Analysis of Sales of The Great Scottish Land Grab Part Two

Yesterday I started an analyis of what worked and what failed as I attempted to market my first fiction ebook: The Great Scottish Land Grab.

Today I want to look in more detail at what I was doing to market the book and what results it had.

The chart below shows the lifetime sales of Land Grab book one since June 2014:

First thing to point out is that Orange/yellow shows sales where I got paid, blue is sales of the book after I set the price to free.

One of my biggest mistakes was not making book one free right away. Instead I priced it at 99p.

I was marketing Land Grab every single day during the summer of 2014. I printed up business cards, approached random strangers at village fairs and at train stations. I posted on Facebook and Twitter and while I sold over a hundred copies, look at the difference in numbers from October 2016… I did almost no marketing at all for the three months from October 2016 and people still found and downloaded the book!

I wonder how many more downloads I might have had in 2014 if I had enticed people in with a free offer.

The next two charts show life-time sales for books two and three respectively:

The numbers are not huge so I can’t make any hard and fast statements about what worked and what didn’t work, but it does seem to me that releasing Land Grab as a series did allow people to try at a low price and then free, and then go on to buy the other books in the series.

Both in 2014 and since October 2016, I’ve seen people go on to buy book two and three after downloading book one.

The chart for the full trilogy looks very different:

The fact is that I still carry business cards with me and still give them out or leave them in cafe’s and other venues for people to find. The business cards only advertise the full novel and I think that people who are intrigued by the cover image on the cards or maybe by something I’ve said will go on to buy the full novel.

Contrast the final chart with the first three and you see that huge dead area from November 2015 till August 2016. Without advertising I don’t see sales.

That’s a really important statement. Early this year I had an offer from Facebook. A £30 credit towards Facebook advertising. I used £12 of that voucher to advertise The Great Scottish Land Grab and later worked out that I made a slight profit off the back of it. (In reality a full profit as Facebook gave me a free voucher, but looking to see whether I would make a profit in future, it was small, but there.)

Tomorrow I’m going to try and round all this up into some sage advice to anyone thinking about how they can sell their book.

A Quarter Quell

Today will be my 25th post in my 100 day challenge to write 100 words a day. I decided I would review my progress every 25 days.

So far I’ve made good progress, managing to publish at least 100 words a day. I’ve written almost every day, excluding Sundays when I take a day off which means for the 21 days I’ve actually been writing my average daily word count has been 410 words.

However, that only includes published posts. I had a look at draft posts I’ve added, but not published – there are 24 of those – and taking those into account I’ve written an average of 600 words a day.

Total words written and published: 8617
Total words written inc draft: 12,753

All this in a little over three weeks which is encouraging as one of the reasons I wanted to restart this blog was to get into a daily habit of writing.

I haven’t been keeping track of time spent writing though. I timed myself last night and estimate from that that I’m spending 15 minutes writing and editing every 100 words. If that is accurate, I’ve spent 31 hours writing on this blog over those 21 days.

That’s not great. Ultimately I want to spend the bulk of my writing time working on my next novel and if I only need to spend 15 minutes on this blog each day, that means I’m losing 75 minutes that could be towards my novel word count. I only posted two posts during this time that were exactly 100 words long.

Over the next 25 days I should make an effort to time myself while writing and make sure that I’m prioritising time to work towards my longer term writing goals.

It’s worth my noting what impact my blog is having.

I’ve had one blog post which has been highly relevant to a lot of people and am still seeing people turning to it for information. However, the rest of my posts are falling into a vacuum:

Ultimately I want to build up a readership, but will have to do some research into what people actually want to read.

It might make sense to focus on posting flash fiction to draw readers who may want to buy my novels, but if so, I need to find a way to do that. If I’m going to market myself and advertise, it would make more sense to advertise my novels directly.

That’s enough for now… If you have any feedback on this blog, do let me know.

The importance of relevance

Everything we say and do (and write) will only matter to someone else if it is relevant to them.

I’ve seen this before with my writing. My original blog used to get the odd hit every other day, often from Eastern European countries or Russia giving the impression that only bots were landing there. Every now and then though, I’d post something and manage to share it with the right people and see a huge spike in hits.

I found this happen again this weekend. Two weeks into this new blog, daily hits averaging around seven a day and then I post my notes from Amazon Academy…

250 hits in one day. All because I posted useful notes for writers and shared that post with other writers…

This other screenshot is also encouraging. I wanted to reach out to English speaking writers and saw the greatest hits from UK, US, Canada and Australia:

Whatever we do in life, relevance to others is vitally important. As a writer, I want to sell books to readers who will enjoy what I write. That means I need to identify how to reach those readers, what sort of books they are already buying and work out what they need to hear to encourage them to try my books.

But the same principles can be applied to whatever we do. In your day job, working out who your main customers/stakeholders are (hint: your boss will be number one!) is vital. Learning what they want and trying to improve on that is a way to get noticed and make your customers happy.

I can also see this applying to my relationships. How can I be more relevant to the people that matter in my life? Are my words and actions meeting their needs?

How about you? Can you see ways to be more relevant?

Amazon Academy The Detail

Following up to my earlier post on attending Amazon Academy here is the detail…

Alliance of Independent Authors

Membership of Alli includes legal support (Legal support is an area where I suspect many indie authors could benefit from)

Alli are apparently hosting an author fringe event in Edinburgh on June 3rd, 2017. Contact them for details.

Kindle Owners Lenders Library (KOL)

I’d not heard of KOL. Sounds similar to Kindle Unlimited (KU) where the author gets paid based on page reads. Haven’t researched yet.

I asked Darren Hardy, the head of KDP in the UK, what happens to the reader when an author withdraws from KU, but they haven’t finished reading the book. He answered that the reader is allowed to keep reading and the author still gets paid for page reads.

Recommended Sites

The panels recommended several sites that may be of use to indie authors.

Ultra cheap book covers (circa $1) at
https://www.canva.com/create/book-covers/

Extremely cheap book covers at
https://www.fiverr.com/categories/graphics-design/ebook-covers?source=category_tree

Paul’s Blog with useful posts for indie authors at
https://paulteague.com/
(Look for posts on Story Beats and The Novel Factory)

A home for your books at
https://www.librarything.com/

A site for authors to introduce and promote their books at
http://www.abouttheauthor.co.uk/

Sites for managing mailing lists at
http://Mailchimp.com
http://Mailerlite.com

Poor mans version of Bookbub for US audience at
https://www.freebooksy.com/

UK version of Bookbub for £20 at
http://bookhippo.uk/

Automate your social media at
https://buffer.com/
http://www.tweetjukebox.com/

Licence free music for your book trailers at
https://www.premiumbeat.com

Movie clips for book trailers at
https://www.fotolia.com/Info/Videos#

If you love your books, let them go at
http://www.bookcrossing.com/

Recommended Reading

Save The Cat – apparently written by a minor Holywood writer and invaluable for insights to how stories are put together.

You can also search for Save The Cat Beat Sheet which seems to alude to: THE BLAKE SNYDER BEAT SHEET described here:
https://timstout.wordpress.com/story-structure/blake-snyders-beat-sheet/

Hang in there!

Murray McDonald shared that he was on Amazon for 18 months selling one or two copies a day until things took off.

General advice

For some people Facebook advertising works. For others, Amazon Ads.

‘Non-fiction is easier to sell because it is based on key words’ Paul Teague

Go into Google Keyword Planning Tool – to find out what people are ACTUALLY searching for – when deciding on keywords

Goodreads giveaways – be wary of the high cost of international postage!

On Twitter use the hashtags:
#selfpub
#indieauthors
To find other authors, get conversations going and pinch other authors best marketing ideas! 🙂

Use instafreebie.com. Organise instafreebie giveaways in your genre and build genre specific audiences.

Google “best marketing sites for authors”

Put your advertising budget against one day rather than over a month to drive yourself up the charts!

Bookbub is just the Holy Grail to become number one in your genre

Approach hotels and tourist attractions at sites that feature in your novel and ask if they would be interested in stocking your books.

Editors

The panellists had the following to say about editors.

‘I’ve not yet hired an external editor’

‘An editor should give you a demo edit, a sample edit for free. If you feel they are looking down their nose on you… you shouldn’t feel torn down by your editor.’

‘Concentrate on the relationship with your editor – is this someone you want to work with?’

‘I paid £500 for a full edit.’

The best quotes from the day
(Some of these may be paraphrased, I don’t know shorthand!)

