I’ll be up front about something. I’ve always struggled to promote my work. I’ve tried a bunch of different things, but it wasn’t until very recently that I found something that actually worked for me. That was, as the title of the post suggests, Facebook Ads.
Here are my total sales for the month of September. Across all 10 titles I have available at Amazon, I made 7 sales.
Here are my sales for October. As you can see, I made 4 sales.
And these numbers are pretty typical. I usually do between 2-10 sales a month. (Actually, there was one month where I did -1 sales, because I made no new sales and someone returned a copy of Imperium. That was depressing.)
To say I was discouraged would be an understatement. I’d tried book tours, promotion sites, giveaways, paid ads on Goodreads, and a few other things, but at best I’d get a blip of one or two sales. Then fellow author Rick Gualtieri pointed me at a free mini course on Facebook ads and suggested I give it a try. I commissioned some art from StreetlightGraphics.com and spun up this ad, which launched on Nov 8.
Here are my numbers for November so far.
At the time of this writing, I have made over 140 sales in 12 days. While that’s still small compared to some, it’s huge for me. So, if you’re looking to get a boost in your sales numbers, look into Facebook ads. They just might be what you need.
Last time, I talked about rebranding my covers. The next thing I want to talk about is working with an editor. I’ve worked with three different editors over the last few years, and I’ve learned that it’s really important to keep the same editor as you work through a series. This is because that editor gets used to your style and what to watch for. A good editor will also help ensure your characters stay consistent from book to book, and that your voice isn’t jarringly different (unless of course that’s your intent).
Now, you may be wondering why I changed editors. After I finished Imperium, the editor I used stopped taking on new work, and the same thing happened with the editor I used for Krampusnacht. I started to worry I might be cursed and crossed my fingers that the editor I used for Sync would still be around when I finally finished Promise. Thankfully, she was, and I’ve been using Shelley Holloway for everything since. She edited Promise, Sync, and all the Doc Graystone Adventures. In order to maintain consistency, I also asked her to take a pass through Imperium, just to be safe. She found a few issues that we corrected and the book is much stronger for it.
So, that raises the question of how do you know if an editor is any good? There are a couple of ways. The first is to look at their client testimonial page. You’re not looking at this for the positive words (because honestly, who’s going to put negative feedback on their own testimonial page?), but you’re looking for who their clients are. Then, go buy one or two of the books they edited and give them a read. It’s a small investment, but a great way to see how they handle things. Also take a spin through the reviews on those books; reviewers are very critical of poor editing and if it was badly done, someone will comment on it.
The other way to find a good editor is to ask for recommendations. Find other indie authors who have sold well and ask who they’re using. After all, it’s unlikely they’d get as far as they did without having a good editor in their corner. (Incidentally, that’s how I found Shelley – I asked the super talented Lindsay Buroker who she used.)
So like I said, I use Holloway House for my editing. You can reach Shelley at this page. Tell her I sent you. It won’t get you any special treatment, but it’ll make me look good.
Lots of self-published authors offer different advice on what it takes to succeed. But there are three things they all agree on:
- Have great cover art
- Have a great editor
- Have a great blurb
I’m going to focus on #1 in this post. When I originally published IMPERIUM back in 2011, I knew I was going to hire a cover artist. I have no artistic abilities at all, and anything I tried to create myself would undoubtedly look like it had been drawn by a drunken chimp using MS Paint. So I hired an artist and thought, cool, #1 on the list is taken care of. The artist I hired did a good job and I was happy.
Problem is, I missed one critical bit of info related to Having Great Cover Art. Namely, your great cover art needs to fit in your genre. It sounds obvious, and I’m embarrassed to say this didn’t occur to me until much later. The original cover art for the Caulborn series looks much more like historical fantasy, or epic fantasy, but not urban fantasy. I’ve been told that some readers thought my work was miscategorized as urban fantasy because of the artwork. Other readers told me they didn’t realize these books were all part of the same series, because there weren’t common elements across them.
This was not the fault of the artist. This was my fault for not doing my homework. If I had, I could have had him retool the original cover back then. It took several years for this realization to dawn, but once it did I enlisted a new cover artist (as my old one went out of business) to develop a new set of covers for the Caulborn series. Check ’em out:
These covers were done by the talented folks over at StreetLight Graphics and are much more in line with the covers you’d see on a book by Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, or Illona Andrews. So they fit the genre. Also notice the consistent use of the title font and Caulborn insignia. In short, these new covers are in-line with what readers expect a UF cover to look like, and it’s obvious they’re part of a series.
So, lessons learned:
- Your cover needs to fit with the genre you’re writing
- If you’re writing a series, there need to be common elements to tie the books together
- Even if you make a mistake, it’s never too late to fix it
In the next post on the series, I’ll talk about working with an editor.
You may have noticed that the Caulborn books are no longer for sale on Amazon. Fear not, this is temporary. I’m having new covers done, as well as new interior formatting and a fresh edit for Imperium. I expect they’ll all be back on the virtual shelves by mid-November at the latest.
S. Evan Townsend was kind enough to interview me and fellow author Ava Morgan on his radio show, The Speculative Fiction Cantina. We talk about our stories, what inspires us, and Ava and I both give readings from our work. There’s a recording of the show here – check it out.
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I’ve just compiled the first 5 Doc Graystone Adventures into a single volume for the low price of $3.99 at Amazon. That’s like getting one of Doc Graystone’s thrilling adventures for free!
I’m proud to announce my newest series, the Doc Graystone Adventures. Each novelette follows the adventures of Dr. Grant Graystone, gentleman necromancer. Set in the early 1930’s, these stories were inspired by the old pulp novels from the early 20th century. So if you enjoy nonstop action and witty banter, come along on an adventure with the Doc as he delivers two-fisted necromantic justice to all manner of paranormal foes. You can check out a sample of the first novelette, Red Runes, here.
You can pre-order Red Runes from Amazon here. Use the sidebar on this page to sign up for my newsletter for when this thrilling adventure is available!
I’m proud to say that PROMISE, book 2 in the Caulborn series, is now available for purchase from Amazon and B&N.
Caulborn 2, PROMISE, is at the editor now and is on track for publication in June. I’m proud to share the cover and blurb.
When gods fail to keep their promises there’s hell to pay. Literally. After a slip of the tongue, godling Vincent Corinthos is obligated to keep his partner, Megan, “fine” forever. Enter the Keepers, who fulfill promises for a fee. Vincent agrees to their bargain, but will Megan be the one who pays the price?