And here we are… almost an entire month after my Challenge and I'm finally writing up the blog post about it all. I had to take some time off from writing, because, as I'm sure you will appreciate in the words to follow, writing 7 books continuously for 7 weeks is a lot of writing to maintain!
This is going to be a huge post, so make sure you either bookmark it or settle in with a cup of coffee and a yummy cookie, and join me on the ride that was a crazy idea.
Briefly, I'll recap how it all came about.
Really, I only have myself to ‘blame' but basically I was sitting down at the end of 2014 and planning my goals for 2015, when the thought crossed my mind, “What would happen if I set myself the challenge of writing and publishing 7 books in 7 weeks?”
I wanted to really push myself out of my comfort zone this year and what better way than to set a very public challenge and do it early on.
So that's what I did.
And now here we are, with March almost over and my next book about to start.
As you can imagine, doing something like this might seem easy at the outset, but as you're about to learn, it's not always as easy as it seems (is anything ever, really?)…
The Challange Recap: Lesson's Learned While Writing 7 Books in 7 Weeks
I'll preface these lessons with one over-arching theme—if you want to learn a lot about yourself and what tests you, set yourself a challenge like this…
- You MUST plan. I knew that to do this effectively, I would need to at least have an idea of the books I was going to write. So I sat down 2 days prior to the challenge start date and mind mapped the 7 books I would write. I then briefly outlined each book in Evernote.
- You MUST be flexible. After about the third book, I realised that some of the book ideas that I had mapped out weren't really fleshed out enough and not a good fit. This meant that I had to sit down and do some further mind mapping and outlining.
- You can't effectively LAUNCH without a plan of what that'll look like. To be honest, I didn't even consider the launch strategy when I set this challenge, and because of that, I quickly realised that I wasn't going to be able to effectively launch the books during the challenge. So I stopped after about the fourth book.
- You can't WRITE and launch at the same time. This is why I really stopped trying to launch each book after finishing it. I couldn't focus on writing and launching the previous book at the same time. I should have set up a plan and had my VA do the launching stuff for me instead.
- It was EASY to write each book within two days because I had the idea already mapped out. Without the outline or book idea to start with, I know for a fact I would not have been able to write these books. This is why planning and forethought are key. While it may have looked like I just jumped straight in, going back to the first point, I had a plan.
- Finding the right EDITOR is key. I use Scrivener and for this challenge to work effectively and allow me to write and publish a book each week, I needed to make effective use of my time, which meant finding an editor that could edit the books within Scrivener, none of this exporting to MS Word and then importing back in (which is really cut and paste). I found an editor who was prepared to learn how to edit in Scrivener and it saved me at least 2-3 hours in formatting. Now, it takes me about 30 minutes to an hour to accept all the changes and format.
- Developing the TITLES prior to writing the books helped immensely in the writing process. Each time I sat down to write each book, I already knew the direction the book was going to take and having a brief outline just enabled this process to go smoothly. It also helped that I was writing a series, so I knew how all the books 'fit' together. This is something I don't normally do, preferring to wait until a book's first draft is done before looking at a title, but for this challenge, it really helped and because it was also a series, it made sense to do this from the outset.
- I UNDERESTIMATED how being that focused for that period of time, would make me feel. By the end of week five, I was really starting to feel drained and out of sorts. For anyone that knows me, I'm a pretty upbeat person, but I found the last two weeks a real struggle in staying focused and in staying motivated to write. Taking some time out throughout a massive writing schedule is essential in staying sane and not losing your mind or blowing up at your significant other!
- No matter how I felt, I UNDERSTOOD that I still had to push forward with what I was doing. I learned that I'm not a quitter and that I'll push through the crap, even when I don't feel like it. There is definitely no magic formula when it comes to writing, whether in a challenge or not. Butt in chair is what gets results at the end of the day.
- Having the right TOOLS in my arsenal enabled me to get stuff done quicker. Programs like Scrivener, which allows me to format and convert the book to .mobi, PDF and .epub files at the press of a button, cuts down on time immensely. I use a number of different tools when writing a book, from outlining in Evernote, creating project details in Freedcamp and writing and formatting in Scrivener, I was able to get the books published every single week, without fail.
- A challenge like this is a great way to kick off PRODUCTIVITY. I have found myself completely pumped for what I'm doing and where my business is heading. I have mapped out 30 book projects and opportunities are coming at me left, right and centre! By setting a challenge like this at the beginning of the year, I've set myself up for a great year and have been far more productive compared with previous years.
I'm sure there are even more lesson's, but these are the ones that came to mind the most. If you missed out on my ‘diary' during the 7-week challenge, you can catch up on all those posts here.
One of the main reasons I wanted to try this challenge was to see what effect (if any) it would have on my book business. And while it's still too early to tell (it will probably be another 3-6 months to really see the outcome) I've got some preliminary stuff I can share with you!
Book Business Effects
So above I touched briefly on the whole launch thing. With the first few books, I did an initial launch and then after about the fourth book, I stopped launching them because it was driving me a little crazy trying to write, publish and launch stuff all in the same week.
What I really wanted to do for this challenge is to see how it impacted on my other books.
At the time of starting the challenge, I had six books published. [Update: I've now got over 20 published!]
So I already had a good number of books to work with when I entered this challenge and I wanted to see if writing a bunch of books in a short space of time would make a difference to the other books I had already published.
I'm still not going to have any real data to work with until 3-6 months down the track, as I've only been writing and publishing books since September 2014, so that's only 6 months now.
I need to be able to compare months to make sure that other drivers aren't contributing as well, like holidays.
Up until January 2015, my books weren't doing too bad. I was making around $2,000-$2,500 per month with the exception of December, which was my biggest sales month in 2014, where I hit $4,000 (largely due to Christmas!).
We're nearly at the end of March, and for the last three months, I've consistently hit between $3,000-$4,000 per month. Whether that's a direct impact from the 7 books in 7 weeks challenge, still remains to be seen.
What I did learn is that planning a good launch takes time and that depending on the book or series, the way that you launch each book will depend on the target audience and what you're looking to achieve with it.
For example, I routinely launch my books at $0.99 for 5-7 days with a whole bunch of free and paid promotions during that time.
With the OFS Guide Series of books, I decided to launch them in conjunction with an internationally recognised ‘holiday'—St Patrick's Day.
I got this idea from Steve Scott, who is experimenting with events more and more and I was struggling, trying to figure out what to do with the 7 books, seen as how I already had them published, it didn't feel ‘right' to launch them all individually.
So I thought to myself, why not try running a themed event and launch the books properly, together as one. That way, people could pick up the books they needed, but also learn about the other books and how they fit together as part of a series.
Here's what the event page looked like:
The results were great. I simply marketed the books to my OFS newsletter list and shared the details via social media plus some paid marketing promotions as follows:
- Addicted to Books
- Awesome Gang
- Book Bear
- Book Praiser (running now, was a bit late to confirm with me)
- Book Zio
- Content Mo
- BKnights on Fiverr
Total cost for the promotions (in Australian dollars) was $70.13.
Let's take a look at sales:
The event ran for three days, March 15-March 17 2015.
Here's the sales for ALL my books (not just the OFS books):
You'll see there are some larger spikes in sales (the red line) on the 15 and 16 March, right in the middle of the event. For the three days, I sold 167 books. Not bad for just emails going out to my list on those days. I followed up with promos on the days after, which is why the spike didn't drop off suddenly, as it can do following a major book promotion like Buck Books or Book Bub.
I ran a Buck Book promotion on one of my OFS Guide Books in February and sold 200+ books (across all of them) on that day. That's only 33 more than what I did over three days and I didn't see the drop in sales like I do following a Buck Book event.
So for me, I'm going to definitely look at running more of my own events and paying for promotional activities rather than free ones.
I'll be providing updates to this post as I get more data on the effect the books have on my overall business in a few months. But initial results look positive, I certainly haven't gone backwards!
Would I recommend you do something similar? Yes. If you need a push or want to try something like this for yourself, I would definitely recommend it.
In fact, my plan is go have a challenge like this to kick off each year. I've really found it has increased my productivity and has helped me get focused in a short period of time. I now have my next 30 books all mapped out, now I just have to find the time to write them in amongst my coaching.
Don't even think about mentioning a "30 books in 30 day" challenge, lol!
The thought did cross my mind, but was quickly replaced by how absolutely nuts that would be... but maybe you're up for the challenge!
The last thing I'd like to leave you with is this. No matter what it is that you set out to do, a little bit of planning, a little but of hard work and support from those around you goes a long way in helping you achieve crazy, lofty goals!
Did you miss out on seeing all the finished books? You can check them out on their very own special OFS Guide Series book page...
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