The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: marketing and publicity

Evolution of a Paranormal Romance Cover

Restless Spirits version 1Out of all of my books, the one by far that has gone through the biggest identity crisis is Restless Spirits. It started out as a paranormal fantasy novel, although it’s kind of chick lit, written as it is from the first person POV of a twenty-something woman trying to sort out her afterlife. The cover had a dreamy looking barefoot girl in a white dress beckoning to the reader. It did a pretty decent job of getting the romance across, but not much else — not the touches of humor, and certainly not the more frightening dark fantasy aspects that verge on horror.

DOMINION Free Run Post-Mortem

Those Fiverr gigs I mentioned last week have been keeping me busy — hence the slowdown in posting here. Unfortunately, it also resulted in a slowdown (or more like a full stoppage) on my novel WIP, but I have plans to get back into that tonight. I know I don’t usually blog in the middle of the day, but for once my freelance writing is done for the day. I’ve been wanting to talk about the results of my recent free run of Dominion of the Damned, so I figured I’d seize the opportunity to give a quick rundown so I can focus on noveling this evening after Husband turns in.

Quick recap: Last month I enrolled my zombievampocalyptic suspense novel, Dominion of the Damnedin Kindle Select. For five consecutive days earlier this month, from May 5th through the 11th, I made the Kindle version free on Amazon. Here’s the rundown of how that went:

  • On the first day I reached the Top 20 Free list in my selected categories (Dystopian and Dark Fantasy) in both the US and the UK. By day two I’d moved well into the Top 10, and stayed there for the rest of the free run, getting as high as #3 in Dystopian. At some point I also charted in the Top 10 in Austrlia, where I got as high as #2.
  • I ended up giving away 2,114 books total — far, FAR more than any free runs I’ve done on other titles. That breaks down to 1,799 in the US, 270 in the UK, 12 in Germany (surprising, until I remembered that I have a friend who used to be stationed there who probably made some recommendations to his Air Force buddies), 3 in France and 2 in India (both of those are just plain surprising), 15 in Canada and 13 in Australia. Interesting that 13 books is enough to chart at #2 in Australia but 15 didn’t even crack the top 100 in Canada. Clearly, there are a lot more Kindle readers in Canada than in the UK or Australia.
  • During the run I racked up two more verified purchase reviews and sold two copies of Restless Spirits.

Sounds great, but the true test was whether it would continue to give me a boost in sales and visibility once the free run ended and the price went back to normal. Well, since then I’ve sold 10 more copies of Dominion (nine in the US and one in the UK), and a copy of Eucha FallsGranted, those sales aren’t enough to let me lay aside freelancing any time soon, but they’ve added up to enough royalties to cover one of our smaller bills, and considering it had been weeks since the last time I’d made a book sale, and months since I’ve sold a copy of Dominion, I’m pretty happy with those results.

As to visibility, I also had another positively glowing verified purchase review, AND reports have come in from the wild (okay, one report, from my sister, but I’ll take it) that Dominion has begun to show up in the book recommendation e-mails Amazon sends out to its customers.

All in all, I’d call it a success — so much so that I think I’ll plan to rotate through each of my titles and do a free run every six weeks or so, except for when I have a new release, in order to ensure that my books stay visible.

And once again, I’d like to thank David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible! for helping me pull off a successful execution of this strategy. If you’ve got books to sell, you should definitely read this book.

DOMINION is free! Also, good things happen when you follow good advice.

Dominion of the Damned by Jean Marie Bauhaus Dominion of the Damned is currently a free Kindle download on Amazon, both domestically  and internationally. It will remain free through this Sunday, and then it will go back to its regular price of US$3.99. So get your free copy while you can!

I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with its performance so far. Today is the first day it dropped to free, and until now I haven’t publicized that fact anywhere outside of my mailing list (which is still quite tiny). But as I write this it’s on the verge of crossing 500 downloads, and it’s already cracked the Top 10 Free lists in both the Dark Fantasy and Dystopian categories.

This time around I followed advice from David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible on selecting the right categories to increase visibility, and it seems to be paying off. Before, I had it listed in the more general Horror and Contemporary Fantasy categories, where there was a lot more competition. The current categories are not only more appropriate, but also less populated, which means I didn’t have to register nearly as many downloads to crack the popularity lists as I would have in the previous genres.

Of course, only time will tell if this gives my sales a boost once the price goes back to normal. Hopefully, it will at least earn me some new fans and a few more reviews.

