The Facebook ad drops off tomorrow, so I thought I’d share some stats with y’all. (An Amazon “Lock screen” ad starts on the 15th to the 1st of August. More on that — on the 1st of August.)

I targeted the ad to females between the ages of 25 to death (Facebook calls that last part “65+”) in Australia, UZ, USA, Canada and Greenland. I opted to spread the budget evenly across the time period. (The Amazon ad is set to spend the budget as fast as possible.)

demographicsI honestly am not that surprised that the respondents/ad clickers skew to the older age. And the click per impression increases with age.

I don’t unfortunately, get to see what the sales demographics are. Amazon doesn’t provide that information. Maybe the Amazon ads do.

If I run another Facebook ad (not yet decided), it’ll be males with the same age demo and women 55 to .. ever.

The reach dropped off after about 11 or 12 days, so I think a campaign more than 2 weeks long is a waste of time, especially if it’s targeted. The Amazon ad will run for two weeks. If it’s successful, I’ll run it again, but first runs will be limited to 14 days, maximum.

(There might be a correlation between the drop and the 4th of July — but the US was only one of the markets, albeit the largest.)

Also not surprisingly, 65% of the ads were viewed on mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc.) and 35% on desktop/laptop.

What were the sales like, you ask? I still have my day job, but the first two weeks of sales were about triple a normal fortnight sales for a single book.

Up next, Amazon.

 

 

 

07. July 2019 · Write a comment · Categories: writing · Tags:

Book number fourteen is behind me and I’m going to take the next six months or so and devout it to cracking the marketing problem.

The goal of any author is to get name recognition, eyes on the books you’ve written, hopefully sales, fame, fortune and a life of leisure. Right now I’d just be happy with the eyes.

Fortunately we live in a digital world with scads of avenues of attack.

Like all problems, we need to define what success looks like before attacking the problem. I’ve given this a bit of thought, and while the avaristic part of me wants to target sales, right now, eyes on either my Amazon/iTunes page or web page related to the book I’m flogging is a satisfactory result. Sales would/should be then driven by cover/blurb etc. which is all on me, and another variable.

Avenues of Attack

It’s a digital world. There are a number of avenues and I’m going to try as many as possible. But given the nature of all experiments, I’m going to attempt to control the variables. Ideally, I shouldn’t change more than one at a time so I can see the impact of that change.

Facebook Ads

Say what you will about the evils of the Zuckerberg Empire, Facebook’s targeted ads can be pretty effective. Targeting can be based on country, age, interests, gender and possibly a couple of other variables. You can set the budget and time frame. I’m trialling this now.

Google Ads

Tried this before, and success was limited, but I’ll have another look with different targeting variables.

Amazon Ads

Not as much targeting is possible, but the platform is THE platform people go to look for books. There are a couple of options: 1) Sponsored products, where your book appears alongside searches for similar keywords or products, and 2) Lock screen ads, with your ad appearing on Kindle lock screens.

Podcast Ads

Something new for me. There are podcasts with Patreon tiers that include ads with every podcast. They read the ad and your URL about three-quarters of the way through, do listeners don’t drop off at the end.

Twitter promotions

On the cheap end of the scale, very limited timeframe but do have an impact.

NetGalley

This is on the steep end of the $ scale, but it is going to be part of the experiment. They offer a couple of tiers of service, from a six-month title listing to a listing plus a marketing package. Investigations ongoing.

The Experiment

For the next six months I’ll be trying all of the above, staggered in time, and with varying target audiences (where possible). The goal will be to increase eyes on either Amazon/iTunes pages or the particular web page for whatever book I happen to be flogging.

In play right now:

  • Facebook ad, Females only, 25-65+ in Australia, UK, Canada, USA and Greenland. It’s running at a 1.5% click rate (77 clicks for 5900 impressions). Notably, 85% of the clicks have been women over 55 years old. If I run this again, it will be for a shorter period of time. The click rate drops off over time. It appears that some of the ads run on Instagram also. The ad runs until July 15th
  • Twitter Promotion: for $15  Mark Lee will plug your book to his 54.8K followers. (I checked with twitteraudit.com and 90% of those followers are real). It drove a lot of traffic to my Amazon page and appears to have triggered a couple of sales.
  • Podcast ad: Comedy Film Nerds feature Chris Mancini and Graham Elwood and usually a guest who talk about the latest movies, trailers and pop out movie spoiler reviews every once in a while. One of their Patreon levels offers an ad service where they’ll read the ad and your URL. I’ve just signed up — they ad will have its first run this week. I’m going to run this for a couple of months to see the effect. The URL is to the Jeremy Brookes web page, so I’ll have pretty good analytics.

