The Great Fiction Writing Challenge — Week 37 Results
Regular writing becomes regular, plus more inspired ideas of how to roll out a conversion plan..
Published Words Fiction:
— free — 6581 (Wattpad)
— paid — 21948
Published Words Non-Fiction:
— free — 1389
— paid — 0 (Medium)
— Medium — 16
— Wattpad — 2
Book sales this week:
Amazon — 4, Draft2Digital — 1, Gumroad — 1= Total Week’s sales — 6
Books (pre-)published this week:
For the Love of ‘Cagga
A Case of Missing Wings
- Hooman Saga: Book Two, Part Two, Section 01
Total fiction books published:
77 (Should be at or over 74 by now to make 100 by year end. Next target is 100 short stories…)
Instafreebie continues down as I’m not actively working to be part of all possible giveaways. And I’m only promoting giveaways that last the month or most of it. The other decrease was from the giveaways I was running that had organizer opt-ins. Oddly that resulted in a higher percentage of unsubscribes.
I did some number-crunching to see what the turnover rate was for IF subscribers. Over five months, it’s averaged almost a 53% drop. An average drop of just over 9% per month, with the first month being 12%. This needs a larger data set to determine what is possible.
The first month dropped out high as this removed all those who never opened after recieving at least 5 emails. The third month also spiked as I removed anyone who hadn’t opened in 90 days, after trying to re-engage them.
It does set up a new approach and testing for IF. I can continue to use my Verified status to get opt-ins as an organizer, but then enter my books on a free plan to simply test their in-book opt-ins. That will then give me a clean test of both subscriber bases. Another 6 months will prove this out. I’ll still have to pay IF on their Pro Plan, but will then prove whether these pay-to-giveaway-free-books are worth anything.
What IF does show is the value of someone else’s list. And is that IF is good for — their own promotion of books. The only trick is to understand that when you are only getting 40% of your claimants to opt-in, and then over 50% of them leave in the first four months, you still are getting that 20% onto your list.
Mailchimp Subscribers — were somewhat backlogged, but an uptick in course enrollments that didn’t come from earlier subscribers. Of course, if they had earlier unsubscribed, they wouldn’t be re-added — however, Thinkific (the backend) has its own notification system, so I’d still be able to send them notices.
Writing Becomes More Regular — I have no lack of inspiration for writing. Two short stories per week is more the discipline of just getting things done. Persistence. After watching some truly crappy short stories with many of the same actors/actresses with short videos that are more titillating than actual stories, I got disenchanted with one of my books during the proofing. But I was done writing, and at the tail end of the proofing, so it’s published and I simply need to concentrate on writing the next one better.
The trick here is that I like to binge-watch series (except procedurals like Mystery She Wrote, and stupid human tricks like 90210, and dark plots that don’t really have happy endings in each episode like Battlestar Galactica.) Those are the only series I haven’t finished. But explains why I haven’t started Gunsmoke, Dr. Quinn, or Dexter.
I’m watching Angel right now and have the TNT Librarians series queued up for re-watching. But I really need to start cranking through some short stories. So I collected up some L’Amour, Heinlein, and Dasheill Hammet, and need to get back to Robert E. Howard. All of these fit the scene of perennial-selling, never out of print books. I haven’t yet found short-story romances that make that grade.
The point is to make some time each evening to simply read. I have numerous short story collections to peruse and enjoy if I can. Those that make the enjoyment cut will get re-viewed and studied for how-they-did-it’s. Just more grist for the ever-turning mill…
New Conversion Point — The 99-cent starting level for Amazon has always irked me. The solution (after reading a comment that higher-priced books get more respect) is to raise them to $2.99 a week after they are off pre-order. (The reason for not using $1.99 is that it’s a dead zone for buyers.) Of course, then promote these pre-order books with the limited time offer. After that, the bargains will be in getting the anthologies, which are also marked down ($2.99) for pre-order, and then all prices raise after that.
Of course, that is all a lot of extra work. Mostly backlogged, with 70+ fiction books to work over.
I may also set pre-order prices on D2D that low, and raise them as well. At least D2D makes it simpler to change prices with their recent site interface improvements.
Writers Have to Learn Marketing — this is the simple conclusion when I started working on conversions. It doesn’t mean they have to become marketers (like Joanna Penn — who still writes — and Nick Stephenson — who quit writing.) There are others who started out in sales/marketing and never made it as authors. I do recall one author who did make the leap — but he’s an outlier.)
Wattpad/Medium — continue to show early signs of life as audience builders. I won’t really see trends until I get about 6 months of books up there, probably a year or more. But stats are available on both platforms for reads (compared to look-at’s). A non fiction book I published in 2012 on WattPad has 395 reads since 2012. Setting this up on both, with a course to follow, would be a logical way to approach this. (See the Leanpub description below this as a logical way to form real lead gen’s.)
