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.

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.

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.

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…

The End of Magic challenge, week 7 – Bloggers and giveaways

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 seven!

The big change in strategy has been to stop with the expensive ads on Facebook, Bookbub and Amazon and instead to build my readership. And that means bulking up my newsletter and getting bloggers to review my book to drive a little buzz.

I started by looking online at other authors’ blog tours. Both Mike Shackle and Edward Cox have had recent blog tours with their new books – both of which are similar enough to mine – and they posted these handy images with the details of the bloggers…

I spent a day visiting the websites of these bloggers, finding out how they accept submissions (they all do it differently) and dropping them a line.

I also did a small blog tour when The End of Magic was launched in the UK in February and I got in touch with a couple of bloggers who had offered to review, but hadn’t posted anything. Immediately, I got a result…

The good news is I’ve had some very positive responses from the other bloggers I contacted. A few weren’t taking reviews (despite the Ed Cox and Mike Shackle blog tours… but that’s what a big publisher gets you!), and a Grimdark blog had the cheek to tell me that it wasn’t for their readers (!!).

When will these reviews go live…? God knows. A few of them post their TBR piles online and they’re swamped. I’ve told them I’ll be happy with anything between now and Christmas.

Next on my list was to start building my newsletter numbers. I was lucky enough to get a proof of the new Joe Abercrombie novel from my friends at Gollancz. I loved it, said so on Twitter, and got a great response from fellow fantasy fans. I had finished with the proof, so I could give it to a charity shop, maybe? Or… I could give it away online to people who subscribe to my newsletter!

This wasn’t officially sanctioned by the publisher, but I have a copy of the hardcover on order from Waterstones, so I figured what the hell, created the giveaway and added the Tweet to my original review…

Joe retweeted the giveaway without any prompting from me and the result at the time of writing has been…

… which is nice. Lots of new fantasy fans who might be looking for something read after Joe’s book.

To be in with a chance of getting your hands on it, simply sign up to my newsletter here before 23:59 UK time on Saturday 31st AugustFull terms and conditions are here. Good luck!

After last week’s FB video (did you know I also put a video version of these blogs on my FB author page…?) Sam Missingham – my guardian angel of marketing – got in touch to tell me about Story Origin, who run book and newsletter swaps for indie authors, much like Bookfunnel, though, unlike Book Funnel, Story Origin are currently FREE.

Rather than just fill out the form I interviewed Story Origin’s founder Evan Gow for the podcast to find out how it all works. It should go live as an exclusive for our Patreon supporters next week.

The interview inspired me to get started, and I’ve been accepted for a group promo. This means I give away my short story – How Drust Krax Lost Two Fingers – as part of a group of similar authors to gain newsletter subscribers. It starts on Thursday, so I’ll report back on how it went next week.

Sam Missingham also featured me on her first webinar for The Empowered Author last week. It was a fun session, discussing book sales and marketing and this very quest, and I’ll post a link to the Youtube video when it goes live. Thanks, Sam! Once again, if you’re an author and you’re not following Sam on Twitter or The Empowered Author, you’re really missing out.

I also realised that I hadn’t let my Unbound supporters know about this. 279 gorgeous and wonderful people supported The End of Magic on Unbound and I’m able to contact them via the book’s dashboard. I rattled off a message asking them to spread the word and maybe leave a review on Amazon/Goodreads. These posts are sent via email and need to be review by Unbound and we’ve just had a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, so it probably won’t go out for a couple of days, but I’m hoping a few of them might say something nice online.

So, how many sales have been driven by all this hard work? Drumroll, please…

Well, no one said this would be a get-rich-quick scheme… but none of my efforts last week will have the immediate impact of, say, an expensive Bookbub ad. I’m planting seeds, folks, planting seeds…

The KU page reads are up and down…

I did get some good advice from my friend Ian W Sainsbury over on FB and here’s the conversation we had…

He’s absolutely right, of course. This is something we discovered when pushing Back to Reality this year. You need a series to really make this work. And, as I’ve hinted at there, I am working on a brand new series.

I also got a couple more wonderful five-star reviews on Amazon UK…

Those both truly made my day… But I’m still stuck on 6 reviews in the US…

Honestly, with whom must I copulate to get a review in the States?? (Not that I’m desperate or anything).

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

Kindle units sold: 2

POD Paperbacks: 0

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 489

Royalty: $4.06

Advertising spend total: £0

And here’s the running total…

Kindle units sold: 98

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 9077

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 a little over 7 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 still only have six reviews on Amazon.com. 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…

The End of Magic challenge, week 6

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 six!

Not much to report this week as I was mostly at Worldcon in Dublin, but a Facebook ad with a video was running in that time (here it is)…

… and here are the resulting sales…

Not a sausage! And here’s the FB ad analysis…

Well, that’s thirty-four quid I won’t be seeing again!

There are no quick fixes here. I’ll look at the ad and see how I can improve it, but I’m losing faith in the ads approach. I spent much of yesterday contacting bloggers to review the book, and I’ll continue to do that today. Reviews and word-of-mouth are essential for a book like this, and it’s working already…

A big thank you to Andy at ebookwyrm for that!

