Last week I spoke about how Amazon informed me that they were stopping my marketing campaign because of my cover.
I updated the cover for the ebook. But something pretty interesting is happening. Before this issue, I would spend $1 a day on Hazel. She made some money, but not a ton. However, over this past week, I’ve spent $4.72, which is less than it was, and I’ve made $11.66 in royalties. I’m not sure how much more that is, or even if it is more, but it feels like things are actually moving in a better direction.
I’ll keep tracking, but this is a surprisingly pleasant situation. My ACOS is up. My cost per day is down, and I think my sales picked up after that first (albeit horrifying) fall.
So it’s currently good news. I though I’d update you on things since I announced what was going on last week.
A while back I did a post on this huge goal of getting 60 sales in a month. The idea was that if I could hit that mark, I’d start seeing a profit. At that time, I was selling maybe eight titles a month. My record since then rose to 15 sales in a month. I need you to understand that was a blessing. God’s grace provided even then. At that time, I thought 60 sales a month was something like two years from now.
Before you get mislead, I did not sell 60 copies of any title in October.
I sold 52!
To say that Hazel had a great start is a horrific understatement from my point of view.
The things to celebrate:
Hazel (all by herself) sold 39 copies and had 989 pages read. The best part is that she debuted about halfway through the month (October 14).
She reached as high as #37 in the Top 100 for Science Fiction Graphic Novels. She more or less stayed in the Top 100 throughout October. As I type this she’s at #208 in that category, but she bounces up to the Top 100 every now and then.
These are all easily the best numbers I’ve ever seen. I’m not positive I’ve sold 52 books in a convention, and if I did, I don’t know if that number of sales was enough to make back what I spent on the table (I just honestly don’t remember).
That means I sold another 13 copies of my other books (which brought me to that ridiculous new record).
Hazel has four ratings and three reviews, all four-star or higher.
Thank you. Those words aren’t very sufficient for this, but they’re the ones I have. I thank God first above all, and I am thankful to you all who supported this graphic novel and this silly little dream of mine.
Now for the context (things to remember):
First, I can’t stress enough how significant it is to sell that many copies and get that high in the Top 100. Caught spent a little bit there on opening day, but that’s about it. To hold in that category (more or less) for weeks is just amazing.
The context is that that many of those sales is a surge that many new releases have, and Collin, who created Hazel and was kind enough to let me tag along, has a better following than me. Our two followings together helped get the word out. Hazel started out strong with a few double-digit sales, and again, we can’t thank you enough.
The challenge now is to keep the momentum going. Since Hazel’s last “big” day of sales (she sold seven copies Nov. 1, she’s tapered off a bit. Sure, we’d like Hazel to increase from week to week, but the fear was she’d just fall off a cliff. That hasn’t happened. She’s steadily sold two copies a day so far. We need to keep that momentum going for a number of reasons. Of course we want to sell more per day. Collin and I both dream of doing more stories with Hazel. We’d both love to quit the day job and be storytellers full time, but to do any of those things, we need to put in the work to keep this arc going.
The marketing is slowly moving in the right direction. I’ve just finished a pass of all my titles. I have to keep a close eye on Hazel because she’s a very unique title in terms of sales and royalties. I’ll be monitoring all of my campaigns for the next three months to let things develop.
Even now, things are going better than ever. I’ve already sold 15 titles this month! (Remember when 15 was a huge new record for me?) Fourteen of those are Hazel of course. This means that Hazel is just doing a lot of amazing things. I hope she continues to do this well, and I hope those who try Hazel out decide to give more of my work a try.
This is honestly a big step in the right direction. I have a realistic shot of hitting 60 sales this month. Now things are a little weird. As great as that is (it’s still a goal met), the marketing for Hazel costs money; the royalties for Hazel take a big hit from Amazon, and Collin gets his well-deserved and rightful portion of those royalties. So while I have hit a major benchmark, one that will definitely help, I still need to work more on the other titles, and I will.
