So How Did that Reedsy Thing Go?

So How Did that Reedsy Thing Go?

Greetings all,

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Image from Pixabay. 

A few weeks ago, I’d mentioned I wanted to give Reedsy a try.  The bottom line up front is I’m disappointed.

I spent nearly $200 U.S. for a little more than an hour-long conversation. That conversation was full of advice. I honestly believe a lot of it was good advice, but that’s not what I wanted.

I was coached to prep a Facebook Add campaign. The coach worked with me on my settings and audience. As with every FB campaign I’ve ever done, I had about 45 clicks; I spent $50, and didn’t have a single book sale.

This means I spent about $250 for an hour-long conversation, a few coaching sessions and absolutely no book sales.

So here’s my opinion on paying money for advice. First, the advice should be followed. I’m still working on a number of things the coach spoke with me about. (I’m not naming him because I truly think he tried to help me. I’m not angry with him, and I don’t want him to receive any bad publicity.) My time is super limited, so I have to prioritize it.

My problem is that man made his money. He’s about $100 or so richer. I’m about $100 or so poorer.  He’s got what he wanted (money), and I’m still invisible to the world at large. I wanted someone to market my books, and what I got was advice about how to market my books. Again, the advice may or may not be solid. However, when I go to Burger King, I don’t want advice on how to make a burger; I want a freaking burger. When I go to a car dealership, I don’t want advice on how to make a car; I want a freaking car. When I got to a marketer, I don’t want marketing advice; I want someone to market my book.

Chart     I’m more than willing to either pay a flat fee for marketing efforts or share a portion of the profits of books sold, but I’m so tired of people making money from me, making me no promises, and ultimately not helping me sell a single book. I thought Reedsy would link me with a marketer who would take a fee, market my book, and that marketing would result in actual sales. What I got was more of the same I’ve gotten from all the other people who claimed they’d help me. They get their money, and I never hear from them again.

Case in point, I sent the coach a message telling him the adds netted zero sales. I’m out $50, and I have nothing to show for it. That $50 may not seem like much to some, but it’s a Christmas present for a member of my extended family. It’s a donation to my church. It’s a night out with my wife. It’s a portion of my life I invested on a dream. That $200 (roughly) I spent was even more significant. It’s a large portion of an edit on one of my books. It’s about a third to a fifth of a cover for a book. After a week, I have yet to hear back. No advice on where to go from there. No consolatory email.  And why? What incentive does he have to so much as offer me a “sorry brah! That sucks!” He’s got his money.

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 12.58.28 PM
A snipping of my AMS overview from a few months ago. 

Any marketing money I spend from here on out will go to marketing. If I hire a marketer, he or she won’t see a dime unless I actually sell a book. And if that’s not the way it works, I’ll continue to figure it out on my own. I dream of the day I can invest in other things. Maybe if marketing companies don’t work the way I want them too, I’ll start a new company where we only profit if you profit.

If any of you know of a company like this, please feel free to let me know about it in the comments below.

So yeah, this was a disappointment. My wife and I talked about this before we took this step. We had to be willing to basically blow this money. We hoped for the best, and it didn’t work out.

As sad as it makes me, I’m blessed to have had the funds to take this chance even if it netted me nothing. Sure, I lost out on a lot of other things I could have had (see above), but those aren’t things that we can’t recover from or save to do. It’s the immediacy of those things that are the root of my frustration at the moment.

climbing-2264698_960_720     I’m still undaunted. What I’ve essentially learned from this is never to give anyone money for advice. I get plenty of advice from people I know personally who actually want me to succeed. They don’t charge, and if what they say doesn’t work, I only lose what I gave on the actual effort.

I’m still working hard to get up to 100,000 impressions per year (by estimate, so 3,350 a day) on all of my titles. I’m pretty close. This requires a bunch of effort. I get one book to hit the mark, and then it slides a little. It’s way more observation and tweaking than I thought. I’ll make another post about how that’s going, but that is one step designed to get people to the Amazon buy page for a book. I might see an increase in clicks. (I hope to, and I have.) However, that doesn’t mean I’ll see an increase in conversions yet.  (In fact, my sales are down.)  There will be work to do once I meet this goal. Still, that’s for another post.

concept-1868728_1920    I strongly urge hopeful authors to learn from my lessons. First, you’re marketing platform should be rolling long before you release that first book. Second, don’t pay people for advice. Pay for actual services. Reedsy still has a few things I am interested in (book reviews), but those are actual services, so it’s an exchange I feel more confident about.

