Author Topic: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.  (Read 406 times)

R. C.

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Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« on: September 10, 2020, 10:24:09 AM »
Friends,

Several months ago, I was asked to provide an update. Everyone likes data.

I title this update: How I spent my summer, part two…

Background

I am eight weeks into the evaluation period of “going wide.” The overall effort has required several months due to two primary factors: 1) Waiting for KDP Select to expire and 2) Re-write of the shoddy early work.

Coupled with the Draft2Digital aggregation, I have run numerous AMS, FB, BB, and Google AD Campaigns designed to generate traffic. The campaigns easily generated cost effective impressions and clicks. (Estimated eight-week totals: 4.7m Impressions, 65k Clicks, CTR Range: 45%-.02%)

The sales results are, to use a mild word, disappointing.

Research

Writing, re-writing, and writing again: Blurbs, Tag Lines, Log Lines, and dozens of experiments with AD copy. Lots, and lots, of reading and using the Googles. Also, several books on digital marketing with two that bubbled to the top of the list:

Why Does My Book Not Sell – Rayne Hall
Six Figure Author – Chris Fox

Summary Conclusions

     • My marketing budget does not support the necessary commitment to fully fund “going wide.”
     • I have no name recognition, therefore, organic sales are almost non-existent.
     • Being a late entry to a saturated market requires precision targeting when setting up AD campaigns.
     • Following the “market to trend” theory re-enforces the late entry negative paradigm.
     • Lots of impressions hitting the eyes of the wrong consumer is pointless.

Corrective Actions

     • Determine, refine, and ruthlessly evaluate the correct market for my genre.

Option 1:
     • Revert to KDP Select.
     • Focus marketing effort on AMS and let their AI help me refine the market.

Option 2:
     • Stay the course – Remain wide through D2D.
     • Continue to refine marketing and try to catch the tailwind to success.

Option 3:
     • Ride the experiment for a few more weeks.
     • Continue to refine marketing.
     • If no change, revert to option one.

I have yet to decide which option to take but option one is the front runner. Happy to answer any questions.

Cheers,
R. C.

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I have a published total of 23 novels, novellas, and short stories. Two are “premafree” loss-leaders.

Eric Thomson

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2020, 10:31:54 AM »
As someone who went wide 3.5 years ago and never looked back, I can only tell you this: eight weeks isn't anywhere near long enough to gain traction, let alone decide whether it was a bad idea. Six months to a year is more realistic.
 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2020, 10:33:24 AM »
I can't tell if you're asking for advice or not.  Would you like to hear my opinion on the matter?
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notthatamanda

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2020, 10:59:45 AM »
I'm tired so I'll just offer this - you can go direct with Kobo and try their promos. The first six months direct on Kobo were good for me. You may do better with a bigger catalog than I have.
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2020, 11:20:55 AM »
As someone who went wide 3.5 years ago and never looked back, I can only tell you this: eight weeks isn't anywhere near long enough to gain traction, let alone decide whether it was a bad idea. Six months to a year is more realistic.

6 months does seem to be the necessary time.

But when I did it, 8 weeks was all I needed to know I'd made the wrong decision, and the 6 months just proved I'd been correct.

But then, I went wide based on the Page Flip issue, and it took them 6 months to fix it. Once they did, I went back to KU.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



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LilyBLily

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2020, 11:53:41 AM »
I'm sorry you have not achieved the success you hoped for so far. Yet if you had compelling reasons to leave KDP Select (KU), those reasons may still be compelling.

It's a little disturbing that with all the work you have done and all the ad testing, you're still wondering if you have your subgenre/market correctly defined. This seems to me to be the very first and most important element to nail down. Is this residual author insecurity speaking or do you really feel your stories are falling between subgenres? If so, that could be a reason for lack of immediate uptake by a wider audience, but it's not a permanent bar to sales.

I'm also wondering what on earth you're doing with Google ads, which are known to be expensive and ineffective. Explain more? I may have misunderstood.
 
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Mammasan

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2020, 12:36:48 PM »
As someone who went wide 3.5 years ago and never looked back, I can only tell you this: eight weeks isn't anywhere near long enough to gain traction, let alone decide whether it was a bad idea. Six months to a year is more realistic.

6 months does seem to be the necessary time.

But when I did it, 8 weeks was all I needed to know I'd made the wrong decision, and the 6 months just proved I'd been correct.

But then, I went wide based on the Page Flip issue, and it took them 6 months to fix it. Once they did, I went back to KU.


They've fixed Page Flip? No more one-pagers? When?
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2020, 12:54:51 PM »
They've fixed Page Flip? No more one-pagers? When?

Page Flip is still there, and they don't record reads while in that mode.

But that wasn't actually the problem. There's something like a 6% loss to Page Flip, but at the time it was an issue, for a lot of authors it was closer to 35%, which Amazon denied.

