About Me

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Bridgeport, Michigan, United States
In the beginning, Author Madison Johns, didn't have a clue what marketing was or even how to go about it, but she learned, and now... she wants to help you... the writers of the world whether traditionally published or indie.
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Friday, October 3, 2014

Madison's Corner

I know I have so many other writers who follow me on Facebook and what I'd like to say is never be afraid to try something new. I was totally going to give up on writing paranormal romance. I just thought I'm no good at this and it will never take off for me, but what I learned was you just never know what will sell and what won't. Seriously I didn't even promote it more than a $5 a day Facebook ad. It got picked up by a ton of sites right now. (Believe me this is great and I probably will never know where exactly). Did I mention how hard it is to find sites that will put a book with any erotic content on their website? SO basically forget about ENT (Enews Reader Today) Kindle Books & Tips, and probably just about every other site that I regularly have advertised on. Except for BookBub, and this book won't make the word count and is too new. (News flash: if your book is performing well you don't need a BookBub ad anyway). What I did decide was that at 129 pages I'd leave it at $0.99 instead of raising the price even though it's worth the $2.99. My thought pattern went like this, maybe sales will build over time and they did. I swore I'd never go back into Select, but I did it anyway for an experiment if not for any other reason, making my book available in KU. The thing is you need to do the math when it comes to places other than just Amazon, and for my paranormal books they just weren't really selling enough to justify not trying it out. My firm belief that it's genre related. I have a cozy mystery in KU and don't really have enough borrows to justify it so will be taking it back out later this month. I'll let you know how it works out in a later post.

Right now I'm trying out pre-orders to see if it's something that will work for me or not. It's only been a few days and Ghostly Hijinks (My Agnes Barton Paranormal Mystery), is not burning up the charts, but I did wind up on #1 for ghosts and haunted houses, landing on the hot new release list for that category. At this point I just don't feel like I'll be able to hold that spot since sales go up and down.

Hmm, what else am I doing marketing wise? Writing and publishing more, but I'm sure that's something most of you know already. It's not easy for me and while you might think I'm inspiring, believe me I'm just like you. I struggle to write sometimes, but I have the drive and ambition to know that to maintain, I need to continue to publish good books that people love. Does everyone like my books anymore than anyone else's? Not a chance. Sometime you get lucky. My books don't get awards nor are they ever nominated for them, but I do have some great readers and have found some wonderful Facebook groups to interact on.

I have all these readers who love my Agnes Barton cozy mystery series and even when I published a new series, Target of Death, early this year, I swear I could hear crickets on Amazon. I've been told I need more books in the series, but how do you continue to write a series that bombed that bad. It's a great book, too, but my Agnes lovers just didn't latch on to it. That's totally up to you as the writer, to make the decision that suits you best. 

If you decide to genre hop, this is what you're in for. You have to basically start all over again. Last year I published a sweet romance, Pretty and Pregnant and it bombed. Then came Redneck Romance and again, it just didn't sell, which I think has to do with the title, but it's a great story that was published by Tirgearr Publishing. I tried out paranormal romance and writing a serial and while it tanked, I was forced to continue to finish all three books in the series. The thing about serials is that no matter how it does, you're committed to finish it. Talk about some serious writers block. I found out for me, I just hate the serial format. I'm a novel girl so my next book was longer and a standalone. Somewhere along the lines I think I did something right and it's performed well and I'm writing another standalone sequel.

My advice to writers is this: write good books and the readers will come. It might not happen in the time frame you hope, but above all be you, be unique, and come up with your own plots that don't mirror someone else's. 

Smiles :)
Madison Johns

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Publishing History of a mid-list indie

Some people call me inspiring and it's not something I set out to do. I thought it might be interesting to spell out what I published and when. If you'll notice after I published Armed and Outrageous it took me nearly a year to publish my second book. What a waste of a year. I wrote my second Agnes book in August of 2012, but it took me a long time to get it to market. Somewhere in 2013 there was this writer who was constantly publishing books and I was in awe of her. It was then that I decided to up my game and start writing more books more often.

If you'll also notice I went from June all the way until November before I published another book. I didn't write for the entire summer much, and Redneck Romance was already in the mix. Amazon has different dates, but I have updated files so the dates I'm giving you is more accurate. I'll admit I had a rough personal life last summer and a day job. The day I put my first box set together was the same day my boyfriend died. I didn't give up, I then became a single mother and it drove me even harder. I quit my job in September, but my sales were starting to take off because last summer I did pay for promos. My first three Agnes books soared into the Amazon bestsellers list and stayed there. All of this was before BookBub. I'd be willing to say that Grannies, Guns & Ghosts paved my way. I didn't follow anyone's advice. I came up with my own strategy and used it. Overall I'd say that I've been extremely lucky. Things now aren't like they were, but they're better than where I was at the beginning of last summer. I struggle to write, I struggle to continue to publish books. None of this is easy for anyone. You have to love to write above all and write what inspires you the most. If it's not fun, it shows and probably won't sell.

