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Sales cliff

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Offline Jason Chapman Reading
04 Apr 2017, 06:29 PM | Post: #1

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sales cliff

Hey guys,
I have been running a number of promotions on different book promotion sites. Although its having a positive effect it seems that I cannot  avoid the dreaded sales cliff. It seems every time I hit the top  100 in my chosen category, Amazon seems to punish me pushing down the charts.. One moment I am visible, the next I am invisible. I have seen other indie authors who seem to have super glue sticking power, holding their ranks for months at a time. 
has anyone any advice on how I can avoid that dreaded sales cliff and main stain my ranks for at least a few days so I remain visible.
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Offline Campbell
05 Apr 2017, 01:27 PM | Post: #2

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RE: sales cliff

http://www.kuforum.co.uk...

^ I just replied to your comment on this front in the other thread. Comment 14 if the link doesn't work.

Where are you promoting? How are you scheduling those ads? If they're 'burst' style ads (all at once/ close together) you'll get a short peak which can be valuable for hitting lists, but slower / more spread out ads can keep your sales more consistent. What sort of conversion are you seeing from 'clicks to page' to 'sales reported'? Are you seeing consistent sell-through? Have you split-tested your blurbs/ ad copy/ covers to make sure they work for your market? How do your prices compare to your competition (£3.50 seems a big ask - but if it's converting at 80% plus from book 1 to then leave it be).
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Offline Jason Chapman Reading
05 Apr 2017, 09:17 PM | Post: #3

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RE: sales cliff

Hey Cambpell,
Thanks for getting back to me, so many questions, I'll try my best to answer them.
First off here's a list of promotions sites I use: Bargain Booksy, Booksends, The fussy Librarian, Choosy Bookworm, Book Adrenalin and ManyBooks . These sites are guaranteed sales for me . If you know any sites in the UK which have a good track record of sales I would be grateful if you could tell me about them.
Your second question how I advertise, I do put all my eggs in one basket and advertise my books on several sites in one day. Leading to a sales spike, before the sales cliff takes over. I am due to run a promotion in May starting on the 1st. This time I will spread my ad out over six days and see what happens.
My conversion rate is pitifully low. Although some of the promotion sites claim to have tens of thousands of readers which they send out newsletters to I have yet to break any records. On March 1st I sold 68 Units, despite advertising on three sites in one day. And on April 1st I sold 27 Units again after advertising on multiple sites from the list I have provided. Next time I will advertise on six sites between May 1st and May 6th, hopefully I will see a change in my pattern.
I have been selling books every day, so I can't complain too much. People are paying the £3.50. However I am constantly price pulsing to keep the numbers up, dropping down to 0.99p and running promotions. I was planning to run a free ad on Freebooksy in the summer for five days, before promoting a 0.99p sale for another five days to see if that works. 
I am starting to get a few people contact me and ask to be added to a mailing list, so I am starting to amass a small fanbase which I hope to grow. I have also had some wonderful reviews, which I always dread.
My only frustration is that my book ranking resemble an erratic heart monitor, I would like a few straight lines. I have been on your Amazon page, using Kindle Spy, you churn over a nice little sales figure.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks
Jason Chapman.
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Offline Campbell
06 Apr 2017, 08:12 AM | Post: #4

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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.
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Offline Jason Chapman Reading
08 Apr 2017, 05:40 AM | Post: #5

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RE: sales cliff

Hello Campbell,
Thanks for getting back to me. I have read your response, and you have given me a lot of things to think about.
First of all things have changed dramatically at this end, I have now totally flatlined with sales for some reason. I am going to hold off advertising for the time being. It’s a waste of money to just throw good money after bad. I need to figure how to get the sales moving again.
 
Pricing
The first thing I will do is revamp the price. £2.99 is not much of a drop in royalties, and if I can make up the sales numbers then I’ll get a higher return.
 
Book promotion sites
Sites like bookbub are too far out of my price range and it’s kind of like a lottery. Your book has to be cherry picked to get a spot. If the folks at bookbub don’t like your promotion bid they’ll ignore it. The same can be said for e-reader books today, although they are a lot cheeper. The sites I am currently advertising are within my price range and I can get results. However it’s only a matter of time before people who go on these sites start seeing my book over and over and eventually ignore it.

Blurb
I am also going over the blurb, see if I can tweak it, some people don’t need much to convince them to buy a book, and maybe the blurb is too long and drawn out.
 
Cover design
I design my own covers, I simply can’t afford to pay a book cover designer. I am pretty handy on photoshop, been using it for almost twenty years. I have actually redesigned the cover for Codename Angel three times. My automatic response to a cover revamp would be, absolutely not. However, I am going to have to reach a compromise, I’m going to drop the silhouette of the flying saucer, I think that one element might be putting people off. People like mystery, and if you’re going to give the game away on your book cover as to what the book is all about then people will ignore it.
 
Categories
Categories are a grey area with me. Is the book science fiction? Is the book a spy thriller? Its a funny thing because I can get a good ranking in the mystery thriller category, but in the science fiction category my ranking is lousy. Keywords is another thing I struggle with. I will take a good look at this, on the weekend to see if I can swap to another category.
 
Advertising on Facebook.
I do, however I do not think I am doing it right. Should I just create an ad where people click on like, or should I buy an ad where people click on the link? I think it’s something for another discussion board.
 

In hindsight, I am probably doing a lot of things wrong and need to correct things, not drastically but tweaks here and there. My positive reviews are enough to inspire me to try harder and keep on writing. Many writers give up because they fall into the abyss of obscurity. It’s nice to know there are forums like this where people will support yoU.

I will implement these changes in a few days.
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Offline lyndawrites Reading The Twopenny-Hat Detective by Brian Sellars
08 Apr 2017, 04:28 PM | Post: #6

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RE: sales cliff

Hi, Jason.

I don't think you've mentioned if you are all in with Amazon or whether you are wide on other retailers. If you sell only through Amazon, are you in KU?

Campbell's advice is excellent. However, I would suggest, as you have a three book series, that you permanently lower the first to 0.99 (or even make it free) as a magnet to draw in readers.

Nearly two years ago, I uploaded my first in series to Draft2Digital, set it free on all retailers and got Amazon to price match. (It had started life at £2.99, then I dropped it to 0.99 which gave it a bit of a fillip, though that quickly faded.) Once that happened, sales of the rest of the series started to perk up. I still need to promote from time to time - I'm trying for once every two months or so - but the more books I put out there, the better I do. (There are now 7 novels and 2 novellas of The Verity Long Mysteries, and I'm currently working on book 8).

Good luck!
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RE: sales cliff

Just to echo Lynda's experience: I sold very little until I took the plunge and made my first in series free (via Smashwords). That was when the books started to be noticed, and went on to be noticed more and more.
Shayne Parkinson on Amazon
Historical novels set in New Zealand

http://www.shayneparkinson.com

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Offline Campbell
11 Apr 2017, 02:37 PM | Post: #8

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RE: sales cliff

"Advertising on Facebook.
I do, however I do not think I am doing it right. Should I just create an ad where people click on like, or should I buy an ad where people click on the link? I think it’s something for another discussion board."

You definitely do *not* want likes. You should be directing them either to a landing page on your author website or directly to Amazon. Are you using the Power Editor?https://www.facebook.com/business/help/162528860609436

It's much more efficient than 'boosting' posts within fb.
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