***

910 words added to Radium Town today, bringing the total word count to 8,792. That’s the most fiction I’ve written in a single day in quite some time. I’d hoped to crack 1K, but I told myself I would stop at 9:30 so I could get this post written and still have time to watch last night’s Supernatural and get in some reading on Wizard and Glass and still get my butt to bed on time.

I think this book is shaping up to be a good candidate for serialization, what with its long chapters and plenty of opportunities for cliff-hangers. That’s definitely territory I’ve been wanting to explore, but then again, I’ve kind of always planned to shop this book to agents, so I need to give that a lot more thought.

At any rate, here’s a rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output:

Outside, the air was brisk and clear. Betty pulled her cape a little tighter and followed Will down the steps to the front walk. When they reached the street, he held the gate open for her and asked, “So what’s so urgent you’ve got to leave a dinner party to send a telegram at this time of night?”

Betty sighed. “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s classified.”

“Classified? Heck, Betty, if you don’t want to tell me, all you got to do is say so.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and lapsed into silence as they headed toward Main Street. Betty made no attempt to fill it. She knew it wouldn’t last long. After a moment, he proved her right. “So what have you been doing all this time in Washington? Or is that classified, too?”

Betty smiled. “Depends on which parts you want to know about.”

Indiegogo Campaign Results

My Indiegogo book pre-sale campaign wrapped up the other day, and for those following and learning from my marketing efforts, I thought I’d share the results, along with a few observations.

Because Indiegogo won’t let you set a goal lower than $500, that was my “official” goal; but my unofficial goal was only $250, and I beat that by $5. Sure, in my wildest dreams I hoped that it would take off and get over-funded and actually serve as a source of income this month, as well as covering additional promotional costs, but I didn’t really expect that to happen, and it didn’t. Still, it accomplished the primary thing that I set out to accomplish, which was to raise enough to cover the costs of finalizing the cover, so all in all I’m calling it a success.

It did offer a few surprises, though. Where I expected to sell a lot of e-books and thought I’d do well to sell one or two paperbacks, what actually happened was that I sold several of the signed paperback packages and only a few e-books. The majority of my funders were friends–no surprises there–but I did have a couple of strangers buy some copies. I will say that I had hoped for more participation from friends and family helping me spread the word by sharing the link with their networks, but, eh, people are busy, and writers, like prophets, are rarely appreciated in their hometown, so I didn’t really have high expectations in that regard. The ones who did pass on the link, though, have my heartfelt appreciation, and have moved to the top of my list of favorite people. Just kidding about that last part. Sort of. ;p

I think my biggest takeaway is that for this sort of campaign to be wildly successful, one needs to have an established fan base full of people who will not only spend their money on your work, but also evangelize it for you far and wide. I do not yet possess such a fan base. But I do, thankfully, have enough people who believe in my writing and are enthusiastic about it enough to support me in order to get a cover funded, and that’s a really good start.

So would I recommend doing an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign to a newbie indie author? It depends. If they’re looking for funding to write their book, then no. But if they have a small goal to match their small readership, I do think Indiegogo is an excellent way to take pre-orders in order to cover publishing costs. My main advice is to keep your goal small and your expectations low, and expect to do the main work of spreading the word yourself.

My other main takeaway is that I really need to find a way to get my work in front of more and different people, because I think pretty much everybody within the reach of my network has been told about it. To that end, I’ll be focusing the bulk of my marketing efforts from here on out on getting book bloggers and reviewers to review Dominion in the hopes of reaching new people. I know that there’s an audience out there for this book, and I believe it’s a sizable audience; despite the fact that there are people who are sick to death of vampires and zombies, there are also still plenty of folks who can’t get enough of either genre. Now I just have to get out there and find them.

How To Market Your Novel (Or How Not To)

So, remember last spring, before I became way too busy to blog, how I had begun a series on self-publishing how tos and wherefores? How’s about we pick that back up with a look into my marketing plan. This isn’t so much an expert How To on marketing your book, so much as it is me thinking “out loud” about building a marketing plan for Dominion of the Damned. Let’s all learn together, shall we?

Yes, let’s.

You may recall, if you’ve been hanging out with me a while, that I didn’t really have any kind of marketing plan when I published Restless Spirits. That book was all about the learning process, and everything I did, I did by the seat of my pants (including writing it, actually; I’m normally much more of a plotter, but I totally “pansted” that one), and the majority of my efforts to publicize it happened after it was already published.

So I’m trying to be more organized with Dominion, partly for SCIENCE — let’s do a comparative study to see if pre-publication marketing, and an actual marketing plan, make a difference to book sales. Of course, it’s also partly–mostly, I’d say–motivated by the hope that indeed it will make a difference and I’ll sell a lot of books.

