Writing a flop! - Page 2

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Thread: Writing a flop!

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post

    My feelings (not necessarily backed by data, though I can't be troubled to look right now) on a lot of these social media platforms is that they've kind of jumped the shark anyway as far as outlets for marketing. Might be a demographic thing, but certainly fewer and fewer people I know are using Facebook, purely because it has become such a shady swamp for advertising and clickbait and general abuse of information. Point being, I can see a book -- any book -- really not benefiting from promotion via those platforms. On the other hand, a well-placed ad on a science fiction forum for a science-fiction book could well be a winner, I suspect, and that's not necessarily a place that people go to buy books either, right?
    Yeah, I dunno. The most recent indie-published book I bought was on the back of a tweet that linked to Amazon, all by the author. Admittedly I was in the market for an indie book and had already scoped out the one I bought, but the nudge was definitely there. To me, my concern - and tying in to what Olly says above - is that because so much of the standard Twitter (to take my most-used social media platform) sales pitches are so generic, I would get bored with that idea and try something crazy and new. For eg., I once considered setting up a Twitter account as my MC or my antagonist. But who would know? Who would even give a shit? And then, in the process I would worry that I would miss the fundamental nature of how to market via SM and burn loads of time in missing that mark, so get nowhere. It's entirely my MO. But that's me, not knowing what I'm doing.

    As I understand it, as it is, I think I will approach known accounts and book reviewers and get in with them and say "can you review my book and write something nice about it" and so forth (or pitch whatever crazy idea to them). That seems to be in line with, for instance, radio. A lot of informal-sounding "conversations" on the radio are adverts, as are shelf-placings and "staff picks"-type stuff in bookshops. You pay to have a fifteen minute chat about your product, or to have it left Casually Leaning At That Quirky Angle Against A Sack Of Coffee BeansTM in the store, and away it goes. I'd just have to find someone hungry for material, or at a reasonable cost, or for whom I can do some tit-for-tat.

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  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    I'd add a bit of shading to reason 4), I think, by saying the right people didn't hear about your book. As you note, there are a couple thousand new books put out every day, which makes it really easy for a book to get lost in the flood. But there are also a hell of a lot of readers out there. It's not necessary, or even advantageous, for all of these readers to hear about your book - it's only important that the right readers hear about it. The target market.

    People resist genre classifications and want to write what their muse demands, and this is great if writing is the main goal, but if selling is the main goal, it's a problem. Genre classifications make it possibly to connect the book with the right readers for that book. There may be two thousand new books a day, but there are only, maybe, a hundred new books in a specific genre. If your book fits easily into that genre, you're swimming in a much smaller pool and it's much easier to reach your intended market.

    So I'd add another element to your list, I think, for books that are, by their very nature, hard to market (b/c they don't fit into a tidy genre) and/or for books that are marketed to readers who are never going to read the book regardless.
    Very true. Some genres are harder to market than others. With Calizona I was able to market directly to survivalists and preppers because they have numerous forums and clubs.
    But other genres are not always so easy to crack (or even figure out where your readers are so you can market to them.)

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I'm curious about your costs, Ralph. It looks like you are factoring in the costs of book fairs to the cost of this one book, but is the dollar amount not based on the entire fee? If so, doesn't a book fair allow you to showcase all of your books? If not, if this is the cost of a single book or calculated through division, the costs of book fairs (which I know nothing about) seem extremely high -- are they worth it?

    Overall, I found your advice very useful and it kind of supports my feelings about publishing. I feel like it's a good argument for pursuing traditional publication in the event that option is feasible and/or the writer (me) lacks the sales and marketing knowledge. $732.79 is a lot of money to risk I certainly would not feel comfortable about being that much in the hole before a sale.

    A couple other questions for ya:

    - Is spending $150 on a cover a good idea? Given the strength of ebooks where covers are -- I would assume -- less important than in a book store, and the fact you can get cheaper, serviceable (though perhaps less strong) covers for far less than that (not the free ones, but - say - commissioning a freelancer to put together a simple yet non-shitty cover for maybe $50) $150 seems like a lot of avoidable cost. Similarly, with the custom font, I can see why nobody wants their cover in Comic Sans, but is a custom font for $30 as opposed to merely a more tasteful font, downloadable for a buck or two, a good investment?

    - Ads... I have personally never bought a book because of a banner ad, though I have looked at a couple. In any case, I feel like $100 for an Amazon ad is a lot. I'm not saying it's a bad investment, and you'll forgive me if this is ignorant on the workings of Bezos, but isn't there an option to simply have a book marked as 'promoted', bringing it to the top of the listings for awhile, rather than an actual ad? I don't buy books based on banner ads but I do buy books based on how easy they are to find and if a fee guarantees top-placement in a listing that would definitely help. Not sure if maybe that was included in the $100...?

    True that the book fair costs really should be split up since I was marketing multiple books at each (and sold very few copies of Ming.) The image is from my expenses spreadsheet I use for taxes, so it reflects all costs per anum.

