Brian Meeks

Angst Ridden Squirrel Dominates

By: Brian Meeks | July 26, 2016 | 
10

Angst Ridden Squirrel Dominates

While walking through Central Park in Manhattan, satirist Arthur Byrne made a shocking discovery.

He was being followed.

Winston McFuzzybottom, a local rodent célèbre, was three paces behind, wielding a judgmental look usually reserved for master level passive aggressive mother-in-laws.

A Showdown Was Inevitable

Arthur, who normally doesn’t incorporate turtlenecks in an effort to raise his attire to the level of condescending, today wore one of cashmere, the most offensive of the wools, and in black.

Winston, in his usual burnt umber fur coat and a smart grey Homburg, said, “You’re the one who penned ‘Killing Hemingway’ last year.”

“I trust from your tone that you didn’t enjoy the read, and that I’m suffering from some sort of episode that is causing me to talk to rodents,” replied Arthur.

“We prefer fuzzy Americans,” said the squirrel.

It Didn’t End Well

Arthur’s opinions on political correctness were well documented.

Mr. McFuzzybottom had pushed his buttons, and the exchange was captured by a chipmunk with delusions of documentarian, and an iPhone.

It turns out the chipmunk and the squirrel were the blogging team behind the daily rants at “We Are Nuts.com.”

‘Killing Hemingway’ received one acorn on the five acorn scale of review. The review went viral.

 And Now a Quiz (Yes Or No)

  • Did you read all of the copy before the quiz?
  • Were you curious if ‘Killing Hemingway’ was a real book?
  • Do you hate writing ad copy?

Who Are You and Why Are You On Spin Sucks?

My name is Brian D. Meeks.

I’m a full-time novelist, who never enjoyed writing prior to January 2nd, 2010.

Arthur Byrne is the protagonist from my satires, ‘Underwood, Scotch, and Wry’ and ‘Underwood, Scotch, and Cry’.

And yes, ‘Killing Hemingway is a real book that I published under my character’s name.

I’m here today to talk to you about copywriting.

Copywriting may be the most hated aspect of being an independent author, but it’s one of the necessary skills needed to build one’s business.

When I published my ninth, tenth, and eleventh novels in September 2015 (a science fiction series), I hated writing the description for Amazon so much, it stressed me out for days before I finally banged out something crappy.

Copywriting: Does It Really Matter and Can You Prove It?

Yes, it does, and yes, I can.

My background is as a data analyst for GEICO.

I used the excellent education I received in their marketing department to take my monthly sales from a consistent $800 – $1,500 to $6,000 – $12,000 per month, with my best month being $17,500 in December of 2015.

I know…data isn’t sexy, but it is enlightening.

The first data test I did showed measurable results when I added “Praise For:” and then three quotes about my thriller, to the top of the description.

I was running ads daily, and because of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program having switched to compensating authors by their page reads, I was able to get a much more granular look at how that change affected page reads.

Put simply, as I ran an ad, some people clicked to check out the book.

Once on the description page, those who subscribed to Kindle Unlimited were deciding between reading the book or not.

For them the book was free, so it was down to the description convincing them my thriller was worth spending their time on.

I saw an immediate spike of 35 percent in page reads.

I tested again with another book and got 32 percent.

Those numbers have remained consistent to this day.

One Lucky Change Does Not a Point Make

This is true.

For the independent author, their reader list is a major focus.

We put calls-to-action in both the front and the back, we give away free books to get readers, and we even spend money on Facebook advertising to entice people to join.

Facebook is a challenging place to build a list in a cost effective manner.

They are VERY good at spending your advertising budget.

When I began building my ‘Magellan Apocalypse’ reader group, the post-apocalyptic space opera I launched in September of 2015, I was running ads that promised the first book, ‘Map Runners’ for FREE to those who would join.

This required two bits of ad copy.

The Facebook ad copy and the squeeze page copy.

The first round of ads, which I ran for about $500 during a three-week period, had dismal results.

