Tag Archives: marketing

How I Made Record Sales in August

I’ve been meaning to do this sort of write-up for a while, but I’m always hesitant because I don’t want it to seem like I’m bragging or whining. Here’s the thing, though: writing is my full-time job. Just like any other business, it’s important to track what is and isn’t working. I also strongly believe in sharing information; I don’t see other authors as competition. Being that I’ve been sort of coaching a couple of authors new to indie publishing, I think it’s even more important for me to share what I’m learning.

I’m going to share my actual sales numbers and income. I’m a little nervous about this, because I am far from making a full-time living off of my books. But I would like to track what I’ve been doing and swap some ideas with you.

Let’s get started.

August Releases

  • Becoming Natalie (Book #3, Becoming Natalie Series)
  • Becoming Natalie: The Complete Collection (Books #1-3 in the Becoming Natalie Series)

August Marketing

  • Uploaded Becoming Natalie to Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo for pre-order and added links to series sales page on my website.
  • Serialized Raising Dad on my blog, posting a new chapter every day.
  • Gave away the first five ESX books via my email newsletter.
  • Offered a signed limited edition ESX postcard to email subscribers.
  • Posted a gallery of photos from the real life setting of the Becoming Natalie series.
  • Posted a cover reveal for Becoming Natalie.
  • Made an effort to update my blog at least once a week with relevant pop culture or social topics.
  • Earlier in the summer, I signed On the Edge: The Complete Collection up for a sale on Kobo. The sale went live during August.
  • Updated ESX sales page on my website with description for Coda.
  • Uploaded Coda for pre-order on Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo. Added links to series sales page on my website.
  • Updated my social media strategy: post at least once a day with WIP updates, tidbits from my life, and share relevant social and pop culture issues.
  • Created a thank you page for the Becoming Natalie trilogy, for those who read the entire series.
  • Created Twitter accounts for ESX characters (Koty, Jett, Johnny Z, Dev, and Benny).
  • Set up a mock website for ESX.
  • Created Monday-Friday content schedule for ESXmusic.com.
  • Updated Goodreads.
  • Updated serialized books on Wattpad: Amplified (ESX, Book #1); Raising Dad (Becoming Natalie, Book #1); Positive (On the Edge, Book #1).
  • Updated navigation on website, home page, and banner.

August Sales

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I made $87.75 in sales across the board in August—a new record for me! June and July were really rough, but August evened things out. Most of it was due to the sale on Kobo; On the Edge: The Complete Collection sold like crazy! It was definitely my bestseller across the board, followed by the books in the ESX series.

The last book in the Becoming Natalie trilogy and the bundle of all three books did okay, but definitely not as well as I expected it to. Even now, more than halfway through September, those books still aren’t moving much.

This just solidifies my decision to focus on the ESX spinoff in 2015.

Crazy Comes in Threes sold 3 copies across the board—the best it’s done in months. I’m still planning on writing a sequel, but because the ESX series has been doing so well, the Comes in Threes series is not a priority for me right now. My goal for this year was to write and release as many different things as possible in order to grow my catalog and experiment to see what worked. After all, this is a business and I have to make a living. I am very happy with how things turned out, and have a very clear picture of what 2015 will look like for me.

As usual, I didn’t sell anything on Drive Thru Fiction, Smashwords, or YouHeartBooks. Those markets have been dead for me for a while now, and I’m considering cutting my losses there and focusing on Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo. I’m going to give it the rest of this year, though, and see if anything improves. I’m leaning more toward deleting my YHB account, because it looks like even the owners have given up there. DTF simply seems to have a different audience than the one I’m looking for, and that’s okay.

I’m not sure what’s going on with SW. I used to have good sales there.

Nook sales continue to be weird for me. Some months, nothing will happen. Then, like last month, I’ll sell a few copies of a few things.

What Worked in August

Participating in that site-wide Kobo sale was a huge winner for me. They’re doing another one in October, so I just signed up for that, too. I love the way they merchandize their books by hand and promote sales. I always see great results. I also often see a spike in my sales on their site and have no idea how it happened. :P

I’m not sure what else worked, because unfortunately, I got a couple of bright ideas too late into the month to see immediate results. I’ll know better by the end of September.

I do think that becoming more active on my blog and social media helped grow my platform a bit, which is always a good thing. I saw a lot more interaction from readers, across the board. That alone makes August a success.

