Book Marketing: The Basics

by Molly Greene, @mollygreene

Today I’m sharing the five-pronged book marketing blueprint I established to get my Gen Delacourt Mysteries back in the game after time away from writing, marketing, and self-publishing.

It’s not rocket science. I just went back to basics, forming my re-entry strategy around a simple five point plan: 1) consistent paid promotions combined with 2) rotating discounts, 3) social media posts and interactions, 4) personal blog and guest posts, and 5) the occasional email to my Readers Club subscribers, a.k.a newsletter.

There are lots of other things to do, but I consider these the core spokes of the wheel that will drive my marketing wagon. Writing more books is actually the most important element, but you’re on your own there!

1. Paid book promotions

I’ve mentioned before that taking time off is a setback in more ways than one. First and foremost, the paid book promo scene has changed. The rise and fall of marketing types and sites continued during my hiatus and I had to re-learn what worked, and what had fallen by the wayside. Luckily – and, as always – author friends helped me get up to speed.

For paid promotions, I set a monthly budget of about $50, ideally divided between two paid promos, one every two weeks. Per author Catherine Lee, these sites produced her best results for the investment, in order of cost:

  • Free Kindle Book & Tips: $25.
  • Ereader News Today (ENT): $40.
  • Book Gorilla: $50.
  • Robin Reads: $60 basic, $75 featured promo.
  • Freebooksy: Standard free promo $85; series promo, $150.

Before you shout foul, I realize that BookBub is the Holy Grail, but it’s not accessible for many authors. In addition, I know there are other sites that garner some success, and would love to hear other authors’ experiences as well as readers’ favorite book promo sites – aside from BookBub – to find new authors to read. Please leave a comment below!

For the most part, the prices noted above overwhelm my budget for a single promo, forget twice a month. To compensate, I made a long-term investment in the Bookbots via their indiegogo campaign to cover my second monthly promo. Authors can do the same here, and readers can sign up to receive news about free and/or discounted ebooks here.

2. Rotating discounts and sales

For the past eighteen months I’ve made my first-in-series, Mark of the Loon, permafree. In the recent past, I’ve only promoted that title. But I’m changing that routine now. If you haven’t read it, The Last Fairytale is 99 cents for a limited time.

In future, to keep the paid promos fresh, I plan to cycle through my series and discount and promote a different title every month or two, each of which works as a standalone. You can never tell which book cover or blurb will spark a reader’s interest enough to click a purchase link, right?

3. Social media

For social media, I chose to focus on Twitter and Facebook, with an eye to ramping up my Instagram presence. I use paid Hootsuite to pre-schedule bulk tweets, then spend a little time live on both platforms every day. It bears repeating that social media is not a direct sale undertaking. Twitter and Facebook work best when you use the platforms to interact pleasantly (!) with author friends and readers as often as possible, and live. Talk about books, travel, fun stuff, whatever.

Social media is a tough road right now, with the world upended and chaotic, and folks are understandably distraught and upset much of the time. So be discreet. I share discounted or free titles from trad and self published authors I love, blog post links and general upbeat stuff, along with the occasional self-promo post. Find your lane, and be consistent. For inspiration, watch Author Toby Neal on Facebook and take notes. And buy her books!

4. Blog posts

I was a consistent once-a-week blogger for years, then stopped in Spring of 2016. The reasons were complicated. I started blogging before I published a book and my posts detailed my self-pubbing experiences. So the original incarnation of my blog was author-centric. I decided to take a break and contemplate its future.

The obvious answer was, going forward, to publish posts more of interest to and including my readers, which every author probably knows, and which I blogged about long ago. So I’m doing my best to segue from author-centric blogging to posts that appeal to both readers and writers. This post clearly does not fit the bill, aside from one question:

Readers, where do you most often go to find new authors to read? Please leave a comment and share!

Now I hope to get back to blogging at least once a month. (Guest posting on pertinent blogs can also help with discoverability, by the way.) New posts keep the website fresh, it provides an outlet for data and research you can’t use in your books, such as what you’re reading, travels that take you to plot locations, etc. Which leads me to… subscriber newsletters. Your blog posts can provide content for these.

5. Subscriber emails

The final leg of my strategy involves more consistent contact with readers who’ve signed up for my Readers Club. I hesitate to contact my list unless I have something to give away, but sharing info about discounted books and freebies qualifies. I’m aiming to reach out to them probably once a quarter or so. Hey, that’s a lot for me!

Authors, how are you getting the word out about your books? Readers, what’s your favorite place to find new authors to read? Leave a comment and share!

Note from Molly: If you haven’t already, check out my Amazon Author Page, friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe and you won’t miss a post. By the way, all original content by Molly Greene and guests is copyright protected. Mwah! Thank you so much.

 

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14 Responses to Book Marketing: The Basics

  1. Jennifer Jennings September 4, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

    Thank you for the post Molly,
    I’ve used the sites you mentioned with various degrees of success. Another new site that I’ve tried recently is Mnybooks.net. They have a similar layout to Bookbub, but still affordable. I’ve only tried them once, but I think it was worth the money.

    I spend about 50-100.00 a month with paid promos, but I do very little social media. I just try and keep a pre-order going all the time, and Amazon helps to get the word out to my readers.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t felt inspired to try anything new in terms of promotion, but I’m always on the lookout.

    Good luck with everything! is a new book in the works?

