigating both fiction and non-fiction conversion process to sales. It has its own process.
One thing that has been concerning me is the amount of prep-work needed to start this next challenge – I’d spent a few months getting things lined up last year for the one I’ve been doing. This breakthrough toward getting my 100 short stories written in a year (12 this week, as above) might buy me the time to start in on this properly. The overall approach to this next challenge is to work out conversion programs for both fiction and non-fiction.
I hope to have at least a couple of weeks at the end of the year for the next challenge preps (and visitors in this old house over the holidays is something that usually distracts from my flat-out production, anyway.) Ideally, I should take most of December just to wrap everything else up and prep for the next one. Still writing weekly, but summing up and maybe writing a non-fiction work about how I did this year and what I learned.
List Hygiene and Maintenance – while you can do a lot of automation to sort your list into different wants, for fiction authors you can sort by genre and pen-name (author) as well. I’ve now started updating the IF/PW subscriber lists, as I always miss some.
And before I send any out, I delete the no-openers (more than 4 sent.) The people who are on the 90-day no-open list are excluded from emails except the “Still Interested?” one. (About 10 percent then open an email, and maybe 3% of those click. 90% of those would be wasted, paid-for emails.)
I also have segments by author, where I then send these to that pen-name’s group. This week, I found that it has to be a manual job, like weeding a garden. In earlier days, I was on IF/PW’s top payment tier and had five pen names. Since I dropped down to the other tier, I included the pen name in with the book title (catching this tip from others) and now search for that name in the book_title field. These are now set up as segments, so I can now do this adding quickly.
With IF/PW sending me random titles as a Verified Organizer, I have to now organize for these. While I have started setting my giveaways to port to a genre-specific list, I will still have those that escape for some reason. So there is a series of manual gardening efforts needed.
Where this is heading is to promote new release each week specifically to those authors/genres as part of conversions. This might muddy the scene, as people may be able to opt-out of specific lists and I’ll be adding them back on later – but technically if they unsubscribe to that group, I shouldn’t have that problem. As segments are built from groups (or should be) that will keep such from happening again. The devil is in the details, and I assume a lot in those few sentences just above. Testing will tell.
In general, this follows the D2D approach.
Applying Mailings to Conversion – with these grouped by genre and author, they are also segmented within these by clickers. These are the ones I should be sending new releases mailings to. Not just that they are segmented by author/genre, but have actually clicked on something. Right now, I can’t get granular on what they clicked on, other than sending a mailing (campaign) and then targeting these clickers with additional material.
While most of my regular mailings go out on Mon/Tues, my genre/author mailings should go out on Thurs/Fri. Just to break these up. Also, the mailings for books will need cover/hook on them, so not a plain-Jane email. Again, following D2D example.
And this led me to studying how my campaigns did, which is where I can find the links they are clicking on (all bit.ly, which also show up there.) What is interesting is the clicks on my new books, not just the New Releases pages – so there is some conversion taking place. (A point here is to link to the books that were released since the last email, and are still on discount at Amazon…)
This Coming Week – is already set to be busy with publishing those 12 books. I still have descriptions to write in retrospect for each of them. These were written backwards from how I’ve been writing books – where the marketing hook is written first, and revised along with the book. And these were also all written earlier in the year when I was just starting out. First actions (after sending emails) will be at least two new short stories, be they flash fiction or not. Then publishing this dozen out. Then everything else on that list (hopefully.)
Winter is bringing other distractions coming up, as it cools enough to get outside for extended periods and get other work done. I have a new office to move into, which is only a shell so far. Needs insulation, electrical, and interior sheathing. The point of my office is to streamline what I am doing to make it all more minimalist and efficient. As well as finishing the renovations of this end of the house. Lots to do.
To Do Last Week:
- At least two new shorts written. – Yes, definitely.
- A book published through Medium and Wattpad. – Yes
- Emails out per schedule. – Yes
- One lesson in BAW Course updated. Nope
- LeanPub course setup reviewed. Nope
This then says that I’m still having to work at writing so much that I’m not getting my work on conversions tuned in. Still, that goal of 100 short stories is looming more than getting my sales ramped up. That has been my usual focus – on research rather than an lofty income goal. I have lots of stuff laying around to help people with, tuned instruments ready to play, but have to take some time in learning how to conduct this orchestra.
To Do This Week;
- At least two new shorts written.
- Emails out on schedule.
- Update ARC page with new downloads.
- Those dozen shorts published.
- Content Inc. analyzed and sharpened to a pointed action-step list.
- IF (Prolific Works) giveaways set up for first quarter of 2019
- One lesson in BAW Course updated…
Also published on Medium.