Magic & Mayhem – Big Post

So, this is a bit of a weird post, I’ll admit. I got invited to participate in a boxed set with twenty other authors. I’m making a post about it!

Title: Magic and Mayhem

Number of Novels: 21

Price: $0.99

Release: August 2, 2016

Synopsis: Get ready to be swept off into lands filled with magic, mystery, action, adventure and romance with these 21 full-length fantasy novels! 22 NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling authors have banded together to bring you this amazing boxed set, but like all good things, it’s only available for a limited time! Grab this collection today before it’s gone for good!

Amazon Barnes & NobleKobo iTunes

 


 

What makes this boxed set so special?

You might be asking yourself what makes this boxed set so special, and I’m more than happy to tell you. See, there’s nothing like this out there. Usually when you go looking for collections of books, one of two things happens, you either find the same novels you’ve seen everywhere else, most of which you can get for free, or you find a collection chock full of books filled with half-naked alphas and domineering vampires.

Now, both of those things are cool, but that’s not what this collection entails. No, the guys and girls in these novels are way more likely to punch a vampire in the face than make out with one. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being saved, but sometimes a girl has got to take things into her own hands, like you know, a stake.

You will also find that each novel in this set is actually for sale on one or more vendors for far more than the sticker price of this set. This isn’t a set filled with freebies designed to entice you into purchasing something you could find for free. No, this collection of over one million words retails for over fifty dollars, and it’s all your for a buck. If that isn’t a steal, I don’t know what is.

Some of the books within the set have sold thousands of copies by themselves, and almost all of them enjoy several four and five star reviews. Chances are you’ll find at least one of your new favorite series within, and likely more, all for only a buck. That’s a deal that’s hard to beat.

So who wouldn’t like this set?

There’s always someone who doesn’t like something, and if you’re on the fence about this set, I’ll try to warn you off right now.

  • If you don’t like kick ass men and women who stake vampires, pummel werewolves, and shoot zombies all while maintaining their snarky senses of humor, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like books who will bring you into a world full of fantasy, magic, and mayhem, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like books with hundreds of four and five star reviews, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like paying $0.99 for 21 full-length novels, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you are expecting hot, steamy romance full of bare-chested werewolves getting it on, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t want to read books that will pull you in and not let you go until you’ve read all their sequels, this boxed set isn’t for you.

Trust me, with 21 novels from twenty-two New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors, you’re getting more than enough bang for your buck. Just don’t start this set late at night if you value your sleep, because I guarantee you’ll be up WAY past your bedtime! This incredible boxed set is only going to be around at $0.99 for a limited time, so make sure you grab your copy today!

Cursed 2 is out!

I just wanted to let everyone know Marked is finally out. You can pick up a copy on Amazon if you’re so inclined.

Marked

Pierce Ambrose. That was the name of the man I’d been sent to kill. The man I’d failed to kill. I have one day left to make good on my contract before the thugs holding my sister and her son start sending me pieces of them.

Pierce Ambrose. A man with a secret I didn’t uncover until it was too late to turn back, too late to give up on trying to kill him.

Now, if I want to see my sister and nephew again, I have to try one last time.

My name is Mac Brennan, and this time, I’m playing for keeps.   

Wardbreaker is out!

So Wardbreaker, the Lillim Callina prequel is out. You can get a copy here. I’m told it’s awesome, especially the part where she leaps from a burning helicopter, force grabs the fleeing, parachuting pilot, and slingshots into a building. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

In other news, I just got Mind Games back from the editor last night. It’s still got two more rounds of edits to go (line editing and proofreading) before release at the end of the month, but hey, skin of my teeth and all that.

Anyway, my editor says it’s one of my best efforts yet and that my first chapter is close to perfect. So, I’m impressed with myself. I hope you enjoy it.

I’m only about 5k words into the third Thes Mercer book, but I’m going to try my damndest to have it written in time for a November release. It’ll be tight, but hey, what’s that whole thing about opportunity looking like work? One day, opportunity will look like margaritas on the beach…

Marketing and Growth

I’ve been studying marketing for the last few weeks. You know, trying to figure out a way to increase the sale of my books. This isn’t to say I’m upset with my current sales. I’m ecstatic anyone wants to buy my books. In fact, I just hit 700 books sold on Amazon yesterday. Not too shabby when you consider I have no idea what I’m doing.

But I thought to myself, “hey self, you know what would be awesome? Selling MORE books.” Thus I began studying book marketing. Saying this makes it seem like I did no research beforehand, but that isn’t the case. I had a lot of the general principles correct, but I was sort of failing at the details, which if you know me at all, seems about right…

Thus, I began what I like to call a three pronged approach to jumpstarting my book marketing knowledge.

