Today on the Book Launch Show we’re wrapping up Season 1 where, on every episode thus far, Tim has been advising Valerie and walking her through the very first steps in launching and selling her book. In light of the closing season and the upcoming break, Valerie discusses what she plans to do about reaching that magic number of 10,000 readers and what she is setting in place to pique the interest of women’s book clubs whom she hopes will review and give some exposure to her book. She also talks about experimenting with Kindle Unlimited and Tim guides her on how to run marketing tests that are effective and that deliver unequivocal results. They also get into the various opportunities with BookTubers, Instagrammers and the many other reviewers who might give her book their stamp of approval. Don’t miss out on the season finale!
Key Points From This Episode:
- How Valerie is approaching the task of getting to the 10,000 readers marker.
- Why she wants to create print versions of her book to send to women’s book clubs.
- The strategy she is using to make her book digitally accessible.
- Replacing the downloadable version on her website with an audio of her reading the book.
- Reaching out to BookTubers, Instagrammers and others to review Part 1 of her book.
- Boosting your profile though Amazon ads in Kindle Unlimited and then testing the results.
- Keeping your readers hooked throughout and giving them a further enticement at the end.
- The importance of running experiments that are actually testable.
- Being careful not to run two tests simultaneously and thereby clouding the results.
- And much more!
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Tim Grahl — https://booklaunch.com/
Tim on Twitter — https://twitter.com/timgrahl
Valerie Francis — https://valeriefrancis.ca/
Valerie on Twitter — https://twitter.com/valerie_francis
The Story Grid Editor Roundtable Podcast — https://valeriefrancis.ca/podcast/
Running Down a Dream — https://www.amazon.com/Running-Down-Dream-Winning-Creative/dp/1936891557
Girly Book Club — https://thegirlybookclub.com/
Badass Women’s Book Club — https://www.badasswomensbookclub.com/
IngramSpark — https://www.ingramspark.com/
Barnes & Noble — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/
[0:00:00.3] TG: Hello and welcome to the Book Launch Show. My name is Tim Grahl. If you’ve been listening over the last several months, you know that Valerie and I have made a lot of progress on this show. We’ve gone over just about every aspect of her platform, looking at her website, looking at outreach, looking how she’s branding herself, how she’s promoting herself and all kinds of stuff that hearing from you guys has been really helpful. What we’re going to do now is take a couple month break.
We’ve got this episode, that I think is really important because it’s kind of setting her up for the next few months and then we’re going to wrap up this season and take a break for a couple of months throughout the summer. I’ve got a lot of travel, we’ve got a lot of things going on.
I think you’ll like this episode, we dive into setting her up for the next few months so she can really start making progress and again, if you missed any of the last few episodes or last several months’ worth of episodes, I highly recommend you go back and listen to them all.
This was Valerie’s idea, she pitched me on this idea and I like the idea but I’ve been blown away with how it’s come together and gotten a lot of feedback from you listening that has been really helpful for you. Thanks for listening, thanks for continuing to listen. If you’re not subscribed, make sure you subscribe to the podcast so that when we start up again in a couple of months, you will automatically get notified.
Thanks for listening and let’s jump into this episode and get started.
[0:01:38.0] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Book Launch Podcast, helping authors launch and market their books.
[0:01:43.5] VF: Hello, Tim.
[0:01:44.7] TG: Hello, Valerie, good to talk to you.
[0:01:48.4] VF: How are you today?
[0:01:49.7] TG: I’m hanging in there. I’m about to start a bunch of travel so I’m trying to get enough done that I can peacefully leave town so we’ll see how it goes.
[0:01:59.7] VF: Yes, this will be sort of our last one for a little while of the end of this season and we’ll pick it up again in the fall which means I have a whole bunch of questions for you today.
[0:02:10.7] TG: All right, I’m ready.
[0:02:11.9] VF: All right. This past week, I’ve had a little bit of a spaz out, I will admit, I was just getting overwhelmed and I was also getting lost in the weeds which you know is a bit of a specialty of mine. I had to pull right back and look at the macro view. My overall goal was to what I’m trying to do with my books with the marketing strategy and all that good stuff. I focus in on something we talked about recently which is that magic number of 10,000 people.
I’m trying to get 10,000 pairs of eyeballs on my book. I started from there and I thought, okay, I got to come up with ways to do this and we’ve been talking about this for weeks but I needed to pull back and gather all that information together so that I had a strategic plan. Here’s what I have, okay?
