Disturbing experiments

Recently I’ve been engaging in disturbing experiments. Not in much of my time, mind you, because round about Friday I got sick-ish. Not sure with what honest, only that I ot only felt like sleeping all the time, I also couldn’t concentrate on anything, despite caffeine and adderal.

Much better today, but I was doing the usual catchup that follows such episodes, of course.

As you guys know — probably at least and note this is important for the post — I had eight books revert relatively recently: the three shifter books, where there really isn’t much to do to the first three (though if you really want to do a Series Bible for me, and are willing to charge under $100 a book, email me) and which I put up all at one go …. um…. a week and a half ago (I THINK?) and the Darkship Books, where I’m doing a more careful page by page thing, because there were some continuity errors and also — because I was young enough as a writer — a lot of stuff that didn’t make it to the books, and which I need to evaluate.

I plan to finish Bowl of Red and All Hot hopefully in the next couple of weeks to go up. But I’m also finishing another book, and working on a couple of other projects, (one of which is a completely different “field” and the first time I’m working in it. Yes, more reveal once I’m absolutely sure) so things are a little crazy.

But I hadn’t put up anything in a while, because 2020 was a waste of time and space, so I’m kind of doing other things. Things like using keywords acquired through amazon rocket publisher (results mixed) and such.

As usual, the books sold about a bazillion right after going up. Actually a surprising amount for reissues of books that old, which leads me to believe some people never saw them, and certainly never saw the later two.

But then… you’ve seen it right? the sales do the nose dive. (the KU never falls off that completely. But the sales do.)

So, here’s what I found. Linking one of the books somewhere, like FB or MeWe or the blog pushes those sales back up almost instantly. Like I did two low-key postings late today, and suddenly I had five sales within an hour. And they were all for the book I linked, (Gentleman Takes a chance, the middle book.) It will probably go to twenty within the next 24 hours.

Here’s the problem, though: So, should I be linking one of my books every day somewhere? (I suppose I could include Twitter in the rotation. I haven’t been on Gab in years, and don’t know if I can break into my own account at this point.)

Wouldn’t that get pretty boring for the people for whom my books keep showing up over and over and over again? I mean, we all have seen people like that. All they post, over and over and over is “buy my book.”

Of course, I suppose I could post snippets from the books, and maybe I’ll find them while I’m making the bibles? One can hope?

And then the link. do you think that would be more palatable?

I mean, it’s obvious from the sudden, noticeable upsurge in sales that most people aren’t seeing the books. So–

So, what do you think? Do you get bored out of your gourds seeing it over and over again? Or do you understand the exigencies of “actually getting people to see it?”

Throw me a line, because I’m really bad at this stuff.

Oh, and the links below use my associates # which kicks a fraction of the sale back to me, which reminds of something else.

As you know — or should if you’ve been around here any amount of time — I’m pretty bad at all sorts of publicity and selling in general. So, for years now I’ve been doing the Sunday Promo post. People send me their books (I ask they not send the same one more than once every month or so) and I put them up, with my code. (The email to send to is in the intro.)

It started mostly as a way of letting me skate by ONE day of the week without having to write a post. (Mind you, I’m open to guest posts, but I haven’t got many recently.) And after a while my husband said “why don’t we get an associates number, so you make something out of this?”

Something is right. I usually made $50 to $100 a month.

Then a couple of months ago under “dangerous experiments” I was looking at a day when I had (I THINK) one book to promote (this was not necessarily so, as sometimes the email helpfully deletes it without showing it. No, I don’t know why. But I only found that out recently) and I went “you know, my friends are as good at promotion as I am. They don’t send me something once a month. Heck, they don’t send me anything unless it’s new or on sale, or something.”

So out of what the heck, I padded it with books by friends.

And I kept doing that. The average earnings for that is now around $400 a month. (Sometimes only $350.) Not quite enough payment for the maybe 10 hours a week that I spend just writing posts, but much, much better than a kick in the pants.

