Thoughts on a Sales Spike

Apples by msr from FlickrOn October 7th a new ad went live for one week for Probability Angels. I would link to the blog where the ad went live, but I can’t find it. It seems to have been taken down. I’ve emailed the owner and am trying to figure that out.

At any rate, on Sunday the 7th the ad went live and when I checked sales on that Monday there was an impressive spike in my numbers. I should add here that this ad was solely for the Kindle version and the resulting sales have only shown up for that version so far.

So that’s my first bit of information. An ad directly caused a sales spike. I have yet to have this happen in any meaningful way, especially for an ad that was comparatively inexpensive. This is a pretty large bit of information considering the number of different ads I’ve attempted with flat sales as a result. It’s proof of concept for what, up till now, has only been a theoretical idea. An ad saying (basically) “Here is Probability Angels, here are some review quotes, click here to buy it,” resulted in just that.

The ad was a banner ad and I was charged for a week. I was not charged per click or for impression, as is done by many ad campaigns. No matter how many views or clicks I got, the ad stayed up and my original fee was all I paid. So that’s too, was, different.

Now it gets…annoying. Since the sales spike my numbers have flattened out again. This is to be expected. The question is, what are they flattening out into?

As I mentioned, the spike was pretty large. I was one of the Kindle’s top 250 authors in Horror that week. A somewhat hyper-specific title, but for someone who has existed in the ether for awhile as far as titles go, a very welcome one.

But was this spike large enough to impact sales after the ad was taken down?

I don’t know yet. Which, as I said, is annoying. But initial numbers make me want to say, yes. I have had almost as many sales since the spike flattened as I did during the spike itself. In other words, sales have flattened off, but not to their pre-spike levels. They’ve flattened off at a higher level. Instead of X number of sales a day, I have Y number of sales a day, and Y is decently larger than X.

This concept is oddly missing from so many blogs and marketing articles I read. It’s there in some, but not to the degree I’d expect.

This concept being: the spike isn’t what’s important; it’s where you return to post-spike.

Odds are, and certainly for the kind of campaign I am running for my work as a whole, I won’t have a constant stream of ads being shown. I have to pick and choose and so far, for paid ads, I have seen zero results.

Now, though, there’s this spike. Great. But if, after the spike, after the ad comes down, my sales return to exactly where they used to be, did I really accomplish anything?

I would argue no. Granted, with only a week or so having passed, I can’t really make that call. It takes people time to read a book and then, possibly, tell a friend or review it or pass it on or do any of the things that would foster a real growth in audience.

But let’s say a month passes and my sales are exactly what they were pre-spike. I’d say that wasn’t a spike, it was a fluke. And that does nothing for me.

And yet I see so many people chasing spikes instead of studying the baseline numbers. Spikes are nice and they’re important to chase but…

Apple fruit by Doug88888 from FlickrI mean, pretend you’re lost in the wilderness and you’re looking for apples. I don’t know why you need apples, not important, you just really have to get some apples. That’s your goal. So, naturally, you start looking for apple trees. I mean they’re easier to see, obviously, and they’re a great sign that apples might be around. And then you spot some apple trees. And you rejoice. And then you do nothing else.

The apple trees are spikes but the apples are really what’s important. You can’t swap out your goals like that, but a lot of people start to mix the two up. You have to then verify that they are indeed apple trees. You have to see if they’re poisoned…or something. And that they’re fruiting or…look I’m not a freaking apple farmer. The point is that the search for apple trees, the search for spikes, is only a temporary goal. You still have to find those apples. And a spike doesn’t mean you’ve widened your audience.

Savvy?

So that’s where my head’s been. Ludicrously high after the numbers came in during the ad campaign, and then every day after has been a sea of anxiety and overthinking things and queasily awaiting the next day’s numbers so I can try to verify if I have apples, or if I only found a dead apple tree.

It’s kind of annoying.

Sometimes I don’t think I really have the personality for this marketing thing…

Now, is anyone else have a weird craving for apples?

New York Comic Con and Me

So last weekend was the New York Comic Convention. And as I’ve mentioned I decided to attend this year. I brought my camera and this probably makes more sense if I just talk you through some photos…all classy like.

We begin our journey with the beautiful walk up to the Jacob Javits Center here in Manhattan.

Jesus. This is a freaking embarrassment. I’m sorry, all convention goers, who have had to trek out to this place to see their friends and colleagues. I mean come on, New York.

I’m not saying a city shouldn’t have local color and everything.

I’m just saying that maybe this isn’t what we, as a city, want leading up to our convention center.

No? Yes?

I dunno whatever.

So then it was inside the Javits Center to wait online!

Here is room for more lines:

This line was to be the first ones onto the showroom floor Thursday afternoon. I could have showed up an hour later and just walked in with minimal lines. I recommend doing that.

This guy had a New York Furies shirt on. Which is awesome. That’s one of the gangs from The Warriors.

Frankly, the whole convention was awesome. There’s fun stuff and people having a blast everywhere.

There were great t-shirts.

These stickers were cool. I don’t even know what half of them are but I suddenly wished I had a place to put stickers.

There are crowds, too. Here’s the entrance hall Friday afternoon.

Obviously a large number of people were kicking costumes. This was great but also annoying because I’m SO not used to photographing people directly. I usually take candid shots, including people without them knowing it, or I take pictures of my nieces and nephews. I wish I had more practice calling out to adult humans and telling them I wanted their picture. That’s not something I really had the hang of.