I’m focusing on getting 10,000 people to read Part 1 because it’s a novel in 12 parts and I really do like that format, I think it works really well for my readers but of course I can’t market all 12, that’s just insane. I’m just going to market the first part because if I can get people to read that, if the story is for them, they’ll keep reading and if it’s not, they won’t. In terms of the 10,000, I’m trying to get 10,000 of Part 1. Okay?
Just really narrowly focusing on that. To do that, I have a couple of ideas. I’ve been looking at podcasts and book clubs and all that kind of stuff. I mean, that’s what I’ve been working with, working on with you and those types of groups of people tend to like print books, great, no problem. Because I already have a plan to create a print version of this book. I’m really fussy about my print versions because I want it to look –
I want it to be very visually pleasing. I’m going to create a print version of the book that I can send to Girly Book Club for example or Badass Women’s Book Club, something like that, I think it’s called. Just pulling a blank. They are welcome and open to new authors or authors they haven’t heard of before but they do require print books, that’s cool. I’ll work on that.
Print copies, I go through Spark, IngramSpark, that will hit my libraries and everything, but for digital. I’m thinking that I might, at least for the short term, go on Kindle unlimited, which is exclusive to Amazon, which means I need to – the reason why is because people who are avid readers are going to have a subscription. You know, that’s going to be financially beneficial for them to have subscriptions, that if I’m looking avid readers, they’re in there and I know there’s a lot of people who like love stories who are in there.
Even though my book is not a romance, I can’t call it a romance because it breaks the sub-genre conventions. That doesn’t mean that people who enjoy romance won’t also enjoy my book. You know what I mean?
[0:05:18.9] TG: Right, yeah.
[0:05:20.2] VF: I’m thinking for the short term. I mean, I have to try for 90 days at least. I’ll go in Kindle unlimited for the digital copies of the books. Now, that means, I have to take my digital offering, you know, download Part 1 from my website, I’ll have to take that down but I can replace it with an audio version so I can either video tape myself reading Book One or just have a straight audio of me reading Book One.
I can offer that on my site. I’m good at reading, I’ve been told.
[0:05:58.8] TG: That just sounded funny.
[0:06:00.4] VF: Well, I’m good at reading my own work.
[0:06:03.0] TG: Yeah.
[0:06:04.1] VF: Have you been to a literary festival?
[0:06:07.0] TG: I don’t think so, no.
[0:06:08.7] VF: Okay, well, when you go to literary festivals, a lot of the authors will get up to read from their work to the audience and it’s really painful to listen to because they’re writers.
[0:06:19.8] TG: Okay, I’ve seen those, yeah. You said, ‘I’m good at reading’ and I was like, well I hope so.
[0:06:28.8] VF: I’m good at reading my own book aloud, how’s that? Point taken. Okay, that’s my strategy. For the digital to go on Kindle Unlimited for three months and see how it goes, to replace the download from my website from the digital book because I can’t offer there if I go exclusive with Amazon, to an audio version or maybe a video of me reading it, to create a print version of my book for the podcast listener’s book clubs and so forth and the print version, I can still make available through chapters, Barnes & Noble libraries and so forth.
[0:07:08.6] TG: Okay.
[0:07:10.3] VF: So far, what do you think of that?
[0:07:11.9] TG: I really like the first part about focusing on getting 10,000 people to give the first part a try. I think it’s a really good, clear goal and something that you would be able to track so you would know when you hit the goal and yeah, it takes away kind of the muddiness of trying to figure out the 12 parts and whose read what and all that kind of thing.
I love the idea of doing the print books as well and I think you could think bigger on who you would send those to. You know, I have a buddy I’d talk about a lot. His name’s Mike Tomas and you know, he almost exclusively used Instagram to send prank copies to people, you know, large Instagrammer, people with large followings on Instagram, that were in his niche and that helps sell the book really well.
Your instinct on doing that for reviewers and all of that kind of stuff is really good. The one thing on Kindle Unlimited is, I think you should definitely run the experiment, you know, I’m always up for running experiments. I’m curious, are you hoping that merely having it in Kindle unlimited will, like more people will read it because they’ll find it because they’re looking for Kindle unlimited books or do you have a specific plan to go after people that are on Kindle unlimited so that they’ll get your book during this window?
[0:08:46.1] VF: That’s a good question. It would be lovely if merely putting the book in Kindle unlimited accomplish this goal. However, I’m not quite that naïve anymore. I do have a couple of ideas. First of all, just back up a little bit. In terms of who else to send my print books to. I am developing a list of people on Instagram who review books and also BookTubers who review books like mine. Because they’re kind of like book clubs by another name.
