Reaching goals you never even dared to dream
This was one of my client’s earnings on Jun 7th, 2019. They were stunned. I was stunned. And then the celebrating started.
There is no doubt in my mind, they will reach over 100k in profit this month.
Yes profit. For reference, ad spend was $133.73 yesterday. Month to date ad spend is $1,200.
How did we get here?
I started working with them a couple of months ago. First thing I did was get a good inventory of their backlist—its strengths, weaknesses, and audiences.
We started with me handling one backlist series and prepping for a book 1 in a new series.
That book 1 hit the top 100 in the store when it released and made 32k its first 30 days.
For an ad spend of about $3,000.
Leveraging powerful audience connections. This goes beyond genre. Is that much revenue from a release normal?
There are plenty of other factors that go into it, including genre.
But the strategy and concept behind both pushing their backlist titles and launching new series transcends genre.
It all comes back to training Amazon on how your audience is.
I’m no genius. This is nothing new (the concept at least. I’d like to think the specific strategies I use are new(ish).)
What I use to market their books:
- Amazon ads
- Facebook ads
- Bookbub ads
What they used to market their books:
- Social media
- Teases and hype (I learned a lot from them about this in particular. They are brilliant at this.)
- Hard fucking work
- Cultivating genuine friendships with other authors for their support without having to ask for it
A book that people want to read… and demand book 2 the day after release.
What I didn’t use to market their books:
- Newsletter swaps
- Paid promo spots
- An established email list
- Blog tours
- Rapid release (there were 2 months between the release of book 1 and book 2 of one of the series and a month between book 1 and 2 of another series. The third big series launch hasn’t released book 2 yet. For some that is rapid releasing, though. So this depends on your definition.)
Do those things work to sell books?
Are they necessary?
No. Nothing on my lists of things we did is necessary, either.
Except writing a book people want to read. I don’t care if your book is a piece of literary genius. If no one wants to read it, it is not superior or better. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an audience for your book. You just have to find it. But realistic expectations are very important, too.
I’m sorry if that sucks to hear. Writing books that come from your soul, that sings with poetic, lyrical language is valid, crazy awesome, and something to be proud of.
This post isn’t about that, though. I say this now so no one thinks it’s okay to think my client isn’t creating quality books because they release fast.
Their books are fracking amazing. They wouldn’t be making 8k in a day if they weren’t. I digress.
We’ve launched three series over three months(ish). Each did amazing. Yesterday, book 2 in one of those series released.
Some of that 8k are preorders. Some of that is first day sales and page reads, which happened because people wanted this book NOW!
(Book 2 hit top 50 in the store, beating out the best ranking of that series’ book 1 and the top 100 rankings of the other 2 series.)
Now the not-so-secret secret:
Well researched and chosen micro-targeting of Amazon ads and Bookbub ads with specific audience targeting with FB ads.
Amazon ads began during preorder. By the time one of the books releases, it’s on the first page of also boughts on the top books in that sub-genre.
I micro target the most during preorder. I spend hours finding the right audience for this series and run effective Amazon ads to it.
When it releases, I add a small amount (spend wise) of Bookbub ads targeting specific authors. Unfortunately this sub-genre does not have a lot of authors with large BB followings.
I use release to test with a higher bid to see the best CTR and conversions and then start to lower the bid so the best ads continue to run for the next few weeks.
With Facebook, a boost the new release announcement post made by the author directed toward their audience (engagement audiences are perfect for this.)
I also run regular Facebook ads and experiment with targeting. I’ve found some interesting things by targeting non-obvious things (especially with regard to demographics.)
In comparison to Amazon ads, I don’t spend as much on Facebook and Bookbub, especially for releases. (I do use Facebook on backlist.)
The primary reason for this (especially with FB) is control.
The key, though, are Amazon ads. Properly targeted, highly relevant, Amazon ads.
It’s not just about finding the right authors that fit. It’s about targeting specific, highly visible books and snagging premium spots before they are high in demand, keeping costs down even when demand and competition on that book and author increases.
When it comes to backlist, launching further books in the series, and keeping the newly released series visible and selling long after release, I study and analyze the ad data for that series (and often will compare it with other series similar to that one in the author’s or another client’s portfolio) using an aggregated system I designed to do so.
I analyze on a keyword/target level.
It’s a lot of work. A lot.
It took me many months to get the point I could do this on a general ad level.
And it takes me hours and days to be able to create a long running campaign for both backlist boosts and new series releases.
And it doesn’t always go smoothly. Backlist can be a lot harder to advertise because you’ve already “trained” Amazon who your audience is.
And if it’s not accurate, you have to “retrain” Amazon.
And that’s hard. And even more work.
What It Takes
My client says they couldn’t have done this without me.
But I say none of this would have happened without them creating fantastic, must read books, working so hard I feel lazy in comparison, and being willing to try new things. Oh, and to trust me, even though I screw up plenty.
They deserve 99% of the credit for THEIR success.
I’m the 1% that provided time, knowledge, and cheerleading.
99% of this “game” is everything my client did.
Writing to trend isn’t enough (or required.) Writing to “market” isn’t enough (or required.)
By writing to market, I mean writing to the specific genre expectations of the audience you are selling to. You do want to write to meet the expectations of your readers and potential readers, but that isn’t including specific tropes. Following a list of “requirements” is not enough or required.
Barring a few hard, genre defining rules, there are no rules or universal, required tropes.
And if you aren’t meeting the expectations to the readers you are selling to, maybe you are marketing to the wrong readers.
Taking months to write your book, going over it ten times, getting a professional edit or four, and then rewriting the whole thing again… after publishing it and then unpublishing it. And then after republishing it, still hating it and wanting to burn it with fire…
Oh, sorry. I got a little too personal there 😂
(There is nothing wrong with doing all the above. Absolutely nothing. And it can work. You can be successful, wildly successful, releasing books slowly.
But it isn’t enough. And it isn’t required.
The secret sauce is still the same whether you release once a year or once a week.
A book people love.
A book people tell all their friends about (word of mouth will always be the #1 effective way to sell. Nothing comes even close to it.)
A book people will borrow with KU and then buy because they want to keep it.
A book that exceeds their expectations and gives them something they can’t get anywhere else.
If it takes someone a week to do that, that’s awesome.
If it takes someone a year to do that, I’m jealous because that’s fast compared to me lol
If someone can only do it once? That’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
And it’s the very hardest part of this job.
For my client, I have the easy job.
I just have to help them find them find the readers who will love them more than any other author and get them to read the first book.
The book does the rest.
A Personal Note
Selling books is hard. I’ve made a career of selling books. I spent years learning what I know about marketing and advertising, and I’ll never know everything and with things constantly changing, I have to change with it.
It’s a fulfilling career I love. Part of that is seeing the success I get to be a part of.
But my passion? What I spent 17 years pouring my soul, my heart, my sweat, my passion into?
Writing books that inspire people, that make people fall in love, that message me a year or two after a book releases looking for the next one.
Books that people don’t easily forget, even if there is only 5 people eagerly awaiting the next release.
I don’t regret a second of that learning. And I don’t neglect craft, even though I am terrible at consistently writing.
There is a balance that needs to be maintained between writing & releasing books and marketing those books, even if you end up hiring help with the marketing.
What that balance looks like for you will be very different than it looks like for me. Or my client.
Or any other author.
To sell books marketing isn’t enough.
Advertising isn’t enough.
Networking isn’t enough.
Blogging isn’t enough.
A FB page isn’t enough.
Those things can work. They won’t always work.
You know what is required?
A book people want to read!