I wonder if Real Life Family Events (RLFEs) are seasonal in my family? I’ve seen quite an uptick, and it feels familiar. How did it impact my output this week? Am I still making progress on Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis? There’s been a lot of turmoil in the self-publishing space, especially with Amazon. Has that impacted any of my marketing or future sales channel plans? Let’s look at the numbers for the week before we get into any of that!
Progress Report 2023 Week 36 By the Numbers
Whatever else happened this week, I managed over 10,000 words!
It was a RLFE-heavy week. Fortunately, I could be there when I needed to be. I write, in part, to help support my family, and I think it’s important to remember what’s really important. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad that I can divert time to my family when I need to. Yet, I feel guilty that I regret not getting as much writing done as I had hoped to. It’s not just that I want to get it published. It’s that writing keeps my head together.
I need to remind myself: I still wrote over 10,000 words this week. That, and my first responsibility is my family. So, I’m going to call this a good week.
To KU or Not to KU
A Good Deal for All Concerned — On the Surface
A few weeks back, I had a consult with The Writing Wives. I’ve always been wide, which is to say, I have published my ebooks through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and several others. I used to be disaster recovery architect, so the idea of putting all of my eggs in one basket is just abhorrent. However, in my consult, The Writing Wives brought up the possibility of me moving to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU).
Kindle Unlimited charges readers a flat monthly fee. For that fee, they can read pretty much all the ebooks they want. Writers get paid per page read, based on a) the pool of money available every month and b) the number of pages read. It’s a decent deal for all concerned.
There’s a catch, though. For a writer’s book to be available in KU, it must be exclusive to Amazon. It can’t be wide. That’s why I didn’t enroll in KU; I do not like the idea of Amazon being my sole outlet. However, The Writing Wives pointed out that many new writers benefit from KU due to its low cost of entry, relatively speaking. A reader can pick up a new writer on a whim without even the risk of a $0.99 charge. Based on their recommendation, I was considering it. My sales from sources other than Amazon make up less than 10% of my total.
I might not want all my eggs in one basket. But it’s pretty much what I have now! I didn’t realize to what extent until I put together this graphic.
Trouble in Paradise
However, I’ve been hearing a lot of stories like this one from Sam Barnes, where Amazon shuts writers’ accounts down with minimal provocation. Some, like Mr. Barnes, had a minor infraction of the terms of service. Yet, in the cases that I’m aware of, the infractions could easily have been corrected and appeared innocent. Instead of pursing a mutually-beneficial outcome, Amazon just whacked the account. If all of your eggs are in Amazon’s basket, that means your source of income is gone.
More concerning, in some ways, are stories like this one from Chris Fox. Scammers used an AI to generate a couple of coloring books, marked Chris Fox as a contributor, and indirectly took over his Amazon author page. It took him days to get it sorted — days that damaged his brand with inferior products. As a security practitioner, it never occurred to me that Amazon’s systems would have such a gaping and obvious hole.
The calculation seems to come down to this: do I want to try to increase my readership (and hope to generate more reviews and ratings) by going into KU — at the risk of handing the success of my career to Amazon? Mr. Barnes said that the Amazon platform in general still seems viable to him. Chris Fox was less certain. I’ll just say this: I had tentative plans to move to KU in October. Those plans are on hold. They’re not cancelled, but I need to perform some more due diligence before I make the decision.
The Marketing Front
My Facebook ad for August expired. I analyzed the results and determined my last round of changes were still not performing to where I want them to. I let the ad expire and I don’t plan to renew it.
In September, I took a completely different approach. If you’re interested, you can see the ad here. I have no idea if this will do well or not. But it occurred to me, as I searched for free art to use in the ad, that the cover for Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action, had the elements I was looking for. So why not use it?
I analyzed the performance of my BookBub, Fussy Librarian, Book Barbarian, and Robin Reads ads. The best performing, for my science fiction/political thriller, was, unsurprisingly, Book Barbarian. Next came Robin Reads, with Fussy Librarian third. I felt surprised to see BookBub in last place. I suspect it’s because I haven’t understood what works there.
That underscores a challenge for me. Facebook, Book Barbarian, BookBub — they are all robust, complex topics in-and-of-themselves. All of them take time to master. And time I spend mastering them is time I’m not writing. But, if I want to hit the levels of success I want, I need to master them.
Progress against Last Week’s Goals
Here’s how I did against last week’s goals:
- Finish the A Plot’s tangled Midpoint: Done!
- Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Pinch 2: Not Done! I moved this chapter to later, because I needed to add another Mariam Al Khatib chapter to wrap up the Midpoint for the A Plot.
- Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Pinch 2: Not Done! Same reason as above.
- Finish Matsushita Sachi’s Pinch 2: Not Done! Same reason as above.
- Start Catalina Ojeda’s Pinch 2(Stretch objective): Done!
I think I finally untangled the Midpoint madness in the A Plot!
I also finished Noam Katz’ midpoint, because I thought that I had gotten the A Plot midpoint to a good place. For pacing and suspense, I thought a switch to the B Plot made sense. We’ll see if the readers agree!
Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 36
Here’re my goals for the coming week:
- Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Pinch 2
- Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Pinch 2
- Finish Matsushita Sachi’s Pinch 2
- Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Pinch 2
- Monitor the performance of the new Facebook ad
- Select the next outlet for advertising
What Do You Think?
How do you make decisions about your sales channel? Have you considered selling from your own website? I’d love to hear your thought — feel free to leave them in the comments!