And it makes me go “um…. Maybe the reason I haven’t made a ton of money for all this, is that I haven’t worked on making money?”

Stop laughing. Remember I was trained by trad pub on the crazy idea that “if it’s good enough, it will make a ton of money.” And yes, I knew the idea was crazy from the beginning, but it’s sank in. Maybe I’ve just not been good at publicity?

So, what do you think? And should I start echoing one of my books somewhere every day? Or everywhere every day? And how do I do it without people getting sick and tired of seeing the same thing all the time?
Any ideas?

Draw One In The Dark

Something or someone is killing shape shifters in the small mountain town of Goldport, Colorado.
Kyrie Smith, a server at a local diner, is the last person to solve the mystery. Except of course for the fact that she changes into a panther and that her co-worker, Tom Ormson, who changes into a dragon, thinks he might have killed someone.
Add in a policeman who shape-shifts into a lion, a father who is suffering from remorse about how he raised his son, and a triad of dragon shape shifters on the trail of a magical object known as The Pearl of Heaven and the adventure is bound to get very exciting indeed.
Solving the crime is difficult enough, but so is — for our characters — trusting someone with secrets long-held.

Gentleman Takes A Chance

Family! Can’t live with them and can’t eat them.
Tom Ormson, owner — with his girlfriend — of The George, a diner in downtown Goldport, Colorado is well on his way to becoming a responsible and respectable adult, despite his rough start and the fact that he turns into a dragon.
But then the unpredictable Colorado weather, the ancient leader of a dragon triad and an even more ancient shifter-enforcer combine to destroy his home, put his diner at risk and attempt to kill him.
All this, of course, has to happen while Tom’s friend, Rafiel, is trying to solve a series of murders-by-shark at the city aquarium, and Tom’s newly-reconciled father is attempting to move to Denver.
Fasten your seat belts, a wild ride is about to begin.

Noah’s Boy

Tom Ormson and Kyrie Smith are suffering the growing pains of young romance and young business people. Tom worries obsessively about the new fryer in the diner exploding.
As though he didn’t have enough on his mind, though, life decides it’s time for a sabretooth with vengeance on her mind to come to town, and for the Great Sky Dragon to try to arrange a marriage for Tom.
Meanwhile, out at the old amusement park, the one with the really good wooden roller-coaster, a series of bizarre murders is taking place.
And, as if that were not enough, Conan Lung, dragon shifter, ex-triad member and waiter extraordinaire starts his country singing career with an original song “If I Could Fly to You.”
When Kyrie is kidnapped, it’s all Tom can do to make sure he protects her while not eating anyone.

26 thoughts on “Disturbing experiments

  1. I was just talking about that kind of subject on my blog on ArtStation, and over at MeWe. I really don’t have an answer. I know I have left a few groups, because most people belonged to all of them and posted the exact same thing in every group, so I would see the exact same thing 5+ times per day or more. So, yeah, boring. BUT, I also wonder if someone DOESN’T belong to “x” group/forum/etc will they see my posts? If I leave one out, am I missing a potential viewer? Maybe I need to figure out more about Neuro-linguistics, so I can post different things, but include the “sale” seamlessly in the post….Yeah, I would feel bad doing that. “You are getting sleepy….buy my book…”

  2. I wouldn’t get annoyed with seeing a book a day, or every other day, being promoted. After all, if I don’t need it, it’s easy enough to skip past. And you could always pad it with son’s/DiL’s works as well so there isn’t as much repetition. You could even slip in some of your good friends works if they don’t mind.

  3. Sarah, if there’s a serious question to be asked about the tactic, it would involve frequency. People surely must expect writers to talk about their works, to promote them, to mention them when they’re relevant to current events or ongoing conversations, and so forth. I’d say that if you can avoid looking like a monomaniac, you can get away with a fair degree of “informal promotion” of the sort you described.

