Tag Archives: indie authors

Your First 10K Readers

Your 1st 10K Readers-3

Back in May of 2015 when I first got my miracle and my ebook sales started exploding in the UK, the only action I could trace any of that success back to was the changes I made to my books’ keywords on Amazon. I’d watched a video by Nick Stephenson on how Amazon’s true function wasn’t as a book store but as a search engine. He gave some tips on how to make your books more searchable, and therefore more accessible to readers. This is the only change I made prior to the jump in sales and I will be forever grateful for that bit of free advice.

I’ve blogged several times about the steep decline in sales I’ve experienced since November of 2016. The world was a little preoccupied–and frankly, still is–and people were not all that interested in reading for leisure. The indies who did survive the slump were only able to do so because they excelled at something I’ve barely even tried–marketing.

I’ve experimented with Bookbub, which was a success. I’ve also tried using Amazon ads for a week, which was not. And I’ve created a few FB ads but got cold feet when the results weren’t instant and took them down. It’s scary to spend money up front when there’s no guarantee of a return. But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s also necessary.

I have plenty of books in my backlist so there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to achieve a relatively high ($3,000-$7,000/month) and steady income. But writing a lot of books, even a lot of really good books, is no longer enough. I have to get those books in front of people and not just any people but the RIGHT people.

I have no idea how to do that so I’m taking a leap of faith and taking Nick Stephenson’s course on how to find your first 10K readers. It mostly covers how to build and maintain your mailing list through the use of targeted ads and reader magnets. I’m usually opposed to paying for information like this because so much of marketing is hit or miss. But if I’m going take the financial risk of enrolling in an online course, if I’m going to try something different in the hopes that it will change my life, I’m going to do it with someone I trust. Someone whose previous advice allowed me to go from selling 0 copies of my books a day to 100-200.

It’s been one year since I’ve seen those kinds of numbers in my dashboard…and I miss them terribly. To be honest, doing nothing at this point is even more of a risk. So over the next few months I’m going to offer myself as a case study on Nick’s course. I won’t be sharing detailed information from his modules since that would be stealing. But I will be talking about the changes I’m making and how they’re affecting my bottom line. If the results are good maybe you’ll be motivated to try the course for yourself.

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My Writing Process

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Yesterday’s post got me thinking about the value of indie authors being transparent about the diversity of their experiences and how seeing that every writer life is different can help us alleviate so much stress, envy, and anxiety from the creative process.

I don’t post about my personal experience as a writer because I think it should be the blueprint for all other indies. I try to be transparent about the ups and downs of my own writer life in order to show that I’m still just trying to figure things out and that I can still be “trying to figure things out” while also making good money from writing, which is proof that there is no perfect formula for self-publishing success.

This is good news. This means that despite what advice is floating around online, despite what other indies are doing (including me) there is no right way to do this writing thing. There is only your way, and as long as your way honors your beliefs and values and safeguards your health and well being, then your way is the best way. Keep doing it.

I think after reading about my own writing process, you’ll also begin to see that sometimes the best way actually means no way and that’s still okay too.

My writing process looks different during the school year than it does in the summer and for the purpose of full transparency, last year while I was teaching there were many months when it was pretty much nonexistent (hence why I’m still working on a novel that was supposed to come out in April).

Summer 2017:

7:00 AM–> Wake up *hey, I’m sleeping in a little*
*check KDP & Draft2Digital to calculate revenue for the past 24 hours and make sure nothing catastrophic has happened that will drastically change my projections for that month
*I’ve also been checking Tapas, which so far has not turned out to be as lucrative as I thought it would be *make a note to revisit Wattpad presence*
*Check email
*I should also be honest and say that I’m also simultaneously scrolling through Twitter while doing most of these other things

8:30 AM–> Writing time OR working out (it depends what time my Pure Barre class is that day *yes, I’ve joined the cult*)
*Right now, writing for me is writing this blog post but sometimes it means re-reading what I wrote the day before, making a few notes, and then getting back to work