    • Molly Greene September 4, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

      Thanks for the tip, Jennifer. I keep hoping someone will make a run at BoobBub and give us another venue that’s even half as successful. I still think the trick with paid promos is not to use the same one or the same title very often, but what do I know??? And yes, Book #9 is in the works. I need to write faster, miss my old routine of three books a year!

  2. Anne Hagan September 4, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

    Hi Molly, I’m glad you keep posting for authors too. I know doing so doesn’t directly help you sell books but I think the interchange of ideas is helpful for all of us.

    I too have taken quite a bit of time off of writing and publishing this year. I’ve done some of the same things you’ve done, especially with regards to social media but I did apply for and get a Bookbub in March. I stacked promos around it but then left email promos alone since.

    I’ve had some good luck doing Amazon PPC ads, not so much doing Bookbub PPV ads. The Bookbub ads are very competitive. With Amazon, you can find keywords you can win with a penny bid. I’ve also found blogs to advertise on very cheaply that target readers in my genres and their specific niches. These can be gold. One, Women and Words, is only $5 for a 30 day ad that appears in the sidebar. They have 8 writers that rotate and guest bloggers so there is a new post every day.

    Finally, you know I write primarily mystery and romance with a lesfic slant. Bookbubs are getting easier to get for lesfic but it’s still one in every 6 or 7 instead of once or twice a month. A well regarded lesfic author started, just this spring, a once a week discount newsletter exclusively for books that feature lesbian protagonists in any main genre. She did an incredible amount of advertising for it on Facebook and on blogs where ‘our’ readers congregate and she signed on so many readers that authors ponying up just $19 to advertise a discounted book are moving near Bookbub numbers for what costs $90 minimum (for a free book listed as LGBT) there.

    • Molly Greene September 5, 2017 at 7:57 am #

      I agree about exchange of ideas, Anne, and appreciate all of you who visit my blog do just that! As for your genre opportunities, good for you!! I feel sad that we’re all confined to drooling over getting a BookBub, and so deeply wish there were two or three such venues to choose from. Gah!

  3. Belinda Pollard September 4, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

    Thanks Molly. Another good one to file away for when I finally get my second and third books out in my series. I’ve accepted that there’s not much point me doing much promo on one book (although I do have a light memoir as well), so I’m letting them idle at present.

    Hope your new world with regard to your books turns out to be very successful and satisfying.

    • Molly Greene September 5, 2017 at 7:53 am #

      Just so you know Belinda, a while back I saw a free ebook in BookBub’s email that was a single title only, nothing else for that author to sell. What do I know??

  4. Catherine Lee September 5, 2017 at 12:31 am #

    Great post, Molly. I had success with the ads you mentioned (thanks for the credit!) in the early part of this year for my first in series, which was at the time permafree. I was also lucky enough to get a BookBub on it, which really boosted my sales for the rest of the series. I put it back to paid a couple of months ago, haven’t done much promotion at all (some AMS ads, but my heart hasn’t been in it), and sales of the series have dwindled accordingly.
    I recently released a novella in the series, and as it just hit the page minimum for Bookbub and had a lot of early reviews I thought I’d submit it. It got accepted, and will run later this month, so I’ve scrambled to put together a promo plan for the next twelve months to this time try and prevent the slide.
    My plan is to keep the novella permafree, also put the first in series back to permafree (about a month after this BB runs), and run monthly promos for both of them. So I’ll have two permafrees, I know, call me crazy, and each one will be featured with either a larger or smaller promo site each month.
    As I have compiled a list of eleven decent promo sites it means each book will only be featured on each site once in the year, but I’ll have two promos per month altogether (with a month off, or I might give the one Jennifer mentioned above a try).
    By doing this I hope to keep eyes on the series more consistently (there are currently three other novels and one other novella to purchase, plus a box set), so sales are closer to level rather than big spikes and long tails.
    It’s all theory at the moment, but I’m excited to give it a try. I’ll also be releasing the next in the series in December, so I’m aiming to put it up on pre-order before this month’s BB, and then do the pre-order thing where whenever I release a book in the series, the next one is already on pre-order so I can link to it in the back.
    Phew, that got more long-winded than I thought it would. Hope it makes sense. If not let me know, I’ll send you the spreadsheet I set up which explains it all better.
    Good luck with your plan, it looks like you’re putting in a lot of work so hopefully it will all pay off.

    • Molly Greene September 5, 2017 at 7:50 am #

      Thanks, Catherine! You’re going to be busy, too … thanks for sharing your plan. At this point I don’t think anything is crazy, I think we need to try all sorts of things until we find what works for us. Then of course, everything will change again. Sounds to me like both you and Jennifer have the pre-order thing down. I’ll have to give that some thought. And yes, please share your written doc, would love to read it!!

  5. Maureen Grenier September 5, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

    Thank you again, Molly, for your very useful blog post. Your hard work is an inspiration!

    • Molly Greene September 5, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

      My pleasure, Maureen!

  6. Marty Langenberg September 6, 2017 at 4:49 am #

    Hi Molly,
    I read your earlier post referencing the BookBots and I was tempted to sign up. Trying to maintain my commitment to due diligence I tried to find a contact page for Kerry Gardiner but had no luck. I would like to know a little more about her/him before I plonk down my hard-earned. Do you have any contact details, please?

  7. Anne R. Allen September 7, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    Thanks much for this post, Molly! Sharing.

    • Molly Greene September 7, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

      My pleasure and thank you, Anne!