And I was over the moon to get this review on Amazon UK from the wonderfully-monikered Masked Marauder…

Here’s a summary of last week’s “sales” (note the air quotes!)

Kindle units sold: 0

POD Paperbacks: 0

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 1023

Royalty: $0

Advertising spend total: £34.77 (Facebook)

Yes, some folks are still reading it on KU, which is nice…

And here’s the running total…

Kindle units sold: 96

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 8588

Royalty: $42.92

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

AMS: $99.92

Bookbub: $272.70

Still 904 units to go!

That’s a little over 6 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 still only have six reviews on Amazon.com. 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…

The End of Magic challenge, week 3

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 three!

Oh dear… oh deary dear… I somewhat dropped the ball this week. In my defence, I’m on holiday and have been mostly reading and napping. I highly recommend it for one’s mental health, but it’s not conducive to sales.

For those of you keeping track, I had intended to try a little more advertising last week with a Bookbub campaign aimed at both the US and the UK to drive visibility. There was a hitch however. When checking my links I got this when checking Apple Books…

Oh, bugger…

I got straight on to Unbound, my UK publisher, who promised to fix it, but it took them nearly a week to do so (it was sorted overnight last night). It was, if you’re interested, a “a playorder error in the toc.ncx document in the epub”. So there.

This delay — along with the reading and napping — meant there was no targeted advertising activity from me this week, apart from the tick-tock of AMS ads. Once again, the VE Schwab ad got me a couple of sales…

However, I did continue to get a few residual sales which I suspect came from the book’s inclusion in the newsletters of the wonderful Ian Sainsbury and Andi Cumbo Floyd.

Here are last week’s sales…

Nine… Nine!!

Not great. The peak came from Ian re-sending his email. I also got a few extra followers on my newsletter, which is very handy. On the upside, the KEDP page reads are still on the rise…

By my reckoning a fair few KU readers got through the book this week…

What’s next? Well, I suspect next week will be similarly flaccid as I’m still on holiday and still reading and napping (really, it’s a fantastic way to live), though I do still have a squeeze page on my to do list. More on that next time. Maybe. If I can get out of the reading/napping cycle.

Here’s a summary of last week’s sales

Kindle units sold: 9

POD Paperbacks: 0

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 2349

Royalty: $3.15

Advertising spend total: $12.35

AMS: $12.35

Bookbub: $0.00

And here’s the running total…

Kindle units sold: 65

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 3151

Royalty: $28.01

Advertising spend total (since 9th July): $233.59

AMS: $35.90

Bookbub: $197.69

A piffling 935 units to go!

That’s a little over 6 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

Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads (this new review just went live on Amazon UK and made my day!)

Tell your friends about the book

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

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 1

Last week 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 one!

I’m starting from a position of very few sold already, so my also boughts on Amazon at the start of the week were basically Back to Reality and a handful of self-pubbed fantasy compilations. Not much to give me a clue as to where I should target my campaign. However, there was a VE Schwab title in my also boughts, and one of the USPs of The End of Magic is that it’s a stand-alone.

I fired-up Publisher Rocket to generate a few keywords and started putting together a couple of campaigns to test the water. 

First up was the VE Schwab, which seemed straightforward enough. I figured a quote from the lovely RJ Barker would help readers click on the buy button. So far… not a sausage…

Next was the stand-alone. I used Publisher Rocket and some lists on Goodreads to draw up a list of similar one-and-done fantasy books. And the sales…? Zip.

This was slightly dispiriting, but I realise that these ads sometimes need a little time to get going and may need tweaking. I also ran ads aimed at an indie also bought (the Flame ad with the fab James Barclay quote) and one for Terry Pratchett fans (with a great quote from Julian Barr), but again no sales.

However, I knew one place where I’d had some success with Back to Reality. The mighty Bookbub and their excellent newsletter ads!

Following the instructions as per David Gaughran’s excellent Bookbub Ads Expert, I started daily campaigns. The first two were aimed at fans of Tad Williams and Brandon Sanderson. The results were poor. Just a few clicks and a handful of sales.

Then I decided to target Terry Pratchett readers. I had an excellent quote from the wonderful Julian Barr to tempt them with… 

This seemed to do the trick! Daily sales were picking up, and I had a 1.15% CTR (click through rate), which isn’t bad (anything over 1% is deemed good). I started to run this ad on a daily basis. They peaked after a couple of days, then tailed off. By then my also boughts were improving and I noticed Marie Brennan was second only to Back to Reality, so I tried a campaign targeting her readers. No sales!

That was yesterday. Today I’ve gone back to Sir Terry.

In the meantime, I’ve also been getting great support from folks on my newsletter, on social media and listeners to the Bestseller Experiment podcast. Here’s what the daily sales are so far (that peak on 7th July is when my newsletter went out)…

And here are the Kindle Unlimited pages read…

204 in total so far

And here’s a breakdown of sales and spend so far…

Kindle units sold: 37

Kindle Unlimited Pages read: 204

Royalty: $14.14

Advertising spend total: $163.07 – that’s broken down as…

AMS: $10.65

Bookbub: $152.42

Only 963 units to go!

