Ermigersh! It’s an Ask Me Anything! Everything from marketing to ebook pricing to what I think people do wrong. (Don’t worry, we have a time limit!)
<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href='https://acast.com/privacy'>acast.com/privacy</a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>
Hello. Oh, my gosh, I have two many windows open. I did not realize I had…. Sorry, this is very professional, did not realize I had another thing that would show me my stream, and so I had a couple of windows going and slightly off sync, I just can’t do that. Sorry.
Hi! It’s Tuesday night here. I’m Laura VanArendonk Baugh. This is To Write And Have Written. And this is the incredibly off the cuff Ask Me Anything. You may have noticed that on the calendar we were originally supposed to do a business session tonight on how how to best use Evernote for everything. So that we’re still going to do that topic. That topic, however, was by request. It’s a topic I want to do anyway. But then Grace in particular asked if we can do it. So I bumped it up on the schedule for that. And then Grace is undergoing a series of medical procedures right now and so is not going to be able to be on the stream. She had asked for it and I had moved up for her. So let’s just put it back where it was and we’ll do something else tonight, which works out just fine anyway, because next week I’m actually attending a session on new tips and tricks in Evernote that I might not know yet. So I will level up my own Evernote skills and then bring them back to you.
So that’s what we’re doing. So, yeah. So that’s why the schedule has been a little bit chaotic tonight. So I think good thoughts for Grace and we’ll have her back hopefully next week. She’s a regular in the chat and then. Yeah, there we go. So OK. Um, let’s.
Yay, things are working. OK, so I just said this afternoon, OK, this is going to be an ask me anything and Bridger was kind enough. Let’s see, this is the window I wanted to leave open the streaming window. There we go. Bridger was kind enough to throw some questions up on my Facebook page to give me some things to work with. And she was very kind. She said, yeah, the idea of asking me anything and then doing that live seems daunting. So here’s some stuff you can think about.
So I just found this a few minutes ago, so I haven’t thought about them that much. But I definitely appreciate the thought. And I will try to give a cohesive, comprehensive answers.
Yes, we hope Grace is feeling much better soon. Thank you. Bridger. They she is, uh, she has. And she’s been very open about this and I’ve seen it other places online, so I don’t feel I’m violating anything. But she had a shoulder injury and in trying to take care of that, she ended up tearing muscles in both of her legs. So she just kind of overall limited in lots of things right now. So we were hoping that they get her the the procedures that she needs relatively quickly. So, OK. All right.
So Bridger asked the first question and thank you again Bridger for these questions. OK, way better than me just sitting here, like coming up with stuff or hoping or prodding people to ask things. So it’s OK. How do you balance your trainer life and your writing life when those are both soul consuming careers? I feel like most advice written for people with a day job are not written for passionate entrepreneurs who are super invested in their day job.
I think there’s a certain amount of truth to that. There’s an awful lot of I mean, part of it is just the cultural icon of, you know, the the frustrated warehouse clerk who is secretly writing a novel at night or, you know, whatever. We’ve got our we’ve got our tropes in society too. Right.
But, yeah, this is a really good question because animal trainers particularly really gung ho positive reinforcement trainers, which is the community that we move in, do tend to be really immersed in that. And they it’s it is a it is a career, but it is also a passion. And it is one of those things where we do not operate off a series of recipes. We are constantly engaged in learning and upgrading and learning and upgrading. And and yeah, I hear what you’re saying, because it is I don’t know that I would call it soul consuming because that to me has a little bit more negative connotation, whereas I would say that this is a passion and we love it. But it also does eat a lot of time and energy.
So, yeah, so there’s there’s several ways I do that, first of all, I don’t have kids and I don’t watch TV, so that frees up a lot of time for me personally and obligatory. I’m not throwing shade at anybody who does have kids or who does watch TV. I’m just saying that those are hours that I have in my day that probably the average American does not have.
For me, they are both intensely satisfying things, but they satisfy in different ways. Also, I find a lot more overlap than I thought there would be. What, behavior in fiction? Who would have thought Ryuven character motivations what? And so for me, and this is I would say, is the same way in that I’m one of those people who has multiple works in progress running at one time. So if one gets stuck, I’d simply move to the next one. So I don’t ever sit and just stare at a manuscript and wish it would get better that it’s not true. I definitely do that, but I don’t have to. I can just go to the next manuscript and and make that one better and then work my way around back to this one, by which point I have a fresher approach to it.
And the same thing is true… The left side/right side of the brain is not an accurate way of saying things. But for cultural pop culture shorthand, I spend a lot of time being analytical in my day job and I spend a lot of time being creative in my evening job, which, by the way, I do a lot of my client meetings in the evening and a lot of my writing during the day. So also things that don’t make sense except in cultural shorthand. But it is when trying to say they they use different parts of the brain.
They also are very related. And I’m obviously I’m using my brain the whole time. But I want to I have to be creative to come up with solutions sometimes with a very tricky behavior situation. And I need to be analytical because that’s what editing is with fiction. But a lot of times they feel different enough that I don’t feel like I’m just exhausting the same part of my head over and over and over. I can do something intensely analytical.
