There’s not enough coffee on this sweet Earth for this morning, humans…

Life has its ups and downs, but yesterday, the female’s fish, Nicolina, crossed the rainbow bridge. Nicolina’s always been runty with some health problems, but she’d always been a huge fighter in a tiny body. But, yesterday, she was finally too tired and decided it was time to go take a very long nap.

The female is sad, as she raised Nicolina from a teeny tiny little fry.

Before y’all get too sad, she was the equivalent of a fish rescue, and she would have inevitably died elsewhere. The female believes Nicolina should have been culled from hatching due to probable health concerns. But, since Nicolina wanted to fight, the human said, “Let her fight!”

Yes, that’s a Godzilla reference. Oh yes, she is very excited to see Godzilla at the end of month.

Anyway, Nicolina was almost a year old, which was a year longer than she would have had otherwise.

So, since her baby fishie died yesterday, the female let the ads continue to run overnight because she, frankly, just didn’t want to deal with it.

(Do you hear that sound? It is the sound of money being flushed down the drain. This is what happens when you allow ads to just run willy nilly.)

That said, leaving the ads up overnight did a wonderful thing: she went to bed at rank #35 after it had done a brief detour to rank #33. She’s so stoked about this. Hoofin’ It had reached #35, and she hadn’t thought she might actually beat that!

She sold 2,168 books on Amazon yesterday, and 220 books at Barnes & Noble.

At last check, she was #10 on the Barnes & Noble best seller list. (Yep. She’s sniffling in her corner. I’m mostly sure they’re happy tears. Don’t mind the other ones. She did quite like her baby fish.)

Including the BookBub Featured Deal and all expenses associated with that, the female is now at $1.39 per sale, which is absolutely thrilling for her! She’s so very excited and grateful.

All of you have been amazing.

So far, she has sold 3,283 books at reporting vendors. (There are minimums required to be reported to USA Today, and she is uncertain if two vendors will report, so she’s not including their figures.)

This has so exceeded her expectations. Thank you, humans!

So, she has to do a lot of work on Burn, Baby, Burn today while watching and modifying ads, so we’re going to take a quick moment to shine some light on the process of tuning ads.

Step 1: Turn off the ads that are doing poorly.

Step 2: Find the ads that are doing well. Duplicate them. Reassign remaining budget to these ads. Adjust ad copy and images to be something new fresh–mostly a new image, but sometimes new snippets or headlines to make people pause to read the new text.

Step 3: Test the new ads.

Step 4: Return to Step 1.

This sounds very basic, and frankly, it is! But this is the name of the game. My human will also increase budget on ads that are doing particularly well to take advantage of its performance. (She obviously did something right there.)

Once she has more done on Burn, Baby, Burn, she’ll help me write a post about how to actually adjust the ads and showcase an ad she’s turning off and didn’t work and what she replaced it with.

Have a great day, humans!

For Authors: Ad Monitoring During a Large Sales Drive

Dear humans,

The chaos has begun. Bookbub’s feature of The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack has dropped. Cue insanity.

As of the start of writing this post, the female human writer doohickey has sold 1,050 books in the US alone. (She’s rocking back and forth in her chair, possibly crying happily.)

It’s okay, human. It’s okay to cry when good things happen.

(To all humans out there… it’s okay to cry when good things happen.)

(It’s also okay to cry when you’re infuriated and know you can’t kill people because that’s wrong. Crying is definitely better than killing people.)

So, as today is the big Bookbub day, my human has decided to do something moderately insane. First, she is activating ALL ads, even the ones that were floppish yesterday. She is doing this until approximately 5 PM PST. This is to help take advantage of the sales hike the bookbub begins.

She is expecting to take some major hits to her budget doing this. She’s also loading in new ads for some books that have never seen facebook ad time before. (This could work well, this might not work at all. She doesn’t know.)

But, as of 11:22 AM PST, this is what her ad account looks like on facebook:

Statistics are shown for yesterday and today; some of these ads have been running since Thursday to help build rank before the start of the run (which was on Monday.)

Some of these ads are working fantastically well. Others are making my human second-guess every decision she’s made in her life.

But, she’s allowing the ads, ALL of them, to run until 5 PM PST before beginning to turn off the ones that aren’t performing well and adding in new ads.

Let’s talk about why.

First, it takes time for ads to mature. Until the human sees an ad with at least 100 clicks, there’s no way of knowing if it will stabilize. She’s seen an add that got $0.75 CPC out of the gate work down to $0.10 CPC after 100-150 clicks. Yeah. We don’t know what that’s about, either. But it can happen. It doesn’t happen *often* but it does happen.

Also, what the human doesn’t know, mostly because she’s too damned lazy to link to anywhere but vendors, is whether or not the higher CPC ads are converting to sales better than the lower CPC ads.

When you’re testing ads, it’s important to realize an ad that costs $0.15 but converts once every two clicks is MUCH better of a performer than an ad that has $0.03 CPC (cost per click) but converts once every twenty clicks. (The $0.15 ad would have an acquisition rate of one book for $0.30 versus the $0.03 ad, which would have an acquisition rate of one book for $0.60.)

This is part of what makes ads so difficult to monitor and work with.

In so many cases, we just don’t know. Most people prefer to shotgun the ads; they want as many clicks as possible for as low as possible. The conversion is typically considered second.