    As for the $150 cover. This was actually a really, really good price for professional artwork. Although there are many really talented artists who do commissions...they are not cheap. At least not the good ones.
    I have used cheaper artists, and the result was...underwhelming.
    Most artists will charge +$300 for something like this.
    SigmaDog would quote you much higher for an image like this.

    With ads, you can set a daily limit, and a campaign limit, then let it run on its own. You can choose to be promoted content, as well as ads that appear on the wake-page of a kindle.
    I have never seen much return from Amazon ads tho.

  4. #14

  5. #15
    As near as I can tell, this book failed due to reason #3; It was just not a story anybody wanted to read.
    My marketing data showed that I successfully drove a lot of people to the page...but they did not buy.
    Reviews were positive (except one troll who I believe came from another forum) so I can likely rule out #1.

    So failures like this make me stop and consider the books I am currently working on.
    As much as I would like to write them all...I have to be realistic.
    Writing a book is a lotta work...a ton of work, in fact.
    So often I sideline a project simply because I do not see it being a market success.

    What's the point of getting up at 0400 every day to write a book when I know it'll flop like a fish?
    I have shit-canned some great stories for this reason.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    What's the point of getting up at 0400 every day to write a book when I know it'll flop like a fish?
    I have shit-canned some great stories for this reason.
    I guess the tough part of that is...how do you know?

    Hindsight is 20/20, but I do think you were a little hobbled pursuing something as niche as Ming the Merciless. I’m not sure of your target readership, but there does seem an inherent problem in writing a novel about a lesser known (at least in 2020) character from a comic strip. Sure, some comic fans would like it, but a lot of those comic fans don’t read or buy many novels — that’s why they are comic fans. It’s like trying to sell art to the chronically colorblind. I have run into this problem on a smaller scale. Writing short horror fiction and finding that the overwhelming majority of the market seems to be teenagers and young men, who tend not to be as interested in stories written from the point of view of say, an elderly woman or involving more complex emotional themes. What they tend to prefer is the imaginative, the transgressive, the aggressive, the apocalyptic and the bizarre. It is hard to sell ski equipment to desert dwellers.

    But of course the danger is remaining in the safe space. Who really knows what sells? Of course there are risks, but there are rewards, too. Where do you draw the line? What methodology do you use to figure it out? Data? Research? A hunch?

  7. #17
    First, I wouldn't single out a self-published author and post their work as an example of what not to do. Perhaps that could be deleted?

    Also, while I agree mostly, I'd also say it all depends.

    For one thing, some types of nonfiction, like the book cover posted in the original post, are a whole different animal from fiction. For a simple informational guide, the author may have actually made a good decision. The effort and expense for an upgraded book cover and marketing aren't always a good bet.

    For example, say someone was looking for info. on how to repair a toaster. The book cover would likely make no difference, plus there wouldn't likely be widespread appeal for such a book, so quick and cheap may well be the best bet there for the author.

    I've written some short nonfiction guides that are more like articles than books. Someone casually scanning them might think they were flops too, but they would be wrong.

    A short focused guide can often be done quickly and will sell to people who want that specific info. Over several years time, after being put up on Amazon and not bothered with again, that "flop" could actually be a great return per hour or per page, especially if the author limits the costs and time put into it.

    As far as your book, Ralph, well we all learn by trying different things. Maybe you could just think of it as paying for a SP marketing class. I bet you know a lot more about it now, so it was educational, right?
    Last edited by Ma'am; February 5th, 2020 at 12:58 AM.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I guess the tough part of that is...how do you know?

    But of course the danger is remaining in the safe space. Who really knows what sells? Of course there are risks, but there are rewards, too. Where do you draw the line? What methodology do you use to figure it out? Data? Research? A hunch?
    Very true. Some of the books I have sidelined were because they simply lacked any thrill. Sure, they were well-written...but boring. They were safe books.
    Other books I have sidelined were because I just could not find a way to blurb their plot (and make it sound good.)
    I dropped one project because in blurb form, it sounded very derivative (even though it was nothing like the other story.)

    Safe books are boring. They die a 3-star death.

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Ma'am View Post
    As far as your book, Ralph, well we all learn by trying different things. Maybe you could just think of it as paying for a SP marketing class. I bet you know a lot more about it now, so it was educational, right?
    Yep. It included a lot of homework.
    I had assumed that Ming would sell in the anti-hero category, and that genre was popular at the time when I wrote Ming (Deadpool was killing it at the box offices).
    But Ming is from the wrong generation. Ming is from my mom's era.

    One problem with the Ming cover was that Pinterest classified it as a comic book, so many of the hits the ad campaign sent to Amazon were actually comic-book enthusiasts.
    They were not looking for a novella, they were looking for comic books...and clicked out of the site without buying.

  10. #20
    One way I could tell this was simply not the story that anyone wanted to read was in how well it did on Ku-KOLL (the unlimited program).
    There are a lotta bad books in Kindle KOLL, so if your story is even half decent, it will get read a fair amount. KU-KOLL readers are starved for good books.
    But the Ming page count was abysmal.

    So the marketing was doing its job and getting them to the amazon BUY-page...but the cover, blurb, or topic made them not want to buy.
    Or read it for free.

    Time to write something new.

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