Now, genre is an important part of marketing, because some genres have small markets.
Take the tiny niche genre of Unicorn Porn for example. There were at last count, only 7 authors world-wide of Unicorn Porn, and only 7,000 buyers, WORLD-WIDE. There are 8 billion people on the planet and fewer then 1% of them read the genre called Unicorn Porn. If you write Unicorn Porn, and you market wide to every one, you'll have no sales, because you are telling people who are not interested in you book, but if you market to your target audience, those 7,000 readers of the genre, then you'll be pretty guaranteed to get 7,000 sales, but no more. To market a genre like this, you need to find out where your readers hang out and market there. Tiny niche genres can be difficult to market for because you have to know where specifically to look for a very specific type of reader.
On the other hand if you write a popular genre like 50 Shades KnockOffs, which have 10million fans in America alone, marketing wide to everyone will get you millions of sales with very little effort at all.
So, I would ask if you are marketing your books and if so, are you marketing them in places where your genre's audience hang out?
Have you researched the type of person who reads your genre? (Young college women in upbeat cities? Retired moms in urban areas? Seniors in rural fishing villages, with limited access to internet?)
>>I have published 7 novels on kdp and have only made like 25 dollars. I barely even sell one novel a month.
Actually this is pretty common. There have been several studies of book sales (trade and self published) and the average income a book will ever see IN ITS LIFETIME is only $5,000.
Many studies also show that the average self published book sells on average 10 copies a year. That's fewer then 1 copy per month.
Amazon releases their IRS tax info every year, because they are a "public" company and are required to do so in order to sell stocks. In that tax record is a list of some 8 million KDP authors. More than 7 million of them are listed as "Having earned under $500 this year." These listed as being "not reportable incomes" due to the IRS requiring an author to earn $600 (six hundred) from their book per year before being required to file that book as income on their tax report.
THAT says a lot right there. According to Amazon's own records 7/8s of all KDP authors are making less than $500 a year off ALL their books combined.
>>Did you advertise your book? If so how?
I target a very specific small niche sex fetish, featuring older beta male characters, extreme CBT torture BDSM, urethral sounding, chastity cages, fetish piercings, evil serial killing super villain Wizards who get horny when they kill people then have sex with each other on the dead bodies, unicorn horns and wizard wands being used as dildos and sounding rods, and Seme/Twink rape fetish. I'm very "underground" not a mainstream genre, so I have a very small, but ravenously devoted following.
My own genre (Yaoi Monster Porn) has a specific audience: retired seniors 60 to 80 years old, mostly women, but also men; tend to be high income but are too busy travelling on bus tours in 50+Clubs to have time for internet. Like to read smut on the bus and compare dick sizes of their favour male characters on their bus trips. Are willing to pay the tour bus driver extra to side track off the route to their favourite Yaoi author's house. I know because 7 bus loads of screaming fan-grannies (70 per bus) arrived unannounced in my driveway 3 summers ago to tell me this.
They have invited me to join them on their cross country sight seeing bus trips and I have gone on these trips with them and got and up close and personal insight into just EXACTLY what it is my most dedicated fans love about the series and the characters.
One of my long time most fanatical fans was a WWII Colonel from Austria, living in Kennebunkport, Maine, who if you follow me on FaceBook, you'll remember for his constant posts on my FB wall, who sadly died last year, 14 days short of his 100th birthday. It was through him that I got an eye opening insight WHY my books sell at such high rates in Germany (where a whopping 2/3s of my book sales are.) The series contains a strong anti-white power theme, in several volumes featuring Nazis and Ku Klux Klan as villains, with the main characters being Gypsies. Germany ranks one of the top ANTI-Nazi countries on the planet, because of the Nazi stronghold there in the 1930s/1940s. Though I long knew the bulk of my sales go to Germany, I had not known why until this former Third Reich Nazi Commander explained the present day situation in Germany, resulting in ANY book with an anti-Nazi theme getting high sales to German readers. He was also one of my first senior citizen fans to come forward to meet me in person, back in the late 1980s. And if you've followed me online long enough, you also know I'm now married to his radical High Priest excessively white power son, who has served in a large part as the inspiration for the current version of main character Quaraun.
In Biddeford, Maine you'll find a group of women in their 80s, who, know my car, and upon seeing me drive up, are quick to rush over and gush their love for my characters... in very vivid detail. I once stood in WalMart parking lot for 2 hours, listening, while 4 elderly women, argued over which character was better hung. In the end they concluded it was Roderic... alarmingly, who has the best written description of his testicles in the entire series.
Ooooh, believe me, you've never heard potty mouth smut, until you've listened to 4 old ladies argue which Elf has better balls.
Why do senior women (and men) love my characters?
Age has something to do with it.
I write what sometimes refered to as "Barra Yaoi", meaning, the characters are older men, not the young teen boys usually seen in the genre.
Main character Quaraun, an Elf who at 450 years old is the equivalent of a 45 year old man. His primary lover, Unicorn, is a 3,000 Faerie, is the equivilatent of an 80 year old man.