That’s actually, I’m going to jump back, that’s where the Shard of Elan series started. This Shard of Elan series was started in a Hot Springs weekly motel room because I was doing three weeks in a row with Bob Bailey training chickens. And so the shorthand for people who are not. Oh, so I myself, I just saw PJ in the chat. Hi, PJ today is the short version is it’s an ask me anything. So we’ll get back to that and I’m going to shift back over here where it looks a little better and people can see the chat and I can see the chat.
So yeah. Anyway, so Bob Bailey is one of the legends of the operant conditioning world. And I did three weeks of chicken training with him, which sounds really funny, but it’s great because you don’t go into chickens with all this superstitious nonsense about I’m going to be the chickens’ alpha and all of that stuff. So it really makes you focus on actual training, operant conditioning. But I was spending 40, 50 hours in that week just doing intensely analytical behavior analysis kind of stuff.
And then I would go back to the motel room and feel like, everything in my brain hurts. And so I started writing fantasy, which was completely — obviously I’d been writing before that, obviously, but I was like I started a new fantasy story in that situation and just dumped words at an amazing rate because it was such a, you know, whiplash from what I was doing during the day. That’s also when I edited the chicken training music video, which you can find on YouTube.
But yeah, I cut that together in that motel room just because you look something using a different part of my brain. So I have no idea at all if I took that question where you want to go. But thank you for providing that question. And I talked a lot. So go. All right. The other question or the next question was, do you have plans for more dog books? And the answer the short answer is yes. If by that we mean training books, do I know what they are?
You know, so usually the way that works is I keep thinking I should do that. I should do that. And then finally, some something jumps into my head and I’m like, I have a soapbox on this topic. So I’m just waiting for the next soapbox to leap into my life.
Oh, yay. Bridger loves that chicken training video, that’s good, and the Shape It All video. Yes. The shape of video where which I got copyright slammed for. Thank you, youtube. Yeah. It’s a karaoke track and with parody lyrics, we’re where we’re supposed to be good, there, OK. But it’s still up. They let keep it up, so it’s fine.
So, um, yeah. So anyway. So, yeah, I’m sorry, I would like to do more, behavior books, those are going to happen. I just don’t know when or what yet. I did Go ahead and do the kids training, the kids book of training fantasy animals, and so that was my little my little itch in that direction that still kept got to blend my fantasy and my science writing, which was pretty cool.
So, OK, how do you measure your productivity? Oh, this is where I betray that my analytical behavior analysis brain is not always on while I’m doing my fiction.
So I’m going to go ahead and read the rest of the question, because it’s a really good setup: hours of butt in chair? Words, produced, edited, etc.? It was always team word count before finishing my first book. And I still find word count to the most motivating metric to track. But after editing, polishing, publishing and beginning to market a book, I’m realizing that metric becomes less useful the further you get from the first draft process.
Yes, really good observation, which is why I wanted to share it. Word count is great for first drafts and I definitely use it for, I’m going to call them kick start projects, even though they always don’t have they don’t always happen at the start. But like NaNoWriMo, I want to write 50,000 thousand words in a month or one of the groups I’m in, one of the member organizations I’m in, Novelrama. So we want to sit down and do thirty thousand words in a weekend or something like that.
So first off, you know anybody who’s panicking out there or feeling slighted. No, that is not the only way to write a book and certainly, you know, not the right way or the one way or any of those things. But for people who I tell you what those are best for or for people who tend to overthink, you know, oh, I need to write slowly so that every word is the perfect word and all of that, doing something that is just and the goal is word vomit is a really good job of breaking through that inner editor and just getting stuff on paper because you can’t edit a blank page. So just puke the words out and then we fix them.
That’s why they’re first drafts, because there will be future drafts.
Anyway. But yeah, Bridger makes an excellent point that once you get past that first draft stage now, how do I measure progress? So and my very, very sloppy answer is I kind of don’t? Do I make progress? Yes. Do I measure it? No. Because that is not where I find the reinforcement. In that. NaNoWriMo watching that graph go up? Oh, yeah, that is motivating. OK, that is that is a good thing. And there’s definitely useful place to apply that.
When I am in revisions, for example, I don’t track how many pages I’ve worked through. I just go with, do I feel like I’m making progress? Does it feel like it’s getting better now? The moment that would stop becoming a useful, reinforcing, measuring metric, whatever, then I would have to find another way to do it. But so far that’s been working for me.
So I guess that’s. I know yourself. Yeah. Yeah. Oh yes. That graph. Yes. The the the NaNoWriMo watching graphs go up is so reinforcing. Yes. And yeah. And then they give you badges and all these things. We will do many things for a stupid badge. It’s not even a real badge, it’s only pixels. But it doesn’t matter. We’ll do it. So I just finished World Anvil summer camp and I got diamond.
There were four tiers: copper, silver, gold, and diamond, and if we did thirty one world building prompts and every day of July then we get the diamond tier. And I was like, yes I am Diamond. What does that get me? Literally nothing. But I can say I did it and I have some additional material now, too, things I wanted to spell out for my worldbuilding for me, but also that’s now out there. And, you know, it’s additional material for my patrons to get on Patreon so all of that kind of stuff.