Coming up:

  • Amazon Ad: July 15th to July 31st. I’ll target it as much as possible based on information I get from the Facebook ad. The first run will be a lock screen ad.
  • Google Ad: 1 Aug to 15 August. Again, as targeted as possible based on previous ad analytics
  • NetGalley: This will run for six months from 15 August. I’m going to buy the listing as well as marketing. I doubt I’ll get the money out that I put in, but it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. If nothing else is should push reviews.

At the end of September I’m going to have a look at the results and plan the next quarter. I’m going to be as transparent as possible and I’ll post updates as useful information becomes available. If there are other avenues you think might be helpful, let me know in the comments.

We recently had an exciting week of bowling in Canberra where every single one of the Rockets did themselves proud. And over the course of the week it occured to me that my daughter has learned more than how to clean up a spare when she needs to. There are valuable life lessons learned from tenpin bowling:

  1. Your first frame is not the game. A gutter ball with the first throw doesn’t mean a poor score. And a strike with the first ball doesn’t mean a good score. Never assume you know how something is going to end before it’s finished.
  2. In conjunction with the first point, the only ball that counts is the one in your hands. Not the one you just threw, not the next game and not the next tournament. Don’t get ahead of yourself. And don’t beat yourself up about what has happened in the past. Roll with it. (See what I did there?)
  3. Think before you do. Once you’ve let go of the ball, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change its path. Take the extra time to make a plan. It’s a good investment.
  4. You will meet people of all shapes, sizes and disabilities when you bowl. You’re no better or worse than any of them.
  5. Wait your turn. It’s not just tournament rules, it’s a good thing to do. And when the bowler beside you encroaches, let them. Step back and let them go. Pick your battles. There is absolutely no benefit in pushing something that doesn’t help anyone.
  6. And finally, a seven-ten split is almost impossible for even the best bowler. Pick a pin.

Happy bowling.

So…

In twenty-seven days (June 30th) I’ll be releasing book number FOURTEEN (that’s a lot of words — deleted during the editing process) and it’s called The Murder of Jeremy Brookes. It’s available now for preorder, but I’d like to get some reviews under its belt before (or immediately after) its release.

The genre is Crime-fiction, specifically of the Private Investigator variety. It’s set in a smallish town an hour south of Sydney, Australia. It comes in at about 73,000 words.

The blurb is as follows:

McGinnis Investigations has been operating a small but successful shop in Campbelltown, an hour south of Sydney, for over a decade. Business has been what you’d expect in a sort of rough town in a sort of rough country, with an ever increasing circle of rough and tumble clients spreading the word that Dan McGinnis’ team could get the job done, but only above board.

Nothing shady, nothing illegal, frequently successful and frequently just skirting the line.

But nothing could prepare Dan McGinnis for the depths he would plumb when a wealthy Sydney surgeon visits his office and asks him to investigate her husband’s murder. Her husband, Jeremy Brookes, was legal counsel for the owner of a right-wing media empire.

The police say he was killed during a mugging gone bad. She thinks it was a targeted attack.

Crossing powerful media types, the real killer and two other cases that seem to be connected drag Dan and his team into the darker side of politics, money and corruption.

If you’re willing to leave a review before June 30th (the first week of July at the absolute latest), leave a comment below. I’ll email you back, we’ll have a chat and if we come to an agreement I’ll shoot you an epub version for your reading enjoyment.

Cheerio, Tony

Right up front, nothing in this post exposes sources or methods or any other secret-squirrel shit that might get me in trouble with the Canadian Navy.

I hope.

I spent a work term at the Canadian Naval Engineering Unit in Dartmouth ,Nova Scotia. Memory is a little bit fuzzy, but I think it might have been the summer of 1980 or 1981. It was an opportunity that allowed me some small level of autonomy when it came to delivering what I was asked to deliver.

One of the many projects (and one of the most rewarding) was to deliver a level of automation to their sonar self-noise trials. There’s an interesting instructional manual on self noise, on how to identify it and mitigate for it here. Essentially, the ship’s sonar is used to identify many things external to the ship, but in order to be effective, it can’t contribute to what it’s listening to. That ideal rarely exists, so a second best is to know what noise the ship makes when nothing else is present, and then remove those signals when actively using sonar for real.

The self-noise trial, prior to my project, involved two or more days off the coast, after steaming to deep water, where various parts of the ship were activated, one at a time, then recorded on a sonar sweep. This was used as a baseline and a reference when sweeping later. It’s also used to identify noise on the ship so it can be corrected. The old way was to create a radial chart off each beam of the ship that “identified” noise sources. It was very time consuming; the collection and analysis was manual.

