Journey to a Bestseller: New Series Covers and Catch-up (Series #40)

I have good news this week everyone! First, I hope you all got something out of last week’s marketing post, 10-Step Marketing-How to Get Started. If you didn’t see it, check it out! It’s all about the first and most important steps involved in making sales. In other news, I have just released new covers for my books, with the same branding. Check it out:

Covers by ElectraFox.com. What do you think?

I was hoping to see a jump in sales right away, but I haven’t seen the results I’m looking for yet. I may need to redo my sales description again. *Even if you hook a reader with your cover, if your sales description doesn’t grab them, you lose the sale, or page reads.*

I have heard many times that “book one” of a series should be free, and that will guarantee greater sales. The last time I tried to end my Kindle Unlimited membership, Amazon said I couldn’t be released until the end of a year-long contract. That was frustrating. Amazon doesn’t have a “free” option. That’s why I joined KU–because the books are “free” to KU subscribers. But, I learned the hard way that you can’t be considered a “bestseller” if you’re in KU because you aren’t technically “selling” anything. If you are in Kindle Unlimited, you can ONLY sell on Amazon. However, if you widen your distribution and sell on Apple, Kobo, and Google Plus, as well, you can make your book free on one of those other sites, and then write to Amazon asking for a price match. THEN they will make the book permafree.

So I’m torn. I can stay in KU and get paid for piddly page reads here and there, or I can opt for wider distribution and at the end of a year make my first book free. What do you think? Have you discounted your books before? What was your experience? Did it increase your sales?

Have you made a first-in-series book free? What’s your advice?

Along with changing my covers on Amazon, I had to change the cover credits inside the books and in KDP, then republish them all. I updated the covers on my website, my newsletter landing page, all my social media headers, any of my free books, from Google Drive reader magnets to Bookfunnel, Prolific Works, Bookbub, AllAuthor, Booksweeps, and everywhere I had my books listed. I’m sure I’ve missed some. I took down my old Bookbub ads and made new ones like these:

These ads are made for free on Canva or Bookbrush. No experience necessary.

I also made instagram posts and finally bit the bullet and got on Tik Tok. That’s where the teens–my audience–hang out. I posted my books’ official video trailers there. (You can see them at the bottom of this page, all the way down and to the right.) Then I followed hundreds of YA readers. 752 of them “liked” my first post in the first day, so I was really excited, but I didn’t see the spike in sales I was going for.

I’m going to be furious if I paid for these new covers for nothing. They weren’t cheap. Tell me, do they catch your eye? Really, it matters if they catch a teen girl’s eye, but I don’t know yet. It’s hard to get them to answer.

I restarted my Amazon ads with the new covers. Mostly just the first book, though. The series has to be read in order, so I have to hook them on book one first. Now remember, with Amazon ads you want to bid low, and often. (I have over a hundred ads going on Amazon.) So far, since I released these covers four days ago, I have gotten 89,335 impressions (that’s how many people have seen the ads), 34 clicks that take them to my sales page, and out of that, 2 orders. Not the best, but not the worst. It means I’m in the hole $9.13 so far. I’m going to let it get to $100 before I reevaluate which ads are working and which are not. I run $0.35 ads with a $5.00 daily budget and a finish date about 3 weeks out. Amazon gives priority to ads that only have a short time left–about 2 to 4 weeks will do. Yes, it’s a pain to switch the end dates every couple weeks, but it’s not hard to do. You can change them all at once. If you forgot how–or need help–to make an Amazon ad, click here.

If you’re getting a ton of impressions on an ad but not many clicks, let it run–it’s not costing you much, and you need a lot of data before you can make any marketing decisions about your ads. But if you have an ad with a TON of clicks for your book, but it’s not making any sales, turn that one off. You’re wasting your money. OR, if you know what the problem is, fix it. (Hang on, we’ll get to that.) Obviously something about that ad is getting attention, but when they click to your sales page, for some reason they aren’t convinced to buy.

I would say at that point, you need to take a look at your sales page. The first thing they read is your sales description, but say that doesn’t seal the deal–they also look at the author bio and reviews. And if my readers are anything like me, they want to know what the “bad” reviews say.

It could be that you targeted the wrong group of people. Most readers say that my book is a dystopian, but when I target “dystopian” readers, a lot of them are looking for hard scifi, and when they get to my page, they see that’s it’s primarily fantasy romance and that might turn them away.

Don’t target the wrong readers.

As my post from last week asks, do you have at least ten reviews? Most people won’t even take a chance on a book with fewer than ten reviews. And the older it is, the worse that makes it. Also, if you released your book in 2013 and you had twenty-seven reviews at launch, but they don’t see a single review listed for the past seven years, they aren’t going to believe ANYONE has been reading this book.

So, I have reviews, check. I have good reviews, check. My bio is frank, I don’t think it’s turning people away. If they clicked on the ad copy with the cover, then the cover isn’t turning them off. So, it must be my sales copy. This is where I need your help. I’m going to put what I currently have on Amazon, and I want you to drop me a note with what you think. Don’t think like a writer, think like a reader. I want everyone’s opinion here. If it doesn’t grab you, or it bores you, or you find yourself skimming, let me know where. Here it is:

One mistake, one choice, one moment … can change everything.

She could have left it alone. She could have let Keron grab his tools and fight the Rowdies–she could have let him die–but she hid his weapons.

Because only Fale knew what the future held and so far, her visions hadn’t been wrong.

Now, her guardian has disappeared, and Fale finds herself being hunted with the hot crush who turned her down three years ago.  

She can fight, and so can her crush, but when they find themselves backed into a corner, they run. Hidden by a group of mages who knew her parents, Fale and Keron search for the answers to who hunts them, and what they want. Unable to deny a growing attraction for each other, romance blooms under pressure.

