Last 3 Months

Important Note: About 1 month since beginning this experiment with expanding my advertising portfolio, I’ve still spent about 2 1/2 times what I’ve generated in sales. My book has climbed up 14 Amazon Bestseller lists, and paid sales can lead to organic sales by word of mouth, but always be careful not to create so many ads that you exceed your budget.

Let me start this end-of-week followup with the postscript to last Friday’s report that some may have missed: As of 10/12, my Amazon ads have been directly responsible for at least 95% of all sales. My trial run with Facebook ads just happened to coincide with the unprecedented surge on 10/28, and it’s important not to assume correlation equals causation. I’ve ended all Facebook ads and am creating more in Amazon.

As the above graph shows, 10/20 was the first time my “Paid Units” cracked 5 in one day over the last 3 months, except during a cute little 99c promo I ran at the end of August. So, when I saw that my one and only book’s full-price sales had more than quadrupled from the norm last Friday (10/28), I naturally hoped it was due to clear actions that I could analyze and perpetually maintain with consistent results. The following day (10/29) showed great promise of that with a record 21 sales, and 1,000 more Kindle Unlimited pages read than on 10/28. The 2 days leading into Halloween showed an understandable drop, since a large portion of my target audience was likely engrossed in the hedonistic festivities, but still they surpassed what I’d seen in the 3 months prior. Kindle Unlimited pages also shot to higher levels than ever on those 2 days, amounting to more than 20 copies read.

Then, what the hell happened on Tuesday and Wednesday? 8 sales, and then 4? Going back to those familiarly mediocre levels felt comparable to returning to a dietary routine of microwaved TV dinners after a brief, luxurious getaway. The same ads were up and running, minus a few disappointing ones that I’d paused, and I’d even created duplicates to test new genre targets (which I’ll get to shortly). I think one contributing factor may be that my audiobook became available for Pre-Order on 10/31. Because of that recent development, customers who go to my book’s Amazon page now have the option to pay $ for the Kindle book and paperback, or get the audiobook in exchange for a monthly credit that Audible allots its members. So it’s possible that some thrifty buyers opted to forgo shelling out cash and instead traded in a “use it or lose it” credit for the audiobook, which is officially out on Nov 22 (and is beautifully done, I might add, thanks to Podium and James Foster).

I’ve also suspected the audiobook will boost Kindle sales, since experienced customers might anticipate being able to get the audible narration for a substantial discount after purchasing the e-book (assuming Audible enables the Whispersync feature, which is up to them, not me). Because of this theory, and to promote the audiobook itself, I ran 2 versions of the same ad that reads:

Epic Fantasy Adventure Audiobook now for Pre-Order from Podium Publishing (King’s Dark Tidings, Dawn of Wonder, Cycle of Arawn) Narrator: James Foster.

One is a Sponsored Ad that uses Podium’s other Fantasy titles and authors as search engine keywords, as well as “audio book,” and the 4 main keywords that have led to sales in my other Sponsored Ads: “fantasy, fantasy fiction, fantasy books, fantasy fiction books.” The other is a Display Ad that I targeted by specific products instead of genres, using the same Fantasy titles that Podium has published.

The problem with this is that because customers can order the audiobook without a cash transaction, my ad data can’t show me whether any clicks on these ads are leading to sales. When someone clicks one of my ads and then pays for the Kindle book or paperback, I see their respective prices in the “Total Sales” column for that specific ad. The only way this would happen for the audiobook ad is if someone clicks on it and buys the Kindle or paperback version, or pays the full audible price instead of exchanging a credit. Anyway, it’s too soon to halt that campaign, and some unknown individual(s) have already Pre-Ordered the audiobook, so I’ll keep the ad running a bit longer.

Back to my moneymaking ads, limited to 150 characters each. A few authors asked me for specifics about the unique pitches I’ve been using, so I’ll list them in order of greatest sales to least:

  1. “Superb Fantasy Tale! Writing that soars & inspires” Hero’s Sword & Sorcery quest with epic battles, one-on-one duels, & friendship with a giant eagle
  2. A hero’s adventure leads him to the sky with eagle-riding knights, into the scorching breath of a dragon, and side-by-side with a fierce lady warrior
  3. A hero gains the loyalty of a giant eagle that would not carry any other man, and flies in an epic showdown against swords, fangs, and his worst fear
  4. An eagle-riding hero holds the Goldshard which makes invincibility just a whisper away. But it soon becomes a worse enemy than the monsters he battles

In last week’s post I listed the 5 genre subsets that I targeted with each of these, creating an experimental pool of 20. Here are those targets in order of greatest sales to least:

  • Teen & YA>Sci/Fi & Fantasy
  • Sci/Fi & Fantasy>Adventure
  • Sci/Fi & Fantasy>Superheroes
  • Sci/Fi & Fantasy>Sword & Sorcery
  • Sci/Fi & Fantasy>Fantasy

It’s important to note that my KU Pages read have also skyrocketed with these ads, and unlike sales, you can’t be sure which ad leads a KU subscriber to start reading, so that makes it a bit difficult to decide which ads to scrap. That’s why I always pause the ones that look weak, so if my figures start to dip I can immediately switch them back on and see if there’s a noticeable improvement.

This week I’m also having success with 3 additional genre targets that I’m testing with Pitches 1-3 and an improved version of #4. That’s 12 new ads divided into 3 groups, each of which has already produced 4 sales. The new genre targets, which may prove to be more lucrative than the aforementioned 5, are:

  • Sci/Fi & Fantasy>Myths & Legends
  • Literature & Fiction>Action & Adventure
  • Literature & Fiction>Genre Fiction

I’m still gradually eliminating ads that are bringing in too little return on investment, while increasing the budgets of the proven “winners.” I was relieved when yesterday (11/3) turned out to be more profitable than last Friday, the day when everything changed for the better, and today’s sales are so far consistent with the best my book has performed so far. I’d say I’m satisfactorily on my way to having a shortened system of highly efficient ad pitches and targets that I can leave alone to maximize my income from Book 1, while I continue to plug away at Book 2.

I’m really looking forward to Nov 22 when the audiobook becomes available, and am very confident that listeners will be almost as moved by it as I was.