Because of this, the female has begun adopting a more patient approach; she tries to wait until an ad has 100 clicks before deciding to turn it off. That can hurt, especially when a bunch of budget is pissed away. But, at the same time, she’s watching sales, too.

If that high CPC ad converts really well, it may just be more cost-efficient to run that ad.

In most cases, however, CPC is king, as more clicks means more people are seeing it, but that is not always the case.

So, let’s take a closer look at ad monitoring and things you should look out for when building ads.

We’ll start with this section of ads:

In this collection of ads, there are two definite keepers: the $0.21 and the $0.19 ads. Both are getting a great volume of clicks for an affordable amount. (Please note that the human’s overall target goal is $2 per book purchased, so she can afford to have a higher cost per click if it converts.) So far, she’s hovering around the $2 per book target for her facebook ads. This is good.

Today, it won’t be that much for the facebook ads. Actually, she’s expecting closer to $3-4 per book spent because she’s just hammering out all the ads and letting them run regardless of their performance.

But when she turns off ads, she’ll start with eliminating everything that’s over $0.30 per click first, and then she’ll evaluate every ad after. If she has a $0.25 ad that is getting a loooot of clicks and interest, it’ll probably stay.

So, what happens after all the ‘bad’ ads are pruned?

Well, that’s where the real magic happens.

She takes the budget remaining from all of the ads she cancelled, creates new ads using the successful ads as a foundation point, tweaks them to make it fresh, and starts the process all over again. She’ll load them all in, hit the go button, and wait for the magical 100 clicks mark before trimming the ads down again and repeating the process.

Over, and over, and over, and over…

In the case of this run, she’s going to focus on putting in new ads for books she hasn’t promoted on facebook before, hoping to hit a new audience. She also revitalized a lot of old ads that performed well in the past, hoping to reach the same readers as before, but this time making it clear they can get more books for their pennies.

An important part of running ads is managing expectations.

You want people to perceive they’re getting a good value on a good thing. People don’t want good values on bad things.

The female prefers to use snippets of the books versus descriptions and reviews because if someone clicks, they’ve already been exposed to the writing style. They liked it enough to click. This is the start of a relationship founded on the actual writing. Yes, there are a lot of gimmicks you can use to get clicks. Posting a review from someone might spark interest, for example.

But the relationship with the book hasn’t started until the reader reads.

The female prefers starting that relationship with the words she’s written in the book from the gate. It leads to a more expensive cost per click. People who don’t like the writing style aren’t going to invest in the book.

That’s a good thing. They know they won’t like it, so they don’t waste their time.

It is now 1:54 PM PST, and the female has gotten 1,344 sales on Amazon. It’s been a delightful day, but she’s trying not to think too hard over the state of the ad account.

She might leave ads rolling until midnight PST now. Because she has lost all sense of sanity.

Wish her well, humans. The deep end… she’s exploring it.

In my next post, we will discuss the actual pruning of the ads and how she goes about picking snippets for the ads.

In case any of you want to check the book out, here is a link for your amusement. You’re under no obligation whatsoever to even look at it or anything, and the inclusion of this link is being done because otherwise, people will message the female and ask for a link. (We have learned our lesson from yesterday, humans.)

Apparently, folks like to know what the fuss is about! So, that’s the book that’s on sale. (Eep.)

Progress of the Sales Drive, Day One

Dear humans,

My human meant to help me with this extensive, long post about how she’s managing her advertising for her sale run for the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack.

She’s exhausted. The kind of exhausted where she can’t even anymore. She’s going to take her medication and go to bed.

But, here’s the important update: When she started the ads, most of them just worked. She did very little fiddling. She turned off all ads that were over $0.30 CPC and left everything alone.

Yeah. That’s it. That’s not good for creating a post about fine-tuning ads.

As of 9:55 pm, she’s gotten 560 sales out of her 5,000 sales goal on Amazon. She’s really, really happy with this.

So, tomorrow, even if she doesn’t have to do much ad adjustments, she’s going to help me present a guide for adjusting them. She wasn’t expecting the ads to work so well on the starting day, and when it comes to advertising, “don’t break what isn’t broken” is a good rule of thumb.

She’s spent $1,147.75 today, which is $2.04 per lead, which is a little higher than she wants. Tomorrow, she’ll adjust ads and start new ones to see how they work. (And she’ll share how she’s done the adjustments and why.)

But today, her ads did their job, and that’s a wonderful thing.

To those of you who has grabbed a copy, thank you so much.

The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack is $0.99 until Sunday!

Dear humans,

As promised, my human is making efforts to revitalize the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series following a series of unfortunate (pirating) events.

For those new to the show, here was the deal: after pirating rates skyrocketed, which made getting the books into the hands of readers difficult at best, instead of flat-out ending the series as originally intended, she opted to give it one last hip-hip-hoorah before moving the series to a “when she feels like it if ever” level.

This was releasing Burn, Baby, Burn in May and attempting to revive the series through getting the books legitimately into the hands of her readers.

You can get the following titles in a bundle for $0.99 until Sunday:

Playing with Fire, Hoofin’ It, Serial Killer Princess, Whatever for Hire, Hearth, Home, and Havoc, Owl Be Yours, and Fowl Play.

She’s also, since she’s here anyway doing her thing, attempting to make USA Today with her efforts. (Why not, right? She’s investing a great deal of money into the series, so may as well get that solo bucket list item she keeps drooling over…!)

Already have the series but want to support the effort?

1: Share the sale with your friends. You can use this link to help spread the word: https://books2read.com/Mag-Rom-Com-Starter-Pack

2: Buy a copy for a friend as some random gift. (It’s a book. Books are great gifts.)

3: Preorder Burn, Baby, Burn or buy it release week. The new book doing well is what will really help keep the series alive.

Yes, she really is selling work $28 in books for $0.99.

If you use facebook, head over to the human’s page. She is starting a giveaway for some really swanky prizes to help promote the sale.

For the authors among you, the human and I will be sharing how we prepped for this week, what ads we’re using, and how well the advertising effort is going as the week progresses. Expect the first post this evening.

We have thoughts.

Most of all, thank you!

A Cat’s Reviews of Her Human’s Mag Rom Com Novels, Part I.

AKA: a Guide to some things written by RJ Blain.

Dear humans,

First, and most importantly, I’m adorable so you should love me. This picture of me playing with one of my favorite toys in the human’s bookcase is all of the evidence I need to back this statement. Look at my beautiful ears! My blurry head! (Hey, what were you expecting? A clear picture of me while I’m playing? Hah!) My pristine white fur! I’m gorgeous.

Please ignore anything the parental unit of the human states. I’m beautiful.

Now that you have been given a chance to admire my beguiling tyrant self, It is time to discuss (and enjoy) all things books!

We’ve been getting messages asking for a comprehensive list, in one place, of all of the human’s books, reading orders, etc. I’m (somewhat) lazy, but I thought, well, if I’m going to do this, I will review the human’s books!

But only the Mag Rom Coms, because I am a cat and just do not have the attention span or willpower to do this for all of the books.

What? I’m a cat. Seriously. I’m a cat. You’re lucky if I get done two of these before I head off for a nap.

We’ll have a great time. Promise.

Honestly, I’m not sure you will have a great time, but I will enjoy scratching holes into the human’s souuuuuul.

Please note the first four novels and three novellas of the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series are available as a boxed set for $0.99. (And next week, the human will be doing a major advertising drive on the book. But you’re totally welcome to grab it now if you don’t have a copy.)

The series starter is Playing with Fire, and is the first book in all regards.

It’s a flaming mess of unicorns, savagery, more unicorns, a man too sexy for his own good, and some more unicorns. The unicorn breathes fire and views odd things as food. She also has enough self-esteem issues to keep an entire mental institution busy, too.

You may choose to read this series in any order you bloody like, you beautiful bastards! But next in the list in chronological order is, ironically, Burn, Baby, Burn. This is the direct sequel to Playing with Fire.

What? It takes place like four-ish months after Playing with Fire. What? This is a series of interconnected standalones, and they do NOT connect logically!!!!!

The human sucks.

My review of Burn, Baby, Burn: Dump it in the cat box. I’ll pee on it! The human has been spending more time with this steaming pile of flaming unicorns than with me!

The human likes this book a lot, though. So I guess I won’t pee on it until it’s in print. But she better watch out. I have it in my sights.

Next up is Hoofin’ It. It released second. You can read this one at any time. The human needs to be taken out back and tickled into submission for this one. I mean, really? Miniature demonic llamas? Why would anyone write about corpses falling onto vehicles containing miniature demonic llamas?

She needs help, y’all.

P.S.: I have slept on a copy of this book, and I found it to be a pleasant experience.

An event in Hoofin’ It is subtly mentioned in Last but not Leashed. Maybe No Kitten Around, too. Us felines (and probably the human) don’t remember. One of those, however, has reference. It’s in there somewhere. You can view this as fun scavenger hunt! Go scavenge!

Next up is Hearth, Home, and Havoc, the first Mag Rom Com novella. (It’s in the Starter Pack.)

Dead squirrel. Sink. Dead, wet squirrel flung at wall accompanied with screaming. Do you really need to know anything else about this novella??

I didn’t think so. Anytime dead, wet flying tree rats happen, life’s good.

This one gets two paws up, but the human gets a scratch because it’s too short and the squirrel doesn’t come back from the dead to kill humanity.

Does that count as a spoiler? Whatever. I’m a cat. I don’t care.

Seriously? You’re still here? You beautiful, beautiful bastards.

If you enjoy bacon, you will like Serial Killer Princess. However, initial studies indicate that some people become oddly uncomfortable that they, who strongly dislike snakes, find themselves oddly liking a specific snake.

The human is not sorry, and I have scratched her on your behalf. And chewed on her fingers. You’re welcome.

P.S.: Seriously, if you like bacon, you’ll enjoy this. Bacon is life. It’s also the vanquisher of human teeth. (Yes, that’s right. The human literally lost a tooth to a piece of bacon.)

She’s now mad at me. What? Stupid human. I’m just telling the truth.

There is a very, very subtle reference to Serial Killer Princess in Fowl Play.

We of the Blain Household can’t remember if the glories of Serial Killer Princess were referenced elsewhere in the series or not. Oops?

If you love bacon, hot Scottish firemen who rescue soppy wet puppies and kittens, and cats, Whatever for Hire is the abso-fucking-lutely best book on the planet and I’m totally biased.

Any time a cat taunts Lord Satin of Hell, it is a good day. A really good and funny day.

Whatever for Hire is in the $0.99 sales set, too. Because my human is absolutely beloved and amazing (Oh, oh, is that the treat jar I see?)

Dear humans,

Let it be known the female has bribed me to say nice things about her. I have accepted the bribe.

I won’t be saying nice things about her.

~Zazzle the Beguiling Tyrant

Next up is a novella. It’s a hoot. Owl Be Yours is also in the set of cheapness, and it’s great. Like, it has an owl in it. A murderous owl with a desire to use a mulcher (aka wood chipper) in new and interesting ways.

And, in the interest of never hearing this damned rant from a human again, if you lose your identification and your bank card, and you are unwilling to go to the local authorities to have them reissued, you’re fucked and will be unable to withdraw money from the bank.

This is a real issue, folks. And when your house burns down with all your stuff inside, you no longer have access to a check book.

From the department of things the human rants about.

Also from the department of ‘has had purse stolen in the past and needed to get all those things replaced, welcome to hell.’

Since novellas are the cat’s meow, Fowl Play is up to bat next. It’s about a swan lycanthrope with doesn’t perform Swan Lake. Her dad is a lycanthrope, her mom is a succubus, and her other mom is an angel. Shenanigans and insanity happen.

This contains and an amusing bar bust story.

Because I’m a cruel and vicious being, AKA a cat, if you want to hear my thoughts on the rest of the Mag Rom Com series, you’ll just have to visit me later.

The human needs the computer to finish this book so her editor doesn’t murder her. Or something like that.

Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

~Zazzle the Beguiling Tyrant

For Authors: Preparing for a Bestseller Run.

Dear humans,

On the Book of Faces, the human declared she would share what she’s doing in her attempt to make a bestseller list next week (April 29, 2019 through May 5, 2019.) It is the dream of many authors to make a list. The human has made a list twice as part of a group effort.

She got bumped off the list once during a solo attempt.

For those of you who missed it, here’s what her statement boiled down to, in her words:

While listing is *really* awesome and badass, the point of listing is to reach that many new readers.

Here’s the thing.

Being an award-winning *OR* Bestselling author isn’t going to improve or help your sales.

So, why do it?

As the human pointed out, it’s to reach many new readers. Success varies from person to person, of course. Some people view success as having published a book. And that is an accomplishment.

But the human writes for a living. It is her full-time job. Her ability to keep writing is directly tied to how well of a job she does at reaching new readers–and making her current readers happy with the books she writes.

Some days, she wishes she could have set hours, only work 40 hours a week, and generally have all the perks a salaried person enjoys.

Every facet of her life is influenced by the knowledge her job could end tomorrow because she didn’t write a book people wanted to buy.

Several months ago, the human made a promise to her readers. She promised she would invest into the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series to keep it alive. The general deal was this: if she could get Burn, Baby, Burn to hit a list, she’d reevaluate her schedule to try to do more than one or maybe two Mag Rom Coms a year moving forward.

Her decision to pull the plug on the series generally upset people.

We understand that. The human? She was upset, too. She watched the series start struggling, the books show up on pirating sites with higher frequency, which only feeds the problem of people not buying the books.

(If people don’t buy the books, the series dies.) Some series she has a set number of books that will, eventually, written–a labor of love.

The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series will become a labor of love. She has plenty of covers to do one or two books a year for fun. But she won’t be relying on them for income, they will be slid in around the books that pay the bills, and so on.

That’s why.

But, the human? She takes her promises seriously, and she promised a genuine and serious effort. She’s been saving every excess penny possible. She talked to the male human, who agreed to risk money from the household savings account.

She has a $20,000 budget to revitalize the series, and she’s playing her cards–all of them–next week.

Yes, that’s a huge fucking budget. And to get that budget, she drew off the household savings. (With the blessings of the Mr. Human.)

The human is still considering how best to spend the money. Honestly, it will depend on what ads perform well. The ads that perform well will get more money.

To begin with, I’ll discuss what the human is doing with the various ad platforms, how well she thinks these efforts will work, and how she’ll roughly spend the money.

Now, it’s worth noting that if the book just doesn’t sell well, she won’t spend her entire budget. Making a genuine effort to reach new readers is more than just throwing money at advertising platforms. It involves spending that money wisely.

Hitting a list is a formula with a lot of variables.

  • Ad budget. (How much paid advertising is available.)
  • Target audience. (Does your book appeal to a sufficient number of people to potentially sell 5,000+ books?)
  • Market appeal. (Did you write a book that appeals to the market?)
  • Strong advertising copy. (Is your cover attractive? Does your description entice? Do you have catchy advertising material for social media?)
  • Your fanbase.

Ad Budget

This is a hard one. An unfortunate truth of life is that it takes money to make money, especially in publishing. Yes, grassroots efforts can work. I know a few people who have just gotten damned lucky, releasing a book that happened to have a broad target audience and even stronger market appeal.

This is luck. It’s okay to be lucky.

The human isn’t lucky, and she knows it.

The human has skirted the list with a $7,500 budget. She flat-out missed on a $10,000 budget near Christmas. (While the new readers she found on that budget were ultimately marvelous, she didn’t reach enough of them. The timing wasn’t right. But, she didn’t know this until she tried.)

Failure happens with or without a budget. So, if you can’t accept that out of the gate, making a run is probably not a good option for you. That’s okay. Really. It is.

Making a list will not help your career.

It doesn’t increase sales down the road. It makes your covers look pretty, sure. But people don’t buy books because they see the title on the cover.

It looks nice, but that’s about it.

I stray, however. Back to the budget.

Spend your money wisely, set a cost per acquisition (AKA, you’re willing to spend $this much money on each sale you make.)

For something like this, the human prefers spending no more than $2 per sale. That’s a $1.65 loss per lead. (This is why a sale like this is called a loss lead; authors spend more money than they make to get their books to a high number of readers.)

Obviously, the lower the cost per lead, the better off you are as an author.

Before I skip to the next section and start showing off some of the actual ads being used, I want to take a moment to explain how losing money to make money works.

Math sucks, but we’re going to have to play with it a little here.

Let’s assume the human spends all $20,000 of her budget at a cost per acquisition rate of $2. That’s 10,000 sales. At Amazon’s royalty rate, that is a grand total of $3,500 in earnings and a $16,500 loss.

The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series has 3 published novels outside of the set and one novella readers might purchase following reading the box set. There is one novel (Burn, Baby, Burn) up for preorder.

The goal of this sale is to get people to read at least Playing with Fire, the first book in the set… and hope they loved the book and characters enough to preorder Burn, Baby, Burn.

it’s a gamble.

So, back to the math. Since the goal is to boost Burn, Baby, Burn, let’s work with just that book for a moment. Sell through is when someone reads a book and likes it enough to buy another book. I’ve had people claim they have a 100% sell through because they’re aces!

I laugh my ass off at that. Nobody with any sort of volume of sales has 100% sell through. No one. It’s a statistical impossibility. Why?

People like and dislike things. End of story.

Let’s pretend the human has a 5% sell through to Burn, Baby, Burn. That would be 500 copies sold. Her royalty rate for Burn, Baby, Burn is $4.10. That means if she gets 500 copies of Burn, Baby, Burn sold, she will make $2,054.

Yeah. That’s rough. This is why it’s called a loss lead.

Realistically, the human’s sell through rate is closer to 20%. That means, if all goes well, she’ll reach 2,000 readers who are interested enough in the stories to continue reading them. That would be $8,218 in paid royalties–and almost enough to hit list with the work and money she has already invested in Burn, Baby, Burn.

The problem is, it will probably take six or more months to get those readers to become interested in the series.

Loss leads like this are a long-term game. Everything she does next week is planning for the future.

Now, let’s return to the four other Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books. Let’s assume the 20% sell through is accurate. (For sake of simplicity.)

2,000 copies of three novels is $20,454 in earnings. This is how a loss lead becomes viable for authors like my human. Add in the novella, and that’s an additional $4,018.

The sale itself, three novels, one novella, and Burn, Baby, Burn, assuming a static 20% sell through rate, becomes $36,190 in earnings off $20,000 in spend.

Assuming the human continues to write stories people want to read, those readers may stick around and become dedicated fans. That means the rest of her books might become interesting to them!

This is why it’s beneficial for authors to attempt bestseller runs–on their own.

Getting together with a bunch of people to do a boxed set can be fun. The human did it three times, although she emerged with some serious regrets. She got her letters, but they did absolutely nothing for her career.

A full discussion of the disadvantages and pitfalls of boxed sets aiming to list is for another time. Back on subject.

I’d be sorry this post is so long, but I’m a cat and I don’t care. (And it’s good information for you if you need it in one place.)

Next…

Target Audience and Market Appeal

If you’re going to try a bestseller run, you need to know your audience. Market research is vital. If you don’t know who else writes books like you do, how can you appeal to those readers?

You can’t.

End of story.

You need to know your genre, your target audience, and understand why your book might appeal to the market.

The Magical Romantic Comedy series appeals to readers who need fun and laughs in their life. That has a rather large cross-over audience, which is why that series enjoyed some popularity.

It doesn’t really fit anywhere, which, unfortunately, means the human has to spread a larger net and try to hit more people.

But, for a short list of authors with ‘similar’ books… Piers Anthony, Robert Aspirin, and Terry Pratchett are a few. Shelly Laurenston, as well–except the human doesn’t write any explicit sex.

Fans of Romantic Comedy are often hit or miss–it all depends if they are reading for the sex, the story, or something else. Those who are reading for the sex won’t like the human’s books because of the lack of sex.

(Read the reviews sometimes to hear the complaints about the lack of sex on the page. Oy.)

Market research can make or break you if you’re trying to make a bestseller run. The human hired her PA (Personal Assistant, CR Phoenix) to do market research for her.

It took close to twenty hours of dedicated work to get a master list of 1,000 authors who write related books/genres to the human’s works. This list becomes the foundation for ads for facebook, bookbub, and Amazon Advertising Services (AMS.)

Now that we have gotten through all the basics, it’s time to start discussing ads.

Right now, my human spends a few minutes here and there to build a new ad on one of the ad platforms. This screenshot is her facebook dashboard at the moment:

This represents $3,150 of her budget, assuming all of the ads survive throughout the week or do not have their budgets changed. (They will either die or have their budgets cranked up.) By Sunday night, this number of ads will easily be doubled. Her goal is to have $10,000 in ad spending across these ads, each of which will have a week-long budget of $350. (AKA $50 a day.)

Building Facebook Test Ads

The following screenshots show one of the test ads. Will this ad work? No idea! That’s why the human is going to be testing it on a limited budget.

Here are the fundamentals: This is a traffic-targeting ad. (Annnnd, the human just changed that pesky 3:31 PM in the start date to AM. This is honestly something she does in the last phase, but since she’s in the ad anyway…)

Anyway, this ad uses expansion interest targeting. This sometimes works, this sometimes doesn’t, but it’s worth experimenting with. Approximately half of the ads will use expansion interest targeting to hit as many people for as cheaply as possible.

The above image shows some of the targeting. There’s a lot in here. The human makes reading-related subjects my top-most target, as she wants reach READERS.

Now, onto the ad setup.

My basic method of setting up an ad is as follows:

  • Image that is eye-catching, bright, and otherwise interesting.
  • A snippet from the book so the reader can see if they’ll enjoy my writing style. I don’t want to waste their time.
  • A link to the book at the various retailers. Most of my readers shop on Amazon, so the link goes there, but I do include the link to other retailers as well. (It’s VERY rare for people to click through to other retailers, however.)
  • Finally, a headline saying what’s in the set.

Rinse and repeat with new images, new snippets, and new targeting. Over and over and over and over and over again.

(It’s really that simple.)

Here’s an example of one of my targeting branches.

The top level is reading related; the human wants to reach readers! The second level is authors and series names; this was taken from her market research material for a test drive. The final level is a security blanket; she wants readers who are interested in the type of book she’s selling!

This list is RISKY! Why? It has a long of contemporary romance without speculative fiction requirements. That’s why it’s a test.

The human won’t know if she’ll appeal to contemporary romance readers unless she tries some ads. Sometimes, it works shockingly well.

Others? Utter and total failure.

Oh, and to make things complicated–even more complicated, that is–an ad that worked on Monday might not work on Wednesday, and it could be because there’s a new television show you didn’t know about.

Advertising requires patience, an understanding you will lose money while learning how to make money, and even more patience.

(And when you’re doing a loss lead campaign like this, every damned penny counts.)

You have more room for flexibility advertising full-priced books, they are also a lot harder to sell. It’s a Catch-22. It’s easier to sell the cheaper book but your profit margins are either heavily limited or a loss, or the book is hard to sell at full-price but you have a hope of making profit…

But if you write fantastic books with good covers and strong descriptions, your book will sell at full price.

But here’s the thing: The burden of a book’s performance falls directly on your shoulders.

You need a strong cover, a better description, and an even better book to sell books. If one of those three elements are missing, you’ll find it very difficult to make forward progress even when you’re spending money on advertising.

Go in knowing all failures are ultimately on your shoulders. (And failing is okay, even if it hurts when you spend money that just doesn’t earn back. Been there, done that. It sucks.)

Promoting a Book on the Cheap

People want to hit bestseller lists on the cheap. This leads directly to unethical territory if you’re not careful. I’m not going to list all the unethical bullshit things people do to try to list. I’ll list a few of the super annoying ones, though.

Do this stuff:

  • Newsletter swaps with other authors
  • Readers’ group promotions and giveaways to introduce yourself to new readers
  • Interviews
  • Blog Tours
  • Let people know you’re attempting a run.
  • Cheap (but often ineffective) promo sites
  • Recommendation threads where the authors are invited to plug their books
  • Politely request blurbs/endorsements from other authors, be aware you will most likely be rejected and that you usually need to give authors several months to get to your book. (And you need to have a super great book on the table for this one to work at all. Proceed with caution.)
  • Author networking (See blurbs/endorsements and swaps and readers’ groups–you need to be on good terms with other authors for this to possibly work, and you need a book so good they are willing to put their reputations and careers on the line for you.) That’s important to understand: any time an author recommends a book, they do so knowing their readers may buy just because you recommended it. Don’t be insulted if they say no. This is dark waters, and the good authors are very, very selective about their recommendations.

Don’t do this stuff:

  • Trade sales. (AKA, you buy mine, I’ll buy yours.) Anything that is a buy mine I’ll buy yours, or if you do this for me I’ll buy your book, or ANY variation of that is just kinda sleazy and does you no good. Yeah, we all want sales, but DO NOT GAME THE FUCKING SYSTEM.
  • Buy your way onto the list. Come on, people. YES, THE HUMAN COULD SELL 20,000 COPIES OF THE STARTER PACK JUST FROM A GIVEAWAY. She won’t. It’s cheating. It doesn’t matter if she has the money to do it that way and that it WOULD register as actual sales. *IT* *IS* *WRONG.*
  • Be a dick and stir drama to get more sales.
  • UGH. The human and us kitties can’t even with this anymore.

The takeaway: be a good person, not an asshat.

Moving onto Amazon Marketing Services

Note: the human is still learning this platform, and it is a clusterfuck. This portion is just a general overview of what this platform is and why she’s using it.

Ads from AMS appear in the Sponsored Products listings and on lock screens of ad-enabled kindles.

