Life is a firehose all by itself. Most people only want to be told one thing to do, to focus on only one thing. And the tiny minority of the rest of us appreciate that abundance in volume that Nature always provides. Different strokes… No new fiction work this week. Most of the time spent on sorting out what follows after the metrics…
The Great Writing Business Challenge – Week 08 Results
Overall Total: 3995
Published Words Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 0, Medium: 0, Wattpad: 0
– paid – Book Outlets: 0, Medium: 0
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 980, Else: 0 (Medum)
– paid – Book Outlets: 0, Medium: 0
Books In Progress: 0
Book sales this week:
Draft2Digital – 3, Gumroad – 1, PublishDrive – 0, Amazon – 51, StreetLib –1 = Total Week’s Sales – 56
Lulu sales for January: 3 ebooks, 211 paper/hardback (avg per week – 53.5 | avg. royalty – $3.60). Next report 15 Mar…
Note: New Fiction sales was up to 37% of Amazon sales, from 18% week before – coincident with my own email to my list.
New Podcast Episodes:
Downgraded my IF plan to free or a few days, then put it back for another month. As I write this, I saw that I wasn’t ready for a gap in subscribers, so I’ll pay them another month and then get my Story Origins giveaways going. All that because those IF subscribers aren’t sticking around much. (And I foresee that by dropping out my giveaway email offers – still on the site, though – I’ll be losing my freebie-only readers at a faster rate.)
Most of this week was spend in sorting out my backend and strategies. So I didn’t seem to shift gears to fiction. (I did get inspired, but like my fictional author wrote – that particular character gets a lot of stuff left on the cutting room floor, as it winds up too racy. And racy is fine, but not when it distracts from the main story/parable.)
Right now, I have months of work to do in getting my books sorted out with decent backmatter. Over 140 fiction books alone, and then some 450+ total titles that sold at all (several fiction works still in pre-order, so the jury will be out for months.)
I have sorted out what regular steps I need to take now. Thanks to my coach. Unfortunately, with all this work I have to do, she’s worked herself out of a job, at least for now. Maybe come back in six months for a refresher. I don’t need more stuff to do – I have tons. I need to get it all done, now that I know my basic approach is sound.
(What I will be doing is reviewing all the material I’ve collected from her over the past few years, and getting any questions answered.)
I’ve removed the audiobooks and courses for now. Yes, I need to get these done and fixed up. But my key point is getting subscribers, which is building a three-legged stool for now (see below.)
What my business plan is
Not a business plan at all in conventional terms. But then, you can only compare yourself to yourself. There has never been a one-size-fits-anything business plan. Mainly, I’ve resolved what I need to be creating content for – which is the four-element system of Living Sensical. After I’d worked this out, and then wrote the semi-memoir “Make Yourself Great Again”, I knew all the research was done. Writing fiction for a year just proved the point – when you set a goal and persist at it, then you achieve it. This year’s goals involve improving profitability. And we’ll make them, too.
When I went over this with my email coach, she pointed out – as I knew, but had swamped myself away from it – that:
- My top selling books are self-improvement, followed by the other four points of that system. Those books paid for my fiction writing experiment – with no investment or attention.
- My fiction books are parables and need to lead to the non-fiction books – my Living Sensical system. (She also suggested I have backmatter links to the fiction in the non-fiction books, which I resisted originally, but then finally saw what she was talking about.)
- I operate as a small press, but one with a mission of pushing this self-improvement system. Branding needs to be from the LiveSensical (or LivingSensical) site(s) so that people go from the fiction and non-fiction books into the system. That’s the real brand. So my email and other mentions change from midwestjournalpress.com to livingsensical.com – simple. Meaning that the small press as a brand really tends to disappear, except as yet another backmatter ad – that sends people to the LiveSensical.com bookstore. (At livesenical.com or my Gumroad profile.) The small press is a model, not a brand. It’s a background system of production.
The short version – my non-fiction and fiction books both feed into the life-system. That is my brand and priority, but still treating them for what they are.
- Some self-help readers also like fiction, and that reinforces the other books (plus, I like writing them.)
- Fiction readers are introduced to the idea of parables – and then are tasked with finding the “hidden” meaning in their fiction books (all of them are written from the ideas found in the Strangest Secret Library books.)
Below this, you see my boil-down of the “stack” of ways to subscriber sources.
Mainly, I need to work on the top three right now. Content out to book outlets in terms of published books, and content out as guest posts – both free short stories and also non-fiction essays, then ensure I have giveaways running in my main genres all the time (SF-Fantasy, and Mystery).