12:00 PM –> Lunch, which is usually guacamole
*I’m lucky if I can hold my creative focus for this long. Sometimes I’ll write straight through, which usually leaves me with a HUGE writer hangover the next day, which I must recover from with the help of even more guacamole and a bunch of mindless shit on Bravo. But usually the three and a half hours between the beginning of my writing time and lunch are a combination of writing sprints and more Twitter checking

1:00 PM –> Writing Time Part II
*I try to grind out as many words as I can before my boyfriend gets home so I’m not glued to the computer screen while he’s trying to tell me about his day (sometimes this works but sometimes I’m nearing the end of a project–like now–and it’s more difficult to wrap things up, especially if I’ve finally found a bit of momentum)
*If my brain starts getting tired I’ll switch to blogging or reading (either my library books or blog posts/articles online). I’ve also started listening to podcasts a lot more lately

3:00 PM –> Try to relax *emphasis on TRY*

*Evenings* –> These are constantly changing…
*If my boyfriend wants to spend a couple of hours working on music before dinner I’ll try to get some more writing done
*If he’s doing live sound that night I’ll definitely make myself get some more writing done (I’ve felt guilty this summer taking writing breaks while he’s at work all day)
*If he’s exhausted from work I let myself be too and we watch TV until it’s time to go to bed, which for me is embarrassingly early *usually, 9 PM*

The next day…
*Sometimes I can get up and do it all again
*Sometimes I can’t
*When I was really in the meat of my novel this summer I found myself only able to write new material every other day and the days in between my brain only had enough energy for revisions. Sometimes I needed a break from both but anxiety over my looming deadline would force me to at least have the laptop open and my MS pulled up while I picked at it like a zombie

School Year 16/17:

August-October–> I was waking up every morning at 5:30 AM to spend a few hours working on The Daughter of the Night. It was miserable and I probably won’t ever do it again

November-December–> I hardly wrote at all and took a much needed break after all those early mornings and then people didn’t even like it and it really sucked and made me sad…

January-March–> Tried to write on Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes that meant writing on Saturdays and revising on Sundays. Sometimes that meant writing on one of those days and sleeping on the other

April-May–> Pushed back my deadline to June; continued my weekend routine

June–> Pushed back my deadline to July; continued my weekend routine until school let out. Gave myself a week to recharge and then began my summer routine

July–> Even with my new summer routine of writing almost every day I still had to push my deadline back ONCE AGAIN to August

13 days in…and I’m praying I won’t have to push it back to September.

As you can see, I sort of need structure but I also need the flexibility to be kind to myself. What isn’t as visible from my descriptions above is how often I’ve actually been letting myself take breaks. Sometimes that means taking a 2-hour lunch in front of the TV before getting back to writing and sometimes that means doing no writing at all. It just depends on what my brain and body are telling me, which I think I’ve gotten much better at interpreting through the course of writing this novel.

What’s wrong with this way of doing things? Well, the novel still isn’t finished yet and it’s the only one I plan on putting out this year, mostly because I can’t produce anything at a faster rate. But because I know that about myself it’s not a huge disappointment. This means that instead of beating myself up every time I need to take a break I can just take a freaking break. After almost 8 novels I’m no longer trying to prove to myself that I can finish. I’m no longer trying to prove anything to anyone at all, except maybe to you. That YOU can come up with a routine that works for YOU and still achieve success. And the best part? It doesn’t have to be grueling. It can be kind. You can be kind to yourself and still reach the finish line, possibly more refreshed and more in love with writing than when you started.

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The Indie Graveyard

When I first started blogging I followed every indie author I could find; every writer, poet, and book reviewer. I was a sponge, reading every blog post and soaking in every bit of information on building an author platform, formatting e-books, and contacting reviewers. For a while I was sucked into this black hole of anti-productivity surrounded by a bunch of people who seemed to write about writing more than actually…well, writing. It’s that way for a lot of us in the beginning. We blog constantly about our dreams not realizing that what we’re doing is actually counterproductive to reaching our end goal–being an author. We make the excuse that we’re learning from our peers but really all we’re doing is spending hours scouring their blogs and secretly comparing ourselves to them. And comparison is more than counter-productive, it’s toxic. So I retreated, avoiding my feeder, Facebook, and twitter and I finished two novels.

