The Bookfunnel Campaign Post 2

frontIn the previous email about my Bookfunnel campaign, I laid out the business framework for the release of The Dirty Campaign, my reader magnet. In this email, I want to show you the unadulterated data from the campaign.

I’ll admit, I messed up a couple of things when I started this campaign, despite reading as many posts and FAQs as I could. One of the things I did was accidentally put in motion one of my Facebook ads early, which forced me to actually publish the story on Bookfunnel a few days before I’d intended to. That wasn’t too serious an issue, but it wasn’t the way I would have wanted to do it.

Another thing I did wrong was not pay for a good cover from the get-go. Unfortunately, the numbers indicate that it didn’t help much in the end, but most of my sign ups did come after I had a better cover on the front of the novelette (Pictured above is the better cover).

So…here are the numbers:

For my (then) current subscribers to my mailing list:

  • 25 views on my Bookfunnel page
  • 9 downloads

For a general release page, which got shared on my blog, through email, and on FB, I got the following data:

  • 57 views on my Bookfunnel page
  • 1 download

For my fiction FB Page, I got the following data:

  • 457 views on my Bookfunnel page
  • 1 download

For my political commentary FB Page, I got the following data:

  • 237 views on my Bookfunnel page
  • 2 downloads

I also created a “Personal For” message, which I targeted to friends and family that I wanted to specifically invite to take part. This also included my beta readers. I got the following data:

  • 6 views on my Bookfunnel page
  • 4 downloads

In all, I got the following data:

  • 782 views on my Bookfunnel page
  • 17 downloads

As you can see, this was far from a success for me. I’m not saying Bookfunnel isn’t a success for many authors, or that maybe it’s more of a success for authors who already have a following, but for getting started essentially from scratch, it’s rough. The bottom line was that, out of 782 views, and over a thousand on Facebook, I only gained 8 (!) new subscribers to my list.

Speaking of Facebook, I wanted to break down some numbers there too. This is a broad stroke look at the keywords and numbers. I’m honestly too busy to be able to dig much deeper at this time.

Keywords: Baptist, Southern Baptist, Politics (Conservative), Politics (Moderate), Likely to Engage in Politics, Christian Fiction.

  • Fiction FB Page, using the a mix of the above keywords, garnered 3,396 reach, with the aforementioned 457 views on my Bookfunnel page, resulting in 1 download and signup. Paid: $33.39.
  • Political Commentary FB Page, using a mix of the above keywords, garnered 1,478 reach, with the aforementioned 237 views on Bookfunnel, resulting in 2 downloads and signups. Paid: $17.23
  • Unfortunately, I can’t know exactly how my personal Facebook page helped or hurt, but suffice to say, not many of my friends signed up either, except through the “Personal For” message.

I actually had more success getting the signups first, and then offering the book later. Of 14 page views from 5 new subscribers, all five downloaded the book. If anything, my Bookfunnel campaign suggested that I would have done better by getting signups through a different style of campaign and then offer the book. This is still a strategy I’m employing.

If I learned anything, it’s that I went into a Bookfunnel campaign thinking that it was the magic bullet for building a mailing list. It’s not even close to that. I have a couple of things I’m working on now to make Bookfunnel part of a larger strategy for building a list, but alone, Bookfunnel just isn’t enough, at least for me, writing for my intended audience.

For those who’ve used Bookfunnel, how did your numbers work out? Better? Worse?

 

 

The Bookfunnel Campaign Post 1

In an effort to be transparent about my Bookfunnel campaign, and to possibly help authors in the future, I’m going to spend the next three posts discussing my results for The Dirty Campaign. I will cover the build up to the campaign, to include the writing process, the Bookfunnel campaign in general, to include the raw download/newsletter signups data, and finally, at year’s end, I’ll talk about what’s still working with the campaign, meaning, am I seeing newsletter signups turning into fans.

I know that’s a lot. First, an assumption: I assume that people reading this three-part blog series are writers, or interested in the craft and business of writing. If you’re not in that situation, this may sadly get boring pretty quick. Anyway, that assumption is also a sort of disclaimer. I have switched to writing almost exclusively fiction, so you’ll find a lot of nuts and bolts in this blog series.

First things first: My plan of action

1.  Write the story. If you already have a system for writing, then don’t worry about this. Just do what you normally do. I did try a new thing that I’ve continued to incorporate. I’ll write about that in the future.

2. Edited the story significantly. I verified POV so often I got sick of some of the characters. But it paid off in the end.

3. Sent the story to a handful of beta readers. Not all of them gave me feedback unfortunately, but enough of them did that I could feel confident about moving forward.

4. Converted the final draft to .epub and .mobi using draft2digital.

5. Uploaded the files from draft2digital to BookFunnel.

6. Paid for advertising on Facebook (because that’s where my page already resides and I knew it would cost for people to actually see it). 

