Of Marketing and Mayhem

Now that NaNoWriMo and my grandmother’s 99th birthday celebration are over, it’s time to get back to real life. By that I mean, of course, writing fiction. But the “dark side” of writing and publishing fiction is that one must get those books in front of an audience. Well, unless just having a link on Amazon is your goal. (I am writing as an indie author, but even traditionally published non-famous mid-list authors are now doing their own marketing.)

For a reason that I’m unable to fully explain, my books are selling at an ever-increasing rate. I say that I’m unable to explain it for two reasons:

I mistakenly did two ad campaigns at once last month, and my sales were 4.5% greater than in October… But which campaign worked? No idea, since they don’t provide ultimate sales information. (Goodreads does provide the number of clicks through to your Goodread’s listing, and the number of people who add your book to their “to read” shelf… But since I also have a Giveaway going – yes, that would be campaign #3 – I’m getting books added that aren’t from clicks. ie my report this morning said I had 1 click but 9 people added it to their “to read” list!)

Solomon’s Throne is still not that high on Amazon. It’s #245 in action/adventure, and #897 in mystery/thriller. (It’s #14,889 in ALL books, all genres.)  Yes, I’m happy with that. It sure beats #2,451,972, which is about where I was when I started this journey in mid-July. But it doesn’t really explain people stumbling upon it, although it’s possible that some of my keywords are helping there. (For instance, “treasure hunt” could be moving me up in people’s searches, and I think I’m getting some exposure from Amazon on the “people who bought this also bought…” with my book in the line of similar titles.)

So basically, I have no idea exactly why Solomon’s Throne’s sales are on the rise. I wish I did – marketing is hard enough, without trying to figure out what does and doesn’t work! What I do know is why sales of The Hoard of the Doges are increasing, and that is actually going according to plan (shocking, I know!).

When I published Solomon’s Throne in July, I had already written its sequel, The Hoard of the Doges, although it wasn’t edited yet. I knew from reading on various indie publishing blogs (like the always-helpful Joe Konrath) that having a backlist was important. So I worked very hard and published Undaunted Love in September (different genre, different story there), and then the Quinn sequel in October. I had enrolled Solomon’s Throne in KDP Select with the sole purpose of driving sales to The Hoard of the Doges through the free downloads available on the five promo days, and that’s working.

I released The Hoard of the Doges in October, and sold a couple of dozen autographed copies, and about a dozen ebook and paperback copies through CreateSpace. For awhile in November, nothing really happened with it, and I didn’t advertise it anywhere, but then, in mid-November, sales started happening. By the end of November, sales of The Hoard of the Doges were about 1/3 of those of Solomon’s Throne. Virtually the only way that happened was because I have a “Coming Soon” section at the end of Solomon’s Throne, with an excerpt. So far in December, sales of The Hoard of the Doges is 2/3 of the sales of Solomon’s Throne!

So that plan not only worked, but it worked demonstrably as a loss leader. I have several thousand copies of Solomon’s Throne out there now, between paid and free, and that gives me a fairly big audience for The Hoard of the Doges. This genre (action adventure treasure hunt) doesn’t have a huge readership compared to romance or mystery, but people who like them (like me) read a lot of them, so my goal is to solidify a reader base. Ten thousand people who will buy any treasure hunt I write would be pretty good!

I re-enrolled Solomon’s Throne into KDP Select through February, because Amazon put another $1.5 million into the pot as an incentive. I’ve learned a lot about promoing the free days since the last time I did this, so hopefully I’ll get a lot of downloads again, and then that will translate to sales for The Hoard of the Doges.

And obviously I need to get on another Quinn novel! That will be next up, after the YA I’m working on. I already have the idea… So stay tuned!



Filed under NaNoWriMo, Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

4 responses to “Of Marketing and Mayhem

  1. Good luck in your writing and marketing. Just beware of Mayhem, he’s everywhere.

  2. As always, Jennings, you are so organized. You have campaigns. My campaign, on the heels of a horrible stomach bug consisted of…buy my blah, blah, blah on blah, blah, blah, the day it released. I have got to brainstorm w/you. Congrats on your successes!

  3. Well, campaign sounds organized, but in actuality, it’s more like, “Oh, this looks good! I’ll do this!” and then I forget about it. haha! I actually bought a 2013 (that went back to July 2012) planner while I was in FL just for marketing, and spent some time putting my sales figures, my promo days, and then my upcoming stuff, in hopes of organization. I’ve learned a LOT since July, but it’s still overwhelming!

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