More farm projects ate away the week – again. Did finish a new ebook and got it published. No progress on Wattpad or Courses. Having to change emphasis on strategy. Start working from existing sales backwards.
The Great Writing Business Challenge – Week 31 Results
Instafreebie/PW: 50/124 (Actual vs. Reported: 40.3%) 10 non-IF subscribes.
Overall Total: 3255 (increasing again. Higher percentage, means new giveaways producing new readers. Key point is this increase in organic opt-in’s – over 100% above last week. 3 new giveaways starting Sept 1)
Published Words Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 0, Medium: 0, Wattpad: 0
– paid – Book Outlets: 11584, Medium: 0
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 526 this blog, Else: 0 (Medium)
– paid – Book Outlets: 0, Medium: 0
Fiction Books re-published with updates:
- Total: (still) 167 to go. (sigh. No recent progress – still back-burnered.)
Books In Progress:
- “Their Eyes”
- “Walkaway Blues” sequel
Courses in Progress:
- “Strangest Secret”
Book sales this week:
Note: Amazon Fiction – 10/36: 28% (Amazon still in summer doldrums. Drove a lot more traffic to my own books through email. Percentage dropped, though.)
Lulu sales for June: 4 ebooks, 141 paper/hardback (avg per week – 35 | avg. royalty – $3.40) only one fiction out of that, and only reprints (none mine). Next report (for July) 15 August
New Podcast Episodes:
Did find a new service called ReaderLinks – which pulls up your historical sales data (yes, years and years) from Amazon so you can see what’s happening there. Graphs and everything.
The main point is that I’ve got real world work to do, not just and only concentrate on writing fiction ebooks. (Did that last year – and the farm suffered.)
There’s a goal I have that’s deadlines on 31 Dec.
So I have to shift focus to make it. It’s what type of books I need to be creating as priority: Courses.
Courses As Priority
I can get all my farm work done and one idea-container (book) published per week.
The trick is which type of work is most vital.
I’ve found I can focus on publishing one book a week – and my keeping my farmwork up – but nothing else gets done. The trick is that I’ve been pushing fiction books, which hasn’t resulted in a lot of sales. Meanwhile, what is selling doesn’t give me subscribers (as backmatter isn’t updated.) Also, it’s been a one-and-done. I need the other versions of this book and related books back there – as well as a discount coupon for a course (which also gives me their email.)
Fiction is a beyatch to get started in as an unknown. Most authors have taken years to get a head of steam up.
Those two paragraphs just above say that I can get more immediate income by simply paying attention to what’s working – while I continue working with my email list to get them buying more of my books. Right now, I have books pre-scheduled half-way through October. Meaning, I have about 2 months I can invest in non-fiction courses-as-books before I “have” to create some new fiction. (Practically, I’d actually be smarter to review all the “Ghost Hunter” anthologies in sequence to bring everyone up to speed on the characters. Or I could do the same thing with “Hooman Saga”. Time to reconsider my options in this area – while I take a couple months off…)
More income means I can reinvest in advertising to get more sales and/or get my books discovered. (Amazon’s pay-to-play.) More discovery means more subscribers and better control over my income.
The fiction-writing model I’ve been testing has turned out mostly invalid – other than a few points. Short stories sell well, but can only be advertised as Anthologies profitably. And that’s where this model fell apart. It depended (like the affiliate marketer who created it) on being inside KU exclusively. Meaning: go for the quick bucks and leave money on the table. That was the bottom line. And was how he made decent income on selling “short reads”. He was writing to market and sticking to the most profitable categories (high demand/supply ratio.)
And affiliate marketing approach to creative writing is a good way to burn out fast.
However, I found that writing was more enjoyable to simply write what you are fascinated with (as that keeps the reader fascinated) and then find the lucrative markets/categories where its more likely for them to do well.
And as this is a long-haul activity, any beginning author is better off working to discover what the perennial/non-ad-driven top selling books contain – and writing with these elements in mind. In short – don’t write throwaway fiction to make fast bucks. Write stuff you know is great and your grandchildren will be proud to get the royalty checks for.