I’ve included metrics for Medium and Wattpad reads to start tracking these. Now, these aren’t set to get subscribers, except through the book ads. I link to the book on my own site, and then if they buy it through that site, I’ll get their email. Remote purchases means they have to click on the in-book ad. Asking for opt-ins directly is prohibited on Medium and also Wattpad as far as I know.
LeanPub Comes Back to Life — When these guys came out with their idea of $99 per book upfront fee, I wrote them off. Doesn’t fit the model of simply starting from scratch with no costs, or small payment per sales. And setting their minimum price at $4.99 was a bit revolutionary — but not since most of their books were non-fiction, and usually textbooks for arcane programming. Since then, they’ve come out with a freemium version, which allows you to publish “only” 20 books per year, and get only 80% royalties (D2D, PubD, and SL only take 10%. Amazon grabs between 30% and 70%.)
What makes this interesting is that they now have added the capability of adding a course for every book. And this follows their model of pushing non-fiction books, which is their main following.
This goes right down the approach found in “Backwards Book Publishing.” Again, you are talking out the book, transcribing it, posting the book in all formats, including audiobook, and taking that audio to make videos from it that become courses. LeanPub has set it up as simple as adding a single line of code that auto-creates your course. And the hosting is free for this.
Here’s a sample of how a fiction book looks there: https://calm.li/TalesLazuraiLeanpub
I’ve yet to test out their course builder, but am pushing that way as I can, since my own various books on how to write-publish have been mostly built with the idea of creating small courses from them as well.
You’ve also seen in my recent weeks that I push having a course as a necessity for fiction writers in addition to their own backlist of books.
What makes Leanpub interesting is their own in-house shopping cart experience, meaning you again can build on their audience and so build a list to expand your own audience.
The main approach is to use Thinkific as a main area, but then also create other versions of that course for Udemy, Skillshare, and now Leanpub. This last allows a direct tie back to the book as a required text. And their audience is tech-savvy, non-fiction, so this is a great match.
Stay tuned for more details.
Two Big Promo Projects Upcoming — I’ve mentioned these in passing before, but now they seem to come forward more.
First, a weekly podcast. Or a couple. One would be just reading the blurb for my book published that week. This would add to the value on the book page itself — author reading his own book, and adding behind the scenes/easter eggs data. Another would be to curate the data I am assembling daily about how to write and publish better. Since weekly shows are time consuming, I’d probably do the new releases on one week (only about 5 minutes each) and then write an essay and link to the courses and non-fiction books about how to write-publish-market better, leaving a list of valuable content links to follow. For me, that also covers my whole-life system (Living Sensical) and so have some for every core area as I do this.
Thinking this through, I could also separate out the writing-publishing area specifically and put these in new releases on the second week — pushing that conversion route that way.
Second, improving what courses I already have , by taking the up-tick in Becoming A Writer subscriptions and working to improve one lesson per week of that course, as well as getting feedback from the early adopters. The idea would then be to get this past the alpha stage and into beta with a paid subscription. At the end of the course would be all the other books I’ve written along this line, and asking what they were most interested in. Then creating a course for that book, updating it at the same time. Then spinning off mini-courses (Udemy, Skillshare) for each full course as feeders. (Leanpub would get the whole course.)
I probably have enough time to get these courses completed that already have audio and courses sitting there. However, this will then enable something like single-subscription sign-on for multiple courses where they are small.
That practice also sets me up for this next year, where I’ll be working up two books/courses that build up the natural-living part of Living Sensical, and so then finish that research. The third year will be then to take these self-improvement materials I have and create courses for each of the Strangest Secret Library, and also self-recording Nightingale essays to create a series of audio books for them. The original book that sells regularly will be expanded with new material month by month, linking to new audiobooks as they are released.
All from the idea of pushing people to get their next book or service as a regular basis. Again, where writers should learn and utilize marketing as a regular part of telling their journey as they go. This then goes back to Content Marketing (Copyblogger) scene of regularly pushing your own material while also giving tons of content away free.
To Do Last Week:
- 2 or 3 books written and published. To all channels. DONE
- Emails out on schedule. DONE
- Conversion automation completed and tuned. Nope — more ideas, though.
- Createspace books over to KDP — Turns out Amazon is jammed. I’ve done everything on my end (updating prices that were too low) and now they simply need to catch up. Meanwhile, a handful of those books keep selling…
To Do This Week:
- At least two new shorts written.
- Emails out per schedule.
- One lesson in BAW Course updated.
- LeanPub course setup reviewed.
Originally published at Living Sensical.