Beyond FB Ads

I scheduled these promos after Facebook disabled my ad account the first time. They’d end up disabling it two more times and luckily activating it again after I emailed them asking why. They never gave me an answer but when it first happened, I figured I’d put my ad money elsewhere to the tune of $175 (from the transactions I remember).

Robin Reads: $60 (I would need to sell 161 units to break even at 0.35 royalty per book)
BargainBooksy: $80 (I would need to sell 288 units to break even)
LoveKissed: $15 (22 books sold to break even)
LitRing: $5 (14 books)
LoveKissed (NEED): $15 (22 books)
TOTAL: $175 (500 books total to break even at 35% royalty per book)

Let’s see what happens. I’m writing this around 10:50 am and will update below with the final numbers. I don’t even spend this much on my FB and AMS ads, just saying…

Verdict so far: it does NOT look good. 

Loving Ashe was supposed to be promoted on BargainBooksy at its regular price ($2.99) back in July 30, but because I had scheduled a 99 cent sale on August 14 because Robin Reads was available (and I wanted to try them out to the tune of $60 after Facebook disabled my ad account and I freaked out), it was then moved to 8/14. I also scheduled Love Kissed Author Promotions for this and with Robin Reads and Love Kissed newsletters having gone out before 10 am and with only 28 sales (this includes a bump in sales from my own newsletter sent out at 4am), let’s say my $60 to Robin Reads was better spent on Facebook or AMS ads on a FULL PRICED book.

Robin Reads
Love Kissed email post

Bargainbooksy just confirmed their post via email after 10 am so it remains to be seen how that does. That cost $80 and honestly, it’s money best spent on AMS and FB ads next time. Honestly, if I’m spending close to $180 in one day for these newsletter “boosts”, the only worthwhile one is really Bookbub. I could have just handed them my money and called it a day. Instead, this is a very expensive lesson learned.

Bargain Booksy listing which is placed towards the bottom of the email. Easily lost after people go through about 10 other books before they see this one.
Ranking close to 11 am

And then there’s Need, my Drazen World novella discounted to 99 cents for the month of August by Kindle Worlds (I have no control over this) and so I signed it up for Bookzio which came out today but the rank hasn’t budged so that’s a fail.

Bookzio’s email post
Ranking as of 10 am this morning. No change.

It’s going to be featured by YourNewbooks.com on 8/18 so we’ll see how that goes. That’s a free listing by the way – and this goes for Bookzio as well, courtesy of my KDROI add-on.

FINAL RESULTS ARE IN:

Amazon: $18.31 (65 sales)

D2D: $6.06

TOTAL: $24.14

Loss: -150.86

FINAL VERDICT: If I’m doing any newsletter promo, I’m better off saving for a Bookbub OR just advertising steadily every day via FB and Amazon. Also, be quiet in the forums. Don’t ruffle any feathers and keep writing and publishing more books.

Secret Project Launched

So I’m sitting here with a late cup of coffee (it’s 3 minutes to noon as I write this) because I spent the whole morning doing research for my upcoming release, managing my advertising, and editing the website and the new release for the, um… other pen name.

Yes, she released her book and it’s out there in the wilds of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited jungle. The book is sexy, smart, and made a whopping $3.43 in her first four days. It’s also 99 cents, that’s why, so royalties only amount to 35%.

Don’t feel bad for the pen name though (or do, it’s up to you) but I’m looking at this as an eye-opening exercise in starting from the beginning. Because I can’t advertise the secret pen name, said pen name has to start from scratch like she doesn’t know anyone in the business. And really, she doesn’t, which means no one knows anything about her either much like, you guessed it, any brand new author.