“So just give me a thing that turns green and goes ding upward graph and I am ready.” Yes, right. Yeah, I totally that is, that is a real thing. Yes, I do get to say I’m Diamond, and on my World Anvil Discord there’s a little diamond icon next to my name now because I saw someone else with it, I wanted it too. So yes, I am an adult. I think we never get over our badge collecting days.
Right, OK. Anyway, so I guess the answer to that is I don’t measure productivity outside of word count except for do I feel like I’m making progress? This is one this is a know yourself area. I do have a pretty good handle on, I am making progress and I can judge that separately from the emotional side of I hate this manuscript, I’m a terrible writer, everything is awful, OK, which I know that. Most projects that I do will have that phase. I’ve done enough of them now that I know that is a normal phase and it is a phase. And for the most part, I’m pretty good at saying, all right, I edited for a few hours today. I feel like I made forward progress. I hate this and everything is awful. But I edited and I made forward progress. OK, so as long as I can keep those separate, that’s working for me.
If you are a person that that is blendy-er for — it’s totally a word, I just said it — then you want to make sure that you have a separate metric.
So yeah, the twenty five thousand to thirty five thousand word help range. Yeah. That’s not where it hits for me, but it is you definitely like there is a phase and a lot of people have that phase and just know when it hits for you. Yeah that’s it. So
MarchOfTheGreyEyes. Hi, welcome. Welcome. All right. Oh, PJZooFit asks, since this is asked you anything, What is that painting behind you? Let me grab that for you. OK. So this is great because there’s like a couple of stories that go with this, so back when. I think I think book two was coming out, Patrick Rothfuss, author of Name of the Wind and the book two, which is, I think, Wise Man’s Fear. Right. I was pretty sure this was a contest for book two. It is not one of Ken’s donkeys. But but but it’s still a good story. Holden anyway.
So they did a. Sort of cosplay contest, I don’t remember what it was supposed to be. Initially, we didn’t do it that way. What we did. Oh, I know what it was. As take a photo of the book somewhere, is take a photo of the book somewhere. And a group of friends we got together. And instead of taking a photo of the book in a setting for the contest, we costumed out like a bunch of the characters, a lot of characters, and did a huge photo shoot and basically made a comic book of The Adventures of Bast Losing the book.
And it went through all the characters and they had to get it back and it was ridiculously over the top. I mean, crazy over the top. And so we won the contest, because it was insane anyway. So this, I played Kvothe. So if you remember Kvothe’s family’s wagon was pulled by a couple of donkeys. So this is Kvothe reading a book with a donkey, because this started as one of the photos from that photo shoot. And then my aunt painted it and she gave me this for Christmas of me playing Kvothe reading a book with the donkey.
This particular donkey is — oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize the music was it’s — you guys. Your music will change from mine, so please give me a heads up. Let me just kill the music, there. It’s done. OK, I’m so sorry. Thanks for pointing that out.
Anyway, so this donkey is his name is Burrito because he’s a little burro. Get it. Get it. And he lives with my parents, with his friend Thelwell. And so. Yeah. So this was Burrito and me and then my aunt did the painting of it so. Yes, OK.
Yeah, right, right, the donkey’s names were Alpha and Beta, but this is Burrito, and Thelwell is… I don’t have a photo of Thelwell, but it’s worth which you guys need to do is Google Thelwell pony. Thelwell was a British cartoonist who did a ton of books and cartoons about a certain class of English girl, and their extremely fat ponies. And when we I went I went with mom to go looking for some new equines. And so Burrito is a miniature donkey. Thirlwell was advertised as a miniature horse, but is probably a miniature horse, Shetland cos at best, and it was the most grotesquely obese little horse I have ever seen.
And they were not named Burrito and Thelwell. They were named Kibbles and Bits. And we were very polite, we looked at the horses, as we get back in the car is just mom and me. And I was like, you have to change their names.
And so Thelwell was an obvious choice because he was a dead reckoning for a Thelwell pony.
So do Google that and find find that. There we go. So, OK. So check writing on My Little Pony fanfiction World Anvil with a friend. Oh, fun. Fun, yeah. OK, yeah, Bridger Bridger says they didn’t realize this Comics’ had a name, but recognize the style. Yes. So those are, Thelwell was the artist. So they are pretty much known as Thelwell ponys and they’re less less popular now just because stuff is (thanks for the follow, March of the Grey Eyes) you know, stuff is aging out or whatever, but you’ll still find books and figurines and, you know, little statuettes of extremely fat ponies.
So Thelwell, you’ll be happy to know, lost a ton of weight and is much healthier now. So he’s still got a huge bushy mane, so it still fits in that case. But he is no longer that grotesquely obese. So, OK, yeah, those names had to change. Absolutely. Bridger. So yeah.
So OK, let’s go back, and thanks for asking about that painting because I put that up a few weeks ago and I just never mentioned it. So I’m glad you glad you did. OK.
