The Brutal Truth: Keeping it Real

 

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I have a degree in marketing. If you’ve followed my blog long enough you know that I am overly enthusiastic about sales, marketing and design–oh, and writing! When it comes to writing I am a panster, but when it comes to launching a book, I am a planner. I am a big time planner, and when I decided to release my latest novel, Flawed Perfection, I figured with the proper plan I could destroy my success with Love Exactly. I sat down and composed a killer marketing plan, and of course, put in a failure point–but I didn’t expect what happened. I missed the mark of my goal, and I didn’t come anywhere close to my failure point. In all honesty, in my mind, the launch of Flawed Perfection was an #epicfail. It was a complete flop. I never came anywhere near any of my goals that mattered–the ones that all that hard work would get me to. I think that is why it has taken me over two months to compose this blog post. No one likes failure, and what is even worse, is that I cannot dig myself out of it. I’ve tried different promos, and it just hasn’t taken. It wasn’t that Flawed Perfection wasn’t a good novel; in fact, it’s my highest starred novel. It touched people, and left them wanting more, but I just haven’t had enough people buy the book. It’s hard to put your heart and soul into something and see it go so poorly–and I’m not just talking about the book. I’m also speaking about the marketing plan, and all the marketing efforts that were involved in this book launch. Enough of my gripping and complaining. I do not want you to feel bad for me. This is just a self-examination of what occurred. So let’s take a peek at the disastrous goals I set for myself:

Flawed Perfection (Beautifully Flawed, #1)

Bobby Beckerson was the American All-Star hockey player–he was the spitting image of perfection to his family. Goofy, sweet and undeniably gorgeous, he had everything but the one girl he wanted: River Ahlers.
River Ahlers is successful in everything but love. She’s been in love with Adam Beckerson since they were kids. Worst of all she’s stuck right in the middle of the brother’s dueling over everything and anything, and she doesn’t even know she’s the ultimate prize.
Adam Beckerson was a boy with a guitar, a smile that sunk girl’s hearts and a stone wall around his own. He was anything but perfect, and no matter how hard he tried he was nothing compared to Bobby. Sweet, damaged, with boyish good-looks, no body thought Adam loved anyone but himself.
Bobby loved River, River loved Adam and Adam only loved himself–or so everyone thought. Then one night everything changes, and as it threatens to destroy everyone involved a tragedy strikes that will break them all…

1.0 Defining Objectives

Defining objectives means that you decide what you are going to promote, what your goals are, how profits will be measured, and finally how failures will be measured–yes, I just said failures. We won’t be sugar coating anything here. A good marketing plan is unbiased and truthful. You need these two things to ensure your own integrity and success.

What are we going to promote?

Flawed Perfection- New Adult Contemporary Romance

What are the goals of the promotion and the product?

  • Release March 7, 2014- Success!
  • Organize Cover Reveal for February 7, 2014 – Success!
  • Send Press Release to Norwich Bulletin, and The Day by March 1, 2014 – Success!
  • Organize Release Blitz for March 7, 2014 – Success!
  • Organize month long blog tour from 3/10/14-4/10/14 – Success!
  • Contact Bank Square Books to set up release signing –Success!

Over the course of two months I was able to accomplish each of these goals; however, it included a massive amount of work. It took me two months to contact over 1200 blogs through either contact forms (now the worst things on the face of the planet to me. I relished the blogs that required a simple email) or email. I also researched each and every one of these blogs and then personalized the email I sent to them. I made sure my book fit into their interests before contacting them. It also involved the creation of a press kit that would give them buy in without me having to re-type all of the information. In addition, I was the one who managed all the promotional days. This was a huge undertaking in itself. I did have  a lot of blogs respond, but not anywhere near what I thought it would be. I had 150 bloggers for the cover, 150 for the release blitz and 130 for the blog tour. The tour killed me. It took a huge amount of time to compose each of the emails with the information for each post, and I had huge issues with my gmail account. These issues were so large, I actually moved my email to Outlook instead (very good decision, although I still haven’t figured out how to get my contact into the groups I need them in). I also had at least one blog every other day not post, this included blogs who received a free novel for review. That was massively frustrating, because I took the time each day to visit each and every one of those blogs and thank them. The first day of launch I was disappointed by sales being very slow, at around 150 that day. I had sold 500+ in the first day Love Exactly launched. I thought the blog tour would help pick things up, but I was wrong. It did not. In the end it felt like all that work was for nothing. I could have done a much shorter tour, as with Love Exactly and not contacted what felt like a zillion people. The good thing was, as the reviews came in, for the most part, they were absolutely amazing. Everyone loved the characters and hated them at the same time–exactly the way they were supposed to. This wasn’t a simple love story, it was about family, friendship, and loss. It is a genuine novel, but I had trouble reaching readers even having hit around 250+ unique blogs–and not small blogs either–large blogs with followers of upwards of 20,000. So, let’s see where it began to go wrong:

  • Hit one blog a day for at least 4 months total – Fail!
  • Reach 75 reviewers through blog contacts, tours, and R2R – Fail!
  • Sell 5,000 copies – Fail!
  • Break the 5,000 rank on Amazon – For one day…

How will profits be measured?

