Hello again, self-publishing fans! Welcome to another installment of Notes from the Self-Pubbed, the only self-publishing blog series (except for all the others, of course) that gives you the straight dope on this exciting and wacky internet cottage industry. Actually, although plenty of sites write about it, I haven’t found many that do so in anything but the most vague, self-promotional terms. I did, however, recently find this one. If you like this series, you should check her out as well. She does a good job cutting through the crap. That’s basically what I’m doing here, too. I am very deliberately not trying to sugar coat my self-publishing efforts. This is both for you and for me. If I keep saying things like “sales are steady” or “last week’s promotion increased sales over 200%” when what I really mean is “I’m selling the same 2 copies a week I’ve been selling all year” and “I sold 7 copies this week because I paid for some ad space,” then there’s a very real chance I’ll drink my own kool-aid and burn out and give up once I get tired of lying to myself.
So, I’ll try to keep these Notes as clean of bullshit as possible, no matter the pounding my ego may take. Writing is something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. Best to keep the fantasy for the fiction.
It’s important to remember that this industry (and this goes for both traditional and self-publishing, actually) is not for the feint of heart! It is not for the quitters! While it’s true that you may get lucky and publish something that becomes an instant bestseller, you most likely won’t. However, if you stay honest with yourself and keep writing, publishing, promoting, blogging, tweeting and doing anything and everything else you can then there’s a not unreasonable chance you’ll someday find your audience. But for self-pubbers, you’ll have the added benefit of having done it without having to give up any of your rights or split your royalties with anyone but your distributor. I think that’s worth the effort and the patience.
And what precious data have my recent efforts yielded to me? Well, as you may recall, I was dead set on finishing my cross-platform promotion of the Grant Scotland series that I had begun in early summer. I had started with the newest book, Wayward Daughter, in July and achieved less than ideal results. In August, I promoted my first book, Dead Empire, and had an almost break-even return on investment. And at the end of September, I finished the campaign by promoting Troubled King at $0.99 for the week of 9/23 to 9/30 across Kindle/Kobo/Apple/Nook. I used three different advertisers, plus a small Facebook boost on the Grant Scotland Community Page. Let’s take a look at the set up cost:
Booksends newsletter ad space for 9/23 – $25
Booktastik newsletter ad space for 9/24 – $10
EReader News Today newsletter ad space for 9/24 – $20
Facebook community page promotional post boost for two days starting 9/23 – $5
Total marketing expense: $60
And lets take a look at those sales from 9/23 to 9/30:
Spy for a Dead Empire Amazon sales: 5 copies @ $3.99
Spy for a Troubled King sales: 33 copies @$0.99
Spy for a Wayward Daughter: 0 copies @$3.99
NOTE: All sales were Kindle. No other sales reported from other platforms to date.
Total Sales: $53
Well, we still didn’t manage to break even, but we came even closer than last time. That’s progress! I bet even The Donald has to acknowledge that!
Ouch. Truth hurts. Ok, fair enough. I guess I can’t claim any real success with this promotion or even with the entire summer campaign. I CAN however claim a lot of important lessons learned:
- Stop investing in advertisers that don’t yield satisfactory returns.
- Stop scheduling advertisers to run ads on the same day. This was an insight passed on to me by some smart marketing people I know, albeit too late to save the campaign, but it’ll be invaluable moving forward.
- It’s not yet time to break from the herd. As expected, Amazon sales FAR outweighed other platforms. Get back on Kindle Unlimited and utilize all that Amazon has to offer.
Oh. Almost forgot. Here’s the sales breakdown by date:
9/23 (Booksends & Facebook) – 9 units
9/24 (Booktastic/EReaderNewsToday & Facebook) – 25 units
9/25 (Nothing) – 1 unit
9/26 (Nothing) – 1 unit
9/27 (Nothing) – 1 unit
9/28 (Nothing) – None
9/29 (Nothing) – None
9/30 (Nothing) – 1 unit
It should be noted that I made an effort to promote the sale on Twitter during several days of the campaign, but I have no way of tracking the effectiveness of that. It’s curious that no sales were made on Apple/Nook/Kobo. It suggests that Fussy Librarian and/or Bargain Booksy has a substantial cross platform following that EReader does not. The dates I got sales on Nook correspond to the dates my ads appeared on both of those sites. Well, good stuff to keep in mind.
So, where to now? Well, I’m obviously going back to Kindle Unlimited with the first three books, but I think I’ll keep the omnibus edition present everywhere. Maybe see if I can sneak in a promotion with that one at some point. Beyond that, I’ll be scheduling some Countdown deals over the next few months and I’ll likely still do some advertising to correspond to the deal days, but I’m not sure how much at this point. Also, I’ve got something VERY special in mind for the height of the Holiday Season. I think you’ll like it. No hints, but you definitely don’t want to miss it.
Until next time, self-pub fans! Take care of yourself and remember to tip your driver!