Sunday, January 26, 2020

Marketing follies.

You would think a person who's been writing and publishing her own books for as long as I have woul know what she's doing by now, wouldn't you?

Sometimes that's true. And sometimes it's not.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across an ad for a five-day free course on how to make a profit from Amazon ads -- those little advertisements you sometimes see on the page of a book you're thinking about buying. I knew who the instructor was -- I'd heard him speak at a conference a few years back -- and I realized upfront that the free course would be a come-on for his paid course. But I'd also heard that doing Amazon ads was tough, and I figured it was worth five days of my time to see if I could figure out how to do them. Also, as you know, I'm in the midst of editing the fourth Elemental Keys book and I thought this would be an excellent time to advertise the first three, so the final book would get a good send-off. So I signed up, and began with ads for Rivers Run.

Making the ads wasn't hard at all. And Amazon is showing them to people. I've gotten 1,502 impressions for my books since the challenge started about two weeks ago. But only one click. And zero sales.

I posted about it in the Facebook group for the challenge, and a friend gently pointed out to me that my book cover and title weren't like any of the top-selling books in my genre. Nobody who reads romantic fantasy (which is apparently how Amazon categorizes stories with elves and magic and whatnot in them) would be intrigued enough by my cover and title to think they might, maybe, be interested in reading the book.

The good news is I'm only out the cost of that one click. The bad news is that the rest of the series has titles that are just as genre-nonspecific as Rivers Run. So the really bad, time-consuming, and potentially expensive news is that I'm going to have to change the names of all the books in the series, and get new covers for all of them, too.

I looked at the top 100 ebooks in romantic fantasy and saw way too many shirtless male torsos. I know those covers sell like crazy, but I just hate 'em. Plus I can't envision Collum with six-pack abs. Rufus, maybe, but only because he has the metabolism of a racehorse.

So I did a little more research and discovered this series would fit just as well into humorous fantasy. Think Good Omens, although not that absurd. Or The Dresden Files without the noir overtones. I looked at covers in that sub-genre and felt better. There's a distinct lack of naked male torsos. However, virtually every cover has a front-facing main character on it -- and that makes me nervous. For one thing, you never know for sure what kind of release the model signed, and that could come back to bite you later. For another, it's a chore to go through gazillions of stock photos of people smiling or frowning or looking surprised or what-have-you to find the perfect model with three (in my case, four) poses you can plan covers around.

But then I saw one book with a cover that was obviously generated by a 3D graphics program, and began to wonder. Heck, I know enough about GIMP to slap together a decent cover (genre specific or not), and I taught myself digital video editing so I could make book trailers. How much harder could 3D graphics be?

(insert uproarious laughter)

But seriously, folks: I found a freeware program with basics that aren't too terribly difficult to master. It's called Daz 3D. I've been playing around with it for the past couple of days -- I did a couple of the tutorials, which were enormously helpful -- and I think this is going to work. Here's an image I made from one of the tutorials. Not too terrible, right? I mean, it's not Raney. But for an elven warrior, it's pretty good. Plus learning a new skill is fun.

Now for the titles. I've decided "Magic" is going to be one of the words in the title of each book. Might as well hit 'em over the head with it, right?

Anyway, I'll let y'all know when the new and improved versions are ready.

These moments of bloggy 3D fun have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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