  • Price point: $2.99
  • Royalty: 70%
  • Potential Profit/unit: $2.09
  • Goal: 5,000
  • Built-in Failure Rate: 75% of goal, equaling 3,500 – Wow, this is the ultimate sad part. In two months I’ve sold approximately 700 copies. Almost what I sold on the first day of Love Exactly.
  • *Reasonable Profit Expectation: $7,315 (I just gagged a little bit)- I should have gagged myself…I didn’t even hit the $315 yet.
  • Paperback Bookstore Price: $14.99 (at B.E.P)
  • Paperback Amazon: $12.99=
  • Paperback Author-Direct: $12.99
  • **Paperback Profit: $0.00
  • *Profit will be reduced to $0.00 when second novel is released in the series. The price will drop to zero effective release week of Pieces of Perfection.

**Paperback profit is reduced to zero due to some pricing being at the B.E.P, and by the paperback giveaways that are incurred throughout the year.

How are we going to measure failures or losses?
Sales at 50% of goal—assess marketing plan, target marketing and implementation specifically

1.2 Market Segmentation Aka Selecting the Target Market

Selecting your target market means you need to consider whom you wrote your book for and what marketing strategies appeal to that particular target. You are taking a homogeneous market and dividing it up into more reasonable target areas. There are several simple ways that regular marketers concentrate on market segmentation:
Geographic Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by the areas in which your clientele live such as states, countries, regions, etc.
Demographic Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by socioeconomic factors such as age, sex, education, income, occupation, etc.
Psychographic Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by lifestyle, personalities, attitudes, values, interests, etc.
Behavioral Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by the buying behaviors that a certain group exhibits consumption, usage, desired benefits, etc.

I will use demographic, pyschographic and behavioral segmentation to obtain a select market of readers:

My demographic is New Adults in the age range of 17+. The market is mainly 17-35, but there will be others attracted. The novel is a Contemporary romance so I will be looking to attract a mostly female demographic, and as far as pyschographic, the sub-genre will attract those with a personality that has an interest in love stories, stories with love triangles and about grieving. The buying behavior of those reading New Adults seems to be e-books, so the novel should be available on as many e-book platforms as possible. I do not want to miss out on the portion of the population that still craves the smell and feel of paper–so I will also have a paperback available. The paperback will also act as a good incentive for giveaways and promotions.

This portion was exactly the same as Love Exactly.

1.3-Selecting Promotion Channels-

A. Sales Channels

E-books:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Kobo
  • Google Play

Paperbacks via Createspace:

  • Amazon
  • Bank Square Books
  • Author Direct

B. Media Promotion Channels

  • Goodreads- Reach out to NA reading groups for R2R
  • Facebook- Promote with excerpts, snippets, sales information etc.
  • Blog- Teaser Tuesdays
  • Twitter- Post quotes, talk about sales, blog reviews, etc.
    Pintrest- Post fanart and rating stats

1.4-Implement the Plan-

I did, and it failed–epically, as you can see from the above dissection. Now, the curious question is what did I do with Love Exactly that was so different? Honestly, I did less to promote the novel. I contacted less blogs, and I ran a much shorter tour–only two weeks instead of four. The first week was run by a blog host, while the second was run by me. The second week was more successful than the first, hence me taking on handling the entire tour for Flawed myself. I honestly overextended myself, and the resulting sales made me miserable. I pretty much get sick to my stomach whenever someone asks me how the new novel is doing. I don’t want to sound like a complete ass and say what I’m thinking…It ‘s a flop. It’s got great ratings, but no one is really reading it. So, you’re probably wondering what I did to address the problem, because as you know any good marketing plan has the function of assessing failures and going back and updating or changing the marketing strategy. I did that, and what happened, oh–more dismay! I ran a sale on my paperbacks and on the e-book. The e-book sale did relatively well, selling about 150 copies during 3 days. Then again, that wasn’t really all that good. What else was different? The price point of Flawed Perfection was ever so slightly more than Love Exactly at $2.99 instead of $1.99. The reason being, Amazon takes a huge chunk of my profit if I price lower than $2.99–anything below that point and I only make 35% in royalties compared to 70%. Plus, $2.99 is a very realistic price point for an e-book published by a smaller publishing house. In addition, the time of year was different. Instead of Summer the book launched in early Spring. I tried to tell myself it was the timing, but then again, there are best sellers released in Spring! Then there’s the question of genre, essentially the same as Love Exactly, but perhaps the market is now sincerely over-saturated with Contemporary Romance, but then again, there are best sellers in this category still, too! Then there’s the fact that my style doesn’t exactly fit the sexual needs of some New Adult readers, but that wasn’t any different than Love Exactly. Overall, I ended up in a vicious circle of self-recrimination, doubt, and annoyance, which ultimately resulted in the zero amount of motivation I have to continue writing the series. This isn’t to say I’ve been beat, but instead I was drawn in another direction, especially when In Between Seasons came up to the table with Show n’ot Tell. It was a good time for a break away from the frustration of Flawed Perfection, so Hunter and Kate have my full attention now. I can’t wait for the launch of In Between Seasons, again with a marketing plan–but this time with lower expectations and less time involved.
What else did this launch result in? Oh! I forgot to mention the negligence my college studies incurred because of the promotional mad-woman I became for it. I’m playing catch up, and I learned the lesson of balance. So, there you have it, it wasn’t all bad. I learned a lesson; it just wasn’t about marketing. It was about me. Even in writing, something I love with all my heart, I have a burnout point. I exceed it, and I blew up. Now, I’m trying to put back the pieces, and when I do, I’ll return to the Beautifully Flawed series and finish what I started.
For more on marketing plans, specifically the marketing plan for Love Exactly check out the following posts:

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 1): Defining Objectives

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 2): Market Segmentation

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 3): Select Promotion Channels

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 4): Implement the Plan

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One thought on “The Brutal Truth: Keeping it Real

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