Then my emails simply focus on the “One Thing” approach, also covered below. And I do these weekly to the separate areas (right now are fiction readers, LS-readers, and writers.) Those are the same as writing a short non-fiction every week – more like flash-fiction length.
Once these emails are done, then I’ll write my fiction work.
I’m due for a re-study of Dawson’s course(s), as well as Stephenson’s course(s), just to get my wits around advertising (just not this week – lets polish and streamline the four points above that.) My coach says this is the fastest way to build subscribers – and I know otherwise, that I need about a 15-50K list in order to build a set of “true fans” that could support my site on a subscription basis. And tell me what I need to be producing as a salable product for them. Audience first.
The Dual-Use Subscriber-Reader Stack
My coach (bless her heart) showed me a simple stack of items that you need as part of your book marketing. Then I improved it.
You use this as a scale of actions to take to encourage book sales from both new subscribers and longer-term subscribers.
Here’s the stack:
- book outlets (backmatter opt-ins)
- guest posts (signature and links back to site)
- giveaways/swaps (subscribe for a free book.)
- emails (onboarding and reminders)
- ads (for both subscribers and sales)
Those are all laid out in terms of your own time investment. Returns will vary, depending on the quality of your input.
And they all apply to increasing your list and also to increasing conversion of your list – more book sales.
What I added was the guest posts. What I eliminated was any social media. (Because social media is an huge and addictive time suck. It returns only about 1% sales, according to various studies.)
Book outlets means backmatter. Backmatter means your reader magnet offer, your related books, your recommended books. Sure, the various book outlets will recommend some of your books over others. Most book outlets are curated (and set the also by, also-in-series, also-boughts below any book.) Some are all algorithm (Amazon and their bots.) And the Amazon-freakaholics will tell you to put your opt-in ad in the front of your book as well. But that just makes your book a poorer reader experience. Backmatter should be the dessert after the main course. Itself delicious, delectable, and satisfying.
Guest posts are anywhere you can put your content for free to get extra eyeballs on it. Medium and Wattpad are great. Also this is getting guest interviews on any media, and posting as a guest to popular blog-type sites. It’s called “stealing audience”, but is actually just a way to get those hosts to recommend your article/story to their existing readers.
Giveaways/newsletter swaps – These act the same way as guest posts. Authors contribute their book and then promote that giveaway along with the other authors. Participating authors are then recommending your book to their list along with the others. Newsletter swaps are for particular books, usually with one other author. Bundled sales are like this as well.
Emails – you “on-board” your new subscribers and get them to check out your books. Then buy them. You recommend your other books to your existing subscribers and get them to buy more of your books. Trick is – they are both the same email (after that first on-boarding one). Of course, you can make special offers to certain segments of your list, especially the non-clickers. Or especially the clickers.
Ads. Not the end-all of everything. It can get you a lot of new subscribers fast. And they can boost your sales, which will give you more subscribers. Getting them to buy your books is the next hurdle. Again, you have to invest a lot of very special training and monitoring to get the best result from these.
Easiest is to simply make sure you have reader magnets available, along with your other related books in every book you publish. And then update the earlier ones (Draft2Digital does a great job for you at this.)
Hardest is to spend money to make money – ensuring your readers that you acquire do pay their way. That takes training, and daily monitoring of your ads, as well as tracking your new subscribers to see what they are doing.
Also (unlisted above): Email list overboarding (“hygiene” is a horrible clinical name for it – how about “post-operative triage”?) – this is where you regularly remove people who don’t open anything. I remorselessly remove anyone who can’t open the first five emails I send them. And ask people who haven’t opened anything in 90 days whether they are “still interested?”. If they don’t open that single email, then they’re gone. Yes, that’s intense. But I’m spending for every email I send – so I don’t need people who don’t open what I paid for. Those that are still interested will open that one – where I tell them to click on something if they want to stay on the list. So I’ve got decent open rates. And if people want to come back, they can resubscribe again. (By the way, I generally get 10-12 percent of the 90-day-er’s to open/click.)
Strategy Going Forward
As covered, I have somewhere near 500 books to upgrade. Just the ones that sold at all last year. They all have to work toward the one site, under the brand. It’s working up their backmatter.
Strategy is two-fold: establishing and building my stack. Increasing engagement
A sample week:
- One fiction readers book email
- One non-fiction readers book email
- 2 fiction books published to free with backlinks.
- 2 non-fiction articles published to free with backlinks.
