Fb Ads + Wren 3 & Pequeno edits – Writing Wk13.2 2021

Mike GristWeekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

This week I’ve mostly been absorbed with scaling up my FB ads while writing a couple new chapters for Wren book 3, Make Them Pay.

FB ads scale up

I’ve been serving my suite of Saint Justice ads (5 of the book covers in both square and rectangular, copy is the book blurb) to 3-4 primary audiences for the past month, but never really knowing which ones were working and which were just spinning my wheels.

Now, thanks to judicious use of affiliate links, I have a much better idea of who converts and who doesn’t. This is super valuable. It’s also kind of obvious – but when I’m managing my FB ads, it’s easy to pour more budget into the ad set that’s getting the cheapest clicks. But that way lies madness. If that was all I cared about, I’d only run video feed ads (and make no sales at all!).

So, who’s performing? Here are the ad audiences and conversion:

  • TAK Thriller Authors & Kindle CVR: US 10%, UK 8%
  • TAE Thriller Authors & Ebook CVR: US 5%, UK 4%
  • AMK All Media (Thriller Movies/TV/Books) & Kindle CVR: US 5%, UK 5%
  • LA1 Lookalike 1% CVR: US 5%, UK 4%
  • LA4 Lookalike 4% CVR: US 1%, UK5%

This is invaluable data. With the TAK ads getting 1 sale in 10 clicks, compared to everything else getting 1 in 20, I should be willing to spend anything up to double the price on the TAK ads. If I’m not doing that, I’m not optimized. But to date I’ve not been doing that. I’ve been splitting my budget pretty evenly across these 4 or 5 audiences. This tells me I need to double down on TAK. Only move budget over to the others when TAK is double the price they are.

Also, the LA4 ad in the US performs terribly. 1 sale in 100 clicks is unacceptable. I can switch that off easily and only save money. Otherwise, 1 in 20 seems the order of the day. Real useful data. I’ll keep an eye on this.

Make Them Pay new chapters

I just finished edits on Make Them Pay, right? Right – but then I got a review from a guy who’s loving the series, but he said he felt short-changed by this book.

🙁 That was a downer. I don’t want to disappoint fans. It’s true it’s the shortest book right now, at 63,000 words. I made it that way by cutting out a lot of non-scene verbiage. Like, repetition of explanations, action, events happening twice. So I felt bad. I wondered what I could do. Last week I thought about adding a few additional acion opening chapters – and I still mean to do that.

But – on a brief glance at the middle, I found a spot where I can smoothly add in new chapters and a whole new setting. It’s right after Wren breaks social media. Previously he did this twice in a row, bu to sort of no avail, setting up a Black Lives Matter thing in the street. Fine politics, but unnecessary. Also, after this he gets winged off to a strike where all the detective work has been done by his hackers. He just takes their word for it and kicks ass.

Not very satisfying. How was the detective work done? Well, the hackers built a matrix, and… (yawn). I don’t wan to rely on hacker ‘magic’. So I came up with a source Wren could shake down, happily just up the road from Silicon Valley – San Quentin Prison.

It’s a cool double chapter sequence. Only adds 4,000 words, but they’re solid and worth having. Now he sets it all in motion, and his hackers only follow orders. Better.

Saint Justice concerns

I got a couple of painful Saint Justice reviews this week, and the average star rating dropped from 4.1 to 4.0 to boot. I’m not happy about that. The worst review went like this:

Not as described!

Based on the one paragraph summary, I bought the 5 book set. After reading St Justice, and learning that the serie’s plot revolved around chasing groups that abused minorities, women & children, I deleted the entire series. I read for enjoyment, and I found nothing enjoyable in this book.

That’s not good. I feel bad that someone dropped 5 books’ worth of cash then deleted them all. I don’t wan to misrepresent the book. Likewise I don’t want to put all that stuff in the blurb, because I know it’ll crush conversion. It’s a tricky problem. So what can I do?

Well – change the body text to make it fit. I’m starting off small. So far I have:

  • Gone through all the books and changed the offensive term ‘Pickaninny 3’ which the Apex uses for Wren to ‘Pequeno 3’. I feel there’s nothing lost. The Apex is not racist anyway. He hates everyone equally.
  • The bikers in their opening Saint Justice interaction with Wren mention racial slurs maybe 3 times. I can cut all those and we still know who they are, when they’re talking about nooses and calling him ‘Boy’. It’s enough.

That’s it so far. I don’t know that I need to get rid of it all. It’s the core plot. But if it lifts readthrough, which is currently sub-50%, I don’t mind doing it. I could:

  • Change the assassin’s almost use of the N-word, and remove Wren’s response.
  • Flip the whole plot from being a ‘race war’ narrative to something else. Supremacism but not based on race? Or maybe hatred of religion (by the bad guys, obviously)? That’s dangerous territory too, but less heated than race.

I could do that. But should I? And it doesn’t help me with book 2, but I’ve really moved the child abuse angle of book 2 deep into background. We hardly come near it – though we all know it’s there in the background. Hmm…

To help me decide, I’ve hired 2 more beta readers via fiverr, and asked them to assess Saint Justice and tell me what I can do to get higher ratings and better readthrough. We’ll see what they suggest. I’ve not had full feedback from anyone yet on this latest iteration of the book, so it will be interesting.

Generally, it’s getting better.

By this time next week

I absolutely must focus on book 6 now. It’s due out in 3 months, and I have 20,000 words. Gotta get it done, edited, sharpened, cover made and put out. It’ll happen. So – 30,000 words by this time next week!

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