The End of Magic challenge, week 18 – Spend, Spend, Spend!

On 9th July I made a big ol’ public declaration to sell a thousand copies of my fantasy novel The End of Magic by Christmas, and I promised to keep folks in the loop with the ups and downs of sales and marketing with a weekly update.

A few caveats…

  • I can only do this in the USAUnbound have the UK rights and I have no visibility on sales other than the twice yearly statements.
  • I’m going to stick with Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
  • I’ll be counting both Kindle and Paperback sales.
  • Here’s week eighteen!

Last week, I announced that after a long lull in activity the only way I can get anywhere close to this target is to go on a bit of a spending frenzy. I started by running some ads with Bookbub. My old artwork needed a bit of a spruce-up, and I asked the BXP Group for a recommendation and Bookbrush came up again and again, so I had a little play…

Don’t bother trying to enlarge these as they have to be weeny as per Bookbub’s criteria.
The free account on Bookbrush gives you three free images per month, but you can upgrade to an unlimited account if you wish (and I think I will).

I started with the James Barclay ad, and lo and behold, I got a few sales…

I started running ads at $10 per day, following the guidelines in the David Gaughran’s excellent book on Bookbub ads, alternating between the Abercrombie and the Barclay. Sales weren’t stratospheric — a couple a day — but they were moving again.

I also have to thank the gang on the BXP Team for recommending various book promo sites they had used in the past. Astonishingly, I’ve not tried any of these before, so I’ve really gone for it now, booking a bunch of them in the run-up to Christmas:

The first one of these ran a few days ago with Bookrunes and Bookraid on 22nd Nov. I stopped all Bookbub ads in order to see what effect the promo had on sales (drumroll, please…)

Meh…

Well, it’s better than nothing. And there were a couple of sales the day after. There’s also a charge per click…

No profits to boast of, but we knew that didn’t we? I’ve still not resumed the Bookbub ads to see if the promo has a longer tail, but nothing so far. I’ll think I’ll spruce up the artwork again and resume the Bookbub ads until the next promo with Bargain Booksy on 4th December.

The BXP Team also recommended Kindle Countdown Deals, but because I had already discounted the title before applying I don’t meet their criteria. Besides, Amazon have had enough of my money already.

Jack Logan also got in touch to recommend using Etsy, which hadn’t occurred to me before, but might be a good way to shift a few signed copies of the paperback before Christmas.

Here are the sales since last week…

Y’know what, that’s not bad. The best week since I started… and all it took was a ton of money. Hmm. Of course, I need to be doing these sorts of numbers on a daily basis to meet my target — there are 29 days till Christmas, I’ve sold 171 copies and need to sell 829. That’s 29 per day!

If you would like to help, then please do any of the following:

Buy a copy here in the US, or here in the UK

Tell your friends about the book (especially on those big fantasy reading groups on Facebook, please!)

Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Until next time…

10 Productivity Tips For Writers

On the most recent live show of the Bestseller Experiment podcast we got talking about how to make the most of your writing time. You can listen to the whole podcast here (where we also launch the BXP2020 challenge, which will make 2020 your best writing year!) and I’ve listed my top ten productivity tips below…

Procrastinate first

This may sound a little odd, but we all have our favourite forms of putting off writing, so why not just get them done and out of the way? Mine is social media. If you follow me on social media, you might notice that I’m busy first thing in the morning (breakfast), I might pop up for ten minutes or so mid-morning (tea break), then there’s lunch and then the evening when I’m done.

Diving into Twitter and Facebook first thing in the morning quenches any curiosity that there might be something more interesting going on in the world. I pop in, have a laugh (or get outraged), put it aside and then jump into the writing.

Close the door

The old advice from Stephen King. Most people think The Shining is about a writer battling his inner demons, but I reckon Jack just wants to make his daily wordcount and his wife and kid complaining about the terrors in the Overlook Hotel really isn’t helping the poor guy hit his targets.

Closing the door works. If you’re lucky enough to have a room of one’s own then use it, and make sure your family or flatmates know what it means: no knocking unless there’s a fire, nuclear war or similar*.

Before I was lucky enough to get a writing room, I used to write on my commute on a busy train. I used headphones to block out the world. If you’re a time poor writer — and who isn’t?! — you have to make the most of your writing time and any distraction can be detrimental to keeping your train of thought. Which brings me to…

*Unless they bring tea and biscuits. I can allow that occasionally.

