Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tattooed Writer's Method For Making Sales...

Anyone who knows my history in writing and self-publishing knows I am not an overnight success. It has taken me 3 years of hard work to get to where I am today…and there is still a long road ahead. :)

I like to think that during those 3 years, I have gained some knowledge about how to sell books. Not the only way to sell books, but a way.

A lot of the people who email and message me are writers just starting out on their journey or writers who aren't getting the sales numbers they want and are ready to try something different.

So, for what it's worth, here is Tattooed Writer's Method For Making Sales.

From what I have learned, I believe this method would give a writer the best chance to make sales, gain readers and earn some money. It should also give a good return on investment. But remember, no method can promise overnight success.


Prerequisites

-you can write an entertaining story

-you have enough skill to make your own covers or you have a designer who will give you exactly what you want

-you are willing to put in some work


What You Are Going To Do

-write 3 stories of 25k-35k words. Any genre.


Huh? How is That A "Method"? It Sounds Easy

I didn't say it was going to be hard. To be effective, something doesn't have to be difficult. What you are going to do with these 3 stories is attempt to gain as many readers in your chosen genre as possible. You are going to do that by tapping the power of series.


What's Different Between these 3 Stories And any Other 3 Stories I Wrote?

You are going to link these 3 novellas together. Not as a single story chopped into 3 parts. They are going to be 3 complete stories. Each novella will be standalone story with a satisfying conclusion.

But the 3 stories will be connected.

Connections: everyone lives in the same town or everyone works for the same company or the main characters are members of the same family. Or your connector could be the same character appearing in each book. A detective, for example, who takes on 3 different cases.

Whatever you choose as your "connector" will be the name of the series. So if your connector is that everyone lives in a town called "Sleepy Moor" for example, the books will be subtitled "Sleepy Moor, Book 1", "Sleepy Moor, Book 2" and "Sleepy Moor, Book 3".

 If, for example,  each story follows a brother from a family called the Cunninghams, then the books will be subtitled "The Cunningham Brothers, Book 1", "The Cunningham Brothers, Book 2" and "The Cunningham Brothers, Book 3".

If your connector is the main character (like the detective mentioned above), then the character's name will be the series name.  e.g. "Joe Finn, Book 1", "Joe Finn, Book 2", "Joe Finn, Book 3".

I'm sure you'll be able to think up you own names for towns, families or detectives. :)


The Writing

Now, you need to write three stories that are connected by the "series connection".

As well as the main connector, put in events that might be mentioned in each story. So let's say you set your stories in a small town and in the 1st book, one of the local bars is blown up. In the 2nd book you might have the characters drive past the ruins of that bar and mention how it got blown up last summer or whatever. The event doesn't have a direct impact on this story but is mentioned to give your series a cohesive feel.


Or you might have a restaurant where everyone in town goes to eat. So the characters of your first book would go there and so would the characters in the 2nd. Populate that restaurant with a minor character (a waitress, let's say) who appears in both books (and might even be in a later book as a major character). You make sure your description of the place is consistent in every book. Again, it gives readers who read more than one of the books a deeper sense of setting for your series.

These things are fun to think up and connect. You can even have characters from different books at the same event. So there might be a scene in one book where a cop shoots a fleeing criminal on the main street. In a later book, you mention that your MC was going to a job interview one morning when she was pushed over by a criminal who ran past her before being gunned down by a cop. In another book, you might have an MC who is a cop who is traumatised by the one time he had to use his gun and kill a criminal on Main Street. That sort of thing. Just a generic example. You'll be able to think situations up that are unique to your stories.

Your actual plots will be determined by the genre you are writing in. Use your imagination to come up with 3 entertaining stories that readers of the genre will love.


Covers

I can't stress this enough. Just as your stories are connected, so must your covers be connected. If a potential reader sees your books on Amazon, there must be no doubt in their mind that the books are in a series. Use a template so the fonts, title placement and author name are identical on every cover. Use a graphic that is identical on each cover.

This subject seems to be misunderstood. I've seen series books on Amazon that look like totally separate books. This isn't about putting 3 separate pieces of pretty, unconnected artwork on your covers just because you like the pictures. This is about making the cover work for you. A cover has a job to do. It must convey the genre and be clearly connected to the other series books.