    Of course, it helps to mention one’s books where there are actual readers listening and taking an interest, but that’s a separate subject…and a sad one, for those of us whom Facebook simply will not abide, such as your humble commenter.

  4. a surprising amount for reissues of books that old, which leads me to believe some people never saw them,
    I ended up with two copies. I already had the previous versions and just didn’t remember. However it is that Amazon determines “you’ve already bought that”, these escaped that filter. Given the size of my MGC collection, three duplicates are not even noticeable, so I don’t mind (and I, too, like the new covers).

    As for promos, I don’t mind _some_ duplicates. My focus changes so what I may have skipped the first time, I’ll be interested in the second (or third, etc…). It’s also easy enough to ignore them – when they are not pushed. For example, nothing on my side goes “beep” when there is a new post here; I have to come check. Twitter and Facebook tend to force “beeps” upon one; that’s annoying, which is why I would have it turned off if I had an account, which I don’t.

  5. The thing is, you need to go wider, if I understand your current promotional strategy. Those who read this and the Hoyt blog are a relatively small group. Getting the book promotions up on Instapundit might help (although I would suspect that many aren’t interested in sci-fi), as does the Gab/MeWe Hoyt’s Huns crowd.
    But, there are a LOT of people who, when I mention your books, just give me the I-have-no-clue-what-you-are-talking-about look. The whole indie crowd has hit the jump-off point with their current promotions, but the next level is not there (or, at least, not in a form that supports higher sales or is affordable).
    We probably need to start looking at some independent sites for book reviews/promotions. And, that may end up being a setup where people who read a lot would get – I don’t know – book credits for reviewing books? The real trick is to identify the Alpha Readers AND Communicators. Who not only read thoughtfully and widely, but also have a wide social circle? And, can write a review that makes you want to spend money to read those books.

    Here’s an idea – hold a contest with a prize of a year’s Prime membership – for FREE! Contestants will answer some questions regarding their reading habits, with that funneling into a short review of a book on a list. Those that can write coherently make the next cut. Publicize the hell out of the rounds of competition, and make them Stars in the world of Readers.
    Round after Round, winnow down the field, until you have a Winner in a particular genre. With that Prime membership also comes the opportunity to be the Genre Critic Queen on a site dedicated to the Critic Queens (and with social media promotion).
    But, one thing you’re going to look at is: how influential are they? Check to make sure that they aren’t promoted by bot activity.
    Need I add, winnow out the reflexively Leftist? And, those who Live for Drama? But, allow enough rewards for them to bask in the glory, and maybe provide a little ongoing money for those books that have sales linked to their site.

    1. Before the CCPox shut us down, every year I would talk to ~700 5th – 12th graders about “fun books to read”.

      If we open up again, I’ll be doing it again.

  6. Okay, first off, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I know I haven’t been putting in the promotion work. Haven’t even been emailing old things to you. So take this for what it’s worth.

    That said,what we found advertising on Peter’s blog was that it was literally diminishing returns: that every time a new release was mentioned, it got half the clicks of before. So, say Day 1 got 100 clickthroughs and buys – Day 2’s mentions would be 50, Day 3 25, Day 4 down to 12, Day 5 down to 6, and by Day 6, down to 1-2.

    So we stick to 3-4 “hey this is out, buy this”. Because you can clearly see there’s a saturation of the available market. Facebook is harder, because every link announcement is throttled to 14% of your friends list to *start* with, so multiple announcements may have absolutely no overlap in who saw it. How do you figure out the saturation vs. annoyance point, when their throttling and restrictions make it like trying to take a level measure on a trampoline?

    1. …and on the other end of the spectrum, how often to announce something again that’s not a new release? Bookbub once said that they saw their pool of readers was fished out if the announcement was within 6 months of the last one. Anecdote sometimes being as close to data as we’re going to get, I keep that in mind as a benchmark, not a hard and fast iron rule.

