Learn to Love the Numbers

Pardon me, my inner nerd is about to show in glorious fanfare.

I love words. I love them so much I write them down in semi-sensical fashion in the hopes that someone will pick up one of my books and read it. And by some divine intervention, they do.

But you know what else I love? Numbers.

Numbers are usually terrifying, especially for people who love words, but over the past year I’ve taught myself to embrace the suck … and embrace the numbers.

Numbers are critical for goal setting. Analytics. Understanding your performance both present and historical.

And so with that in mind … I took a deep dive into the data of past and present to better understand the impact of my efforts.

In my mind, An Unforgivable Love Story SLAYED at release back in March 2016. It got all the way up to #120 in the Amazon store and KU pages read exceeded my wildest expectations. Birthquake, however, peaked in the 200’s in the Amazon store, reached #1 in multiple categories, and showed maybe half of the KU pages read as An Unforgivable Love Story during the first month of release.

Looking at these numbers bummed me out. Where were all my KU pages? Why couldn’t I get Birthquake to perform as well, if not better than An Unforgivable Love Story? Aren’t we supposed to get better and smarter with every release? Where did I go wrong?

It took some serious internal monologues to convince myself that the book wasn’t a flop. Because guess what … IT WASN’T.

Turns out, I’ve been looking at the WRONG DATA. Or better yet … I was looking at the RIGHT DATA in the WRONG WAY.

Analytics for AuthorsI’m already starting to think about my strategy for my releases later this year, so a few weeks ago, I sat down and took a hard and honest look at my numbers from my last two book launches. But this time I specifically looked at the numbers surrounding my Kindle Unlimited Pages read for the individual title during release month and the 12 months that followed. Then I did the same with the actual sales and inevitable returns (seriously, how are readers STILL able to return books after reading this technological day and age? But I digress).

When I spliced the data this particular way, the results were quite surprising.

Sure, An Unforgivable Love Story was stronger out of the gate, but Birthquake for the long haul is KILLING IT.

Wait? What?!

The book that I had to convince myself wasn’t a dud, is actually outperforming and outpacing the book I consider my gold standard.

For the month of release, An Unforgivable Love Story had 38% more page read than Birthquake during its release. Month two? 35% more. Month three? 34% more. The sales figure ratios were essentially parallel to the pages read for comparison purposes.

And then something happened.

Month 4 post-release, Birthquake had 10% more pages read. Month 5? 78% more pages read. Month 6? 62% more.

Right now I am 7 months post-release of Birthquake. And you know what? Birthquake is doing significantly better. In March Birthquake showed 101% more pages read than An Unforgivable Love Story. And this month is already drastically outpacing Month 8 and will be another 100%+ pages read month.

So really … when you stop and take a look at long-term performance metrics, I’m actually doing quite well!

Next, I did what any numbers nerd would do … I doubled back to my marketing efforts to learn HOW things were different in my own efforts, not counting external happenings in the marketplace.

You see, I have a cadence that I follow with my ad spend and don’t run any price drop promotions until the title is at least a year old and blah blah blah.

So what were the main points of differentiation between this release and the last? Well, besides the content inside the book and one being hella angsty and the other being rom com, two things jumped out at me.

First was my use of Book+Main.

Second was my execution of targeted ads.

Do I have the nitty gritty details to show which of those two impacted my bottom line more?

Nope. And I’m not even going to try and decipher that detail because I know just how important BOTH of these touch points are to my overarching marketing strategy.

Once Book+Main Bites launched, I quickly began leveraging the tool to share highlights of my favorite scenes, drop extended excerpts, and left a tasty breadcrumb trail for potential readers to snack on and hopefully entice them to pick up my book.

And you know what? They did.

How do I know? Because new readers were messaging me and telling me that they found me on Book+Main. They loved the prologue I posted and turned around and bought the damn book. Had Book+Main existed when I was publishing An Unforgivable Love Story, I no doubt would have seen a larger impact. With that said, I have started to push my backlist more on Book+Main and I am seeing the results positive results there.

A few fast tips for using Book+Main:

  • Be consistent and try to post a few times a month, those of us who are seeing results are being steady with the efforts
  • Don’t repeat what you’re posting in other social media channels, have a unique offering on that platform and allow
  • Understand B+M is about discovery, once a reader is looking at your excerpt (called a “Bite”) they’re more likely to dive into your other Bites

Want to learn more about Book+Main? Check out this post on how to use the platform in general along with this special Fireside Chat for authors.

Strategically targeted ads have been a game changer for me. I find I’m spending less money than I have in the past, but yielding more profits. {#winning}

With An Unforgivable Love Story, my ad strategy was targeting the names of other authors in my genre and some of the book bloggers with an awesome following. I got decent results. But it wasn’t until recent months that I forced myself to learn how to create lookalike audiences and leverage pixel data and load custom audiences into Facebook that I really started to see the difference.

Once I got smart about my ads, my CPC dropped and while my audience was smaller, they were significantly more engaged. Social Proof Marketing (think volume of longtail comments, likes, shares and the impact it has on extended audience reactions) on the ads I was running skyrocketed in comparison to the ads of previous campaigns. CTRs (click through rates) increased and while I’m unable to track conversions on Amazon beyond what I see in my KDP dashboard, the ad spend was isolated and those ads were the only thing driving consumers to purchase (beyond word of mouth).

So before your next release, take the time to LEARN how to advertise. If you already know what you’re doing, learn to advertise more effectively. And learn how to target your readers appropriately. If your readers aren’t laying on a beach, why would you rent an airplane for a skybanner to target them? Terrible analogy, I know. But you want to be a specific as possible to reach the right prospective reader for your book.

Will this exact approach work for everyone? No. Probably not.

But what CAN work is looking at your KDP Dashboard Data in new ways,  finding those trends, understanding sales and readership spikes, and making changes to discover what works well for you.

The past can be very telling of your future if you just stop and really pay attention.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s