Home > Writing > Selling My Soul – Progress Report

Selling My Soul – Progress Report

I’ve been teasing and hinting that I’m doing all this research and I’m going to post the conclusions of that research. Well, I’m a long ways from that, but I can offer up some tidbits on what a few months of progress are showing. And most importantly (to you, the readers), this is free! I’m not offering all this up in a conveniently bundled package for $x.99 like certain individuals out there. Maybe I should and maybe this simple bit of humanitarianism is a marketing fail on my part. I’d rather think you’d be grateful for this and more inclined to believe that I really do want to help people succeed – both myself and you, dear reader. Heck, maybe you’ll be so appreciative you’ll even go out and buy one or more of my books. No pressure though… 😉

First on cover art: By improving my cover art images it’s definitely getting good feedback from people anecdotally (kind words over Twitter and email and such). Is it driving sales? No, is it helping? Yes. Can I quantify it? Alas – no. I did take Wanted from a good to a better (in my opinion) cover and got several very positive comments on it though, including at least one sale because it “looked very interesting.” Small sample of data, but I only made the transition last night.

Book Blurb: I’ve revised and fine tuned my book blurbs, improving them steadily all along. I may occasionally make a tweak here or there but by and large that’s all there is to it. The results? Well there’s no empirical data saying it helped n%, but there has been a steady increase over time.

Book Reviews: Yes, these are helping…I think. Nobody has contacted me to say they were on the fence about buying my book until they saw “RazorbabyX99” thought it was a great read, but knowing how I and a few others look at making a purchase in an online venue, reviews are worth their weight in gold. And like above, the positive trend reflects that these are a factor, I just wish I had more of them. I honestly believe more reviews would make a very strong difference. As it is I’m lucky to have two reviews on any given book on Amazon. I encourage – no, I implore people to please help out the writers they like (especially if it’s me) and leave a few words or sentences about a book they liked. It’s so immensely helpful.

Twitter: The powerhouse that is Twitter is both fun and useful. I’ve had a lot of success with Twitter helping me to increase sales. Both my tweets that go out aimed at promoting and other tweets that draw people in. Sure, maybe it’s a a 1:500 ratio but that’s still a sale. But even more importantly, I’ve met some really cool people and been touched by some of them as well (and not in a creepy way). For example, my wife has spent the week in the hospital for some severe abdominal pain that the docs had a hard time identifying. It looks like she’ll be headed home very soon, hopefully today, and the problem was one that was complicated by a matter of timing and coincidence. A few mentions on Twitter about this brough in a flood of well wishes and support. It was very touching and very much appreciated. Sure, maybe there’s no real investment when all your doing is typing in a few encouraging words but trying being on the other end, when you’re not quite sure what’s going on and you’ve got the creative machine that is a writer’s mind working against you instead of for you. It’s amazing how the power of anonymity and empathy combine to make me think that maybe humanity isn’t destined to spiral into chaos.

Website: I’ve got one (http://www.booksbyjason.com) and I update it frequently. Either new samples, news postings, or design changes (major or minor). Come to think of it I need to revise some font sizes on my book pages for the links still. Well anyhow, having a website has been quite helpful. People like the free samples. My visitation is down recently because I haven’t been pumping it out there very much. So, um, go visit it! 😉

The data: The following numbers are US numbers from Amazon only. I’ve got a great following in the UK that is increasing at a similar base and even if I can’t speak for their loyalty to me, I’ve found myself becoming fiercely loyal to them for the support I’ve received. I’ve got a passport, I just need the time and more sales to finance a trip to go and visit!

Month             Quantity                 Notes

June                       20                     No advertising worth mentioning, original covers / blurbs / website

July                         14                     Just beginning to attempt to advertise but “attempt” is the key word.

August                   50                    Started fumbling with Twitter effectively and blogging. Website enhancement

September          108                    More of the same plus I blurbs and prof. cover art. Website changes too.

October             93 / 135              At 93 presently, trending towards 135. More and more of the same.

So the improvements aren’t linear by any means, it’s a result of working hard and the more I can put into it in terms of time and effort, the more I get out of it. Adding new books to the mix helps as well, of course! The numbers aren’t outstanding by any stretch, but it’s a positive trend and I’m here for the long haul. I stand zero chance of hitting 1 million ebooks in five months like John Locke did, but that’s okay – I’m not the marketing guru he is either. Ironically I read his book and saw that he and I independently came to many of the same conclusions. In a few instances he’s been able to implement them better though.

But speaking of marketing, I’ve got something new I’m trying in the very near future too. It’s staying under wraps until it happens though, it’s a surprise – but I promise it’ll be a great one!

I started this marketing bit with the intent of using it as a tool. It was a means to an end. The end is a long ways away but that’s okay because it’s changed It went from being thought of as a necessary chore to something that has changed and improved me. The Twitter experience, where I interact with friends, has been inspirational, touching, exhilarating, and fun. There’s occasional somber moments as well, such as when I learn of a friend who is on the verge of losing a cherished family pet. They’re not just fans and readers, they’re part of an extended family and I couldn’t have the hopes, dreams, and ambitions that I do without them. If you’re a writer I’d advise you take that to heart and remember we’re only successful because of the people who make us that way.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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  1. October 21, 2011 at 14:56

    Thank you for the open and insightful things you are teaching us. I am also so sorry about your wife. I truly hope she is home and healthy soon. Use this! remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes things that take us away for a while make the us realize what we have and what is truly important. I am buying one of your books on kindle right now! Thanks Jason.
    April

  2. October 22, 2011 at 19:04

    Great article, Jason. I’m currently experiencing the same second-month dip that you saw. (here’s my first month’s results with what I did: http://www.mikekalmbach.com/2011/10/01/sales-results-month-1-as-an-indie-author/)

    What tips did you learn that helped improve your Twitter marketing? I want to avoid crossing the line of always promoting, but at the same time it would be nice to increase sales. Any tips you have would definitely be appreciated.

  3. October 26, 2011 at 10:52

    Hey Jason – I appreciate you posting the hard data for all of us to read. For an unpublished author, the numbers are like a big black box. I wish there was a way translate Amazon sales ranking to books sold, even just an approximation would be good.

    Lisa

    • October 26, 2011 at 11:18

      I hear your pain. It’s highly subjective is the problem. Each niche (e.g. kindle/mystery/hard boiled detective) has a different number of books sold necessary to hit the top 100 than another one might (e.g. kindle/fiction/romance). The first example might require 10 books sold in a month to hit 100, whereas the second might require 10 an hour to get there.

      I’ve done some rough estimating by looking up books in the various niches and comparing them to one another and to their overall Amazon ranking. Gives a rough idea of what the number is. If you really want to cheat go to http://www.novelrank.com and have a look at some of the books in the places you want yours to be. If they have no data being collected on them, enter them into the database there so they start collecting data then check back in a day or two.

      I had a thought earlier today (induced by too much cold medicine, no doubt), that writing and selling books is a lot like powerlifting. Sure it’s fun to compete against other people, but no two people are the same so it’s not really possible to do so on a truly level field. Instead the objective is to compete against yourself and always try to do better. Unlike powerlifting, it’s highly unlikely you’ll strain a muscle, break a bone, or rip tendons apart while writing. 🙂

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