February 19 2014 Editor Assistance Newsletter
I hope you’re surviving the new snow! Will it ever end? Our grill in our back yard is nearly completely covered. The snow has filled our back porch up to the height of the railing. Pretty impressive.
I have news and information for you, gleaned from my work these past few days on my Ophelia Sikes series. To briefly recap, in November I began with four novellas in the Worcester Nights series, about 10 chapters each. Then I moved on to a Bermuda Nights series, again about 10 chapters each. Bermuda Nights Book 2 is going live right now on Kindle. You can see the details of all six books here:
The two series are loosely related, in that the hero of Bermuda is the brother of the heroine in Worcester and he does show up briefly in that first series.
I have the main site with blog, a Twitter feed, a Facebook feed, and a Google+ feed for this book line. I strive to post daily but am not always able to.
So, here are my notes.
I did an online launch party when the very first book came out, back in November. I then cranked out 2 books in November and 2 in December, at a rate of one every two weeks. I had those books on all systems (Apple, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, Kindle, etc) to give all options to readers. I had people actively waiting for the next one because they’d just finished the previous one. I priced my books at $2.99 each, which is high for me. Usually I’m doing things at 99 cents.
By the end of December I’d sold 137 copies of the four. Considering this is really “one book” in pieces, and they’re going for $2.99 a piece, this wasn’t too bad. In comparison, when Sworn Loyalty (medieval novel #11) launched at 99 cents for the whole novel I sold 51 copies. When In A Glance (medieval novel #12) launched at $2.99 a copy I only sold 12 copies. So people are definitely price sensitive.
One could say that I make more money selling fewer books at higher per-book income to me. That might be true in a short-term view, but long-term I want people to hook into the entire series and keep reading. So I need as many people as possible starting the process.
In December I set just book 1 to 99 cents, to try to suck people in. But I’m just not getting many sales now. I think part is due to my longer lags. I only put out 1 new book in January, and this 1 new book in February. I think that slow pace makes people lose interest in this serial style. They move on to other serials where the books keep coming and their interest is high. These are readers who read a book a day, or a book every other day. So they’re not going to sit around reading nothing. They’re going to read other authors’ books. And if those other authors keep coming out with a next book, right after they’ve finished a previous one, the readers are keen to get it. If it’s a month later by the time my next book has come out, the reader has probably forgotten about me and the storyline, given everything else they’ve been doing.
So I have several new theories.
First, when I start in on a series, I have to keep at it until that series ends. I want to draw those readers along and be ready with the next book when they finish the previous one. Otherwise the chain is broken and sales drop off.
Next, when I finish a series, I should bundle it. That way people who would rather just have “The Worcester Nights Story” in one chunk can buy it at a discount. That would encourage sales, one would hope. It’s reaching a new audience. So I’m going to create a bundle for Worcester Nights and post that on the various systems for $4.99.
Next, I’m setting Book 1 to FREE on SmashWords which should have a cascade effect of making it free on Kindle. Hopefully if I can get a ton of downloads of that first book I can then get a bunch of readers to read the rest. One could say I’m “losing sales” by doing that – but right now I’m not GETTING those sales. I need to get people hooked. That first book is the hook to then get them all to buy the rest. Note that this FREE thing can take months to take effect on the Kindle side, so it’s not an instant turn-on, turn-off thing. It’s a very slow process. It’s a long term decision.
Also, as much as I tend to go back and forth on having books available on all platforms, I just haven’t seen much success on the fiction side. My non-fiction books sell well on all platforms. And I know other fiction authors with more active fan bases do have fans asking “when is it out on Kobo” and so on. But with mine, for whatever reason, the fiction side just does not sell on the other platforms. I had one sale – just one – across all the non-Kindle platforms for the entire time period I’ve been publishing these. So that seems not worth it, compared with the boost I get being in the KDP exclusive system and being able to do promotions within Amazon.
I have the two Bermuda books set to be exclusive to Kindle. On the 21st I start a seven-day “discount to 99 cents” sale on Bermuda Book 1 to try to drive sales to all of the books. If I can hook someone on one book, they should want to read the rest. It’s probably less helpful to do a special deal on a book 2, since far fewer people will leap into the middle.
Part of my challenge is that I haven’t been getting many likes or comments on my Facebook posts, so even though I have over 1,000 fans, hardly any of them see the things I post. The Facebook algorithm properly, in my mind, only features posts in a person’s timeline that the person is likely to want to see. With so many people liking 300 or more fan pages nowadays, they would be deluged with junk if they saw every thing posted by every fan page they were attached to. It’d be a wall of spam. So Facebook tries to manage this by showing them more posts from fan pages they have shown they like. So I need to get more likes and posts on my Facebook page, to then cause my posts to be seen by more people. I'm currently doing giveaways of Bermuda Nights Book 1 to help spur sales of Book 2 –
Again, one could say I’m “losing sales” by doing this giveaway. But clearly these people hadn’t chosen to buy the book up until now. So the sale isn’t lost. It never would exist. Instead, I’m driving them to buy book 2 and 3 and 4, which means free income for me that I otherwise would never have had. I’m proving (hopefully) with book 1’s content that this series is worth reading so they then buy the rest.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions at all! Some of this information is series-specific, but other parts of it apply to all ebooks and even to all marketing efforts.
Lisa Shea, owner
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