Indie Author Weekly

164: Book launch recap for Small Town Stilettos (part 2 — marketing expenses, book sales and dollars earned, and mindset struggles)

September 12, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 165
Indie Author Weekly
164: Book launch recap for Small Town Stilettos (part 2 — marketing expenses, book sales and dollars earned, and mindset struggles)
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast, we are doing PART TWO of the book launch recap for Small Town Stilettos: a modern marriage of convenience!

We discuss: 

  • Breakdown of book marketing expenses and total monetary investment.
  • Results of the book launch (actual numbers for book sales and dollars earned).
  • Mindset struggles and shifts.
  • Next steps moving forward with general book marketing.

Resources & links mentioned in this episode: 

Let’s chat about this episode:

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Hello and welcome to the indie author weekly podcast where I take you on the behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. I'm your host Sagan Morrow, and I'm an eighth time polyamorous romcom. Author at plus, I've also written several business books for solopreneurs. Today, we're doing part two of a full and very transparent launch recap for my recent publication that small town stilettos a modern marriage of convenience. In case you missed it. Small Town stilettos is a fun summertime romance novel that I published in late July of this year. It features a love triangle childfree fat positive sex positive heroine only one bed it's a closed door romance small town versus big city. All the good things. You can get full details about the novel and grab your copy at Sagan Link is in the show notes in Episode 163, here on the indie author weekly podcast. That's the last episode that we did the previous one to this one we did part one of this book launch recap, we discussed the overall marketing strategies that I used for small town stilettos, the mistakes that I made during this book launch and what I would do differently for my next book launch, so go back and tune into that episode if you haven't already. Now let's dive into this episode. Part. Two of the small town stilettos launch recap. In this episode, we're going to get into a breakdown of the numbers, the business investments that I made so the different expenses that went into writing and publishing the marketing this book as well as the actual number of book sales and the dollar amounts. That I made from the book launch. We are also going to talk about mindset, the the thoughts that were going through my head the emotions that I was experiencing, it's real this book launch, as well as next steps moving forward from here. What kind of my general book marketing plans are for the future? All of that kind of thing.
So here is the investment that I made for the small town stilettos book launch. This is a breakdown of my business expenses. This is all in Canadian dollars as well. So with the book cover, I spent $71 on the design for the ebook cover, and then an extra $37 to turn that ebook design into a full paperback wrap around. It is so beautiful, so beautiful. If you have not seen this book cover design, you definitely need to check it out. Visit visit my you know Instagram or Twitter my handle is at Sagan lives. You can see I think I have some recent posts about it. I will post on my Instagram stories, some lovely pictures of the book cover and otherwise visit Sagan so that you can check it out because it is very beautiful. I'm still happy with it. So that was the first thing that I did that I sort of spent that money on was 70 to one $71 For the e book design cover, and then $37 For the paperback cover I also invested in a couple of book review sites. So this is where you know in the past what I have done is I have researched book reviewers book bloggers bookstore grammars and I have found them on my own. I have emailed them and inquired if they would like to review my book like in exchange for a free copy and that that is wonderful. It is so beautiful. I absolutely love the relationships that you can build by doing that and the connections that you can make with these amazing reviewers. But it takes a really, really long amount of time to do that research and to reach out to them and doing doing all the follow up and all that type of thing. So the book review sites are an opportunity where you simply plug in the information about your book, and then any book reviewers who are already on that website can sign up to to get a free copy of your book and review it so it works out really well. It's a huge time saver. So I spent $39 For books sirens, which is one book review site. And then I also got a year long subscription to booksprout which is another book review site. And that was $139.
