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Robert New

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October 2018

Doubling my readership in a day/ Advice for new authors.

Marketing for indie/small press authors is an interesting process. Unlike with traditional publishers nearly the entire onus is on the author. For me, I’ve recently run my first giveaway for Incite Insight. This was always going to be loss-making since I wasn’t charging for my book. I spent about A$90 on a few mailing lists to advertise that the e-book was free for five days. I had over 1200 downloads of the book on the first day, when the bulk of the advertising was sent out, and over 1600 by the end of the five days. The giveaway has so far netted me several new reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, many more ratings, and a lot more adds by unique users on Goodreads. I’ve had several new kindle unlimited borrows of both Movemind and Incite Insight since the promotion, so it seems to have generated interest in my writing in the short term at least.

Since I’d only sold 800 copies of Incite Insight prior to the giveaway, I more than doubled my readership in a single day, which felt like quite an achievement. Despite this, I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy for a new writers for several reasons:

  • Despite the quantity of downloads, these sales don’t count towards my Amazon ranking (there is a separate ranking list for ‘free books’).
  • Unless you have something your readers can pay for after reading the free e-book, you won’t get any return on your investment.
  • You can just make it free and do your own social media post about it, you might get a few hundred downloads, but to get the quantity of downloads to make it worthwhile you need pay to advertise.
  • The return in terms of reviews and ratings was (for me at least) far less than for paid readers. While I gained a couple of new Amazon reviews from the 1600 downloads, I’d received over 20 reviews from the prior 800 sales.

However, I think it would be a good idea for the following:

  • If I was a new author, I’d wait until I had two, or better yet, three titles available. Then I’d run a free promotion on one of the titles, followed by a second one on a different title a few weeks later. This would let you gauge the impact on your sales, help you get some reviews and build some momentum for you as an author.
  • Three weeks to a month after I released a new title (ie: wait for the friends, family and fans to buy their copies), and assuming I already had another three titles available, I’d consider making the new release free to help it gain some additional reviews and awareness. The consequential sales/borrows of the e-book should offset some of the cost of advertising that the book is free. Often, your latest writing is your best, so picking up new readers whose first exposure is to your best work is a good idea (and the psychologist in me says if they’ve like the first book of yours they read, then they’ll view the others in a better light).
  • If your goal is to gain new readers, improve your target audience’s awareness of your writing, or to boost the number of ratings and reviews rather than a monetary return on investment/making money from sales, then this is probably the most cost-effective marketing you can do. It exposes your book and your name (important for branding) to hundreds of thousands of readers (depending on the mailing lists you advertise on) and gets a lot of readers you would not normally reach (people will download it simply because its free) to read your book.

For more on marketing see my marketing page.

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Next Books / What I’m working on.

Colours of Death: Sergeant Thomas Casebook will be out next year (provisionally, around Easter). This collection of detective stories features several characters from Incite Insight. While the stories are set after the events of Incite Insight (ie Brad Thomas is now close to a Sherlock level sleuth), they are independent of that novel. Each story has a colour theme, hence the title. It’s about to come back from the editor so is on the way to getting ready. The cover is all set though. I like it a lot. A chance meeting by Tale Publishing with a cover designer at a convention has really paid off.

Before that one, Mug Punter will be released (probably in November). It is a collection of three short stories which were culled from Movemind and Colours of Death as they didn’t quite fit in with the rest of those books. For more information on that see my post Mug Punter.

I’m also working on my first non-fiction book. It’s about fear, or perhaps more accurately, fearlessness. It is really tough to write, not because I can’t write a clear account of scientific or complex concepts (it’s pretty much what I do in my fiction writing and I’ve written the equivalent of over 300,000 words in my academic degrees), but because it’s so much slower to write when you can’t just say what you want to say without explaining where the concept came from.  Although, the biggest barrier is that I keep trying to write an essay rather than non-fiction prose, so I spend a lot of time rewriting what I’ve already written to have the right tone and style.

Short version – I’m probably giving myself too many projects, but writing down what’s planned helps me turn it into a reality. Before anyone suggests it – it’s not a ‘vision board’ sort of thing, more a stubborn desire to be seen to be achieving my goals.

Mug Punter

Next month I’m hoping to release an *air quotes* “new book.” Due to its relatively short length (only 46 pages), Mug Punter is more akin to a promotional item than a book. The e-book is likely to retail for between 99c and $1.49 (TBD) and the paperback $5.99.

The stories in Mug Punter were going to be included in Movemind, but they seemed out of place. They were then going to be included in Colours of Death: Sergeant Thomas’ Casebook (out next year) as the original plan was to divide the book into four groups of stories; work out how the person died, work out who did it, catch the killer before someone dies, and criminal capers. Once again, the capers just seemed out of place, and didn’t fit the colour theme so they were cut. But I liked the stories and my writers group has given positive feedback on them. So I want them to see the light of day, which is why I’m self-releasing Mug Punter (although it will still be distributed through Tale Publishing).

The stories themselves are similar in tone and style of The Legend of Legend and The Lost Chapter from Movemind and while they do have my usual sprinkling of ‘here’s an interesting idea,’ it’s less of a feature; They’re fun, light-hearted short stories in the vein of the Dortmunder series (by Donald E. Westlake). I hope you enjoy them.

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