Silence (or nature sounds)

I used to have specific music playlists for any writing project and I find these useful when I’m brainstorming ideas and trying to get into mood… But when I’m in the thick of a draft I now need complete silence. It might be a middle-age thing, it might be that I just need more brain capacity to concentrate on this stuff, but I can’t write now if the theme from The Witchfinder General is scratching at my brain.

When I’m travelling and using headphones I’ll use a nature sounds app. This blocks out extraneous noise and is far less distracting than music, though you if you find that you start getting annoyed by repetitive bird calls, then maybe switch to a white noise app.

Set targets

What are you actually going to do today? Is this a first draft and you’re hitting a word target? If it’s a screenplay, how many pages do you want to do today? If you’re editing, are you working on a particular chapter, character or thread? Whatever it is, set yourself a goal. Once you’ve hit it you can either smash through or, what the hell, take the rest of the day off and binge something on Netflix. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned on the podcast is setting achievable goals is one of the biggest boosts to writing productivity.

It’s one of the reasons we launched this thing.

Know your arguments

It’s all very well splashing words onto the page, but what the hell are you actually saying? What is the point of this book? This character? This scene? And where are you in the story?

I always take a moment to figure out just where I am in the story. If my protagonist starts at A and ends up at Z, where am I in the alphabet of change? How is this scene helping them evolve and head towards that ending? What change is occurring through drama? In other words, how does this scene earn its place in the story? I find that once I have a clear idea of that, the rest comes relatively easily.

Make notes always

One of my favourite moments of the podcast is when Sarah Pinborough challenged the “Write every day” theory that we were really excited about.”That’s bollocks!” she said…

Listen to the whole episode here

And she’s absolutely right. Keeping that story brain ticking over in the back of your mind is so important. But, if you’re like me, you have no idea when inspiration might strike. It’s usually at two in the morning, so I have a stack of Post-It notes by the bed, or I’ll be out for a walk and a story problem might solve itself and I end up sending myself an email on my phone before the thought it gone…

And that’s the dread thing. I know now that if I don’t make a note STRAIGHT AWAY, it’s gone. For good. Again, that might be a middle age thing, but it’s real. Always be ready to make notes wherever you are.

Change medium

I’m a pretty speedy typist. My dad used to be secretary of football referees association and I used to type up his handwritten notes for their newsletter on a second-hand fire-damaged BBC B computer, so I was a touch typist from about age eleven. The temptation for me is to stick to typing on a screen because it’s so fast, and that’s great when I’m on a roll, but when it comes to problem-solving you can’t beat pen and paper. There’s something about scribbling on a pad, or a scrap of paper, or on a whiteboard that fires up a whole new set of synapses in my noggin. I’m hearing a lot of writers are switching to dictation now that the tech is getting more reliable. I haven’t tried it yet, but watch this space.

Regular breaks

This might feel like more procrastination, but at my age I have to get off my arse every hour or so, if not more. If I’m working from home there’s always a bit of washing to put on, a dishwasher to empty, some vacuuming to do. Getting up and moving around gets my blood flowing and it’s a good way to let the brain take a breather, and it often leads to solutions to story problems. And of course nothing beats a good walk…

From one of my very productive walks… Yes, this is work!!

But doesn’t all that interruption break into my concentration…? Well, I have a thing for that too…

End mid-sentence

Whenever I take a break, and especially at the end of the day, I try to end either in mid-sentence or in the middle of an incomplete scene. This means that when I resume work I’m not faced with a blank page or fresh chapter to start. I just need to polish off what I was working on yesterday. I’ll often leave myself a note along the lines of, “You were thinking this, and this thing was going to happen next.” That’s usually all I need to get started and before I know it I’m up and running and ready to tackle the next chapter.

Similarly, if I ever get stuck I’ll go back and rewrite or edit the pages running up to the moment of stickiness. This run-up usually gives me the momentum I need to break through the sticky bit and keep going.

Prepare to change

Here’s the thing. What worked for me two years ago, doesn’t necessarily work for me now. I’ve never written a script or a book the same way twice. I’m always looking to shake things up. I think the day I think I’ve got it all figured out is the day to give it up.