I’m working on The 1,200 right now, I’m pretty close to finishing the read through I’m doing, and then I’ll get to work on the first draft of Discovered, Book 3 of the Oneiros Log. Don’t let that panic those of you who don’t follow me a lot. I have a draft of Discovered done. It’s just a (very) rough draft, and the first draft is where I iron out all those issues before I send it out to Alpha Readers. Discovered is still my main project; I just want to keep the coals warm on other projects, too.
Again, please let me offer you my most sincere appreciation as well as that of Collin’s.
Please help us keep this momentum going. If you haven’t picked up your copy of Hazel, please give it a try. If you have, please leave a review and ask your friends to try it out as well.
As you can see in the title, I’m quite excited by the news of this month. A while back, I was glad I about 12 sales, but I spent around $200 to get there. That led me to work to bring down my ACOS (which is always important and should be below 70%). That meant decreasing what I spend on clicks and getting my sales back to where they were (or better).
In my last update, things looked good. I brought my monthly cost down to below $100, and my sales were starting to creep up.
This brings us to the last two months.
I spent about $94 in July. You can see the one order, but that’s not the total of my sales, just what AMS tracked as sales resulting from clicks. All told, I had 12 sales in addition to the 2,619 pages read or more. Again, AMS only counts what they can track directly to clicks.
So things were picking up, and at that point I had gotten all the way back to 12 sales (where I was when I realized I was blowing money faster than I could save it), and I had cut my cost in half.
I still have a lot of work to do in this area though. What I know is that most (but not all) of the insane CPC bids have been eliminated, and that saved me about $100. I also did a decent job of finding the obvious non-profitable keywords, which are keywords that get me a lot of clicks but don’t result in any conversions. This is why my monthly bill is starting to creep in the wrong direction again. However, the same sales for half the expenses is a step in the right direction.
So August came in, and I was closer to $100 than I want to be (at least not without 55 sales), but as you can see, AMS saw 10 sales, and there were more.
I’m happy to say I have a new record for online monthly sales, which is 14!
Now I know 14 is pretty pathetic compared to someone who’s profitable (they make money on writing). It’s even worse for those big stars out there. However, anyone will tell you to celebrate every victory.
I don’t honestly remember when I started, but I do remember where, and reaching a point where I have sold more books and had more pages read than ever before is absolutely something to celebrate.
What’s the next step? Well, I scanned my books to see where my impressions were, and I had six books that had fallen well below 100,000 impressions per month. That means I have to get those books back up to snuff. Then I have to track down those vampires that are sucking up pennies and not rewarding me with any conversions. I also want to use Publisher Rocket’s new keyword analyzer function to try and get new keywords that are more profitable.
That’s going to take time, but I usually wait a few months before I do another analysis of my campaigns and add to my keywords. My hope is to get those six (I already have at least two of them) back up to 100,000 impressions per month. Then I can go back into monitoring the campaigns and trying to optimize them. I still hope to reach 60 sales a month (which would theoretically allow me to break even or better), and I’m just under a quarter of the way there!
I’ll keep you all up to date on how things progress. I’m glad to share good news with you for this post.
I figured now would be a good time to do another Marketing Journal.
I used to think marketing was a set and forget process that was instantaneous. You paid for an add; people saw it, and the money would start falling from the sky.
I was misguided.
Since September of 2020, I’ve been working to address that. You can review older posts to see the play-by-play, but the important part is I did indeed improve my sales, but my costs are still higher than those sales. So naturally I started working to balance them out.
In May of 2021, things got pretty dark. I sold three books that month. But there needs to be context, and there’s more to see.
While my sales were lower than they’d been in a long time, I’d reduced my cost, and that’s progress. In fact, my cost is steadily going down, and my sales are steadily going up. This is super encouraging because that was the plan going forward.
Sure, I want to have a great Average Cost of Sales now and earn money every month, but it’s not a sprint.