Short stories are great for learning craft. But the key point is to write in series and serials – to publish everything first on Amazon (going wide) and then to Wattpad. That key point is to build audience. That’s where you get reviews, but most importantly: subscribers. That’s audience you can do something with. That’s how you get your own sales rocketed and do launches, etc.
No, nobody tells you that, either.
And this site has been one for exposing the unvarnished truth about fiction writing craft (at least for the past couple of years.)
Books as Idea Containers
You can take the same content and make it into various versions, all of which can be sold for income.
Non-fiction is more profitable than fiction, but less bally-hooed. Typical scam set-up. (Only took me a year and one-half to figure this out and test it.) The point is to build a wide base for your non-fiction, just like you do for fiction. Have a deep backbench for them to invest in. That means all possible formats, and a lot in each series – just like fiction.
The key was a recent podcast about the new Amazon tax which has destroyed any possible ability to get your book discovered on Amazon. It’s called AMS. And it’s typical of their selfish, greedy empire.
The solution is to go where your audience can actually discover you.
There are two places for fiction where you can do this right now: Bookbub and Wattpad. Both of which will take your advertising dollars.
Once you have your audience, then you can get them to go directly to Amazon for sales, so your readers are able to then jumpstart their own internal promotion on your behalf (what makes them money…) Then your ads will pay for themselves. Until you have reviews and sales, they will hardly take your money – because an unprofitable book isn’t worth it to them. And unless you have a decent sized (or at least very responsive) list, you can’t get there from here.
See the Amazon Catch-22?
Non-fiction is simpler. And more profitable. Because there are at least six versions of books that all sell everywhere. Not just Amazon, and not just ebooks. The list: ebooks, paperbacks, hardbacks, audiobooks, courses, PDF’s. (Also video’s, but usually these are part of bundles with courses.)
So the “idea container” practice is more than being efficient, it’s a way to build your audience into a loyal buying team of subscribers.
The other trick with non-fiction is that it’s in vertical silos. Your audience is mostly focused on that one area. So your competition is known and can be dissected.
In fiction, they can cross genres with impunity. While you have many hundreds of thousands of fiction authors to compete with. So your chance of building a continuing success on the great Zon fiction publishing platform is probably about one in a hundred-thousand and falling.
What’s financed my fiction research
Non-fiction perennial-selling classics. That’s the bottom line. In spite of Amazon hating public domain books.
What I did was to literally throw stuff in there until I had over a thousand books published. No kidding. Not all on Amazon, but any that sold well elsewhere (and they would almost always start selling elsewhere first) I’d then try on Amazon. If they permitted them at all.
But public domain is a dead end overall. Your main profit makers are orphan books which are even harder to get accepted there – since you can’t prove you own the rights to publish them, even though no one cares about them anymore.
The long and the short: I have a handful of non-fiction books that keep selling no matter how much I neglect them. All ready to be pushed out in all formats and promoted on Amazon – because they have reviews and can succeed better by investing that Amazon tax.
Fiction you can advertise on Bookbub profitably. (I don’t see how anyone can promote on Wattpad and earn back their money right now.)
So that will be my work out – study up on AMS and Bookbub advertising. Non-fiction gets courses, which the other book versions send them to with coupons. Fiction gets Bookbub ads – not the major ones, the little ones on the bottom of their emails and site. Take the ones which are series.
Meanwhile, somehow start porting whole books over to Wattpad to get people coming in to my site and converting to subscribers.
This next priority
I can get one “book” done per week. It’s time to move from writing fiction short stories as ebooks to creating courses as books. Starting with the material I already have audio for and are already selling well.
Interestingly enough, they are all mostly related by core materials: goal achievement, copywriting, regenerative agriculture. Most of my audiobooks are in goal achievement books, so that’s where I’ll start. Most of these also have paperbacks and even hardbacks already created. Most are only lacking courses.
So my moves are to next do just courses and update all the other versions with expanded backmatter. As I said above, apply Scientific Advertising and put coupon codes inside their back covers. Once the courses are in place, then run AMS ads to get them selling better.