I also invested in a Goodreads giveaway that was $163. So that is where my book was listed as a giveaway and I was giving away 100 copies to people and that got you know really good results. I think there was over 2000 people who had signed up for that for that giveaway. And then the last thing that I did was a fussy librarian promo for $25 I have had some really great experiences with fussy librarian in the past I find that $25 is very reasonable and fussy librarian once you do the promo once you sign up with them, you get to choose the date that they will be promoting your book to their email list. You get to ensure that your book is going out to people who have subscribed to a specific list within your genre and all of that type of thing. So it's it's I would say a good option and I think that I've had better results with fussy librarian promos as opposed to other similar sort of websites that do that type of thing where they will do like an email blast to their email subscribers. And I feel like fussy librarian is definitely one of the more inexpensive, more budget friendly versions of those types of sites and some of them can be quite expensive. So the total monetary investment overall was $474. Canadian as a quick sidebar here because you might have noticed that all of this, all of this is marketing. And so you might be wondering, Sagan, why have you not hired an editor? That's a great question. And I want to I want to just dive into that briefly here because I do all of my own editing. And this is definitely a do as I say not as I do type of thing. We can all benefit from hiring editors, I would strongly recommend that every author hires an editor. And the reason why I have not hired an editor yet for my books, is simply because the book publishing experience can can get quite pricey, right? This I think was one of my lower amounts that I've spent on a book and it was almost $500 Canadian for these different you know, Book Marketing types of things. Editors can can be quite pricey, and rightfully so because their service is so so important and so valuable. And the thing is, you know, I have a background in writing and editing. I do not have a background in design work or marketing. So this is one of those things where it's really important to know what your strengths and weaknesses are. And to follow that if you have a limited budget, then really looking at what are my actual strengths and what are my weaknesses, regardless of the fact that I have a background in editing. I will still be hiring an editor at some point because we all miss things especially you know, with our own work especially. It's really difficult to catch a lot of things and I know that my books my writing my storytelling can be so much stronger when I do hire an editor. I'm just not at that point quite yet. So I will 100% be hiring an editor at some point. I also want to be hiring a writing coach at some point.
But again, this is about identifying your own strengths and weaknesses. I happen to be quite good at proofreading my own work, I don't think I've I don't think I've ever had any book reviewer say anything about you know, the editing of my books. So that is helpful. You know, I'm certainly not perfect at it. And again, I could absolutely use an editor but because I have this skill set I wanted to make sure that I was using my money in a way that it made sense to to navigate this and to accommodate for my strengths and my weaknesses. So just because that's my skill set and where my strengths and weaknesses lie doesn't mean that that's going to be what yours are. So what you will choose to invest in depends on your own skills depends on your budget, amount, all of those different types of things. Okay, so that was a complete sidebar, but a very important one. Now the total amount of hours that I spent on marketing, because I think that this is also like an important piece to kind of consider when we're looking at the dollar amounts invested. What about the time investment I spent about 15 hours of marketing on marketing. Now that was really more of the more things like you know, submitting to the book review sites and setting up the Goodreads giveaway, all of those types of things. That doesn't include a bunch of social media posts. So I anticipate it was probably closer to about maybe 25 hours in total for marketing if we factor in social media posts. And that's not too bad. That's not too bad. Because again, this was this was over the course of you know, a number of weeks leading up to the book launch.
So that was the investment What about the results? Well, my original sales goal sales goal for the small town stilettos book launch was to have 66 book sales and to have an income of approximately $165 The total sales that I made for the first full month right so the end of July until the end of August and this includes pre orders before the launch. The total sales was 10 book sales plus 622 pages read on Kindle Unlimited, so that works out to about an extra three books. The total dollars earned after that first full month so basically the end of July until the end of August, which included the pre orders again was $11.66 in ebook royalties, $3.30 in Kindle Unlimited royalties, and $3.43 in an e book purchase made directly from me. So that was $18.39 earned in total. So the income minus those expenses means that the monetary results here was minus $455.61.
Now to be perfectly honest with you because that's what this podcast is all about. I'm very very transparent about all the things on the book launch week itself this was extremely demoralizing it you know when I saw the the numbers that were coming in, it made me not want to do any promotions around the novel. I just felt so, so demoralized.