Since then I’ve realized that social media must be kept at an arm’s length and that the only connections worth having online are real ones. While planning my upcoming revisions I started reaching out to critique partners I hadn’t spoken to in almost an entire year, some even longer, and found that many of them were at a standstill with their own projects…or that they had given up writing altogether during the past twelve months that we hadn’t spoken. I found the same thing as I started weeding through all of the blogs I used to follow in an effort to make my return to the blogging/writing community more manageable.Blog after blog had either been deleted or frozen in time and people whose journeys I used to admire had disappeared. After removing all of the inactive blogs I whittled my list down from almost 2,000 to just 200. The majority of the deleted blogs were former indie authors, people whose websites were a formal and defiant declaration of their dreams. And now they’re just gone.

The internet isn’t just a place for us writers to declare our dreams, it can also be a graveyard for them. If we let it. Blogs and social media can be dangerous if we use them for the wrong reasons, especially if blogging and maintaining an online presence become more important than our actual writing. But blogs can also be powerful tools for holding ourselves accountable. That’s what I’m looking for as I return to the blogging community. Not a place to compare word counts and sales numbers but a place to connect with other writers who are in this for the long haul.

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September Totals

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September started to show the dramatic downward shift I’d been anticipating, which was not entirely devastating since it was expected. But, it does prove that all success is finite and that if I want to continue making money as an author than I’m going to have to do the most obvious thing, which is keep writing. Which…I’m struggling to do right now while I’m in school. The good news is that I’m getting caught up on homework and will soon have lots of time–more time than I originally anticipated (due to quitting my full-time job and whatnot)–to finish TGIB series and move on to NEW projects!! But those things are still a long ways off (I’m shooting for a March 2016 release for TGIB book 4) and there’s still a TON of work to do in the meantime. Since it’s likely that I won’t have a new book for sale for another 5ish months I’m trying to research ways to break into more international markets. My success in the UK sort of just happened, which means that I’m not exactly sure how to replicate it. But my sales in territories like Canada, Australia, and India have slowly been on the rise and even though they’re somewhat minuscule at present I know that if they pick up I’ll have a stronger financial foundation to support future projects. I just have to figure out how to make that happen. So, if anyone has any resources–blog posts, promo sites, etc.–that talk about breaking into international markets, please share them and I’ll be sure to do the same!

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May Adventures

So this happened…

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Sometime around the end of April Amazon finally price-matched The Girl In Between and made it free on Amazon UK. Since then downloads have skyrocketed and sales for the other books in the series have steadily grown. Like…a lot.

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Amazon even put a cute little “Best Seller” flag next to the sequel!

The Girl In Between and The Boy In Her Dreams have both hit number 1 in several categories over the past week, which is the result of over 15,000 downloads and 1,000 copies sold.

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Looking at the rankings for The Boy In Her Dreams, I’ve concluded that you need to sell between 30-50 books a day in order to chart on one of Amazon’s bestsellers’ lists. I had a few days this week where my sales reached 100, which I have to credit for pushing the book into the number one spot on the lists below.

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Yes, that is THE Cassandra Clare stuck at number 4. And do you see who just so happens to be battling me for first under Teen & Young Adult Paranormal & Urban Fantasy in the screenshot below? Yes, that would be THE Veronica Roth. For approximately 24 hours I’ve actually been BEATING her in the Paranormal and Urban Fantasy category!!!!!

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As you can see May has been total insanity. In a good way. In the BEST WAY! Thank you UK readers!!! THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!! You’ve made my dreams come true. It was just last year that I was barely managing to sell a few copies a month and for the past week I’ve been selling 50+ books each night in my sleep. It’s thrilling and wonderful and magical and I can’t believe this is actually happening. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. Thank you for taking a chance on my books, for devouring them, for loving them, for sharing them with your friends. Thank you for supporting independent art and the daring individuals who choose to make it.

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