Bonus tip: Back up your work

Every day. Back up your work to a dongle, a cloud, email yourself — whatever it takes to ensure that your magnum opus isn’t sat on a device that will inevitably crash and die. There’s no “maybe” about this. Tech dies every day and often without warning. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and that’s horrible, but you can and should take steps to avoid it.

The 3-2-1 back up rule is best: keep three copies of your data, two on different storage media and one off-site.

I hope this was helpful. We talk about this more on this episode of the Bestseller Experiment.

And do please leave your own tips and comments tips below

Are you looking for feedback on your novel or screenplay? sending to agents? I offer all kinds of services for writers at all stages in their careers. There are more details here and get in touch now for a free ten minute Skype consultation and a quote.

The End of Magic challenge, week 17 – Where The Hell Have I Been??

On 9th July I made a big ol’ public declaration to sell a thousand copies of my fantasy novel The End of Magic by Christmas, and I promised to keep folks in the loop with the ups and downs of sales and marketing with a weekly update.

A few caveats…

  • I can only do this in the USA… Unbound have the UK rights and I have no visibility on sales other than the twice yearly statements.
  • I’m going to stick with Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
  • I’ll be counting both Kindle and Paperback sales.
  • Here’s week seventeen!

The more observant of you may have noticed a lack of updates in the last… ooh, let’s see… TWO MONTHS?!

What happened? Where have I been?

A few days after my last update, I got a long-awaited email from my lovely agent Ed Wilson. He had read the draft of my new book… and he had notes. Lots of notes. All good stuff that I was keen to get my teeth into, so I dug in and got started. On top of that I was also working on…

Those are my excuses and I’m sticking to them. But seriously, the book rewrites have been soaking up almost all of my time and energy. It’s been hard work, but I think it’s been worth it. The book is with a beta reader now, which might mean a bit more tweaking before it goes back to my agent, but the bulk of the work is done before it goes out on submission (I hope).

So what happens when you don’t do a single bit of marketing for two whole months? This… this happens…

Hmm. It’s almost as if Amazon has rigged it so that if you don’t spend ad money you won’t sell any books… hmm.

What to do now? Do I call it quits and focus on the next thing? That’s tempting. There are only forty days till Christmas. I’ve sold 137 copies and I need to sell 863 copies – that’s about 21 copies per day. It ain’t gonna happen.

But… dagnammit, I worked too bloody hard on this book to give up on it now, and it’s a good book. I get genuinely good reviews from readers. One big lesson from promoting Back to Reality earlier this year is that throwing money at Amazon does, sadly, work. We sold over a thousand copies in six months and we did that by spending about a grand on ads, which gave us visibility and momentum and it improved our ‘also boughts’ on Amazon, which is crucial. And we’ve not spent a penny since and we’re still selling a few copies every day at full price because of that momentum and visibility, so we’ve almost made all that money back.

Also, the option was renewed on my TV thing, so I have a bit of cash to splash.

Screw it. I’m going on an ad spending frenzy. I know not everyone can do this, but I’m running out of time. Let’s see what damage a grand can do between now and Christmas. Hold on to your hats, folks. There will be an update next week!

If you would like to help, then please do any of the following:

Buy a copy here in the US, or here in the UK

Tell your friends about the book

Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Author Advances, Earning Out and Royalties explained…

There’s been all kinds of scuttlebutt online regarding a blog piece by the author Heather Demetrious on how she burned through book advances of several hundred thousand dollars and ended up back working in a day job. I’m simplifying her story massively here, so do give it a read.

It’s a fascinating and honest piece, for which she has received all kinds of sneering abuse online, most surprisingly from other authors. At the root of this is an assumption that she should have known what an advance was, how royalties work, and have an understanding of publishing practices that, frankly, are a bit weird and arcane.

Publishing is an industry that has been slow to progress in many ways. It’s still very white and middle/upper class, and the people you work with will assume you’ve been to the same private schools and universities and that we all read the trade magazines and publishing news feeds.

And, like me and Heather, if you come from a working class background you can throw in a feeling of imposter syndrome when you mix with publishing types. And that can mean you’re afraid to ask even the most basic questions. Here’s the thing…

NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK A STUPID QUESTION

Also…

DON’T STOP ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS UNTIL YOU GET ANSWERS THAT MAKES SENSE

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Einstein

Here for you, dear reader, is a quick rundown of some of the terminology associated with publishing advances…

An Advance

This is a sum of money paid to an author in advance of the publication of the book. It is usually paid in three stages: on signing the contract, on delivery of the manuscript, and on publication.

