How do you measure your success as a writer? Is is solely based on monetary terms? Is it based on numbers? Views? Or rankings? All of this has become very complicated. When I first published my book, I had no idea what I wanted in terms of writing success. Every month, and every year this definition of success keeps changing.
One single factor that remains consistent is that I am always taken by surprise when some form of writing success comes my way. So much for my mastery in marketing!
I actually forgot that I scheduled a book promotion for this weekend. Woops! I was checking the stats of another author, which of course led to checking my own stats, and then…an ah-ha moment.
Incidentally as I write this the book went from #26 to #28! If I don’t write faster it may drop off the list entirely!!! Success no matter how you measure it fleeting.
When I was a “new” writer, I would get very excited about any measure of success. This is as it should be, which makes me wonder, as an “old” writer, am I now jaded or just too busy?
I have been a little busy with a new job, my daughter was home sick, I had a few plumbing disasters. You know, life tends to get in the way of one’s “writing life”.
Another recent discovery (again by accident) was that one of my blog posts from 2014, about buttery chardonnay, is consistently fighting for the top three position against Total Wine and Wine Spectator. What led to the discovery was I kept getting new comments on an old post. I looked at the stats, and realized it had a crazy number of steady views:
https://eileenslovak.com/2014/04/25/ten-buttery-chardonnays-for-under-20/Apr 25, 2014 … Bringing you some feasible Friday fun with numbers…just in time for the weekend ! Actually most of these wines are available for under $15, which is amazing considering the quality. Fans of the buttery, creamy variety will enjoy these ‘Fab Chards’! I like mine fruity, but on the dry side, with hints of vanilla and …
It does make me smile, to see that today, I beat out Wine Spectator. But what does this mean? I love that people are finding my post useful. It’s flattering to be google ranked among the big shots of wine for my post. But at the end of the day, most of the people in my everyday life have no idea that I even write. BTW: I use my real name on everything!
Putting “success” in perspective means finding out what it means to me to be successful. I do feel inspired by this “success” enough to make me want work on my new novel today. This equals a positive result.
My goal as a writer has always been to write for the love of writing, to publish just to say I did it, to maybe reach a small audience, to inspire, to make a few connections, and NOT to quit.
I’ve been away for awhile, and I apologize for completely abandoning my blog and WordPress over the last few months! THANK YOU to all who remained loyal to my site during my absence. Some personal issues crept up: a new job, my Mother (who has dementia) moving near us, writing a new book, family, children, sports and so on. Everyone has busy lives, right? Is this any excuse to give up my blog? Not really.
The first thing I noticed when I came back to my site was that it needed a major face-lift. I’m trying out this new, colorful theme. Please let me know what you think.
Paperback vs. E-Book
This morning, since I am writing a new novel, I was motivated to analyze my book sales since the publication of my first novel in January of 2014, “Secret Agent of God: the Captive Clairvoyant” which is available in both paperback and e-book formats. I consider my first book to be my sales guinea pig.
Here is what I discovered. Although it may not be terribly shocking to seasoned Authors, it might help some new Authors who are in the process of publishing their first book.
I had originally planned to only publish my second book in e-book format since unit sales of my e-book are 5X the sales of my paperback. However, the sales dollars generated from my paperback, while not record setting, are almost 8X the sales of my e-book. Huh?
I attribute this to one thing (tried and true publishing 101): in person sales. Working book fairs, craft shows, farmers markets, donating books and simply talking about my book to people I know or meet has generated more sales dollars than anything else. You can actually make a decent margin on purchasing books and re-selling them yourself. Where this hurts you is in Amazon ranking where you get zero credit for these sales.
This is the paper I used to work for. One of the articles I wrote for the paper helped spark the idea for my first novel. A few years later, the paper covered a book fair where I was one of the Authors. Ironic?
