Things I wish I knew… Part Deux

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In my previous post, I talked about a bunch of things I wish I knew before I put #WheelerNovel up on Kindle.

In this one, I’ve continued with some additional musings that have come up now that I’m neck deep in marketing Wheeler.

1. KDP Select. The thing about Amazon’s book service, you can’t have the e-copy available anywhere else for the period of time you’re with KDP, which is 90 days. You can’t sell your e-book, but you can offer it for free. What they don’t point out is that this would also be applicable if you take your book off KDP early. Granted, I’m not sure where else you would have your novel, other than iBooks or sell it yourself, because 80-90% of books are bought through Amazon so it’s worth it, in my opinion. You can choose either 35% or 70% of profits; which means that Amazon can choose to market your book at a lower price without actually telling you. If they do so, they say:

  • If you chose the 70% royalty option, your royalties will be calculated off this offer price for sales that qualify for the 70% royalty option.
  • If you chose the 35% option, you’ll be paid off the original list price you chose.

I went with the 70% option because frankly, I’m more concerned about review numbers than making money. ‘Cause if I expected to make money off writing, I’m way off in my own little reality.

2.  Hard copies of your book. Do not – do not – buy a ton of copies of your book unless you are 100% sure your book is Great AND you have people to buy them.

     (a)  There are several places to get your book printed and I have tried a few but I keep going back to Createspace. Author copies are the least expensive of any that I’ve tried. I have no complaints about the printing and binding; I can’t say that for the others I’ve tried.

3.  Marketing. Holy crap. Going it alone, there is so much to think about that it becomes a full-time job. I’m not kidding.

     (a)  Advertising. Should you advertise? Yes – but be prepared to be shockingly disappointed. 95k views of my ad on Amazon, 8,500 clicks, TWO (2) copies sold in 30 days of advertising, $60 spent. I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble but that’s me.

          (i)  With Amazon Ad Services, you have to decide how much you are willing to spend on each keyword category. The more $$ per click, the higher up your ad will place. Start at 75 cents in each of your keyword categories, then after a week, look at how many views each category got. If one has a lot more than the others, take money from the poor performers and add it to that one. With my novel, ‘romance’ had the bulk of the views so I went from 75 cents to $1, to $2 while pausing the other categories that weren’t working. The secondary category, ‘women’s contemporary’ I upped to $1.50.

     (b)  Social Media.  Again, this is almost a full-time job.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging, Google+, it makes my head swim sometimes. I prefer Twitter. I’ve found Facebook useless but I still have a page there (sorry Facebookers), I have an Instagram but I haven’t used it in ages. Obviously, blogging is a good thing and gives you a different voice than your writing because I can write about anything on my blog.

          (i)  Book Blog Blitz. Say that 5 times fast. Months back, I had heard the term ‘blog tour’ bandied about and investigated it. This is when a promoter who has contact with hundreds of book bloggers gets some of them to list your book on their website. This is usually with your book blurb, an excerpt, and/or a guest blog post. The price and packages vary with promoters so check a few out before you commit. Be ready to offer up something along with a signed copy of your book, like a gift card.

*** Verdict: While I gathered more followers on Twitter and made some very nice connections, this has not translated into any new sales. ***

In my novel, Loren loves the New York City’s iconic black and white cookie; however, it’s hard to get the perfect B&W cookie. New Yorkers like me have a preference. (More cake than cookie, the white part has to be fondant but the black has to be dark chocolate frosting, not fondant.) Psst. Amy’s Bread in NYC’s Chelsea makes the absolute best and they’re the size of your hand, but Costco’s version will do in a pinch.  Since Amy’s doesn’t ship, Loren’s second favorite is French Macarons. Macaron Cafe ships in the US and I personally have had far too many and can attest to their deliciousness. Guess who gets a $25?

***In hindsight, while utterly delicious, not everybody can afford the $20 shipping that Maracon Cafe charges to ship the heavenliness. I sent the person who won a $25 Visa card instead because Audrey runs a cat rescue and I’m impressed by that.**

         (ii) Book Blog Tour.  This is similar to a blitz, but where it differs is that the blogger will read and review your book, have an author Q&A, maybe a podcast (depends on who) or a vlog. Packages vary here as well. The minimum is three days to 3 weeks, with a core group of 20 to upwards of 70 bloggers reviewing your novel.

***I have scheduled a book blog tour for November with the same company that did the blog blitz. I’ll give my verdict then.***

     (c) Book Signings. Check your ego at the door, mates.  I did one last fall when my novel was still $hit and I regret it fully. See #2 above. If you’re going to have a book signing, have it somewhere you frequent, like a coffee shop, your local bookstore, or library, especially if they are having some other event there. I thought about having one at my local bike shop because my book is about a cyclist. I also thought about having it at a local indoor cycling studio, because I am a cycling instructor and wrote a class profile using the final time trial in Wheeler. I even thought about having a charity aspect to the event whereby I would donate the proceeds of the book to the Homestretch Foundation, benefiting amateur women cyclists to go pro. Note that I keep saying I thought about it.

     (d)  Author/Writer Conventions. I’ve heard about them but I have no experience with them. I’ve done some research and signed up for one in Nashville, TN for March 2018. I’m terrified and excited but cautious. Regardless, I’ll meet like-minded authors and spend some time with my brother and his family.

     (e)  Outliers. Thinking Outside the Box.

          (i)  On the Rails to Trails path that I ride frequently (The Schuylkill Trail), there’s a bike shop in Spring Mill called Riverbend Cycles. They have a really friendly staff, great scones and a cute patio area where you can sit and rest. What they also have is a free lending library in a wooden box where people can donate books or take a book to read. Like the take a penny/give a penny thing. I have a couple of proof copies laying around that I’m going to put in the box at some point, along with a couple of postcards I had printed up last year. If they’re at a bike shop, chances are they like biking and if they’re looking in the library box, they’re likely looking for something to read, right?

          (ii)  Finding out of the box reviewers. Now, this is specific to my book being a sports romance. I belong to the Philadelphia Bike Coalition and I recently saw a Tweet by a blogger who I imagine is a guy but I emailed him about reviewing my book. From what I could tell, this person hasn’t reviewed a book yet, but I had success with another cyclist blogger that enjoyed it so what the hell. Can’t hurt to ask.

*** He said yes. Now I’ll sit on my hands and wait. Have you figured out that I’m not good at waiting? Yeah, I thought so.

          (iii)  Find another author who has a similar book to yours and partner with them somehow. I had this idea when I saw an ad for a book about a competitive swimmer. While it wasn’t a romance, the premise was similar to mine. I took a chance and emailed the author. Of course, she wanted to read my novel before committing; and yet I haven’t heard back. You’ll get a lot of ‘no’ before you hear ‘yes.’

 

Do you have other ways of marketing your fiction that I haven’t touched on here? I’d love to hear about it.

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