What Didn’t Work

It turns out that serializing Raising Dad on my website was probably a waste of time. I’ll know better as the Becoming Natalie trilogy ages a bit.

What’s hard is, I’ve been releasing several books in different series at a time, which means I’ve been marketing all over the place. I think that has definitely affected my sales negatively. Since my goal was to grow my catalog, though, I’m okay with that. Next year I will be focusing solely on the South of Forever (the ESX spinoff) series, which will grow my platform and give me better sales as the series grows.

Conclusion

There is still no magic bullet when it comes to selling books. (Gasp!) You have to keep trying different things and stay agile; be ready to stop doing what doesn’t work and try something else. It’s also nearly impossible to make any money when you only have one or two books out, or when you’re juggling multiple series. From what I’ve read and seen, the authors who have been steadily working on one main series and are at least five books into it see the best sales. We’re not talking millionaire status, here, but they make a decent living.

I’ve been trying some new things throughout September, and can’t wait to tell you about them!

How did you do in August? Which marketing techniques worked for you? Which ones bombed? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at liz@elizabethbarone.net.

5 Ways to Grow Your Email List and Sell More Books

5 Ways to Grow Your Email ListYou don’t have an email list?! Click here to start one with MailChimp, for free. (Disclaimer: I do get a commission if you sign up through that link. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can sign up for free through MailChimp.com.)

Your newsletter is one of your two most important tools when it comes to growing your platform and selling your books. (What’s the other tool? Your website. More on that in a future post.) I thought I knew all there was to know about email marketing, until recently. After implementing the following things into my strategy, I saw an increase in subscribers—and sales!

Send a Newsletter Weekly

I know this might be hard. You might not always have something to say. If you can’t do it weekly, create another schedule for yourself. I highly recommend emailing your list at least once a month, to keep yourself in your readers’ minds. There are a lot of authors out there and even more books, so it’s important to establish an ongoing relationship with your readers.

Once you’ve set your date, stick to it. I send out an email every Friday, and no more often than that. Even if I release a new book on a Tuesday, I wait until Friday to tell my list about it. This way, your readers don’t get too sick of hearing from you. See, it’s a delicate balance.

Give People a Reason to Sign Up

People don’t want to give out their email address—unless they’re getting something in return. Offering coupons may not cut it. The guys of the Self-Publishing Podcast let new subscribers pick an ebook $4.99 and under, and send it to them for free.

Send Your Subscribers Exclusive Content

Sometimes, coupons and free ebooks still don’t work. Readers want to feel special, especially if they’re giving you their email address. No one likes cleaning out their inbox. Give your subscribers a reason to look forward to your emails with content that only subscribers can have!

For ten weeks, I sent episodes of Baby Brooklyn with my weekly newsletter. At the end of the ten weeks, I included an ebook version for those who may have missed an episode or wanted to read the whole story from start to finish. I’ll also send new subscribers a free copy.

(CLICK HERE TO SEE MY LATEST PROMOTION)

Put a Signup Form On Your Website

This might seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many of us forget to add a signup form on our websites! Make sure it’s in a prominent place, like at the top of every page and on your home page. Hone your copy and make signing up seem irresistible.

Give Me Your Email Address, and Get a Free Ebook

Link to Your Signup Page

Every time you post something on Facebook, tweet about your latest work in progress, or blog an excerpt, you should include a link for people to sign up. Blatantly invite them to join; the more direct you are, the better. “Click here to sign up” works much better than “if you’d like, join my email list.” The more you refer to your signup page, the better.

Bonus Tip: Create a Signup Page on Your Website

Most email list providers give you a page where you can collect email addresses. These URLs are clunky, hard to remember, and the information on them might change. I embedded the HTML form that MailChimp generated in a page on my website and gave it the easy to remember URL of elizabethbarone.net/newsletter. Then, every time I need to change the promotion, I can just do it right on my website. Plus, I never have to go crazy trying to remember my signup URL, which makes it easy for me to refer to it every time I post to Facebook. ;)

Do you have an email list? Which methods do you use to grow it? Leave a comment and share!

Sign Up for My Email List!

If you like my posts and want to learn more about me and my books, sign up for my free newsletter! You’ll get exclusive excerpts from works in progress, pages from my journal, and more!

Using Wattpad to Promote a Series

Using Wattpad to Promote Your BooksMaybe you’ve heard about Wattpad. It’s basically a site where people can post stories for free (for both the reader and the writer). According to their website, they have over 20 million users—70% of which are comfortable with reading works on the Wattpad app.

