BTS039, Writing Multiple Books at Once, Low Budget Book Promotions, and Multiple Streams of Income | January to April Author Diary Update
BTS039, Writing Multiple Books at Once, Low Budget Book Promotions, and Multiple Streams of Income
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
For some reason, I put off sharing this author diary update because I believed I didn’t do that much writing, and I was a little embarrassed. Well, I was partly correct. As I look back over my completed tasks on ToDoist and the notes on my daily writing habit spreadsheet, I realised that my assumption was incorrect. And, I did get some writing done during the first four months of the year. In all honesty, I floated between writing multiple books at once.
But more on that later.
I set Missing to free and scheduled various low budget book promotions during February and March, and I experimented with Facebook Ads with some surprising results. In this show, I share my download statistics, cost per click and click-through rate when these statistics are available. Also, during this period, I started experimenting with multiple streams of income in my author business. I share the thing I’ve tried and the thing you need to consider when you’re just starting.
So stay tuned for all of this and much more.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Wednesday the 26th of May, so this show is primarily me looking back at the first four months of 2021. So, that’s January through to April. In the same spirit as the previous episode, I’ve finally caught up on the backlog of episodes. After this show, I’m back on schedule.
If you’re on YouTube, you’ll notice that I’ve gone back to an audio-only version of the podcast. I’ve had to pull the plug on the video podcast episode because I couldn’t do everything, and something had to go.
Thank You to These Buy Me a Coffee Supporters
Before we dive into the main content for the show, I wanted to give a quick shout out to a few delightful people who supported the show by buying me a coffee. I’ve had a couple of people who have brought me four coffees but have chosen to remain anonymous. You know who you are, and I just want to say thank you for supporting my show. It means a lot to me that you listen and get value from these episodes.
Lastly, I want to say thank you to J. S. Rogers, who brought me five coffees. J. S. Rogers writes historical mysteries, and she shares her publication journey over on her blog.
Paid and Free Promotions
Starting from the 4th of February through to the 18th of February, I dabbled in a bit of low budget ad stacking. My novella, Missing, was listed as free on all stores, including Amazon. In the previous episode, BTS038, I shared the template and steps I took to ask Amazon to price match the book on a few stores. I took these same steps in February. After that, I set up ads on Book Angel, Awesome Gang, My Book Place and boosted a Facebook Post.
Over on Book Angel, I set up a free ad where I promoted my novella, Missing to Kobo readers, from the 4th of February to the 8th of February. Book Angel only shows free or cheap books that are listed on Kobo. And, the coast was zero.
On the 11th of February, I scheduled another promotion on Awesome Gang. The advertisement cost $10.00 USD. But, once again, just like all of the other promotion sites, it’s hard to know which site drives what traffic.
And, finally, I decided to use My Book Place again. The promotion ran from the 12th of February to the 18th of February, and I scheduled a Facebook Ad at the same time.
Another Kobo Promotion
From the 22nd of February to the 28th of February, I purchased a spot on the Free Page for the Mystery and Thrillers List. The good news is, it’s still only £3.00, including taxes. This is the fourth time I’ve run this advert, and I’m happy with the downloads.
And, the reviews and ratings are rolling in, which is nice. Readers still either love it and give the novella 4 and 5 stars or don’t and give the book a three-star and below rating. The majority of readers seemed to like my series on this platform more than Amazon US. On Kobo, 25 out of 35 ratings are four-star and higher, whereas 12 out of 20 ratings are four-star or higher on the Amazon US store. I’m thrilled because it’s not getting worse.
From the 12th of February to the 22nd of February, I reused the same boosted post to promote a free sale on Missing. I set the budget to £30.00 plus taxes, which is a little less than I usually spend. Because I reused an existing promotion, the books2read link was used again. To be honest, I want to add an extra step in the book-buying process because the novella is free, and I only want people who are genuinely interested in Missing to press the download button. You get it; I’m trying to weed out the freebie seekers to get better quality reviews. Throughout the run of the advertisement, I received 297 clicks at 0.10 pence per click. The reach for the boosted post was 11,896. And I received three comments under the advertisement. These comments were thank-yous from people who downloaded the novella for free.
From the 10th of March to the 20th of March, I set Missing to free all stores, including Amazon, and reused the same Facebook ad. The total budget for the period was set to £30.00 plus taxes. As a result, the promotion’s reach was 19,080, and I received 335 clicks at 0.09 pence per click, which is better than the results from the previous month.
More Comments: The Good and the Bad
In March, I received a few more thank you comments from readers for setting the price of Missing to free. And, I received my very first shady comment from another self-published author underneath my ad. The comment was about how my book was not listed for free on Amazon in Canada. But it wasn’t the typical response of, “it’s not free in Canada on Amazon.” The comment was worded to say something along the lines of, “clicked on the link and the book wasn’t free as stated, hmm…”. There was no reference to the store or country. It was almost as if they were trying to make me out to be some unscrupulous author who was ripping off her readers, when in fact, Amazon changed the price back in Canada. But, the book was still free on Kobo and Apple, plus a dozen other retailers.
So, I got in touch with my inner amateur sleuth and checked out the individual’s Facebook profile. That’s when I discovered this person was another self-published author, spoke English as a first language, and was from Canada. And, this is the beauty of Facebook. If you’re going to write shady comments under other author’s ads, they can click on your profile and know a lot about you. So, I replied with a polite “Sorry, you were disappointed, but Amazon can change the prices at any time at their discretion.” Next, I chose to hide this person’s comment under the ad because I knew I would mention it on the podcast. And, I got an “I was just letting you know” reply. Let face it; I don’t believe this response because, if that were the case, they would have given more information without the shady “hmm” at the end.
To be honest, I don’t understand this need to be snarky or competitive with other authors because a rising tide floats all boats. A person who buys from other authors in your genre may eventually find your book. They could have chosen to reach out in a friendly way that didn’t paint me in the worst possible light, but they chose the road of aggression and shade. For the love of God, please don’t do this, even if you’re having a bad day; it’s not good for the long term.
My Download Statistics
The following download statistics are for the free promotions I scheduled for Missing in February and don’t include sales figures from my short story.
- Amazon: 414 downloads
- Kobo: 246 downloads
- Google: 113 downloads
- Apple: 75 downloads
- Barnes and Noble: 17 downloads
The following download statistics are from the boosted post on Facebook that advertised Missing was free in March and don’t include sales figures from my short story.
- Kobo: 202 downloads
- Amazon: 102 downloads
- Google: 87 downloads
- Apple: 10 downloads
- Barnes and Noble: 14 downloads
For some reason, I put off sharing this author diary update because I believed I didn’t do that much writing. Well, I was partly correct. However, as I look back over my completed tasks on ToDoist and the notes on my daily writing habit spreadsheet, I realised that my assumption was incorrect. I did quite a bit of work spread across a number of projects.
Entitled to Murder
At the end of December and the start of January, I felt more than a little discouraged about the future of my James Lalonde series. I honestly thought no one would want to read book two after the reviews on book one. For the record, there’s currently a sixty forty split in the reviews. Sixty percent enjoyed the book and gave it a favourable review, and forty percent gave it a critical or didn’t like the book. This led me to consider starting a separate pen name with the intention of writing in the cozy mystery genre. For the record, I love cozy mysteries, and I’m not just choosing the genre because it’s hot right now.
The idea was if my James Lalonde or amateur sleuth mystery series doesn’t work out, I have another pen name to fall back on. So, I decided to write a prequel novelette that I could use to build an email list as I start writing the first book in the series. The series features a female amateur sleuth who moves to a small English village.
Entitled to Murder is on Wattpad
Throughout eleven writing days scattered across January and February, I completed thirty-one hours and fifteen minutes of writing. I wrote and performed line edits on scenes five through to thirteen. To drum up interest for the prequel novelette, I shared the edited first draft chapters on my blog and Wattpad. So far, I have chapters one to ten available to be read by anyone with a Wattpad account.
