From Base Camp To The Summit?

If February was ‘turning the corner’ month, then March could be an even more significant milestone on my journey. Let me rephrase that. On our journey. So many of you have been with me from the beginning and you know the bumps in the road we’ve had to negotiate. 

Those who have recently joined us have done so for the same reasons. Good reasons. The themes in The Phoenix Series have struck a chord somewhere inside you, or you simply enjoy the style in which the adventures are written. Events of the past 48 hours might bring even more fresh faces to our door. The more the merrier, I say.

 

Two weeks ago, I was celebrating the confirmation of my first BookBub Featured Deal. That ran yesterday, Monday March 18th in the US. So how did it go?

 You recall my excitement over seeing my first #1 ranking on Amazon for Assassination Thrillers? Heck, yesterday I was grabbing screenshots all over the place as 21000 copies of ‘The Olympus Project’ were downloaded.

 #1 Assassination Thrillers; #1 Conspiracy Thrillers; #1 Terrorism Thrillers

#1 Crime Thrillers; #2 Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense; and #2 Thrillers in general.

#4 Kindle Free Store. (OK. #1 was on my wish list. Maybe next time?)

 I reduced the price on #2 ‘Gold, Silver & Bombs’ until March 31st. Over 160 copies were sold yesterday. For some obscure reason, all of the remaining 10 books in the series had sales in double figures. Any concerns about the cost of the Featured Deal have melted away. I’m good to go to the next phase of progressing ‘read through’ for the series.

Yesterday unlocked a vast potential. I’m not naïve. It will need a heap of work to realise that potential.

 Many thanks for sharing this journey with me. I couldn’t do it without support.

 Breaking news: – My wife, Lynne has started to badger me into writing again. Last year, she thought I was banging my head against a brick wall and should stop. Lynne thought we should be taking more holidays and visiting family and friends. At my age you can’t look too far ahead, but it appears I may be hibernating for up to ten of the next thirty months – resurfacing in time for our Golden Wedding in October 2021.

 Retirement – who needs it? All things being equal, I’ll be back early next month.      

A Welcome Boost

February definitely felt like a ‘turning the corner’ kind of month. 

I experienced a warm glow with that first #1 ranking on Amazon at the start of the month. The follow up promotion two weeks later wasn’t brilliant but the unseasonably warm weather here in the UK meant it didn’t leave me with any chilly after effects.

In fact, it was hard to stop wandering around with a cheesy grin on my face. Actual sales were 100% up on January and my website sign-up form had its links re-connected to Mailchimp. I hadn’t been able to welcome a new Phoenix member since October. 

I was on a roll.

In previous posts I’ve told you about my correspondence with other writers. Those who have been far more successful than me. I’ve learned far more through their willingness to share their wisdom than I could from reading the ‘How To’ books out there.

I had just posted a review on Amazon for an Australian thriller writer. I think that made sixteen (or eighteen) titles now from two different series. He emailed me to say he had spotted my name on a site he also uses and asked how my recent promotion fared. It had generated a moderate return on my outlay and I took the opportunity to outline my strategy in general in the hopes of some useful advice. He took the time to reply with a detailed version of his own approach and some pointers that might benefit me.

To give you an idea of the difference in scale between us; my annual marketing spend is around £2500. He spends $100 EVERY DAY on Facebook Ads, plus Amazon Headline and Sponsored Ads and giveaways through Booksweep/Book Funnel. My guess is he ploughs $50000 back into his business – and still comes up smiling!

I swallowed hard. I couldn’t compete with that. I thought, it’s time to find out whether my books can cut the mustard. For six years I’d envied the small percentage of writers accepted by BookBub who then reported eye-watering numbers of downloads via a Featured Deal.

I submitted #1 in the Phoenix Series on the 21st of February. It was a fishing expedition. I was confident the new covers would be a tick in the box. I thought the fact it was a completed series would be another positive. I hoped when they sent the rejection note they told me what needed to be done to fix the problems. If it was feasible within my budget I could regroup this summer and try again later in the year with a revised re-launch.

Five days later I received the ‘Congratulations – you have been accepted’ message. I was over the moon. Stunned, but over the moon. MONDAY, 18TH MARCH 2019 will be my first BookBub Featured Deal.

The rest of February was a blur I’m afraid. I wish I could tell you what I did to celebrate, but I spent the time in preparation for the big day.

I gave books #1-#4 another brief edit. I added more reader magnets and standardised my Author Bio. I asked for advice on how to discount books #2 & #3 to encourage a fast follow-through in the weeks after Deal Day.

I revised all the short stories I had written and prepped them for new members. Since October, when the link broke between my website & Mailchimp there have been no new faces and the promise at the end of the updated books of ‘a free short story for every newbie’ has been redundant.

It’s early March now and the 18th seems a long way off. I have one more decision to make. What to do with the Boxed Set? I thought setting the list price at $3.99 was sensible at the time back in December. It’s one-third of the list price for the individual titles. That’s a very healthy discount.

On the 18th, book #1 will be Free and being offered to 2.7 million US Thriller readers. I want as many of those interested in the series to grab the early books and hope that encourages them to read all twelve books in time.

Can you see my dilemma?

I need to discount all 4 books in the Boxed Set to $0.99, so purchasing them while the discount is ‘live’ saves money against the $3.99 the Set is already showing.

What are my options? I could unpublish the Boxed Set. It has had its issues, as you are aware. The majority of my bad reviews were given to the Set in its first edition. It’s had several editing overhauls since then but those reviews won’t disappear as long as the book is still ‘live’ and published.

Another option would be to raise the price, to bring it more in line with boxed sets offered by another prolific thriller writer I’ve corresponded with in the past year. That could still show a decent discount against the full list price.

Everything’s changed since that acceptance email. Everything and nothing. If I can get a Featured Deal on ‘The Olympus Project’ and achieve an average return of downloads on the day, then I don’t need to alternate my promotions between the first book and the Boxed Set any more.

I can concentrate solely on book #1 and run discounted periods of time on books #2 & #3 whenever I get a repeat deal. Instead of lots of small amounts across dozens of sites every two weeks, I may be able to run four or five big promotions through the year, supplemented by some of those ideas from the land Down Under – Headline, Sponsored, Facebook Ads.

I’ll update you in early April on what happens on the 18th March. There have been so many bumps in the road I won’t allow myself to believe that corner has actually been turned until I check the road is clear.

No matter what happens, that acceptance message was a welcome boost. The covers must be good. What’s between them must be better than I thought. Only 10 to 15% of books are accepted for those prized Featured Deals.

Someone once said ‘there’s no such thing as an overnight success – if it happens it usually means you’ve been doing lots of small things better every day for a long time and not giving up’. 

That was the plan. If it doesn’t turn out to be a giant leap, it will still be another small thing done better and I have another reason NOT to give up.