Book Launch Results

My Writing Journey (1)

In my post nearly a month ago, I asked, “Is there such thing as a perfect book launch?” You can get caught up by reading it HERE.

My newest novel, Blood & Holy Water, launched April, 4th. I had done a ton of research on successful launch techniques and devised the best launch I was capable of.

I promised to circle back and let you know how it went.

The good news: It was the best launch I’ve ever had! (Okay, okay. It’s only my second one.) I hit #17 on one amazon best seller’s list and #3053 in the overall Kindle store.

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After everything I did, here’s what my sales graph looks like for this novel for the past 3 weeks. It was priced at 99 cents for most the time. The first chart (in red) is number of units sold and the bottom chart (in blue) is Kindle page reads. (Each page read equates to about half a cent of revenue.)

book launch

On April 22nd, I raised the price to $2.99 and you can see the drop off in sales. We’ll see how this goes.

My key points I’m taking with me to my next launch:

  1. Kindle Scout: I had been on the fence about the Kindle Scout program. Overall, it netted me at least eight newsletter subscribers and twenty-nine book sales. Granted, some of these were family and friends that had voted for me, but there were still at least 29 sales from this program. Even better would have been if my novel was accepted. I still will do Kindle Scout next time…Maybe I should be embarrassed my book wasn’t picked, but I’m not. They only pick 3% of submitted books anyway.
  2. My Newsletter: This was a ROCK STAR!!! I sold another twenty-eight novels PLUS I found advanced readers to post reviews. Overall, I went live with about fifteen really good reviews on this book.
  3. Pre-publish a Paperback: MUST-DO to collect advanced reviews.
  4. Well-planned launch week. I sold 227 books the first week…though, this does not break even, it is SO NICE to see my book in so many people’s hands. My launch promotion was still spread a little thin. Next time, I’ll pile everything on 3-5 days to build up my ranking using a combo of free and paid advertising.
  5. Also, surprisingly I found Facebook ads helped for the book priced at 99 cents (though, I took a loss with each sale, I was trying to build up my ranking.) Now that my books $2.99, the ads don’t work as well.

The so-so things:

  1. My Newsletter: yeah, it also had some downsides. I felt it was a little self-promoty without building a relationship with all my subscribers first. I blogged about my panic HERE.
  2. Amazon giveaways to grow a following on Amazon: Maybe a handful of sales. This is probably’s not worth it.
  3. Goodreads giveaway to build up the “to read” list. I dunno. It only costed $8 and had nearly 700 people add it to their “to read” list. I’m uncertain if this turns into anything.
  4. Newsletter swaps/cross promos. So-so results at the expense of tiring out your own readers promoting other’s books.

The bad stuff: Do I really need bad stuff?

I still didn’t break even with money…but again, it’s still cheaper than many other hobbies…cheaper than a latte every morning.

Pre-publishing Costs: $335 ($105 of this was spent towards trying to find a cover I liked. I used fiverr, bought photos, etc because I just couldn’t find something I was happy with. This is part of the reason I’m leaning towards finding my own graphic designer for future novels…2018 goals.)

Publishing Promotion Costs/Advertising for Launch Week: $167 (I accidentally book an extra promo site for $40, as I thought I had been denied and forgot about it.) Next time: only $100!

Sales Since Launch: $208 (286 ebooks, 5 paperbacks, 21,155 page reads) PLUS extra promo for Love, Lies & Clones $24 (28 books, 2404 page reads) Total: $222

So…not counting pre-publishing costs, I made $55. When you add in pre-publishing costs, I’m in the hole…$280, which is about the same as Love, Lies & Clones three weeks after release, BUT it’s in the hands of a ton more readers! Win. Win. Win. (Since my goal is simply for people to read my stuff.)

I probably overspent on the launch…just like I did with my Kindle Countdown deal for Love, Lies & Clones. Oh well…it’s an experiment. Now, when The Secret Lives of the Superheroes’ Wives is ready to publish this fall, I’ll be one step closer to the “perfect” launch.

Thanks for sharing in my journey.

–Joy

Posted in Blood & Holy Water, Marketing, My Writing Journey, News! | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

1000 True Fans – Domain Upgrade?

 

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April’s focus in the 1000 “True” Fan blog series is SMALL CHANGES.

This Weeks Mission: Is having your own website domain worth it?

Since I began blogging over a year ago, I’ve stuck to the free web hosting at wordpress.com. My site address has been: http://www.joynellschultz.wordpress.com

I don’t know if you know this, but I’m super cheap. I couldn’t see spending the money on my own domain.