A few people were asking me when the book would be available on Kobo, so they were reaching out about that because I did decide to do an experiment this time where I've limited the book to only be available on Kindle Unlimited, and I only got the paperback available. I think that was just a couple of weeks ago. So that could be why the sales were, what they were even with all of that marketing. It could be that a lot of people have been buying from Kindle from Kobo and that kind of thing in the past. And what I haven't done is actually compare this to look at what different book sites people have public have purchased from in the past with previous book launches. So that would be a really interesting thing to kind of compare that.
I've also had several people tell me that they have ordered the paperback but that just hasn't shown up on my on my book reporting dashboard yet. And again, I didn't even have the paperback available until the end of August or it might have actually been the beginning of September. It was very recent at any rate. Now book sales in general, is just is such a struggle for me. It's one of those things that I have not cracked the code on. I just struggle with it. And so that book launch week at the end of July, it was rough, I felt completely at a loss for what to do about it. And so what I did is I you know, I gave myself some distance and since then I have, you know, reinvigorated myself. I have come up with a lot of potential ideas for what I can continue to do. And I've you know, definitely definitely had a boost since then. But that book launch week was not great from an emotional mindset sort of perspective.
And I want to mention here that book sales struggle might be because of the unusual niche that I have chosen of polyamory you simply do not find polyamorous romantic comedies out in the world they I don't I don't know if anyone else is doing this. There must be there must be someone else doing this. I can't possibly be the only person who's who's writing these. There's so many so many books out in the world. There must be other people who are writing polyamorous romantic comedies, but it is a very unusual niche. And some of the less than positive reviews of the novel did mention that they did not like the polyamory aspect, and they didn't realize that the novel was polyamorous which I guess you know, I didn't quite clarify completely in the originally when I wrote that book description. But that also wouldn't have effect. I assume that I wouldn't have affected things too much because I didn't highlight the polyamorous aspect of the novel that just might have contributed to receiving lower ratings on this novel.
Now, when I was looking at all of these numbers, you know, like I said with my original plan, I really I was still not expecting to make a profit. I have never made a profit off of my books. Up until this point. At some point, I would love to make a profit. But at this point, I wasn't I wasn't even expecting to. But the numbers were just far, far lower than I was hoping that they would be. And one of the things that I was kind of struggling with one of the one of the things that was coming up for me when I was going through this book launch week and just feeling so dejected, so demoralized is that I didn't really know what to do about any of this. And I've talked previously here on the indie author, weekly podcast about how I have hired people or bought ads in the past and how the results have just been disappointing. I just I never seem to get the results that are promised. And and you know, it's one of those things where I start to wonder I'm like, Is this is this me? Like why is this apparently working great for other people, but it's not working well for me. And so as much as I would love to get someone's expertise to help me in future book launches.
At the same time, I just feel very jaded about whether anyone can actually help me. I have literally had marketing experts tell me, you know, we weren't able to sell your book for you. And we don't know why. Someone actually an expert actually told me that when I'd hired them several books ago for one of my book launches. And it's interesting to me because I know that it's not that the stories themselves are bad. You know, I know that I know that my my stories. My characters my writing are not objectively bad, I do get good reviews, I have very positive feedback and from people who do not know me who would have no reason to you know, lie about it or anything like that. So I know that that is not the problem. Of course, we can always improve on our writing and storytelling and plot development and character development and all those types of things. But I know that that is not the reason why my books are not selling and why I'm struggling with them.
And so it's just it's so interesting to me and it makes it very difficult to be willing to spend the money and invest on help. When I know that this has been such a struggle in the past and I haven't gotten the good results that I'm you know quote unquote supposed to get with their programs.
And you know, another sidebar here. I feel like one of the reasons why I personally put so much effort into supporting my clients and in the people who are taking my online courses, right. I do life coaching and solopreneur coaching and I teach people about anti hustle productivity. You know, when I'm not writing novels, that's what I do. That is my day job. That is that is what I do for a living is I teach about anti hustle productivity and time management and energy management. I do lots of one on one coaching on life coaching and solopreneur coaching. And I simply do not accept this attitude of a coach saying sorry, I don't know what I don't know why this isn't working. I can't help you. I don't accept that. I feel like it is my responsibility as the coach to get way beyond that. So if I have entered into a contract with a client or with an ecourse student, where they have hired me to help them with a problem, and I have said yes, I will I will help you with this problem. If they are struggling with it. I'm not just going to tell them sorry. I don't know why my usual things that work well for everyone else aren't working for you. Like no, I would never. I would never want my clients to feel the way that I have felt when I have hired people to help me and then they just told me that they can't help me you know, we hire experts for a reason. When I have hired people to help me with my books, I want them to help me when I've hired marketing experts. I want it to work. And so it's demoralizing when they just sort of shrug and say we don't know what to tell you. We don't know. We don't know why it's not working. It worked for other people. I never want my clients to feel that way. It's a very disempowering feeling that no one should feel that way. So I just I, I don't buy that whole sort of concept of we weren't able to sell your book. We don't know why. There's always reasons for it. I am determined to personally like on a personal level as an author, I'm determined to figure out at some point, what my issues are and why I can't seem to sell my books because I know that there must be a solution. There must be and I will also say that if people are getting to that point, if there are experts out there who you are purchasing from and they have these amazing testimonials and amazing results. And then you hire them and they tell you, sorry, we can't help you. We don't know what's why it's not working, then that probably indicates that they are cherry picking their testimonials and that they're just kind of going with the cream of the crop rather than actually looking at what are the typical results. So it's always a good idea, I will say to request, what typical results look like and what they are going to do if it doesn't work. I have definitely learned my lesson in this particular type of instance.
So there we go. Those are the the book investments that I made the book sales and how demoralized I truly did feel after after that first book launch week. So where do we really go from here? Right where do I go from here? I definitely let myself feel sorry for myself. That first week of the book launch because, you know, as a coach, I feel like it is very important to feel our feelings. We don't want to ruminate on our feelings and get get stuck or trapped in them. But we also don't want to pretend that they are not what they are. So I do think it's very important to allow yourself to feel your feelings and acknowledge them and respect them and honor them because your feelings are valid and they they are worthy of being felt. So I let myself feel sorry for myself, and then I moved on which was good. One of the things that I was also really proud of myself for with this particular launch is that I did not let any less than positive reviews get me down. It was actually you know, it was kind of funny I didn't take any you know, quote unquote, quote unquote negative reviews to heart I did not take them to heart at all. My suppose even commented on that one morning I woke up and I checked Goodreads and I just kind of laughed and I was like, Oh, this is a funny review. I have to read this out loud to you. It was like a two star review or score three, I think was a two star review. And I found that I find that the critiques really bounce off me from an emotional standpoint. They don't have much of an effect on me. The only reason why I like reading all of the book reviews that I get is because they helped me know what people do or do not like about my books. So that helps me to then improve my writing, improve my storytelling, improve my marketing, right based on the majority of the comments that I receive reviews are for readers, but I like reading them I like to sort of check them out because if I can see that a lot of people are saying that they don't like this particular aspect or they really love this particular aspect that helps me know what I'm doing well and what I'm what I can work on. So I find it really useful in that sense.
And by the way, there were also you know, talking about negative reviews here, but there were also tons and tons of positive reviews. Some people love the book. You know some people really enjoyed the book. Others didn't and that's to be expected. One of my favorite things is actually the scene how one reviewer specifically was like, Oh, I love this conversation that the main character had about her views on on having children. And another reviewer was like, I really enjoyed the book except for this one conversation where the main character was talking about her views on having children. And I loved that so much like I think that it's so telling that that your story made people feel something and that that is what we want, regardless of what what people are getting from it. The fact that they're taking the time to review to to post their thoughts we're you know, again regardless of what those thoughts and feelings might be, that is so powerful. That's absolutely wonderful. So yeah, I did not have any, any mindset stuff about the types of reviews that I was getting my mindset. My mindset was very solid around that my mindset is very solid around critiques where I can take critiques. And use that as information rather than internalizing it emotionally. Where I did have mindset stuff around was my book in general. So I definitely had mindset stuff where I was worrying about did I do an adequate job of this thing? Is my writing any good? Did I flush out this character enough where that relationship should have enough those types of internal things? And that would have happened regardless of the types of reviews that I was getting? If I had received 100 positive reviews or 100 negative reviews, and they were all like, you know 105 star reviews and there were no no stars that were any less than that or if I'd received only one and two star reviews and 100 of them this mindset stuff would have come up regardless because it was not at all about what people were saying about the book. It was completely my my stuff, right my own internalized mindset sort of stuff about the book. So I definitely had to do some some self coaching and some mindset work around my novel and, you know, work through those kinds of concerns around Did I do a good enough job is my writing any good is my storytelling any good? So that is where some mindset stuff came into play for sure.
What I found really interesting as well is when you know at the end of August when I got the paperback together, I ordered a small stack of them to come to my house and I found it interesting. When I received these paperbacks in the mail recently, I found it interesting. I was flipping through the pages. And I was like, whew, this is a really good story like this. The writing is good. It's funny that storytelling is good. I really enjoyed it. I found that it was so good. And so that really goes to show how much is our state of mind. It's our mindset that affects our perspective on these things. Because on the book launch week itself, I was having all kinds of doubts about the quality of my story, the quality of my writing, you know, again, not because I was internalizing any of the reviews, but because I was I was making the number of sales mean something for sure. Because I was simply going through my own mindset stuff, regardless of you know, what reviewers were saying all that type of thing. I was having all these doubts about the quality of my writing the quality of my stories. And now you know, once I got the paperback and I was looking at it, over a month later, I was like, Oh, this book is great. I wasn't doubting the writing or the storytelling or any of that at all. The book itself has not changed. The book is exactly the same as it was a month or two ago. The only thing that's changed is my mindset. And as a result, I feel much more comfortable and confident talking about the book and promoting it and sharing you know, little videos of me like flipping through the pages of the paperback so that people can see scenes and that type of thing. Back in the book launch week, when I was having all of these doubts. I didn't want to show people the different, you know, scenes snippets. I didn't want to show people the dialogue or anything like that because I had so many doubts about it. So it's really holding me back from visibility and marketing.
This by the way, is what I love about mindset work and why it can be so so powerful. It truly affects the actions that we take. This is something that I do with my my coaching clients. I really help them work through a lot of these types of things so that if you are having these different self doubts these mindset things that are completely internal that that are not related to external things really at all. That's not related to the reality of how good is the book objectively, it's completely an internal thing where your mind is sort of flip flopping all over the place. This is the type of thing that we can work on in coaching sessions. So if you would like help with this to work through your own mindset stuff, to experience some really transformative shifts, so that again, you can make changes at that internal level that will affect the actions that you take. Then let's book a coaching session. So you can do that at Sagan. The link is in the show notes.
I shared in part one of this book launch recap about what I would do differently for future book launches. And I'll just share a few more quick things that I would also do differently in the future for book marketing as a whole general book marketing. So number one, there is a local author group here in Kamloops where I live and so I'm going to join that soon. I also want to connect with local booksellers. That's something I want to explore. I feel like that's going to be a higher energy investment on my part. So I'm going to need to do some mindset work in that kind of thing around that. But I think it'd be really great if I can get my paperbacks on local shelves. That is something that I do want to prioritize. I'm guessing that that's something I'll do next year, because again, I think that that's going to be that's going to require a little bit more for me and I have have a few other things that I want to do first. So that is something that I will be doing. And with the local author group, they sell books at the at the farmers market. So once I get in with them, then I would be also selling my book at the farmers market, all of those types of things. So really focusing on selling physical copies of my book locally, of my books through.
The second thing that I will want to do differently with future book marketing in general, is to really dive deep into how Tik Tok works. I've mentioned previously here on the indie author weekly podcast about how my tick tock videos are extremely simple. And I see so many other indie authors having really amazing success with tick tock so I think we all need to prioritize learning how to do all of the fancy things with tick tock hop on the trends, all of that kind of stuff. I'm again going to need to do some mindset work to psych myself up for that and I will need to set aside a larger chunk of time and energy to wrap my head around it. And I will note here as well like a little bit of a sidebar when I'm doing mindset work because I do not have a coach right now. I haven't been able to. I've been a bit picky about it. I haven't been able to find a coach that is exactly what I need right now. So I'm doing all of my own self coaching and my own you know, mindset sort of work. It is it is challenging to do it for yourself. When I am doing it with you, you are going to be able to make much faster progress. And be able to implement things very, very quickly. Because I'm outside of you and I have that objective. Look at what is going on. Just like with editing, right, just like I was talking about with editing earlier, we can be really good at a particular skill, but you're going to have your own blind spots and gaps when you're trying to do something for yourself. So that's where it's also really handy. To have someone else to help you work through it. That was another sidebar.
Okay, the third things I will be doing for general book marketing is I really liked the idea of books, subscription boxes, I've looked into them in the past. They often have restrictions around how you know books can't be part of a series or they need to be a specific workout and many of my past books have been novellas rather than full length novels. So I would like to join a book subscription box at some point.
If I managed to write a genuine standalone book, so small tensile letters was supposed to be a standalone novel but the idea for the sequel came about as I was writing it and I suspect that's going to happen a lot for me in the future because that's how my brain works. I get one idea and then that's that snowballs and more and more ideas come about. So if I managed to write a genuine standalone book, then that would be really great to be able to do books, subscription boxes.
And lastly, I truly truly believe that the most important thing that I can do with book marketing in general and especially for future book launches, is to do lots of mindset work in advance and during the launches, to really focus on the enjoyment of the book itself and the fulfillment and satisfaction. I get from the act of writing and storytelling and sharing it with the world. Rather than placing any expectations at all on book sales and earnings. I think that'll make a really big difference to ensure that there isn't isn't any disempowerment when the launch itself is happening. I've gotten really good at this with my coaching business and my E courses where I have a very neutral approach to all of my marketing and my sales. I'm simply not emotionally affected by it. I'm delighted when I make sales, but I don't tie my personal worth and value of my offerings to those sales. So now I need to apply that same sort of thinking to my books, right? I've gotten really good at that with my coaching business with the courses that I sell. And now I need to to apply that exact same thing that I've been doing that I do with my coaching business to my books, so that is definitely an area that I will be working on.
Okay, there you go. So that completes our recap with the small town stilettos book launch. Again, if you did not listen to the part one of this book launch recap then I would definitely recommend going back into the into it because it has some really good stuff about the overall marketing that I did and the mistakes that I made and what I would do differently in the future specifically for book launches, not just from book marketing in general. So go into it into that episode, if you haven't already here on the indie author weekly podcast.
Now, if you would like to learn more about small town stilettos a modern marriage of convenience, you can grab your copy today at Sagan Happy reading. I hope that you enjoy the novel. I think that you will have a lot of fun with it.
If you have any other questions about this topic about the book, launch, recap anything like that, or if you have any other topics that you would like me to address here on the MDR weekly podcast. I would love to hear about it. I want these episodes as always to be interesting and valuable for you. So tell me what you want to know what you would love to hear me do an episode on. You can submit your topic ideas at Sagan or you can always email me hello at Sagan That my friend is a wrap for today's episode of indie author weekly access the show notes for this episode including all links at Sagan and share your thoughts on this episode on Twitter or Instagram. My handle is at Sagan lives. Please take two minutes to rate and review indie author weekly on Apple podcasts. Thank you so much for tuning in. And I will see you next week for another episode of indie author weekly