Nearly through the halfway point of this year. Started First Readers effort instead of Beta readers – and why. More about goals and writing and other tidbits. Still short, to the point, as too much work looming…
The Great Writing Business Challenge – Week 23 Results
Instafreebie/PW: 12/47 (Actual vs. Reported: 26%)
Overall Total: 3257 (slow decrease, and continued slow onboarding from IF.)
Published Words Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 0, Medium: 0, Wattpad: 0
– paid – Book Outlets: 16303, Medium: 0
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 589 (truncated), Else: 0 (Medium)
– paid – Book Outlets: 0, Medium: 0
Books re-published with updates:
- Total: 22 to go, 111 total – fiction
Books In Progress:
- Young Ben, The Missing Time Machine
Book sales this week:
Note: Amazon Fiction – 4/43=9.3%
Lulu sales for April: 5 PDF ebooks, 157 paper/hardback (avg per week – 50 | avg. royalty – $3.79) only three fiction out of that. Next report (for May) 15 June
New Podcast Episodes:
Got some work done on publishing this week, despite my other work in writing and publishing stories. Per my statistics, I have only 22 to go. Next one I need to re-do the cover and maybe the title.
Also may have to organize some giveaways to see if I can entice some more subscribers from Instafreebie. There don’t seem to be many giveaways going currently. That would be something like one per month for four months in the major genres. SF/Fantasy/Mystery/Action-Adventure (ignoring Romance, which is polluted.) These will then run until Dec 2020 as perma-giveaways. Just another test. I divide my books up and put them on there with A/B tests on each. Just thinking this through. I get more as a verified organizer. But this would also mean that I simply have to start a monthly recommendations email in with the backlists. That would also then mean updating all my books on IF right now, and adding new ones.
I’m really looking to get through these fiction updates so that I can start getting my books on to Wattpad. The overall analysis point is still audience. Reviewing Content Ince after seeing Joe Konrath’s post brought the whole scene right back around. May have to change my income goals to subscriber goals – more on that below.
Sidebar: Visited Amazon books recently and found that they had quietly put their “also-boughts” back. No one had told me, except for some comment at the bottom of Konrath’s blog. Meanwhile, I found that if I buy through Kobo online (not through their ereader) I can download the book to my smartphone and then transfer to my machine for other uses. Haven’t tried the reverse yet. And I was able to eliminate some of the ads on Amazon, with an adblocker, but not all. (Need to try Brave on this – yup, cuts out most of the ads and leaves me at the top. So that means it’s being signed in that does it.) Amazon and Facebook have the worst user experiences. Now that I can get the non-DRM books from Kobo, I’m cutting my Amazon cord. Might even go to getting my books up through D2D to Amazon, simply to manage them easier and keep them updated (the real plus of D2D is their auto-updated bibliographies.)
First Readers Initiative
This started up because I have been going back and forth with a writer I’m helping. She read one of the books I sent her as an illustration of what I was talking about, and then had a question as I seemed to be pushing Eugenics in one of them. Re-reading that showed the problem – and I could either revise it or write a new one to fix it. So “The Autists: Brigitte” came to life. (Writing more is less painful than revising.)
So I put out an email last night about the whole concept. After asking that writer to do just that – and she accepted first, of course. And then took my recent book and asked me all sorts of questions about it, which I answered, and now have another book “rapping, gently tapping as my chamber door.”
The overall point is that I could use extra eyes – not just to find the oopsies, but also to ask questions and find plot holes and other strings hanging out. This reader today brought me questions about time travel and relationships (and shapeshifting) that bring a new set of ideas to bear. Bear on my imagination and the time of writing a new story.
That new story (The Missing Time Machine) will be a structural problem as well – the challenge of two single superpowered women to get a date with a Normal. Hands on relationship studies. Two romances going on inside a single time frame – and having them compare notes through the whole study. Just what I needed. Meaning I’m going back through all the romance movies I have to see what they are all about. Since I already had Hermione studying these from the outside in, then I need to have her now study them from the inside out.
More giveaways and recommended books
So far, I’ve simply been recommending my own books. (I have plenty to recommend.) But that gives me no time for newsletter swaps via StoryOrigin.
Mainly this comes up as the normal attrition of subscribers continues and my influx from IF has slowed, even though I’m applying to all I can. (Main issue has been the organizers complaining about the lack of promotion by participants – which is generally about 50%, regardless. IF has freebie seekers, beginning (clueless) authors, and spammer marketers. So harping on participation is futile.)
The idea is then to start a marketing calendar, where the first of each month will have a newsletter devoted to selecting authors and/or opening up new giveaways. If I can start up four giveaways and then make these continue for a year, then I can turnaround and use that calendar to promote other stories once a month and so do newsletter swaps. Meaning that I leave out the first Sunday of each month for new books in pre-release. And organize more swaps to start on that Thurs following (my newsletter day).
Changing my goals
It hit me in this review of Content Inc that I really, really need to work on audience goals before I work up income goals. Give the value first and then the income rolls in. A lot of books isn’t value – changed lives is value. Pulizzi said that in general, a 50K subscriber list is where these successes started having enough conversations that they could offer what was needed.