Now, I’m facing two main issues that had me debating if upgrading my web address to http://www.joynellschultz.com (dropping the wordpress.com) would solve.

  1. I’m only having a 35% newsletter open rate. I’ve spent all this time and energy building my mailing list, and I’m having many people I know say my newsletters are going into their junk folder. Is it because I’m sending these from my free gmail account?
  2. Does having a wordpress site look unprofessional? I have two books out now and have a few more on the horizon.

So, I looked at the cost of having my own domain…only $35.88 per year through WordPress. No problem. I thought that was worth it…

BUT, what I didn’t know is that you don’t get your own email address with that. You need to pay another $50/year.

Okay. It’s an experiment. I’ve been told having my own domain and email will solve my newsletter open rate…So I got out the credit card and paid the extra $50.

How did spending $85.88 help me?

  1. My newsletter open rate: Guess what? With the new domain email address, the open rate was EXACTLY THE SAME! Though, different people saw this email versus the last one. I was disappointed, but have a few ideas to fix it up… I can resend the important newsletters from the second email address to hopefully reach the non-openers. Also, having my own domain allows me to use a cheaper mailing list service when it’s time I need to pay for it.
  2. Professionalism: Without a doubt, having your own site looks more professional.

Other things…I’m excited to have more tools available through WordPress by having my own domain. I cannot comment on them yet, but hopefully I can speak intelligently as to the benefits as the year goes on.

 


So…a summary of how last week went, for those of you who are following this journey on a week-to-week basis.

Review of Past Week (Mission 15: Novel Back Matter): Success!

I finished up a prequel to Love, Lies & Clones and added a link to it at the end of that novel. You can read about how this went HERE. Next up: In May, I’m trying a “FREE” day on Amazon to get some downloads…and hopefully people will read the novel and sign up for the newsletter when they finish. Fingers crossed.

So…how’s my progress going on my way to 1000 true fans?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 1767 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 132 people since last week.)

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Next Week: As you can see, I’ve met my goal of 1000 newsletter subscribers. As we move forward through this year, we’re going to start focusing on converting these subscribers to actual “true” fans. My subscriber numbers may actually go down in the next months.

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have your own domain? What benefits does it bring you?

Posted in 1000 True Fans, Marketing, My Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Subject 23 – Free Prequel to Love, Lies & Clones

Sound the trumpets!

I finished a short prequel to Love, Lies & Clones that I thought was a lost cause.

It’s called Subject 23. Here it is:

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Blood &Subject 23

Alice Taylor poured her heart into the advancement of science. It wasn’t until she connected with a surrogate mother, Subject 23, did she begin questioning what path science was taking her down.

This is a glimpse into June’s father’s cloning experiments. Meet June’s mother, Alice, and watch her struggle with the ethics behind the project.

You can download a copy HERE.

I had started writing it back in January with hopes of using it to entice readers to pick up the full novel, but abandoned the project because it contained spoilers, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the spoilers out of the story.

What a shame to have a story mostly finished and not be able to let people read it…that was until I had an idea last week while writing the post for my 1000 “true” fans blog series.

I finished this 5000+ word story up and am marketing it as a prequel best enjoyed AFTER reading the full novel. I mean, that’s better than letting it sit on the virtual shelf, unread, right?

If you’re interested, it’s a standalone story. You can read it if you’ve read Love, Lies & Clones, don’t intend to read the novel, or don’t really care about spoilers.

I kept a similar cover to Love, Lies & Clones, just to keep it easy. Hopefully, that doesn’t make things confusing.

Subject 23 (1)

Have a great day, everyone! Thanks for sharing my journey.

–Joy

 

Posted in Love, Lies, & Clones, My Speculative Fiction Tales, My Writing Journey, News! | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

1000 True Fans – Novel Back Matter

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April’s focus in the 1000 “True” Fan blog series is SMALL CHANGES.

This Weeks Mission: Newsletter signup in book back matter

I know how important it is to have a newsletter sign-up link in the front and back of your published novel with a goal of capturing readers to join your mailing list. With my new novel, Blood & Holy Water, I’ve tried something new.

Right after “The End” it says this:

If you enjoyed this novel, a prequel to the next story in this journey can be found in the short story collection, Quick Escape: Fantasy Tales. (The prequel is titled, Bitten.)