Let’s see, a hundred and sixty-two days till Christmas (taps calculator)… I need to sell about six copies a day to make my target. That feels do-able, though at this rate of ad spend, I could be bankrupt by Halloween.

I’ve had kind messages of support and I’ve been delighted when folks tell me they’ve bought the book, or that they’ll feature me in a newsletter. These will all help and I shall be forever grateful.

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

Buy a copy here in the USA, or here for the UK/rest of the world.

Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads

Tell your friends about the book

Buy 963 copies for your bookclub… worth a try.

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

Four things I learned from the publication of The End of Magic…

The End of Magic came out a month ago today!

And here are four essential “learnings” (ugh, what have I become?) from the last month…

A good launch is essential…

… but it’s only the start. The book had the most amazing launch week, thanks almost entirely to the gorgeous, wise and undeniably sexy people who had the foresight and canny knack of knowing-a-good-thing-when-they-see-it to support the book in its crowdfunding stage. When their copies arrived they shouted about it from the social media rooftops. Without doubt, this was the most exciting part of the whole crowdfunding experience: seeing them take ownership of the book and saying lovely things. And then one of them did this…

I mean, that is above and beyond… thanks, Jason…

They came to the book launch at Harbour Books and dressed up and made it a magical evening…

However, these good folk have lives to lead and cannot be called upon to sustain that kind of manic energy for long, and so it is left to you, the author, to continue to pimp yourself and the book for all eternity. You can only ride on the goodwill train for so long, and one of the biggest lessons learned from Back to Reality was that unless you continue to promote your book it’s in danger of sinking without a trace. Every week, new and splendid books come along to draw the eye of the reader, so how can you tome survive in the post-publication wilderness…?

You will need to pimp yourself

Unbound only publicise a few books, and I wasn’t assigned a publicist. It’s been quite sobering to be an author who can’t afford a freelance publicist (I was quoted two grand) and is left to their own devices. You’re definitely at a disadvantage. When I was published by Gollancz, you could be confident of reviews and coverage and festival slots because the magazines and websites know the terms of the unspoken deal: support our debuts and midlist authors and you’ll get the interviews with our big name authors… I had no such bargaining chip. However, I was lucky enough to know a few people and have had some great coverage in the likes of Starburst, BBC Radio Kent, and blogs, and I’ve managed to blag my way into various festivals. It can be exhausting, but it’s been worth it, leading to sales and more coverage.

I made Tweets like these with the Pixaloop app… https://www.pixaloopapp.com

Publishers will surprise you… 

A couple of weeks after publication I started getting messages from readers letting me know that The End of Magic was featured on a Bookbub newsletter. This saw me hurtling up the various Kindle fantasy charts and let to this little moment of happiness…

Not only that, but I was a Hot New Release (stop sniggering at the back)… and I was riding high in a number of other charts, too. Momentum was building and I had a clutch a really good customer reviews. Then…

Publishers will screw-up…

I’m planning to self-publish the book in the USA. My agent and I discussed this before we signed the contract with Unbound and I wanted to experiment with self-publishing and Amazon ads over in good old United States of America Land, and I was planning to do this after the Unbound edition had been published in the UK.

However, I got a message from a reader in New York telling me that I had been featured in an Amazon.com mailing. I checked and he was right: my book was available for sale in the US. Tut-tut, but these things happen and I dropped Unbound a line asking them to update the metadata on their feed to remove the book from sale in America.

Which they promptly did. And then someone must have ticked the wrong box, because it all disappeared from the UK, too.

For nearly 24 hours the eBook wasn’t available in the UK. I plummeted down the fantasy charts and all that great momentum was lost.

Such is life. To be fair to Unbound, these things are easily done and they responded rapidly… Ah well, easy come, easy go. 

Oh, and they put one of the chapters in the wrong place…

That was a fun weekend…

But, again, they fixed it fast and that’s all cool, but these little blips can test your nerves. Luckily I have years of experience with these kinds of screw-ups and the best advice I can offer is don’t panic, get on it fast, be clear and concise when describing the problem and never, ever refer to it as a disaster. The Titanic and the Hindenburg were disasters. Something going wrong with your book online is a minor glitch in the greater history of humanity…

What’s next…?

Nothing less than the conquest of America.

Eventually.

One of the issues triggered by Unbound’s release of my book in the US is that Amazon doesn’t believe that I retained the US rights to my book and I now have to prove it, which means sending them scans of signed contracts (which I don’t have) and getting Unbound and my agent involved. It’s a right old faff, but it will get sorted eventually.

After that I shall be using the Amazon and Facebook ad skills I’ve been developing with Back to Reality to send The End of Magic up the amazon.com fantasy charts and start earning some dosh.

Again, a huge thank you to everyone who has banged the drum or left a rating or a review online. You’re all wonderful and you should know that every time you retweet, like, leave a nice review or comment, you make an author’s day and this author will never take that for granted.