Figured we’d do something different and discuss a series that is just beginning to grow and which is not in my usual categories. Specifically, we’re talking about my Power, Masks & Capes universe. For those that don’t know, this is a pure superhero series, and instead of novels or novellas, they are novelletes (around 10k per work).
Now, the Power, Masks & Capes (PMC) series is an interesting case study for me. The reason for that is because it’s a new series outside of my usual genres and in a size that is entirely different from the variety of work I normally put out. The market for novelletes then is smaller and potentially lower. Marketing Strategy for it is different, which is what I’ll mention here.
Now, obviously, there are a few decosions I’ve made for this series that might not be the ‘best’ ones. Firstly, I’m writing the series as novelletes. This is mostly because of the conceit of the series being superhero interviews and news articles. On a purely production side, it also allows me to sneak in the work every few months without it impacting my other major series.
I have chosen to create audiobooks with all this work, mostly because, again, they are so short. It does mean they cost a bit more and the actual ROI on this is dodgy (or, frankly, in the negative); at least for the next few years. Remember, you don’t get to choose much in terms of pricing (especially with ACX) and payment wide (for many) is based on hours listened. So I often earn around $0.3-0.50 per listen. Sometimes a little more if people buy direct, but it’s not much more. I need a LOT of listeners to break even on audio. But, remember, I am playing the long game and a few hundred dollars lost now but a $10 return every other month for the next 10 years works for me.
I am NOT however creating paperbacks. 10k makes a tiny flyer and doesn’t work with PoD. I WILL however bundle everything once I get about 60k worth of work (so 6 stories) and make an anthology, which will give me a chance to make a paperback.
And that’s the other product decision – making this into a series is definitely happening, but it’ll take a while and there’s no plan on rushing it. The biggest thing I do focus upon in the product side for PMC is cost. I keep cost (overall) low so that I can turn a positive ROI as fast as possible.
Firstly, pricing for me is dead simple. $2.99. This is the lowest price I can make it and get 70% returns. Could I make it cheaper at $0.99? Sure. But then I get $0.35 per book read. Considering cost of creating the work, it makes 0 sense for me to do so. I would literally have to get 6 times the sales (roughly) to make up for the difference in royalty rates.
I do not go into KU for the same reason. KU page reads are miniscule and even worse than the $0.35 per book royalty rate. I would need around 20 times the KU reads to make up for the amount lost.
In this case, I’m NOT looking externally for what competitors are doing but internally at what I consider fair pricing for myself.
Also, at $2.99, I now have the option of doing things like promo pricing downwards at times to drive quick promotions.
As for audiobooks, I’m fixing pricing at the $3.99 that Audible chooses for such work and spreading it across all my other audiobook platforms.
This, again, is relatively simple for the ebooks. Since I’m not doing KU, I might as well go as wide as possible. Ditto with Audible since the vast, vast majority of individuals buying my work are going to buy direct instead of spending a credit, and at $4 per book, the difference is at best $0.60 in lost royalty rates (15% of $4).
Obviously, I could earn a little more that way, but it’s not worth the amount of mental energy and time to me to stay exclusive and yank it out after 3 months.
Ah, promotions. Currently, the plan is to do 0 promotion in terms of Facebook or other paid newsletters. With only 2 book released, there is no point to such promotion. You would struggle hugely to make your money back and since I have other, larger series to promote, my marketing budget is better off dedicated in that direction.
I AM using AMS ads. With AMS, with careful targeting, it is possible to make some money back. It requires a bit of finagling, but we’re hoping to get a few customers this way for very low cost. We shall see how it works out. If it doesn’t, we’ll kill the ads (mostly category ads) and wait until we release more books.
Once we do, we’ll switch over to the tried and proven newsletter promo ads systems to improve our sales.
Social media is a small part of what we do with this, though we aren’t tapping into it as greatly as we could. Again, compared to the rest of our series, this just doesn’t make sense.
PMC as a series is currently playing in the growth (star) stage, bordering on becoming a dog. It doesn’t make me a lot of money, but the goal is for it to turn positive in terms of ROI within the next… year or so. Maybe sooner.
This is a low cost series, much like my Eternal Night one. We’ll put it out, watch it earn back money from my dedicated fans, gain new fans by having more work out, and slowly build upon the universes till I get bored. Since they are set-up to be read as stand-alones, I can stop writing in these universes at any time.
If I had to start a career again, this kind of planning would be what I would do. Low cost of production work, released fast (which I’m not doing) in the 10-60k (probably 40-60k) word range, with decent covers and in both audio & ebook only. Maybe paperback if I can get the cost of production low. Released every month or so, with advertising kicking in only a few months later.
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