Next question, what do we have, what introvert compatible marketing. Have you found most effective? So. So here’s the good news. We have the Internet. It’s great, you know, so everything can be introvert friendly now because you get to control how much access you have.
Right. So and first, let’s clarify. Introvert and shy are not the same thing, et cetera, et cetera. But I’m actually an ambivert so I can recharge hanging out with people. But I also really like to recharge being alone. And I definitely don’t work well with people. I don’t work well with people. That might also be true, but you will never catch me saying, wow, I need to get a ton of writing done, let me go to a coffee shop, because that’s not how I work.
I know Kate in the chat is the exact opposite. Kate’s like, I’m going to go to a coffeeshop, be super productive. And I’m like, yeah, you know, I’ll be in my bed with a computer on my lap. So anyway, so as far as. Marketing and and all of the stuff we get to choose our schedules for marketing and we get to choose how much of ourselves we’re putting out, and we can pace all of that because we don’t have to do in person book tours and we have the Internet.
This is great. So so I guess what I would say is nearly anything you want to do can you can turn into introvert compatible if you want to. So even something like this where I’m doing live video, I know that I can stop when I want to and and I can run this I can run this for an hour or so and then I’ll be done and then I’m going to hole up with my computer and do some work.
And if you’re not, if you’re the kind of person that’s like, oh, an hour of video of sounds hideous. First of all, you don’t have to do it at all. If you’re like, I want to do some live video, but I don’t want to do an hour of live video. Great. Do a two minute live video still counts. OK, so yeah. Anyway.
Newsletters, I’m just going to go back and hit that again, because you’re going to hear me hit that a lot, having a way to reach people that does not depend on somebody else’s metrics and algorithms. So some way to reach people directly. I don’t care if that’s, I think a newsletter’s probably one of the most efficient and effective ways to do that. But if you’ve got another way to do that, great. Just make sure that it’s something that, you know, you’re not just hoping that the social media fairies bless you on that particular day. So.
OK, so March of the Grey Eyes says you write all your stuff in the bedroom, despite being an extrovert, even if you have stage fright, yes, shyness and introversion and extroversion have nothing to do with each other. There’s separate measurements there.
Oh, you and I go to locations that make sense to what you’re writing, OK? Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. I think in that case, I definitely need to write something set on a cruise ship, but I need to go for atmosphere. Yeah. So we’ll go to, uh, we’ll go to Norway and write about fjords or something that we go.
OK, so LJ Stanton says I need to start a newsletter, not sure my Patreon updates are actually getting to my patrons. Yeah, unfortunately, that’s the thing is we don’t, if we’re relying on another platform we don’t know how much of that is going to get through. There is a lot of good stuff about newsletters in the archives, but jump back to when Margaret McGriff was on a couple of times with really great newsletter advice. So go check out what she said. Don’t let the newsletters bully you. You can do it.
And it’s the same thing with newsletters like, you’ll hear people talk about, oh, you need to send them weekly. No, you don’t. OK, you can send them when you want to send them. I send them roughly every month or two, that’s what works for me. You can do it more often or less often as you like. Yeah, thanks, Bridger. Yeah, there was a definitely a reason I wanted Margaret to come on. She was one of the first people when I started streaming about, OK, I’m going to run a stream about the business of creativity. I need Margaret. She and Chris Morris, who came on to talk about accounting. They were some of the first people. I started making a list. Right. And I was like, oh, look, I need these people, so.
Yes, so, again, another thing where I have no idea if I actually answered the question you were asking, but I did talk a lot. So feel free to to nudge if you want me to do something else.
How do you decide pricing for e-books? Oh, my gosh. This is probably like a whole hour of answer right here. Um. OK, so. Let me start by getting my my my personal bias out in the open, I think a lot of people charge too little for ebooks and I think it’s hurting writing as a whole.
So if you jump back 10 years. Ninety nine cents and free were really good marketing tactics, not strategies, but tactics, where you could set a book at ninety nine cents temporarily or permanently, and move a lot of copies, and that would boost, you know, Amazon would say, oh, this author’s book is really selling, let’s push their other books as well. And so you could get some results with that or you could do that with free get a lot of people to read it. And then they would hopefully go on and pick up other books in the series or pick up other books by you.
Or again, it would push Amazon or other retailers to bump your other books in in the search results a little bit because one book was moving pretty well. And these were things that were working really well about 10 years ago.
They don’t work that well now for a variety of reasons, one, algorithms and such are more sophisticated. Two, there are so many more books that are out there that you’re competing with. And being ninety nine cents isn’t special anymore because everybody’s books are 99 cents. So so there’s my personal –not my personal bias, I guess, is just the way to say that I think the fact that people are still setting ninety nine cents as a normal price for a book or free as a normal price for a book. And I think we’re training readers to not want to pay more than ninety nine cents for a book or and I’ve seen people just like, oh, I’ve never read anything that’s not free. And I’m like, OK, that’s your choice, you know, free country, have a good time. But but I’m not going to give you something that I spent four years making for free. It’s not going to happen.