7. Wrote several blog posts to announce the coming publication. Shared on Facebook. 

8. Prepared a drip sequence in Mailchimp ready to go for new subscribers as they signed up for the newsletter and downloaded the novelette. This drip sequence introduced new readers to me as the author, to the fictional town of Sunset, Kansas, and to my characters, and included three emails spread out over two weeks.

As you can see, I laid out what was basically a business plan. I had all of this ready to go two weeks before the soft launch, which went to current subscribers and to my personal Facebook page. The soft launch occurred one week before the main launch, and gave me a chance to reward my current subscribers for their loyalty as well as test out a couple of ideas in a setting that allowed me to make corrections before going wide release.

In the next post, we’ll do the numbers!

 

* None of the links in this email are affiliate links. I don’t stand to make any money off of this blog post. It is for informational purposes only and for the edification of other authors.

My Writing Strategy

In my Sunset series, I’m embarking on something completely new. It’s not that several authors don’t also do it, but it’s new for me. In the past, whether fiction or nonfiction, I’ve bounced from idea to idea. With Sunset, I’m sticking with a community of characters who will tell my stories for me. I’ve picked the idea of Sunset because it’s been a dream of mine since I was in my early 30s.

This flies in the face of my previous post about wanting to be the John Grisham of Christian writing. With very few exceptions, John has never returned to any of his characters. I can see the wisdom in that. It’s a blank slate every time he sits down at the desk. There are definite advantages to that.

But that also means he faces a blank slate every time he sits down at the desk. I’ve already got a couple of short stories (Forgotten Name / Friday Night in Sunset), a novelette (The Dirty Campaign), and several character sketches. I’ve got stories out for review by editors of Christian magazines as well, and one was published by The Gem.

At least in my head, I know how Tom Reynolds reacts to things. If a reader wants to know why Tom Reynolds reacted a certain way, he or she can go find out about Tom’s history and what made him the way he is. They’ll know that J. William Seymour, a reporter in town, is so desperate to make a name for himself that sometimes he creates stories where there isn’t one and his editor has to shoot him down. They’ll know how Bill Summers gained his land holdings and, in the future, how he throws his weight around to help the community.

So what is the grand strategy? It’s simple: I’m creating a community of people from which to draw stories about life. In some ways, the stories build on each other, but in most cases, the shorter stories are episodes which give the novels freedom to build the series. And always at the heart is making God known.

I’ve planned, at least to a degree, two more novelettes and four novels. Both novelettes are in progress and will serve to further advance the background understanding of Sunset. One novel is complete and in rewrite at this time (Tragedy in Sunset). The sequel is about 6,000 words in. Two others are notes in my journal. I’d like to see ten novels before I close down this project.

My hope is to secure a literary agent and then a book contract. I’d love to have you with me on this journey. Please sign up here to get on the mailing list!

The John Grisham of Christian Authors

I want to be the John Grisham of Christian authors. Now…what exactly does that mean? And isn’t John Grisham a Christian? Doesn’t that make John Grisham the John Grisham of Christian authors?

Ok, that’s a lot of questions, so let me break that down bit by bit. First of all, yes, John Grisham professes to be a believer. However, as he writes secular novels, I believe 100% that there is space in the Christian market for a John Grisham-like writer.

Now, what does it mean to be the John Grisham of Christian authors? First, let me discuss what it isn’t. It doesn’t mean that I want to sell 275-300 million copies of my books. I’m not against it, mind you, but it’s not necessary. The truth is, I can’t actually fathom what that looks like, nor can I see myself having so many movie deals. So, what being John Grisham isn’tis being one of the richest and biggest sellers in history. Point of fact, even John Grisham said the meteoric rise in fame and fortune was “unsettling.”

It also isn’t about law and lawyers, though I include them in some of my stories. While they are immensely popular, I don’t have much experience in law or courtroom drama, so that isn’t going to be my main focus.

What I mean by wanting to be the John Grisham of Christian writing is that I want to create crisp plots that move quickly and keep people engaged. I want to be more organized in my fiction, so that when I sit down to write, I know exactly what I want to say. Mostly, it’s about churning out good quality books with concise plot lines, twists only when necessary, and only delving into the human condition when necessary to advance the plot.

Sounds so…un-literary. Well, John talked about that too, and I agree with him. And let me say this about literary writing when it comes to Christian authors: Why? My mission is to use my writing to advance the gospel. I’ll let you in on a little secret about the human condition as it relates to the gospel: Without Jesus Christ, we’re screwed. We’re just too muddied by sin to be of any eternal use without God’s intervention. Ok, side note over. Back to the main point.