I started out by picking up a book called Launch by Jeff Walker. For those of you who do not know, he’s one of the pioneers of email marketing. He does sell a premium video course or something for a bazillion dollars, but I have no inclination to pay for something like that… yet.

Anyway, the book basically details email strategies to use for marketing a product, and honestly, it’s really good.

Following that, I picked up Nick Stephenson’s two books, Reader Magnets and Supercharge. Both were pretty good and provided me more specific information regarding keywords and the like.

I also signed up for Mark Dawson’s free online facebook video course and Nick Stephenson’s free 10k reader course mostly because they were both free and highly recommended by other authors who were selling way better than me. There is a lot of valuable information for book marketing in those two videos, and I’d encourage you to spend the couple hours (total) watching them if you want to sell books. Unless you’re awesome and caught lightning in a bottle. If you are, I want to be you.

You know what’s nuts? After reading Launch, I can actually see the specific moves used in both of those video courses to pivot into selling their premium courses. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just interesting.

My third prong was to sign up for a bunch of other author’s newsletters, just to see what they were doing. I picked about six or seven and watched. It was interesting because they were mostly all doing the same thing.

So what did I do? I copied them… And I had my best month ever last month. To put this in perspective, let me show some numbers.

In February 2015, I had my second “major promotion” for Kill it With Magic to coincide with the release of the third Lillim book, Fairy Tale. It was, by far, my best month for a while because I moved 163 copies of my books on Amazon.

In April 2015, I ran my third major promotion of Kill it with Magic, because I set the book to free. I also ran free promotions on Hatter and Alone in the Dark. I also ran a major promotion for May Contain Spies. This led to a month where I moved 129 copies on Amazon. I moved another 30 or so on all other vendors. (Kobo, B&N, Apple, Google)

In May 2015, I put all my books back in Amazon select. I made a post about it. I ran no promotions this month. All I did was email my reader list like how Jeff Walker suggested I do it in Launch instead of the way I had been doing it. You know what? I moved 194 copies that month… with no promotions. And on top of that because there were no promotions, I moved books at full price. I wound up making over $300 that month on just Amazon.

Considering my best month before that was about $150, I’d say it was pretty freaking awesome. I remember talking to my wife and saying,”I might break $200 this month.” Then, just a few days later, saying, “Actually, I may break $300!”

Now, I know I’m not moving the copies like some of the people you hear about in the news, nor am I making enough money to do very much with, but wow, it felt pretty good to release a book to more than crickets.

I think one of the major differences was I began actively trying to build my email list in April using Mark Dawson’s method. I went from around 10 names (most of whom were my family members, I love you guys) to about 50 names in April. Right now, I have a hundred names on it. I knew everyone said the list was powerful, but it’s hard for it to be powerful when there’s no one on it.

I can’t even imagine what would happen if I got a thousand names on it, which at this rate, will happen in around January. Maybe sooner since growth seems to follow some kind of exponential curve I’m unable to calculate exactly. It seems to grow by about 20-30% per month per book… but there’s a lot of extraneous data I need to figure out still.

Still, all of this makes me really excited for the Under Wraps release.

Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t been marketing at the expense of writing books. I have 9 titles out now and two more on preorder. I’ll get another probably 8 out before the end of the year. It’s been a lot of work thus far and mostly depressing at that. It’s especially frustrating to spend every afternoon, weekend, and morning writing books only a handful of people are buying. (Which yes, is still amazingly better than no one buying them, though I know what that feels like too. I’ll take low sales to no sales any day of the week.)

This month, I’ve been focusing on optimizing my books keywords and sales page on Amazon using Nick Stephenson’s methods.

I’ll leave you with my data since I started in September 2014.

 

Month Year Total books (-free-promo) Total books (+promo) Release
Sep 2014 24 Kill it with Magic
Oct 2014 10
Nov 2014 5
Dec 2014 12 63
Jan 2015 28 Hatter is Mad, Alone in the Dark
Feb 2015 39 163 Fairy Tale
Mar 2015 52 Pursuit, Lillim 1-3 set
April 2015 71 129 May Contain Spies
May 2015 194 Caleb 1, Hardboiled

 

Select

First thing is first, Under Wraps is now available for preorder.

So since the beginning of April, pretty much all of my books have been available everywhere. It was an experiment that I don’t think is viable for me.

Let me see if I can explain this in a way that makes sense. I am going to pull everything from the non-Amazon sites.

My sales at the other places are not exactly negligible. I sold all of 7 copies at B&N, 0 at google, 3 at Apple, and 14 at Kobo. All of them combined were about 15% of my sales, which while not bad, isn’t exactly great. (I sold 130 copies at Amazon.)

It takes me a lot of additional time to add books and do stupid maintenance on the other sites. Time I could spend on writing.

