First up, apologies if you’ve messaged me through this blog or left a comment. I rarely come here anymore. I logged in and saw numerous comments and messages that I haven’t responded to. If you were one of those lovely people, I apologise.
2016 Goodbye Felicia
2016 wasn’t a good year. Not just in terms of writing/publishing, but also on a personal level. I had family deaths, gave up writing, came back to writing, had issues with my kids school, and a numerous other world clusterf*cks of annoyances.
I made okay money, but not the heights of 2015 where I had started to break out. Some of that has to do with quitting writing for six months and not publishing anything. I wanted a change, although change can be a wake-up call that other things in your life aren’t working. I’m starting to get back on track now, I’m optimistic.
Amazon Exclusive/KU Select – Should you?
Nothing in this business stays the same. In the past I’ve against exclusivity. Yet in 2015 I went all in to KU and made good money. For the first half of 2016 KU money was still good. It allowed me to ‘coast’ while I pursued things other than writing. From about June things changed.
I had a new release flop spectacularly. Previous releases made an easy $10k on release. This one barely hit $200. Part of it was because I was resting on my laurels, allowing the ‘algorithm’s’ to do their thing with minimal promotion from me. Put it up, notify my list, announce it on Facebook and let the money roll in. It had worked before. It ain’t so easy anymore to put something out without promotion.
So should you use KU now?
KU can still work, but it’s a shaky model. Some books work brilliantly in the program. Some don’t. Genre plays a huge role – romance readers flock to KU because they can get their fix cheaply and easily. If you write romance it can be a lucrative play.
I write romance under three different pens. I’m taking all of them out. KU doesn’t work for me or my promotional plans now. I need other strategies. One pen might get a three month run in KU before I take her books wide, but wide is my 2017 strategy.
What genre should you write?
Whether you write to market or follow your muse, you need to write what people want to buy otherwise you won’t be able to afford that fancy coffee you like. I’m not going to say romance or thrillers because it doesn’t matter what genre.
Pick one that you read and like. You’ll understand the tropes better if you do. You’ll serve your audience better. Serving your audience is what makes money, not choosing ‘romance’ because it’s the biggest selling genre (it’s also mighty competitive too).
Standalones or series?
Series. Without question it’s easier to make a living writing in ‘series’ of three to five books. I usually go three because I get burned out after that and want to write something new.
Another benefit of writing in series is that you can use the first as a loss leader. You can either use it as a permafree or discount it with promotion using Bookbub (assuming you can get a Bookbub) or other promotional avenues.
Publishing fast / Monthly?
I used to think getting books out fast was the way to go. I’ve found this doesn’t work for me. It’s is nothing to do with how fast you write/publish, but rather how much effort you put into your work. This is key for me.
Simply, I believe you should write the best book that you can. If you can do that fast, awesome. I need to take a bit longer to plot out story beforehand, and fix up story holes, and flesh out characters, and increase tension etc.
I’m not a plotter. I wish I were because it’s a fun way to be creative, but I write a better story when I outline beforehand – otherwise I tend to downplay conflict or shoot-my-load when it comes to story instead of stretching out the tension/pace.
Work out which it is for you. If you can write brilliant stories that readers love quickly then do that. If you’re more like me that needs more time, then don’t feel bad, take the time you need.
All writers are different and have different processes. Find the method that works for you. A book a month is not something all of us can do so don’t feel bad if you’re a touch slower, like me.
The indie author with the most subscribers wins.
Lately I’ve been using a combination of Instafreebie and author cross promotions to build my mailing lists. It’s been working really well and a key method I’ll be using into 2017 to build my mailing list further. I really love Instafreebie a lot. Subscribers are engaged, and it’s a much more cost effective way of building your list than something like, say, Facebook ads.
Having a good mailing list is one of the most effective ways of having a good book launch, imo. If you’ve got a healthy list of people who like your books, then announcing your new book to them is a sure way to shoot your book up the lists and increase visibility.
I can’t get Facebook ads to work for me (without blowing a lot of cash first). I haven’t used Amazon ads much, mostly because my covers don’t conform to their rules (I have a lot of man chest covers). For that reason I tend to use promo sites and other marketing opportunities.
Permafree works well for me now that I’ve gone wide. Instafreebie is great for list building. Cross author promos in your same genre is good for getting relevant alsoboughts.
The magic trifecta of selling books and making dollars.
So if you only had to do three things to become a successful author in 2017, what would it be? Here is my list:
- You need a good book that readers want. You can’t just write what you want to write, you have to write what readers want to read. Figure that out and give it to them with the best story you can write.
- Have good packaging. Covers, blurbs, etc. You want mouths to salivate and pulses to race just by looking at your cover or reading the book description. Get that right and you’ll attract the readers that want the story you’re written. Have a look at the top 100 in your genre to get a feel for what ‘packaging’ will work for your story.
- Get visibility. You’ve got a good book that readers will love, and attractive appropriate packaging that makes your genre/story clear. Now you need to get your book in front of your customers so that they can give you their money. As I’ve mentioned above, your mailing list, cross author promos, book promotion sites can all work well. Other things you can do is pricing competitively for the first week (which can reward subscribers, get people to try you out), and also promoting other books in the series (if it isn’t a first in series)
Thats it really.
Have a brilliant and successful 2017 and I’ll see you all at the top of the charts.