I am toying with the idea of running a 99 cent sale on Blood of the Tainted. For those that don’t know, this is my most recent horror novel release, and my first foray into Vampire horror.
Now, before you start thinking vampirish thoughts, these are not your twenty-first century vampires; love sick puppies who would rather spend their immortality lusting after teenage girls, but rather the kind that spend eternity chowing down on the local population. My vampire, for there is only one in my novel, is an ass kicking murder machine.
Now I will happily say that Blood of the Tainted is my best horror novel to date. There is something about it that just came together. Not to mention I grew a lot as a writer while writing it. It was a learning book for me, I honed my processes on it.
Yet, it is not selling. It has a paltry three reviews, after being out for over three months.
Honest book reviews are the best way for an author to get seen. I will not claim to understand how sales and marketing work, as I have often said in my posts here, but I do know that book reviews are powerful. So it is my goal now to get more book reviews in for Blood of the Tainted. I want to look for these on Amazon, and of course on websites, real book review sites. The kind where people go when they are actually looking to buy books.
Until now, my 99 cents campaigns have relied on Facebook for the promotion. Why? Because I am clueless. I will be honest with you on that one.
This time around, however, I am intent on doing it properly. I am not going to rush in. I am already looking around, looking for sites that I can approach for promotion. I have a long list of book promotion sites – taken from a few websites I found on google offering such information – and I am going to go through a number of them and draw up a list of sites I think would work best for me.
I have been looking at BookBub, this morning and I learned two things. One, without having a budget to invest, the big sales are a real struggle to obtain. The second thing was that horror really is a small group. It is one of the lowest supported categories on the BookBub site. It has an approximate reach of 670,000 subscribers. Now, that sounds like a lot, but when you look at Thrillers, you see they have 1,890,000 subscribers, while mysteries hold the number one spot with 2,430,000 subscribers.
Now, the prices are adjusted accordingly, but I find it interesting, as many shops list their horror selections amidst the thriller section, yet from an indie perspective, there is quite a difference between the two in terms of sales potential.
If I were to be accepted by BookBub for a 99 cents promotion campaign, it would cost me $240. Now, they say that the average return is 950 books. Now, for me, luck is never on my side, so I will treat that as the upper level rather than the average. So in my head, I would be looking for around 750 reach. That sounds good, but at 30 cents a sale in royalties, I would need to sell about 800 copies just to break even. Now, if I could even get close to that, my ranking on amazon would certainly be rather impressive, and then there is the hopeful surge of sales that will come through once my 99 cent promotion has ended, but there are a lot of ifs and maybes there.
The truth is, I don’t see this being a viable option for me based on the price alone, at this point in time, but it is certainly something I would be interested in exploring later on.
The question is, what can I realistically expect to be achieved on a $0.00 budget, because that is what I am working with. I know it is possible, but you need work your ass off, and you need help. Lots of people sharing posts and the like. I have a few ideas planned out in my head for this, and I am sure to be coming back here with a rallying cry in a few weeks, once I have a clearer picture.
It was in April / May last year that I ran my last 99 cent campaign for my zombie horror novel Diaries of the Damned, that landed me a number one rank in a sub category on Amazon and a record month of over 300 sales on that title alone. I had help back then. This time around I will be flying solo, but with a little bit of structure, I am sure I can at least break this current rut and get a few sales and reviews coming in.
I will only run the sale on Blood of the Tainted, and I am debating whether or not to make it a month long price drop, or a shorter period. I am leaning towards the month, because word will need to spread. Not everybody will read the blogs straight away, and the latent traffic that comes in the days after the post goes live also deserve a chance to get in on the act. If it is over in a week or so, then you could lose out on potential sales. Maybe a two – three week range is a good size. I will add that to my research.
While sales are unpredictable, there is a pattern to things. Maybe not a magic formula for best-selling success, but research and an analytical approach to the results of others, will surely yield some insights that I have missed until now.
How much luck have you had with 99 cents promotions? I would be interested in reading up on any correlations between pricing strategies and genres. It would be interesting to see, but that is a step too far right now. Baby steps, first I need a good plan, and implement it properly, measure the impact, and then look to play around with fine tuning the strategy.
Sometimes, a character introduces themselves to you in such a fashion that you cannot ignore them. It is not a simple matter of them appearing to say hello and settling back down to wait their turn to be written. These characters storm into your life and disrupt even the most boring day to day tasks.
