Monday, March 13, 2017

Forget Promotions, I'm Going To Start Investing in the Infrastructure of My Books

Is anyone else out there tired of the book promotion rigmarole? Let me tell you; it frustrates the hell out of me. 

Last year I spent four or five thousand dollars on book promotions. I made some good money, but I'm not sure it increased my income. Most of the books that sold went for 99 cents, which means I made roughly 34 cents per copy. That means I would have had to sell 18,000 copies just to break even. 

Yowch! That's a shit ton of books.

Some of my books would get a nice bump for three to five weeks after the promotion ended. Then they would go back to sleep. It became a vicious cycle. If I didn't promote my books, they didn't sell. That's not entirely true. A few sales, or page reads, would trickle in over the course of the month, but nothing to write home to mom about.


This year I decided to shake that up a bit.

I started to invest in the infrastructure of my books. Rather than discount them, my plan is to make them better.


My first investment was in professional-grade covers. So I said, “Bye, bye Fiverr. Hello, 99 designs.” That shot my cover costs up from five or ten bucks to two hundred bucks, plus artwork.

It’s scary to drop two bills on a cover, but the results are what count, right?

If you’ve never used 99 designs, it’s like Fiverr on steroids. You start a contest (their term for project), and within hours designers start submitting cover designs for your inspection. Designers have four days to submit their designs. Many of them submit multiple concepts. You can like the designs you receive, discard them, or ask the designer to make revisions.

What surprised me is that this all happens in real time.

The pace is fast.

Many designers chatted back and forth with me and submitted redos or all new concepts within an hour or less. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say it’s something like “Shake ‘N Bake, and I helped.”

The first contest I submitted was for a remake of my cover for History Bytes. The thing is, I like the cover I have, but everyone else tells me it’s so-so. The book sells well. It has since the day it was released. I just think it can do better, and if it means redoing everything, it’s worth a shot.

Here’s the current cover.


Here’s the new design I receive from 99 designs.



I received 32 designs. I brought it down to six by the fourth day of the contest, but if you want to know the truth—the first design I received, nailed it. Once she added the Confederate flag background, there was no going back.

It’s a great design, and I’m anxious to see how it improves sales.

The second book I submitted to 99 designs was Shot All To Hell. Again, I like the original cover and had doubts I could do any better.

Foolish me.

I received 76 designs for Shot All To Hell. I would have been proud to use any of them, but a guy’s gotta make a choice. In the end, I really liked two designs. The clipart for one was $68; the other one was $45. What can I say? I cheaped out and went for the less expensive clip art. But, I still love the design. I know it’s going to sell a shitload of books, and that’s what it’s all about anyway, right?

Here’s the original cover.



Here’s the cover I chose from 99 designs.


I did have one relapse during this time and had another cover designed on Fiverr.

I did this one a little different. I dug through period magazines and books and located two black and white illustrations I thought best suited the book’s content. Next, I had a designer on Fiverr, color the illustrations. After that, I made a mock-up of what I wanted using MS Paint. Then, I sent everything off to a cover designer. The first designer came close, but it wasn’t exactly what I envisioned. So, I sent it to another designer, with copious notes specifying what I wanted him to change.

I think he nailed it. Tell me what you think.




…………………………………

After that, I went back to the drawing board and redesigned the interior to History Bytes and Shot All To Hell.

I added pictures and found a Fiverr designer who could format the book with picture wraps, drop caps and all the goodies the professional publishers use.

I don’t want to brag, but I think the results are damn good.


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