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Alliances Hotwash Part II

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about the results of nine weeks’ worth of content building up to Alliances. Today, I’m talking about the specific goals I set for myself for this quarter (technically, we’re still in it, but I don’t anticipate much change between now and the end of the month).

My specific numbers are competition sensitive (that is, I don’t feel like sharing them!) but what I did put was the % complete of the goal I set. As you’ll see, sometimes I woefully underestimated myself, sometimes I woefully overestimated myself. But for the most part, I was pretty much right on the money.

This speaks to the importance of creating goals for yourself. When you have something to work towards, you put in time and effort every day. And soon you’ll find yourself much farther than you were before.

PART II: Metrics

 

E-Book Sales / Preorders

Total number of Alliances Preorders: 21% of goal
Number of Double Lifes downloaded (Jan-March): 103% of goal
Total number of Sage Teon Short Story Downloads: 78% of goal

Truthfully, I way overestimated how many preorders I could conjure. Even over a 9 week period (longer, in fact, over 3 months), I only was able to get to 23% of my goal. I’m really not sure there’s anything I could have done differently; this one is simply a lack of awareness for my series. Which, I still have to remind myself, I’ve been doing this for less than a year. And although I can’t totally remember how many preorders Double Life had (since it was only available on Smashwords), if memory serves, I still had a % increase from first day sales. So it’s a win.

One of the things I did not do until recently was add a link in the back of the Amazon version of DL that went straight to Alliances. Once I did that, I saw an uptick in readers buying Alliances. But I wonder how many people read Double Life and just put it down, never to pick up Book 2?

Lesson learned – put the link in the back of the book as soon as you have it.

Am I doing preorders again? Absolutely. For one thing, I don’t have to worry about uploading the book on the day it comes out. For another, as Empath is a stand-alone first book, there’s a good chance that I could get some one-off sales of people who happened on my blog. So of course, I’d like to have a place for them to purchase it. For Empath and subsequent books, I’m simply looking for an increase from how Alliances performed (25%-50%).

But I may shorten the promotional period. 9 weeks was too long. Empath is 7 weeks total promotional time – 1 week for the cover reveal mini-tour, 6 weeks for run-up promotion. I think that’s probably a good sweet spot so we don’t get annoyed with the book like I did.

The short story downloads continued to see activity, even though I don’t think I promoted them once during the period. And I ended up having to adjust DL’s total metrics to not include December, because I blew through the original goal in 24 hours. And even so, I still went over the goal. That’s good news for me, because it means my book is out there.

One of the things I don’t think I’ve done is add links to the other books at the end of the short stories. That’s on my to-do list now.

Paperback Sales

Total number of Alliances Paperbacks purchased: 85% of goal
Number of Double Life Paperbacks sold: 173% of goal
Paperbacks sold at conventions continue to be the best way for me to sell books and get my name out there. While I do tend to see a small bump in downloads after a successful weekend, I make more money at conventions*

*Normally. Unfortunately, and I’ll speak to this a little below, I lost money on a few conventions this go-round.

Goodreads

Total adds of Double Life on Goodreads: 10% of goal
Total adds of Alliances on Goodreads: 92% of goal

The Goodreads TBR metric isn’t really a good one to track because people add and remove all the time for older books. I ran a giveaway for Alliances (international, all countries) which bumped up the numbers to a number as high as 461, but almost immediately, that number dropped to 458. So again, that metric itself isn’t really that important.

I did have almost 900 people enter the giveaway, which is about average. They’re all international, which makes my heart hurt from the money I’m going to have to spend to ship them all books. I’m debating whether the cost is worth it. On average, 66% of people who win one of my books writes a review (I don’t track/care how many stars). But how often do those people result in more sales? Hard to say.

With Empath being a contemporary fantasy novel, it’ll be interesting to see the differences–across the board–because it’s a different, more active genre. I may consider running the giveaway within just the US, to try and save costs. But we’ll see.

Reviews

Total number of Alliances Reviews: 50% of goal
Total number of new Double Life Reviews: Not Counted

I set another pie-in-the-sky goal for the number of advanced reviews I wanted for Alliances, and although there’s still time for me to hit that goal by the end of the month, it’s okay if I don’t. I had a healthy number up on Goodreads, and even realized that if my Paperback comes from Ingramspark, people can add reviews to the paperback before it goes on sale.

I didn’t count the number of DL reviews as a metric (not sure why), but I also know that for the month of March, DL is hosted on NetGalley, which is a free book review website. Notoriously, it’s about as rough as Goodreads can be, so I’ve been dreading the rude comments. But so far, everyone who’s reviewed it from NG has been tactful and fair.