There was a bug in the system. One where if you used page flip to return the current page indicator back to the start of the book, the reads were never recorded when the device next synced. Most likely as soon as you used page flip, the whole recording of pages read went stupid. The sort of bug you get when a bit of code is very subtly wrong, and no-one tested it properly. Also the sort of bug which is very hard to find.

They quietly fixed it about 6 months after the issue became a major storm, probably because so many authors abandoned KU for that reason. There was an update done at one point (Feb I think), after which all the 30%+ losses stopped happening, and things returned to normal.

Amazon never admitted it, but then, they never do.

You still see one page reads on BookReport from time to time, but it usually means the book was downloaded, opened, but not read at the time. But only people who see single book reads a day tend to notice it.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



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R. C.

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2020, 10:37:21 PM »
I can't tell if you're asking for advice or not.  Would you like to hear my opinion on the matter?

Sure.


R. C.

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2020, 10:55:19 PM »
... you're still wondering if you have your subgenre/market correctly defined. This seems to me to be the very first and most important element to nail down. Is this residual author insecurity speaking or do you really feel your stories are falling between subgenres? ...

I'm also wondering what on earth you're doing with Google ads, which are known to be expensive and ineffective. Explain more? I may have misunderstood.

re: Genres

My style is rather eclectic and I struggle with avoiding the main genre due to the competition.  The trigger that pushed me to thinking I have the genre/sub-genre poorly defined is Chris Fox's idea of "find your tribe".  I have the idea that if I step back, use the KDP Select AI --- AFTER --- I find the correct tribe(s), sales results will improve. 

re: Google ADs

The "expensive and ineffective" attributes are relative. My premise in the use of Google ADs was to create brand awareness and name recognition. Google ADs are very effective is driving traffic. They are ineffective at translating directly to sales. Also, they are no more expensive than FB when created correctly. The new automated campaigns, with tight target demographics and tighter budgets are effective in controlling costs.

re: Time

Under today's market pressures, a six month effort is a very long time. While I do not agree with the concepts of "just in time marketing" and "minimal viable product", I accept the reality of market forces.  Four months prepping, two months of analysis is sufficient under the new forces driving sales competition. BUT, there is always a BUT, how do you know enough is enough, and are not throwing the baby out with the bath water?

re: Metaphores

I got a million of them...

Cheers,
R.C.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2020, 11:03:09 PM by R. C. »
 

R. C.

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2020, 11:07:47 PM »
As someone who went wide 3.5 years ago and never looked back, I can only tell you this: eight weeks isn't anywhere near long enough to gain traction, let alone decide whether it was a bad idea. Six months to a year is more realistic.

Did you have a large fan base/audience when you went wide?  If so, do you think the fan base was the platform which sourced the "wide sales"?

Cheers,
R.C.

Eric Thomson

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2020, 01:39:51 AM »
As someone who went wide 3.5 years ago and never looked back, I can only tell you this: eight weeks isn't anywhere near long enough to gain traction, let alone decide whether it was a bad idea. Six months to a year is more realistic.

Did you have a large fan base/audience when you went wide?  If so, do you think the fan base was the platform which sourced the "wide sales"?

Cheers,
R.C.

I had a reasonable fan base on Amazon, sure. But none outside Amazon, so no, the existing fan base didn't source the wide sales. What I attracted was a new fan base that didn't get its books from Amazon, using a variety of advertising sources, such as BookBub ads, Bookbub Featured Deals, a variety of Kobo ads, social media, and ultimately word of mouth. At this point, "wide" is anywhere between one-third and half of my income, depending on the month, but it took time to get there and that's the key message. The ecosystem outside Amazon is very different. If I can mangle a few metaphors, Amazon is the shiny, get rich quick tech IPO with no guarantee of future successes, while "wide" is the boring, blue chip, dividend fund you build over time.
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2020, 02:52:09 AM »
Bookbub Featured Deals

That's what makes the difference.

If you get one, Wide works.

If you can't get one, Wide is a whole order of magnitude harder.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



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JRTomlin

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2020, 04:00:48 AM »
I think in part it depends on if you make money on KU, enough to give up being able to go perma free on the first in a series and being able to get a free price match whenever you want one.

I didn't so it is no contest that I want to be wide. I make up the lost income from KU on Apple but that took quite some time to build a following there, about a year to have it consistent. And my sales in Amazon are boosted by perma free and price matching far more than they ever were by KU, but that can vary drastically depending on your catalogue and your sales strategy. It obviously wouldn't suit everyone.

Bookbub Featured Deals

That's what makes the difference.

If you get one, Wide works.

If you can't get one, Wide is a whole order of magnitude harder.
There is a lot of truth to what you say.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2020, 04:08:49 AM by JRTomlin »
 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2020, 07:00:58 AM »
I can't tell if you're asking for advice or not.  Would you like to hear my opinion on the matter?

Sure.


Okay, cool.  Just wanted to make sure you were soliciting advice and not just venting.   :cheers

I agree with Eric about the time frame.  Eight weeks ain't enough.  Not even close.  You have to give it at least six months, and preferably a year.  My trilogy was on Apple for seven months before my traction there mysteriously developed.  That traction lasted about eighteen months before disappearing last fall just as suddenly as it appeared.  (I blame Apple TV for this.)

Have you run any newsletter promotions?  If not, then turn your click ads off and use that money for newsletters instead.  Promote your free first-in-series books.  And make Time is an Illusion permafree.  It's the first of a five-book series, which means lots of sell-through potential, but that potential is going to waste as long as that book's at $1.99.  Make it permafree, and then schedule a Freebooksy or something to promote it.  Your career isn't at the point yet where you can charge whatever you want.  You have to build a fan base first, or at least get a little momentum going, and that means getting as many copies of your work in front of as many eyeballs as possible, and the best way to do that is with free stuff.

As far as book covers go, I think the ones for your Carina series are awesome.  Don't ever change them.

The books for your Aydin Trammel series are short.  They're novellas, not novels, and that's going to make them a harder sell.  Strongly consider combining them into novel-length works.  Also, the covers for these books need improvement.  The imagery's not so bad, but the typography is hurting you.

Your Biomass book should be permafree.  Again, you're missing out on sell-through by keeping it at $1.99.

Your Max and the Time Dream books are novelettes.  They should be 99 cents at the most.  Consider making the first one permafree even though you won't really be able to promote it do to its length.  Alternatively, consider putting this series back in KU.

In general, go ahead and eliminate the $1.99 price point as an option completely.  It's a dead zone, the worst of both worlds (low royalty bracket but not cheap enough to make up for it on increased volume).

When you make a book permafree and start promoting that free book in earnest, most of the downloads you get will be from Amazon.  You might not think that would help you elsewhere, but it will.  Some of those Amazon readers will leave reviews on Goodreads or some place, and that will have a trickle-down effect to the other retailers, because Apple readers sometimes use Goodreads too, right?  The more social proof you can get, the better, and momentum has a way of snowballing in ways you didn't anticipate.

For a guide to free book promotions, go here.  Nick has done the hard work and wasted some money so that you don't have to.  He's one of the unsung heroes in indie publishing, in my opinion, just for that web page alone.


If I can mangle a few metaphors, Amazon is the shiny, get rich quick tech IPO with no guarantee of future successes, while "wide" is the boring, blue chip, dividend fund you build over time.


I think that's an excellent way to put it.  Wide gives you a trickle of income that allows you to gradually scale up your promotional efforts instead of going into debt on a KU moonshot.

Well, R.C., that's all I've got at the moment.  I hope I've helped.  I know some of what's in this post is of the "tough love" variety, but I really do just want to see you succeed.  Make those first-in-series books free, promote them via newsletters, and then see what happens.

Best of luck, and keep us in the loop about your results.   :cheers
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R. C.

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2020, 07:29:42 AM »
....
Best of luck, and keep us in the loop about your results.   :cheers

Excellent observations and suggestions... Damn it... Now I have to read your books.  grint :goodpost:

Cheers,
R.C.
 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2020, 08:02:53 AM »
Excellent observations and suggestions... Damn it... Now I have to read your books.  grint :goodpost:

Cheers,
R.C.


Lol... cheers, bud.   :cheers
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notthatamanda

Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2020, 08:03:54 AM »
I'll just add bknights on Fiverr always got me a good results if you want to dip your toes in the water. Lot cheaper than most other newsletters.
 
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R. C.

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2020, 08:19:08 AM »
I'll just add bknights on Fiverr always got me a good results if you want to dip your toes in the water. Lot cheaper than most other newsletters.

Love me some Fiverr - After a few false starts, I found an excellent Beta Editor and another for Developmental Editing.   Both are outstanding and reasonably priced.

Cheers,
R.C.

PS. PM me if you want their IDs.

Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Going Wide? I Think I Made A Mistake.
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2020, 03:59:29 AM »
I've been wide for a while (probably not long enough) but my books only seem to move when on sale for 99c.  I don't pay for advertising, so the sales aren't astronomical.

Most of my promotions are on social media...so I asked readers in one of the larger Facebook groups, and they said they want KU right now.  So, I'm going to be in KU for the holidays.  Maybe I'll try wide next spring?

ETA: Also, I could NOT get a BookBub while wide, so there's that.  Maybe I'll get lucky with one in KU over the winter. :)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 04:02:05 AM by Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books] »
 
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