As always when I post a negative review, I urge you to take this with a grain of salt. There are so many other factors that can impact how these things go. Just because I’ve come to a decision on how I want to invest my money doesn’t mean you should do it my way. Yeah, be cautious. Make sure you know what the risks are. Don’t be overly optimistic of your results (both Amazon and FB have a company wide average conversion rate of around 10%).

My hope is this post gives you pause. But I don’t want it to be the sole opinion on which you base your decisions.

Thank you for reading,

Matt

 

 

 

 

Marketing Journal: What Happened With Reedsy

Marketing Journal: What Happened With Reedsy
Chart
Image from Pixabay.

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.

caught-front-coverI’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.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Marketing Journal: A Push For Impressions!

Marketing Journal: A Push For Impressions!

Greetings all,

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Stock photo from Pixabay.

So a few weeks ago I talked about Reedsy. I also mentioned Publisher Rocket. Given that I’m still in a holding pattern on the rest of the Oneiros Log, this turns out to be a good time to offer you an update.

Naturally, I hope for this to become a profitable business. However, the unfortunate reality is after five years, I’m still losing money. This in no way reduces my love for writing, nor does it affect my resolve to keep at it. What this truth does do is challenge me to look at what I’m doing and try to get better.

When I talked to marketers, I had two conversations. The first validated a truth I accepted when I started. I have ten titles available. If I use the wide umbrella of “paranormal,” I could argue that six of them are in the same genre. One of those six is YA. Three more of those six are parts of the first book. When one doesn’t write to market, it’s very difficult to build a platform. I went into this dream with my eyes open to that truth.

caught-front-coverIf you were a hopeful author who didn’t care what you wrote, I’d recommend you search the categories (more on that below) and write to one of the smaller markets and build your following. However, I have stories that have been stuck in train wreck between my eyes for decades, and they want out. Some are more demanding than others. I don’t think I could stick to one thing if I wanted to. This means I have to be willing to accept that I don’t have a lot going for me in terms of platform and market. I am trying to get the Oneiros Log done, and that will give me a complete trilogy (quadrology if you count Repressed, but, again, that is a YA outrigger story) to market to one audience.

The other marketer and I spoke via chat, and we have a meeting scheduled for later today (Saturday). I was clear about my goals and my struggles.

My ultimate goal is to earn $7,000 per month in profit from my writing. That’s the target that will allow me to become a full-time author. I’d probably continue working for two years just to get everything stabilized. Then I would focus on being the author I’ve always wanted to be.

This meeting is hopefully the first step toward making the books I have out contribute to the goal rather than continue to budget for my author career the way some people budget for vacations.

The next thing I did was possible because of some overtime I worked. I finally purchased Publisher Rocket. My desire was to skip straight to the AMS Marketing Keywords, but I held off. I learned a few things by doing that.

Rocket logoA while back, I talked about using the seven KDP keywords to help get you placed into more specific categories. They do, but those keywords are even more powerful. I sort of think of them like free marketing keywords. So I spent the last week going through all of my titles and refining those keywords. Now, since those titles are old, and I don’t have much of a platform, I can’t really expect there to be any night and day changes.

The next thing I did was use Rocket to help me find categories that gave me a better shot to be visible. When one first publishes on KDP, they see some 600 categories they have to try and fit themselves in. Amazon has way more categories than that, and Rocket has a way to find them and rank them based on how many books per day you’d have to sell to be the best seller for that category. From my understanding, being a best seller or a number one best seller for a category does wonderful things for a book and an author’s bank account. I still have to move those titles into those categories, but I just finished identifying them, and getting put in those categories is only an email or phone call away.

As for marketing: I’m actually having trouble finding the first article I researched, but what it taught me (and other sites reenforced) is that each of my book should have at least 100,000 impressions per month.

I was nowhere near that. The short math:

Impressions must happen for anyone to click. Clicks must happen for anyone to buy. You want clicks to lead directly to buys.

Last weak, I took stock of what books were generating the most impressions. Caught was getting somewhere around 40,000 impressions per month. So, without having Publisher Rocket, I just went at it. I created about two new campaigns a night until I reached the point I am at today. As of May 21, Caught had 78,804 impressions during the last 30 days.