They have a lot of people, especially the BookTubers. They have a lot of people tuning in to listen to them and then they sort of comment in the comment sections below the video. I kind of lump all those people in to my book club idea
Yes, it’s taking a while to do this research but I am broadening it out to the book clubs, podcasts, online groups such as BookTubers, Instagrammers, other reviewers, all that kind of stuff.
[0:09:46.8] TG: Okay.
[0:09:47.0] VF: In terms of Part 1 of Masquerade. I mean, social media is good for what it’s good for which is one-on-one connections. It’s not good for sales. That said. I will be putting up posts here and there just to remind people that they can get it there and I tend to get a lot of engagement on Facebook for that. People liking and sharing.
I will do that kind of thing, that will be sort of an ancillary thing. The primary strategy I have for trying to boost a little bit of profile while I was in Kindle Unlimited is Amazon ads. Ads kind of scare me, I will admit that. Again, it’s another tool in the toolbox and I think if you know what the tool does well, then you can use it properly. For me personally, running ads is not something that I can sustain long term.
I think in terms of long term strategy, things that we’ve been talking about on the podcast are much more effective. Like my book club every month and my writer’s life email out every month and continuing to write the best book I can write and all of these types of slow, steady progressive things in my long term strategy.
But, for a quick hit of attention. I’m thinking of running some ads during that three-month period. Just to see what happens. What do you think about that?
[0:11:11.7] TG: I know, it just depends. I tend to shy away from ads because I feel like it’s one of those things that it feels like an urban legend where you always know somebody that knows somebody that does really well with them. You know what I mean? I rarely have come across anybody who specifically does really well with them.
My thing is just to do what I’m sure you’re going to do already which is test it very carefully, watch the results and do your absolute best to break even, and if you can’t, in the test relatively quickly. Because buying ads is a really great way to burn through a lot of money.
[0:12:02.3] VF: Yeah.
[0:12:04.7] TG: Because – ads are notoriously hard because on one training I did, I did a graded Facebook advertising for books pretty hard and somebody was like no, you can make it work and I’m like yeah, but when you dig into the people that are making it work, they’re spending hours and hours in the return on investment. It’s thin, you know?
I’m like, are you tweaking the 90% of effort that gets the 1% of results? Because a lot of times, when I did a great thing, well it works for me and I’m like, I’m not saying it doesn’t work, the same way I’m not saying you can’t get a nail on the board with a rock. I’m just saying there’s better tools like hammers and nail guns.
[0:12:48.6] VF: Right.
[0:12:49.1] TG: I just tend to worry about that kind of stuff. I would say, to try it and just watch it very closely and make sure that it’s – what I was going to say the reason why it is so hard for books is because the margins are so thin especially if you are talking about Kindle Unlimited and so because the margins are so thin, you have to convert. You either have to get extremely low click rates or extremely high conversion rates or both. So you just want to make sure that kind of stuff. So that is what makes me nervous about it is it just – if you are not watching it like if you set it up and it runs for five days.
And then you look at it, you could have lost a few hundred dollars in that time. I mean you can set all the caps and all that kind of stuff on it but it is just making sure you are doing everything carefully.
[0:13:40.8] VF: It feels a little to me like going to the casino, right? When I go to the casino I say, “Okay, how much can I afford to lose?” and that’s how much I take and once I lose that I am done for the night or if I happen to finish the night with 20 bucks left in my pocket I go, “Hey that is a $20 bonus. I made 20 bucks today” this is another reason why I don’t – for me personally, I don’t think that running ads is a permanent long term solution because it takes so much managing.
And I mean they do kind of scare me too but I don’t really know a lot about them so it might just be fear of the unknown, I don’t know, but if I focus in for this three-month period, I am curious to see what happens. I mean maybe I will just lose a bunch of money and nothing else will happen but my goal is to get eyeballs on the book not necessarily – like if I break even I’ll be happy, right? In terms of the money out and the money for that particular experiment.
But again, that’s just testing something in the short term. That is not something that is sustainable over the long term. You are going to make money if you are going to write.
[0:14:49.8] TG: No, in your book, in the first part of the book where are you driving people to get the second book, the second part?
[0:14:57.0] VF: Well, I can’t remember what’s in there right now. This is terrible, I mean I put in there myself. I am just pulling a blank. I mean the all 12 parts will be available on Kindle Unlimited. So if I am a Kindle Unlimited member, I’ll just get the second part as part of my subscription.
[0:15:12.1] TG: I see.