FREE, Countdown Deals and Full Price Sales:
I will try any advertising method just out of curiosity. Free does help your sales rank but I always wonder if anyone reads the free books they download. I rarely get around to reading free books and am more motivated to read a book I paid for even if I only pay .99¢ for it. However, my unit sales from year one, where I stubbornly refused to give my book away for free to my second year when I completely caved enjoyed a 90% unit “sales” bump.
That being said, I tried the .99 price point for my book and did not like it. I felt cheap! I felt like I needed a shower after every sale. Furthermore, I did not in reality, sell more books at that price point than I did when my book was priced at the golden number of $2.99.
Yes, I tried this too. I found out I’m really good at spending money. This is the reality of advertising. Advertising is a mode of spreading the word about your book. I look at advertising the same way I view gambling, never spend more than you can afford to lose. There are multiple factors involved in a good campaign and you need to analyze what you did right and wrong. It helps to start with a good product, but even a good product can be sabotaged by a bad campaign. If I could afford it, I would hire someone to do this for me.
With Amazon advertising I managed to spend 6X what I actually made in sales. However, I did experience a huge increase in KENP, Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read. Huh. Amazon pays royalties on these which is a nice bonus. The hope is that after reading some of your book, the reader is inspired to purchase it.
I have very little success with Facebook advertising, but I also have a small following there. Why? I really do not like Facebook. I quite often resent it. I keep my account because if I do not, I know that I will lose track of people who no longer live in my general vicinity which constitutes most of the people I know. Sound familiar?
I have had the most success with Twitter advertising because I love Twitter and have a considerably better following there. Make sense? I engage more there. And I feel as though the advertising capability is better suited for targeting, better reporting and allows me to customize my own campaign. Actually, I have fun with all of the charts and graphs and statistics they offer and therefore will actually go look and find out what I did wrong and right.
So what have I learned? I have learned that I need to continue to diversify my marketing efforts. Free is OK if I only use it on occasion, but free is not a price point, it is only free. I like Twitter! I need to remember to blog once in awhile. I need to advertise wisely and not just roll the dice and then be to be lazy to do the analysis.
When I first published my book, I was dead set against giving it away for free. Something about spending years of my life on something and then just handing it out gratis didn’t sit well with me. What I didn’t comprehend then was the massive uphill boulder roll of marketing a novel. It doesn’t matter how good your book is if no one knows it exists. Swirling in a storm of millions of books, it’s easy to disappear and maybe never even be seen at all.
So I tried the free book thing.
For a spell, I became obsessed with Amazon’s Ranking system. My novel hitting some of the Top 100 Lists was a drug, and I needed more. I began running monthly promotions and viola, my everyday ranking remained solid. Better yet, actual sales followed. HMMMM, maybe Amazon does know a thing or two.
Here’s a snapshot of my current non-promotional rank, which changes often.
Why is seeing your book in the Top 100 is worth every free book? Because it means people are potentially reading your book. It means the cover, concept, writing, marketing copy, title, or something in that mix interested them enough to take the time to download your book.
Without readers, we writers lose our purpose. We are asking readers to take a risk. We are asking them to give us their time, which in many ways is much, more valuable than money.
I’m running a promotion on my novel, “Secret Agent of God.” It’s a Kindle Countdown deal for .99 through this Sunday, 9/5. I went to copy the link for a tweet that I was writing and discovered the e-book had hit one of the Amazon Top 100 lists @#66. So I take this as a sign not to quit writing today.
The interesting thing about writing is that writers think about quitting pretty regularly. For example, I was considering pulling the plug on this blog as recently as last week. I enjoy writing here periodically, but I am not what you would call a “pro blogger”. I guess my reason for quitting was why do it if I am not going to give it my all? Right? The same could be said about writing. Very few writers have the time and resources for 100% devotion to their craft. So why bother?
I think about giving up writing from time to time. It would be nice to have a hobby like painting or airplane model building or quilting. Do those hobbies drive you to the brink of insanity? Do they cause you to talk to or at least mutter to yourself regularly? Do they fill you with doubt and self loathing? Do they keep you up at night? I wonder if a quilter ever wakes at 3:00 a.m., sits bolt upright and then staggers around in the dark looking for the pen and paper that should by her bedside for brilliant o-dark-thirty revelations. I would be willing to bet airplane model builders sleep like babies with flying dreams all night and that painters spend their REM time skipping through the streets of Paris.