It is NOT a salary.

Payment will come through your agent (if you have one) and they will deduct their commission, which can be from 10-20%.

Then, like all income, you will have to pay tax on what remains. If, like me, you’re baffled by taxes I would advise getting financial advice to help with your tax return.

Here’s the big thing to bear in mind… You will not receive any further money from the publisher until your advance has been “earned out”. So what the hell does that mean?

Earning Out

Think of your advance as a debt to the publisher. If they’ve given you ten thousand pounds in advance, you need to pay that ten grand back before they give you any more in royalties (we’ll come to those in a minute).

How do you do that? Simple. Sell enough books to cover the advance. Ideally, you should do that in the first twelve months after publication.

This is harder than you might think. If books are going to sell they need to be marketed and promoted and that will mean heavy discounting. If your eBook is selling for 99p in Kindle promotions it will take longer to earn out that advance. If your eBook is on sale for £9.99 and not being promoted then the chances are it’s not selling that many copies at all.

You see the problem here.

Very few books earn out in the first twelve months after publication.

But let’s say you do – woohoo! – now it’s time to earn some…

Royalties

These are the payments you earn from book sales once you have earned out your advance. They are usually paid twice a year.

Yes.

Twice a year.

Not monthly, like a salary.

Twice a bloody year.

And the payment will be accompanied by the most baffling document in written history: The Royalty Statement.

Ask your agent (or, if you don’t have an agent, contact the Society of Authors) to explain what it all means, and make sure they check it because it will almost certainly be wrong. My agent discovered an error in my last statement with VAT payments on eBooks and got me an additional £300.

Twice a year.

Bastards.

THE CURSE OF THE BIG ADVANCE

Advances are changing. It used to be a spectrum based on predicted sales, now it’s all or nothing: huge advances or piddly little ones. Publishers used to be a bit rubbish at predicting sales, because it was usually done solely by the editor based on little more than their enthusiasm for the book. While this was all very admirable, it wasn’t terribly scientific and led to huge advances for authors who had no bloody chance of earning out. For example…

Case Study 1: Debut author of a literary fiction masterpiece gets half a million quid for world rights in advance for a book that the editor is head-over-heels in love with. The book gets some buzz, but ultimately fails to sell more than a few thousand copies. That author now has a ton of red ink in their profit and loss statement. The author still has the advance (yay!), but the publisher now sees them as an expensive loss and writes them off. The next book is either rejected, or the advance is tiny in comparison to book one. The author’s career never recovers.

These days the advances are calculated by an unholy cabal of sales, editorial, rights, production and marketing and they’ve become a lot better at using data to predict sales. And their predictions err on the cautious.

But… this does mean that if they’re willing to give you a big advance that they’re far more more confident that it will earn out. For example…

Case Study 2: Debut author of a commercial thriller gets half a million quid for world rights in advance for a book that the editor is head-over-heels in love with. Because the sales, rights and marketing departments were involved in calculating the advance they are more engaged when they sell it in. The buzz is great, and the rights are sold all over the world, including the movie rights. A miracle! This means the book has earned out its advance before it’s even published! Every book sold will earn the author a royalty and for the next deal they will be able to to negotiate a higher advance. Hurrah!

The above is an unusual outcome, but it does happen. Publishers need a handful of these every year, otherwise they would go out of business.

However, here’s what most deals are like these days…

Case Study 3: Debut author of a genre book gets a few grand for world rights in advance for a book that the editor is head-over-heels in love with. Because the sales, rights and marketing departments were involved in calculating the advance they are more engaged when they sell it in, but… they also have that commercial thriller with the big advance at the top of their priority list, so they give less attention to the genre book with the small advance. The author has to work harder to get publicity and marketing, they pay out of their own pocket to go to festivals, and have to write the second book while holding down a day job and bringing up a family. The rights are sold to France and Germany for a small amount. No one buys the film rights. But… after twelve months the book earns out and over five to ten years the author slowly builds a profitable and credible career.

No one said this would be easy, and you should not give up on your dream of becoming a full-time author, but the odds are it will be a long journey with all kinds of ups and downs. My advice is to keep writing and never, ever be afraid to ask for advice. Speaking of which…

Need advice?

I’ve worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years and I offer all kinds of bespoke services for writers, from reader reports to full edits. Drop me a line here for a free consultation.