This tells me I should be hitting my goal soon (if I haven’t already). The next step in my plan is to get the rest of my books going.

Once I have all of my titles pulling in 100,000 impressions a month, I can use that data to look at my click through rate.

So I thought I’d give you a snapshot on just how far off I am. My hope is, as I get better, you’ll see that I’m doing is working. Why isn’t it working now? Because I haven’t been doing too much of anything. Time is a valuable resource. I spend the bulk of my time happy with my wonderful family. I spend time with God studying the New and Old Testament. So I was using my time to write (which I love), but my books aren’t selling (which makes me sad). The goal is to turn things around by focusing on my AMS marketing. Will it work? Stay tuned and find out. (You can help by purchasing any or all of my books!  Just saying.)

My Current stats:

BOOK                                    IMPRESSIONS                  CLICKS         ORDERS (BOOKS BOUGHT)

Caught                                  78,804                                38 (BAD)       1 (NO FUN)

Bob                                       20,453 (BAD)                     12 (BAD)        0 (SAD)

Power of Words                 40,069 (BAD)                     11 (BAD)        0 (SAD)

Repressed                            34, 740 (BAD)                    9 (BAD)         1 (NO FUN)

Sojourn                                 29,210 (BAD)                    22 (BAD)       0 (SAD)

Stealing Freedom               4, 718 (TERRIBLE)          5 (BAD)          0 (SAD)

Testimony                             33, 028 (BAD)                  11 (BAD)       0 (SAD)

 

I left out info for the individual parts for Bob because I only have about one campaign for each of them, so it’s probably not good.

It looks like we got Caught up to speed. I’ll know for sure June 1. I’ll probably do a few more campaigns just to be sur. My first goal will be to get them all to 100,000 impressions a month. Then I can worry about that devastatingly bad click-through-rate. According to my research, I should be getting clicks about 35% of the time or more. I think my highest click-through-rate is about 7%.

One thing I can do now though (and intend to do during my meeting with the Reedsy marketer) is work on converting those clicks into buys. How often do I want that to happen? Let’s look at the math.

Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 12.58.28 PM
My current AMS page looks depressing.

After Amazon takes it’s cut from one of my sales, I make a maximum profit of $2.79 (on average. Most of my books are between $2.99 and $3.99, but let’s just work with this number for now). If I pay 25 cents a click, that means I could have about 10 clicks before I lose money. My goal is to convert one out of every eight clicks into sales. The way that happens is making sure I get my book blurb on point and reviews. I can’t actually do much about reviews. I hope people read and review my work, but I don’t have a way to make that happen. I can look at my blurbs and make them as strong as possible. My hope is this marketer will help me with that.

Why one for every eight click? Because if I can keep it that low, I could make 9 cents a sale. Not the best sales rate ever, but I have to start somewhere, and my current one per fifty four clicks is costing me about $20 a month. The perspective is that flipping it from a loss to a profit is the right progression.

We have to think positively. Rather than stay fixated on the lack of sales and reviews, the more-productive (and less painful) mindset is to look at what can be done to get better.

So here is the starting point and plan of action, the two things anyone needs to execute a plan.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading,
Matt

You’re Not Stuck! COVID Delays Don’t Mean You Can’t Do Something As An Author

You’re Not Stuck! COVID Delays Don’t Mean You Can’t Do Something As An Author

Greetings all,

handcuff
Image by Achim Scholty from Pixabay. 

I want to share a frustration I have with people sometimes.  People can let one obstacle beat them. I can’t go to the gym, so I can’t work out. Really? So lack of access to a gym prevents you from doing pushups or sit ups?

 

I don’t have any ground beef, so I’ll order out. Why? Does ground beef constitute the entirety of your food options?

That doesn’t mean that people don’t face obstacles. It doesn’t mean that those obstacles aren’t frustrating at times. However, we as human beings choose. We choose to let our circumstances defeat us, or we choose to endure our circumstances and move forward in the ways God provides.

As a nation, America is face with more restrictions on their lives that they’ve ever face. The malls are closed. There are no sports. And, for me, all the conventions I had lined up were cancelled. That’s a huge bummer!

IMG_2318Since conventions are my number one method of sales (and not profit), this means I’m at an extreme disadvantage. The hardest hit is that no sales means no income, which means I can’t save up money for edits on Betrayed. I can’t save for a cover. Even the money I had been budgeting is set aside because we want to be prepared for any true financial issues.

