Half an author
Joined: Dec 2013
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What I Read
RE: sales cliff
Re promo sites - eBookSoda, RiffleSelect, FreeKindleBooksandTips, eReaderNewsToday, and BookBub are the biggies you're missing from that list They're not solely UK-centric but they seem to do OK internationally. Paid promos are rarely an immediate win on the ROI front. The win is in sell-through to books 2,3 and 4. You've got a decent sales history on #1 (and fantastic reviews to go with it) but if your readers aren't coming back, then something is amiss somewhere in the package (price, cover, blurb, content). Normal sell-through might be 1/6 free #1 to paid 2#, higher for paid to paid. Conversion from 2->3 onwards *should* be very high if everything is working right.
The key is to benchmark YOUR normal rate, work out your cost per acquisition for each reader, and then compare that to your lifetime value (royalties received on average per new reader). LTV > CPA, scale the ads. CPA > LTV, write more product or refine your existing product / sales techniques until the reverse is true. It might be worth taking a short term hit on the costs, but only if you've got a way to turn it back into real cash later.
Re spikes - 6 days is still a spike albeit less harsh a spike. If you're having trouble on the 'continuing sales' end of things, consider adjusting something elsewhere (copy, covers, whatever you think needs tweaking. I'd be tempted to see how £2.99 plays out. It's not a lot less for you, but 'two pounds and' feels like a lot less than 'three pounds and'. Equally you might want to consider permafree for #1 to make it up on the volume on 2 & 3. You might also want to have a low level ad run going on via AMS or FB to support sales to avoid the complete drops.
You said you've got low conversion - which sites are you hitting those numbers on? Those aren't cheap ad sites (especially BookSends and BargainBooksy). If you're not getting the ROI, consider trying elsewhere. Repeat hits to the same advertising venues will see diminishing returns because some of the list will have already seen your books, so unless you're pushing a new book you may want to allow for some list churn by waiting 3-12 months between ads.
They can drive traffic, but it's up to your page to convert that traffic into actual sales.
Personally I'd do this:
Write out variants on your ad copy, test them all one at a time on facebook. Refine the ones that work, and try it again. Put them on one day ads with the minimum £5 spend. It shouldn't cost much. See if your copy is working. If it isn't, change it. Do that until you're happy with the percentages. Try posting in the KUF members section here if you want help tweaking the blurb copy. Personally I'd swap the ! in 'Are you ready to believe?' and add some attribution to those quotes (as they look like part of the blurb the way you have them now?).
If that's not the bottleneck. try alternative covers if you don't mind the expense. It might people aren't clicking in the first place. Again use facebook (or another ad venue) to split test keeping everything else constant so you know what the numerical change is.
Spend a bit of time thinking about your target audience. You've got a niche crossover book; who is it for? You've got John Le Carre comparisons in your blurb, but you're in SciFi not Spy novels. Work out what the demographic is, where they hang out online, and what they want. Which author's success do you most hope tp emulate? What are they doing better than you that could borrow inspiration from? What are they doing that you don't like so you know to avoid their pitfalls? Where are they pricing? Where are their ads going (reverse google image search their covers to see where they might have popped up)? Consider joining some of these mailing lists you're advertising with, and seeing if your book 'fits' with the others being sold that day/week/month, and if not, ask why not? And where would be better? e.g. BookAdrenaline is mostly crime and thriller stuff; would you be better off on their sci-fi sister site?
Definitely get a mailing list going. MailChimp is free for up to 2000 emails so it's a no-brainer. By the time you're paying, you should be able to cover it easily.
I wouldn't rely on KindleSpy (or NovelRank) or similar. They're not hugely accurate, especially if you're looking at one language in one format in one store in one marketplace. Besides comparing your sales to other authors' sales is never going to end well. That way lies madness.
On the free run side of things - take a look at the free run plans some of us have posted up (including mine). It takes a lot to hit the very top when going free; it took me 89,000 freeloads to nab the #1 spot last time. BookBub is almost a must for a top-tier free run now.