Tuesday, January 28, 2014

So the launch has gone ahead, its achieved it's main aim and suddenly I am a published Author.

Now I needed to chase those reviews. Orchestrating the 'Golden hour' is a double edged sword. Theoretically I had got all the people I knew to download a copy of Russian Redemption free. It achieved what I wanted but in doing so I had given away my e-book, no royalties there then. The second blow was discovering that downloading a free copy does not constitute having an 'active account', you need to actually purchase something for it to qualify. And only people with 'active' accounts can leave reviews. Dammit!

But that didn't matter, my book was 'out there' and so it was only a matter of time before the sales started rolling in, royalties coming out of my armpits and Brad Pitt knocking on my door asking for the lead role in the film that Quentin Tarantino is making called 'Russian Redemption'. Err nope, it didn't happen like that at all, and to be fair I didn't expect it to (but it wudda been nice!).

Somewhere back I went on about patience, and my lack of them (getting better). But I had done a lot of learning over the preceding few months. Now it was time to do a bit more planning.

My strategy was (and still is) to lift the website traffic. To do that I needed to keep the website fresh, something to bring people back time and time again. I came up with lots of idea's; those reviews from the free download people that I couldn't use on Amazon, I collected and created a 'Reviews' page. Using Facebook as main media for communication I would post every update or added review. By writing short 'character snippets' I introduced the main characters of the book, one at a time. Again, utilizing FaceBook as the main media.to announce these additions. I've got lots of other ideas for growing the website which will hopefully roll out over time. My 'FaceBook Friends' also increased, as did the "twitter' followers - nothing startling BUT the numbers started (and continue) to move in the right direction. Each of these people are a possible customer, or a possible advertisement, or both.
Then, one of those real fist pump moments came along, I took delivery of my own order of fifty copies of Russian Redemption. It was so surreal, opening the box and just staring at fifty tangible, professional looking paperbacks. And I had orders waiting. To quote a phrase from Bad Boy's 2 - "This shit just got real".

Experienced authors would probably tell me to never watch the numbers, but I can't not. I suppose I was still looking for justification or acknowledgement that Russian Redemption was of a reasonable standard. Make no mistake I loved the book, but it wouldn't be the first time that I have been accused of 'unusual taste'. So I did watch the numbers, I saw the ranking bounce up and down around the 90,000 all the way up to 1.8 million, and then back down to 78,000. I believe there is about 13 million e-books on Amazon so at least I was in the top half, and that was ok with me. I can't make any real sense as to what drives these numbers because it isn't all about what your book does - but I do know that when my position jumps up I feel good, and the opposite when it takes a dive. I'm going to explain more about those 'numbers' in another post so hang tight.

As I learnt more about FaceBook and websites I expanded my website again, introducing an e-commerce page. (Marketing tip, give three options for purchase but bundle the middle one best, this is the one you want people to take. Make it slightly more expensive than option one but with obviously more quality. "well I may as well spend an extra couple of dollars and get that one...". Theoretically you could apply the same strategy for option three, but it just doesn't seem to work the same.)

It also became apparent that more avenues to market had to be discovered, this was a case of getting a drip feed from as many avenues as possible as I couldn't discover one avenue that gave me lots of feed. I'd got a lot better with managing FaceBook, and the website was at a point where it only required 'maintenance'. I read lots about various other places but I was struggling with 'FREE' options. I think that's when I decided it was time to look at a blog option, and a month later here I am. And I've already mentioned Pinterest.

Here's a thing that probably explains the importance of a slow and steady strategy; One of the Amazon Top Reviewers was too busy to review my book - totally understandable. By coincidence a month or so later this same person had a brief conversation with me, and a few dozen other people, on one of Amazon's forums. He'd made a comment in response to an unfounded accusation that "..reviewers had an important part to play in the success of a book.." and he is quite right. He informed the forum that he received up to sixteen emails a day from Authors wanting him to review their books. I pointed out that I was one of those sixteen a day and that I understood. Something about the conversation obviously registered with him because the following day he informed me that he'd bought my book with view to giving me feedback. A sale AND a review. Slow and steady pays off.

I've also started looking at National and International book competitions. I was really surprised at the cost of entering some of these so be cautious. And it's not always just about winning. I entered Russian Redemption in the Wishing Shelf Independent Awards for a number of reasons a) It was primarily an 'Indie/SP' Authors competition b) Submission was requested in PDF, I didn't have to supply a number of copies at my expense c) If you got through the first crop then you would get 20 reviews from established reading groups, in your particular genre, that go up on Amazon, Goodreads and other sites. In my book that represented damn good value for NZD$45.

As it happens my book flew threw the first crop so I get those reviews regardless.

So what now, oh there is lots to do, and still lots to tell. My thought process is very simplistic, as long as I keep driving the activity and increasing the awareness of ajwilsonbooks and Russian Redemption then I'm moving forward, and as long as I'm moving forward I will achieve my next goal. My second book is coming along nicely and Judi and I will partnering again for it's development, same rules apply, staged payments, staged release. But it will be launched in the manner that the first one should have been launched. I will keep you informed of the progress of that book.

Oh, one other quick marketing tip - subliminal suggestion - You'll notice that 'Russian Redemption' is highlighted as a link. The 'secret' is that it is in a different colour, it stands out from the page. Manage to get it to stand out three times in quick succession and apparently most brains will register it by default. Just a tip .

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