I’ve been using Wattpad since April 2013. For about a month, I updated pretty regularly. I gained some traction there, then kept forgetting to post. In the months that I wasn’t posting weekly, only a few new readers trickled in. I’ve recently returned to a schedule, and I’ve noticed another spike in followers, reads, and votes.

As of this writing, I have four works on Wattpad:

  • an excerpt of Crazy Comes in Threes, a full-length novel available across all major ebook retailers, and also the first book in a series;
  • a full-length novella I’ve removed from my publishing catalog, but left on Wattpad because people like it;
  • a serialized version of Ampified, the first novelette in a series;
  • a serialized version of Positive, the first novelette in another series.

Because I goofed and stopped updating for a while, I don’t have any solid numbers. All of the advice I’m about to give you is a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” :P

Why should you post your work on Wattpad for free?

Walk through any mall food court in America and you’ll hear things like “Try a sample!” and “Always fresh!” ring out. People wearing aprons and carrying steaming trays of food and boxes of toothpicks wander the front walkway, trying to draw customers in to restaurants. If you like the teriyaki chicken at Sakura, you’ll probably buy a plate of their stir fry. This is how “unknown” restaurants build their customer base, and it works for pretty much everything else—including books.

The concept of giving something away to drum up sales has worked in the indie publishing industry since the very beginning. It’s technically called a loss leader, but it’s really just a strategy. You can use Wattpad as a tool to fulfill that strategy, just like you might use pricing to make the first book in a series free.

Posting your story on Wattpad will help you build a readership, who will promote your work by word of mouth, even if they can’t buy the rest of your books. I recently listened to a podcast that speculated that most of Wattpad’s readers are teens. Lindsay Buroker said that this is actually a good thing rather than bad; when those readers are out of high school and can afford books, they will be familiar with you and your work. I thought that was a really great way to look at it. (That entire episode was great; you can listen to it here. Lindsay always has good information about self-publishing. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you should.)

Using Wattpad to publish a series can also help test its strength. I’ve been in this game since October 2011, and still made a huge mistake when it came to branding my On the Edge series. Looking at the data on Wattpad helped me make this decision; if people didn’t even want to read a series for free, something was definitely wrong. I was able to determine that the issue was the title, and after re-releasing the series, I’m already seeing an increase in sales.

I’ve heard of other authors who serialize something exclusively on Wattpad, then publish it as an ebook later on. I’d like to try this eventually, too.

Those are the reasons why you should use Wattpad. Now, let’s talk about how.

Update often. People are more likely to stick with something if they know when more is coming. Post one chapter at a time, adding a new one on a specific day of the week. This should be the same day, and you should try to stick to it the way you would a release date for any other book.

Add an authors’ note. Your note should be short and sweet. You can say something like

Thank you for reading! I hope you are enjoying this book. Amplified is the first novelette in the ESX series. Buy your copy or check out the rest of the series at http://elizabethbarone.net/esx/ (copy and paste the link into your browser). You can also get a free ebook by signing up for my newsletter at http://elizabethbarone.net/newsletter/

Try not to offer more than three links for readers to visit. Since Wattpad doesn’t allow clickable links, most readers will have to copy and paste. If they’re reading on a phone, they might not even be able to do that. Your links should be short and easy to memorize.

Your note can also include when you are next going to update.

Share your works across your social media. If you’re just getting started on Wattpad, you might not have many followers. By sharing your works with your existing platform, you’ll get the reads and votes you need to boost your book up in the Wattpad charts.

Add a link to the ebook version. Wattpad does allow you to include an “external link,” under the advanced settings when you are editing a part. Even though it’s in really small print on your book’s page, readers will still find it. It also helps search engines index your book. I like to link to the Kindle edition, since Kindle is still the most popular e-reader, but you could link to the book’s page on your website or another retailer.

It’s also really important to upload a great looking cover design. Even if you’re just testing a series that you haven’t published as an ebook yet, you should still use a professional cover. Because Wattpad is a free site, there’s a lot of fan fiction and other works. I’ve noticed that even these “amateur” books are boasting kick-ass covers. You certainly don’t want your book to be overlooked!

Wattpad can be a great tool to help get your books out there and help build your platform. Why not give it a shot?

Are you using Wattpad? What have you been doing to promote your books?