Still, I got a few pics.

Ghostbusters were everywhere…with Bane in this instance for some reason.

Here’s some Minecraft humor.

This is all in the vendor hall. I mentioned loving some of the t-shirts earlier. Some t-shirts, though, seemed…out of place?

And some booths seemed out of place. Like the ones that sold weapons. Maybe this is normal. I have no idea.

Here’s Artist Alley.

I took this on my way out on the first day, thinking that I’d have plenty of time to swing by. But I never did. Oh, the folly of youth. Time flew and I kept getting swept up in other stuff and I never got to check this out.

The entrance hall was a big hangout and, because of the open space, seemed to be one of the better spots to show off one’s costume.

This pic was fun…because even superheroes need shoe shines.

Here’s someone’s back that was standing near the shoeshine stand.

Great get up.

It took me awhile to figure out the layout of the Javits Center in relation to the convention. Downstairs, where I had waited in line, transformed into a whole other thing later on, part of which was a Quidditch field.

That seemed a bit much even for me. But they were having fun, so, whatever.

On Sunday the place was packed and they stopped letting people in for a bit so a crowd built up outside. That was not so awesome.

They had the Winnebago from The Walking Dead there…

And they had a fake Dale to sit look-out…

And actors wandering around dressed as zombies…at least I think they were actors…

But that line still sucked.

And here’s the inside during a peak moment:

So. Yeah. Crowds.

But all in all? All in all It was WAAAY more fun than I expected and I’ll be recruiting people to go again next year. My feet were killing me by Sunday; I don’t think I needed a four day pass. But one or two days, yes.

As for marketing and networking? I dunno. The environment is really more like being at an amusement park than anything else. Everyone is in their groups and is very set on getting to see the stuff they want to see, so it’s hard to strike up a conversation.

I think the panels are a better place for that, as are the various side parties in the city that surround the convention. I think next year I’d try to track down more of those.

But I did meet up with a few people and definitely got my ticket’s worth and, as I said a few weeks ago, there has to be a first convention at some point where I start to figure all of this out so it’s best to get that out of the way so I can get to my second convention.

Oh and this was there too:

See you next year!

New York Comic Con

supersonic xray cosplay eyes by shapeshift from FlickrNew York Comic Con starts tomorrow, and I am going.

That’s about all I got. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to be doing there. I don’t know what other people do there. I haven’t actually double checked where “there” is.

But I’m going!

With business cards. And my camera. And my eyes. And my charming personality. And I’ve signed up for some other thing on Saturday but I don’t remember what because it was a month ago.

I’m absurdly nervous. This is a big unknown for me. I’ve never been to a convention, as weird as that is to say, and I’ve certainly never approached such a thing with the concept of networking in mind. I’m not really a “networking” person. I’m a “hang out in the back of the room” person.

But I’m going!

I should probably figure out when. And, again, where. And what I do for food and stuff. Probably should give some thought to shoes, I imagine I’ll be standing a lot. Or not. I have no idea. Maybe it’s like a Disney Land ride and there are moving sidewalks that take you through the history of comics?

I dunno.

But I’m going.

Next week I should have more to report.

On Villains

Villains by Kaptain Kobold from FlickrI’ve been giving an absurd amount of thought to villains recently, going so far as to research the origins of the word. Apparently it stems from a French word that applied to the farmers and workers under a vassal lord…or something close to that structure. Because these lower class people were perceived as dirty criminals the word eventually morphed to mean criminals themselves.

I have no villain chosen yet for this third book. I can’t decide if that matters or not. The fact that it is the third book of a trilogy makes me worry. And ponder. And think.

Ideally, as a trilogy, the major characters should carry over throughout the work. And that means that Hector should be the villain. And yet that doesn’t sit right with me. I can see him as the antagonist, sure. But an antagonist is not necessarily a villain. Or the “bad guy.”

Which is to say that I really really really doubt that Hector and Epp will ever see eye-to-eye, but I also view Hector as an utter shell of what he once was. I don’t think he wields the power, or more importantly the followers, to really cause much of a ruckus anymore.

And in the third book of a trilogy, a ruckus is needed. Something should enter the story to threaten everything. Things should be utterly shaken up and turned on their heads. Whatever peace has been won should be pinned to the ground with a knife at its throat. I mean, it’s the third book after all.

The thing is I already sort of did that in the second book. All of that. Hector as a bad guy but not the biggest danger, a new character rising as a threat, all hell almost breaking loose.

So I feel like my thoughts on what a third book should be sort of set me up to repeat the second book. And I have no urge to lovingly bring along a new character from nobody to a villain.

See the problem here? I’m utterly divided. I mean it’s ridiculous. I want a proper bad guy and yet I don’t.

I want everything threatened and yet that seems repetitive.

Plus how much harder can my heroes get hit than they were in book two? I try not to write spoilers here, but those of you who are caught up…I mean think about it. Their safest havens were attacked, their greatest heroes were broken, their best leaders were steering them awry.

Which leaves me…what for book three? They all get really bad tummy aches?

Ugh.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have any ideas for villains. But nothing is jumping out at me as the exact right choice.

And so I continue to write and explore. The stuff I do have is really fucking cool.

I just wish I knew how it fit together a little better.

Which is why I want my villain solidified so badly. Because my gut is telling me that the character who will fit it all together, is the one that will appear to tear it all apart.