So. Anyway, so let me just, I’m just going to put that out there, that that’s something that you’re not going to hear me push those prices very often. As a special event? Yes. As a common price, no. All right. And I’ll just say to you that I… Sometimes this is driven by things I have personally experienced, not just my, you know, ranty soapbox days. But I set The Songweaver’s Vow at 99 cents and The Songweaver’s Vow, just my little brag box for a second, was a SPFBO semifinalist, Realm Award for Best Fantasy. Like, it’s more than my mom just liked this book. Right. But the book was pretty, pretty decent, did pretty well.
I set it for 99 cents and I got some emails that are like, well, why don’t you just send it to us for free? If you actually like writing, then you should want to give it to your fans for free. Like if I actually like writing, then I want to get paid to do it so I can keep doing it.
So like, come on guys, it is 99 cents. Pick up a couch cushion. You can you can do it. So. All right, sorry. I’m going to catch up on the chat here for a second. Yeah, OK, great point, LJ Stanton says, there’s heavy bias against paying for things that you can read on your phone, ebooks, mobile games, etc. We will happily spend more money on a physical copy, but paying five dollars for an e-book is definitely not a bad price to pay for a book.
Right. And and if I want to download a movie. How much money will I spend on that movie versus a book and I’m going to read that book a lot longer than I’ll watch that movie. So, yeah, that’s anyway, I don’t. Hopefully we’re all in this room, virtual room, we all agree that writing has value and creativity has value and art has value and stuff. So.
OK, OK, Bridger, thanks for clarifying that question and I will love it, most effective marketing you can do while burying your head in the sand, pretending no one is looking at you while simultaneously asking people to look at you. Yeah, let me come back to that, because I’m taking forever to answer the e-book pricing question, but then I’ll come back to to that question.
So so here’s the thing. If for a full length novel, so let me say seventy five, eighty thousand words, I’m never that low, but just for what we’ll say as a general, I want to see I’m going to probably price that 2.99 or up, except for a special event where I’ll do a 99 cent deal or something.
And I usually would do that as hey you know, this is thanks to special fans. This is 99 cents or something like that will be. It’s an exception, not the rule. I sometimes. Often in the Shard of Elan, for example, what price my books higher than that for a variety of reasons. One. They’re better than a lot of ninety nine cent books, I’m sorry, but it’s true. So, you know, if you want, I’ve put a lot of time and a lot of effort to making those very, very good books. They have, what, 4.8 star ratings and stuff. They’re going to be good reads. And I don’t need to sell a steak for a drive thru burger price. There we go. And if that sounds snotty, I’m sorry. There are lots of other books. Go have a good time.
The other thing is, though, as I just said, my books are big. Blood and Bond is one hundred and eighty thousand words. That is, you know, three times the length of a 2.99, you know, cozy mystery or something sitting at sixty thousand words or something. I’m not charging three times the price, but I am going to charge a dollar more and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
So, yeah, now everything I’ve said so far has been for fiction, nonfiction runs on a different scale. Nonfiction tends to run higher than fiction because it is more valuable because it addresses real problems.
Do you miss the sarcasm on that one? Yes. So. So my nonfiction books, I think they sit mostly around 7.99 or something like that, again, worth it. Really good feedback on those books, really good reviews on those books. They sell really well at that price. But I think it’s easier to see a much more tangible benefit from here, let me solve a massive problem in your life. So nonfiction tends to run higher.
So. OK, they do, I just checked. Thanks, Bridger. So OK, yes, so e-book pricing and you’re going to find people I mean, I, I’ve definitely had this conversation with people who were like, anything over ninety nine cents is highway robbery. How could you? And I’m like, hey, you know what? There’s tons of books out there if you don’t want to pay 2.99 or 3.99 for mine. You don’t have to like, there’s lots of things out there, but but if you want a steak, you’ve got to pay a dollar extra more than the McDonald’s hamburger, so.
OK, all right. So let me jump back to the introvert compatible marketing. So. Not speaking directly to any specific individuals, so you specified not podcasts, not newsletters, not interviews. So you might look at something that is generally called, I think, passive marketing. And I’m going to say this is not going to do all of it, so at some point you’re still going to want to have a way to contact people directly. At the most basic, fundamental, basic, fundamental level with that, if you have a new book out, but you don’t have any way to tell people that you have a new book out, they’re not going to buy it because your website may be fantastic, but I’m probably not going to it daily or weekly to check to see if anything new has appeared.
OK, are there those people? Yes. Are there some people for that one specific author? Absolutely. Can I count on that? Probably not.
So but that said, passive marketing would be having a really spectacular website. You know, I don’t know if blogging is too personal, but you can you can make blogging very audience specific or you can make it very general, I’m just voicing my thoughts into the ether. You know, you’ve got a couple of tacks you can take with that.
Your landing pages for your sales page on Amazon. What is your description look like? What is your, what are your reviews look like? And I mean, not only just the star reviews you get, but any editorial reviews that are up, and all of those kinds of things, those will make it. But again, you’ve got to get people to that page. But then once they hit that page, all of that is passive marketing.