I have just been introduced to one of these characters, and he just refuses to pipe down. He stands here with all day long, whispering in my ears. Demanding that I stop what I am doing and tell his story. Now, I can understand why he is doing this. His tale is quite the one to tell. But I just cannot do it. Not yet.
Brother Jack is upset with me for this, and is starting to shout louder and louder, in the vain hope that I take heed of his words and give him the paper he needs to unburden his soul. Or maybe to trap yours.
You see, Brother Jack is not a nice man. He is a troubled man, whose backstory alone would be a novel that would make most people cringe, reincarnating those childhood fears of what happens in the dark. His story is one of a child forced to bear witness to all manner of horrific deeds and acts. Incidents that even a grown man should never have to witness. He was a child that was forced to grow up long ahead of his time. He was taught anger and rage ahead of love and compassion. He was a quick learner. Too quick in fact. For he learned not to shrink away from the things that were to him. Rather, he embraced them. He enjoyed them, and longed for the chance to be able to add his own twist on things. Brother Jack’s childhood was destroyed, but only he understood that he was not meant for childhood. He was someone else. He was something else. Trapped in the body of a child, he had an understanding of the world that transcended social acceptance.
Locked away from the world, a supposed punishment, Brother Jack found nourishment. In many ways, even though he lived for many years before it happened, he was not truly born until that fateful day. The day the fires were lit. The day of the burning.
These are his words. This is what he told me today. I do not know the full extent of what he endured, but I understand the sick obsession he developed with the ways of the world. The way things worked.
He is a loving man, and he cares deeply for those that he has welcomed into his circle. He educates them, and he is looking forward to being given the chance to educate you also.
Where did Brother Jack Come From?
Normally, when a character appears in my mind, I can trace where he came from. I can piece together the moments of my day that led to his creation. Brother Jack, however, is different. I cannot quite fathom when he came to be. He feels as if he is part of me. The more he talks, and the more I listen, for when Brother Jack talks, you cannot help but listen to him, the more I start to think that he was nor created, but born in the deepest corner of my mind. He was produced and now he has decided that this is his time to rise. He is not asking me to tell his story, he is telling it to me, and I feel compelled to pass it on. Maybe it is because what he has to say, is far too harrowing for even a man like me to take.
Obviously, Brother Jack is not his real name. It was the name he gave himself upon his second birth. He has a lot of people that listen to him. He has a lot of people out in the world who are willing to do what he asks, simply because he asks it. They do not question him, and are loyal to the extreme. You might say, if you feel so inclined as to try and categorize Brother Jack, that he is running a cult. The patriarch of a sect, a family, where every woman is Sister, and every man is merely a tool. You see Brother Jack likes the ladies, and whether they are willing to admit it or not, the ladies will love Brother Jack.
I am not ready to tell the story of Brother Jack. I only met him recently, and while he has not stopped his whisperings, he has done little to educate me in the wider construct of his life. As I have said several times, I have two other novels currently on the go, but I am fascinated by Brother Jack. I know he is not a nice man, not by the constraints of social opinion, but I like him. He has struck a chord with me, and I would feel as if I were abandoning him were I to just bury him in a few lines on a ‘Book Notes’ files somewhere in the corners of my Dropbox folder.
As should be the case with a man of his particular interests and desire, he is rather charismatic, and I am loathe to turn my back on him. So, while I cannot actually tell his story just yet, I am strongly considering giving him a regular post on my blog. A post devoted to the ‘Word of Brother Jack’. It will be his own place, where he can unburden himself, and introduce you all to his world. What do you think? Should I hand my blog over to a cult leader, and one of the most deranged, and dangerous individuals my brain has even conjured.
Brother Jack’s true image is still percolating in my brain, but I currently see him as a cross between Captain Spaulding and Bray Wyatt. He is a fairly large man, and he walks with a cane. He has a back injury at the moment, but once he has healed, he is a strong, strong man. I can’t wait to learn more about him, and I think giving him a place to preach will help me keep his development going, placate his yearning for attention, and still allow me the peace of mind to finish my current novels.
The only thing that worries me, well maybe no worries, because I love pushing buttons and boundaries, is that Brother Jack is certainly not for everybody, and to give him a place to sound his voice, dare I say a place to perfect his voice ahead of his big book debut, might cause some folks to run and hide from me, rather than following me. I will not censor the Brother Jack posts, they will be raw and real, I will probably use real time current affairs, mixed with a little hint of fiction to give him something to preach about each week, and maybe work on revealing small glimpses of his own character development as I go.