[0:15:12.9] VF: Right but what I want to do is at some point try to capture those people on my mailing list right? Because it is no good really in the long term for me to have 10,000 people look at my book in Kindle Unlimited and I don’t know who those people are and I haven’t given them any reason to come look for me or sign up to a mailing list. So this is something I forgot to mention earlier, what I need to do, possibly in part 12, because if they made it all the way to part 12 they really liked the book.
Is have some kind of DVD extra at the end of part 12 and I am not quite sure what it will be yet, it has to be something really good so that they will go and sign up to my website to get that thing and maybe it will be an extra story. Maybe I will write down a short story about one of the lesser characters. Maybe it will be video interviews because there are people like in real life who are dealing with issues that are similar to the types of things that come up in the book, right?
So that could be an interesting conversation, it could be an ask the author type of video series. I got a bunch of ideas but I haven’t really thought through any of them yet to figure out which is the best, what do you think about that?
[0:16:25.2] TG: I think that is good. The reason I was asking is I was trying to think if there is a way that you could test. What I want to know is if you are buying ads I want to be able to look at the end of this 90 day experiment and say it worked or it didn’t work. And so my question would be one, how many downloads and then how many downloads did the advertising drive and then maybe it is just how many did your downloads of book two go up as well, you know what I mean?
[0:17:01.9] VF: Yes, and this is a big question mark for me because I have never done Kindle Unlimited. So I have to figure this out and maybe someone listening already knows the answer to this question, maybe you know the answer to this question, Tim. I think in Kindle Unlimited, you get what you’re told is normalized page reads. I don’t know if it breaks it down for you to say that 50 people read book one, 10 people read book two. I think they just say so many pages have been read.
[0:17:29.4] TG: But can’t you look at pages read per book?
[0:17:32.6] VF: I have no idea but that is a good –
[0:17:34.9] TG: I am pulling up an account right now that I can look at. I am sure people are yelling at the podcast right now that actually know what they’re talking about.
[0:17:43.1] VF: I don’t have to know what I am talking about on this podcast.
[0:17:47.0] TG: I don’t know that is a good question. I wonder if somebody would know that and could email us about it but anyway, the biggest question I am asking is – the biggest thing is the only way to run a true experiment is to be able to know if it worked or not and so I just want to make sure that and the other thing you’ve got to be careful is running two experiments at the same time that will skew each other’s results. So if you are running Kindle Unlimited for an experiment.
And you are running ads for an experiment, you are not going to, like and I don’t run enough Amazon ads to know but will you be able to see like, “Okay, here is how much the ads drove and then here is everything that happened independent of the ads.”
[0:18:36.3] VF: No, I don’t think so.
[0:18:39.0] TG: So that is also what makes me nervous is when people run lots of different – more than one experiment at a time that they are not going to be able to differentiate between because what I don’t want you to do is get to the end of the experiment and be like, “Oh wait, did this happen because it was on Kindle Unlimited or did this happen because it was I was running ads?”
[0:19:03.9] VF: Well so maybe the best thing to do is to stagger it, right?
[0:19:07.0] TG: Yeah.
[0:19:07.6] VF: Because this is sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t but the only way to find out is to come up with the best plan you can and then test it, right? So maybe the way to go about it is to put the book in Kindle Unlimited and just see what happens on its own.
[0:19:22.8] TG: Yeah, why don’t you do – so first of all I just looked it up. You can look at normalized page reads per book. So you can do that in your KDP dashboard. Now here is what I would do, put it in Unlimited and don’t run ads for 30 days. Then run ads for a period of time, two weeks, 30 days, whatever but then stop again for at least two to three weeks of the 90-day period so that you can see what kind of effect no ads, ads and then after ads because you also have –
You know, if it starts bumping up it might raise up an algorithm too. So then at least you’ll be able to get several different looks at what is happening and then make sure too that you are keeping track of all outreach and publicity that lands so that you’ll be able to say, “Okay I was on this podcast and I was on release on this day and I saw page reads go up” or “I didn’t see page reads go up.”
[0:20:32.4] VF: Right, there is a couple of interviews I’ve done that haven’t posted yet. So I am waiting to hear from those, okay continue. I think I cut you off.
[0:20:41.2] TG: Yeah, no it is just important to think about this ahead of time because I have done it before where I have tried too many new things at one time and at the end, my data was so muddled I didn’t know which of the things had which effect and that’s really frustrating because then you’re like, “Well I don’t know which thing I should keep doing and which thing I shouldn’t keep doing” do you understand what I am saying?