As you can see, being the John Grisham of Christian fiction is more about the writing style and production than it is a level of success. I can’t even foresee that level of success anyway, so I need to focus on what I can see: A well-written, concisely-designed plot that keeps readers turning pages. I’d love to have you along on this journey. A great starting place is to sign up for my newsletter.

Books of John’s that I’ve read in the order I think I remember reading them (affiliate links):

The Rainmaker

The Street Lawyer

The Testament

The Broker

The Racketeer

The Rooster Bar (Current Read)

Interested in keeping up with my progress? Click HERE To sign up for my newsletter. I’ll send you a link for a free story when you do, and you can unsubscribe at any time. You have nothing to lose!

A Vision for Writing

Back when blogging was cool (it’s been a few years, I know), the big piece of advice for people starting out was always to find your niche and stick to it. Unfortunately for me, I got into blogging late and I didn’t have a niche. I wanted to write about everything under the sun. Then I started my new website about my published writing and guess what? I don’t have a niche there either.

I’ve been published nearly 20 times since my first article in 2000 (mostly full list here), with most of those articles coming in the last three years. I’ve written about my daughter’s hospital stay, praying for the military, theology, and churches in action. I’ve even written about writing! If that isn’t a wide smattering of topics, I don’t know what is!

What ties almost all of those stories together, however, is an honest desire to see the gospel go out and be fruitful. When I wrote about multisite churches presenting a consistent gospel message in June (read it here), and the accompanying blog post (here), I wrote with the mind that the gospel message is important, so how do I confirm that the God’s word will not return void at these churches?

It’s questions like that that motivate me. I hope they motivate you too. If we, who are believers, begin to ask ourselves if our actions further the gospel, or take away from it, I think we’ll be better off, and so will God’s church. For example, I’ve curtailed my science fiction writing to where it barely exists. Mostly, it’s just for fun now when I’m struggling with writer’s block. Why? Because most of those stories didn’t further the gospel message and bring glory to God. They were neutral, for the most part, and that isn’t good enough anymore. So, even though I had a dream of being a sci-fi writer in addition to my Christian writing, it’s much less of a priority for me now, if it is at all.

I want to hear from you! If you’re a budding writer yourself, if a piece touches you, if a piece angers you, or you just want to reach out, write me at dan@navychristian.org. My writing gets better if I know what people think of it. So don’t hesitate to write me!

Remember, God’s message of salvation is key to just about everything in life. I’m just here to write about it!

My Hopes for The Dirty Campaign

Special note: Sign up at this link to get your free copy of The Dirty Campaign, which will be released on Aug 27th to current subscribers. 

The Campaign Cover Draft 4

I’m just over two weeks from launching The Dirty Campaign. Can you believe it? I’m very excited about this story, which puts the reader in the middle of Sunset, Kansas during the 2018 election cycle.

I have several hopes for this novelette. Some of those hopes are for my writing career and some are for my ministry. Let’s start with the ministry desires.

  1.  I hope I can help people make good political decisions this coming cycle. I can’t know all of your reasons for voting the way you do, and the opposite is obviously true, but I believe I can help you focus your energy on the overall picture through the characters in my story. Each of them has a reason for voting the way they do, just like each of us does, and I hope that by presenting that, I can help you make good decisions in November.
  2. I hope I can help Christians realize that they represent God when they talk about their election choices. One of the minor characters in the book makes things worse because he forgets that he’s an ambassador for Christ instead of a bullhorn for conservative values. We have to be better and I hope we can all use his example to fuel a correct posture toward others.
  3. I hope I can help unbelievers see that politics isn’t a black and white issue, that there are many nuances that we struggle with just as much as they do. I have a lot of friends who are unbelievers. Some are more hostile than others (just like believers can be), and I hope that they can see, should they decide to read this story, that we are multifaceted just as they are.

The Dirty Campaign was written with a couple of career hopes, and I’m going to be upfront in the hopes that you won’t judge me as I do.

  1.  Entertain you. Fiction exists to entertain. Yes, it teaches, encourages, enlightens, convicts, and all the rest, but it exists to entertain. I hope you are entertained by The Dirty Campaign.
  2. Build a subscriber base. Part of offering the story for free in the beginning is to build a subscriber base. I’m very confident that the Sunset series will stick around for a long time, and I want people on board who will be interested in receiving information about the story for years to come! With Facebook, Amazon, Google, and other major social media players changing algorithms, email remains the best way for people to receive updates about the series.
  3. Create fans. My biggest career hope for this story is that it successfully introduces you to the main characters of Sunset and that you fall in love with them. Not my writing, not my tone or style, but with my characters. I want you to love them as much as I love them. This is the first big step in that process.

I would love for you to partner with me on this project, first by downloading and signing up for the Sunset newsletter, and by sharing it with your contacts. I’ll share more about that in a future post.

To get on the list now, sign up here. Your free link for the story will be in your in box the last week of August! You can unsubscribe at any time.

My Multisite Church Problem

This post is a companion piece for an article I wrote for Evangelical Free Church of America. You can read it here.

I thought they were all egotistical megalomaniacs bent on making Outreach’s 100 fastest growing churches list, to be quite honest. I didn’t think there could be any way that a pastor at a multisite church could possibly be interested in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Surely they had to water down the gospel in order to have more than one site!

This became a problem for me in 2017. When my family moved back to San Diego to take a new position in the Navy, I tried to focus on churches that only had one location. I was bound and determined to avoid multisite churches like the plague.c56772_dd97dfecd68f4d7aa4d67d22dc37278f

One by one, the churches we visited just didn’t seem to quite fit. While checking around, I did begrudgingly go to two multisite churches in my neighborhood. One of these visits was to Legacy Church in Tierrasanta. Much to my dismay, both of them were very good.

I went back to other single-site churches, hoping that one of them would be our match. They weren’t. Instead, the multisite churches were great, meaning that they preached the true gospel. I started to change my thinking on the issue. Could multisite churches be more than just ego boosts for their pastors?

As I learned more about Legacy Church, I came to realize that the pastor usually travels from the first location to the second location and back to cover all three services. In many ways, Legacy Church was emulating the Methodist circuit riders of old. Instead of covering miles of a frontier or a set of rural communities, however, Legacy covers La Mesa, CA and the Tierrasanta neighborhood of San Diego.

Then I thought: “This is not how I thought multisite churches worked. I wonder if there are other models as well.”

That thought officially launched my research into multisite churches, followed quickly by a query to the editor of EFCA Today, Diane McDougal. She ok’d the project on the understanding that final approval would come after it was complete. I began my research with Dr. Larry Osborne of North Coast Church in San Diego. Dr. Osborne was great to work with, as was his administrative assistant, Amanda Hoffman. She worked out a schedule that met both Dr. Osborne’s needs and mine as the writer. Our talk lasted about a half hour.

First question: What is the Gospel? I figured…hey, if they weren’t about the gospel, then I’d know my research could end. The gospel is the most important thing, as far as I can tell, so I started my questions with that.

He answered with I Corinthians 15, which encompasses the death, burial, and resurrection. When I asked him why he started there, he replied, “I figured that what the apostle Paul describes as his gospel is good enough for me as a working description.”

Ok, so far so good. Turns out one of the site pastors for North Coast also had a solid definition. Jay Foulk, who oversees the San Marcos/Escondido campus, said the gospel was, “the good news that through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we can be saved from our sins through faith in Him.”

Wow. So maybe this is not only, not bad, but maybe good. My shell was beginning to crack. I still didn’t want to go full bore, but around this time, Alicia and I were regularly attending a multisite church (Legacy), so I figured I needed to get to the bottom of it soon.

I reached out to Nathan Miller, who oversees the site pastors for Christ Community Church in the Kansas City metro area. Nathan was likewise easy to talk to and a gracious subject. As we talked about the definition for the gospel, he added, “No matter what we’re preaching, we ask, ‘How do we get to Jesus?’”

Whereas North Coast Church utilizes a single preacher each week who preaches to all locations via video, Christ Community Church utilizes a model wherein each site’s pastor preaches each week on an agreed topic with agreed-upon points. They meet each week to talk about the upcoming sermon in order to provide a consistent gospel message. In both models, local worship leaders provide the musical leadership to their respective sites.

The rest of the interviews went very well. I was more than satisfied by the answers given. By the time I had finished my first draft of the article, I had become comfortable with joining Legacy Church.

We are now a part of Legacy’s Tierrasanta campus, growing as a family under the leadership of Curt, Todd, Troy, and the rest. And I’ve come to learn just how impacting multisite churches can be in the multiple communities they serve in. I’m probably not ready to go to a service where the only interaction I have with the pastor is on a video screen, but I am comfortable with the model we have at Legacy, and I’m comfortable with telling people about North Coast Church (for my San Diego friends who aren’t in my neighborhood). For those I know in Kansas City, I highly recommend Christ Community Church as well.

As a final note, I turned in my final draft to the new editor, Abby Farson Pratt, at 750 words. Diane liked the articles tight and economic. Abby, while appreciating tight writing, also wanted to explore the issue more, giving me a set of questions she wanted answered for the next draft. I went back to the pastors I had worked with on the project and, ever gracious, they answered the new round of questions. I turned in the new article at approximately 1200 words. That just goes to show that it’s vital to know what your editor wants when he or she wants it.

I would love your thoughts…and as always, you can sign up to receive updates on my social commentary by going HERE.