The End of Magic challenge, week 10 – Sales, glorious sales!

On 9th July I made a big ol’ public declaration to sell a thousand copies of my fantasy novel The End of Magic by Christmas, and I promised to keep folks in the loop with the ups and downs of sales and marketing with a weekly update.

A few caveats…

  • I can only do this in the USA… Unbound have the UK rights and I have no visibility on sales other than the twice yearly statements.
  • I’m going to stick with Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
  • I’ll be counting both Kindle and Paperback sales.
  • Here’s week ten!

Blessed be fantasy author Michael R Miller, for it is he who broke my duck, popped my sales cherry, rang my bell, and gave me water after the longest drought. In other words, Michael was kind enough to include my book in his latest newsletter and got me a dozen or sales this week…

More proof, if we needed it, that the key to publishing success is to get your book onto a more successful friend’s newsletter. And hey, if you love fantasy or LitRPG then check out Michael’s stuff, because he’s amazing and he even started his own publishing house!

This was part of a week-long 99c/99p promotion, so these aren’t massively profitable sales, but they have got the momentum going again which is half the battle. I did ask Unbound, my UK publisher, to drop the price to 99p for the same period. They dropped it to 92p for about three days and then put it back to £1.87. I’m sure there’s some solid gold logic to this, but for the moment it escapes me.

You may recall in last week’s update that I was sinking in the search results. When you typed in “The End of Magic” on Amazon I was coming fourth and below the line…

To combat this I started a KDP campaign focusing solely on winning back that search result and I’m delighted top announce that after a week I am in fact… still fourth… But I swear that just a few days ago I was second! Really! I think this is an ongoing battle that may never end, but it has got me a few sales…

I think I’ll keep this campaign simmering away on the background as it might prove to be more profitable over time.

I also dipped back into David Gaughran’s excellent book Strangers to Superfans to get some inspiration, and I realised it was time to give The End of Magic’s blurb a bit of a refresh. For this I went to the wonderful BXP Group* on Facebook for their feedback and I was not disappointed. Their advice was considered and incredibly helpful.

*For those who don’t know, the BXP Group is a closed group exclusive to Chart Topper patrons of the Bestseller Experiment podcast. It’s a small group of really engaged writers who are now getting deals, bestsellers and awards and they really are the nicest, smartest bunch of people you’ll meet online.

Here’s the new blurb…

… and I’m still getting feedback from the group, so there will be further tweaks. Again, I think this is something that will need constant attention.

Another bit of good news is that I finally got a new customer review on Amazon USA…

Short and sweet – thank you, Tiffany!

That takes my total to 7 reviews with an average of 4.6/5. I still need more, so if you’re in the US and have enjoyed the book, do please leave a few words. It makes all the difference to the book’s visibility.

In the UK I now have 29 reviews with an average of 4.8/5. And many thanks to David H for this magnificent review…

The only disappointment this week has been the massive drop in Kindle Unlimited page reads…

Only 14… I had nearly 800 last week

Again, visibility is the key to upping these, so I need more reviews and more sales generally.

Here’s a summary of last week’s sales…

Kindle units sold: 19

POD Paperbacks: 0

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 14

Royalty: $5.95

Advertising spend total: £4.94

And here’s the running total…

Kindle units sold: 112

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 10,839

Royalty: $52.93

Advertising spend total (since 9th July): $468.94 (and £105.81 in GBP)

AMS: $108.73

Bookbub: $272.70

Still 888 units to go!

That’s 9 a day between now and Christmas.

Thanks again for all your messages of support and to everyone who’s bought the book or spread the word.

If you would like to help, then please do any of the following:

Buy a copy here in the US, or here in the UK

Tell your friends about the book

Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads.

I’ve just finished with a client on a writing project and now have a slot available on my writing services schedule. If you’re looking for feedback on your novel or screenplay, or maybe you just need a second opinion on that submission letter that you’re sending to agents, I offer all kinds of services for writers at all stages in their careers. There are more details here.

Did you know I offer feedback for writers…?

Readers reports, mentoring and more. Check it out here…

Writing Goals… Do They Work?

