My “Visibility Experiment”

Every day since I began writing toward publication, I’ve sat down to my computer, rubbed my palms together in preparation, and stated the affirmation, “I am an excellent writer. I am a bestselling author.” That was six years ago when I was a decent writer with a lot to learn, and the idea of being a bestselling author seemed miles away. But I’m a firm believer in the power of affirmations. When I hit the Kindle top 100 list yesterday, I thought, Holy cow! I did it!

After a moment of grinning like a loon and jumping up and down, I came back to reality and looked at what that really meant and analyzed how it happened overnight.

As I mentioned last week, one of the key ingredients to achieving my goals is to create visibility. I spend a lot of time on Indie Romance Ink, a yahoo group where indie authors share ideas and information about all things indie. I also follow WG2E (Writer’s Guide to E-publishing) blog site where numbers are reported, analyzed and manipulated on a daily basis through creating a solid backlist of products and precise placement of advertising. D.D. Scott wrote an excellent blog on the importance of creating visibility and talked about bestseller lists and what they mean. View her blog here.

 I’ve been hearing for months about review sites, promotional opportunities, and what has worked for others. The candid communication and exchange of information on WG2E, IRI, WANA Minions and YARWA has been incredible–thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. So I decided to take what I’ve learned and do my own Visibility Experiment.

 Two of the promotional opportunities that are frequently mentioned are Pixel Of Ink and Kindle Nation Daily. Both are paid advertisements, but have reportedly garnered excellent results for many authors. When I finally decided to pay for the Pixel Of Ink spotlight ($119 for a one day ad), I knew I was taking a leap of faith. I had lowered the price of Heaven Is For Heroes to .99 cents and figured that I would have to sell 340 books to recoup the cost of the ad. I had no epectation that this might actually happen, but I was hopeful. I was also taking into account the long term effects of this kind of visibility and how the added exposure would fit into my overall marketing plan for the next month during my release of ON THIN ICE. I decided the cost was worth it, even if I didn’t make back my cash investment right away.

When the ad went live at 2:00 Sunday afternoon and stayed up through 2:00 on Cyber Monday, I was blown away by my results. I didn’t sell enough in one day to pay for my ad, but I did sell 170 e-books in twenty-four hours, which propelled me to #68 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance > Contemporary. Technically, being in the top 100 on any list puts me in the bestseller category, but THE top 100 in the Kindle paid store is a bit tougher to achieve. I would need to sell about 300 books in a day to get there, and staying there is the real trick. After the Pixel Of Ink ad came down today, sales went back to just above their normal trickle and my overall ranking in the Kindle paid store rapidly dropped from #638 to #1,219—still nothing to sneeze at in the bigger pool of 750,000 e-books. Was a day on the best seller list worth the $119 investment? You bet! Heaven Is For Heroes was viewed by about 80, 000 readers. That kind of visibility is bound to create momentum for my next book. I’ll be saving my pennies for a Kindle Nation Daily ad (about $199) in the near future and I’m not stopping there. I have a blog tour scheduled, (My first appearance is today at where you can meet my main character, Penny from On Thin Ice). Beginning December 4th, I’ll be participating in a Blog Hop with several other authors, and I’m part of a Book Lovers Buffet .99 e-book blowout–all scheduled for December.

To further create visibility, I’m taking yet another page from Jennifer Fusco, Market Or Die guru, and working with other authors to cross promote. Starting this Friday, I’ll be giving up my personal blog through my Blogger site and joining four awesome indie YA authors at We go live December 1st. I’m excited for the opportunity to blog every Friday about Healthy Teen Tips, while my new grog partners cover topics like music and movies, dating, love, school, and all things YA. Cool, huh? I’m hoping to reach out to my target audience and really start using my knowledge about health and fitness to make a difference in the lives of teens. No worries, I’ll still be here every Tuesday passing along writing and publishing secrets to all of you wonderful Scribes followers.

Everything is slowly falling into place and I owe so many thanks for help along the way, I wouldn’t know where to begin, but one thing I do know, is that setting goals is the first step to any good marketing plan and that believing in yourself is an essential ingredient in achieving your dreams. Here’s to getting on and staying on the Kindle Top 100 list.

Sharing your goals can help you by holding you accountable. It can also help others by motivating them and giving them ideas. As December knocks on your door, have you set any goals for the first quarter of 2012? Any ideas about increasing your visibility?


43 thoughts on “My “Visibility Experiment””

  1. What a ride! I’m glad you are sharing your journey with us. I’m learning a lot. My goal is to polish off my lastest and start the querying process for real.

    1. You go, Jamie!

      Polish away and make sure when you send out those queries that you make a list of your top ten best choices for agents and editors and then start at the bottom of that list. You’ll want to get feedback from a few, make necessary changes to your query letter to make it shine, and then send it out to those top dog choices. Give yourself a deadline. Polish mss. by ____. Send out first round of queries by_____. Then tell your critique partners your plan so they can hound…er…support you in your goals. Best of luck!

  2. PJ – you are an inspiration! Honestly, I’ve been so focused on getting my second novel out the door (The Peacock Tale releases today look for it on Smashwords and Createspace) that I haven’t done as much marketing work and planning as I should have. I have learned that I need an improved production schedule, though, which I’ll be working on today for my next book. Keep blazing new trails for me to follow! 🙂

  3. Thanks, J.

    Production schedules are so tough! There are too many variables beyond our control. I’m waiting for my proof copy of On Thin Ice. It should be here today. Then I have about a week to go through it, make any last changes, format the darn thing and get it up and live before the 15th. Scheduling is a nailbiter for sure. As you know, you have to put it up on B&N at least five days ahead of schedule to make sure it goes live on the day you want it to. There seem to be way too many moving parts to the puzzle, but you’re on the right track focusing on creating the best product you can.

    Congrats on the release!

  4. PJ, I’m so impressed with your “leap of faith”. I always have to talk myself into taking chances and worry about it. You’ve come up with a fabulous plan and you’re executing it beautifully–so of course you are achieving your goals. Wonderful and inspirational! I watch you and learn.
    Stephanie Queen

  5. You are so sweet, Stephanie, thanks. Taking calculated risks is easier now that I’m older and more secure in life–and hopefully wiser. I used to be a bit impulsive…ahem…dare I say foolish. I’ve learned to look, study, prepare and have a plan B, before I leap these days. It helps that I’m not dependent upon the success or failure of my experiment. I keep reminding myself that it will be some time before I give up my day job and do this full time. Thankfully, I love my day job:-)

  6. Wonderful blog, PJ. Loved reading about your visibility experiment. It’s hard word to get there (Top 100) and harder still to stick around. But this is what we signed on for and I can tell you love a challenge. 🙂 I think it’s smart to be planning further paid promotions and the blog tour. Good luck!

    1. Thank you Norah. I’m still working on scheduling more blog tour appearances. Expanding your sphere of influence (as Jennifer Fusco puts it) is essential in growing your audience. It’s tough to find the balance of what is enough promotion and what is too much. I think moving on to bigger paid sites is the only way to reach the masses, so I’ll keep working towards that. And you’re right. I do love a challenge. I think it’s a prerequisite to being a writer.

  7. Congratulations! These numbers are great. Even after they fell back. Those are nothing to sneeze at. You have worked hard for your success and a model for us all.

    I put HIFH up on Barbara Vey’s Publisher’s Weekly blog (Beyond Her Book) yesterday. Hope that helps!

    1. You are awesome, Katy Lee! Thanks.
      “Every step in the right direction gets you where you want to go.” I’m sure someone said that before me, but it’s my new mantra:-)

  8. Paula, awesome blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve printed all of them down to use as a model when my book If I Fail is released in September of 2012. I can’t wait for On Thin Ice. I loved Heaven is for Heros. Good luck for your continued success. Marian

    1. Thank you so much Marian! You are smart to plan ahead and start gathering intel. Keep it all in a three ring binder-labeled “promotional ideas and tips” so you can keep adding as you go. One thing I wish i’d done from the beginning is keep more organized files. I’m notorious for having a million notebooks and not knowing what’s in them!

  9. Great job, Paula! This is information we all need. And good luck with the new grog! Can’t wait to see it. I think it’s a fabulous idea.

    1. Thanks Casey and Suze. It all is truly an experiment. Happy to share the results. I’ve learned so much from other people willing to share their experiences. It’s great to be able to pay it forward.

  10. Great post, PJ, and I’m glad you got such good results from your experiment! I have ways I’d like to increase my visibility for 2012, but most of them cost more than I’m comfortable spending. It’s a work in progress for me.

    1. I hear you, Jo. That old addage, “you have to spend money to make money” only works if you have the money to spend, LOL. There are plenty of free opportunities to promote. I’ve found quite a few through the Indie Romance Ink group. Your Blog Hop is also a wonderful and fun way to cross-promote with other authors. I can’t wait to get started on that this Sunday. I’m setting up my site today. Thank you for setting that up and including me.

  11. Excellent posting, PJ, what a ride! Thank you for the insight – it’s enough to make my head spin – and good luck on getting that Kindle status! I do not have an e-reader but as soon as I finish editing hell, I’m excited to delve into “Heaven is for Heroes” 🙂 Best!!

  12. My head’s spinning too, Jen!

    Thanks for joining us today. I always love to hear from you. I’ve noticed we writiers like to think of every part of this crazy business as some sort of hell. Editing hell is right up there with the Deadline Dungeon, the Promotion Pit, the Query-go-round, and the first draft doubt monster, I wonder what would happen if we reframed those things to make them more positive experiences. Editing and revision should be called the “polishing phase”, deadlines should be renamed “Time to hand over that sparkling finished product,” and promotion could be called the “shouting it from the rooftops cuz you love it so much” part of the job. See how that works?

    Enjoy Jordie and Alex’s story!

  13. PJ, maybe I’m math challenged, but how is that you figured you would need to sell 340 books to recoup the $119 investment in the ad? You sold 170 books that day, which means, if the book is priced at .99, that you made a profit of $51.00 on that one day. I understand that that’s a lower profit per book than you are used to, but it’s still a profit. And if you’re continuing to sell at a higher daily rate than you were before, you will come out ahead, not to mention you’re building your readership for your next book.

      1. Thanks, Linda. I’m actually having more fun with it all now that I can see some benefits of all the hard work. Marketing and promoting are not the funnest parts of this job for me, but I’ve learned with most things in life, if I get good at something I don’t like to do, at least it will be easier.

    1. On a .99 cent e-book, I only make 35% or about .35 cents per book. You’ve got to sell a LOT of books to make money at that royalty rate, but the plan is to create momentum for the next book as you said. The higher up in Amazon rankings and the closer I am to the top 100, the more books will sell and the more visibility i have with those shoppers who typically buy from the Kindle Top 100 list. I still sold more books today than I had been selling before the ad, so my plan is working. We’ll see how that momentum grows over the next month or so.

      1. Right, right! I knew there was something I was missing — the amount you pocket does does not equal cover price. [slapping forehead!] What can I say? It’s been a very long day 🙂 I still think your ad was a good investment and I’m really happy for you!

  14. Superfab congrats, PJ!!!

    U Go, Girl!!!

    And thanks bunches for The WG2E shout-out!!! We luuuvvv sharin’ the Indie Epub Journey in WG2E-Land!!!

    Y’all are welcome there anytime!!!

    As for my 2012 Goals and Production Schedule…here’s the scoop:

    For me, it’s all about treatin’ readers to great books for great prices…and lots of ’em too!

    I luuuvvv to make people LOL, and I luuuvvv payin’ it forward as a writer helping other writers reach readers.

    Every single thing I do must meet those goals…and that’s how I know I’m right on track!!!

    Cheers to Y’all!!!

    And thanks again for the superfab sweet shout-out, PJ!!! U rock!!!

    1. Welcome, D.D. And thanks for stopping by. I love your philosophy and it seems to be working for you. I have learned so much from WG2E and all of the amazing bloggers who help you out every day. You’ve acquired quite a crew! I’m especially grateful to you for introducing me to the awesome editing talents of Matt Rush, The Edit Dude. He did a great job for me with ON THIN ICE. Im also looking forward to writing a spooky short story for your October Anthology. See you on the flipside, sister!

  15. Very motivational, especially as my second e-novel is being released (12/2). I’m always searching for new marketing ideas. It all comes down to payin’ it forward (as Dee Dee is a big believer in too). Authors helping authors!

    1. U betchya, Jamie…what you said right here, Girlfriend:

      Authors helping Authors

      That’s what it’s all about!!!

      Nothin’ beats that kinda superfab Synergy!!!

      1. I couldn’t agree more, D.D. You are an excellent example of how success flows in a circle. Give and ye shall recieve…

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