It been a busy week. It’s been a very, very busy week. The downside of getting older isn’t just your own health problems (so far, I’m blessed with relatively good health). It’s also the health problems of everyone in your vicinity! Did the Real Life Family Events (RLFEs) this week derail my writing plans? Did the Fussy Librarian ad come through? And, oh yeah, did I get any writing done? Let’s take a look at the numbers!
Progress Report 2023 Week 30 By the Numbers
Words are flowing! I’ve managed to write 7 chapters in Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis so far. Still not at full speed, but flowing nonetheless.
It seems I relearn this every time I start writing a book, but the word count begins more slowly as I acquire the characters’ exact moments of entry into the book. I’ll probably have a few days’ worth of set design and casting until I get firmly underway. So far, though, so good! The characters are vivid in my mind. I’m even experimenting a bit with more effective pacing! More on that in a moment.
Getting Serious about Marketing
No More Being Intentionally in the Dark
I’m tired of being tired. More specifically, this marketing thing has been kicking my ass, and I’ve let it. I’ve whined and moaned about how hard it is and about how it makes no sense to me. I look at my sales figures and know they could be better. I know because I’ve taken tiny steps that have moved the needle in the right direction. But not by enough.
And I’m sure my wife is tired of hearing me complain about it.
So that’s it. I’m getting serious. I’ve analyzed my marketing workflow to see what elements I can affect so I can measure the effect of changes. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, right? So, here’s what I’ve come up with:
Starting small is better than not starting at all.
Facebook ads have provided results. Other writers in my genres report success with Facebook ad. So, I’m starting there. I can control the audience I select, I can control the text on the ad, I can control the graphic I use, and I can control the budget. All those things are designed to do two things: attract the attention of a potential reader and convince them to click.
The click takes them to Amazon’s listing. There, I can control the cover, the blurb, and the price. Reviews and rating play a big role, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m ignoring them because I can’t control them.
Software-Like Versioning to the Rescue
With this diagram in mind, I’m going to begin tweaking my ad buys. I’ve put together a spreadsheet that includes these columns:
Can you tell I write software?
I have directories that correspond to the FB Art version and the Amazon Blurb version. If I make a change, I’ll create a new folder, increment the version, place the materials in that new folder, then monitor these key performance indicators in Facebook’s Ad Manager:
I’ll use those to calculate the number of clicks per impression and then the number of sales per click. Just going through the process of setting this up, I think I’ve discovered that the new Amazon blurbs I was so excited about reduced my sales by about 15%. I think I know why. So, this week, I’m going to tweak them, increment the version number for Amazon Blurb, and track their performance.
Overkill? Maybe. I’ve talked to some folks about this, and some have suggested I’m being overly analytical. The problem is, if I don’t work this through in my own (maybe stupid) way, I won’t learn. I’m tired of not learning, so I’m going to apply the same methods that helped me become a software developer, which started back in the 1980s.
In other words, I’m using the skills that gave me, and kept giving me, a successful primary career over the last thirty-five plus years.
Right now, that’s what I got.
The Latest News from Advertising
Last week, I had an ad run with Fussy Librarian. They’re a site that David Gaughran recommended. The day of and the day after the ad ran, my sales jumped by about 250%. To me, it looks like it was successful. I’m going to keep them in the rotation. They’re also really easy to work with — they even send out a reminder when it’s time to order another ad!
Also, if you’re a reader, I think you’ll find their newsletter showcases a lot of interesting writers. I’ve found several new writers to read by looking at their daily newsletter.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it? And you know what? Pithy cliches aside, I am, here and now, setting an audacious goal. I’m supposed to aim high and all that, right? So here’s my goal:
My writing will earn the same amount of money as my current salary within five years. That includes benefits. Because, you know, this is the USA, and we don’t do universal health care here.
Don’t get me started.
That’s my goal. That means I’ll need to do two things:
- Write more books
- Stop sucking at marketing
Let’s see how this goes!
Progress against Last Week’s Goals
Here are my goals from last week:
- Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Plot Turn 1: Done!
- Finish Catalina Ojeda’s Hook: Done!
- Finish Magali Suarez’ Hook: Deferred
- Start Noam Katz’ Hook (stretch objective): Derferred
- Evaluate the results of the Fussy Librarian ad on July 20th: Done!
This week, I took another look at my opening’s pacing. As a result, I shuffled some of the introductory chapters around. Ordinarily, I toggle through the six POV hooks to introduce them to the reader, but I don’t think that gives my readers time to know who’s important. Or to form any kind of emotional bond with any of the characters. So this week, I also finished Matsushita Sachi’s Plot Turn 1 and Melchizedek Conrad’s Plot Turn 1. They’re part of what I’m thinking of as the A Plot, and this gives readers a chance to get to know them better.
I think this order might be more emotionally effective.
So I got the number of chapters written that I intended. I just switched the order around.
Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 30
Here are my goals for the week:
- Finish Magali Suarez’ Hook
- Finish Noam Katz’ Hook
- Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Pinch 1
- Start Matsushita Sachi’s Pinch 1
- Tweak the Amazon blurbs for Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action, Book 2: Dying Breath, and Book 3: Primary Target.
What Do You Think?
Do you find setting lofty goals helpful? Do they inspire you? Or do they discourage you? I’d love to know about your experience — please feel free to share in the comments!