I wrote a program on a sort of HP computer. Remember, this was in 1980-ish, so state of the art was pretty archaic. It interfaced with an HP spectrum analyser connected to the sonar system. It was a really basic collection program (written in Basic) that logged date, time and sweep scenario (which elements of the ship were off or on) and digitally stored the sweep.

All of this sounds really boring, and up to the test phase, it was.

Then one morning I was told to bring a bag the next day — I was going to sea to prove the program.

We left the dock in the late afternoon and I was shown an upper buck to sleep in for the overnight steam. Naive me thought the trip was solely for the self-noise test. Just for me.

No.

Also on the schedule was some Bofors 57mm gun tests. If you don’t know (click the link) it’s a big fucking gun parked on the deck of the frigate. Now I realise there was absolutely no need to include me in the discussions of when and why these tests would be happening, but it would have been nice. I was asleep. Into deep REM sleep, I recall, when the first shot went off. I mentioned I was on the top buck, right? Smashed my head into the “ceiling” above the bunk. Naive me didn’t realise that more than a single shot would be required, either. When my heart rate finally dipped below three digits and I was trying to relax into some sort of hellish sleep, it went off again. Every minute for ten minutes.

Then it missed a minute. I’d adapted to the frequency by then, so the missed minute told my 20 year old brain they were finished and I could attempt sleep again.

They weren’t finished. They were on a break.

Another head smash and a dozen or more firings later and I slowly, tentatively slipped back to sleep. I got about four hours that night.

Breakfast was good, I guess. I don’t remember it, but naval food is generally awesome. Then I went with the sonar techs to the sonar room to set up. I remember being a little nervous, since this was the proof of concept, in the wild, of something I’d basically just been playing with on my desk, but there was also excitement.

Because the ship’s captain wanted to run the trial as quickly as possible, we were setting up in the sonar room while we steamed to our destination. The sonar room is at the very bow of the ship. It’s also below the waterline. We were crashing through pretty heavy seas and I was  in the part of the ship that took the brunt of the wave action. There was no horizon to use as a reference (below decks, below the water line) and the deck dropped out from under my feet with nauseating regularity.

I got seasick, the one and only time in my life. The CPO (I wish I could remember his name) got me to the head in time and I left the breakfast and probably some of the prior night’s meal in the toilet. “No wonder you didn’t feel good,” he said. “You had a stomach full of puke.”

The test was a success. I was told it reduced the trial from three days (plus steaming to and from the test location) to an afternoon. Smarter brains than mine took the digital traces and performed more detailed analysis and helped make the Canadian navy a very quiet navy.

 

The Murder of Jeremy Brookes

McGinnis Investigations has been operating a small but successful shop in Campbelltown, an hour south of Sydney, for over a decade. Business has been what you’d expect in a sort of rough town in a sort of rough country, with an ever increasing circle of rough and tumble clients spreading the word that Dan McGinnis’ team could get the job done, but only above board.

Nothing shady, nothing illegal, frequently successful and frequently just skirting the line.

But nothing could prepare Dan McGinnis for the depths he would plumb when a wealthy Sydney surgeon visits his office and asks him to investigate her husband’s murder. Her husband, Jeremy Brookes, was legal counsel for the owner of a right-wing media empire.

The police say he was killed during a mugging gone bad. She thinks it was a hit.

Crossing powerful media types, the real killer and two other cases that seem to be connected drag Dan and his team into the darker side of politics, money and corruption.

 

This is a well-written book with complicated and interesting characters…

  • – 4 star review

“The Murder of Jeremy Brookes” is available now

e-book: Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo  USD$3.99 

Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AUS ($16.99 USD /$22.37 CAN (??) / $27.49 AUD (??) ) [Excuse the bizarre non-US prices. Limited control with that.]

Businessman using laptop computer

The first chapter of your book is the onramp to the world you are creating. It needs to be broad and hinderance free, sucking your reader into the vortex that is your story.

Which is why I’m re-writing mine, and you might want to consider re-writing yours.

I don’t know about you, but when I wrote the first chapter, my level of confidence that the story would end the way I thought it would was at, on a good day, 80%. I had a rough plot outline. I knew generally how the story would unfold, what the major plot points were and how the resolution would tie back to the beginning (though, to be honest, the resolution I ended up with ties back to a different part of the beginning, and in a much more satisfactory way).

The onramp I wrote was to a literary freeway that I didn’t quite get to.

And really, by the time you’ve written 80,000 or 90,000 words, you know your characters a lot better. You’re in their skin a lot more. The subtle characteristics you’ve developed in them, the mannerisms, the verbal back and forth between characters, is smoother, snappier, better by the time you’ve reached the end of your book.

