Just a quick note. I’m on vacation. I’m getting a bit of work done on 1,200, but most of my energy is actually going to marketing because it’s just that time of year (every three months). I should pick up speed later, but there are actually quite a few keywords to get through this time.
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.
I got a pretty good gut punch this week. Hazel has been so wonderful since she came out. I don’t know that she ever fell below 300 in her category, and she was usually in the top 100. The marketing was going well. I’d spend about $1 a day and earn just a few buck a month, but she was profiting even if only a little.
Then I got an email.
Apparently, Hazel’s cover is “overly sexualized.” I have to be honest. Given that I removed my name from the original release because of actual sexualized content, this comes as a mind-boggling development, and Hazel has fallen like a rock because of it. It’s still very early in the process. By the time you read this, I will have spoken with Collin about it. We have a backup cover because something similar happened when we were releasing her.
So I’ll probably switch out the cover (depending on what Collin says) and hope that the campaign that was bringing Hazel so much attention gets going again. I activated a few more that are at least garnering attention, but it’s too soon to tell if they’ll be able to make up the gap, and it’s probably only a matter of time before Amazon steps in with those campaigns.
This was a real blow. Caught was my number one selling book before Amazon stepped in, and I wasn’t profiting on anything. Since she came out, I could say, “At least Hazel is profiting.” I took it as progress in the right direction, and now that momentum come to a screeching halt.
I probably took a good day to sit there and mope about it. There really is nothing for it but to try and change the cover and hope it works and then hope things go back to normal.
I’m making slow going on The 1,200. The revisions are necessary and good, but they are time consuming. I will get started on the Alpha Draft of Discovered when I finish this current (First) draft of 1,200. It’s just a labor of love.
In many cases one just has to keep rolling with the punches and move forward, and that’s something I understand, but there are good days and there are days like this. I spoke with some students, who have to interview instructors at certain points in the course I teach, about this today (as I’m typing this). Writing has to be enough.
I’ll never stop writing and publishing. Those are things I love to do. There may come a day when marketing and social media (the efforts to sell the books I write and publish)are things I just don’t have the endurance to continue, but I’m not there yet. I’ll update you on how things progress.
I appreciate those of you who read my blog and send me occasional emails. Those little things mean so much to me, and they help me recover from weeks like this.
It’s not that I haven’t been marketing. But sometimes you have to let the stew heat for a little while before you take a taste.
I suppose that’s an awful metaphor. I’ve been monitoring things since Amazon changed it’s policies. My sales (except for that beautiful Hazel) are down. The good news is my cost of marketing is down, but (understandably) so are my sales because my books aren’t getting the visibility they used to.
The knee jerk reaction would be to bump up my bids, but that would be a terrible idea. The simple, boring solution I intend to activate is just keep trusting the system that has seen improvement.
I don’t anticipate doing any work on Caught’s marketing. The content probably won’t allow it. So I’ll keep building on the others, and see if there is progress. I’ve also learned to track individual books. Caught used to be my best seller, and the policy change definitely impacted that. So I have to work more on each book and see if there’s improvement on each book.
So that’s the plan going forward. I won’t start on this until after the May 15, but starting then, I’ll look at the data and work on some more key words. I have at least three months of new data to look at, so that’s at least somewhere to start.
As always, I’ll keep you updated on how things are going.
In January, I sold three copies of Caught, which was my best-selling book prior to this update.
That total fell to one in February, and I haven’t sold any so far in March.
This means my quota is definitely down.
I still can’t feel too angry about it in a way. First, this isn’t my main job, so it’s not like my family is losing food. Yes, I want to on day let this be my main job, but that may or may not ever happen. It doesn’t keep me from writing and publishing.
This just means I have to increase my efforts in other platforms as well as work on other books. Frankly, it’s been a down time. I’ve only sold six non-Hazel titles in the same 90-day period (including Caught). Without that title to rely on, I have to reassess and move forward.
This is honestly the only real option a guy like me has (I’m certainly not going to quit). If someone has other options, I’d be happy to see them in the comments below.
When I brought down my bids for other titles, I expected a decrease. Losing Caught’s marketing is absolutely a setback, but if I can get my other titles to perform, I could regain that lost ground relatively quickly. I’ll probably do another set of campaigns next month, and that’s all I can really do.
Hazel is still plodding along. She’s easily my number one seller. She’s not making enough for me or Collin to retire on, but she’s earning her keep.
This also doesn’t necessarily mean I’m losing more money. Sure, I’m not selling as many books (and I want to fix that), but I’m not paying as much for all those clicks. Remember, the original goal was to improve my ACOS.