So just quit, right? What is the big deal? One less writer in the world…who cares? There are millions of us after all. Except that quitting is simply not an option, is it? We’re compelled to write, even if no one reads what we write, even if we write for a tiny audience. One person is an audience. It’s all about perspective. Keeping the right one will keep you writing.
Thank you readers! Here’s the link if you are looking for a witty, gritty, page turner to keep you up at night!
If you’re not a Facebook superstar, fear not! You likely have other strengths.
In the scheme of marketing things, my Facebook fan page is NOT growing in leaps and bounds. I opened it, because it was one of the many things marketing experts tell authors we must do to sell more books! Well…I think my personal page was a help in letting my friends know that I did in fact finally finish and publish my novel, SECRET AGENT OF GOD. Much to my surprise, many of my friends purchased the book. I rather expected to give copies away to my nearest and dearest, but they beat me to it. Now if I had thousands of ‘friends’ I can see where this might be a place where people sell tons of books. But does anyone really have thousands of friends?
I actually personally know all the people on my Facebook page and I hang in there because among my small group of good people, I might actually lose touch with some of them if I was not there. Time zone differences and my multiple moves have made Facebook necessary.
As far as fan pages go, I think the successful folks in this arena truly love Facebook and are not like me, suspicious by nature and private to a fault. They like sharing. They like getting personal with just about everybody.
In my Facebook beginnings, five years ago, I was so paranoid I refused friends I didn’t know especially well and deleted people who didn’t communicate with me regularly. Suffice to say, I did not really get it. Most of my very best friends refuse to join Facebook at all. Many of us feel forced to take part.
But to the Facebook lovers, maintaining their pages is not work. To them, it’s fun. Now the new push is to start your own Facebook group. I participate in a few of the groups, but do I want to be responsible for one? Not really. Time is the real factor here. None of us has an infinite amount, so where do you spend yours?
This makes me wonder, is Facebook really for everyone? More importantly, if I feel this strongly about it, Is it even where my fiction audience lives?
I have developed a twitter addiction. Of my 3,113 followers, 80% come from Twitter. Approximately 16% come from WordPress and about 4% come from Facebook. Which means, this is already where I spend my time. Why turn myself inside out trying to be someone else?
While some people may handle both Facebook and Twitter well, most tend to fall into one camp or the other.
Writers love Twitter because we can show off how well we write flash fiction and catch phrases. It’s like Facebook for nerds. I’m sure I’ll catch hell for saying that, but I find a real discrepancy in content between the two sites. Facebook on any given day is ripe with messages about friendship, moms, sisters, confidence boosters, pictures and films about cats, dogs and babies. On Twitter I find news, poetry, art, and quotes from the great thinkers, writers, and historians of our time.
Twitter is not as much of a popularity contest as Facebook. A business person may have as large a following as a celebrity. So, do you spend the bulk of your time Facebooking, WordPressing, Tweeting or Instagraming? Do the math. There’s strength and truth in numbers.
And if you’re feeling charitable, please “Like” my page!
Looking for a fast-paced, thriller with a touch of romance? Uncover the SECRET!
Do you think about BRANDING much? Branding is the new buzz word. Every product on the market has a brand or brands.
I find the number of choices overwhelming at times. Here I am in the toilet paper aisle, just trying to get through all the options. Drowning in a world of excess, where does one begin?
I refer to my trusty coupons for guidance:
If I buy two packages of one brand, I can save $1.00.
If I buy one mega roll I can save $1.25.
If I buy one package of toilet paper and one package of paper towels of the same brand, I can save $1.00.
Suddenly my head is spinning! Then, I look at the prices of these brands: $8.99, $9.99. Are they serious? They do know what we use this stuff for? Right?
I think about how my kids go through it like it grows on trees. Oh, yeah, right.
My husband loves to tell the story of his days growing up in Ireland and the one room schoolhouse with the outhouse where all he had to use were old squares of newspaper. Ouch!
I try to think about which brand my family prefers. My husband suggests, “you know, get the ‘cushy’ kind, I hate that thin, skimpy stuff.”
Several different brands that claim softness and extra cushioning. These cushy on the ‘tushy’ types all look the same to me. I try squeezing a few to see if one feels better than another. It reminds me of a commercial from my youth. Advertising at it’s best, this is forever etched on my brain. Still, what makes one brand better than another?
In the end, I rely on some insider knowledge from my manufacturing days. You may or may not realize store brands are typically made by one of the major producers of any given product line.
Think about it. Supermarkets are in the business of selling food not manufacturing it.
What happens is, a private label, designed by a graphic artist, is placed on the bottle of finished product, the same product with the well-known name that might even be merchandised on the shelf right next to the store brand, but at a higher price.
The added cost of the specialty brand pays for advertising and marketing. The branded company is betting on your loyalty to their name brand to keep their share of the market place.
I pick up the trusty store brand toilet paper and place in my cart, tossing the coupons aside for a savings of $2.00 or $3.00 a package at times. Every week I save 25-30% at the supermarket by shopping the sales, selecting store brands, and using coupons where it makes sense. Every penny saved puts me closer to developing my brand, www.eileenslovak.com.
Thanks for reading!
For more fascinating facts about toilet paper see:
The name game. What’s in a name? Well, we’ll see! I just changed the name of my blog and my twitter page. I’m a little bored with my current set up so I’m changing things up.
Lately, I’ve held my breath,
waiting for a gust of fresh air about book promotion and my writing life…
and I then I started turning blue…
wow! That sucked.
I knew I needed a new focus!
I think we can all agree that no one cares to hear any more advice about writing. Writers aren’t really experts on writing anyway. We know what is working for us and that’s about it. Here’s what I’ve learned in eight years of trying to become a professional writer…read more…write more…edit everything twenty-five times before you publish it and then hire an editor…done! That’s all I know! So I will continue to post short solitary fiction that doesn’t fit “Seeing Scarlet” and the odd poem here and there (see The Authors Spouse).
As regards book marketing…three months in and I’ve already had it. I wasn’t cut out for this BS! Buy my book, don’t buy my book, whatever! I wrote it for readers but so did a few million other authors who are selling on Amazon’s site. It’s a fast read. Many folks seem surprised by how much they enjoy it and that there’s humor in the book. Maybe the title scares them a bit. I know eventually word will get out. Meanwhile, I’m working on the sequel to “Secret Agent of God” and writing some more shorts of “Seeing Scarlet”:
I have experimented with different promos and what have you. Here’s what I found: twitter and Facebook ads will get you more followers, but do those translate into book sales? I’m not sure. You need to focus your energy on finding people who read, plain and simple. I leave my business cards with my book links in libraries and at restaurants I frequent, everywhere that I can:
If someone asks me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer, and eventually give them my card.
I post flyers on community selling boards. You have to do this often since most remove them weekly.
People who read buy books. You need a presence on book reading sites.
Pricing: I did some pricing strategy research recently. So many authors are giving their books away or selling their e-books below $2.99 or for $.99 that if you do try to sell your fiction at a higher price you may suffer from lagging sales. My best sales price so far has been a .99 promo for the e-book but if I always make it .99 then I’m forced to make it free for promotions. Amazon promotes books that are under $2.99 or .99 and take part in the kindle countdown deals, so there you have it. Why not allow Amazon to do what they do best, which is promote stuff like books.