But, unless your reader is a psychopath, buyers don’t read the last chapter to decide if they are going to purchase your book. Amazon’s “Preview” doesn’t preview the last chapter. Your best chapter shouldn’t be the last one, it should be the first one (but only marginally better than all the other chapters).

So one of the final editing tasks I will do, once I’ve cleaned up the rest of the manuscript, is to completely redo Chapter One.

What do you think? Let me know below.

 

I was thinking today, while in a position that is very conducive to thought, that there are some things in life that we expect to be easy, simple and basic, and some things in life difficult, complex and hard to understand.
In the ‘easy’ category we would have walking on the beach, opening doors and making peanut butter sandwiches.In the ‘difficult’ or ‘hard to understand’ pile I’d include triple integration, calculating the thrust required for geosynchronous orbit and how they get the pizza in Pizza Pockets.

We don’t expect the easy to get more difficult, and while we may pray for it, particularly just before mid-terms, we really don’t expect the difficult to get any easier.

Which brings me to my point.

Toilet paper dispensing should sit very close to the top of the ‘easy’ list, alongside ‘sitting’ and ‘Suzy the head cheerleader’.

The physics are extremely straightforward, and the application of the physics even easier. Sure, there will be interminable debate over whether ‘over the top’ is preferable to ‘hanging down the back‘, but that’s really just silly.

(‘Over the top’. Discussion just displays your backwardness.)

Unfortunately somebody at a company I can’t name has decided to complicate it. REALLY complicate it. (I’d name the company, but the dispenser doesn’t have a name on it. Anywhere. Hiding something maybe?)

This thing, which I examined very closely while sitting and thinking in the office today, is designed to hold three rolls of paper. A Tall, rectangular metal box nailed to the wall, and locked at the top.

Yes. Locked.

At first blush, this would seem a great idea. No chance of running out at that critical, and potentially embarrassing, moment. Nightly cleaning staff (this is in the office, remember) would be tasked to make sure it never got below two rolls.

Simplicity itself, you might be thinking.

And you would be so wrong.

You see, the bottom roll, the one that the would be accessed first, has two rolls sitting on top of it. When you try to roll the bottom one, you have to also roll the ones above it. The bottom one, rolls in one direction, the middle one is rolling in the opposite direction and the one on top, reversed again.

That’s a lot of extra weight to deal with.

Pulling on the square on the bottom roll requires an infinite amount of patience. You need to pull with some degree of force – you’ve got the weight of two additional rolls to deal with – but you can’t pull TOO hard or you’ll be ripping off single panels and that’s just not acceptable.

So, in an ideal situation, it is possible if you’re careful and patient.

It’s more often than not a non-ideal situation though.

In the non-ideal scenario, the middle and top rolls are loose, their respective tails dropping down and mingling, YES, MINGLING, with the TP tail you’re trying to grab. You might manage to grab the right one, but odds are better that you’ll get either the middle or top tail and then you are up shit creek, as they say, without a, um, paddle.

It’s like some weird kind of negative feedback loop is deployed. The harder you pull on the wrong tail, the tighter the whole mess gets, and you end up tearing off a piece about the size of a fifty cent piece.

Which is why I’m still sitting here, four hours later…

Write. Now.

Today (as I write this – I have no idea when you read this) is the monthly gathering of the NBWG – Northern Beaches Writers’ Group. (Note the correct placement of that apostrophe — we’re good.) (And proper parenthetical punctuation — we’re not fooling around.)

There will, or course, be a spelling mistake in here somewhere to completely subvert my message.

The NBWG (link in sidebar) is a very diverse group of writers who gather once a month to critique fellow members’ writing. Sounds really dry, doesn’t it? It’s so much fun. Frustrating, sometimes, but fun.

Some of the best writing advice I’ve received is from critiques on my work from the fine NBWGers. And some of the best (so far, unknown-ish) writers I’ve met, of many different (really different) genres.

So, to the point of this short post: If you’re a writer (no such thing as an “aspiring” writer. If you write, you’re a writer.) and you want to get better, you need honest feedback from other people who write, and preferably people who write better than you. Embrace the criticism. It’ll make you a better writer.

And if, by chance, you’re lucky enough to be part of a writers’ group, it’s good to sandwich the critique part between a couple of good things from the piece you’re reviewing. That said, if it’s your piece being reviewed and the critique opens with how lovely the font is, you should brace yourself.

This is an advertisement for a TV show that needs no advertising.

The best half hour show on television right now isn’t Brooklyn-99, it’s one of the other shows made by the guy that made B-99.

The Good Place, the story of 4 humans who have died and their adventures in the various afterlives, All the while learning about morality. AND mortality.

There’s so much good stuff packed in each episode, it’s breathtaking. some of the best episodic writing there is.

That’s all. A clip: