Seven Seals Log #4: Publishing and Marketing
It's been a while since I last updated on Seven Seals, the second book in my Dark Savior Series. In my last post, I went into detail the financial difficulties of self-publishing. You only make as much money as you market yourself. Marketing and regular bills made it so that I couldn't sustain working full-time as an author anymore.
So I searched for regular or part-time work, with little results. I suspect the reason at first was that companies didn't like my history of wanting to go off and do things on my own. It's understandable, but debilitating. It was almost like I had to start all over and work my way back from the bottom if I wanted to get anywhere. By the time I had come to that realization, the Coronavirus pandemic hit the US. Finding work became even more difficult during that time, and so I continued to work on Seven Seals, even knowing that I didn't have the money to publish and market it properly.
In an unexpected twist, however, I received a check in the mail as part of a relief package to the pandemic. This gave me the money I needed to publish and do some marketing. With the virus, however, came other unexpected challenges. Truth be told, the book was done in May. However, both my editor and artist were booked solid throughout the next month because a lot of other authors found themselves with little to do besides work on their books.
For Seven Seals, I wanted to go all-out with features. So it has two maps and four illustrations depicting scenes from the story. These also took some extra time, but I was happy with how they came out.
And so July rolled around and nearly one year after the release of Gold Fever, I came out with Seven Seals. The release was not without its issues, unfortunately. I did things in a funny order in the hopes that it would save time, and as a result, the spine for physical editions of the book came out the wrong size. The digital version of the story was released a week earlier than the paperback and hardcover because of these issues.
With these issues, I had figured sales wouldn't exactly pour in, but what I hadn't accounted for was that the excitement for something new was gone. I may have mentioned this in earlier posts, but getting people to beta read Seven Seals was difficult. I first had to find people who definitively finished the first book. Then I had to filter out the people who hated reading on computer screens, and finally, just the people who would rather read the complete version of the story over drafts. With all of these things in mind, only a few people ended up beta reading for me.
The same thing happened with sales of Seven Seals. It wasn't the new and exciting thing anymore. Many who were kind enough to support me hadn't read through all of Gold Fever. They were simply buying to help me out, even if Dark Fantasies weren't their first reading choice. I still appreciate their help of course, but due to this, perhaps, I was lulled into this false sense of security; I had come to believe that sales would start off strong just like last time.
Many successful indie authors will often tell you that writing a bunch of different books isn't the way to gather a following. Instead, authors should do a series of books that passionate fans will help you promote. However, what this doesn't take into account is that the entire strategy revolves around your first book in the series. What exactly is the point of marketing Seven Seals to a bunch of people who haven't read Gold Fever? So instead of marketing Seven Seals, my push post launch has been to re-market the first book.
As I've detailed in previous blogs, Gold Fever has run promotions via several sites with varying results. None of the results were large enough to garner an entire fan base, though, and there's only one known to do such things: BookBub.
BookBub has an email list of millions spanning across several of these reader's preferred genres. On average, a free book listed in BookBub's email garners around 30,000 downloads. Sounds like a fan base to me, and more than worth making Gold Fever temporarily free. The problem? Ingramspark, who I used to publish the ebook of Gold Fever, doesn't allow books to go lower than $0.99. On the other hand, $0.99 books on BookBub typically get 3,000 or so downloads. It would make me money, and at least give me a shot at getting the fan base that I am looking for.
My first BookBub submission was rejected. The tricky part about BookBub is that they are both selective and expensive. When you are rejected, you are not given a reason why. You are only left with the opinions of authors who have gotten the promotions before. I've heard much speculation as to what it takes to land that promotion: 50 positive Amazon reviews, blurbs from famous authors (I wouldn't need a big expensive promotion if I had that, now would I?), and editorial reviews.
I worked my way toward two of those goals in the past month, at least: Making my second push for Amazon reviews (Currently at 26) and garnering an editorial review. I have submitted my second promotion request to BookBub in the meantime; usually they get back to you within a week. If you are rejected, you have to wait a month before re-submitting. If you're accepted, get ready to pay hundreds of dollars or even close to a thousand depending on your genre and book price.
Are you noticing a pattern with what I've detailed in past blog posts and this one? There's a never ending incentive to keep on spending money in the hopes that you'll someday make a dime on your own projects. For every self-published author, it feels like there are 50 services offered to you, promising to get you sales, and those sales equal fans. I've had plenty of sales for Gold Fever, but it doesn't feel like I have a fan base. It doesn't feel like I could release a new book and just automatically get sales without marketing for a straight month. Seven Seals is proof of that.
It's frustrating because you can see a light at the end of the tunnel; it feels attainable, but maybe it isn't really. Maybe that light at the end of the tunnel is really just a carrot dangling in front of me, and I'm the poor sucker on the treadmill.
At any rate, I am continuing along because I enjoy writing. With that said, I am no longer doing it full-time. I found some part-time work to pay the bills and maybe spend a bit on upcoming books.
Currently, I'm just trying to get used to my new schedule. Outside of my part-time job, I am continuing to try and market Gold Fever in the hopes that it'll get people interested in the Dark Savior Series as a whole. In addition, I am about 1/4th of the way done with the next book in the series, which I'll give more details on soon in a new blog series. Seeing as the Dark Savior Series hasn't exactly taken off, after I finish the third novel, I'll be branching out into a couple of other novels that have been swimming around in my brain for a while now. That doesn't mean that the Dark Savior Series is ending with three stories, though; think of it as a little break between large chunks of the story.
That's about all for now. I want to have more of an online presence and I figure this is a good way of starting out with that. I'll be back with more soon!