You can download this collection free by signing up for Joynell Schultz’s newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/ccWKDn

I took a chance, as I have never seen this before…

Well… Since implementing it, I’ve had 26 sign-ups from the link in the two weeks since publishing this novel. That’s 26 people who read my novel and wanted more. Now, we’re getting closer to “true” fans.

So, this week, I’m working on a prequel to Love, Lies & Clones as well…and adding a similar offer in the back of that novel. It will now be my norm going forward: A little bonus to readers who want more when finishing a story. Also, I’m going to try a “free” day for Love, Lies & Clones, so I was hoping, at the very least, to at least gain subscribers by giving the novel away free.

 


So…a summary of how last week went, for those of you who are following this journey on a week-to-week basis.

Review of Past Week (Mission 14: Website Popups): Epic FAIL!

I added a pop-up to my website, to capture mailing list subscribers. I had one sign-up within an hour of turning it on, but after some help from blog followers, I turned it off before 24 hours had passed. The annoyance to my readers and the potential penalty google search engines give pop-ups, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

So…how’s my progress going on my way to 1000 true fans?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 1635 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 152 people since last week.)

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Next Week: Is it worth paying for your own domain name/email address?

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Posted in 1000 True Fans, Marketing, My Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

I Wrote ‘THE END’ Twice Today!

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It amazing how productive you can be, if your mind is focused on your task. (AND you have a day off of work.)

Today, I wrote “THE END” not once, but twice!

Yup, twice. I always wish I’d only work on one project at a time, but sometimes, I lose motivation for one project and need to jump to another–for sanity sake.

For Camp NaNo, my “announced” project was to write a 15K short story, titled “Hidden” for a multi-author collection I’m participating in. I outlined this story in March and set off writing April 1st. Disconnecting my computer’s WiFi and setting the timer nearly every day, I committed to write for 30 minutes. Once my scene was laid out, I discovered that I could write about 1200 words in only 30 minutes. Pretty amazing! I wrote “The End” on this story before lunch today — clocking in at 18K words total.

Then, for a break, I’ve been working on fixing and finishing my November NaNoWriMo project, “Secret Lives of Superheroes’ Wives”. Not an official project, but something I wanted (needed) to complete.

Well, today, I could actually see the finish line…and I pushed forward. Here I am…8PM…and I just wrote “The End” on Superhero Wives.

It feels fantastic!

Next up: A round of edits and then off to beta readers.

(Okay, a little secret: My first drafts are TERRIBLE! I wouldn’t show them to anyone! I’m writing this here as a reminder to myself…when I get down and think I can’t write…hang in there and it gets better. For me, the magic happens during editing. Taking an endless ocean of raw words and ideas, polishing them, and turning out something you’d let someone else read.)

How’s your Camp NaNoWriMo project going? I’d love to hear.

Posted in My Writing Journey, NaNoWriMo, Superhero Wives | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Book Spotlight – RETURN TO ROYALTY by E. Paige Burks

Book Spotlight (3)

Novel: Return to Royalty

Author: E. Paige Burks

Genre: Urban Fantasy / PNR / New Adult

How I found this book: The author of Return to Royalty and I mutually follow each other’s blogs and we both published our Fantasy novels at the same time. It seemed only right to take a look. (Plus, I loved the cover.)

Amazon book description:

RTR

Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange. Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of Ymber. The portal only opens on the winter solstice, so Jet finds himself trapped on Earth, trying to blend in. Fortunately, he has help in the form of the queen’s chosen assistant, Seth Alvar. But playing well with others has never been one of Jet’s talents. It is a race against the clock to tell Nyx her true identity and try to train her, while also keeping her alive. Nyx and Jet struggle to defeat the assassins sent to kill them both, while trying not to kill each other. Can this duo put their differences aside and return to Gexalatia?

What’s not in the blurb: I didn’t expect the suspense (maybe even a touch of horror, at times) in this story…both of which are not my usual genre, but I LOVED IT!

As I writer, what I really enjoyed and appreciated: Holy cow did the tension between the character’s get to me. I found myself turning pages to find out how their relationship would grow, taking mental notes how I could use the author’s techniques in my own writing.

Who’d enjoy this book: Lovers of contemporary fantasy who enjoy a little suspense and romance thrown in. This book is listed in the Young Adult category, but I found it more New Adult, appealing to a wider audience.

My overall impression: Once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down! I seriously loved the characters and can’t wait to read more. Once book two is published, I’ll definitely be getting myself a copy to continue the journey of Nyx and Jet. This book had the right mix of suspense, fantasy, and a little romantic tension. Perfect!

