The Importance of Infrastructure

You don’t realize how important infrastructure is until you try to build it.

Selling books is a difficult business. There are lots of readers out there, and there are many, many more books than readers (which is good for readers). That means you have to figure out how to find people interested in your books and then let them know you exist.

Facebook offers one of the best advertising platforms on the Internet these days, and I have attempted, unsuccessfully, to use it multiple times in the past. So I did some research, took a course, and now understand how it actually works.

I’ve been using a reader magnets strategy to build my mailing list (offering a free book in exchange for signing up) in the past, and I have had some success. But my strategy depends on people finding my books, to see the magnet ad. Same problem.

So I decided to enhance the offer (putting two books and a short story in the magnet) and then pushing the offer on Facebook. It all sounded like a good idea.

But I had almost none of the infrastructure required to make this work.

And because I’m an independent author, I have no one to do it for me. I had to do it all myself.

The deal works like this. You give me your email address, and I send you the Wolf Dasher short story, “The Darkline Protocol,” and the first two novels in the series, State of Grace and Red Dragon Five. I didn’t want to bombard readers, so I need to send those books one at a time over several days. That meant I needed a series of automated emails that trigger as soon as someone subscribes.

So I had to set that up in MailChimp, writing each of the emails and providing links to the free books and to software to help you sideload them onto your Kindle.

Of course, to make them easier to download, I needed a service that is pro at it and offers better customer support than I can, where the whole thing is super-smooth. So I had to subscribe to BookFunnel, and then create the .mobi and .ePub files to be downloaded and then upload them to my account.

But back up a couple steps. I was offering the Wolf Dasher books, but I wasn’t happy with the covers. So before I could do any of this, I had to work with my cover designer to re-brand the whole line — all five books and the short story.

Then I had to remove the old magnet ads from the interiors of the Dasher books and update them on Amazon along with the new covers. Once that was done, I had to create those aforementioned updated .mobi and .ePub files.

But wait, there’s more.

With all that work in place, I was able to start designing an ad campaign for Facebook. That meant I needed an image for the ad. So I had my designer do that too.

But before you can create a lead-generation ad for Facebook, you need to do a couple things. First, you have to have a lead card, which requires an image and some other info.

So I modified the ad image with new copy to keep the imagery consistent but make the message on the lead card (which you see after clicking on the ad) read something relevant to filling out the card.

Secondly, Facebook won’t let you collect leads through them if you don’t have a privacy policy. So I had to create one of those based on a boilerplate, put it on the website, and then provide a link.

Great, now that everything is done, I’m ready to advertise.

Well, not quite. You see, Facebook collects those leads for me, but I have to do something with them. If I don’t want to manually subscribe people (which might be fine at the beginning but become hard if the campaign is wildly successful), then I need a service that handles all that.

So I had to subscribe to Zapier so that, as soon as you submit your information, it automatically subscribes you to the list and starts MailChimp’s automation. And that meant setting up the links and testing them to make sure they work.

As you might imagine, this process took weeks to build. And, while I want it and understand its importance, it’s not the kind of thing I enjoy. Some people like engineering, major in it, and go on to have fine careers. I majored in English and minored in Music and in Philosophy.

So putting all this together was grueling and tedious for me.

But it’s finally done. I’ve got an ad running on Facebook, and it’s generating results. It’s a good beginning.

If you want to take advantage of the offer yourself and haven’t been served the ad, click this link, or click on the ad image below.

Regardless, infrastructure is really important. Building it takes a lot of work. Here’s hoping I did it right.

Three Stack -- Shaken Not Stirred

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