So far, the human has three ads, one for the lockscreen, two for Sponsored products with slightly different targeting and price points.

This is one of the ads she’s running… and we have no idea if it’ll work but WHATEVER. She’ll find out and adjust the ads as she goes.

The human will report in once the sales drive runs with general performance of the ads. Expecting tragedy, failure, and lost money because she hasn’t really learned this platform yet.

BookBub

For something so critical to the campaign, the human saved it for last. There are two types of BookBub campaigns: featured deals and paid advertising.) The human is going to be using both.

She is going to give BookBub a looootttt of money next week. She’s terrified. Hold her.

Here’s the core BookBub contribution, the Featured Deal:


The human expects a thousand sales from the BookBub Featured Deal. The rest of the 5,000+ sales will be on her to make the list. (Ouch.)

She has not finished figuring out how to do the paid BookBub ads. Honestly, she’s going to email BookBub after setting up a few test ads and ask for help from BookBub. (Yes, you can email BookBub asking for help, especially if you’re planning on dropping a ridiculous amount of money on their advertising platform. They’ll take the time to answer some questions if you need.)

Here are the two (Really bad) BookBub paid ads she’s using. Both ads are using the same creative but are on two types of delivery to see what works better. She will be adding in more ads with different creative to see if she can figure out something that might work.

She is expecting to dump down several thousand dollars with BookBub if she can figure out how to make an ad perform well there. BookBub is tricksy.

Note: you need to have an unlocked account to access the paid ads, but anyone can apply for a featured deal.

We of the Blain Household know this post was exceptionally long, and honestly, this is only the beginning.

We will be back with more information on how we’re doing the run next week, including more examples of ads (which ones worked, which ones didn’t, etc.) so you can benefit from her efforts, too.

We hope this is useful for you!

Hypnos has released, plus a new Susan Copperfield preorder!

Greetings, humans!

We of the Blain household have been quiet. The female underwent an adjustment procedure, and some other humans dug into her face place and removed one of her chewy bits.

The human has been, generally, an unhappy critter. She must go see the other humans tonight to make sure her jaw isn’t about to file its pink slip and leave the union.

We’ll miss her should her jaw flee the union. From our research and general understanding of the situation, jaws are mandatory human bits.

The humans, being somewhat wise, have provided us with a tree of playing and worship. We have learned we can pounce their sleeping place from the upper levels, and they make delightful squees and grunts when we do so. I’m more likely to practice my ‘death from above’ skills compared to my sister.

I’m just fabulous that way.

Anyway, onto the books!

Hypnos has released today!

Following the devastation of World War III, nuclear radiation has spawned magic, ranging from nuisance koppa oni plaguing the Golden Gate to masters of the elements. It falls to the FBI’s supernatural quads and their supervisors to protect those who can’t protect themselves.

But when a mysterious force storms through a busy shopping center and fells everyone in its wake, Olivia Abrams and her team of special ops must find who is behind the attack and why before the entirety of San Francisco succumbs to its powers.

Hypnos is available from most major retailers.

For the Royal States fans, thanks to changes to the preorder system (that actually benefit authors, yippee!) Bonds by Susan Copperfield is now available for preorder.

In the Royal States of America, magic rules all, but life—and love—always finds a way.

When a sinking oil tanker threatens to destroy the picturesque coastline of France, search and rescue diver Jack Alders and his waveweaving talent stand between France and a record-breaking oil spill.

But what Jack finds on board the dying ship will forever change the course of the Royal States and puts him in the sights of a royal tyrant out for blood.

Bonds will release on July 16, 2019.

Introducing Richard!

Landen passed away yesterday of old age. He was a good, old fishie, and he had a nice life! (He was possibly, at barest minimum, 3 and a half or so year olds, but he was probably closer to 5-6 when he passed away.) He lived for almost a year beyond when he had a stroke and we thought he’d die. (He never quite fully recovered to his old, flighty self, but he was comfortable and happy after the stroke.)

Nicolina didn’t handle being in her tank alone very well, so this morning, my husband and I made a trip to the pet store and selected Richard. Here he is!

He’s… very energetic. Nicolina is much happier now. (And while they’re not exactly social fish, beta splendens do prefer to have other fish nearby. But in divided tanks, so they can’t attack each other.)

You can see the divider between Nicolina and Richard’s sections of the tanks. It’s that black, slotted thing.

Richard’s color strain is called copper. (And boy, he sure is pretty.) when the light isn’t reflecting off him, he shows up as this dark silver. But when the light is on him properly, he’s red and green of copper, and it’s glorious.

Starting next week, now that life has settled down (somewhat,) the Furred & Finned Management will be back up to giving more updates on the blog. They have a lot to talk about, so make sure you’re following the blog if you want to get the latest updates and see the cats up to their usual shenanigans!

(As a reminder, the newsletter was retired and now the Furred & Finned Management writes blog posts instead, so this is the place to be for updates, *or* on facebook.)

I hope you all are having a fantastic weekend, and we’re hoping to start doing small, frequent updates so we can keep more in touch with all of you!


The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack

RJ here. (The furry bastards are asleep right now.) To give new readers a chance to get some of the earliest books, I’ve put together the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack!

This collection includes Playing with Fire, Hoofin’ It, Serial Killer Princess, Whatever for Hire, and three of the four Mag Rom Com novellas. (As shown on the pretty picture.)