Also, May maybe wasn’t the great month for full sales, but it wasn’t without traction. You see, I had 957 pages read. Sure, some may scoff and say that’s only about $4, but it’s something. Then we hit June and July.
My cost went down even further for my June bill, and July posted a bill of less than $100!
As for sales, well, June brought me back to within my quote of 8 books a month (I actually sold 9), and I’ve sold 11 in July so far. If this trend holds, I’ve brought my cost down in half and regained my average sales per month from before I started working to bring those excessively high cost per click key words.
I had 1,320 pages read in June and 3,291 pages read in July.
This is encouraging to say the least, and it indicates that the plan is working. The trick is to keep moving forward and not get impatient. I won’t be ready to reset my quota for another month (I always get a three month average), and there’s still about 10 days in July, so I might have a few more sales! (You know you can help with that part, right?)
It’s still my dream for this series to become the “How I Became Profitable” series as opposed to the, “This is what I’m trying,” but that’s all time, patience and (of course) God’s will. Next year, we plan to go back to conventions, and hopefully that will have a positive impact as well.
I’m going to keep working, and I appreciate you all stopping by to see how things are going.
The last time I updated you on the marketing efforts, I managed to bring down the monthly bill by a bit. But the great news is that as I’ve continued to work, the results have continued to be, as the headline implies, encouraging.
The first thing I did was stop all key words that didn’t net a single sale after 20 clicks.
I had to patiently (and I still find some every other day) eliminate all key words bids above 25 cents.
Any new campaigns followed settings above.
My fear was my costs would go down, but my sales would plummet.
That’s not the case. The wonderful news is that my marketing bill went down.
After one month, my bill was already $50 less.
Sure, I only had six sales and a handful of pages read, but I wasn’t too far away from the 10 books a month I sold with the super-costly keywords. But with patience and persistence (and God’s kind grace), I just kept at it.
The cost for the month of March wasn’t much less expansive, but look at the sales.
What this means is my costs leveled off, and my sales increased, which was the exact goal I had. Obviously, the month of April isn’t done yet, but I can tell you now the costs is down, and I have a shot at repeating the sales.
This is the general goal. As each month progresses, I’m still doing what I did to improve sales (identifying key words that seem to work and building campaigns around them). I’m also still testing the market in Germany, and those results are encouraging as well, but I want to wait another month before I study those results.
No, these aren’t results that say it’s time to quit the day job. However, success isn’t instant. This process is an endurance race. You try something, and then you adjust. I’m just happy that things are moving in a forward direction.
What I’ve learned that I can share with you at this point:
Start your campaigns soon. The progress I’ve made in about a half-year or year is progress I could have made over six years.
Never bid more than 25 cents for any keyword. Sure, you’ll get clicks, but you’ll pay out the ear. I recommend this formula: (.70 X PRICE OF YOUR BOOK) / 20. If a keyword doesn’t get you a sale within 20 clicks, it’s probably not working for you.
You could stand to work on your book blurb. A lot of times, when the clicks aren’t converging, it might be traced to reviews or book blurbs that don’t promise the same thing as your sell copy on your campaigns. However, you can only draft so many blurbs, and you don’t really have a ton of control over reviews. You can control these other things.
I’ll continue to track my results and share them with you.
Since it’s been a few months since my last update, I thought today would be as good a day as any to provide you an update.
I’m still working the plan I have. I don’t actually know if it’s a good or a bad plan; it’s just my plan. I’d ask anyone with clear, actionable information to please comment below.
The plan is simple: Generate new campaigns based on previous keywords that result in sales, clicks, or a high number of impressions (more than 100 a month).
When I last updated you all, I was averaging four sales a month and spending around (I think) $60 a month. A loss, but my sales were still up. After letting my most recent string of campaigns work for a while, here’s what’s happened since.
I had four print/e sales in September. I also had 822 pages read. That was during what I call an implement month. I had campaigns running, and I used them to track data. Then, near the end of the month and during the beginning of October, I generated a new list of campaigns based on the data provided above.