There are two types of people, ones who talk about doing things and those that do them. If you want to become a writer know firsthand that it will suck up all of your free time in the beginning. You'll find yourself having to schedule you family time. You might find it hard to stay in a relationship. You might find it hard to sleep when your mind only wants to think about writing. It's a great sacrifice, but the greatest thing in the world is hearing from readers about how much they love your books, or it makes them forget about their troubles, or medical conditions.

How do I start you ask: Stop making excuses. Take out your computer or laptop and start typing. Work on the story that has the greatest potential, and above all ... finish them. What comes next is up to you, but believe me with that finished first draft the work has only begun.

Publishing history:
Coffin Tales Season of Death (November 30, 2011)
Armed and Outrageous (April 28, 2012)
Pretty & Pregnant (March 8, 2013)
Grannies, Guns and Ghosts (April 2013)
Senior Snoops (June 2013)
Agnes Barton Senior Sleuths box set, books 1-3 (September 2013)
Redneck Romance (Published by Tirgearr Publishing October 16, 2013)
Trouble in Tawas (November 5, 2013)
Treasure in Tawas (January 24, 2014)
Target of Death (February 28, 2014)
Pretty, Hip & Dead (April 4, 2014)
Bigfoot in Tawas (April 27, 2014)
Agnes Barton in Tawas box set (April 27, 2014)
Hidden, Clan of the Werebear serial book one, (May 13, 2014)
Discovered, Clan of the Werebear serial book two, (June 5, 2014)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Bub and Beyond

I'm so bad keeping up with writing tips and advice, but life has given me a serious kick in the teeth September 7, 2013. In the mean time I have done the one thing I've been hoping for, getting onto Book Bub.

I must first start out by telling you that Book Bub is expensive, but going ahead with my 2013 goals to invest in my books—it was not without some trepidation. I was ready to put my money where my mouth was, but even I had to scrimp and save. With limited funds available how was I able to do it you ask? For one I had a wonderful boyfriend with whom I lived so not all of my resources were needed to keep a roof over my head. I had consistently made almost enough for my car note every month and I had a low paying job. Yes, I totally went without. Unfortunately my boyfriend passed away September 7th, but by then I was doing well sales wise. September went on to be my best sales month—ever—or so to date. If only Chuck was around to see it. But all of that was before Book Bub.

When it comes to Book Bub they have a massive email list and gear toward bargain books. Their ad price depends on how much you lower the price to. For instance free is cheaper than $.99, but each price higher also costs more. At this point I had three books in my Agnes Barton series and I could afford to take the risk, or so I thought. I researched highly about how other authors did with their Book Bub ads, but I really didn't find out any useful information to determine how my books would fare. I also submitted to them four times before Armed and Outrageous was accepted. They have their editing team look over your book before they accept of reject your book. I was quite bummed in the beginning, but when I was finally accepted I felt like I had just won the lottery. They don't say you need a certain amount of reviews, but it's my personal feeling that it must be a lot. Armed and Outrageous had over 100 reviews at the time.

What did it cost me? Well, an ad price for the mystery category is $500 for an $.99 bargain book, which isn't cheap. I was really biting my nails over this one. I mean what if I couldn't make back my money? October 7th was my Book Bub ad and their email blast didn't go out until after 1 p.m. So from the get go I didn't expect many Amazon sales, and in fact, they came in at a much slower rate, but Barnes and Noble was right out the gate. Now remember, Barnes and noble is a hard place to accumulate sales on. Prior to this I hadn't sold more than 25 books a month. My ranking rose to the top at Barnes and Noble and made it to number 6 overall. Not bad for a self published author. Amazon ranks took awhile to start changing, but Armed and Outrageous made it to number 21 overall with a number one rank in the cozy mystery category. I forget if it made it to number one in humor. In the end I not only made my money back, but sold thousands and thousands of book, two thousand on Barnes and Noble alone. Not only that, but all of the books in my series also sold well. Remember now these are the books listed full price.

In November I once again had a book listed on Book Bub with similar results only that Senior Snoops made it to number 15 overall on Amazon and number three overall on Barnes and Noble. I submitted this time around thinking it wouldn't be accepted and I scrambled to come up with the money to pay for the ad.

