A graph

Many jagged lines, trending up near the end.
Amazon Author Rank Chart

Amazon offers various metrics and services to authors: a glimpse into their own Bookscan numbers, a quick look at sales ranks and new reviews, a way to update their bio. It also offers something they call ‘Author Rank’, which is sort of like ‘sales rank’ but takes into account all your books (or so I assume).

This is a snapshot of my sales rank since the beginning of the service, which was about 8 months after Matchbox Girls came out. Book sales rank charts look fairly similar, with the same kind of downward curves and spikes. Each spike represents a sale (or maybe more than one sale, on good days.) As more books get uploaded into the system, existing books have to work harder to get the same spikes.

The Senyaza books reverted to me April 1; I uploaded Matchbox Girls at the $2.99 price point and the others at $4.99.

Citadel of the Sky was released May 15, which is also when I started actively advertising Matchbox Girls, with periodic $.99 sales.

Independence Day, Book Sales, Updates

My sons have been watching lots of YouTube videos, because that’s the modern state of summer daycare around here, and thus I feel an almost overwhelming temptation to start my post with, “Hi everyone, Chrysoula here!”

One day I might get around to posting more of my thoughts on current events in this blog. I DO talk about things other than books, but mostly on Twitter at the moment. But there’s definitely a lot to think about this Independence Day.

Or not think about! Here’s the book sale blurb! Matchbox Girls is 99 cents, down from 2.99! Citadel of the Sky is $3.99, down from $6.99. In the case of Citadel of the Sky if you don’t have it may I encourage reading it so you too can see what all the fuss* is about?

*The fuss: Citadel of the Sky tends to inspire strong opinions, some good, some bad. I had a review tour last month. It was… tempestuous.

As for Matchbox Girls there’s no better time to get started with the Senyaza series. The short story collection Etiquette of Exiles will be appearing in ebook form in less than two weeks and the 4th full novel, Divinity Circuit,  will be showing up in the autumn.

Ahem. I’ve been experimenting a lot with marketing, as you might guess. I’ll have a blog post at some point on the various services I’ve tried and the response I’ve seen. Some of my theories are not panning out. Other things are basically working. I would like to point out that Citadel of the Sky has a quarter page ad in RT Book Review, an actual print magazine, which is a small dream come true.

I’ve also been finishing up a round of revision on Divinity Circuit. After that my plan is to outline and generally do pre-production on a whole bunch of different novels:

  • Senyaza #5, tentatively called Hybrid Spirits and a direct sequel to Wolf Interval. I’d like to write and release this by autumn 2016.
  • Thrones #3, listed as Shrine of Summer in Citadel of the Sky. I’d like to write and release this in spring 2017.
  • Nightlights #2. I’d like to plan this extensively then write it slowly for Wattpad across 2016. We’ll see what happens. The toddler starts preschool so hope springs eternal!
  • Astromantica. Good old Astromantica. I meant to devote the whole year to you. Let’s see if we can at least produce an outline draft, eh?
  • High School Werewolf Unicorn Romance, possibly called Fangs 4 Flowers. This is an experimental book that I’d like to write and release fast. Although I’m not quite sure when…
  • Unnamed Space Opera. Sailor Moon meets Warhammer 40k. Another experiment, this time in finding out if I should be writing science-light SF. I’d love to write this one in November and December, for an early 2016 release, but we’ll see because it needs a lot more worldbuilding and thread-weaving than F4F will. On the other hand, my space-obsessed 8 year old is eager to help.

You’re thinking: Wow, that’s a lot! And it is, which is why I’m planning a good solid few months outlining. Honestly, I have three goals that all have to squeeze in together:

  • Continue on with my existing commitments. For Thrones of the Firstborn, that’s three more books. For Senyaza, it’s… a lot more books. Let’s call it ‘indefinite’. And Nightlights kind of deserves a sequel.
  • Experiment with writing a fast, emotional romance. One of the stories I wrote for the Senyaza collection was an attempt at mimicking the style of little kid chapter books. I found that the focus on clear, simple images and straightforward language was really addictive and quick to write. I’d like to see what happens if I do that again but with more adolescent subject matter. Also, romances sell better than everything.
  • See if I can find a niche where what I write is more in line with reader expectations. I… I can go into this more later in another post if anybody is curious.

My strategy for writing all these outlines will be a round-robin snowflake style. Very top-down, go through each of the projects for each design step. And I’m not quite giving myself as much time as I think I need, because you know what happens when I give myself plenty of time? I find ways to Not Work until I no longer have quite enough time. It’s ridiculous.

There’s a heat wave on here. It seems to be the new form of Seattle summers. We have no AC. And now it is time to take the children to a lake. So, uh, later!

MATCHBOX GIRLS sale!

Hey there! Matchbox Girls is 99 cents at Amazon/Nook/Kobo. It’s also available for the same price and DRM-free at my publisher, Candlemark & Gleam.

Soon we’ll be doing a cover reveal (and hopefully a Goodreads entry) for WOLF INTERVAL, which is Book #3 of the SENYAZA SERIES. It’s due out in October!

For those new to this urban fantasy series, each of the three SENYAZA books follows a different heroine (two of them costar in #4, which is currently being written) as they face angels, faeries and monsters. This sale is a great time to give it a try, or if you’re already a reader, let a friend know!

Twitter Advertising, Prologue

I’ve come into possession of some Twitter advertising credits and I’m totally going to use them and report back. Stay tuned!

I’m poking at the configuration system right now and I’m really impressed at the targeting options. I could feed in a list of Twitter accounts/email addresses. I could target the users ‘like’ the followers of another Twitter account. This is in addition to the more general ‘target by interests/location/gender’ stuff I’ve found on Goodreads, Facebook and Project Wonderful.

I also have to decide if I want to target ‘get more followers’ or ‘get clicks/retweets’. Unless the pricing is insane, I’ll probably do both, but just running into that decision point is a little bit paralyzing. Obviously the long-term goal is growing my audience (which is directly related to selling books and eventually buying a new roof for my house) but what’s the best way to do that?

The secrets of the Goodreads Ad system

Both the INFINITY KEY and the MATCHBOX GIRLS campaign expired today so I thought I’d post an update on how the ads did. Although technically the original IK campaign would have expired a couple of weeks ago if I hadn’t doubled its budget– but more about that below.

The original post is here . I’m duplicating the Infinity Key ad text below, with an updated click-through rate, which is averaged across the duration of the ad’s life. When I posted before, some of the ads had just started and so data hadn’t really stabilized. The MATCHBOX GIRLS campaign went through its entire budget almost entirely without changing the CTR percentages presented earlier so I’m not going to crowd up this post with those ads.

I have access to a fair amount of daily data but it doesn’t help me much in my current set up for determining results. After I’m done sharing CTR, I’ll share book adds and book sales during the ad period.

The Ads

Infinity Key Friendship
CTR: 0.04% -> No change
Infinity Key
Branwyn is ‘only human’ in a world with fallen angels, but refuses to let that stop her from saving her friend from a supernatural curse.
Infinity Key Publishers Weekly
CTR: 0.04% -> 0.05%
Infinity Key
In a world of faeries and fallen angels, one mortal woman can turn everything upside down. Publishers Weekly calls it “deeply refreshing”!
Not weak
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.07%
Infinity Key
They say we’re only human. That we’re weak. That we should let them protect us. But they didn’t protect you. Now they have to deal with me.
Shhh.
CTR: 0.14% -> 0.21%
Paused
You won’t read this.
You won’t even see it. You don’t want to know. It’s safer that way. Don’t worry. We’re taking care of everything. That’s our job. Look away.
 Hush, hush
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.05%
The world is sleeping. Soon it wakes.
Soon it learns to listen. It moves, thinks, breathes. It only takes a key. But who makes the key? Soon everything changes.
 Lies And Self Promotion
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.07%
INFINITY KEY is an undiscovered winner
A stunning new entry in the field of urban fantasy, with faeries, angels and a wonderful heroine who doesn’t let her humanity slow her down.
Unlock the door.
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.01%
INFINITY KEY: empowering urban fantasy
“Unlock the door. Wake up the world.” Come with Branwyn into Faerie to save a friend and change the world.
Blurb
CTR: 0.06% -> 0.05%
Funny, brilliant and empowering fantasy
INFINITY KEY is a reckless dash through a world on the brink of a magical singularity. Hop on board now before you fall behind.
 Mean girl
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.04%
INFINITY KEY, an urban fantasy
Mortal Branwyn is mean and cranky– and so loyal that you root for her as she steps on supernatural foes in the name of friendship.

THE ADDS (to reading lists) & SALES

Sales’ estimated exclusively from Novelrank monitoring Amazon sales rank jumps, which is a minimum. I suspect a few more sales but won’t know until royalty statements– but Amazon is a pretty good baseline.
MATCHBOX GIRLS: 
Added between 2/27 and 3/19: 18 (2 rating, 16 to-read)
Sold in March:  3 ebook / 0 paperback
Added between 1/27 and 2/26:  7 (1 rating, 5 to-read, 1 other)
Sold in Feb:  1 ebook / 1 paperback
INFINITY KEY:
Added between 2/27 and 3/19: 18 (1 rating, 17 to-read)
Sold in March: 1 ebook / 0 paperback
Added between 1/27 and 2/26:  3 (1 rating, 1 to-read, 1 other)
Sold in Feb: 2 ebooks / 1 paperback

CONCLUSIONS

First: Clickbait ads really, really work in earning clicks. I had to shut down ‘Shh’ because it was devouring my budget without showing any real benefit other than ‘winning’ at ad writing. If I’d been earning money for those clicks, though…
Second: I invested $30 in this experiment. My actual monetary return on investment is abysmal; as a conservative estimate I earned $4 in the same timeframe and there’s no real sense that was due to the ads.
Third: I DID get a serious uptick in reader interest, as measured by to-read lists.  It wasn’t exactly cheap; I paid at a rough estimate about 75 cents for each expression of ‘maybe someday’.
Fourth: Use the title space on your ads for more than just the book title. Don’t be modest, either. Both ‘Blurb’ and ‘Lies and Self-Promotion’ got into the double digits of CTR on days they got started early. ‘Unlock the door’ and ‘Mean girl’ didn’t get any traction until very late, so I’m not sure they’ve been adequately tested. (Really, I expected this entire campaign to go longer than it did– not even a month of data! Alas, I can’t afford to test any more at the existing ROI, not until later in the year anyhow.)
Fifth: As a game, it almost seems worthwhile. I really enjoyed tracking the performance of individual ads and I’ve certainly spent more on games that haven’t really given me anything back at all. But I think I’m probably a freak in this instance.

Next

I’d really like to experiment with targeting next time. I suppose the right way to do that would be to pick a few of my best performing ads, duplicate them, and then target them at different Goodreads demographics. Thanks to this experiment I feel like I at least have the data to make the decision on best performing ads!