Three days out of the eleven were dedicated to outlining scenes nineteen to twenty-five, so I could write the remaining scenes in the book more easily. And, I spent a little more time editing the blog posts over on my website to make the story easier to read. After returning to work from my vacation in February, I realised that I needed to commit to the James Lalonde series. So, this little novelette became a side project with a longer deadline.
My writing progress for January.
My writing progress for February.
My writing progress for March.
My writing progress for April.
Writing the Second James Lalonde Novel, Duplicity
During the first four months of the year, I completed nine writing days or thirty-four hours of writing. I revised chapters thirty-five through to forty-two. Next, with the help of Grammarly and ProWriting Aid, I performed line edits of these chapters and added them to HeyBeta for my alpha reader to enjoy.
After returning to work from my vacation in February, I realised that I needed to commit to the James Lalonde series. As a result, I reverted to my original plans. This decision led me to pivot slightly. Before I publish book two, I need to write, revise and edit the first book in the rookie reporter series. I wanted to give this book away for free to anyone who wanted to sign up to my email list after reading Duplicity. So, I decided to work on Duplicity slowly over the weekends. That was my intention. I honestly thought The Candidate would be finished in a couple of weeks at the most.
But more on that later.
Learning From My Mistakes
In March, I updated the outline in scrivener based on the changes I made to the outline spreadsheet during the revisions in preparation to edit the outline. The biggest mistake I made with Missing was, I didn’t edit the outline properly. I didn’t check that I answered all of the story questions and thus resolve all of the loose ends. This mistake led me to create a second edition. And cost me more money. My goal is to check that I’ve tied up all loose ends, and I wanted to make sure that the ending of Duplicity was satisfying for the reader. And, I needed to give James Lalonde a win in this book because, spoiler alert, I took the rug out from under his feet in the first book.
Starting a New Series of Shorter Novels
The months of March and April were devoted to writing the first draft of the Candidate, which is book one in the Rookie Reporter series. During these months, I completed twenty-five hours and thirty minutes across eleven writing days. I spent three days editing the outline by creating a list of questions that needed to be answered in the story. And I’m glad I did this before writing the first draft because I made changes to the ending to make it more satisfying for the reader. I want each book to hit the amateur sleuth tropes in the rookie reporter series and always have a satisfying ending for James. To make sure I was delivering on that promise, I wrote the book description for the Candidate.
Next, I changed the timeline because I realised that one of my characters is too young to be living alone, and social services would have stepped in and placed the character in foster care. Before I started writing the first draft, I spent one writing day considering the next book in the rookie reporter series. Book two in the rookie reporter series has a name, a loose plot, and I have a firm grasp on my vision for the cover. After all of that preparation, I wrote scenes one to six, which made up the entire first act of the story.
In April, I wrote scenes seven to eleven. These scenes covered the start of act two through to the scene after the 1st pinch point. To write these scenes, I needed to do location research to help me create a sense of realism in the story. And I also started filming writing vlogs over on my YouTube channel, where I’m documenting the process of writing the Candidate.
Scheduled Time Off
From January to April, I deliberately scheduled time off to help with my mental health. In February, I took a week off because I was very torn about whether I should continue revising book two because of the reader response from the first-in-series novella. I needed a mental health break. There was a part of me that considered abandoning the James Lalonde series for good.
And, I took another three weeks off from the 21st of March to the 10th of April to coincide with easter, and my husbands stay at home vacation time. During this time, I ended up creating a couple of streams of income in my author business. A huge part of me wants to make a living with my writing and branch out with author services.
Multiple Streams of Income
As I alluded to earlier, I focused on offering services as income streams to supplement my writing. So far, I’ve set up the following streams of income:
- Buy Me A Coffee and Patreon
- Book Formatting Wizard (my book formatting services), which has been moved to the new Le Villain Book Covers website and is still on Fiverr
- Le Villain Book Covers (Premade Book Cover and Premade Logo Design)
- A merchandise store on Red Bubble that goes with The Book Nerd Podcast
How to Start with Multiple Streams of Income as an Author
Before you start adding multiple streams of income to your author business, there’s something you show know. Everything you add to your author business will require more time than you anticipate on top of writing. For instance, I’ve been setting up a WooCommerce store myself to save money, and it’s taken longer than expected because of the learning curve.
Where do you start when setting up multiple income streams?
I can’t tell you where to start, but I can ask you a couple of questions that will help you figure it out for yourself.
What skills do you have?
Think about skills you’ve acquired through work, hobbies, and your publishing experience. For instance, you might have impressive typing speed, experience in finance, blogging, video editing, personal assistant skills, or graphic design skills. Technically, if you’ve self-published a few books and know how to operate the various online retailer dashboards, that’s a marketable skill.
Are you interested in acquiring new skills to provide an income stream?
For instance, you might want to consider taking courses on proofreading, line editing or graphic design. Just make sure if you take any editor courses, they are recommended or approved by the editors association in your country.
Ideas for Income Streams
Here are a few ideas for streams of income you could add to your business. The first set of ideas will require a ready-made audience to drive traffic to your website to make money. And, the return on investment is usually relatively low. I’m referring to affiliate income from places like Amazon Ads, hosting services and products that you use that relate to your audience.
Tip the Creator Services
Next, you have services like Patreon and Buy me A Coffee, where fans or supporters can tip the creators they love and get something in return. I’ve seen a few authors use Patreon quite successfully with fiction, but they have huge audiences who want these extra things. It would be hard to drum up support for Patreon with a small audience. I have both Patreon and Buy Me A Coffee accounts with rewards for people who support the podcast. And the option to tip, as per the ad you’ve already heard in the middle of this episode. If you choose to use Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee, it’s worth setting a goal for why you’re using these services before you start.
Income Streams with Setup Costs
The next section of income stream ideas will require your time and some setup costs. Depending upon the skills you already have, you could set up an Author or Virtual Assistant side-hustle. This is an excellent option for people who have experience uploading books to all of the stores, social media management, updating the static pages of a website, blog management, SEO, podcast pitching, basic personal assistant tasks, or typing up transcripts. Ideally, you would work part-time, maybe 10 hours a month, and be a virtual assistant to a couple of authors.
For Authors with Fans
The next idea is setting up a merchandise store. Now, this is something I have done for The Book Nerd Podcast. Only do this if you have graphic design experience, understand stock images licences, and have an audience who want to buy merchandise from you. I say this because it takes a long time to create the designs according to print on demand sites specifications and then get very few sales. But I did it anyway for the experience with the intention of getting back into the Book Nerd Podcast.
Income Ideas that Require Professional Skills
If you are interested in acquiring skills to start an author service business, you could become a proofreader or line editor. But, I will stress this you need the correct qualifications to start, and no, an English degree is not enough. You need to get qualifications approved by an editor’s society.
A while back, there was some drama on AuthorTube where a few YouTubers started to offer editing services, but they only had English degrees. And, as you might have guessed, a few books were published riddled with errors. As a professional starting out, this is a scenario you want to avoid. So, learn the lesson free of charge and get the proper qualification.
Ideas with Large Set Up Costs
This last idea was something I had seriously considered doing, and just as I started, the SPF guys launched Hello Books. I couldn’t believe it. You, too, could start a book promotion service. But this requires building a separate email list, creating social media accounts, building a website, and finding authors to participate in the beta runs. Again there is a considerable start-up cost with this idea because you need a professional website with hosting, funds to generate interest in your new business by advertising. Then there’s the cost of the email list. You need an extensive list and permissions to email people with discounts.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. In May, I want to finish writing The Candidate so that I can start revisions and editing in June. The next episode of this podcast will be another diary episode, where I will continue to discuss my writing and book marketing endeavours.
If you have any questions or have tips on book marketing that you would love to share with me, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
Have you found the blog and podcast useful? Wish you could buy the host, Amelia D. Hay, a cup of coffee? Now, thanks to Buy Me a Coffee and PayPal you can!
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.