October looked awesome! I had nine print/e sales and 1,719 pages read!
Even better, I’ve been seeing follow on sales. September and October were both months in which I actually earned a profit. I genuinely think they were my first two months ever.
Oddly, those sales still are strangely hard to identify. I spent $144 in September, selling $11.97 (total not profit) and $177.74 in October, selling $24.94 (total, not profit). So again, I had more sales, but not all of those sales tie directly to the new campaigns.
Regardless, the more I work on this, the more sales I get. I don’t know that there’s anything more to do than continue forward, hoping my conversion rate will eventually improve as my number of sales increases.
So with nine print and e sales in October, the question is, was that just a good month, or is my monthly average actually increasing? Let’s have a look at November.
I had another eight print and e sales and a whopping 4,686 pages read. Yet again, my Amazon Marketing only directly accounts for three of the orders and about half of the pages read. My theory is that I’m gaining follow on sales. It’s just a theory, but it’s the only hypothesis that fits. I did lose money in November. You see, other campaigns on Audible really helped pull the weight and earn the profit, and my Audible royalties weren’t enough to beat the $173 (ish) I spent on marketing this time around. But at my stage of development, I’m just happy to see sales going up. I’m especially encouraged by the pages read.
For those wondering, 2,357 pages read accounted for $10.70 in royalties, which is what AMS tells me tie directly to my campaigns. No, I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon, but I’m moving in an upward trajectory, and that’s something.
It’s my hope that Betrayed will be more successful (still trying to get that out in the spring of 21), but only time will tell.
Interestingly, November fell off a tad, but it was an implement month. I’ve just started creating campaigns based on the data from November. If my hypothesis is correct, I should expect to see another increase in December. I might have to temper that expectation with COVID and government shutdowns, but I’m still hoping.
Regardless, the facts are that I have quadrupled (from two per month to eight per month) my monthly sales average and completely hit a new level in pages read since initiating this plan, and that is positive from any point of view.
I’ll post updates like this every two or three months to track the data. Yes, there is a point where spending hundreds for clicks for only a few sales is going to be unfeasible. Some may feel I’m already there. I don’t. I think I can do other things to improve my conversion rate, and I still think reviews are a part of it. I think as I get more sales and reviews, my conversion rate will naturally increase. I won’t be able to really analyze that until I have a title with more than 25 reviews.
For now, I’ll take some satisfaction knowing I’m selling more books and having more pages read than I ever have, and that glory goes to God first above all, and then you, the readers kind enough to give my work a try.
One thing I noticed is that I’ve doubled my monthly sales. I have to word it that way because that’s the positive way to say it. However, I was only selling an average of two books a month online, so now I’m up to four. But when I think about this information, I’m still more encouraged. I know that the more people I can get my book in front of, the more sales I make. That gives me hope that more work in this regard will yield more fruit.
In the month of September, I had 1,849,502 impressions and from them 749 clicks. That honestly cost me $157.30, and the four sales and $15 I made hurt a little bit, but we can’t get too carried away because this was always the first step.
So far in October, I’ve had 428,790 impressions and 212 clicks (in just nine days). This means I’m getting views, and I’m getting clicks. Now as expensive as it is, I could absolutely have more clicks, but improving my click-through-rate is something that just takes time and attention.
What’s interesting to not is while I have one sale so far this month, and I had four sales last month, only three of those five sales were from AMS marketing, at least not directly. My theory is that people may see an advertisement and make note. Then then come back when they are ready. I also think that the more I work to increase visibility on my end, the more Amazon responds. I can’t prove this theory. I don’t even know how to test it, but I do know that I am doing more now than I was.
The biggest question is how to turn more of those clicks into purchases. One thing I need is your help. A lot of people on Amazon base their purchases on reviews. If you’ve read my work, leaving a review is your way of recommending the book to other readers, and I need those recommendations. I have to try and find a way to generate about 50 reviews per book to have a chance.