Whatever your genre, look at the best-selling books in that genre. You want the readers who read these books to see yours and say to themselves, "These are the kind of books I read. I'll try them out."

If you write a series and your covers are not clearly in a series, you are shooting yourself in the foot. 


The goal is to get more readers and build a fan base. Create a mailing list and make sure you put the link in the books so it's easy for readers to join. The idea is to get the "net units sold" number on your report as high as possible.







The higher that number is, the more readers you have reached.


Because you want to attract a large amount of readers to your series, price the books at 99c. This will mean that readers of the genre will be more likely to try out your books. Three books well suited to genre and priced at 99c have a good chance of hitting the hot new releases and/or Top 100 in the genre and therefore attract even more readers. Once the books have been out for a while, price as you see fit. Some people put the first book into permafree. It's up to you.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: Don't make any judgements on whether the method worked or not until the 3rd book has been out at least a week. Questions? Leave a comment.

Ready to go for it? Good luck! Let me know your results!














8 comments:

  1. hello...how do you go about selecting genre?

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  2. Hi Sherman

    What genres do you like to read and write? In which of these genres could you think up and write a series of stories as mentioned? Those are the questions you need to ask yourself before you begin so you end up writing something you're comfortable writing and will stick with. It has to interest you as well as be entertaining for readers. :)

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  3. Hey TW,

    Thanks for this post, it's aces.

    The numbers in the titles (Book 1, Book 2) — are those important?

    Would it also work if you used a series title and a different sub for each book (but no number)?

    Example:

    "Dog Ninjas: Attack Mode"
    "Dog Ninjas: Schnauzerproof"
    "Dog Ninjas: The Way of Dog-jitsu"

    (Or similar paranormal pearl-diver romance titles, but I don't want to tip my hand about that yet.)

    Evan

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    Replies
    1. Hey Evan

      You can totally do away with the numbers. Amazon's new method for uploading series puts the "Book X" part in automatically but you could just ignore that field that says, "This book is part of a series"

      I'm keeping a lookout out for paranormal pearl diver titles. I've got Google alerts, spies, satellite surveillance…everything. So watch it, Mister!

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  4. Hi TW,

    Thanks for this, I’m always interested in your methods giving how successful you are. Very inspiring!

    May I ask some further questions?

    1. You mention making series of 3. I would assume that’s so you can see if that series is going to take off or not before deciding to write more in the series. Do you write more in a successful series or keep it at 3?

    2. Pricing for 25k’ish seems reasonable (depending on genre of course). Would it be worth upping the word count to, say, 50k for novel length series so you can charge a higher price ($2.99 perhaps) or does this strategy really only work for the 0.99 cent bracket? Or do you have a mix of prices and lengths under each name?

    Thanks for sharing,

    Tracey

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  5. Hi Tracey

    Of course you may ask further questions. :)

    1. Yes, I mentioned 3 because that should give a good indicator if the series is going to take off or not. DEFINITELY write more than 3 if it's successful. Keep the series going as long as it still interests you and you readers.

    2. Yes, of course you can up the word length and count. The purpose of the method in this post is for writers who might not have a lot of readers to gain a larger number. Or for new writers to start getting as many eyes on their books as possible.

    The strategy works with any price point but the 99c is reasonable for 25kish, as you mentioned, and should attract readers. If you're writing longer than this length, then a mix of prices would be more appropriate. Maybe 99c for the first book then $2.99 for subsequent books. Or $2.99 each for all 3 books. I experiment with pricing but I use the 99c if I want to jump into a genre and pull readers to my book/get a pen name established/climb the charts for that genre.

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  6. Fantasy usually requires higher word count. Is there a market for fantasy novellas?

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Even Tor are looking for novellas and shorter novels in sci fi and fantasy.

      "WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR: Tor.com: The Imprint is looking for complete, original science fiction and fantasy stories of 17,500 words or more, with a preference for novellas and shorter novels. We are seeking stories with commercial appeal that take advantage of the particular strengths of the novella and short novel formats. "

      http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/05/torcom-imprint-submissions-guidelines

      :)

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