So let’s look at what I’ve got planned, and some of the ideas I’m still kicking around, to publicize Dominion.

  • Build a website. I’ve already done this, actually, although, as usual, I have plans to spruce it up with a custom layout if I ever find the time. For now it’s just a basic WordPress site with basic customizations. Right now it’s on a subdomain on this site. I’m on the fence about whether I should register a proper domain for it, mainly because I’m still at a place where I need to watch my spending. If money weren’t an issue, I’d go ahead and register the domain.
  • Build a mailing list. I’ve set one up already, but I still need to come up with something to entice people to take the trouble to sign up.  I also need to figure out exactly what to do with it once people do sign up. It will probably involve exclusive previews, giveaways and discounts. Maybe even the occasional flash fiction or something you can only read — or get to read first — by signing up.
  • Post an excerpt — also done. I’m also planning to include it in the back of the short story I’m currently working on, which I’ll make free for the first month or so. I might also put it at the back of Restless Spirits and do another sale or giveaway of that title. And a lengthier preview might be part of what I offer my newsletter subscribers.
  • Do a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell copies? I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while now. I fear I don’t have enough fans just yet to make this worthwhile, but it is another avenue of publicity and raising awareness. Also, I only need to pre-sell about ten copies to raise the funds to buy the stock images I want to use on the cover, plus a few extra for the next item on my list…
  • A book trailer. I’m currently unconvinced about the effectiveness of book trailers to actually sell books, but I am convinced about the effectiveness of a good YouTube video to drive website traffic and boost SEO, so it’s worth the efffort, I think.
  • Goodreads giveaways – something else a Kickstarter could help finance. If I can’t afford to give away paperback copies, though, I can still do some sort of e-book giveaway here on the blog. And if I DO do Kickstarter, that campaign will involve various giveaways and prizes, too.
  • A blog tour — I don’t know if I’ll actually have time to organize a formal blog book tour, but I did sign back up to the IWU Blog Tour, which I think was responsible for generating the majority of my sales on the last book. Oh, and that also means that you guys have more guest posts and interviews from other Indie authors to look forward to in the near future.
  • And of course the social networking. In lieu of going into detail about that here, I’ll break down the individual networks in future posts.

So that’s the gist of my marketing plan this time around. What do you think? See any flaws in my logic, or any opportunities I’m missing? Don’t be shy about telling me so in the comments.

Cover Wars

Thanks to everyone who offered feedback on the potential cover concepts for Dominion of the Damned. The general consensus was overwhelmingly in favor of the third concept, featuring a girl with a gun standing on a desolate highway, the feedback on which ranged from “least cheesy” to “awesome.” Of course, for practical and budgetary reasons I was hoping the majority would favor the second concept, which wouldn’t cost me anything to produce. But both aesthetically and conceptually I’m in agreement with the readers—I think the cover representing my protagonist is the strongest.

Now the next step is to purchase a high-res copy of the photo, which will have to wait until my next payday, and then refine the concept into something that is hopefully totally awesome and not at all cheesy—although, when you’re talking about a cover to a novel about vampires subjugating the human race in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, I have a feeling that a certain segment of the population is going to find a certain amount of cheese no matter what. And I admit that my vision of zombie hands reaching toward the girl from out of frame probably won’t do anything to decrease the cheese factor. Although that would probably be stretching beyond the limit of my Photoshop skills, so that version of the cover very well may not happen.

Feedback is also starting to come back in on the book itself, and if the consensus agrees with the first beta reader, I’m going to have a fair amount of rewriting to do before it’s ready for prime time. So, allowing for uncertainty and the fact that I ALWAYS underestimate how long stuff like this will take me to get done, we’re probably looking at a June release. Which is fine, as that gives me time not only to make the cover as awesome as I can make it, but also to get new author portraits made. Not that the old ones aren’t perfectly lovely, compositionally speaking, thanks to the EXTREME talents of my baby sister, but they were taken at an incredibly sucky time in my life, and also in the life of my hair. So a new portrait is definitely in order.

My agenda for today also includes drafting a marketing plan for the book, which I’ll share here once I get it nailed down. I didn’t have any kind of plan or do any pre-marketing for Restless Spirits, so it should be an interesting case study to see if any of that makes a difference for Dominion.

But first thing’s first, and that’s perfecting the cover. I’m sure I’ll be hitting you guys up for more feedback once I get it closer to the final version.

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