Nightmare Society

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign for his Nightmare Soup horror book, author Jake Tri spent four months building content for a monthly digital subscription service called Nightmare Society, only to end up with 2 subscribers from his audience of over 110,000 followers. We decided a quick teardown was in order to help him out.

My launch failed miserably yesterday. Felt like a bit of gut punch. I need some advice.

So long story short, I wrote a horror book last year that has been selling pretty well. It generates around 7k a month, (4k profit) and it has an active following of about 110,000 people (it’s a physical book). The paperback sells for $20.

With that in mind, I created a digital subscription site comprised of the same type of stories. I spent around 4 months creating the membership site and set a price point of $10 a month.

I then released it to my 110,000 followers and got a whopping two sign-ups…two.

Not going to lie, I’m a little disappointed, especially after 4 months of work and a lot of money spent putting it together.

Leveraging a Successful Book Into a Subscription

When you have a huge, engaged following, it should be the easiest thing in the world to transition that audience into a new project. Unfortunately for Jake, his attempts to create a digital subscription service for his popular horror series turned into a bit of a ‘nightmare’.

Worth noting for this teardown is that by the time we saw and replied to Jake’s request for feedback, he’d already made a number of changes to his site and social media, which is why we were having so much trouble finding any reference at all to ‘Nightmare Society’. Nonetheless, a lot of the advice we give holds true. Enjoy!


Though there’s now only a single Nightmare Soup website, Jake originally had a separate site for Nightmare Society. The specific site we are referring to is indicated in the points below.

  • Both: No e-mail capture.. why? On Soc site change the $1 to a free-ebook-on-signup. Consider adding some in-page mailing list signups, or even a pop-up type one. (if you can do it in a non-annoying way)
  • Soup: Change your “sold out” signs to “order now” and then link them to a pre-order page, or a waiting list page, or to a print-on-demand service where they can get a copy printed and shipped (eg, Lulu or similar)
  • Both: Social Media Links need to be more prominent
  • Make your forum publicly visible. It’ll encourage people to stay on your site longer, and to read more, and then to sign up and post when they want to join in the discussion. Consider building up a “beta” forum using your e-mail list before you launch it publicly. Be sure to seed it with lots of content yourself. Engage on every post. Write lots of posts yourself.
  • Society: Your Shop links point to a “We’re sold out page”. see above comment. You want to capture these people + interest.
  • Society: “Members” page should be more than just a sign up. Have the sign-up on the left/top, then on the right/bottom have all the cool stuff that’s inside, the teaser to join, etc.
  • Both: Can’t really work out how to join as a subscriber. I have to go to the main site, then into the subscribe section… and it’s not really a sales site, it’s a payment processing page. You’re not SELLING the subscriptions anywhere.
  • Overall site design is shitty. I get that there’s a theme you’re following (the white/creepy thing), but that doesn’t mean it has to suck. Everything seems to be squishing into a really narrow column on my screen, too
  • Consider checking out The Landing Page Course by Unbounce. It’s pretty comprehensive.. will give you some good thoughts on how to structure the site for sales.
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  • This 110k audience you’re talking about is Facebook likes. Looking at your page, you actually get some ‘okay’ engagement, but you’re certainly not hitting 110k people with every post.
  • Why is there no pinned post talking about the new service you’ve launched?
  • Why is your last post like 3 months ago?
  • Where are the calls to action to leverage your social following into an e-mail list you can activate?
  • Where’s the call-to-action button that FB lets you have? (eg, “Shop now”)
  • How much did you ad-spend against your audience when you launched your new subscription service?

E-mail list

You said your background is in digital marketing, but I can’t see anywhere that you’re capturing these people onto an e-mail list. But assuming you do have one, my questions would be:

  • Of the people you e-mailed, how many people read the e-mail?
  • How many clicked the link?
  • What did the people who clicked the link but didn’t buy say when you reached out to them?

But if you don’t have a mailing list, my biggest piece of advice is:

  • Drop the $1 thing on nightmare society and make it a “Get a free story for joining our mailing list”
  • Then you can send out regular e-mails to people with teaser-content. Or content that otherwise engages them.

General Comments

The only trackers on the site that my tag manager is reporting are the GA tags. No Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google retargeting pixels?

Most of all, I’m wondering, “How did you release it to your 110,000 followers?”. I can’t see it mentioned anywhere.

Anyway, looks like you spent 4 months working on content and the product and 0 time working on the marketing/sales strategy. Spend a week, do the tweaks you probably already know you need to be doing, then start testing it a bit more to see if you get a better response.

The Response

Damn man, seriously thank you for that incredibly detailed breakdown. I feel a bit bad you went through all of that, because a lot of the things you mentioned I had just changed (I’m working on the site right now).

The realization I had earlier from many of these comments was “Why the hell am I changing what is already working?” In the time spent building the website, writing, and putting together the Nightmare Society, I could have created TWO more sequels to Nightmare Soup, which is what my audience is already asking for. Especially with Halloween coming up. Why am I diluting my brand? Nobody asked for this monthly subscription, I just fell in love with the idea of no shipping, fulfillment, or printing costs.

With that said, I now have this 116 page ebook just lying on my hands (it was the first month of the subscription). So instead of just tossing it and forgetting about it. I’m going to see if I can start a “side brand of sorts” separated from Nightmare Soup with its own FB page, etc. That is geared more towards adults (Nightmare Soup is primarily a kids book).

Regardless, again, I really, really appreciate that breakdown man, still a lot of advice I can use!

The Aftermath

Since this teardown, Jake has not only started selling both Nightmare Soup 2, AND The Nightmare Society books on his website, but he’s grown his Facebook following by another 12,000 people, with a recent video he shared to his Facebook page receiving over 25,000 views and 240 shares. Safe to say, the outcome has been anything but horrifying for Nightmare Soup!

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