I set some writing goals at the beginning of the year and jotted them down in my diary on January 1st…

For those of you who can’t read my scribble (ie: everyone), they are…

  • Launch The End of Magic and get it to as many readers as possible
  • Relaunch and sell 10k copies of Back to Reality by Glastonbury weekend
  • Self-Publish one or more of the Woodville books
  • Find a publisher for Interstellar Mega Blaster

Have I reached them? Sort of… Well… no…

The End of Magic had a great start and is ticking along very nicely in the UK. A fab launch, great reviews and it topped quite a few Amazon charts. I’ve set myself a target to sell a thousand copies in the USA by the end of the year and it’s been tough so far.

Back to Reality didn’t hit 10k, but we did sell over a thousand copies and it’s given the book momentum.

I have finished the first of my Woodville novels (a series about three witches in a Kent village in the Second World War: think Bedknobs and Broomsticks meets Pratchett’s Witches), and I’ve started the second, and I was all set to self-publish, but my wonderful agent read it and it made him cry on the tube (twice… in a good way) and he wants a shot at selling it. He calls it “commercial gold dust”, which is nice.

And Interstellar Mega Blaster is my middle grade science fiction adventure, which has had a few encouraging rejections. All par for the course.

The more astute of you will note that I’ve not achieved any of these goals (so far). Does this mean I’ve failed? Heck, no.

Goals aren’t immovable objects like Stonehenge. You can shift them, squeeze them and even toss them away. And no, that’s not cheating.

Really, it isn’t. Okay, you might reasonably ask, What’s the point in setting goals if you’re just going to keep moving them? Well, if you’re like me, they’re what get you out of bed in the morning to start writing. They’re aspirations, dreams, and even if we fall short we’re still ahead of bugger-all, which is what we started with.

One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned on the Bestseller Experiment podcast is that setting a clear goal, a definite deadline, and making a public declaration are the most effective things you can do to boost your writing.

Be ready for real life to give you a swift kick in the nadgers every now and then, and be just as ready to pounce on the new opportunities that come along, too. Set a goal. Today.

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Do you have a writing goal? Tell me about it and maybe I can help you make it happen.

I offer all kinds of bespoke services for writers, from reader reports to full edits. Drop me a line here for a free consultation.

I’m at the Westgate Literary Festival This Saturday…

Just a reminder that I’m at the Westgate Literary Festival on Saturday. More details here…

More Than One Way To Get Published with Mark Stay

Saturday 14th September, 4pm

Christchurch URC, Church Hall Room 1Westgate Bay Avenue, Westgate

 Join Mark as he talks about his fantasy writing, podcasting, filmmaking and 25 years in bookselling and publishing. He will reveal the secrets of Amazon and you will discover so many of the Bestseller Experiments’ listeners now have successful careers as writers.

Tickets £6 here

The End of Magic challenge week 9, War of the Keywords

On 9th July I made a big ol’ public declaration to sell a thousand copies of my fantasy novel The End of Magic by Christmas, and I promised to keep folks in the loop with the ups and downs of sales and marketing with a weekly update.

A few caveats…

  • I can only do this in the USA… Unbound have the UK rights and I have no visibility on sales other than the twice yearly statements.
  • I’m going to stick with Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
  • I’ll be counting both Kindle and Paperback sales.
  • Here’s week nine!

A busy week of writing for me, which means I’ve only had one eye on the challenge, so all that’s really happened is a continued trickle of newsletter subscribers thanks to the StoryOrigin promo (which you should definitely check out if you’re a fantasy fan – so many free books!)

However, I did notice something disturbing... You may recall that in last week’s update I was pondering whether or not to return to Amazon ads to boost sales of The End of Magic. By mid-morning that day I had pretty much decided against it, but a few days later I decided to check where I was coming in the search results on Amazon.

I opened a new tab, switched on my VPN and connected as if I was in the USA, typed “The End of Magic” into the Amazon search bar, and this is what came up…

Fourth! Bloody fourth! That’s below the line, too, so if the searcher can’t be bothered to scroll down (and few do) then I’m completely lost! I have to win the War of the Keywords. And how do you do that…?

Bloody Amazon ads.

It’s almost – almost! – as if the whole system is rigged to make you pay for Amazon ads. Hmm.

So I ran a keywords report on Publisher Rocket and I’m now running ads at $2-per-day to see if I can get back to the top of the search results. Grr. I’ve only been running them for a couple of days, so nothing yet. Even the KU page reads are drying up…

Here’s a summary of last week’s sales…

Kindle units sold: 0

POD Paperbacks: 0

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 788

Royalty: $0

Advertising spend total: £2.86

And here’s the running total…

Kindle units sold: 98

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 10,825

Royalty: $46.98

Advertising spend total (since 9th July): $464.00 (and £105.81 in GBP)

AMS: $102.78

Bookbub: $272.70

Still 902 units to go!