[0:21:07.0] VF: Yeah, that makes sense. Oh yeah, absolutely.
[0:21:08.2] TG: Yeah.
[0:21:08.4] VF: Well and this goes back to something that you’ve – I mean you have said this so many times I have lost count that it is consistent effort overtime. It is not about coming out of the gate with one big hurrah and then nothing, right?
[0:21:23.5] TG: Yeah, I am interested to see like, will having your book on Kindle Unlimited increase the amount of people that read it and maybe even your income because they are short so they are likely to read the whole thing. That is a really good experiment to try and if at the end of the 90 days you’ve had twice as many people reading the book because you are on Kindle Unlimited that’s great. But if you’ve run an ad campaign in the middle of it and your numbers go up.
At the end of the 90 days are you going to know, “Well was I getting more readers because of the ad campaign or was I getting more readers because I was on Kindle Unlimited?” and if you can’t answer that question, both experiments were kind of a waste of time.
[0:22:05.6] VF: Well that makes sense. It is also a lot less stressful to test one thing at a time.
[0:22:10.7] TG: Yeah, so I feel like sometimes people that hear me talk missed the point because I feel like I often come across as like this curmudgeon that doesn’t like to try new things you know? And I am always up for trying new things but I have to be able to try them in a way that I could see that if I get the results that I am going after. I don’t want to try random things and having no way to see if they are working or not. So both experiments are good experiments. You just got to do it in a way where you’ll be able to suss out if they work or not.
[0:22:45.9] VF: So step one is just to put it on Kindle Unlimited with an enticement at the end of the book 12 to sign up to my mailing list.
[0:22:52.7] TG: Yeah, I think that would be good.
[0:22:54.3] VF: That’s it, that’s all just see what happens.
[0:22:56.9] TG: Yeah and do that for 30 days and if you see no change, now let’s try an ad campaign, you know what I mean? But even if it spikes and it maintains that for 30 days, run an ad campaign, you just need to have data for them separate because maybe you even do like Kindle Unlimited for 30 days. Kindle Unlimited with ads for 30 days. Kindle Unlimited without ads for 30 days and then no Kindle Unlimited with ads for 30 days.
And then you are going to have four different kind of chunks of information that you could look at and started saying, “Well if I did this and that worked really well but when I was on Kindle Unlimited that didn’t seem to have any kind of impact. So there is no point in having it on Kindle Unlimited.” You know you can start sussing out what to do next.
[0:23:47.9] VF: So I need to keep track of how many page reads per book or sales per book because even if it is on Kindle Unlimited it can still be purchased from Amazon. So I need to keep track of how many page reads or sales per book every day? Do I go to check every day?
[0:24:06.5] TG: Yeah, I mean it will keep track of it for you. So I don’t think you need to check it every day, you know what I mean? KDP automatically breaks it up by day. So I don’t think you need to physically go in and track it every day, but yeah.
[0:24:22.9] VF: Okay, so I can just go in every couple of days or once a week or I’ll be obsessively checking it at the beginning, let’s just be honest here.
[0:24:31.0] TG: Sure, no I understand.
[0:24:32.1] VF: Okay and then we’ll just see what happens.
[0:24:34.7] TG: Yeah.
[0:24:35.3] VF: Everybody tell your friends.
[0:24:37.8] TG: That’s right.
[0:24:40.4] VF: Okay, any other words of wisdom for me before you wander away for two, three months?
[0:24:47.2] TG: No, I think you’re good. I think having a really clear goal is one of the best things you can have because then it informs everything you’re doing, “Is this going to get me closer to 10,000 people giving my book a try and if so I am going to try it.” I think that’s good.
[0:25:04.2] VF: Okay, so this wraps up season one where I was getting all of my ducks in a row and season two will be all the really fun stuff. So I’ll see you back here in September.
[0:25:14.2] TG: Sounds good.
[0:25:15.0] VF: All right, thank you so much, Tim.
[0:25:16.4] TG: Thanks, Valerie.
[0:25:17.3] VF: Bye.
[0:25:18.0] TG: Bye.
[END OF DISCUSSION]
[0:25:19.0] TG: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Book Launch Show. For all the past episodes, the show notes, or to connect with me, you can go to booklaunchshow.com. I have dozens of free book marketing resources and articles that you can access at my website booklaunch.com.
Lastly, if you like to support the show, you can do that by telling another author about the show and by visiting us on Apple Podcast and leaving a rating and review.
Thanks for subscribing and being a part of our work here at booklaunch.com. We will see you next week.
June 23, 2019