Overall having an ad featured on Book Bub has changed my life and taken me further than I have ever dreamed possible. I must add that mystery is a one of the hugest categories on Book Bub, meaning they have more subscribers interested in mystery and thriller books. I do think my results are very genre specific and ads with another genre might not fare as well. I just want to put that out there. It's also the reason I think I have done well on Kindle Nation Daily, when many other haven't. Cozy mystery is a huge genre right now and I'm so happy I chose to write in that genre. This wasn't as planned out as many might think. I just entered the publishing arena at the right time in the genre, not that others can't get there. We all have to write what inspires us and in the genre that excites us. If not a book will never be finished. I know because I have so been there, but right now is the time to inspire you to think wisely about marketing. To date my sales on Barnes and Noble haven't been better.

I'm not a marketing genius by any means I just hope that by sharing my experience it may be helpful to you. Writing a series is a great thing to do and there is a point where you don't have to work as hard to get your books out there. I no longer post on groups on Facebook like I used to. But there are many more things I'm not doing that I should be, like blog tours. I just don't have the time and energy. I think they are a great marketing tool. I've tried a few Facebook book launch parties, but I just haven't made any real sales from it so I have abandoned doing them. There are so many other ways to give back to your readers.

My primary focus these days is on writing and publishing more books. After all, this is what my fans and readers want. Thanks to all of my readers—without you I'd be lost.

Have a great holiday season and I wish you much success in the coming year.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Marketing by Madison

It's been awhile folks and I've been busy formulating a marketing plan that I put into action June 16, 2013. Prior to that I published the follow up to Armed and Outrageous a year in the making, Grannies, Guns and Ghosts, March 2013, and in June, I did the unthinkable — I published book three of my Agnes Barton mysteries, Senior Snoops. Releasing a book in the summer is short of career suicide and believe me boy did I struggle. Whoever said people are buying books in the summer for beach reads, was dropped on their head. It's one of the all time worst times to publish a book or promote one. Or is it? Yes, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel, a light I could see because of some stellar advice from fellow writers. 

June 16, 2013 I lowered the price of Grannies, Guns and Ghosts to $.99 and it was featured as a bargain book on Enews Reader Today. What happened next baffled my mind. It sold so well that the book managed to make it to #225 on Amazon. But that's just part of it. Within days the same book was featured on Kindle Nation Daily as a bargain book. Thanks to both of those promos I was able to ride out the summer with great sales. I know many writers don't fare well with Kindle Nation Daily, but I'm telling you they helped me rise to the top and stay there. Enew Reader Today is the top dog, but they don't always feature your book, which is what happened when I tried to have my book Senior Snoops featured in September. Who knows perhaps they were sold out. Instead I went ahead and featured Senior Snoops on Kindle Nation Daily as ebook of the day September 15, 2013 and also on http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/. I believe having more than one promo at about the same time helps tremendously. On fkbooksandtips.com I didn't do the featured post, otherwise my sale might have been higher. Since both ads ran the same day I can't say how it helped me so I'll be trying them out at a different time. 

Overall my sales are great. I could go into why that happened, but what I know is that having a back list helps. Whenever I have a book at $.99 all of my other books flourish as well. September 7, 2013 I published my Agnes Barton box set which features books 1 -3, another stellar decision. So far I have sold 86 ebooks at the price of $5.99. I know many authors who charge much more for their box set, but I always want to offer my readers a deal. 

So in closing, beyond writing good books and a kick ass series. Readers love a good series', write more books, have them edited, find a great cover artist, and for God's sake publish them. September sales are the best of my writing career and I know they will only get better. At last the lightbulb went off and I know I have secured a future for myself as an independant author.

Next on the horizon for me is my upcoming book, Redneck Romance, which is being published by Tirgearr Publishing in October, but after that I plan to continue to self publish my Agnes Barton series with a paranormal romance in the works.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Down days vs the world

The average writer suffers from depression and self doubt daily. They don't think what they write is worthy of any praise. They are afraid to actually publish their book because then the world will know they have no talent and have no business writing in the first place.

Okay now that you have that out in the open, lift you head high and say — I'm worthy. My stories are worthy... my characters are worthy... my book is worthy. Fear is the biggest obstacle to most writers me included.

It's a hard thing to overcome your dark days, but once you learn to only listen to your positive inner voice, you'll be further ahead. We as writers are constantly comparing ourselves to that of other writers. It's a necessary evil sometimes, but how do you compare Hemmingway to Twain, you don't. Both are good in their own way and so are you and what you write. The challenge is setting yourself apart something I think I did, on the good days that is. On the other days I try to focus on getting my book in front of a new audience or creating something new.

J.A. Konrath says sometimes you get lucky and that's how I feel with my series starting with Armed and Outrageous. It's a unique idea but what I found out is that not everyone likes unique like you think they do. People either love your books or hate your books, it's as simple as that. Lately people are loving it, but I always know on the back burner is a scathing review waiting to be put up on Amazon or Goodreads.