So blogging is safe because I can dump words, run away and pretend nobody read them. Yeah, so OK, so blogging is a good one and blogging can feel really, really personal. So even if you don’t, you don’t have to make it feel personal from your end. But I as a reader can feel like I’m getting to know you. Right. And so that’s that’s an advantage there. So I’m trying to think what other what are the things the whole point of social media is to be social. It will not work to sell books unless you are cultivating relationships.
So I would say that’s probably not where you want to spend a ton of time. But social media is, again, probably the three hundred seventy second time I’ve said this year. Social media is not a great sales tool. It is good for maintaining a connection to the people who have already looked at your stuff. It’s not like, hey, cold call, buy my book. It’s not good for that.
So ads, promotions, OK. Ads are a good one, maybe.
So I’m just going to speak about Amazon ads, mostly because I did my my Amazon ad metrics today, so all my checking today. So that’s in my head. By the way, guys, it’s the beginning of the month. If you have not done your author snapshots, please remember to do that. Thanks, that is your nag for the day.
So Amazon ads. I’m just going to recommend don’t don’t start on your own, find a course to take, because there’s so much out there, there’s so much that goes into it, there’s so much bad info out there that if you’re just hopping from Facebook group to Facebook group, you’re going to hear all kinds of things.
So there’s a couple of places you can get good info I have signed up for, but I have not yet done Mark Dawson’s ads course, so I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I will go find I can’t speak to it yet because I have not done the course, I have done Brian Cohen’s Amazon ads for authors and he does. Three times a year, I don’t remember a free five day course that is worth taking and whether or not you go on beyond that, up to you, but I would say sign up for the free five day course because you lose nothing but a little bit of time in trying that.
Oh, you just finished Bryan Cohen’s. Good. Yeah. And so I just had a month this July, every one of my books, I think I’m running ads on five, maybe six titles. Every one of them had a positive ROI on my Amazon ads, which hasn’t always been the case, so I’m happy with that. But. Yeah, ads. I think that the learning curve on ads is long and hard, so you probably want to have something else on the on another burner while you’re getting started with that.
But I’m getting better and all the time. And so, yeah, it’s it’s just and Facebook ads are such so different from Amazon ads and I am not good at those yet. Done some experimenting with them. That’s on my list of things to get to that kind of thing. So, yeah, OK, so and what I would say to what about adds a big thing, and I’d say this to anybody doing any form of ads. Just like when you go to the casino and you say, I’m going to give myself X amount of money to burn and throw away and not expect to get anything back on, and that’s OK.
OK. For me, when I go to a casino, that number is usually five dollars, I’m a very, like gambling’s not fun for me, but I will throw five dollars in the slot machine. Right. I approach my ads when I’m starting in the same way. You know, I was trying some some Facebook ads. I know I’m not good at Facebook ads. I’m just going to set up like this is the amount of money I am going to throw away to experiment and play with Facebook ads, and then I, one, don’t sink more money than I could afford into it, just like the casino.
And two, I’m not devastated when I lose that money because I planned to set fire to that money. All right. And then when I start to finally get traction, then I’m like, oh yeah, now it’s working. Right? And so now I I’m my ads are not my Amazon ads are not killing it like some people I know. But I’m also not losing money. I’m actually they are making me money. So that’s the right direction. And now it’s just a matter of building on that.
So, OK. Oh, and then Promotions. BookBub is a great one. BookBub is really hard to get into. You know, I’ve done it, but it’s hard and it’s getting harder every single day. So many people are competing to get a BookBub promotion. BookBub is the only one I know of that is consistently good return on investment, consistently reliable for my genre. And I need to emphasize that, because I know there are some promotion sites out there and newsletters out there that do really well for, say, romance or something that I don’t write. So I can’t make good recommendations. I just know they’re working for other people, but I’m not going to pretend that I can give good advice on those. So it’s one of those things that’s very genre specific and you need to look for.
So, OK. Also, there are BookBub promotions, where you get in the BookBub newsletter for a special deal, and then there are BookBub ads, which are the ads they put at the base of the newsletter. So those are two separate things. They are both BookBub. So it can be confusing. BookBub ads is also on my list of things to get better at. I have done a little bit of experimenting with my hey, here’s 10 bucks I’m going to blow this week and see where it goes. But I, I am not good enough at that yet to to to give advice. But but I’m going to take my Mike Dawson course and find out, so OK.
All right. Other questions. You may have things to throw in here. Oh, also sorry. While I’ve got people here and I mentioned this before, but I’m just going to throw it in again because I think we have a little bit different group in the chat. I am keenly interested on feedback on where people would like this weekly streaming event to go. So I’ve been doing it for a year now. It’s I’m having a good time, it’s fun, but it is a large time sink because I do personally manually review all the closed captioning and all of that kind of thing.
And it is you know, it does eat up a number of hours out of my week to do the video that turns into a podcast that has the transcript in the closed captioning for the video replays and all of that. So. If and I know a lot of the writing community on Twitch, they just do work streams. And if people are like, no, no, no, we really like a discussion where, you know, we’re talking about a specific topic and it’s intended to be educational, then great. Give me that feedback. And if people like, no the Create-ins are my very favorite theme week or I just want a place to hang out and get stuff done, that would be really valuable feedback. OK, so I don’t need you to give it to me right now, not running a poll or anything, but it’s the kind of thing that if you decide that you do have an opinion on, throw it my direction on social media in a message somewhere, whatever, because that would be really good to know.