I’m not spending nearly as much on campaigns per month, so when I start analyzing things, I might actually be losing less money. I’ll know more about that when I look at that next month.
This business (at least for me) is a little like running an ultra marathon on a roller-coaster track. You just sort of keep running. I’m making a lot of progress on Discovered, and I’m hopeful to get that out to beta readers sooner rather than later. I have a few more chapters to tweak, and I have to write three or four new chapters just to fill in some gaps. Once that’s done, I’ll be looking for Alpha Readers, and I’ll have my very first completed box set (as soon as I figure out how to make one).
So it’s fun to share the highs, but for this to be useful, it needs to share the mistakes as well as the progress. I’m not helping others if I’m hiding mistakes that you could avoid if I were willing to share them. I hope it helps.
Welcome to year five of my eight-year commitment to go all in on becoming a successful author businessman. This is my fourth annual State of the Weech, where I talk about how the previous year went and talk about my plans for 2022.
The most important thing I did during 2021 was improve my marketing. I’ll talk about Hazel more in a moment, but without Hazel, I went from being pleasantly surprised I sold a book to regularly selling nine books a month. I’m convinced that this path is a good one. No, it’s not a fast track, but most good things aren’t “overnight” things. Steady effort in a solid direction usually yields good results, and I’m happy with what one year or so of effort has brought.
I released Betrayed. It didn’t have the response I was hoping for, but without being able to go to conventions, it’s hard to get word out. What I know is that anyone who’s said anything about it loved it, which is encouraging.
Then there’s Hazel. Now that was a success! Currently, Hazel sells about 38 copies a month. I expect that to calm a little. I tend to sell a lot of a book early, and then things die down. However, I’d be happy if Hazel continued to move at this pace. I know Collin and I appreciate every single one of you who’ve tried it.
I managed to finish the discovery draft of Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log, and I did a read-through of 1,200 in preparation for a draft I’ll do once I get Discovered to Alpha Readers.
So those are things I have done, but now I need to repeat something I mentioned recently.
I’m still writing as much as I can, but without conventions to bolster sales, money for editors and art is a serious concern. This means I’m going to make whatever progress I can, but I don’t have any real certainty on when things will come out because that just depends on how much I can save, how much I spend in marketing, and how many sales I get. So where the past years I had some pretty solid ideas on when I’d get products out to you, I don’t have that same ability this year.
But I am still working, so allow me to tell you about those projects.
Hopefully in 2023 (but don’t quote me on it): Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log. The discovery draft was OK, but it needs some work. I hope to finish the next draft in the next 100 days, which is when hopeful Alpha Readers can count on reading the early version. I do hope to get it out in 2023, but that depends on the things I mentioned above, as do the other projects.
The 1,200: I talked about this recently. I’m actually pretty proud of where that is now, but it does need some work. So each time I get a draft of Discovered done, this is the project I’ll skip to until Discovered is out. This will be the next release you can expect from me baring how long it takes to save up and what smaller projects I might get done.
Visits From A Man Named Nobody: This is my weekly Christian Science Fiction series. It’s larger than I thought (at least this draft). It’s growing in the writing, and I’m discovery writing it, which means it’ll have plenty of kinks to work out. I don’t honestly know when I’ll finish it, but once a draft is done, it’ll take its place in line for release. You can read it now if you want. I’ll do revisions and edits on it before its published through Amazon.
Perception of War: Images of Truth: I’m honestly frustrated I haven’t found a chance to finish the discovery draft. Other projects are more urgent, but as soon as Discovered and The 1,200 are out the door, this puppy is getting some work. This is a very ambitious project, but I can get the writing done, and I plan to. Again, this project is massive! So while I’m going to work very hard on it, it’s going to take time.
New Utopia: This is another older project that’s probably been sitting in a drawer for too long. It needs love, but the the next draft of this story (pitched as Mistborn meets Avatar), won’t be done until Discovered and The 1,200 are as far as I can get them and the Discovery Draft of Perception is done.
Mercer: Now this project could move in a lot of directions because it’s a series of shorter works. I call this Dresden meets Bones, and I love the premise and basic ideas. I haven’t really played with this much in a while, but that’s only because I owe fans of Oneiros a conclusion to their story. I’ll probably start chipping away at this once in between the above projects. So you might see Season One, Episode One before New Utopia.
Leah Saldawn and The Nick of Time: This probably the “older” project that’s farthest from being out. It’s a teen/young reader book that I think is cute, but it’ll have to wait behind those much larger projects.
I’m still working my way toward 60 sales a month. Because of Hazel, I have three averages: My total sales per month, Collin’s and my Hazel sales per month, and my non-Hazel sales per month. The goal for sales per month is still 60, and that’s always been an initial goal aimed at growing after I meet it. I lose less and less each year, and I’m hopeful I get to that first profitable year soon.