Even worse, because I’m wide, I can’t get borrows. Would I have gotten 30 borrows across all my books? Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable. Since it’s essentially free once you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

The non-Amazon sites are also much harder for me to market toward. There’s not really good advertising for anywhere but Amazon. I can also use affiliate links for Amazon books and make a commission. This is likely *why* it is easier to market on Amazon because advertisers use them too.

I looked at my genre, and you know what? Almost all the books in my genre that are doing *really* well are in kindle unlimited.

It made me think of something. How many people are ignoring my books on the biggest online retailer because they have a Kindle Unlimited account? How much more likely is someone with a Kindle Unlimited account to *try out* a new author. I’d say a lot higher.

I crunched some numbers and found I had a really high borrow rate from book to book before I pulled all my books. I do not have as high of a sell through rate.

Most people tend to get 3-4 times the amount of borrows they do sales. I’ve seen the data on this. I get like 3 sales a day. If I got even 5 borrows (in addition) that’d be equivalent to 8 sales a day in the charts, which would increase my visibility and thereby get me more sales.

I’d originally pulled everything to try and go wide because I was playing the long game. But let’s be real. Amazon is 60+% of the ebook market (if not more). Succeeding there is *worth* more than anywhere else. And I’m new. I’ve been at this for only 7 months. *shrug*

Also, I sort of write for a younger audience. If you were a 15-25 y/o in my target audience would you be likely to have a kindle unlimited account? Maybe…

Anyway, this is all a highly technical and boring post to basically say I’m going to try throwing the whole series in Amazon Select for another term or two and see how it goes.

 

Pure Pwnage

Does anyone remember Pure Pwnage? I loved that show. I especially liked when they were making fun of homestar runner and answering email. Haha

Anyway, I was thinking about that show and about uber micro. That’d be like a pretty sweet book. Like you had a hero who’s gamer skills translated into real powers, and she, um, had to play video games to like win at life. That could be a thing, right?

Only, that was too complicated and too ripped off. But the matrix was cool. That was basically a video game.

So what if someone wrote a book about a girl who was stuck in a game, knowing it was a game, and she had to win the game, from within? It’s a pretty easy premise, right?

Person enters contest.

Person fights odds

Person wins contest.

Everything else is just fluff. Like the part where she rides a dragon with a flaming sword. Or the part where the bad guy throws a building at her. Or maybe she finds love? That could happen, right? What if there was sabotage and people started, you know, dying during the game?

I dunno. I’m making this up as I go along, but I did write this:

Elsa Hope plays video games, like a lot, but this high school senior never expected to make it into the World in Ruin finals. The premise is simple. Find all eight treasures scattered throughout the world before the maelstrom’s forces devour everything in sight. The only catch? You can’t log off, you can’t go home, and you can’t die.

You can’t say that doesn’t sound a little interesting. I mean you can, but you’d be lying. Look for Gamer Girl: World of Ruin sometime in the next few months. You know, after I write Abby Banks 2 and Under Wraps. I have outlines, and I’m 8 days ahead of schedule.

Also, as of today, Hardboiled is officially with the beta reader. Side note, I got new covers for Hatter is Mad and Kill it with Magic. Now, I love my original covers, but there was fast coming a point where the first two books just did not match. So, I spoke with Shawn and he agreed. It was time for new covers.

I also hit my six month anniversary of publishing Kill It With Magic so I decided to make the book free. You can get it at virtually every retailer. FOR FREE. Don’t like Amazon? It’s at Barnes and Noble. Hate the nook? Try kobo? Or are you related to Steve Jobs and his ghost haunts you if you glance at a non-apple product? iTunes has you covered. Even Google has it. Tra la la.

Under Wraps

Firstly, Kill It With Magic is on sale for $.99. Why? To celebrate the release of Fairy Tale on Wednesday!

Abby Banks is with the beta reader now, and I’m really hoping she likes it. It’s my first foray into non-supernatural hijinks. You’d think after writing 4 other books I’d stop being nervous sending things to the beta reader… but no, I’m always nervous.

And what does someone do when they finish a book? They start working on the next one. (After listening to 13 audio book chapters for typos.)

There I was, minding my own business working on the outline for Lillim 5, Hard Boiled, when partway through comes along an idea for a spin-off.

See, I had this idea that I could contain all my books in the same world because why the hell not? So the outline for Lillim 5 was supposed to help me tie in a separate series, Revelations. I was working on the two outlines in concert because revelations 1-3 will take place during the same time period as Lillim 5-6.

Still, there was this scene I outlined for Hard Boiled with a mummy girl named Aziza (Ziza for short) and the more I thought about it, the more it appeared like it would necessitate a lot of Lillim 5 to work out satisfactorily. That doesn’t work for a character who is supposed to be in 2 chapters.