The characters are not young and so they attract older readers.
The series also targets some very specific fetishes, namely CBT (Cock and Ball Torture) and features characters with double dicks, barbed penises, and horribly mutilating scars on their genitals.
Roderic, the character the fan-grannies when uber-lust over, has no hands, a fetish that not many people get into but those that do, it's hard to find books that feature it.
Also, with the exception of Seme Unicorn, all the men in the series are VERY submissive twinks, very docile, very timid, very cowardly, scared, and kind of momma's boys, in need of... well... momma. Something older "cougar" women like in their men.
The men in this series are NOT your typical main stream, big burly men either. Quaraun is one of the tallest men in the series and he is only 5'6". Unicorn is 5'1" and Roderic is 5'3".
So, my books definitely DO NOT target the mainstream young adult reader, and very much target older women, looking for older, but still younger than them, men in need of a momma figure to coddle them. My characters provide that.
So, this is what I mean, by knowing who you your readers are and who you need to target in marketing.
The Yaoi genre on it's own is HUGE and spans a vast set of sub-genres. I could target every reader of Yaoi and I wouldn't interest most of them, as the bulk of Yaoi readers are looking for 15 year old boys to lust after, not older men. Shota Yaoi is far more popular than Barra Yaoi, making it difficult to market the type of Yaoi I write and requiring me to not only know the demographics of my target reader, but also, how to reach my target reader, given that my target reader is elderly women who don't have internet or ereaders.
How do they find my books?
I printed up about 100 paperback copies. Then went to Zazzle and printed up stickers that read: "Waiting Room Copy" Slapped the stickers n the book covers, then went to every doctor office, dentist office, community center, and hospital waiting room in the county and left free copies of the books in every one of them.
One of those places was the Ross Center, home of the 50Plus Book club, for Maine's senior citizens. My screaming fan-grannies spread the word to their tour bus and cruise ship travel club groups. Now there's a whole bevy of horny screaming fan-grannies obsessing over my naked Elf boys.
I hand out a few hundred business cards each month every summer at the local beach which gets 2 million senior citizen tourists each summer.
I'm a guest at every car show, lecture, comic/game/geek/cosplay convention I can find. I do book signings year round.
I've yet to do any online marketing. So far I've not needed it. Unless you count the hundreds of sample chapters, made free to read online on my author website. My website was started in 1996, has 10,000+ how-to articles for writers, has 300k email subs, and gets 24k to 70k visitors a month depending on time of year. So, having an author website definitely helps.
But still, offline marketing is king.
Remember, only 1/3 of the American population has access to internet and offline marketing is still far more powerful then online marketing.
Just thought of something I forgot to mention but had intended to mention. You asked about sales and income and I got side tracked and forgot to say that part. :P
How much have you guys made from writing? How many do you guys sell per month? How profitable was your first novel as compared to your second and third and fourth etc?
Price also effects both sales and income. So be sure to NEVER price a novel under $4.99. You want to be able to get the 70% royalty AND you want to earn a minimum of $3 per book sold.
Even for short stories NEVER do .99c. Sell the short stories under 10k for $1.99 and over 10k for $2.99.
Remember a .99c book only earns .35c income, meaning you have to sell tens of thousands of copies to make a livable income off it.
Too many authors under price their books. Priced too low, you'll not earn an income.
My series was free to read online, on FanFiction.net. Every few days I uploaded a new chapter. So for about 20 years, the series made no money at all. The series got deleted off Fanfiction.net, during the adult purge of 2012, that mass deleted 11,000 member accounts all at once. That was when I, at the request of fans of the series, began formating the series into novels to sell on Amazon. The first of these went up in 2014. Five novels of the series are currently on Amazon, 81 more are in various stages of formating to go up over the next couple of years. And the grand total of everything that had originally appeared on fanfic.net, is projected to span a whopping 275 novels total, to be published on Amazon over the next 12 years.
Here are the sales figures...
Please remember that due to previously being on fanfi.net each of these volumes, had a large already there, fan following. Each of these books had fans who had previously read them years ago, waiting to read them again. Thus, when their re-release was announced, each of these books, sold:
So how does this translate into income?
The ebooks editions sell for $7.99, the paperback editions sell for $14.99. After Amazon takes their cut, I make $3 per copy sold (for both print and ebook editions).
3,000x$3 means that my top selling titles will bring in a grand total of no more then $9,000 in their lifetme
1,000x$3 means that MOST of my titles will never reach bringing in a lifetime total of $3,000
10x$3 means that MOST of my titles will earn me around $30 income per month.
Most months the Quaraun series brings in less than $200 a month income.
If you are unfamiliar with the Quaraun series, some important insights into why it's so loved by fans and so hated by almost everyone else:
Welcome to the world of Unicorn Porn.
If you are not into freaky fetishes, you'll likely need eye bleach and brain bleach and Men in Black Memories zappers after reading a volume of the Quaraun series.
And people wonder why the series gets so few reviews? No one wants to admit they enjoy reading the darkest slums of the Monster Porn sex dungeons.
Hope that helps.