Even more shocking, the mages tell Fale she was born centuries ago … as someone else. Beyond astonished, and full of apprehension, Fale wants more answers, but the more she finds, the less she wants to know.

Her options are narrowing each day they live in hiding. Can she push forward, accept the magic, and win? Will she embrace her new future, or run from it?

If you like fast-paced adventures, dark, dangerous societies, and romance that makes you gasp, you’ll love Jenn Haskin’s wicked action-meets-fantasy series beginning with The Key of F.

★ Click now for your copy to discover Fale’s secret identity, what she can do, and root for a heroine who grows in power over the series to become a strong female lead in her own right.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how exciting does that sound? The book has a lot of action and adventure. I don’t know if I’m conveying that. I don’t know what I’m conveying, really. In this one book there’s: fantasy, romance, scifi, suspense, action/adventure, sword and sorcery, mystery, wizards and mages, surprise royalty, an alpha male, a chosen one, a love triangle, coming-of-age drama, a dystopian society, and more. How do I say all that? And though the book handles it well (so I’ve been told), that’s a heck of a lot of tropes to put together. I didn’t plan it that way, I didn’t know what I was doing when I wrote it. Lol. Do you have a book you wrote like that?

I can fix someone else’s description with ease. In fact, if you’re stuck, I can probably help. But when it comes to writing my ownI’m lost. I am actually better at editing others’ work than writing my own (not saying I’m a bad writer). I’ve been writing my whole life. It really surprises me.

The Bookbub ads, again bidding low and making several ads, are doing really well. Usually, a click from Bookbub leads to Kindle Unlimited page reads for me, but again, I’m not seeing the spike I was looking for. I hoped the covers might entice more people, and that might be so, but why aren’t they converting?

This is a typical example of how subjective the book world is. You can do everything you can think of to do the “right” thing and get the “right” readers, and still somehow end up short of the mark. My first book is ranked well, don’t get me wrong, but when I make a push like this, I want to see a spike in sales.

You will notice that I’m ranking in two non-fiction categories, yet I have a fiction book. I was not trying to be “sneaky” and I did not do that on purpose. The ten categories I chose were all under fiction and I chose “Prejudice” because that is a big theme in my book, one of the main characters is in a “lower class” and seen as subhuman. However, when Amazon ranks you in that category, it apparently assumes all books on Prejudice are non-fiction. You can check out the category yourself and see, it is riddled with fiction books, because that’s the only option for that category. The thing is, you don’t know this until after you’ve chosen the category and Amazon puts you there, that it’s considered non-fiction. Same with “Girls & Women.”

I’m not unhappy about being on the first page of results, I just want to see those sales bumping up. Don’t we all? Let me tell you, by sales alone I KNOW that if I hadn’t done everything in that marketing post from last week, I would NOT be on the first page. That, and I think all those clicks from the ads might be getting Amazon’s attention, and boosting my ratings, because the sales aren’t showing that kind of success.

I am trying to be honest with you. It’s hard for all of us. But you can get there. I can get there. What I need is another book. I am happy to say that the WIP (work in progress) is–right now–out with two interested publishers, so I’m feeling excited about that. And I got another new book idea today.

Remember when I spoke a few weeks ago about “high concept?” Well, I have a new, high concept book. If the WIP doesn’t capture them, I’m sure this next one will. So, I need to get plotting. I’ve got an idea of how the story is going to go, and there is a subplot or two that need to take place at the same time. So what I need to do is go get another ring of index cards and write out what will take place in each scene.

When I know the trajectory of my story, I will be free to write, to embellish, to create. Once I plan it out, it will only take me a few weeks to finish the first draft, then I have to put it down for a bit and let it go from my mind. Only then should you go back and edit. While you’re waiting, get a beta reader or two to nit-pick it for you. (If any of you would like to be a beta reader for me, drop me a message.)

With each book you write, you improve. You’re a better writer, a better editor, a better speller. You improve on things like POV shifts and staying in the right tense, getting dialect right, and being concise. You learn from the previous books and design your plot, fill in holes, you write the book that people want to read, not just whatever you “feel like” writing. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Most writers start that way, and you should write what you want to write. But “career authors” will tell you (and I plan to be one), that the bestselling sales come from writing the books people are already looking for.

How do you know what the readers in your genre want?

I found the concept for this new book by reading the bad reviews of a famous book in my genre, and seeing what the readers had to say–what they liked, and what they didn’t. And what they wished had happened in that book. That’s where my idea came from. I’m going to write the book that readers said they wished they’d read. I challenge you to do this when you’re looking for the idea for your next book. I think I have a solid, high-concept idea. I would run it past you, but since none of you are YA readers, it wouldn’t make any sense to you.

However, if you are a YA author and/or you just really want to know, I’m happy to share. (I’m sure I will tell you eventually anyway.)

I don’t have much to say today. This is mostly a catch-up week for me. I’m still trying to switch all my covers. But I’d love your opinions. About the covers, the description, what you’ve tried, and what does and doesn’t work for you. Next week we’ll talk writing/editing again most likely, as I’ll be writing, and I’ll let you know if anything happens with this ad campaign. Have a great week you all!

Until next week! Keep writing!

~jenn

One thought on “Journey to a Bestseller: New Series Covers and Catch-up (Series #40)

  1. Karen Neary says:

    I think the covers are great! I don’t know much about YA romantic fantasy but perhaps readers don’t want to be committed to reading three books to realize the final resolution to the story. You’re a real marketing expert–I’m hopeful all of your work will pay off!

    Liked by 1 person

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