That’s 8 a day between now and Christmas.

Thanks again for all your messages of support and to everyone who’s bought the book or spread the word.

If you would like to help, then please do any of the following:

Buy a copy here in the US, or here in the UK

Tell your friends about the book

Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Oh, and I’ve just finished with a client on a writing project and now have a slot available on my writing services schedule. If you’re looking for feedback on your novel or screenplay, or maybe you just need a second opinion on that submission letter that you’re sending to agents, I offer all kinds of services for writers at all stages in their careers. There are more details here.

The End of Magic challenge, week 8 – Giveaways and Group Promos

On 9th July I made a big ol’ public declaration to sell a thousand copies of my fantasy novel The End of Magic by Christmas, and I promised to keep folks in the loop with the ups and downs of sales and marketing with a weekly update.

A few caveats…

  • I can only do this in the USA… Unbound have the UK rights and I have no visibility on sales other than the twice yearly statements.
  • I’m going to stick with Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
  • I’ll be counting both Kindle and Paperback sales.
  • Here’s week eight!

Not a huge amount to report this week, but a quick update on how last week’s Joe Abercrombie giveaway went, and how the StoryOrigin group promo is going.

You may recall that I had read and enjoyed my ARC/Proof copy of the new Joe Abercrombie novel A Little Hatred. Rather than let the proof languish on the shelf, I ordered a copy of the book from Waterstones, and decided to give the proof away as part of a newsletter giveaway. A simple deal: sign up to my newsletter and you’re in with a chance of winning the proof. Boosted by retweets from Joe and Gollancz I was able to gain over a hundred new subscribers in just a week. Once I announced the winner at the weekend, I lost fifteen of those, but such is the cut and thrust of these sort of newsletter giveaways.

Last Thursday saw the launch of a StoryOrigin group promotion designed to attract more newsletter subscribers. The way it works is a bunch of authors in a similar genre offer a free short story each to entice readers to sign up. All of the authors plug the promotion via their channels and we all gain a few new subscribers. Since the launch on Thursday I’ve gained 68 new subscribers…

And if you fancy reading the short story yourself you can get it here.

And hey, if you like fantasy you should check it out. There’s something for everyone: high fantasy, grimdark, romance and even big cats wearing bras. Yes, really. No judgment here. Click on the banner for more…

Has all this resulted in a sudden boost in sales…? Er… no… Once again, this week has been a blank…

I have had a few more KU page reads though…

And I now have a chunk of new fantasy fans who might just like my book enough to buy it. However, I can’t just start bombarding them with BUY MY BOOK emails. I need to give them fun and engaging content to reassure them that they’ve made the right decision.

What’s next? The StoryOrigin promo runs until September 27th, so that should keep the trickle of new subscribers coming, and I’ve also enrolled in a Kindle Unlimited one that starts in early October. However, none of these are driving sales in the here and now. There’s a part of me that wants to go back to Amazon AMS ads. I know they’re a money pit, but I was getting sales and the book was more visible. Will I succumb to the temptation…?? Should I?? Tune in next week!

Here’s a summary of last week’s sales…

Kindle units sold: 0

POD Paperbacks: 0

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 960

Royalty: $0

Advertising spend total: £0

And here’s the running total…

Kindle units sold: 98

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 10,037

Royalty: $46.98

Advertising spend total (since 9th July): $464.00 (and £105.81 in GBP)

AMS: $99.92

Bookbub: $272.70

Still 902 units to go!

That’s almost 8 a day between now and Christmas.

Thanks again for all your messages of support and to everyone who’s bought the book or spread the word.

If you would like to help, then please do any of the following:

Buy a copy here in the US, or here in the UK

Tell your friends about the book

Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads like these lovely people…

I still only have six reviews on Amazon.com (the US site). They’re good ones, for which I’m very grateful, but ideally I need at least 20+. I like my reviews to grow organically and they have to be honest, so if you’re American and have read The End of Magic a few kind and honest words will go a long way.

If you have any thoughts or comments on what I might be doing wrong, do please leave them below! Until next week…