So the challenge question: Does this really mean I can’t do anything as an author? No!

You can too. First, for you hopeful authors who constantly say, “I want to write, but I just don’t have the time!” What, exactly are you spending your time on now? Maybe you’re blessed to still have some form of employment. That’s great. However, it’s not like there’s a game you “need” to catch anytime soon. It’s not like there’s a new movie you “just have” to see.

You can write that book right now.

caught-front-coverWhat about people like me? Well, the first thing I’m doing is working hard on the outline to Discovered (which looks to be a big one, by far the biggest of the trilogy). The other thing I’m doing is working a bit more on marketing. I’m building more campaigns for Amazon Marketing. Even if no one is buying now (and they are, even I sold a book or two this week), when things start moving forward, I’ll have a new armada of advertisements ready to go.

I’m blessed to be able to telework during this time. I’m still working. Heck, I might be doing more work than I would be doing if the building were open. This means time is still an issue. It might still be the biggest issue. However, what time I do have to myself, I spend on some form of writing. I might also do something else, but I chip away.

In the Navy, a common phrase you’ll hear is, “I don’t care what you can’t do; tell me what you can do.”

This attitude, this frame of mind, is essential. This time in our lives is definitely a challenge. We’re all worried. We wonder if we’ll get sick. We wonder if our finances will hold up. However, if we focus on our problems, we turn a blind eye to the solutions that are out there.

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Image by Steve DiMatteo from Pixabay.

The challenge I offer you is this: Whatever you do, make sure you understand you’re making a choice. Even refusing to do anything or “failing” to make a choice is still a choice.

Naturally, you have the right to choose whatever you want. My problem would be if you try to avoid or lament the consequences of that choice as an excuse for why you can’t do something.

The guy who says, “I could write that book, but I’ve been meaning to watch the entire ‘How I Met Your Mother’ series for years now,” will get no beef from me. However the guy who complains about how he never has time to finish a book while watching that show may get a different reaction from me.

So here are a few things you can do if your finances prevent you from buying a cover or paying for editing services:

Draft another book.

Make revisions on another manuscript.

Study marketing.

Work on building your marketing plan.

Build your email list.

Send your readers an email (man I’m terrible at that).

This period of stress in our lives does create problems, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up on our goals.

I wanted to share these thoughts to motivate you to get moving in some way. This isn’t unique to writing either. Maybe spend some more quality time with your kids. Maybe turn this into an “in home” second honeymoon. Chip away on those home projects you’ve “been meaning to get around to.”

This time is stressful and challenging enough. Let’s use it to look for opportunities.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

A Shoutout For Kindlepreneur

A Shoutout For Kindlepreneur

Purchase Caught on Amazon or Audible.

Greetings all,

kindlepreneur logoMarketing has always been something I feel is a great weakness of mine. I read a blog here and there. I wander around YouTube searching for guidance. A while back I stumbled upon Kindlepreneur.

I watched a few videos, and what I appreciated was the articulate discussion about how Amazon Marketing Services works. Then I learned about the site’s free course. I figured, what could it hurt?

It starts out super basic, even I understood the first videos, maybe even the first two lessons. Then I started getting clear instruction with actionable guidance. Yes, they do a lot to push KDP Rocket, but I’m actually very interested in using that program as well. Even aside from the KDP Rocket info, I still received information.

But what were the results?

Well, From Aug. 10 to Sept. 27 (48 days), I had 57 clicks costing me $5.67 with no sales to show for it. Now, six bucks isn’t a lot of money, but the no sales isn’t what I wanted.

I started the course Sept. 28. From then until Nov. 7 (41 days), I have 56 clicks costing me $9.21 but earning me $3.98 in orders. Sales and orders aren’t the same. That four bucks is what the customer spent. Given that I had a 99 cent deal going, I didn’t make much.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 10.27.13 PMHowever, when you look closely at the progress, I feel as though there are a lot of positives. First, I have a 200% increase in orders. I have just about the same number of clicks, and I’m only paying about three dollars more. I also have some KU pages read since then (183). I’m still learning, and I’m still compiling data.

I can’t stress enough how good this makes me feel to see actual purchases. I’m refining and investigating. Also, AMS seems to be making a concerted effort to make it harder and harder to tweak your campaigns. But the information I have now gives me great optimism about navigating those waters. As soon as I can save up the money, I intend to purchase KDP rocket to see how it can help me even more.

So given that I at least feel this has improved my efforts, I felt now was a great time to share this information and that course. It’s a tad outdated, but it still helped me, and if you’re hating sales, I think it can help you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Purchase The Journals of Bob Drifter on Amazon or Audible.

 

Shore Leave 2019 Report: Encouraging consistency

Shore Leave 2019 Report: Encouraging consistency

Greetings all,

Power_and_Repressed CustomerShore Leave was last week, and it was yet again a huge success in terms of books sold!

The thing that really makes this so encouraging is that I’ve now had three consecutive conventions where I sold more than 40 books. This makes me feel like things are starting to build in the best ways.

At Shore Leave, I sold forty-nine books. I was especially thrilled at how the Repressed/Sojourn paperback worked out. I sold out! My favorite story is that one woman bought the book.  She came back the next day to tell me how much she enjoyed it. She said she read Repressed in a matter of hours at the pool and loved it. When she found out Kaitlyn’s first appearance was in Caught, she bought that book.

I only have one copy of Power of Words remaining, and that’s pretty good.  They actually sold pretty fast. I thought for sure the last one would sell, but it just sort of stalled I guess. But still, I sold 13/14 copies.

Grace and Amanda
Grace, Amanda, and Stevey at Shore Leave.

The next thing that happened is probably the most encouraging.  The Journals of Bob Drifter has been out for four years, and I’ve done three Shore Leave events now.  This is relevant because I met Amanda (and Grace) at Shore Leave.  Bob did very well at the event, and I think I owe a lot of that to Amanda and Grace. You see, they came to say hi (and buy a few new books! Thanks!).  While there, they managed to convince somewhere around four people to buy at least two of my books. They convinced one friend to buy all four of my books.

That’s not it though. That happened to me twice that I can recall. One person would be checking out my table, and another would come up and say, “I read his book (BLANK (Usually Bob)), and I’m telling you it’s good.”

Bob_Drifter_ReaderI can’t express to you how that makes me feel. First off, just having someone walk up and say they enjoyed your book is a wonderful feeling, but to have previous readers bring you more readers is the very definition of “word of mouth!” It’s amazing!

The theory I have is this: It takes people a while to get through their TBR pile. This is true for me. I’m only just now reading books I put on my TBR pile a year ago. My thinking is that these people have had Bob on a shelf for a minute and then it just came time to read it. Now they have feedback for me, and they loved it!

Amanda said, “It’s (Bob) one of the best books I ever read.” She then told me the story about how she was at work and a coworker was trying to draw her attention and couldn’t because she was that enthralled.  WOW! (But please don’t get in trouble at work, Amanda!)

Another person might have been one of maybe three people to buy my book at a convention last year. He said, “It (again Bob) was one of the best surprise reads” he’s had. He said he bought it because he liked me (which is why most people buy most things at conventions). But then he read it and loved it.

All that feedback is so motivating. I can’t wait to get my next few books out there!

I nearly sold out of all my books. Those were just a few stories I wanted to share because of how amazing they made me feel in the moment. Julie was near to tears a few times. It’s just such blessing, and we thank God for brining so many wonderful people to our lives and letting our business grow.

So now for the business side. Shore Leave (and most other conventions I go to) have much more affordable tables. And the sales from the event made back the cost of the table (which is a huge benchmark to me).  But things went so well, we only actually lost about $100. This is still a loss, but it’s significant growth. We’re hopeful that the prints and more products (big news on that is coming) will help tip the scales and allow us to change how we define “success” when it comes to conventions. For now though, we’re just overjoyed this event went so well.

For those who tried my books, thank you so much! We hope you enjoy them. Please remember to leave a rating and/or review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.  They really do help.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The Work: What Any Hopeful Storyteller Needs To Remember

The Work: What Any Hopeful Storyteller Needs To Remember

33691405_1268090163335754_6441353274913193984_nGreetings all,

A lot of people have asked me how to write.

Several people have asked me about how to self-publish.

Only a few people have talked to me about marketing.

I can’t remember the last time (or if ever) anyone ever asked me about the work.

The thing is, people love the idea of being an author. Actually, what they love is the idea of being a huge author.