OK. Yeah, so do we have any other questions coming into the chat? Or maybe it could just turn into a stream where I just have a live webcam on my face as I do revisions. You’d get to see all of my expressions as I’m like, how did this happen? How my revisions usually go. So, yeah, uh.
So things that are on my do list when we wrap up here, there is a video course, it’s a two week video, part written part video course that was supposed to be writing today. And that all got put aside because my mom was doing a presentation at a local event and couldn’t get her computer to connect the projector. And so I got a phone call, so I got to run down and set up the tech thing. The good news is I probably was actually the local IT fault, not my mom or her computer, but that means I did not write my course today. And so I need to write that tonight.
So I’ll probably be caffeinated and staying up and writing that tonight. So. Oh, well, the Create-in inspired P.J. to create your own create-ins. They were very helpful in that way. Great, good. Now, I’m not going to lie to Create-in are kind of fun. And I’m not a person who, again, I don’t go to cafes to to work because that’s very disruptive to me. That’s not where I’m going to do my best work. But, you know, there’s something to be said for. OK, but now we’re all here at the table together and we’re all going to work on something. So I can’t get distracted by whatever because peer pressure. So.
Oh, question, have I ever done a collaboration? So it depends on what version of collaboration we’re talking about. Have I ever co-written something? No, I’m not really sure I’m a good candidate for that. I think that’s great for plotters, and I’m not enough of a plotter to organize with somebody in advance. So.
But as far as like a themed anthology, I have done that, I am doing that again, so I’m responsible for my own story, but within a larger project. I have done that several times in the past and I’m actually working on one with some other writers for us to do as a promotional thing later this year, excuse me, and that will be worth writing about cryptids. So that’ll be fun. Uh, so so, yeah, it kind of depends on where we’re going with collaboration, so.
Yeah, yeah, the chat has a delay, and I’m apologizing for that. That’s that’s fine. That’s no big deal. We always do a little bit of come and go with the chat. OK, thanks for that feedback, Bridger. I will I’m just collecting all the feedback, guys, feel free to drop stuff as you think of it during the week. Just just give me back, because I just want to know.
This all started. I was originally writing a book on business for authors because a lot of authors, they like writing, they weren’t entrepreneurs, they were writers. But in today’s world, especially in self publishing, but even in traditional publishing, writing careers are really entrepreneurial careers now. So that’s why I started doing this and I started writing, putting stuff together in a book. But then 2020 were all just sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. So I started streaming with it. And then that’s where this got started.
but, um. But yeah, I’m just curious, like, is this something that should continue or has it done its job and. Yeah, there we go. So. OK. Oh, no, no, I don’t feel obligated, no, if I… Trust me, I am fully capable of having a tantrum and quitting if I want to. So yeah, no, I’m just I’m asking for opinions because I genuinely want them, so
and I’ll just put this in reinforcement terms. I posted something last week that I was pretty excited about, like, hey, let me share this with people. And by going with the metrics that I got back, 46 people clicked on it and saw it. That does not count anything that was in a mobile view and that does not count anything that showed up in a feed. So this is somebody who clicked on the link to follow that. And so forty six people looked at it and one person clicked like. And I was like, OK, message received.
Now maybe more people than that liked it. But I have no way of knowing, right? So I need to I need to look at, we were talking about analytics. Right. Like I need to know what’s worth my time, where to put my resources, where to put my efforts.
So Bridger says ouch. Yeah, I was like, OK, that was I was maybe more excited about that than they were, but there you go.
So. Oh, thank you. Thank you, Joe. Awesome. I guess it’s doing awesome and he enjoys my stream so I appreciate that. OK, so yeah. And again, just to be clear, that’s not me fishing for, nobody clicked like on my thing, please tell me nice things. I legitimately just want to know, like, you know what, what makes these streams useful. Are they useful enough to continue? Should I be doing something else with them, that kind of thing. That’s how I’m legitimately after real feedback.
So. OK, OK. To. Oh, my gosh, it’s like we’re closing in on the hour, so, yeah, so if there are remaining questions, please go ahead and throw those in the chat. Watch the. Oh, I ended up talking in another group, one of my writing groups, about how I have my website set up for retail, which I didn’t think was that unusual, but then the conversation was generated. And apparently that’s something that a lot of people don’t have set up in an efficient way. And mine is very efficient because that’s the only way things get done. So I can get an order in and have it packaged and ready to go out in probably four minutes or less. And that’s like, stamped, sealed, labeled, all of the things, so if that would be something that people be interested in, I could set up like a walk through of how I how I have that set up and how we do that.
And I’m always open for ideas, details. The short version is WooCommerce. And I have a printer in my house and I just tape the labels on, but all the postage and everything comes out of the printer. But yeah, I can do a walk through with that. So OK. Yeah, because the thing where like I would like a book but I need to package it and then I need to take it to the post office and then I need to…. Oh no. Hate hate like. No I need it done. I need it, I need it done like four minutes my hands are in the air to stop the timer. Done. Anything so so.