As those books are all in that genre, you have a series of them. That backmatter then links to those book sales and their courses.
At the same time, mini-courses can be pushed out through Skillshare and Udemy with a link to your site or directly to Teachable. (You can also host your course on Gumroad.) The point is to use your group of related courses to build audience and critical mass.
You can see Mark Dawson as a great example, and DW Smith as a firehose example. (Smith frankly seems to be pushing and earning more income from his non-fiction courses than his fiction books.) The difference between them is that Smith is talking about his ideas on classic materials that don’t change much. Dawson has to update his how-to courses every year. Starting with classic books, you can create evergreen, perennial-selling idea containers and simply expand your base every year.
Am I quitting fiction?
No. Hell, no.
I love writing too much. Fiction is the only outlet that keeps up with my over-active imagination. And non-fiction books people take too seriously. The use of fiction as I write it (parables) actually brings them right back to goal achievement classics. In theory, I’d then be able to also bring non-fiction students over to my fiction works as illustrations. (But first I have to get a number of subscribers – far more than I have now.)
And fiction is a lot of fun.
For now, I have to play catch-up and test this new field of work. Courses.
My priority has to be courses and mastering advertising. Simply as non-fiction has less butting-head-into-walls than fiction. Apparently, anyway. Testing is needed. And building up Bookbub presence to prepare for better fiction discovery.
What’s the approach for ongoing fiction emails?
I can’t just quit writing weekly emails to the fiction fans I have.
My time coins then should be to review the two main series I have to build them up in my subscriber’s minds. And at this time of the year, I should think about Christmas. When people expect to be blowing through money.
The smart move would be to build up to a Christmas release (and pre-release can only be done 90-days out on Amazon, unlimited everywhere else.) Work that all backwards and enable a huge discount on my own books from my own site (where I can bundle them.) And build up emails and special giveaways to get people ready for a mega-release on Amazon. This is just an interesting concept at this point. Something to work out over the next few weeks…
While I build some courses.
Some books don’t show up on Amazon as ebooks, but do sell as paperbacks. Mainly because I don’t want to have to trip around with Amazon’s bots and their automated threats. I do sell a lot of copywriting books in paperback. But they aren’t ready for prime time without rewriting the main book, which is less than 10% of the original book by that author and mostly a review of data. Like I said, it needs to be re-written. (I can explain what he’s trying to get across much better…) That’s my second-best scene. Third best is the agriculture books, particularly about grazing. But they are completely disrelated to the others.
Fortunately, I have 12 in the top tier which are all derivatives of the first book (short reads on various subjects) and by including a library collection of references, this allows me to include all of them inside that series as well. (Although I can get only half of them onto Amazon because of the spammers wrecking things – but I do have their paperbacks there. Another 8 exist in a similar series, and are interconnected through that library collection.
As I write this, I see that I might as well make them all the same series. That makes the end-matter simple and long. But speeds up the updates.
That sequence is to then update all the books into that series, through Amazon and Lulu, then start building courses based on the reader magnet that goes inside the books. The reader magnet (which isn’t available through Amazon) then has the coupons in it for the various courses.
This week is then updating all these books. I’ve also got a subscription to ReaderLinks.com and this has pulled my historical data to show me sales of all these books. (Fiction is pathetic – but there is only a little over a year’s worth of sales data – and no real audience built up yet.) I have some more work to do in getting through the learning curve on this. And matching up my non-Amazon paperbacks with my Amazon ebooks.
Last week’s to-do’s:
- Emails out – blitz (Mon) Fiction, ARC, LS – YUP
- 2 days writing-publishing next in queue. Time left, republish some books. – Yup
- 2 days posting to Wattpad. – NOPE
- 2 days building courses. (Includes Thurs. auction.) – NOPE
This week’s to-do’s:
- Emails out – blitz (Mon) Fiction, ARC, LS –
- Rest of time – building courses, starting with updating this series on goal success. –
- One day this week just posting to Wattpad – Hooman Saga. –
Also published on Medium.