‘Decide what it is you want from your writing career.’ Darren Hardy

‘Build in a detour when planning your novel!’ Harriet Smart (Allow room for the characters to go off on their own journey when that feels right)

‘Sometimes I’ll plan to kill a character in a scene and then someone else gets it!’ Steven McKay

‘You could kill someone on this ferry…’ Paul Teague

‘The trick is to build up relationships on Facebook.’ Steven McKay

‘Non fiction is about pain and pleasure. People buy a book on how to use Twitter because they’ve got some pain. Write your sales copy with that in mind.’ Paul Teague

‘Have to use some paid advertising to tell people about the countdown deal you’ve got or no one will know about it!’ Steven McKay

‘If people enjoy your books, they will enjoy interacting with you but they really want to read your next book.’ Murray McDonald

‘I built up my following reader by reader.’ Linda Gillard

‘I promote myself as a brand because I can’t market as a genre.’ Linda Gillard

‘The best use of my time, the most lucrative use, is writing.’ Linda Gillard

‘What they are investing in is time. Used to be, people read a book because they paid £7.99. Now you have to hook them, have cliff hangers at the end of every chapter, every page.’ Linda Gillard

kindle Instant Book Previewer

You know how you can preview a book on Amazon’s site? Amazon provide an embed option to allow you to embed their previewer on your own site! Check out this preview out for my latest novel Fallen Warriors:

You can find out all you need to know here https://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Instant-Preview/b?ie=UTF8&node=13489836011

It’s worth noting that if you are an Amazon Associate, you can link the embedded code to your account (They just do it as default) and you get commission on sales.

Amazon Academy

Yesterday I took a day off of paid work to attend the Amazon Academy in Edinburgh. Hosted by Darren Hardy, the head of KDP in the UK we had a day of sessions with several UK authors:

Steven McKay – Historial Fiction
Harriet Smart – Historical Crime
Paul Teague – Non-Fiction and Science Fiction (who also represented the Alliance of Independent Authors)
Murray McDonald – Action Thrillers
Linda Gillard – Romance

Sessions included:

Making a book
How to write a bestseller
Marketing your book
Making it happen: The business of being an author

I’ve hesitated about attending author events like this in the past. I’m not yet selling enough books to justify taking a whole day off work, but Amazon are my biggest source of sales and I wondered whether I might “bump” into an agent or publisher.

If you, like me, are a lone(ly) author, struggling to make yourself known and learn how to market yourself, then I can only recommend getting yourself to one of these events!

It was a huge boost to my morale.

Amazon were a fantastic host. The event was well run and lunch was five star.

The authors on the panel were worth listening to, honest about their journey and full of helpful advice.

And…

It was great to meet up with other authors who are also going through similar journeys to myself and talk to people who understood what it is like to write, edit and market your books.

I’ve typed up my notes from the day, but the rough draft is over 800 words and I don’t have time to edit it tonight (when I’m writing this post) so will share them in a few days time.

[Update: you can now view the detail here: http://www.dragonlake.co.uk/2017/05/amazon-academy-the-detail/]

If you are working on a long term project on your own, make time to meet with others in the same line of work, to find out what is going on in your field of interest and be inspired.

Day One Dread

It does get easier, but it is often hard to imagine that as your first day approaches.

I can understand why some people never even make it into their first day at a new job. Fear of change, fear of commitment, fear of the unknown, of not being up to the task – all of these can contribute to a temptation to quit before even starting.

Yet I know from experience that the act of turning up makes a lot of that fear fade away. Day two is always easier than day one. Day three becomes a little better. Every day you turn up, the fear evaporates a little until turning up becomes the new normal.

And in some situations you can cheat… which is what I’m doing here 🙂

I wrote this post early and indeed am planning to write every day’s post the day before or even earlier if I can. My commitment is to writing 100 words every day. That doesn’t mean I can’t get a drop on tomorrow if I have the chance.

If you are feeling an increasing sense of dread at the thought of taking on a new challenge, it is normal. Hang in there! Every time you face that fear and overcome it, you build a strength to help you overcome the next fear you might face.

Today is day one of my self imposed challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days. Or at least it will be, when today finally arrives… 😉

10,000

One of the immediate thoughts I had after setting a goal of writing 100 words a day over 100 days was that this would make a great method for completing two non-fiction books I’ve had on the backburner for a few years.

On my previous blog I started writing 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy. I stalled after 30 posts, not because I was out of ideas – I had almost 100 crazy ideas written down, but because I didn’t know how to tackle some of the most controversial issues I posted about. When I got bad feedback – I mean, really bad feedback – I ended up abandoning the blog completely. For over two years!

I still intend to complete 100 Crazy Ideas. I still need to work out how controversial I want to be. I still need to decide how to go about releasing it… How to market it…

But, I’m fairly sure that what I need to do next is finish the book. Complete what I want to say before I make any other decisions. Once I have a full and complete first draft, then I can decide what and whether to edit and make decisions about publishing (for free on this blog and for sale elsewhere) and marketing.