First, “huge” is not a real measurable standard. For instance, Brandon Sanderson only has a net worth of $6 million according to celebritynetworth.com. Now, I’d never say no to $6 million, but what is that compared to say, George R. R. Martin, who makes $15 million per year on that show you all know and $10 million a year on those books based on that show.

Those are good stories and nice goals to have. They’re even real, attainable goals. However, no one just goes to sleep and wakes up next to a novel that will put them in the millionaire club.  Sanderson wrote 13 novels before he got picked up. He typically releases three titles a year. That means the guy writes a lot.

WritingI don’t begrudge a guy who’s more like me. I’m someone who does his best to get work out, but I’ve learned a bit more about the trade (and I still have a ton to learn) since I’ve started. Still, let’s just look at the work I have done. I’ve released nine titles (five original works) in four years. I had written about seven books before I self-published. In word count alone, I’ve written more than 330,000 words. That’s a commitment of time. Before I got married, I wrote 1,000 words a day and marketed for about an hour.

Since I’ve been married, I market as I have time and squeeze in a couple-hundred words a day even if I have to do so during my lunch break at work. I’m still under the belief that the time you put into it has a direct relationship to the success you have. I think this is particularly true of the marketing.

Hopeful authors, please understand that I want you to have your dreams come true. I’d be overjoyed to see you become a best-seller climb up that Forbes list. I just want you to have your eyes open to the effort you have to be willing to put in. There are no shortcuts; there are no easy paths. Too often we see the reward for one’s work, and assume it just “happened,” and that’s just not true.

ChartI wish I had some sort of chart. There are days when I’d kill to know how many books I’d have to write before I start seeing a monthly profit. I’d love to know how many dollars to invest in marketing before I see a regular sales pace. I have some info for you.

I know that a self-published author typically has to get ten books out there before they start to see a profit.

However, that’s the only solid info I have, and it’s info you need if you aspire to be an author/entrepreneur. To be frank, I still don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just doing my best based on my own research and talking with authors I respect.

So the real question that matters is, “How much time are you willing to put into this?”

If you come and tell me you write 5,000 words a day and market for three hours a day, I’d expect you to be doing well. If you haven’t written a single book, well, that’s why you’re not succeeding as an author.

Why this post at this time? Well, I’m not working as much as a single guy could these days. I’m not upset about it. I’m more interested in being a loving husband and leading father than I am about anything else. But I am still working toward a goal. I just expect I’ll reach it a bit more slowly than I would otherwise. That doesn’t discourage me, it encourages me. It changes my thinking.

Instead of wondering why things haven’t happened yet, I realize I just need to work at it a little longer. However, I can have that optimism because I believe that work ethic breeds success. My goal is to help you see that too. I don’t imagine it would be hard to be at least as successful as I am (if one would go so far as to call me successful). But it starts with, “Write a book.” Then it builds to, “Market the book.” Then it’s, “Write another book.”

You just have to put in the work. It’s a lot of work, but that’s the only trick. So what are you sitting here reading this blog for? Go on! Get writing!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

 

 

Great News: Consistent Results Are Awesome!

Great News: Consistent Results Are Awesome!

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front CoverGreetings all,

Last week was Bob’s fourth birthday, and I did another giveaway.  Even though I didn’t do nearly as much social media work, I’m still thrilled to announce the book had 1,151 downloads! It’s just a humbling, amazing blessing.

The biggest chunk of that came via marketing through BookGorilla.com. On both days I had a campaign through them, I had more than 700 downloads. Whatever else happens, it’s  a great way to get books into readers’ hands.

I’m still hoping to gain reviews for both Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter, but it’s still very early in that regard.

However, the immediate results were still fantastic.  Like Caught, Bob made it all the way to number three in its category.

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 3.25.41 PM.pngFirst, I can’t thank you all enough for the support you’ve shown me! It’s overwhelming to see so many people out there showing any interest in my books. Now I can honestly say there are thousands of copies of these books out there, and I can’t repay you all for such kindness. All I can do is try to keep working on compelling stories, which I am doing at as we speak.

While I’m waiting for reviews for Caught and Bob, I did get this very kind five-star review for The Power of Words, so the good news just keeps on coming.

