It’s five days into the new year and I still don’t have a production schedule. I hear your screams. It’s not like I’m clueless. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it. Unfortunately, right now I feel a little like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz….”If I only had a brain.” I’ve got a brain, but right now it’s full of the other things I need to get done before I can figure out what I want to write. Okay, that might not be exactly true. I have a completed book I held back for a few reasons.
Last year, I had the privilege of attending an amazing conference, Romance Author Mastermind. When I say incredible, that is an understatement. I spent three days and evenings in total fan girl mode. I couldn’t believe I was sitting next to Lauren Blakely in one session and Carly Phillips in another. CD Reiss is so down to earth and funny. I tried to maintain my cool when I spoke to Skye Warren. And I was so excited to see Brenna Aubrey on a panel and leading roundtables. Wow! There were so many others I can’t even call all of the names. I also got to spend time with Maria Seager and Christine Ashworth.
Once reality set in, it was time to get to work. When I say I’m still buzzing, it’s not an exaggeration. I got a major wake up call. I went into the conference with a sense I was going to need to make a few changes. After the first session, I knew few was an inaccurate word. A lot of changes were going to be required.
Let me clarify. I don’t have to make changes. However, Whitney G…yes, I met her too. Side note, she was so nice and she brought the most delicious cookies for everyone. She asked us a simple question, “What level of writer do you want to be? Three, Four, Five, Six or Seven Figure Writer?” I have to paraphrase the next part. She said if you’re told you need to change your cover or make some other change how you respond will indicate what type of writer you’re on track to be. The three and four figure writer will hesitate and not make the change because they’re attached to the thing that needs to be changed. The five figure writer hesitates, but makes the change. The six and seven figure writer is making the change before they get to their computer.
I want to be a six, seven figure writer. If that means a rebrand is required, then so be it. Someone asked CD Reiss, “What about the readers who already bought the book? Won’t they be upset you changed the book?” I won’t use her exact words [Smile], but she said they already bought the book, you’re trying to market to those who haven’t.
Like I said, I went into this knowing there was a strong possibility I was going to have to make a few changes. However, when I sat down with Brenna and Olivia Rigal and asked their honest opinion about one of my covers, I braced myself for their feedback and got confirmation. CHANGE WAS NEEDED. I went upstairs and got to work. The following morning, I had a new cover. However, it’s not the one I’m going to use, but it got my juices flowing.
But that was just the beginning. We’re still talking covers. I was introduced to “Exclusive Cover Images.” Sweet Baby Jesus…I had no idea this world existed. Side note, I have been using stock and there is nothing wrong with stock. Hey, you have to crawl before you walk, but entree into this world comes at a price. [I’ll do a post about that later.] I didn’t know you couldn’t use stock on certain types of marketing materials [i.e, book marks, postcards, posters, etc.]. Let me clarify, you can if you purchase an extended license. That additional cost is plus for using an exclusive image.
Before attending RAM, I made a few drastic decisions. I shut down all of my ads…Facebook, BookBub and AMS. I wanted a clean slate once I put everything I learned in to play. Only thing is…you know how they say actions have consequences? Well, here’s my consequence to my drastic move…no ads, equal no sales…no money. However, I did have a clean slate.
I thought I knew a few things, after all, I do my own covers and graphics. I have decent book sells. But sitting in a room filled with women who have achieved the level of writing success I want, was contagious. I don’t see how it was possible to leave without wanting to get to the next level.
This all leads back to why I don’t have a production schedule yet. I completed the sequel to my best seller A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN before RAM. When I got accepted to the conference, I made a decision not to release it until after the conference. I am so glad I did, because if I had, I know the release wouldn’t have produced the results I desired. So here I am with a book on deck, but first book one needs a major facelift.
So this year, my blog will focus on my steps to rebrand and what I learned at RAM.
First step, rebrand Tracy Reed Author. I know who she is, but am I conveying that to my readers? I’ve been reviewing my covers and blurbs…first steps in the re-branding process. I like my covers, but RAM taught me, they could be better. I made a list of all my books and took a hard look…images, fonts, colors. Then I looked at them as thumbnails. Then I looked at the top books in my category. Doing the comparison was difficult. I took the things I liked and figured out how to apply them to my covers and style.
I’ve tried to do artsy covers. Artsy is nice, but in my case it wasn’t selling as many books as I would like. Funny thing, the image I selected for A Southern Gentleman Book Two, is one I had considered originally for book one. Apparently, I was on the right track. I went with another one because I thought it was too steamy. Talk about full circle.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been as open to change the cover if it hadn’t been for what I learned in the graphic design session with Regina Wamba and CD Reiss’ openness about her covers. I didn’t think I was the abs author until I was on my way to a signing talking to my mother. I have one book with abs on it and thought it was being down loaded daily because it’s free. This book has been out since Summer 2016 and hovers in the top Free 100 on Amazon daily. Occasionally it will spike to the top 15 or slip a little below 100. It didn’t occur to me it was doing well because of the cover. Who knew a shirtless man could sell books?
I selected a book that wasn’t moving to start the rebranding process. THE NIGHT I FELL IN LOVE, has a new cover and blurb. I posted the covers in the RAM FB Group for feedback then tested the options with my reader group and was surprised. Next was test ads on Facebook and BookBub. I made two ads, one with a shirtless man and the other with a blurb and the book. Do I even have to tell you which one worked? Next step is to make it live. Because I’m changing several books, I want to wait until more are ready. Anyone who tells you rebranding is easy, is removed from reality. In addition to the books and marketing graphica, I’m also tweaking my website, another reason I’m waiting before I make the new covers live.
Next month, I’ll share the evolution of my first covers to undergo rebranding and possibly my production schedule.
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