It occurred to me that I need to have each chapter sharp and snappy. committing to a 100 word chapter may help me find that focus. 100 X 100 words is 10,000 words. Not a great length for a book, but maybe a very easy read. Something that anyone can quickly get through. Of course, looking at my word count for this post I’m already up to 250 words… Can I and should I limit myself to only 100 words a day for my challenge?

More about that tomorrow…

100 words, 100 days

100 words, 100 days, let's begin written on notepad
100 words, 100 days

Do you ever find your mind is faster at coming up with suggestions than you’re physically capable of acting on?

It happens to me all the time. This morning I had the brain wave that it might be cool to set myself a goal of blogging 100 words a day for 100 days. Fits in nicely with the theme of the blog: My 100 Goals, and may actually be a useful primer to get myself blogging again.

I’ve some form with 100 words a day goals. After reading 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself back in 2008, I set myself the task of completing my first novel Fallen Warriors within four years by writing a minimum of 100 words a day. Nine years later… Fallen Warriors has been published and quite a lot of those 100 words made it into the final draft.

I know I can write 100 words a day. In fact, I suspect anyone can write 100 words a day. It’s a tiny amount. Just three short paragraphs. In fact – my word count is showing I’m already at 167 words and counting just for this post alone!

The difficulty is not in writing 100 words a day, but in the consistency of the habit. It’s the maintaining the discipline over a long period of time.

And that is one reason I’d really like to take this challenge on – Anything that helps me to build positive habits into my life is a good thing.

When I set out to complete Fallen Warriors back in 2008, I wasn’t able to maintain that daily habit past a couple of months. Yet, I stuck with the writing and am pleased with the result. Even better, readers seem almost as excited as I was with the story!

Why do I want to write 100 words a day for 100 days?

  • It will get me into the habit of regular blogging.
  • It will train me to write daily.
  • It will give me something to Tweet and post on my Facebook page!
  • It will allow me to start sharing my thoughts again.
  • It’s a goal connected with 100, which I just love…

What will I need for the journey?

  • A plan!
  • Ideas.
  • Support
  • Commitment

A plan
As I kept thinking about 100 words in 100 days, it occurred to me that it would be easier if I broke down that huge number into manageable chunks. Say 10 blog posts on a topic.

Some topic ideas that quickly occurred to me were:

  1. Blogging about goals
  2. Book Reviews
  3. Fallen Warriors
  4. Thoughts about God and Jesus and faith

Here are a few more I’ve just thrown in there…

  1. The Great Scottish Land Grab
  2. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy
  3. Thoughts about our crazy political world
  4. Gardening
  5. Exercise/keeping fit
  6. Work

With only a few minutes work, I’ve created a broad outline plan for how I can complete my goal. All I need to do is blog daily on one of these ten topics for 100 words and I’ll complete my goal.

Ideas
Ideas are mostly fairly easy for me, but the fact is that I can also dry up completely. Perhaps that is writer’s block. It is more likely to happen when I’m over-tired, working too hard, stressed, not exercising…

Setting a 100 day commitment is a commitment to a marathon!

Still, I can jot down ideas as they occur and if on a given day, I’m blank, I can review my high level topics in the hope an idea will occur. And maybe, just maybe, what I really need to do that day is record how I’m feeling and try and work out why.

Commitment
I know I can commit to and achieve long term goals. I’ve been doing so my whole adult life. What I often struggle with is the daily grind. The temptation to slack off, to leave things for a day which turns into a week, a month, a year. I can’t do that with my day job, but when I’m not being held accountable for achieving goals, it is difficult to maintain that focus and commitment.

I will commit to this goal.

Support
Your support would make a great deal of difference. Commenting on my posts, letting me know what you think would help a lot.

However, I need to be really careful here. My most important supporters are my family and while I’m writing this post in April – I don’t think I should make a commitment to following through with it until late May. Members of my family are going through end of year exams over the next three weeks and so I need to be supporting them, not asking for their support!

So, I’ll make a commitment to starting this goal on 22 May 2017. 100 days later will be 29 August 2017.

Limitations
I’m not going to write on Sundays. I need a day off each week. So, I’ll aim to write twice as much every Saturday!

And that’s it. I’m going to schedule this to post a week before I’m due to start. I’m going to start jotting down notes and ideas. It would be great to have you join me on the journey and if you’re up for it, join me in taking the 100 words, 100 days challenge too!

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/my100goals/ using hashtag: #100words100days

Find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals/