Monday, February 3, 2014

I've figured out the final element in selling a lot of books!

It's funny, I came to this site today to write a blog saying that I finally figured out why I don't sell as many books as my fellow authors, and I happened to see a list of posts that visitors have most recently read. 1 of the 3 most recent read was one called: I found out why I'm only doing moderately well as a writer.

I read it and it was posted 18 months ago and was written right after I did a sales experiment that told me which genre to focus on. In the post I said that I had 40 titles and that if I could just do 16 to 26 more, I would make 10k a month. I thought that I could do it by Dec 2012. Ha!

Well, 18 months later I hit 56 English titles on Amazon. And this month I hit 10k for the first time. Woohoo! Man, how the hell did I guess that?! Granted, it took me a little longer than 4 months to do it. But, at the time I had 60 titles in all languages, and today I have about 210. Clearly I have spent a lot of time doing translations. Also, many of my books had to be yanked from Amazon because of their whole censorship thing.

But yep, I called it. I thought that if I focused on books the average American woman would like, I would sell more. I did.

Today I'm blogging to say that I have finally figured out the dichotomy which has allows bewildered me. Why is it that I sell so few books in English while getting such glowing reviews from readers. It would seem logical that if readers really like my books, I would have taken off by now. If you are a reader of my post, I'm sure that you've read my endless pondering about it.

Well, I've got it. I've figured it out. As I accurately stated in my last post, there are only three things that a reader users to determine if they will buy a book; the title, the cover and the description. As stated in the other post, readers I've never interacted with say that my writing "good". Readers think that my titles are "great". And in the other post, I just glossed over my book descriptions. What I said was that 2 of 3 is pretty great.

I'm here to tell you that the authors doing really well are getting 3 out of 3. The reason that I'm doing so badly in English is because my book descriptions are severely lacking and I didn't know how much.

Today I posted a thread on my erotica author forum exploring the analysis of successful book blurbs. I then threw myself into heavy analysis of the descriptions for books that became the breakthrough hit for an unknown author. It turns out that there are patterns. And the reason why I know I'm correct is because now that I've seen the patterns, successful description writing seems pretty obvious. Yet, even my very successful author friends were blown away by my discover.

Here's the gist of it. The main thing that readers look for in any book is conflict and plot twists within familiar tropes; the Pretty Woman trope, the Fish out of Water trope, the Found Baby trope. But this isn't brain surgery. Commercial writing is very formulaic. And the book descriptions that sell the most books... here it comes... clearly states what the book's trope is then identifies the conflicts and plot twists in the story.

That's it. That's the big secret. That is what separates a book from it's true potential. Now, knowing that doesn't guarantee a successful book. The trope still has to be one that appeals to the masses and the plot twists and conflicts still have to be interesting. But that simply formula is the secret to helping your book reach it's full sales potential.

See, I told you that it would seem obvious after I said it. Yet, I made up a scale to evaluate books and test the formula and applied it to my past books. Apparently none of them pass. Zero! That's 0 out of 210. Well, it's possible that one of them did pass. It would be the one that reached #1 in humor on Amazon. I haven't analysed it yet, but as I think back on it, that book's description could met all of the criteria.

I would beat myself up about it except it seems that no one else realized this either. I have had a number of successful authors try to help me with my book descriptions and not once did anything like this come up. But please, it's so simply, don't you think that if this was well known, someone would have mentioned it?

Anyway, I have the formula now. So from now on, not only will my wonderfully-titled good books have great covers, but the books will be described in the most interesting way possible. So it turns out that I didn't need a writing class after all. What I needed was to spend an afternoon applying my mind to figuring out the last marketing deficit that I knew I had. Boy I'm glad that I dropped UCLA extension class.

On another topic, I dropped the class I was taking at the UCLA extension. I went to 2 classes and then realized that I didn't belong there. The class ended up being for those who wanted to write the first 50 pages of their first novel ever. That is clearly not me. And being a veteran, I talk about writing differently than beginners do.

Did I gain anything from the classes I attended? Yes, the class gave me confidence in the fact that I knew what I needed to know to start my YA book. I also got a hand out to help me flush out my main character  little more. I did find that helpful. But, seriously, that was not a class for me.

So now I'm going to finish off my werewolf story. With it I will be doing a few things that I have never done before. I was feeling insecure about the stories for a couple reasons. The first reason was that my stories are about werewolves and no one transforms into a werewolf in book 1 which is 60 pages long. The second issue I had was that the second book in the series only had one sex scene. I usually do 3 or 4 per book. It's just how I do it. The third book was fine-ish.

Well, I was reading a post on my forum and saw something about what the best marketing technique is. The best one, which is also the one that has worked best for me, is to write a series and release the first book for free. What I also learned is that the sweet spot for sales is a book with about 25k words.

Well, my first book makes a questionable werewolf book because it ends right before the protagonist transforms, but it makes a hell of a teaser that I could give away for free. And instead of stretching the series out into 4 books, I could combine what is now book 2 and 3 into one book that equals... you guested it, exactly 25k words. This is all working out perfectly. Now book 2 will have lots of sex and werewolf fun. And book 1 will be the the perfect lead in for it.

Put that together with my truly awesome title for a werewolf erotic romance (seriously, I can't believe that no one has thought of this before), and my very, very cool looking cover and all I need is the right description. And now that I know how to write an awesome description, this book, being in the hottest current romance sub-genre, should be my best seller to date. Oh, did I mention that the story is actually really good as well?

It's all kind of exciting. I finally feel like I have a full grasp on my profession. Now, if I could just figure out the plot of the final book in the series, my professional life would be perfect... and all I'll have to figure out is my personal life. But one impossible task at a time. I don't want to overwhelm myself. I'm too much in a good mood to go there tonight. :-)