It’s $9.99. Individually, the seven stories retail for $23.93. So, you’re getting a good deal on the books. If you’re a super bargain hunter, I will eventually submit this for a bookbub featured deal. If accepted, it’ll be substantially cheaper. (And a great way to get your friends hooked on the series.)

You can get this collection at Amazon, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple Books.

There is no new content in the Starter Pack. It exists to give new readers a chance to catch up on the series and see if they like the books for a more affordable price.

Note: While I might do an expansion packs eventually, future sets will only include titles more than a year old. If you’re willing to wait, it’ll be a great deal. Otherwise, continue as normal. 🙂

Thanks for your support, folks.

P.S.: If you’re just missing the novellas, it’s cheaper for you to just by the novellas by $0.99. To save money, you realistically need one novel and all three novellas as new-to-you stories or two full-priced novels. Otherwise, it’ll be cheaper to buy them individually.

Books in the collection are currently priced as follows:

  • Playing with Fire: $0.99. (This will return to $4.99 in May.)
  • Hoofin’ It: $4.99
  • Serial Killer Princess: $3.99
  • Whatever for Hire: $4.99
  • Hearth, Home, and Havoc: $2.99
  • Owl Be Yours: $2.99
  • Fowl Play $4.99

Thanks again, folks!

Shammed by Bernadette Franklin has released!

Hey, humans. Zazzle here. We’ve finally managed to get the human to leave the glowy rectangle box for a few minutes. She claims she didn’t miss ‘the blasted thing’ while on vacation but has to ‘get some books finished so she can take naps.’ I respect the taking naps thing. Really, I do.

Here’s the deal. The human released a new book today. It’s called Shammed. This is what it’s about:

At R.K. Legal & Associates, office hours are between ten to six, pranks happen after hours, and evidence of all shenanigans are removed before doors open to clients.

When Alice’s boss, Mr. Kenton, starts a prank war with Lance McCarthy, an up-and-coming attorney from a rival firm, she thinks it’s just business as usual.

She’s never been so wrong in her life.

Chosen to be Mr. Kenton’s accomplice, Alice must face off against Lance in what quickly becomes a winner-takes-all game of hearts.

It’s available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, and Google Play.

If you enjoy the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books, you’ll enjoy the Bernadette Franklin books despite their lack of magic. They have similar over-the-top shenanigans, more humor that you can shake a stick at, and the same inability to take anything, especially itself, too seriously. So, if you’re looking for an escape from reality, come along for the ride.

There’s no on-page sex, there’s always at least a little inappropriate humor, and all of these books are from the lady’s point of view… but if you’re a gentleman (or describe yourself as one,) there’s plenty of fun in it for you, too.

(Yes, humans… men are totally encouraged and welcome to enjoy reading a fun, light-hearted romance.)

We of the Furred & Finned Management hope you enjoy.

P.S.: We somehow survived imprisonment while the humans fled the country.

Also, I have acquired pictures, but the female has a dentist appointment today, and my job is to prevent her from freaking out too much. (The female had a filling pop, which broke the tooth when it popped, so she’s having a fun dental time.) Today’s adventure is to do a full cleaning of her chew tools and standard cavities and getting potential bad news on two other problem teeth that have, alas, been a problem for a while.)

Wish her luck, she’ll probably need it.

On the book scheduling front, while I’m here:

This is the order she’s working on books/releasing books next:

  • Hypnos (April 23)
  • Burn, Baby, Burn (May 14)
  • Steel Heart 
  • Blood Bound (Lowrance Vampires) 
  • Ginger Snapped (Bernadette Franklin) 
  • Wild Wolf (Wolf Hunt #2)
  • Grave Humor (Mag Rom Com)

If the book you are looking on isn’t on this list, don’t worry. They’re still coming. Some projects are on the ‘play project’ list, which gets worked on alongside the main projects.

The female just wishes to have a little more time to do things like read fun books, which means she needs to give herself more time writing the books.

From this point forward, unless the book is particularly short, she is giving herself two months per book to write it. Should she finish early, she will work on a play project. As she finishes play projects, they will go to the editor as normal.

This means instead of a book a month, you can begin expecting a book every two months. She’d be sorry about that, but trying to fit in a book a month is exhausting, and it has the downside of readers expecting (and in some cases, demanding,) she release at that frequency.

She’d rather make less money and keep her sanity.

A note on Grave Humor: It’s on the schedule despite the fact it’s very unlikely to hit USA Today with its current preorder values. The books is already exceeding her expectations, and she appreciates it so much she’s scheduling it in to write in December and January. Unlike the other Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books, there probably won’t be a preorder cycle.

Oh. One more thing.

This is the cover for the second Seeking the Zodiacs novel, which will be entering ‘play project’ status starting March 18. Hypnos is almost complete and ready for the editorial gauntlet!

The Seeking the Zodiacs series is being continuously written on the side, so it’s technically a main project, but it’s a main project the female works on after her real main project work is done each day.

We are hoping to release a new Seeking the Zodiacs every 4-6 months. (But we will see.)

Spoiler alert: the main character is the same from Hypnos! It’s a traditional series following the events of a singular main character!

(Don’t die of shock, please. We love you, humans!)

Have a great day, and happy reading!