And, because I’m lame, I started outlining this new idea more thoroughly. Now… I have an outline for a whole other trilogy. I’ve tentatively titled them: Under Wraps, All Wrapped Up, and Unwrapped. Because, well, it’s about mummies… well a mummy.

I just need more time in the day to write. Then I could fill Amazon with a zillion horrible books about vampires, werewolves, and mummies.

Spying The End

I wanted to make this post before it got too far away. I finished Abby Banks on Friday! Woo. Now I just need to finish my edit and send it to the beta reader. She’s supposed to get it tomorrow… gulp.

I also listened to the first 2 chapters of the audio book looking for errors, which is pretty neat. I have like 9 available and they’re like 15 minutes each so you do the math…

It’s really fun to listen to them though.

Finally, I’m supposed to get Fairy Tale back tomorrow, and I’ll have to hustle to get it edited and formatted so its release can coincide with the promotions for Kill it With Magic on Feb 16-20.

May Contain Spies

I’ve been relatively busy the last few days with stuff. I think I may have come up with a title for Abby Banks. Originally I was going to go with something like Broken Out or Seized… but you know what the problem is with those titles? They aren’t me.

That’s when I came up with May Contain Spies, and I’m reasonably pleased with it. I had tossed around the idea of The Accidental Spy but, apparently, that’s a Jackie Chan movie. Who knew?

The book needs to go to the beta reader in exactly one week, and the cover artist is, I assume, hard at work! Look for the book in April.

I’m also scheduling a $.99 promotion for Kill It with Magic on 2/16-2/21, and I’m excited because I was able to get some pretty heavy hitters to list my promotion.

Those dates, interestingly enough, coincide with the approximate release of Fairy Tale.

Finally, I listened to the first fifteen minutes of the audio version of Kill it with Magic. It’s partway through production now, and you should expect to see it in March. That will be approximately when Pursuit releases.

Then you can listen to Lillim Callina in all her, um, glory? I don’t know.

Now I just need to finish Abby Banks. It’s been three chapters from done for over a week now. I keep writing chapters, and the book keeps getting longer. I’m at the part where Stephen is slowly being lowered into a tank filled with sharks, so how much longer could it possibly be? (Wouldn’t you like to know if I’m joking?)

Also, Sheena is a punk rocker.

Lessons Learned

I submitted Hatter is Mad to Amazon a few hours ago, so the ebook should be live tomorrow morning. It usually takes about 12 hours. I got it back from the formatter last night, and I probably should have submitted it then, but well, I was lazy. Unprofessional, I know.

The print version will come about a week later.

So, what have I learned from my second book? Be professional.

Murphy was in full swing with this one, and I guess I’m a Type A personality when it comes to my books because I just found myself getting angrier and angrier. This, honestly, didn’t really do anything to help.

To negate this, I’ve decided to throw some money at the problem and see if it goes away.

See, I had two wonderful critique partners for Hatter is Mad, but I can’t expect them to keep up with my pace, at least at the moment. One of them finished the book in July. The other… didn’t finish. She only got 2/3 of the way by Nov. 20, which is when it had to go to the editor. While I got it to him at 11:30 PM on the 20th, that wound up being the 21st since he is in the Philippines.

Realistically, I should have had it to him in August. Because he got it in November and got sick, and really busy, I got Hatter back on Jan 4th instead of Dec 14th when all my promotions for Kill it with Magic were scheduled.  To make matters worse, my formatter closed for new orders from Dec 13th to Jan 1st. It wound up not being an issue because I got the MS back so late, but it was incredibly frustrating.

When I did get the MS back, it was well edited, but had I gotten it to him earlier it wouldn’t have been an issue if he was a little late.

In the future, I am going to go with professional readers. Yeah, that’s a thing. I mean I won’t balk if someone wants to do this for free, but for Fairy Tale, Pursuit, and Shattered I went through Frostbite Publishing. I got the books back a week later with comments and surveys on every chapter. It was extremely helpful.

This allowed me to give Fairy Tale to the editor a week early. Which is stupid since the book was done a while ago, and I was just trying to find a beta reader. If I’d used the professionals earlier, he’d have had the book back in October or whenever it was I finished it.

My friend Shawn made a wonderful cover for Hatter. It was free. I like free. However, it made me feel like a jackass whenever I bugged him for the cover.

For Fairy Tale, Pursuit, and Shattered, I decided to go with a professional cover artist (two different ones) because Shawn didn’t feel like he had time. I’m fairly pleased with the results. Mostly it was because I got the cover back like a week after I ordered it, and I didn’t feel like a jerk bugging them for it.

Honestly, this post just feels like bitching to me, but it really isn’t. I’m not upset, really. I just need to treat this as a professional thing if I’m going to self-impose deadlines on myself. Otherwise it goes from being a fun hobby to a source of stress, and I have enough of those.

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