About the author: E. Paige Burks, budding author of The Heart of the Guardian, is a graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Journalism. Her book, Return to Royalty, won the 2016 Author U Draft to Dream Award in the Young Adult category and has been nominated for USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards. When she is not writing fantasy and love stories, she enjoys Mexican food, singing out loud, cuddling with her cats, and taking long naps. E. Paige Burks lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, four dogs, three cats, three horses, and a single bird named Ricki.

Where to find this novel:

Other books in the series:

  •  Book 2 of A Gexalatia Tale (Yet to be published.)

My disclosure: I hate star ratings. Honestly, I think these are so subjective and sometimes reflect the reader more than they do the book. Because this is my blog, and I can do anything I want, I’m not using them.

I think ANYBODY who puts the time, effort, and dedication to write and publish an entire novel deserves 5 stars anyway. Also, when I read indie authors, I realize they operate on a shoestring (non-existent) budget and don’t have a team of college educated professionals helping them fine tune their novels.

 

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Writing Tip: Cutting Pesky Adverbs

WRITING TIP_

I love beta reading a good story, and I’ve done a lot of it in the past  year. From the first page of a story, I can tell a new writer from one that’s more experienced by a handful of things I read. One of them is adverb use.

I think everyone knows what an adverb is…but as a refresher, it’s a word used to modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb. Usually it is a descriptor clarifying How, How Often, When, or Where. What does that mean? Many adverbs don’t end in the hallmark -ly, but most of them do, like happily, softly, quickly, etc. that changes the meaning of the verb. Examples:

  • spoke softly
  • walked quietly
  • Easily avoided a punch
  • Quickly ran away
  • Deadly gaze

So, what’s wrong with adverbs? While I’m reading, these -ly adverbs makes my brain halt while I change my perception of the verb being modified. I lose imagery of the story while I wonder exactly what does the change mean. In the examples above:

  • spoke softly (I wonder what does it mean to speak softly. Is the character whispering? Did his/her voice drop an octave?)
  • walked quietly (How is that accomplished? Tiptoed? Sneaked? Took off shoes?)
  • Easily avoided a punch (I can’t picture this? Did the character sway out of the way? Drop to the floor? Blocked it some how?)
  • Quickly ran away (Doesn’t running mean quickly? Otherwise it’d be called walking. If it’s faster than a regular run, then sprinted away would work.)
  • Deadly gaze (What is a deadly gaze? Drool? Teeth barred? Wrinkled eyebrows? Piercing eyes?)

My writing tip: Cut adverbs whenever possible. If you can replace the verb with a more descriptive/powerful verb, your readers will thank you. Here’s some stronger verb ideas to replace the simple word “walked”: (For a bigger list of 195 different verbs to spice up your writing, check out Jerry Jenkin’s site HERE)

  • Strolled
  • Glided
  • Marched
  • Tromped
  • Wandered
  • Prowled

See how the words immediately give you a mental visual? A clearer one than “walked loudly” or “carefully walked” would?

Why do newer writers add excessive adverbs? I’m guilty of this too. Years ago, I remember thinking that to make a well-crafted story, I needed to add more descriptors to my writing. Adverbs are easy descriptors. Describing what happens in detail takes more skill. I still use them in my first draft or two, but before putting a final draft to beta readers, I spend the time and energy to remove as many of them as I can.

Two ways I fix my own writing:

  1. I use http://www.prowritingaid.com as a tool to identify adverb use. I find it works best when a 3000 word chunk of text is fed through it, rather than an entire document. (You may be under the limit of “acceptable adverbs” in an entire document, but still have sections that have too many adverbs in the same place.) Also, just because it says adverb use is within normal range, it doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t cut them more.
  2. I sometimes just search for -ly words and begin the painful task of deciding if it can be cut out without changing the meaning of the sentence or if I need a stronger verb. I also have a list of those other adverbs I use to much. “Just” is a BIG one for me.

Here’s a reference on adverbs, said much better than I could ever do from Stephen King.

I’m not a writing expert and still choose to use some adverbs in my writing. I do it all the time…I love saying truly, really, and actually to name a few. Honestly, I think there is a place for adverbs — sometime. (Did you notice my adverbs in that sentence?)

I challenge you to take a look at your words ending in -ly and cut them out. As many as possible. Your readers will thank you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on adverbs, and when you read, what flags a story as coming from a new writer to you?

Posted in My Writing Journey, Writing Tips & Resources | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments