The Second Annual Labor Day Sale

I love my writing, except when I hate it. Then I look at my sales figures and despair. Really. My stories are not _that_ bad. They can’t be! All I need to do is get enough people to try them.
“All” hahahaha! Yeah right, like Super Introvert has a clue how to even start marketing.
Right. Well . . . Cedar’s doing a Labor Day Special.
Can’t hurt right?



Labor Day Sale

Umm, how about the book that had just crept past 200 sales in almost three years selling over a hundred in a week? Call me gob smacked. It briefly broke into the top fifty in its sub category. Call me impressed. And that was before the KU pages counts skyrocketed.
As you can see, my sales had flat-lined. Too long since a new release, on top of a umm tepid recovery, plus end of summer back to school stuff. Or so I told myself.

So, I settled down to do a bit of analyzing. On KU, the second in the series has, so far, had 70% of the page numbers. The third in the series has half that, the third and forth books are starting to move.

The sales carry through is not so impressive—but the first book is on sale for 99¢. The second and subsequent are at $4.99. None-the-less, there was a small bump up the next weekend.

KU went the other way, with an initial bump, and the next weekend a big jump.

If I were a marketing Guru, no doubt this would mean something. being me, all I can say is, QUICK! Stop dicking around with editing and publish those stories! So I booted a novella and a few days later a short story out the door. Now I need to quickly polish a couple more and hopefully keep up the numbers.
Thanks, Cedar! And Sarah and Amanda and everyone else who spread the sale page all over, and all my readers, and Mom and Dad, cats and dogs . . . It was great. A very nice boost that I will try to capitalize on.

I think what we’re seeing here is a sign that I’d pretty well saturated the tiny bit of the market that was aware of me. This sale, with wide spread links, broke out of that bubble. I have no idea how far, how wide this new exposure is.

But it points to what I need to do, in order to build a readership large enough to sustain a career.

I’ve tried all the easy things. Talk it up on facebook, send things off to book plugs.

Paid advertising . . . was less than impressive. I gave the Amazon marketing a go. I too could be that obnoxious ad on your kindle . . . I committed $500 to the effort, but they actually only charge you on click throughs. For 5668 “impressions, ie flashed up on some poor schmuck’s kindle, I have five clicks, ten page views and no sales. Well, it only cost me $0.95 to crush my ego. I understand that one click through per thousand impressions is average, so . . . maybe I need to target the ad better.

Or I may need to completely rethink where to advertise.

Did I mention that I was bad at this? Yeah. No kidding.

But if Cedar does the Christmas sale, as threatened, I’ll be there for sure.

So, who else has something that has worked for you? Or not?

And to the other authors in the sale, how did you do?

Oh, and to keep up sales, a new short story:

31 thoughts on “Marketing

  1. I think it helped all of us. I did learn a lot from this sale, after last year’s sale. Last year was good, this year was better. We had less authors and books on the list, so it wasn’t an endless scroll. Everyone’s cover and blurb looked polished an professional. I don’t think this is something we could repeat too often, but a Christmas sale would be good.

    1. As someone who bought nearly the entire list except for a few I already had and one that was just too far out of my normal reading to interest me (although I did buy one based on the “Mad Genius Seal of Interesting” even though it was somewhat outside) I would say time them after the blog gets a new influx of readers or focus the sales on a different set of writers.

      Pretty much everyone who gets the “Mad Genius Seal of Interesting” gets a shot as I get time. However, they still have to make the second sale with the book (Pam, you’re in the queue so you might see knock on from me but latter…I suspect I’m not the only one). If they do then the “Mad Genius Seal of Interesting” won’t be needed to sell a third. If they don’t unless they got very, very close it won’t get them the second.

      So it seems to me you need either writers we haven’t bought before based on a sale or a lot of new blog readers who weren’t here for the last sale.

      Just two-bits from a reader.

  2. Data, getcher data right here! As a card-carrying Mad Scientist, I of course collect data from *all* my experiments. And this promotion was highly interesting…
    I put book 1 of my current SF trilogy in the promotion at .99. I set the price early to make sure it was live on the day of the promotion.

    1) I saw a small but measurable bump in sales *before* everybody put up their Labor Day Sale blog posts. Internet research reveals a “free and 99 cent” book blog (which seems to be automated) had found and posted the book. Cool.

    2) Large spike in sales the day Sarah listed the book, with the promo price, on Instapundit. Now I have gotten reader book mentions before (thanks Glenn!) but they had never had such a significant bump. I think it was the notice *and* the price that did it. Also possibly that it was a limited time sale, motivating people to immediately fire up a new browser tab.

    3)Labor Day Promo sales tapered off in about 3-4 days. Sales of books 2 and 3 showed a nice knock-on effect, even though they were not discounted, and this continued in a slow wave until…

    4)The BookBub promotion. I had tried to get it for the Monday after the LDBS, but they gave me the following Thursday, 9/10, instead. In retrospect this worked perfectly. HUGE sale spike, on the order of 6x the 9/5 boost. It died off the next day, possibly because BookBub subscribers are trained to expect sales to only last one day. I am still seeing significantly improved sales of the book even though I raised the price to 1.99 on 9/13.
    5) Important results: BookBub promotion more than paid for itself. Very happy with that, and increased sales in India, Canada, Australia, and Britain. Knock-on sales of books 2 and 3 are 10x what they were before the promotions. I also tracked a non-related SF book, and it is *also* showing measurable improvement in sales. But even better…6 brand-new happy reviews on Amazon.

    I did make some tuneups to my backmatter that I think helped. I have sample chapters of the next book in the series, to keep the addiction going, and a gentle, non-whiny call to action asking for reviews if they enjoyed the book (emphasizing it will help *other readers* find books they enjoy).

    A very useful and informative promotion, indeed. All hail the Labor Day Sale!

    1. BookBub is on my list of Thing To Do. Just need to get off my rear and do it. Because some marketing does work. We all just need to figure out what works for us, for our genres.

      The term “Breakout” as in sells big, is a term that predates Indy. It’s a phenomenon, oft observed from a distance, and hard to create for oneself.

  3. Well, it ain’t yer writing that’s a problem. You write great characters that have depth. You have a storyline that keeps extending, without dragging us to death.
    And (gulp) this is a point in which I feel that I have not done all I could. I reviewed “Outcasts and Gods” in a snarky, precious, pseudo-SJW way, and it appears that I did not promote the blogs where I’ve reviewed your work most recently. I loved both “Lost Boy” and “Lawyers of Mars,” but I didn’t do with them what I could have done, which is throw the blog out where others would trip over it.
    I will rectify that. Small steps by many people will produce progress.

    Okay, next topic: Someone was asking on Sarah’s Diner about reading slush for Baen, and Amanda said you had done that. Would you consider a post about your experience?

  4. A bit off topic, but since comments are closed back where it started…

    I finished that story camestrosfelapton shamed me into writing for my own joke back on “Yet another Post-Hugo post” at the end of August. I’ve put it up on DeviantArt with the rest of my free stories.

    So, without further ado, I present “Tragedy on Blue”:

  5. Just to confirm that your sales ploy was successful:

    I purchased 7 books during the sale, no more than one from any of the authors involved. Of the 3 that I finished, I subsequently went back and purchased and read the rest of the books in series by Cedar Sanderson, Peter Grant, Sabrina Chase. And purchasing and reading those additional 7 books is why I haven’t finished the remaining 4 I purchased during the sale. So that’s 14 books actually sold that likely would not have otherwise, or might have been purchased over a longer time period.

      1. I got one of each promo book but haven’t gotten to yours because i ended up buying the other three Maxwell books

  6. I already own everything you’ve written (I think), so no uptick from me. I just bought the short. I second Pat’s “storyline that keeps extending without dragging”. You keep it fresh and there is a lot of universe there to play with. I can see a novel about the fall of Scoon (sp?) and another about what’s-her-name, the “current” head of the pyramid, during the war. She’s a hard-ass; it would be fun to find out how she got that way. (And the gravity thing with the God of Art – yikes! – how did she figure that out?) I expected to not really like Dancer and was very pleased when I did (like it). Flipping “sides” in a conflict and keeping readers interested is difficult – only other one I recall liking is Raymond Feist with Midkemia and the Empire.

    Lawyers of Mars was very different, unexpected, and quite good.

    You (plural to everyone else here that I’ve also bought) keep writing and I’ll keep buying them.

    1. Now I have them all. Amazon recommended three more that I hadn’t seen before: Mages at Large, Art Theft, and One Agent.

  7. Uhm, I bought 9 books from Cedar’s post, and one from Dave’s post (having problems with conversion software and a big TBR stack, so I haven’t gotten started on any of them yet). Yes, a 99c limited time sale did pull me in; my purchases were evenly divided between 99c and 2.99.

    Regarding marketing, I’m not sure how much you or other MGC members might find posts on Digital Book World (I subscribe for my job); there’s a mini-series about social media advertising right now. I’d post a link to a relevant post, but I’m not sure if links are allowed here.

  8. Getting a book plug on insty worked as well as getting onto the promo at Sarah’s place on Saturday. What really worked for me was getting the cover right and an interesting idea (and possibly a little pre-order). My first two books had a lot of lawyers and space law. Write what you know, they say, so I did. The third one, Sleeping Duty, has on the cover a guy in powered armor holding a sword. The same artist did the art on all three covers, and I love his work. But my roommate from college, who did years of graphic design, shook Phil and me by the collars until we got the fonts, size, tags, line-up, and who knows what else, to her liking.

    A did a very brief pre-order period of less than a week, and about 11 of my friends and family bought it that way. Then, its first day it had 14 sales, which was huge for me. I don’t know if that was the better cover design or the pre-order or the idea, but I was pretty thrilled.

    The other thing that helped was getting a reader book plug from Glenn, which got me 30 sales that day. I was over the moon. When he read it and said something nice a few days later, that got over 90 sales in one day. However, getting a book plug from Glenn is not something one factors in to the marketing plan: I had asked for a plug for the first two books with no luck. I think it was the cover for the new one.

  9. being me, all I can say is, QUICK! Stop dicking around with editing and publish those stories! So I booted a novella and a few days later a short story out the door. Now I need to quickly polish a couple more and hopefully keep up the numbers.

    [Run on sentence warning…] There is nothing like spotting a carpe diem moment and realizing that it might indeed only be a moment to give ya a kick in the butt and finish a project that should have been finished a long time ago in order to exploit that moment. Now if only we could bottle that industrious attitude for use at all times….

  10. Somewhere recently I’ve seen someone mentioned box sets in relation to wine of the gods… Make it easy for your fans to grab a six pack, y’know?

    1. I hate having redundancy, because people hate buying things twice. I’ll admit to a temptation to do omnibus editions with all the short stories in as close to the right place as possible without sticking them into the middle of a story.

  11. I want to publicly thank Cedar and Amanda for including me in on the Labor Day sale, even though I was in Phoenix making myself nuts buying a house and couldn’t send them what they needed. I got a very nice spike out of it, to the tune of 75 books in the first five days and about 14,000 page turns, which, given the story’s KENP page count, is about 22 full reads of the novel.

    I don’t think anybody’s yet mentioned the most difficult marketing tactic of all: writing more books per unit time. I’m not sure I remember who first said it (Kate Paulk?) but there is some sort of critical mass that happens at about 10 novels, after which your fiction does a lot more to sell itself on the strength of your reputation. In other words, you have to build a reputation, but once you do, the virtuous circle turns with a lot less pushing. Larry Correia calls it the two-word secret to success in genre fiction: BE PROLIFIC.

    I’m not an ace at that; I wrote The Cunning Blood in 1998. I didn’t finish another novel until 2012, and I started that one in 1984. The 2012 novel will hit KDP until after we move, probably January. I have a story collection that might go up in the meantime. Much depends on how badly I kill my back tossing 2,500 books into boxes.

    This is no way to build a reputation. Feel free to razz me about it.

    1. What you need is a three foot ladder. Not so much for you , as for the box, so you don’t have to bend to put the books in it. Speaking as one who had to move a heck of a lot of books to rip out w2w carpeting. Ugg.

      1. Given the large number of books in our 11-foot tall library wall (complete with rolling ladder) that 3-footer won’t help as much as it otherwise might. However, once I’m down with both feet on the floor again, the boxes will probably be parked on the ottoman. And in truth the worst of it is hauling the filled-and-taped boxes out of the room and piling them up somewhere. I used to toss moving boxes full of books around with impunity. That was when I was a mere child of 50.

  12. Okay, I am now re-reading “Outcasts and Gods” so I can write a real review.
    However, I sort of wish that in some corner of the internet, I could save the original review, maybe just for the title:

    5.0 out of 5 stars Crypto-rapist writers’ ideological basis exposed!
    By Pat Patterson on October 29, 2014

    I was going through a phase…which didn’t last long.

  13. By the way, another thing that used to help sales was Book Plug Friday at PJMedia. I thought it was coming back, but only saw it once this month. Does anyone have any intel on that?

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