What this secret pen name does have is experience and lessons learned from lots of mistakes. So armed with no platform, “secret” (I might as well name her) did the following:

  1. Website
  2. Mailing List
  3. Patreon – no patrons yet because she has yet to officially launch it
  4. Facebook Page
  5. Paid a virtual assistant to “pimp” her book out to Facebook groups for a day which got her 10 Page likes on her page
  6. Paid to have her book included in a website that sells books like hers sometime in August
  7. Added her book to be promoted for free to certain newsletters starting sometime in August

What I still need to do:

  1. Write a short story as a bonus for signing up to the mailing list.
  2. Write the next two books in the trilogy so I can then bundle them together in one volume in addition to the three books sold separately.

You could say it’s How to Self-Publish and Market a Book and Build Your Author Platform… 101.

It’s actually fun minus the urgency and sense of panic I felt in the beginning of NOT having a platform and nonexistent sales. I know they will come as long as I do one thing: write more books.

Yup, it’s the same advice I hear from every successful author (not the one-hit wonders, by the way, but I’m talking about indie authors since that’s what I am) out there. Write more books. Tell more stories. Entertain your readers.

Isn’t that what storytellers do?

Third Time’s the Charm. Looks Like I’m Out.

Yup, I’m afraid I’m officially out of Facebook Advertising. My ad account got disabled for the third time in 17 days after I turned this ad set back on:

Both of these ads registered 10/10 on the relevancy scale and had good CTR and CPC numbers. And judging by the lack of sales from July 1 – 17, they also got me sales while they were running.

Maybe the people who keep telling me that someone is out to get me are right. Someone is out to get me and they’ve tagged this book as reason enough to disable my account every time.

Oh, and this time Facebook did not give me any recourse to appeal, whether on the ad itself or the disabling of the account – they didn’t even notify me that the account was disabled. The only reason I knew was because they charged Paypal for the ad balance within three minutes of submitting those ads above.

And when I received the email saying that my ad was APPROVED, it took me to the ad manager panel but its buttons are all greyed out and the user (me) is not authorized to use it. And of course, that lovely notice above.

It will probably hit me later, the full deactivation of my ad account and at this point, there’s nothing I can do unless I want to wallow in self-pity and cry, woe is me. So someone is out to get me. So I’m not going to hit my sales targets this month. It is what it is.

In the meantime, it’s back to Plan B and keep writing that book. Only I’m not writing that book…

Fussy Librarian Free Promo

Today is a free promo for Finding Sam on Fussy Librarian.

Here’s a closer look. It’s under Romance and it cost me $5 to have the title listed.

I forgot to check my stats this morning because I was busy making Ripl videos for Drazen World but while checking my aggregate stats at 1pm, I noticed that Finding Sam was ranking high in the Amazon Free Store.

And it made it to #3 in its subcategory.

Because the book is with Pronoun, I cannot see the live stats–like how many copies have been downloaded–until tomorrow. And even then, they’re SO late with reporting with so many delays so I can’t even really trust their numbers anymore. What matters is that hopefully there’s sell-through to Finding Sam Part Two and In His Heart.

You’re probably wondering why I have this book for free and aren’t I devaluing my work by doing so? Didn’t I spend a long time to write it? Isn’t it special?

Yes, it is a special book (like all my books), but like any marketing decision, I’m also looking at the long game. I mentioned “sell-through” and that means that even though Finding Sam Part One is free, I’m hoping that people will buy Part Two for $2.99 and if they really are hooked on the story more, maybe they’ll continue with In His Heart, which is Olivia and Josh’s story.

In the past, I used to give away my books for free all because the “gurus” told me it was the best way unknown authors could get discovered. Well, if you only have one book, it’s not a good marketing decision at all because once that reader gets to finish reading your book, there’s nothing else for them to buy if they like it. Worse, if you don’t have a sign-up to your mailing list at the end of the book, also called Call to Action or CTA, then they don’t really have any way to find you either. I see this all the time in new indie books and sometimes, in the second and third books they release. It’s as if they don’t want the reader to find them. The words “get to” is italicized above because sometimes people just grab the book because it’s free but it could be a year before they even crack it open to read.