OK, all right. So I’m going to wrap there. Alena let me know in the chat if you are streaming tonight so we know whether or not to raid you. And chat says, what is one thing you’ve heard authors should do but you have found either doesn’t work for you or you feel just is wrong.
Oh we do not have enough time left for things. There is some skeezy advice floating around about getting people onto your newsletter list and stuff that no guys just be ethical, like golden rule applies. You do not sell stuff to people by making them irritated at you. OK. Yes, I want a newsletter list. I’m not going to sacrifice my soul to get it. OK, so let me just start with that.
Like, you know, we the authors have two modes. Either no one wants to hear from me and I shouldn’t put anything of myself out there, or I will come into your face and shout at you to buy my book. There is a happy medium that we want, so. I would, first of all, just just be really ethical about acquiring email addresses and using email addresses, so there’s there is the very short version of that. OK, Alena’s not streaming, good to know.
Bridger says that should be a whole episode. Yeah, it kind of should.
Oh, man, we do not have time to get into this, I’m just going to throw this bomb and run, so we can maybe do it again later if there’s interest. I have some very real concerns about retailer exclusivity. So Kindle Unlimited being the big gorilla in the room to discuss. I think that is a win the battle, lose the war strategy for authors, and I think it’s like like the free books and 99 cent books, I think it’s something that is going to hurt us as a community and as an industry long term.
But it’s really hard to have that conversation when people are currently winning the battle and not seeing the war. So, yeah, and I say this, as I — I did not realize, one of my regrets in life, not a huge one, but an annoying one, I did not realize when I was graduating university that I was a single class short of an economics degree. I could have just sat in on something, you know, signed off on a test and had an econ degree. And I didn’t.
But that means I have enough to know that I’m not a fan of exclusive markets and. Yeah, that’s probably all the time we have to get into there. So is it, you know, do I judge people who put their books into KU? No, I’m not going to sit here and be like, oh, for shame, shame. Is it something that I think we should be more open about talking about how that actually works in the long term risks of it? Yeah, I think as a community, we should be more aware.
So yeah, let me just lob that and run. Sorry, guys, we can go in there, so. OK, OK. I’m sorry, I’m just catching up on the chat. Oh, yeah, Bridger, I am happy to talk about direct e-book sales. I just got those started. I finally got all of my books, I think all, most anyway, of my books are available for direct e-book sales as well. Which was not the case originally. I was just selling direct to paperback and then letting e-books all go through other retailers, but.
Yeah, was it Joanna Penn? Who it might have been, Joanna Penn, you might actually know this Bridger, because I think you listen to her, but she was talking about she was selling things direct from her site and some people were asking, you know, but, hey, that’s hurting your rankings. People are not buying that at Amazon. They’re buying it from you. So you’re not going to hit number one in category because you’re only selling whatever percentage of Amazon and the other percentage of the retailers and the other percentage from your own website.
And she’s like, yeah, but I make more from each sale on my website than I do through the other retailer. And the phrase I remembered was “bank before rank,” which I liked. So, yeah, you know, some of those things, it’s a matter of what is your priority?
You know, she’s got a pretty established audience, so she has maybe more flexibility to sell direct because she’s not needing the discovery of working the algorithm or something. So that’s something that maybe is more possible for her than for other people. But I think it’s probably more possible for more people than they realize. So, OK.
But that was a good question. Joe, thank you. All my, What do I think things are wrong? Great question.
All right. So we are going to wrap it here because it is on the hour. Thank you so much for joining me for my first ever ask me anything, which is a phrase that has always terrified me. You guys were all great. Thank you. Thanks again to Bridger for throwing the. What am I trying to say. Throwing the questions in advance. I really appreciate that.
Joe says not a fan of the ranking number. It’s the most arbitrary number there is. You’re not really that wrong. So, yeah, it’s maybe slightly more data-based than the New York Times best seller list, but it’s still pretty volatile and still pretty, you know, fluctuating. So. OK, yeah. OK, I’m going to, Joe says a lot of people don’t know how it really works. I’m going to say most people don’t know.
And anybody who’s not an Amazon software engineer who tells you they know? They’re lying, OK? Nobody knows. Amazon for very good reasons, keeps that extremely close and changes that often. So anybody who’s like, especially especially if they’re going to sell you a code word, masterclass on understanding, code word, the algorithm, like there is just one because that’s how software code works. That is a red flag. Just keep your money and go do something else. So.
Oh, no, I got the time so wrong. Yeah, we’ll be here I’ll be here every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern so we can run that time of time wherever you go. And then everything I do will be on replay. The Create-ins are the only ones that don’t have a replay because seriously, nobody wants a replay of my face as I type.
So OK. Thank you guys so much. I will see you next week at this time and place. And I did not check my calendar so I have no idea what we’re doing. But it will be fun I promise that. Make sure you do snapshots and I will see you next week. Bye everybody. Take care.