If I’m being honest, I’m never going to stop writing. The eight-year goal has always been more about putting in hard-charging, never-back-down energy. It’s spending money on marketing and things like that. I’m hopeful that bears some fruit, but if all I do is write and publish stories I enjoy, that’s OK. I’ll work as hard as I can, and if after eight years, I’m not earning an income, well, I’ll slow down on the costs of publishing and focus more on the writing.
If you’re interested in helping, the best way to do that is to purchase one of my books, read it, rate it, and review it. You can take it to the next level (if you like the book) by recommending it (or buying it) for a friend. In addition to God’s will, which I will always cheerfully submit to, this dream of mine isn’t possible without loyal readers.
I want to finish as I always do, by praising God, and thanking Him for all of you who read and enjoy my work. I’m blessed to have anyone enjoy my books, and a lot of you are just so wonderful to me with emails and help with reviewing drafts. Thank you.
God bless you all, and thank you for another year. I hope your hear has been amazing.
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.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the marketing efforts, and this turned out to be as good an opportunity as any.
I started out continuing the plan I had been working on. Spending $174.47, I had four sales and 1,646 pages read directly tied to the clicks I had.
I say directly tied because I had more than four sales.
The month of December had a was a bright spot for me. I had ten sales, which held true from my last run in November. Continuing in the direction I was going always led to an increase in sales. The problem was that my ACOS (the Average Cost of Sales) was still just too high. Sure, I got orders. Sure, I got reviews. But spending $147 to earn less than $60 isn’t good business. I didn’t want to panic though. I wanted to wait one more more month to see what would happen.
I also wanted to try something new. You see, I read this post (somewhere on Kindlpreneur bout marketing to a German audience. It basically said there is indeed a market for fiction books written in English, so I figured, why not?
So I walked through the process (it was fairly simple) and uploaded a few of my pre-made folders I had already set up. Since starting, I’ve spent about $40, but I did sell a paperback!
Then the numbers for January came in.
I did have another ten sales, and that’s great (sales are always good) but more than $200!? Something had to change. I did a little more research, and came to a conclusion:
No one in their right mind should bid $.45 for a click. I don’t claim to have been in my right mind, so I don’t feel too ashamed. I really started digging into my numbers and the research.
First: Most of my purchases came with great ACOS, the problem was they were buried in keywords that weren’t resulting in (obvious) sales. There were a few keywords where the ACOS was too much, but I was paying out the ear for sales that weren’t making up the difference.
So I started going to my reports and looking out for any clicks that cost more than $.25 cents. This is a good spot to start. Ideally (according to my research), you should expect any keyword to take between 10-20 clicks before you get a sale. So my goal is to work with keywords that are effective at bids between $.15-$.25 while eliminating those above.
How’d it work out? Well, the good news is I’ve brought my cost for February back down to $126.97 (as I type this). That did have an effect on my sales.
As I type this, I only have four sales for February. I’ll admit, for that stretch you see from Feb. 11 – Feb. 23, I felt awful. I kept having to tell myself that it’s just bad business to spend more than $200 for only about $28 in sales. I still lose about $170. I can’t do that, and I don’t want new authors to have that issue. Yes, more impressions leads to more sales. Yes, more clicks leads to more sales. this month proved that even though I don’t see the sales on the Amazon Advertising page, those sales are related in some way.
So the next step in this evolution is to optimize my campaigns as I mentioned above. I’m still going to use keywords to generate more keywords. I’m still going to work on what I call the King Keyword list, a document composed strictly of keywords that resulted in sales and/or pages read.
I will continue to eliminate all campaign bids greater than $.25. I’m also pausing any keywords or campaigns that have proven to be ineffective. For instance “Batman” as a keyword got me more than 60 clicks, but those 60 clicks didn’t net me a single, observable sale.
What I learned in doing that was that I do have keywords that are performing well (a Click Through Rate higher than 1% and ACOS below 70%). I just have a lot of keywords that aren’t working for me, and I have to manage and refine those keywords. Any new campaigns I set will be based on the range from $.15-$.25. I’m letting the Germany Add Campaigns work for a while. Most of the research I’ve seen says it take about three months for a campaign to gain traction. I’ve also started some of AMS’s Product Sponsoring campaigns. Those will also run for three months while I observe the data. Then I’ll start working to optimize those campaigns.
The hope is to evolve on this platform until I earn money from marketing rather than just spend money for the sake of making sales.
I hope this is helping some of you out there to take note of what to watch out for as you prepare to release your books.