My click-thru rate was awful, which made the cost-per-click expensive.

When they did click, I was only converting one in nine people at the squeeze page.

The first step was to rewrite the landing page.

I had a total of eight landing pages, four for the ads targeting males and four for females.

They were identical.

When I rewrote the ad copy for the female landing pages, I focused on the strong female characters, and did a better job with the headings.

My conversions improved to one in three.

I tested the exact same “female centric” ad copy on one of my male age groups, the conversions went to zero conversion for all clicks.

I wrote new “male centric” ad copy and the conversions improved.

This was only half the equation.

I rewrote my Facebook ad copy and immediately saw a drastic improvement in the click-thru rate.

Now I was getting more people to click on the ads and those clickers were converting at vastly better rate.

This meant my reader acquisition cost was plummeting.

How Does It Help Me?

That’s a good question.

It doesn’t…if you don’t learn how to think like a copywriter.

I’ve learned from reading books on the subject, my favorite being, ’The Adweek Copywriting Handbook’ by Joseph Sugarman.

In it, he stresses that the point of all the images, headings, and sub-headings is to convince the reader to actually read the first line (the first heading).

The point of the first line is to get the reader to read the second line.

Hopefully, if you’ve made it here, it is owing to my title, ‘Angst Ridden Squirrel Dominates’.

I felt like that was more likely to pique your interest than the title, ‘An Article About Data and Copywriting to Aid Those Suffering from Insomnia’.

After the first sentence, I grabbed your attention with, “He was being followed.”, which added intrigue and succeeded in getting you to the next line.

Using a name such as Winston McFuzzybottom ensured the readers whom I wanted to read my post would continue.

If you don’t think “Winston McFuzzybottom” is funny, then who needs you anyway?

From there, I focused on a few laughs to keep the reader hooked.

For instance, “…today wore one of cashmere, the most offensive of the wools, and in black.”

If I wasn’t building up to a chortle, then sentences were kept short.

I crafted the beginning in this manner to get you to the moment where you’d realize I would be talking about data and copywriting.

At that point, I had a pretty good chance of converting.

In this case, the conversion was simply having you hooked enough to continue reading the post.

For some of you (the really bright and clever readers), it worked.

So perhaps the secret sauce you’re missing in your business is a better understanding of copywriting.

Give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen?

A judgmental squirrel?

image credit: shutterstock

About Brian Meeks


Brian D. Meeks is the author of seven novels, including four books in the Henry Wood Detective Series, one thriller, A Touch to Die For, one book in the YA/Middle Grade series, Secret Doors: The Challenge, and a satire about social media, Underwood, Scotch, and Wry. He lives and writes in Martelle, IA, population 252, and follows lots of guinea pigs on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Laura Petrolino

    I read the first paragraph and knew this was written by you Brian, prior to even looking at the author box. And it’s splendid! Splendid! It’s funny I was just thinking the other day that I needed to write a post based on your suggestion a while back. Now I need time and space so it’s not compared to this, but it will come.

  • Corina Manea

    What a great, great post, Brian! Loved it!

    That is all!

    • Thanks for giving it a read, Corina. I appreciate it.

  • Can we add Judgmental Squirrel to the list of Spin Sucks guest bloggers? He and Charles should get along finely. ( Plus I think the world needs more squirrels…)
    PS Copywriting is one of those skills that a few people are Naturally Really Good At and then the rest of us plug along. Thanks for the tips!

    • Kate,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It’s been a couple of years since my last rant, but if you enjoy unabashed snark, then you might find the post #Fakehashtaggery, from March 29, 2011, will tickle your funny clavicle.

      Regardless, I’m glad you gave it a read.

      Sincerely,

      Brian D. Meeks
      (sometimes Arthur Byrne)

  • Superb example of how to hook your reader. You had me from the beginning.

    • Thanks Phyllis. I’m glad my copywriting voodoo did its job.

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