- 2 fiction books updated with backmatter and syndication checked.
- 2 non-fiction books updated with backmatter and syndication checked.
- 1 new fiction book written and published/syndicated?
- 4 books also include their Book Universes podcasts.
- Publish audio book if available for non-fiction.
Lots of work, right? Good thing I’m used to it. Also, I’m not republishing these, I’m just checking the backmatter and general formatting. Then send the original files through Draft2Digital and get them everywhere they aren’t currently (including my own site.)
Notes: Free articles can/should link to books – preferably a reader magnet. Those same free articles would be good emails. Keep these short, and leave the blog posts on the blog. Medium apparently likes shorter, pithy emails. Google likes longer ones, as they give more data. But the world doesn’t revolve around Google (or Facebook, or Twitter, ad nauseum.) Your world does resolve around people responding to your communication. I don’t buy these “bounce” statistics. Recently Google quit sending so many bots to my site and my bounce rate dropped by as much as 75%. From mid 80’s to mid 20’s. Bots = bounces. Sure, I see some quick reviews by readers when I send them to a page, but it’s nowhere near the bounce rate of bots.
Four Vital Pieces of Writing You Need in Place for Goal Achievement
I’ve been restacking my mindset for years, but have been sticking to just the Strangest Secret Library podcasts on this site to thoroughly study them and learn by repetition.
There are three items that must be put into writing, and must be reviewed daily, in order to make your success most efficient.
First, Napoleon Hill’s 6 Steps. Name your goal, when it’s going to happen, what value you’re going to give to earn it – then review this morning and night (and maybe any odd scraps of time – like lunch) with the feeling of having accomplished it.
Second, your Internal Press Release. Pulizzi has a great, short podcast on this as well as including it in his book (see episode 41 at this link.) Others have mostly referred to Ian McAllister’s version. You write this before you do any actual work on the new product itself. Plan your work before you work your plan:
Here’s an example outline for the press release:
- Heading – Name the product in a way the reader (i.e. your target customers) will understand.
- Sub-Heading – Describe who the market for the product is and what benefit they get. One sentence only underneath the title.
- Summary – Give a summary of the product and the benefit. Assume the reader will not read anything else so make this paragraph good.
- Problem – Describe the problem your product solves.
- Solution – Describe how your product elegantly solves the problem.
- Quote from You – A quote from a spokesperson in your company.
- How to Get Started – Describe how easy it is to get started.
- Customer Quote – Provide a quote from a hypothetical customer that describes how they experienced the benefit.
- Closing and Call to Action – Wrap it up and give pointers where the reader should go next.
If the press release is more than a page and a half, it is probably too long. Keep it simple. 3-4 sentences for most paragraphs. Cut out the fat. Don’t make it into a spec. You can accompany the press release with a FAQ that answers all of the other business or execution questions so the press release can stay focused on what the customer gets. My rule of thumb is that if the press release is hard to write, then the product is probably going to suck. Keep working at it until the outline for each paragraph flows.
Third, Your Mission Statement. This comes out of Pulizzi’s Content Inc, but is clarified in Covey’s 7 Habits. The trick is to have a “best of breed” or “world class” outcome. Big Hairy Audacious Goals that make you uncomfortable. Your mission statement says what you should be doing at all times. And something to post above your monitor to refer to daily or more often.
Fourth, Your $25,000 List. This is from the story Nightingale tells of the efficiency expert Ivy Lee interviewing a steel executive. Lee said – here’s what you do, pay me what you think it’s worth. That executive gave him a $25,000 check for something like 30 minutes of work. Essentially: at the end of your work day, write down the 6 key things you need to get done the next day. Stick that list in your pocket. The next day, pull out that list and work on getting them done, one at a time.
If you get these all written down, and get them in use daily, then you’re tremendously streamlining all you need to do in order to make your success appear.
Just One Thing
That’s the other recent lesson. Hard for me to put into practice. Because I’m used to writing in long blog posts, and long book chapters (about 2K words). My non-fiction blog posts have multiple links in them.
But people only think about one thing at a time. Always been that way, always will.
So your emails need to be about one core point, and need to have one link you repeat several times (especially in the PS.)
Too simple. I’m told that since more people are reading emails on their smartphones, you should look for two screen-fuls and a larger type size. (Although I’ve had no problem reading the default ones, so this is just for checking.)
The key point is to just talk about one subject in your posts and your emails and have one link in your emails.
Then write that next post and that next email for the next thing you want to tell them.