ElelefinalI could spend hours typing up various ways to say thanks, but it wouldn’t be enough. What I can say is I’m working hard to give you more content. I’m more than halfway through the discovery draft of Betrayed: Book Two of the Oneiros Log. Sojourn in Captivity will be available by April 1, and I’m trying to get it up for preorder by the 15 (might not get that). The flip book featuring Sojourn and Repressed is also under development. Every solid campaign or kind review just inspires me to work that much harder. Even the not-so-kind reviews motivate me to improve my craft and take that criticism into consideration. I hope you like I’ve written so far, and I can’t wait to show you what’s coming!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A Pretty Successful Debut! Repressed Is Off To A Good Start!

A Pretty Successful Debut! Repressed Is Off To A Good Start!

Greetings all,

CoverLayoutIn my last post I mentioned a bit about how Repressed had a solid start.  So I thought I’d try to keep the momentum going while sharing some insight for those trying to get their journey as authors started.

Social media posts and word of mouth helped me get my third-most pre-sales ever. Before anyone start to think I’m quitting my day job, I had eight pre-sales.  The Power of Words had the most ever (17). Caught came in second (13).  This might seem terrible to some. It sure didn’t feel like much to me, but those numbers compare pretty favorable to a number of the authors I speak to on a regular basis. Some of them are stable, full-time authors.  It’s certainly not a ton compared to those best sellers, but at the level I’m currently climbing toward, it’s a good place. People, especially new authors, should focus on goals and those goals should be based on data and expectations established by people in a similar situation. If I compare myself to Brandon Sanderson, I’m going to cry and never write again. However, if I keep my eyes on people with a similar number of titles released, in a similar genre, and with a similar marketing budget, I notice that I’m doing well, and that’s my point here.

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 12.00.09 AM.pngThe other thing I’m happy to say is that Repressed’s ranking in it’s category,  Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Bullying.  I don’t exactly remember how high Caught got, but Repressed was pretty great.  This title made it as high as #38 on the best-seller list and is still in the top 300.  I’m particularly happy that I stayed in the top 100 for its entire first week.

How’d I do it? Well, married life is still something I’m adjusting too. I only had time for social media efforts. I posted probably once every other day. I used hashtags to draw interest and little tag lines. I made sure the cover was everywhere too.

kaitlynFor my next title (Sojurn in Captivity is coming in April!), I expect to have my newsletter back up and running. I intend to run a FB cover reveal as well as a release party. I’ll run a few more newsletter campaigns, and we’ll see if I can’t set up a blog tour.  I’ll be interested to see how those things affect my next release, but I’m happy with what I think are great results when accounting for a minimal marketing campaign.

What I’m hoping for now is to start seeing reviews pop up. I’m honestly excited to see what readers thought of Kaitlyn’s story. If you were one of the people who picked it up, please consider a rating and review on Amazon and or Goodreads.  Even if you hated it, I truly want to know. Like with every project, I try to stretch and do something new. I hope you were as charmed as I was with Kaitlyn, but even if you weren’t the feedback will still be invaluable.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

A Guest Post from Steven D’Adamo! The Basics of PPC Marketing with Taboola

A Guest Post from Steven D’Adamo! The Basics of PPC Marketing with Taboola

Greetings All,

I’m super stoked about this post.  I’ve known Steven since I’ve started blogging, and I consider him a friend above all. I also consider him one of my top marketing mentors, so when he offered to create a post, I jumped at  the chance.  His book, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, is out now, and I’ve already ordered my paperback version and added it to my impossible to whittle down TBR list on Goodreads.   So, if you’re like me, and you feel like marketing is a tough nut to crack, please see below.


 

When I tell people I used to use PPC marketing as part of my job, they give me funny looks. When I tell them that I am now using PPC marketing to promote my first novel, they’re downright flummoxed.

But Pay-Per-Click Marketing is really quite simple: you pay a particular service to feed your webpages, articles, or blogs to other content-driven websites, where they can be seen by a wider, more diverse audience. You then only pay the service provider when a user clicks on your headlines and visits your website.

In this post, I’ll provide a basic overview of how to create and manage a PPC campaign through Taboola.

Creating a Taboola Campaign

There are many PPC services, but I chose to use Taboola, because of the two PPC services I used at my former job – Taboola and Outbrain – I found that Taboola has a better user interface and can be done more cheaply than Outbrain.

Setting up a new campaign is fairly straightforward.