  7. Unless it is a pop-up, has embedded midi, autoplay video, or invasive tracking, nobody it’s going to mind an ad.

    We’re stopping your market stall to gossip.
    We’re not going to be offended that you’ve got your wares displayed.

    I would encourage the following:
    One book per post. (More is not always better. Don’t dilute the appeal. Too much, and everything just gets tuned out.)
    Rotate sequentially through a series, before continuing to the next.
    Prominently place “Book #X of Y Series”. (It’s a consumer friendly practice that costs no effort.)

  8. Something that comes to mind is a roundtable-esque shared blog (kinda like this one, actually) where indie authors talk about Books. Anything bookish. The one that got you started, the one that made you squee, the one you’re reading and like to review, the one you walled…One paragraph for books, one for “what I’m working on now/just published). Pick a roster of indie writers until you’ve got enough for maybe a two- or three-paragraph post, try to go daily and let the rest of us bounce around in the comments. (This is me blue-skying and not going OMG I HAVE THE WISDOM OF THE AGES).

  9. Declan Finn, on MeWe, posts a lot of promos. I have no idea how well that’s translating to sales, but it isn’t irritating to me because he starts each one with a paragraph or so from inside the book somewhere. (He writes horror, I don’t read horror, but one of the minions hereabouts does so I’m considering birthday presents.) If other readers confirm that’s a non-irritating technique, it might work well.

    So that might be something to consider. Also I think most of us find books by word of friend, still, so an occasional reminder to fans to ‘share this’ is probably useful.

    How many buyers do you need? Is there an end-point? If you have 20,000 fans who buy everything you write, is that enough? 50,000? Or does it need to be an eternally growing pool? If there’s an end-point in mind, that might help with gritting your teeth and marketing, too.

    1. I’d be ecstatic if I had 1k fans who buy everything. I seemed to have a solid 10 to 20k in trad, but I think those look in bookstores, or other channels where I’m JUST not reaching them.
      How many would I need to make the equivalent of trad money? 2k.

  10. I think a book link, place in series if appropriate and snippet or link to snippet are good marketing tools. *

    I think a single title in a post is not invasive or irritating. I don’t know how many of your books are back in your control, but mentioning the same one once a month isn’t going to bother me.

    Are your Musketeers books back in your hands? I’ve only found them as secondhand paperbacks, and I believe I still only have 4 of 5 – I’d have to go check my bookcases to be sure.

    *At the end of snippets, especially if you’ve linked to it, I think you could provide links to all the other books if it’s in a series. That, in my opinion, is a public service to an interested reader 🙂

  11. Gift books posts.

    Frex: Dona gift books post in November for Holiday purchases of the ones in paper. But birthdays are yes round so…

    If your books have appeal to age 15+ or for guys and you can explain in promo whose likely to enjoy them, you can get the “buy for a relative” market that can be tough to think of gifts for. There’s cachet in being indie, small press and “hard to find”.

  12. I am not bothered by you mentioning your books. I like it. It reminds me to buy or share the news with others.

    As for how long to do it, I’d do it as long as you’re getting sales. And, I’d stretch it out by doing the first in a series for a while. Then move on to the next one, so that you’re showing something different.

    And, as one of the people who’ve been thrilled to see a book go on your Sunday promo and very happy with the results, thank you! One of mine has a new cover, and I’m going to send it to you for Sunday right now.

  13. You could always do a “this week’s featured book” comment. Literally, put a list together, each week moving on to the next book, or inserting a book where you’ve updated the cover, or it’s pertinent to current events, or whatever. Like your Sunday Promo post, but just as a post.

    If people get upset at a writer mentioning her output once a week, they’re a wee bit too sensitive.

    “This week’s book is What If He Were To Choose Me? A totally bonkers take on Pride & Prejudice, it’s perfect for readers who want to tame their unruly pillows.”

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