This is all for short emails, obviously. Snackable. (And I’m starting a study of Nightingale’s “Our Changing World” radio broadcasts to get this style of writing down.)
It doesn’t mean you can’t break it down. But stick to three’s. People won’t remember more than three things at a time – unless you can drill them into their heads (like Mind-Body-Value-Bliss or Philosophy-Principles-Patterns-Products – which is much harder to remember, since there isn’t an emotional tug to each of them like the first one has.)
An old college teacher (I was older than he was) said to
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them – A, B, C.
- Tell them three things: A, B, C.
- Tell them what you told them – A, B, C.
That’s workable, and find for boilerplate articles. You won’t lose anyone in the weeds. And you repeat everything three times.
All good stories are built on this – Hook, 3 try-fails, Wrap-up. The hook sets the stage, tells you about a likeable character who is a lot like you, and that they’re in a lot of trouble. Then they try something to resolve their problem and fail, but learn. Next, they try something else and fail, but learn some more. At last, they try something and it solves the problem. The final scene is showing everyone happy (or, in a tragedy, the villain gloating over the grave of the main character).
Most successful TV series then show the next trouble the main characters are getting into. Called a teaser. (And yes, “Buffy” should have quit once they killed her off after her five-year run, instead of adding two more years to milk that audience with nowhere to go – instead of just telling them to follow the Angel spin-off.)
If in writing a book or course (not a blog post) then split up the content into sets of three – like three sets of three – and then people will get the data. Trick to this is that courses are now more entertainment than sequential how-to’s – and a lot of content-producers don’t get this.
The Joy of Creating
When you set your goal our in front of you, and assume it’s already accomplished – a funny thing happens.
There is a feeling that replaces all fears, doubts, and uncertainties. Like these were things of the past.
This is the fuel of courage.
And the bigger the goal, as long as you can get behind it and consider it achievable, the greater that feeling. And so, the less fears, doubts, and uncertainties you carry with you.
Of course, you won’t see it until you believe it. Belief comes first.
You can do this with baby steps. Take a simple thing you want in life and then consider it done. Write it down, along with what value you are going to give in order to get it. Review that paper twice daily, and get that feeling every time you do. Reading it out lout helps. And practice getting this feeling everytime you think of that acheived goal during the day. Eventually, what you want will come to pass. Once you have that success, then you pick something else, something bigger. Same approach: write it down, write what you’re going to give in exchange, work out your plan and start executing that plan immediately. And get that joy of creating, of accomplishment every time you think of that goal achieved.
This is all in Nightingale’s Strangest Secret recording. And it’s in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. But it also runs through all our philosophy and religious texts – even before recorded history.
It’s a strange secret because it’s “hidden in plain sight.” Every successful person you have every heard of knew and used some version of this.
And why Hill studied over 500 achievers to distill that practical philosophy. Why Covey came up with his own version after studying 200 years of American self-improvement philosophy. What Jim Rohn studied and learned before he became famous for talking about it – and what he trained Tony Robbins and others.
Accomplishment is satisfying. And by practicing getting the that feeling of satisfaction, you banish all fear, doubt, and uncertainty. You become courageous, definite, certain – and these attitudes spread to anything and everything you do.
You’ve probably met people like this. Rare, but they are around.
They set and make goals. They know the secret.
And you can, too. It takes practice. But the second best time to start is now.
Last Week’s To-Do’s:
- Emails out. YUP
- Saunders episode and book. New Book Universes out – probably some pre-release upcoming or recent. (Might do two.) NOPE
- Get those podcasts registered with ITunes, Stitcher, Google, et al. NOPE
- Catch up on Amazon publishing. NOPE
- Coaching call and homework. YUP
- Saunders and several other stories out as free fiction through Medium and Wattpad. NOPE
- Study up on audiobooks and see what will be needed to get these revamped. NOPE
- Time permitting, re-record Scam Free. NOPE
This Week’s To-Do’s:
- Emails out – three of them. (One to LS list, One to Fiction Readers, One to Writers as another attempt to get more of these surveys answered.)
- My own “four pieces of writing” written down.
- Catch up on all Amazon publishing.
- Review all email coach’s collected videos and PDFs
- Restore New Releases and Short Story RSS feed emailers
- Finalize my LS and FIC backmatter and strategy to implement.
- 2 fiction ebooks republished.
- 2 non-fiction ebooks revised/republished (proofs ordered.)
- 2 Free short stories out through site, Mediuam, and Wattpad
- 2 New LS essays out through Medium.
- New fiction written, published, syndicated.
Also published on Medium.