Have you noticed…? Talking Book Marketing

Written By: Jackie Weger - Apr• 04•19

The first quarter of 2019 is coming to an end.  Are you reaching your goals?

First, have you noticed Amazon is not pushing KDP subscriptions?  This is the $9.99 a month program that readers may download ten books for free and rotate those ten books for unlimited free reading. Written Word Media suggests there are 2.5 million readers subscribed to Kindle Unlimited.  Do read Written Word Media analysis of a 1000 reader/author survey [2017].  But many of us who were enrolled in KDP Select saw our KENP pages read drop like a stone into nether regions after the article was published.  I’m one of those authors. Even with two new releases, I haven’t been able to get my KENP reads into the hundreds of thousands from mid-2017 to present. What Amazon is pushing in 2019 is Amazon Prime.  I dropped my KU subscription and instead subscribed to Prime.  I love Prime. Free shipping on everything I buy on Amazon.

Next, I notice many of the author blogs I follow have gone silent.  Few are posting results of promotions, successful or not.  Now what shows up in my mailbox are offers or beggin’ letters to spend my money on two or three author-driven sites that guarantee fabulous sales, if only I will fork over $$$ for this virtual seminar or that podcast.  Authors who took those courses in the past and came out gushing how much they learned are quiet now, too.  Yes, there are indie authors and blended authors doing well. They write smart and fast. I love seeing those books with terrific stats.  That tells me book buyers are active.

I also subscribe to Bookbub, where I can download Free and discounted books and I do,  sans Kindle Unlimited. My colleagues and some of my favorite authors often have books Free or 99c. I grab those up.  But what does it mean for the author whose KENP has gone flat? It means fewer royalties.  I looked at my downloads for all of 2018 and decided upon publishing my books wide on all sales venues. Something I never considered doing.  My writer colleagues warn that it will take a year or more to enjoy a readership across all venues. Patience counts.  Thus I’ve dedicated 2019 to publishing my books on Nook, Apple iBooks, Kobo and Google Play.

Amy Atwell. Skilled at uploading to all sales venues.

It’s not easy because I’m no techie. Though I have to hire the formatter and a service to upload to those venues, it’s an opportunity to review my list, repair any mishaps and have each title proofread again because once uploaded to those venues, correcting mishaps is a pain the lower regions.  It’s also an opportunity to revise back book matter, update it and add excerpts which is another thing I didn’t consider because the “Look Inside” feature met my needs. The first two units I published wide I ran back to back FREE to help build an audience on the wider venues.  Outside of Select, putting a book Free doesn’t earn a royalty. but now I’m set up to release the next units at 99c for up to 90 days, perhaps longer if that’s what it takes to generate   a new audience.  The service I use is Amy Atwell of Author E.M.S~which stands for Electronic Manuscript Service.  Amy uploads to all venues. She formats books, too.

But I also work with Charity Chimni who indulges my special formatting requests.  She’s tops. Lots of patience with demanding authors.

Virtual Assistant, Krystallia Papadimitriou

I could be Eating Stupid for Breakfast in how I’m managing my books, but I’m learning more about our industry, plus I love a challenge.  I’m not a household name so I know well my books must help define the challenge. In addition to not being a household name, I’m O.L.D.  I want my books to stay live in my absence so I’ve done the smart thing and contracted with a team to keep my works in the public eye. I’ve also hired a Virtual Assistant, Krystallia Papadimitriou who is an utter whiz. She designs memes for my books,  produces ads on Bookbub and Instagram.  She helps create my Mail Poet newsletters, setting the schedules and activates the resends.  Krystallia also helps design my book blogs. Yes, she’s for hire and her fees are perfect for an author in transition. Moreover, she edits and proofs my books before going wide.

Author Nicholas C. Rossis

Nicholas Rossis

I have two WP  Web pages and that means design and maintenance. My go-to guy is Nicholas Rossis, who answers no less than a dozen questions a week for me.  I also have Mail Poet through Nick. He keeps all updated and in compliance. You won’t pay in the thousands for his service. Think $600 for WP Web page design and $100 a year for maintenance.  No charge at all for guidance that will save you $$$. You can contact him by email.

Twitter Guru Bridgette

Now you may be wondering how I pay for all of the above. I joined hands with another member of my book team, Carmen DeSousa. I design one,  ten-or-twelve author promotions a month. We each pitch in $25  to cover expenses of running the promotion, creating the memes,  the Rafflecopter and buying the gifts for winners. We often have a commercial sponsor that features our books at no charge in exchange for promoting the commercial site. Which means with the participating author’s newsletter and the promoter, our books are in front of not less than a 200,000 subscriber audience.  We also hire a Twitter Guru and book promoter,  Bridgitte Lesley.  You may also hire Bridgette for $30 a month. Or if you have a five-day promo on a book, she’ll Twitter boost it for $7 payable via Paypal.

I’m focusing resources to get exposure for my books on all venues though I’m not riding the usual route to promotion. I’ve also pulled my sponsored ads off Amazon AMS. They just seemed to stop performing on a dime,  or earning a dime.  I  don’t have an answer to why the bottom dropped out of KENP for so many of us. But it’s not in my nature to stand back and watch my career collapse.  And I ain’t quitting. The single unremitting event in our publishing universe is that it is always changing.  Your mileage may vary, but my best idea is, go with the flow and keep trying things until one or more gets the job done.

 

@Jackie Weger  2019.  Thanks for stopping by. Comments Welcome. Everybody knows something I don’t. If you have a tip, do share it.

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16 Comments

  1. Emily Kaplan says:

    It used to be a pretty straight equation: you have to spend money to make money. But now it’s so much easier to fall into the pattern of: you spend money just to spend it. A lot fewer returns. You bring up some great points to think about!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Emily! Smart you. Yes, indies fall into the pattern of promoting at a loss. I’m not doing it. I have more than two dozen favorite promoters. Most know the trend is lower downloads and are offering discounts. It’s like dangling a worm in front of a hungry fish. Discounts look great, sound great, maybe even smell great. I’m not taking the bait. Not yet. Not ready. Then there’s this: I’m not paying $20 for a promotion to 10K readers when I have more subscribers than the promoter. And often, more Twitter followers, too. I’ve said from the get-go: Promoters have to be more transparent. We need open and click through rates. I know with every newsletter send my open and click through rates and so do the promoters.

  2. Thank you for being so generous with your experience and information, Jackie. It’s good to know I’m not alone with my career dismay. I also don’t intend to quit, so I appreciate the tips.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      You are so not alone, Suzanne. What we have in eNovel is the support of one another. I believe we’ll get through this if we keep pulling together. I’ve been at this off and on for forty years. These down slides come in cycles. Even when I was under contract we saw cycles of high and low sales. My best suggestion, hang tight and keep writing.

  3. Ada Lape says:

    Jackie, this is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the market today. Thank you for sharing and for all of your advice. Wow. great article.

  4. P. C. Zick says:

    Thanks for this information. I’ve wondered why the bottom dropped out for me in 2019, and now I have some insight. I was going to put my mind on mastering Amazon ads, but now I have to rethink that strategy. This information is very much appreciated.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Patricia–you are not the only indie author wondering why the bottom dropped out of sales and KENP. We won’t ever get an answer because we cannot audit Amazon. It is what it has always been, a virtual book shelf. We’ve learned a heck of a lot over the years though, and that will stand us all in good stead. You may have good fortune with Amazon Ads. but I have some smart help via Krystallia and we decided to stop all Amazon ads and instead concentrate on Bookbub ads. The key is to decide what you want those ads to do. I want them for exposure across all sales venues to help build a readership on all sales venues. We are holding to a tight budget. Once all of my units are published wide, we’ll review strategy. We are noticing organic reviews now popping up on venues other than Amazon. That’s a plus.

  5. Thanks, Jackie. I may follow your lead and put my e-books onto other platforms. I just reviewed my KENPs over the last four years. In 2016 my KENPS were over a million. In 2018, they were 14% at just over 157,000.

    Tells its own story, doesn’t it?

    Also, my earnings from Amazon Ads were only 63% of what I spent.

    It’s tough and it’s tiring. Especially as we all need the energy to write more books.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Rosie Dean…I can’t speak to why my Amazon sponsored ads stopped performing. My opinion, which is not Fact, is my ads got pushed down and Amazon published books got ‘front table’ so to speak. Perhaps other authors had more funds to put toward ads. The Gold standard in promotion is don’t put $$$ where there’s no return on investment. It’s costly to move books wide, but I think the move is worth the investment. I won’t know for a year or more if the decision is right for me.
      I’m not in the generation that expects instant gratification, so I’m good with the timing.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Jackie, and to all who have added their insights. I don’t have anything to add, except I’m going through it all too.

  7. Linda Lee says:

    Always, words of wisdom, Jackie. You have a top-notch team! Thanks for taking the time to write this inspirational and informative post. Shared. 🙂

  8. jerrihines340 says:

    Appreciate you sharing all the information! Helpful. I picked up a couple of ideas! Thanks!

  9. Thanks for sharing, Jackie. I plan to contact some of your experts before I release my next novel!

  10. Wonderful resources, Jackie. Re KENPS, I don’t rely on Amazon’s discretion alone anymore to mention my books in its newsletters to subscribers. I raise my KENPs organically now by targeting readers in my niche within FB groups. I chat with them, offer them relevant blog posts to read and friend them. By doing that a little more intensively last week I had over 1,000 KENP pages in one day – a first for me, and without running a promo at the time. This was closely followed by two other days of about 800 pages each. So it was wonderful to confirm that FB continues to work for me in driving sales. I don’t have high sales regularly, just a slow steady drip. Hearing how bad it can be for others, I feel thankful. I’ve learned to promote my back list more often than I used to now too, and this always creates wonderful spikes that last for a while, in both sales and KENPs. Finally, I hope it’s okay to mention here that I am also available for hire if anyone would like to use my platform for their promo. Via my 75K Twitter followers I can provide an extra boost with tweets, a post on my blog to share in all my social media, and I can create stunning memes too.
    Effrosyni

  11. Thanks for sharing, Jackie. I’ve been feeling as if I’m on a runaway train going nowhere and someone keeps pulling up the rails. If an experienced writer like yourself is facing all this, it makes the pain more bearable for us reasonably newbies.

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