  1. In your Taboola dashboard, click Campaign Management on the left menu, and click New Campaign.
  2. Name your campaign. I use a simple convention: RSPC – Publish Announcement – Smartphone, so I can differentiate the website, content, and platform for the campaign right away.
  3. Select your timeframe. The shortest campaigns should be 10-14 days, but I think 4-6 weeks is optimal.
  4. Campaign Settings 1Select your targeting locations. Taboola lets you get into regions, cities, and even zip codes, but for most campaigns, you’ll want to stick with one country, like the US.
  5. Choose your platform: desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Some people like to include Tablet and Smartphone together, since these are both “mobile,” but I prefer to use each platform separately.
  6. Then, set your Cost Per Click bid and spending limit. You may have to start with a higher click rate, like $0.45-$0.50 per click, but Taboola lets you adjust this throughout the campaign. Your spending limit puts a monetary cap on your campaign, so you can plan the length and limit of your campaign based on your budget. 

Campaign Settings 2There are other settings you can use, but those are the primary ones you will want to consider.

Next, you’ll want to create your content by adding URLs for the webpage you want to promote. I highly recommend using only one URL per campaign. If you have multiple URLs to promote, set each one up in a distinct campaign. However, for each URL campaign, write 3-6 unique headlines. This will help you capture the widest audience for your content.

For my content, I chose to promote my blog post announcing the pre-order period for my novel: https://redstringpapercuts.com/2018/06/19/the-warden-of-everfeld-memento-is-being-published/

Taboola Headlines

I used the above four headlines across three campaigns for Tablet, Desktop, and Smartphone, targeting the U.S. – basically casting a wide net just to gauge initial interest in my novel.

For the image, I asked my cover illustrator to provide me with a high-quality image of my full cover without any of the text – Taboola does not like text in images. I then tried to diversify my headlines between a few key themes:

  • Giving a quick tagline about the main characters
  • Announcing the publication date for a new novel
  • Presenting the reader with a question to make them curious
  • Enticing readers interested in world-building or fantasy universes

One or two of these headlines will certainly perform better over the others, but finding out which ones will tell me a lot about my target audience.

Here is how my campaigns did on the first day:

Taboola Campaign Comparison Day 1

Impressions tell me how many people saw my headline, while Clicks tell me how many of those Impressions actually clicked on my content. CTR, or Click-Through-Rate, is simply a ratio of clicks to impressions. Average CPC tells me about how much I’m spending per click on each campaign, and Spent gives the total dollar amount spent.

Now, a few notes on my actual results:

  • I received the fewest clicks (15) on my Desktop campaign, but spent the highest amount to get them ($7.50, tied with total Spent for Smartphone).
  • The CTR for Desktop is also a bit low – 0.03% (An average CTR is 0.03%-0.05%)
  • By contrast, my Smartphone campaigns received the most clicks (32), with the highest CTR (0.12%), and a high Spend ($7.50).
  • The Tablet campaign performed well, and still way better than Desktop.

Conclusion: I should consider re-allocating my budget away from the Desktop campaign, and toward the Smartphone and Tablet campaigns. These results are only from the first day, so I’ll wait another day or two before adjusting to see how things shake out over a longer period. A single day is really only a snapshot of my campaigns’ potential.

Next, I’ll want to see how my individual headlines are performing against each other. I already know that Smartphone and Tablet are doing well, so I’ll look at all of my headlines together to see which of the four stand out across all three campaigns.

Taboola Content Day 1

The above screen only shows eight of my 12 total headlines, but that’s okay. The other four have received 0 clicks so far. And, Taboola’s content algorithm promotes headlines that perform well, so these already have a head-start over the rest.

Now for some quick notes on my headline performance:

  • “What do honor and memory mean…” This is performing well across all platforms: 34 total clicks for an average CTR of 0.05%. The Desktop version may sink with its poor CTR of 0.02%, but this headline is a winner overall.
  • “Explore the Unique World…” is showing some potential, but it has a lot of catching up to do.
  • The other two headlines appear to be scrapping it out for second place.

Conclusion: I can already see that my top-performing headline is successful at drawing in readers, so I can consider using this one again for a later campaign.

The overall order and performance of these headlines will certainly change over the course of these campaigns, but I’m betting one of the current top three maintains its current dominance.

That’s all for now! I’ll keep an eye on each campaign’s performance over the next 10-14 days and decide then if I want to extend them. Visit Red String PaperCuts in a couple weeks for an update on how my PPC campaigns performed.