Hitting the publish button was no guarantee of self publishing sales. Sure, it allowed me to make enough money to get me out of my full-time job (I'm very grateful for that), but I could have much done better many moons ago. I've produced a lot of content over the last three and a half years; 33 products for sale on Amazon and elsewhere to be exact. Until recently, my sales plan involved putting up books and using a scattershot combination of whatever seemed trendy at the time: Facebook ads, Kindle Nation Daily book blasts, building up a Twitter fanbase, etc. I've been all over the place in terms of what I've done for certain books vs. other books. If I didn't have this website and the hundreds of clickable links to my books, I would have failed completely and given up years ago.
My sales weren't bad, but they were very inconsistent. I knew there had to be a better way. I watched other authors in my book categories pass me by while my products stayed put. What did they have that I didn't have? There were multiple answers to those questions, but the biggest "ah-ha" moment of the last few months dealt with the concept of product funnels.
I learned about funnels from the book Write. Publish. Repeat. and its creators, the trio of insane self publishing sales scientists behind the Self Publishing Podcast. Johnny, Sean and Dave are the masters of self published serialized fiction on Amazon. I've lost count of how many series they have, most of which are divided into seasons and episodes. Each of their products consists of between 10,000 and 20,000 words and is part of a larger whole. They use price matching to make their first product free to serve as a gateway drug to the rest of the series. With this free larger funnel, they're able to find lots of readers, including some of their ideal readers. In the process, they get some 1-star-reviews, but that's beside the point. They catch readers in their funnels and send the rapt audience through to the next product. And the next. And then to their e-mail subscriber list and their other products.
My 2014 plan involves me creating a funnel of fiction novellas linked together in the same world. I plan on using Johnny, Sean and Dave's concepts to a T. That wasn't the ah-ha moment though. That moment came when I realized I could use the 33 products I've already created in funnels to increase sales, get more subscribers and afford to produce my upcoming books in the highest quality possible. Here's how I'll be employing these self publishing sales increasing funnel methods on my current products.
1. I Will Publish All My Books in Kindle Format
I have over a dozen workbooks for prompts available through CreateSpace on Amazon. I never put them in digital because I didn't see the point. They were workbooks that were meant to be used with pencil and paper. The SPP guys helped me to realize that I was losing potential customers by keeping the books in print alone. I am in the process of putting all these books up on Kindle (and elsewhere) so that I can make these readers a part of the BCWI family. I will be offering a free printable and editable PDF download of the workbook, so parents and teachers can still use the books like regular print books if they desire.
2. I Will Create Calls to Action in the Back of All My Books
This is an area in which I'd been very lazy. I probably sacrificed hundreds of self publishing sales in the process. Calls to action (or CTAs) are links in a book (or anywhere) that ask somebody to do something. I've started to put CTAs in the back of my books to encourage customers to leave reviews, visit my website, subscribe to my mailing list and buy my other books. CTAs are one of the best ways to find and keep true fans.
3. I Will Make My Books Available in Box Sets
I've already done this with my 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts Box Set, but I plan to do this with the workbooks as well. A box set is a collection of books that saves the reader a certain percentage off buying the books individually. I'd never thought to apply this to my own books, but my books work quite well in a package deal. Since putting the box set up at $8.99 on Amazon, I've sold my first dozen. I get about $6 in royalties for each sale, which is equivalent to selling three books at once. Customers save money. I get customers who used to buy just one book to buy five (three times the revenue for me). It's a real win-win.
I've learned a lot about growing my self publishing sales in the last few months and I look forward to applying all these methods going forward. If you are a self published author looking to increase your sales, find a way to turn your books into product funnels. You're bound to do better than a dolt like myself who skipped out on countless extra money and loyal customers for the last three years. Your self publishing sales and your readers will thank you.