Last year was my most prosperous writing year to date. I’ve been doing this author “thing” for over fifteen years and finally have some momentum going. I can’t call it a hobby anymore. It’s not just something I do for the fun of it, although I do have a blast most times. It’s gotten to be serious business these days.
How did this shift come about?
I spent money. Yeah, I spent money on writing. Money beyond an editor and a cover artist. Money on advertising and a small street team. It was money well spent too.
In February of 2016, I took the plunge and paid what I considered an exorbitant amount to have one of my books advertised in Book Bub, a reader newsletter that targets specific readers. I’d heard from more than one fellow author that they’d made back the money they’d spent on this promotional opportunity and then some.
Still I was reluctant. I was tired of always taking a hit in the writing department. I slaved away for hours and hours after the day job and wasn’t seeing any financial rewards for my labor. I couldn’t reach the readers I needed to by just blasting images and links and clever one-liners on Facebook groups that had anything to do with reading and books. I was sick of checking my Amazon rank and finding it to be large, unspeakably embarrassing numbers.
I was ready to quit altogether.
Finally, I decided to go for it as a last ditch effort to make writing a semi-respectable profession for myself. If it didn’t produce some solid sales, I was done. I doled out the cash and waited.
I wasn’t disappointed. The book I advertised was free and the downloads came pouring in. I didn’t make any money off those downloads, BUT those lovely readers were kind enough to buy the other books in the series. A lot of them. Soon I was watching my ranks go down and my earnings go up! I was delighted and refueled to continue spinning tales.
People were really reading my stuff. They were leaving reviews. They were emailing me with kind words that sent me over the moon. My characters were finally getting to meet the world. I was like a proud mom.
I supplemented this tidal wave with establishing a small, 3-person street team of fine women who had liked my books and were willing to spread the word. I promised them a monthly prize, and they agreed to talk about my books to their friends, re-post news about my books on Facebook, and other little things that have helped my sales.
For a few solid months, I saw some wonderful royalties and grew excited about the number of readers I was reaching. Sales tapered off after the summer and then I did something crazy like launch a new series that wasn’t really like the series that had garnered some fans. Things have been slow to pick up on that new series, but I’m gearing up to spend some money again and hopefully put these books in front of the right readers. I’m determined to have another great writing year.
In the meantime, I’m experimenting. I’ve been trying out different sponsored Facebook ads and have found that the ones with images with little text do the best. They are eye-catching enough to get people to notice them in their newsfeeds and make them curious enough to click for more info. I’m also dabbling with promoting the “Shop Now” button on Facebook to see if leading people directly to Amazon works better than providing several links in the ad for various retailers. And finally, I’m playing around with a review service where you pay a fee, your book becomes available to targeted, non-paid reviewers, and those reviewers promise to post reviews at various spots online. I’m figuring if I can get more reviews for my new series, then I can approach Book Bub with more confidence.
Blog tours, book trailers, and online parties never seem to work so I’ve cut those out of the cycle. I’m devoting my time and money to new ideas or things that have worked for me in the past.
In other words, I’m still learning. Over fifteen years doing this writing “thing” and there’s still so much to figure out.
What’s something new you’ve learned that works for your books? Or if you are a reader, how do you find those new books you grow to love?
SAFE, Book One, The Shielded Series, FREE in ebook!
PROTECTED, Book Two, The Shielded Series, available now!
SECURE, Book Three, The Shielded Series, coming soon!