However, if you have another book, a sequel–or even better, three or more books in the series–then that first book that you gave away for free is your loss leader. It’s why printers are so cheap when you buy them because companies make more money from the ink that you’ll need to use the printer.

Does that make Finding Sam Part One a loss leader? Yes, it does. And that’s okay. The story runs over 132K words and after offering it as a full book for three years, I finally decided to split it into two books. Why it took me so long I don’t know but it’s also the first time I’m actually feeling proud of it, and I mean that in a marketing mindset. I was just never ready to deal with marketing it because I dedicated it to my late best friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

Anyway, it remains to be seen what happens tomorrow. Sales have been inconsistent that I’ve given up checking on my stats. It says I sell X number of books but the sales amount doesn’t compute. It’s always less than what I’m supposed to be earning and I’ve stopped trying to figure out WHY. Just hustle harder. That’s the name of the game.

And before I go, here’s the final look before I call it a day.

 

What Pub Houses Want

Welcome to August, our exciting new category romance imprint, where characters are more seasoned in life and love. Send us heroes and heroines in their 30s and 40s who haven’t been on the dating scene since Backstreet Boys vs. ‘N Sync was a thing, Jack and Rose were king and queen of the world, and people were arguing over whether Ross and Rachel were “on a break”. The line launches in Winter 2018!

Guidelines:

  • High-concept, trope-driven stories strong on both conflict and emotion
  • Relatable characters in their 30s and 40s who put love on the backburner to launch their careers, or may be looking to start a new chapter in life
  • Word count of 45k – 65k. Novellas are considered on a case-by-case basis when tied to an existing series or as part of a specific call for submissions.
  • POV split 50/50 between the hero and heroine
  • Heat level can be mild to steamy
  • We’d love to see diverse characters!
  • Authors we love: Kristan Higgins, Roxanne St. Claire, Karen Booth, Maisey Yates
  • We accept both agented and unagented submissions.

-Via Entangled Publishing

That’s the latest call for stories featuring older characters and I thought it would be good to have it here as a guide to what the pub houses want.

Seven Days Later…

They turned my ads back on. These are the ones that I had submitted after every LA ad was disapproved for policy violations.

I almost didn’t turn any of them on but with a start of low sales as of noon today, I need to turn at least one on to see if that makes a difference. I definitely need it for the weekend but this time, the budget is lower, just $15/day. That along with ESEW boosts at $5 or so. I’ll have to raise that actually because I think it’s only $2/day which isn’t enough. I think $20/day combined would be ideal although I still have AMS ads running and that’s about $10 a day or so. They don’t really get to spend the full budget and last night, I set up two more at $15 total using KDPRocket keywords. We’ll see how that one goes to see if they’re effective or not.

I don’t think I’ll be going bat shit crazy on FB ads anymore. The realization that I was so dependent on it for sales was frightening and so right now, I have promos scheduled for the coming weeks and I’ll have to do it that way – pulse it.

And I definitely need to work on the next book and that’s the best form of advertising ever.

Not Helping

Unless you’re a full-time author who does both the writing and marketing side of things, much of what I say won’t make sense to you, the regular person who may not write or publish, or if you do, it’s more like a hobby than a career. Writing for me is a career. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do and I treat it like a business. Sometimes, too much.

As a business owner, I have my ups and downs and telling me to relax and get drunk because I’m too stressed that my biggest advertiser just pulled the rug from under me and I’m now losing sales on my book is not the way to go. It actually makes me more depressed and realize that I’m not with my people. I need to find answers, not drown in alcohol. I need to get off my butt and do something.

I’ll relax when I get shit done.

I am still pissed off over little comments here and there about my reaction over FB’s decision to flag my book because of a complaint. Or something, since I never figured out why it was flagged anyway. No matter what I do, any ads or boosted post for that series gets my account disabled. DISABLED.

There’s not even a warning.