Reviews — train yourself to not read them. I know, right? Sure you get all giddy about the good ones, but ignoring the bad ones is what will promise you longevity as a writer. No matter how hard your skin is and us writers try to develop lizard skin, negativity will pull us down off the mountain. I know because it happened to me at the time when my book had the best sales numbers on Amazon. If you give it away for free, you're gonna get negative reviews. Why? Because people snapped it up that don't even like your genre or like in my case, hate indie writers. While most of us are fortunate enough to have way more positive reviews, you better get ready to ignore the bad ones when they come along. 

Remember to always portray yourself in a positive manner on social networking sites no matter how bad it gets. It's there that your target audience hovers around and don't think for a minute that just because they don't comment they aren't watching. Most people are watchers and love to read what writers post. I'm by nature a positive person so it's easy for me to be positive, but even I have days where I'm so down that it would be best served for me to stay offline. 

I hope this post has been helpful to some of you and don't be discouraged, I'm in your corner cheering you on!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Group Promotion

So I imagine that by now you have amassed some level of friends on Facebook and followers on Titter, so it's now time to move into the group format. Facbook writers and reader groups are some of the best there are around. I joined tons of writers groups in the beginning, like way before I ever published a book. 


When joining any writers or readers groups, remember to read the about page. I'm guilty of not doing that important step myself. It will tell you what that group is for, writer discussions, promo and link posting, or just discussions period with no links posted. If you break the rules you'll receive a kind or not so kind comment or email. I find this to be a put off personally, but it would be my fault because I didn't read the rules to begin with, so how can I get mad, right? I find that I keep the discussion only groups to a minimum. I take part in them when I can or whenever real life let me sneak away, but for the most part I concentrate on link posting groups.

Whenever you are added to groups it makes you mad, right? I check them and if I feel they are not a place I need to be, I simply remove myself from it. No sense in getting all snarky about it. On the other hand I must say that I have been added to some pretty amazing groups! I also join author street teams such as Tonya Kapps who I happen to love. I love her positive energy. She's also very helpful on her blog. She has a real positive energy that is great to see.

Okay so you requested and were added to a new group... take the time to introduce yourself and comment on the discussions over there. That way people see you more than just a link posting robot! Like I said before, I did this before I ever published a book.

When I did publish my first novel, I utilized the link posting groups and did it twice daily. You need to be careful with this. If it's a big groups they hopefully have enough activity so that  you can do this, but if not I go by this rule I made for myself. If I can scroll all the way down the page and I don't see my link I post it, if not I wait until it disappears. That way people don't view you as a spammer. It's not spam, it's promotion people. Don't ever label yourself as a spammer.

There have been people that told me not to do what I did on groups. Most os the naysayers I had were people who think they know all about promotion, but are not authors yet. I'm not saying they are wrong or that I'm right. I just know what worked for me. 

Two words about a book that is not promoted ~ not sold!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Public vs Private

So you have amassed a huge following on Twitter and Facebook, now what?

I have contemplated the same thing that I'm planning to touch base with now. Do I take my Facebook profile public (where everyone can see my posts), or do I keep it private (where only my friends can see my profile)?

Private profiles are limiting to the readers you're hoping to attract. If you are one of those people that for some reason don't allow anyone to post anything on your page — you just hit a huge roadblock. It's perception that you need to think about it here. Whatever your reason behind it is, it's a major put off. Now I won't go into this further by telling you what I think when I run across a profile like that. When I find out it's a writer, I just groan and slap myself in the head. Also if you happen to be someone like me who has over 5,000 friends I can't even see your page! Believe me I love looking at Facebook profiles, and guess what, I buy books too. Again if you'd prefer to keep a separate profile for your family and friends do it sooner rather than later. It takes time to amass friends on Facebook.

Public profiles are where everyone can see what you post, even the drunken late night posts. No judgement here, we all do that, including me. I try to remember every time I post a picture or make a status update... will someone take offense... or misconstrue my words. As a writer, I want to be professional for the most part. We all have those moments though. I also try and be positive everyday with every post or picture. If I rattle someone's chain too much, I'll probably delete the thread. Not because I think they were right, but because it was going into a negative direction. I'm a flippin' ray of sunshine most days and I'd like to remain that way. 

Public profiles also mean that your crazy ex or former best friend could read it, unless you block them, which is what I'd recommend in that case. I have my own list of blocked friends too. I hate to do it, but sometimes I don't think people get that I'm a writer by profession.

The best part of having a public profile is that any subscriber can comment on any of your post threads. What is a subscriber you ask? It's someone not on your friends list. For me, my subscribers leave the most comments and are readers. Do I spend time talking to them, you betcha!

It's not an easy decision but one you should ponder wisely.
Happy writing~