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Progress Report 2023 Week 35

How much marketing spend is enough? Was John D. Rockefeller’s famous response to a similar question the right answer to mine? I was on vacation from my primary career last week. Did it help me get more writing done? Let’s answer those questions, or try to, after we look at the infographic!

Progress Report 2023 Week 35 By the Numbers

You’d think that having more time to write would have significantly increased my output. While a 20% increase is nothing to sneeze at, I had hoped for more. The A Plot is taking more reflection than I thought. It’s because I’m trying to dig deep and write from the gut. That’s tough for me. Also, the sequencing is a little more intricate than I had anticipated — along the lines of what happened to me with Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus. But it’s coming together.

How Much Marketing Money Is Enough?

John D. Rockefeller was a huge figure in the US economy in the early 1900s. His efforts earned him a ton of money. According to legend, someone once asked him, “How much money is enough money?” His answer is both off-handed and insightful: “Just a little more.”

I’m beginning to think that describes my marketing budget. It seems like the more I spend, the more I earn. That’s good, right? Well, not really. Margins can be thin, and I haven’t matured my marketing skills to the point where I can guarantee a profit. So I could dump a lot of cash into an ad and lose a lot.

I’m facing headwinds that should have been obvious to me as a member of the Facebook group 20 Books to 50K.

  • I decided to stay “wide,” which means I didn’t put all of my eggs in the Amazon basket. That’s good from a “spread the risk” perspective. It’s bad from the perspective that I can’t enroll my books in Kindle Unlimited. Lots of new writers get exposure through KDU because of the lower barrier to entry. That means I get fewer readers and therefore fewer reviews — at least initially.
  • To compensate for the KDU’s easy access, I have to price my first book at $0.99. It’s not selling badly at that price. But it means it has to sell exceptionally well for me to recoup my marketing spend.
  • I have no coattails. I only have four books published, and my readership is growing slowly. That means it’s hard to generate excitement for launches.
  • My newsletter e-mail list has grown organically, but it’s still small. That also means less means to generate launch excitement.

You can see that I experimented a lot in June and July. It’s difficult to find the right balance of patience and spending.

The idea behind 20 Books to 50K is that a new writer has to publish 20 books before they can expect to earn a decent amount of money. It’s not only writing skills that improve; it’s marketing skills, too. Yes, an occasional writer will hit it big on their first book. Most of us don’t. That doesn’t means we’ve failed. It means we’re in process.

For the remainder of the year, I’m going to focus on Book Barbarian, Fussy Librarian, Robin Reads, and BookBub. I might try some lower-spend Facebook ads to grow my newsletter, but organic growth is a lot better in terms of reader retention and interest, and I can only buy that through book sales or word of mouth.

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

Here’re my goals from last week:

  1. Continue weaving Plot A’s Midpoint, which means at least writing Mariam Al Khatib’s Midpoint: Done! Mostly, anyway. I have a few more chapters to write, but I think I have it straight in my head now. And yes, I did finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Midpoint.
  2. Write Magali Suarez’ Midpoint: Done!
  3. Write one or two in-between chapters to wrap up the A Plot’s meta-Midpoint: Not done! I started this and realized I needed to think about it a little more. Instead, I finished Noam Katz’ Midpoint.
  4. Write Catalina Ojeda’s Midpoint: Done!

The biggest challenge this week was untangling the A Plot’s Midpoint collisions. I think I made significant progress on that.

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 35

Here’re my goals for the week:

  1. Finish the A Plot’s tangled Midpoint
  2. Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Pinch 2
  3. Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Pinch 2
  4. Finish Matsushita Sachi’s Pinch 2
  5. Start Catalina Ojeda’s Pinch 2(Stretch objective)

What Do You Think?

How do you know how much to spend on advertising and marketing? Have you gotten your processes to the point where you have confidence you’ll get a return? I’d love to hear your throughs in the comments!

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