Social Media

Total number of Twitter followers: 40% of goal
Total increase of Facebook likes: 85% of goal
Number of followers on Google+: 126% of goal

For my social media growth, I was overall pretty satisfied with the trends. With Twitter, specifically, it’s hard to track steady growth, because people and spambots follow and unfollow like crazy. You can have swings as large as ten followers in a twenty-four hour period. My method for growing followers was the same as it’s always been – hashtags, sharing other people’s interesting content, and some limited following, hoping for a follow-back, of interesting people. Because my day job has me on a machine with internet explorer 8, using twitter was difficult, so I couldn’t be as active as I wanted to be. But even so, I had a 40% growth in total followers, and am creepin’ in on 1k.

Getting likes on Facebook is easy. Expensive, but easy. I can get all the likes in the world if I pony up cash! I ended up doing about 2 ads for $45 each, and that ended up being the bulk of my likes. There is something to be said for a derth of likes themselves. When someone comes to your page, they see you have 1,000 likes, they’re like, “Oh, this person is known by people.” versus 126 or something like that. But on the other hand, I’m really not sure which of my new “likes” are people who would ever consider liking my book. And since Facebook wants me to pay to reach those people even after they’ve liked my page…but really, a lot of people (yours truly included) still use FB more than other social media.

The last focus area was Google+, which was small to begin with, so a small increase was a big percentage increase. Over the course of the blog, Google+ began auto-posting my scheduled blog posts to my page again (which they hadn’t in the past), where I saw an increase in engagement.

For next quarter, the focus is Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. The first two auto-post to Twitter (which tends to be my catch all for all content), and the last one can auto-post to Twitter. I’ve built graphics for each of the blog posts, a tactic I’ve been seeing more and more, so we’ll see how that changes engagement.

In Person Events

Conventions Scheduled: 100% of goal
Book Signings Scheduled: 100% of goal
Total number of newsletter subscribers: 48% of goal

This one I can tell you the specific numbers – I set a goal to hit 6 conventions this quarter and schedule 1 real book signing. The events, if you’ll recall – Chattanooga, Richmond, New York City, Pensacola (release of Alliances), Indianapolis, and Chicago. And my book signing will be March 29th in Arlington.

Now, almost every one of these events required me to fly to it (or take a train) which meant I lost money on most every single event. There were some – New York, for example – that were just total and abject failures, from the number of people I met and talked to, and there were zero leads on SGR-P jobs.

Chattanooga is a maybe – I might have a few jobs for SGR-P. Pensacon lost money simply because I bought too many books for the event, which are being used at Indy and Chicago to defray those costs and hit the break-even mark. And Richmond, being a driving event, I sold gangbuster amounts of books.

Conventions are still the best way to get out there and meet your fans. Period, end of story. (Unless you’re a romance writer or something). But until I can drive to these faraway places (that is, I don’t have to be somewhere Monday morning), I won’t be making much money. It’s important to me to get away from the East Coast and into other markets, so I considered this time an investment.

The other thing I’ll mention was that I released Alliances early at Pensacon, and then had a real let-down kind of electronic release day on March 10th. In the future, I’ll probably schedule releases nearer to a convention, so that I get the benefit of all the excitement.

The newsletter thing is something I need to chew on a little bit more. It was a huge draw when Double Life cost money and people had to sign up for the newsletter to get the free book, but now that DL is free, it’s harder to figure out how to get people at conventions to sign up. I had been offering a free paperback of Alliances, but I couldn’t quite get the schpiel down to a point where it worked. I may have missed out on 50-100 newsletter subscribers at Pensacon because I didn’t include it.

Summary

Overall, I saw positive trends in all areas, which is what I’m looking for. A lot of areas I “fell short” in were more due to me not understanding the reality of my situation and what I could or could not do. But now I have a baseline, and in subsequent quarters and book releases, I can have realistic goals.

Why do I track metrics and why do I care about the percentage increase? Well, to be honest, it’s partially about rewarding myself for all the work I’ve put in. “Oh, I planned content for 9 weeks? I saw a 25% increase in my total blog traffic.”

But really, it’s about understand where and when to invest your money. Facebook ads are effective in getting to a “like goal,” but aren’t effective in getting book sales. But I wanted to increase my “likes,” so the money was well spent. International goodreads giveaways meant that a ton of people from around the world added my book to their to-read list, but is the price of sending books to Bangladesh really worth it?

Part of it, as well, is figuring out what your goals are. Making money is one slice of the pie, but right now I’m still planting seeds that will grow and bloom when my five book series is complete June 2016, and will also support the rest of my writing. Awareness, exposure, all of that ranks the highest on my priority list.

I think this is the last piece of the hotwash, since the actual release day was a bit of a let-down. I’m running a blog tour right now until I kick-off Empath promotions on March 23rd, so we’ll see how much that changes the metrics between now and the end of the quarter.

Anywho. Thanks for reading! Hope it was helpful!

 

Published inHot Washes
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