Thoughts on free: I’m a hold out on free. If you want to read my free works please click over to the short story tab or read this blog. There’s something discouraging about busting your butt to write a good novel and then giving your book away. I give my book away to family, my best friends, the library, for fundraisers, etc. So, I’ll let you know how this works out, but for now my e-book is $2.99 and the paperback is $9.95 or $8.95 for prime members. I will occasionally run a .99 promo. The e-book cost less than a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk or a fancy coffee, and I promise it’s worth it, so that’s that. Here’s the link:
Book promotion in general. I come from a sales and marketing background and I would still much rather promote someone else’s work on twitter, my author page or my blog than my own. If I’ve read the book and liked it I may put a review up there as well. I don’t write bad reviews because I have no interest in hurting a fellow writers feelings in a public way. I leave that to the haters. If I have read a sample of your book and didn’t care for it I won’t read any more of it. If you asked for feedback, I will be honest in a private message. If you can’t handle my honest opinion please don’t ask me. I’m one person with one opinion. If you don’t like my opinion, ask someone else.
About Facebook, I keep my personal Facebook page for family and close friends and my Facebook Author page for writing stuff. Please don’t be offended if I divert you to my public page. This way I don’t bore my family and friends with too much book stuff and I don’t have to bore you with pictures of my kids playing sports and my cat.
OK, sometimes Licorice appears in both places. She’s my first ‘Beta reader’ or ‘Beta listener’ since I’m pretty sure she can’t read, although, I strongly suspect she might be trying to figure out how to use the toilet and turn door knobs and is smarter than some humans.
Since Facebook is really not my thing, I prefer to put a variety of other authors book links on my author page for my fans because how often can I talk about my book without being a total bore and most of them have already read it. I read a post by another writer complaining about authors posting their book links, looking for likes on their pages. I guess if you are famous I can see where that might bug you. I’m not famous but I have some followers who read. If you need some help, send me message, a link or whatever. Some nice writers helped me when I was a flailing newbie and I’m happy to help others in any way that I can.
On my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/authoreileenslovak I will also be adding some pictures and quiz type things about my book, “Secret Agent of God” since it is about Maryland and several readers have begun asking things like, “Is this character based on this person or that person” and “which little Bay front home was Gram’s?” Things like that. I thought it would be a fun exercise and like I said, when I’m not writing, I’m bored.
My favorite medium is twitter. https://twitter.com/EileenSlovak I do follow back unless you are crazy, perverted, naked, racist, bigoted, or exclusively only selling followers. I consider twitter a place where writers like me with ADD and OCD can connect with my audience and with like minded people who also have short attention spans. I love that on twitter I can show off my writing prowess with ‘quippy’ catchy phrases in 140 characters or less. If that audience is 3 people, so be it. If it’s one person, well it’s that much more intimate now isn’t it? Actually, I have a great following on twitter, so join me and if I like your tweets, I’ll share them. Incidentally, I’m trying to get these hash tags off the ground: #Janice #SAOG.
So, my future promotional energy, which is waning as we speak, will go in this new direction. Because I’d rather be writing than doing anything else and for Indies this is a challenge!
So what do I really want to blog about? Being a female writer over 40 with kids who run rings around me and about things I laugh about with my girlfriends. What else occupies my mind? Sometimes I have bizarre thoughts that I’d like to share. I truly miss having fun. To those of you who stuck it out through my boring phase, thank you and wake up!!! Things are going get spicier around here. I’m turning this thing around, putting it in reverse and spinning a few wild donuts in parking lot near you! Come along for the ride, which, I’m just saying, could get wild at times.
Next blog topic: Are you overwhelmed by all of the options in toilet paper?
Thanks for reading and keep writing (and reading!)
Hello all! My name is Eileen Slovak and I am an author. Wow! It feels weird to say that. I just published my debut novel, “Secret Agent of God” with the help of Createspaceand so far, it has been quite an adventure.
What can I tell you about me?
People always assume I am an extrovert when I am really an introvert. Some folks will even spend a considerable amount of time arguing the point with me.
Running helps me think more clearly and I like that it is the closest thing to flying that we humans can do without equipment.
I love that thinking outside the box is finally trending because I have never found a box that fit properly.
I strongly believe wine and chocolate when consumed regularly make for a more pleasant existence on earth and it bothers me they are not on the…