I know I have been saying this a lot lately, but I am really excited to explore Brother Jack and see how dark I can make him.
Another thing that concerns me is that maybe, just maybe, I am crossing too many lines with this one. Or rather, I could do, if someone is not there to reel me in from time to time. Boundaries are there to be broken, but how far is too far?
Today was the day! A new milestone was reached and a marker laid. The foundations of growth are being laid, and the winds of change are blowing through my writerly sails. I am preparing to bid adieu to the doldrums and stride forth into the great beyond ready to take on everything that stands in my way; follow me or be crushed.
Okay, that might be a little over the top on the drama, but I did send out my first newsletter this morning. To a whole eleven willing souls nonetheless.
It might not be much, but it is a start, and I really am excited about the idea of making this newsletter something regular.
Right now it will be used to replace my weekly wrap up post on the blog. There are two reasons why I chose that post for the newsletter. It is a nice post that gives information about what I have been doing and what I am planning on doing in the coming week. Also, it is a post / piece that I can easily write every week without worrying about running out of inspiration. It is just a recap of what has actually happened after all. Plus, it was a post that seemed to generate very little interest on my blog each week. Now, that might be an indication that it is not a good post to make my newsletter, but as my recipient list grows so will my plans with it.
That does however mean that I will need to come up with a new blog idea on the weekends. I’ve not really had much time to think about it yet, but I there is something that I am thinking about which could be a good laugh. You never know, if it takes off, there could even be some free books being given away to those that join in the fun and games.
One thing that is for sure, is that this newsletter and the other things I can do with the mailing list I am compiling is certainly the first solid step in a new period of permanent growth for me, and I am really excited about where it will go.
I am hoping that if I can use the newsletter enough, to bring relevant content out into the world, my number of subscribers will grow, and with it so will my options. There is no way for me to guarantee that this approach will yield success, but it is worth a try. The world of book sales and promotion, especially for a solo-flying nobody like me, is a black hole that is filled with both infinite possibilities. The chance of anything succeeding is just as great as the chance of failure. If anything, there are more chances of finding success, providing you are realistic in what you call a success. To me, that is a single sale, to me, knowing that somebody has bought the work I have written, makes it a success.
Stephen King himself said that if somebody pays to money for something you have written, and you can take that money and pay a utility bill, then you are a success. The thing is, most of us have allowed our minds to get clouded. To be a success we need to match those around us. We need to keep pace with, and surpass the rest of the pack. Yes, that is a success, but it is not the only form.
Sure, awards are nice, and it does make a good impression to some when they see ‘Stoker Award Winner’ on a cover, but ultimately, it means nothing. Now, before people start jumping up and down, I am not dissing the Stokers, or any other award out there. Would I jump up and down with delight if nominated? Of course. All I am saying is that it does not mean anything if you win awards. There are lots of awards and lots of categories around the world. Look at the Oscars. How many great movies are there that never won any, and how many steaming piles of cow dung that did. It is all subjective, and if you know the right people, and can make your face seen in the right places, you are guaranteed to get something.
The same for ranking in subcategories. I did it with Diaries of the Damned, and yes, I still brag about it, that I was number one in the British Horror category last May, but it does not mean anything. That same book is now languishing around the 1 million mark on Amazon, and is still my best selling title. It was a success then, but it did not make me a success. Do you see what I am getting at? We need to be able to break down the true meaning of success and see that everything we accomplish, no matter how it is viewed by others, is still a success.
A Head Full of Ideas
My biggest problem at the moment is that I am working on two novels, well, one primarily, and the other is there for whenever I need a change of pace, but my brain keeps throwing up new ideas for me. New novels and short stories that the muse is demanding I write. She stands over my shoulder all day long, like a devil in disguise, whispering in my ear, filling my head with her creative impulses and urges. I am a slave to her desires, nothing more than a conduit for her voice, but even the must be kept in check, and so I need to focus on these novels, and get them written, so that I can make room for all of the new playthings I have been given. There are some run of the mill ideas, but also a fair few stories that shocked even me at first. These tales need to be handled with care, because they could easily explode into something far darker than even I have contemplated writing up to this point.
Fuck it, explode away, I am reading to write something that will shock people, that will viciously wrench the words from their mouths, and leave their very soul feeling as dirty as a hooker at the end of a busy night. Two tales in particular are guaranteed to repulse even those that have put up with my crazy ramblings until now. They are coming, and they know who you are. They are coming for each and every one of you, and there will be no hiding from these stories.
You have been warned.