This year has been different (for my writing and my level of success)

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost half way through 2019! It seems like we were celebrating the start of 2017 two weeks ago. Thankfully, this year, I didn’t make any resolutions about weight loss or self improvement. This year, I decided to kick start my writing career!

Let me start by saying that though my sales hadn’t stalled, they were nowhere near where they would need to be to finally achieve my goal of being a full time writer. They still haven’t hit that coveted level, but with the changes I made going in to 2019, that goal looks more achievable than ever before.

The first thing I did was start listening closely to the advice that was being given by successful authors. They tell you that it’s best to build a fan base, make a marketing plan, and plan a full series before ever releasing a book! But what if you’ve already released books? You can’t just erase your online presence and start over, right?

No, you can’t but you can consider those books that are already published a good start to a back list and start fresh with new material following the model outlined above so, on the recommendation of a fellow author, I spent $60.00 on a Book Sweeps promotion to giveaway the first book in a fresh new series that I was working on. As promised, I added over 600 email addresses to my mailing list. It cost $60 plus two free digital copies of The Wisdom of Coyotes but I’ve managed to retain 90% of those subscribers and, if you know anything about mailing list subscriptions, that’s an amazing number! Several of these new followers also followed my Facebook Author Page and engage on it regularly. Another win!

How do I feed these hungry new subscribers? I started a serial in my true genre, (paranormal/ghost), that consists of short reads released monthly. Each story is a case investigated by my paranormal research team, (who are the main characters in my first novel series). When I release my monthly newsletter, I introduce the next installment and give away the last in series free for five days. I immediately see in increase in downloads and collect my royalties on page reads. (They’re all enrolled in Kindle Unlimited).

That brings me to my next point. Wide is not always the right answer. All of my previous releases are wide and while I do see a few sales on Apple and Nook, they aren’t enough of an income source to deter me from releasing my new books exclusively on Amazon. If my success in KU continues, I may pull my back list from those other sites and advertise them on Amazon.

The next thing that I learned? Series are the in thing. I have two stand alone novels that could easily turn in to series but all of my new writing will be series, period. And the marketing strategy is simple. With each new release, advertise the first in series, not the new book! It works. Trust me on this one.

Another, more controversial topic is rapid release. Some say that rapid release leads to poor quality but the two things don’t have to be synonymous. If you set a daily writing goal, keep in mind the time necessary for quality editing and book cover design. It is possible to release a quality work in thirty days and the more you do it the more disciplined and faster you become. I currently write under my own name and a pen name (for a different genre) and release two or more works per month. Granted, they are not all novel length but I’m steadily building a back list in two genres and seeing sales or page reads every day on my Book Report!

Lastly, I’m writing what I love but also following the market. I see what’s trending in my genre and try to accommodate my readers changing tastes. I pay attention to the covers and blurbs of the top 10 in my genre regularly and shift accordingly. I also play with my keywords and recently learned that a keyword space in the Kindle set up is not necessarily a space for a keyword. It can be used to add a key phrase so you get more keywords out there without going over your preset limit. So, the keyword Ghost becomes Ghost hunting haunted houses. Paranormal becomes New Adult Paranormal Shifter Romance. See how that works?

It’s been an interesting start of the year and I couldn’t be more excited with the boost in book sales! My next great adventure? Figuring out the secret to better ROI on Amazon and Facebook Ad Campaigns. It’s a scary thing for me but I’m determined!

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