Riding the Wave

Riding the Wave by M.L. Gardner

Promotions pay bills. It’s that simple. 

Most Indie authors (I dare guess 90%?) can’t survive without doing paid promotions of some kind. When you log into your KDP account, that month-to-date tells you whether you’re buying sirloin or top ramen. Whether you can expect poop in your shoe because you have to buy the cheap cat food. It gives you an idea if it’s going to be a Jameson or Wild Turkey kind of month. 

(Just kidding. It’s always Jameson.) 

This morning I was talking to the fabulous Nalana of BookScents Candles. I was explaining a little about how our income works as writers and I realized it would make a good blog post. 

I explained it to her like this. It’s like the ocean. There are all these fish in the sea. Hundreds of thousands of them. Everyone is trying to get into a very tight and competitive spot. 

Everyone can’t occupy the top ten or the top thousand spots in Kindle ranking. It’s also very much like the ocean as everything is always moving. 

One week you're up, the next you're down and someone else is up. There is an ebb and flow to it and it’s important to understand how it works so you don’t get depressed when it’s down or go in debt for a Cadillac when it’s up. 

Only one thing is for certain. It will change. If you know that, and you know how to interpret the data that KDP gives you, you can better utilize the ups and strategize the downs.

Have you ever seen a big wave coming and you backed up, thinking it would wash twenty feet on shore, only to have it die out with nothing more than a slosh? Well, that was disappointing. 

That was me in December. In fact, a lot of author friends are reporting that December was not one to remember. A Wild Turkey kind of month if ever we’ve had one.  None of us did anything out of the ordinary. No one abruptly changed tactics. It just plain stunk across the board. Keep in mind that this will happen from time to time. I mention it so you can recognize it for yourself and not factor it into your marketing efforts. Ask around, see if others are experiencing the same thing. When something is system wide like this, it’s just the ghosts in the machine—we’ll never know why. Nothing to do but keep marching.

Then there are waves that build beneath the surface and come up out of nowhere and next thing you know, you’re buying the expensive cat food and walking around the Cadillac dealership. 

It’s the used lot, but hey, it’s a Caddy. 

The reason I mention the silent wave that is because that happened to me in January and that's what you need to look for in your own charts so you don't miss opportunities. 

We promoted a sale on 1929 with ManyBooks on January 3rd for 25 dollars and watched the numbers carefully. 

At first glance, I didn’t think I did much more than make my money back in sales. But looking at KENP read told another story altogether. A week later it was obvious that while sales and rank didn’t raise all that much, pages read went up significantly.

In fact, the data says that it did more for pages read than the January 23rd Bookbub promotion. Here’s the print screen for that data.

Mind. Blown. 

Now, nothing currently beats Bookbub for post promo hard sales. But there is much to say for KENP reads, especially if you have a series or multiple books. It appears that the effect lasted longer with ManyBooks, but we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see a good graph. 

It’s enough for me to start incorporating ManyBooks into my marketing plan more regularly. 

Use these graphs that KDP provides to do a lot more than tally up your earnings so you can write your grocery list. Really study them so you can make better use of your marketing dollars and look for things you wouldn’t expect, like the result we got with ManyBooks. 

There is a wave pattern to your sales and KENP graphs. Go back over the last 90 days and get a feel for yours. 

What days are best for sales naturally? When do you have more traction during the month, first half or last? Use those days for promotions to double the effect. 

What are your worst selling days? Hit those dates with a promo, contest, giveaway, guest blog post, etc,  to even things out. Find the dips and prop them up. Remember what you did on the spikes, do it again and add something else. 

Look for results other than dollars earned on promo days. Look for lingering effects  (like KENP reads) and judge a promo’s effectiveness on that as well. 

In a perfect world, it would be one straight line, way up on the graph and we’d all eat sirloin. But that’s not how our business works. The more you study and work with your waves, the bigger and more powerful they will be. While you're on the beach, staring at the waves, feel free to bring a lounge chair and have a drink. Might as well enjoy yourself. 

Posted on February 2, 2016 and filed under Marketing.