My Publishing Journey: Unprecedented Times

Wow. What a week. Right? It seems weird to now talk about something so normal as my everyday joy, excitement and challenges when we’re living in what could be the starting scenes from one of my books. However it helps me keep things normal so please allow me this indulgence.

No one in my family is sick, yet. We have plenty of toilet roll for a couple of weeks, but then again we’ll be in the house more. We have enough food for a couple of weeks if we need to clear out the cupboard and freezer. My wife and I are still working from the office (we work at the same firm), but we’re prepared for home working if the need arises.

The biggest impact is on my sixteen year old daughter who was due to sit her GCSEs this year and if it hasn’t been stressful enough, she now has no idea if or when these will go ahead. Hopefully in the coming days the government will clarify what their plans are and then my daughter will start talking to us again. I’m trying not to get annoyed with her when she makes it sound like it’s directly our fault for causing this issue. She is a teenager however!

This whole situation does mean that I would normally be writing this post in between taking my daughters to clubs (Girl Guides & St John’s Ambulance). As both of those are on ice, I have a bit more time for a longer post.

Anyway, on to the authoring!

Work in Progress

With two days off last week I managed to get 12,500 words for AFTER THE END on the page, which for me is about 12 days of work. This has meant I am now back on track for my November 2020 release date and the novel is coming together very nicely with the themes consolidating.

LESSON LEARNED came back from the copy-editor, so I’ve switched from work on the IN THE END novella over to getting the copy-edits updated and making changes where the editor has highlighted work to be done. Hopefully I can get this completed by the end of the month, then I’ll have a release date (somewhere around June 2020).

Advertising and Marketing

In amongst the writing, whilst I was off I had a marketing call from Facebook. If you’ve not heard of these before, they are free one on one advice calls lasting around thirty minutes for people who run ads on their platform. I had heard they were pretty weak but I personally took some useful tips from the conversation, as I highlight below:

  1. It was confirmed that when any major changes are made to a campaign the algorithm resets and has to relearn the best targeting and therefore it is very common for ads to drop effectiveness for a day. It is better to copy the campaign, make the changes in the new one and then switch the old one off after a day.
  2. Campaigns should be copied and republished every three weeks as newer campaigns are given priority over older campaigns.
  3. Never run more than one campaign with the same audience as they will compete against each other and your costs will go up.
  4. Use campaign budget optimisation to let the software determine which of your ads or ad sets in a campaign should be presented to the users based on how they perform and when.
  5. A £10 a day campaign budget is the minimum you need to be spending to enable the ad to effectively win the auction for being displayed.
  6. We went through lookalike audiences and custom audiences on the call, even building them at the time and was given a better understanding of their use.
  7. She agreed that I should not increase my daily budget as based on my testing I had hit the most efficient value for my audience. I should use the custom and lookalike audiences for increasing sales, or run additional campaigns targeting different audiences.

After the call I have developed a new marketing campaign which includes when I will refresh my campaigns, run special offers through KDP, run launch offers and run the lookalike and custom audience campaigns to make the most of the above. It’s a great feeling to have everything planned out and not just doing things on a whim.

Since the call I am running a new campaign but with four different ads, each a version of the ads I have already been running. Out of interest I found a combo ad of an older image and the new text (seen below) was lightyears ahead of the others in terms of number of clicks and the low cost of those clicks.

I thought I would then be clever and created a video version of the ad. The results were astounding, I was getting loads of clicks and I mean loads. Plus they were really cheap. The only problem was that sales were through the floor again. After running the video for a couple of days I decided to stop it and bang, sales went up again. People were clicking the ad because it was attracting their attention and not because they were interested!

Here’s the successful ad I’m currently running.


Since Nov 2018 you may be surprised to hear I have never kept a formal track of how many books I’ve been selling. Of course I knew roughly the amount of revenue, but I didn’t have a total in my head, despite it being a question I get asked a lot. After putting it off I decided to delve into my amazon reports and pull out the data.

Within ten minutes I had all the information I needed, and to date I have sold 1179 books. That’s ebooks, paperbacks (Amazon and in person), equivalent complete books through Kindle Unlimited and audiobooks.

I’ve put these together in a couple of charts just to see how they visualise.

As you can see it makes some interesting viewing! The data for Kindle Unlimited (KENP Books) is a bit misleading in the pie chart as the books have not always been available on that service, but since they have been it runs at about a third of the total sales per month.

If I charted net revenue, the picture would be a lot different. Since the start of my current advertising push Audiobooks account for 46%, Kindle Unlimited is 28% and ebook / paperback sales is 26%. Of course the audiobook costs are higher, but certainly the business case for more audiobooks, alongside an effective marketing campaign, is very strong.

A quick note on my marketing campaign. Overall since I started at the end of January I have achieved an income of 59% above cost and the current specific campaign started this week is at 76%. However to put that in perspective it would mean an annual profit of £1,500! Hence I need to release many more books. Let’s say another fifty should do it!

I think I’ve gone on long enough now. Obviously my plans for events for the coming months are in disarray, but hopefully life will get back to normal when we near the summer and I can think again.

Until next week, keep yourselves safe and think of others when you can. Questions and comments welcome as always.


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