I think I’m onto the feedback loop with this First Readers scene. Just because of this first First Reader who’s so fascinated with my stories and open with me about all sorts of things. She asks probing questions that get responses from me I haven’t examined. And that is worth everything to a writer.
So far, I’ve set an income goal as priority – but with just a shotgun approach to what I am producing (AKA throwing it through a fan against the wall to see what sticks) it’s not getting results fast enough.
The original model was to write a lot of stuff and get it up on Amazon. That turned out to be “exclusively on Amazon”. Which is a poor business plan. (Because I have a hate-love relationship with Amazon – or make that hate-tolerate relationship.)
Where I should be going is Wattpad and that has no direct monetization, perfect for starting fiction artists.
My non-fiction needs to be all converted into courses, which has both direct income and lead potential.
And meanwhile, my non-fiction continues to pay the bills.
So the fastest concept to getting more subscribers is to
- Get the rest of my best fiction republished.
- Get giveaways and newsletter swaps going on both IF and StoryOrigin
- Get all my best fiction series (especially the serials) up on Wattpad
- All my top-selling non-fiction republished with reader magnets.
- Get my non-fiction turned into courses with discount coupons in the backs of these books – using that as the platform, which then goes into newsletters.
Then skip the income goals for now, but keep these in mind. You can see this from the 22 weeks of notes, not dollar amounts but total books sold – estimate an average royalty between $2 or $3 and you’d see what I’m bringing in each week.
The income goals were pushing me toward advertising, when I’m getting ever more feedback and anecdotes that this isn’t the way to go. Not right now, anyway. Before I start getting lower-quality subscribers into my list, I need to work on getting all my organic lines in: lead magnets in fiction (individual books and wattpad, medium), lead magnets in non-fiction (individual books and courses). That’s five different approaches I need to resolve.
Once those are all lin place, I’ll also have the platforms. (Wattpad and Teachable/Skillshare/Udemy).
The great thing about a small business is that it’s able to shift gears quickly.
Is Fiction writing panning out?
Too soon to tell (sigh.) Essentially, after a year and 1/2 investing on fiction, this hasn’t panned out according to promises (but that data-source was and is an affiliate-marketing hack.) I found I love writing fiction, but my income is coming from non-fiction and that requires no real outside investment or attention.
While Content Inc says in a few areas that any non-fiction effort can be scaled up in as little as 1 1/2 years, most fiction write-ups predict at least 5 years, with several novels each year – aggregating a backlist. (I’ve documented this before. Some very few people can get a success in their second or third year – but these reports are coming in through Dawson’s podcast, which of course push FB advertising. Content Inc has some mention of promotion costs, but this isn’t included in his model.
So, once I get all the backmatter updated in the fiction books and start on the non-fiction, I should see some difference. I’ve already seen more coming in directly from those books I’ve updated. Meanwhile, I work with what I have.
The fiction subscribers I have left are responsive, but don’t buy much. Still don’t know why. Probably have to serve more surveys up.
Meanwhile, get more subscribers in general. (ie. improved backmatter, IF and StoryOrigin giveaways, courses.)
Regardless of response, I’ll be writing and publishing a book per week (unless I find myself evolving to novels) from here on out. It’s just too much fun – and only takes a couple of days each week.
Someone out of the blue asked me how to find the original Schwartz Breakthrough Advertising that was released online years ago. I did find it and told him in general terms how I did – but also the disclaimer that it was bootleg, and he could get it from the library and OCR it as well.
In gratitude, he said he wants to help me get a webinar up about how authors can use webinars. And that really is another extension of the “idea container” concept – right out to the promotional video needed to sell the books and course(s) based on that idea-container.
We’ll see how this goes. The guy seems busy. My Breakthrough Copywriter book will be one of the first to work up along this line. And might be the way we need to approach this. I picked up a half-baked course this last week on “hooks and blurbs” and found he hadn’t studied Schwartz.
I’ll need to update my Schwartz book soonest to get the most use out of this. But a webinar on webinar creation will then bring me right into studying advertising for non-fiction.
Last Week’s To-Do’s
- Emails out – blitz (Mon) YUP
- Re-publish fiction through all possible time this week – get all these re-published. YUP
- If any time left, use this on Wattpad research review/update. NOPE
- Thursday auction YUP
This Week’s To-Do’s
- Emails out – blitz (Mon) Fiction, ARC, LS
- New book written and published
- Re-publish fiction through all possible time this week – get all these re-published.
- In any spare time, set up new giveaways on IF and StoryOrigin
- Thursday auction
- Write/publish one new book each week.
- Finish updating all fiction with backmatter (re-publishing is left)
- Publish Hooman Saga and Ghost Hunter series to Wattpad (via own site and Medium)
- Update all top-selling non-fiction back matter and republish.
- Work top top-selling non-fiction into courses (Copywriting books, CYL books)
- Round up all books that formerly sold via Lulu ebooks and update, republish these.
- Work rest of non-fiction into all possible versions, via D2D if possible. (Versions include courses and webinars.)
- Add more Nightingale podcasts to site for non-fiction subscribers.
Also published on Medium.