Sure, they reinstate it the next day or two without any explanation – just an oops, it’s back up now and you can do whatever it is you were doing before we disabled it. But four days after all my ads for that series have been denied, my sales have PLUMMETED. It’s so bad it makes me cry, and spend a full day making new covers for the series in question and then put them up without consulting anybody.

NEW DESIGNS

As beautiful as these covers are, when I looked at them next to other covers in the store, it looked like everyone else’s. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing because I’m still too depressed and upset to think objectively.

Do the new covers convey a story about a barista whose life is about to be turned upside down when secrets are revealed in Loving Ashe? I don’t think so. It looks like a contemporary romance novel. Vacuous almost, and with no substance to it. No mystery. So the couple is already together. Where’s the mystery there?

As for the Loving Riley one, let’s say that this was the image that made me think it would be perfect for Loving Riley. It conveys the struggle in their relationship and I love the way he grips her wrist. There’s dominance there, albeit it’s still got a fairy tale feel to it. I had to find a second image to match this first choice, and that’s why you have the Loving Ashe cover the way it is.

One thing that I miss about the Loving Ashe cover is that while she’s pretty, it shows how vulnerable she is and when she’s not confident about her looks, the cover helps convey it. In the new version, she’s fucking fabulous. How could anyone think themselves unworthy when they look like that? So yes, there’s a disconnect but I’ve been uploading different versions of the covers on all retailers that I now have to wait until tomorrow to upload the original versions, which are below:

OLD DESIGNS (BUT WILL BE NEW AGAIN)

I know I’m being impulsive like I always become when I’m upset. The old covers are actually perfect for the story although the new ones are also beautiful even if they’re stock photos which mean everyone and their mother will have them on their books in no time. I know I have to accept that it’s an investment to buy an exclusive picture but I also understand that I have to love it. Like really, unequivocally fucking love it. But what if you don’t? Or you kinda do like it because you paid a fortune for it but you really don’t. You know you have to like it though.

I don’t know anymore. I’ll need to sleep on it even though I already know the answer. The old covers go back.

 

Cautious Optimism… With Reason

Two days ago, Facebook broke up with me. Specifically, the Ad Manager. They said my ads violated policies and turned them all off without telling me what I violated. When I created new ones, careful to make sure that I wasn’t knowingly violating anything, they disabled the Ad Manager and suddenly NO ads were running for any of my books at all.

As a romance author, it’s no joke when I say that Facebook is where most of my sales come from. I’ve seen it before I implemented FB ads (hardly-there sales) and when I did implement them (whoa! Sales!). It forces me to have one or two ads running at all times, no matter what.

The absence of the Ad Manager meant I had to look at other avenues to boost sales, and if not boost sales, increase visibility. That’s really what those ads are about anyway. Increase visibility. Sales come after.

One day later, I received an email saying they’d turned my Ad Manager back on, still with no explanation what prompted them to disable it anyway. While I can advertise my other books, LA ads are all still turned off. In fact, all my ads for ESEW were also turned off as yesterday. I suspect most of them were from campaigns that were turned off BUT the ads were still on. Precaution? Maybe, but I still can’t get any ads or boosted posts for LA approved.

Did someone complain about seeing the ads too often? Did I have so much crossover with my target audience even though FB does the targeting to make sure there is no crossover? Did I violate a policy about selling sex and prostitution, alcohol or cigarettes? Was my landing page glitchy and thus rendered unavailable?

Who knows?

I’m forced to look at my sales dashboard now as my new normal without FB ads. I still have sales, thank goodness, because of ESEW ads, but it’s no longer the same as before. Sure, I’ve got boosted posts for ESEW but LA was my main seller and has sell-through to LR, which is more important. ESEW is a standalone book until I come up with a damn follow-up.

Today, I created a new post for LA with a new image and boosted it. The ad copy is different with the same links and we’ll see what happens.

UPDATE: within ten minutes of writing this, the ad was denied and the ad account disabled. Why? I have no idea except that the book has been flagged for some blatant violation I know nothing about.

Oh well, I need to move on. Seriously.