The other way to get more people who click on my add to buy my books is to do some work on my book description. I posted a blog about this a while ago. So I have to make time to do that.
So where do I go from here? Well, I want to improve my click through rank and increase my impressions. The way I’m doing this is seeing what key words are being clicked and generating new campaigns based on those keywords. This will easily give me more impressions, but it will hopefully get me some more clicks.
I also have to be patient. Right now I’m losing money much more quickly than I’m making it, but I have to stay this course. People can’t buy my book if they don’t know it exists. The quicker I solicit reviews and get my book descriptions improved, the (hopefully) quicker those clicks will net returns.
Honestly folks, I’m just doing my best here. I don’t know if there’s a better way or not. This is just the approach I’m working on to help my business grow. There were and are a lot of other factors that contribute to my low number of sales. I can’t rewind time and make different decisions, but I can put in the work to to start changing things. Stay tuned to see how the efforts worked out.
A few weeks ago, I did a review for Reedsy, in which I told you about efforts to work with marketing. I wanted to do an update on how that’s progressed.
First, in my personal efforts to get my AMS impressions for each of my books to 100,000, I now am on pace for that mark for four of my titles. I am seeing more clicks. I’m not having any such luck with conversions though. The plan on that end is to still get my impressions up. I can work on the conversions once I’m finished with the impressions.
After a few internet-related delays, I had my scheduled phone call with the marketer I met through Reedsy. He was polite and patient with my questions. We started with an overview of my platform, which needs some work. I took notes on that, and I’ll chip away on that to-do list as I find time.
My goal was to discuss AMS, but the marketer (I’m leaving names out for at least the time being because this is an in-progress review, and I don’t want to create any issues where there may be none.) was much more focused on Facebook Ads.
So my own prideful thoughts were wrapped up in what I wanted to do, but instead of kick up a fit or redirect, I wanted to pay attention. The marketer is the expert. I need to listen to him and honestly think and apply the information he was giving me. I told him my fear. I don’t know how many campaigns I’ve done on Facebook, but I’ve never once had a single conversion on any Facebook campaign. He was surprised to hear that.
He gave me a lot of guidance, and I got to work developing one of what will be three FB campaigns I try. Again, this scares the crap out of me because I don’t personally trust FB adds. I worked on getting the first campaign ready. Then I sent him screen shots of the campaign and its settings.
He gave me timely feedback, and we think this campaign is ready to go. It starts on the 11th, and we’re going to monitor to see how it goes. I’ve already told him that if I spend another $50 for absolutely no sales, I’ll consider this experiment a failure. There is some bias on my part because of my previous experimenting with FB adds. However, this time I have someone talking me though the process, and my hope is that by going through this process with him, I’ll realize what I’ve been doing wrong this whole time, and I’ll see an actual Return On Investment and even a profit.
I’m marketing Caught because I’m working on getting Betrayed (which is about to be sent to Sarah!) published and drafting Discovered. The idea is to read Caught now because the other books are on the way. I targeted Readers who own Kindles and like horror.
I’ll update you on how that went, but I want to clarify a few things even I know. There’s never any guarantee any marketing campaign will ever yield result. Obviously a person should stop doing things that don’t work. The only thing I can really expect is that people will click on the link. Conversions have a lot more to them than just getting people to click the link. For instance, even my current efforts on AMS are a good example. I’m not getting about 7-10 clicks a day, but I haven’t had any sales since I started this effort. I’ve had a few hundred pages read on KU, but that’s about it. So there’s more work to do even after I get people to a book’s page. I’m more patient with AMS than FB because I’ve seen sales as a result of AMS, and (as I’ve mentioned) I’ve never seen a single sale result from FB.
The trick will be evaluating the data after the campaign is over. Again, the whole point of this series is to help other authors who are like me (or people who aren’t published) learn how to be more successful. Stay tuned to this part of my blog to see how things went.