Book Promo Time? Oh, yeah. As mentioned in other posts, I didn’t market my fiction series at all until I’d published three novels – and trust me, my book sales for the fiction series were nil before this. But after Paint Me Gone was launched, I dove in. The first thing I did was gather intel on what does NOT work, and from there I made a plan about where to begin.
What does NOT work? Paid print and click ads.
Goodreads and Facebook “click” ads were a waste of time (at this writing), according to multiple authors.
- Kirkus ads, both email and print. Per one author, “I purchased a [very pricey] Kirkus email and print ad and it had absolutely no effect on the book.”
I’m going to make a leap here and assume that Google Adwords ads will also be ineffective for fiction, so I’m crossing that off my list as well. But hey readers, if they’ve worked for you, please leave a comment and share specifics!
It’s all about the SALE
What I decided to do was run a sale on book #1 in my series, Mark of the Loon. I lowered the price across all platforms to 99 cents – I’ll try this for two weeks. My goals for the 2-week special are reasonable:
- Sell at least 100 books across all sale platforms (DONE!).
- Reach an Amazon ranking in the top 10,000 or higher (DONE!).
- Gain at least 4 more Amazon reviews for Mark of the Loon (DONE!).
- Get an idea how sales affect B&N and Kobo stats – is it worth being on these platforms? (MAYBE NOT!)
- See if the rest of the series will get a bump from sales of the first book (DONE!).
Where to begin? Using FREE & low-cost listings
I don’t have a street team and I don’t believe hawking wares on Twitter and Facebook works, so my first challenge was how to get the word out. I decided to begin at the low- and no-cost end and work my way up to more expensive promos over time. I have a theory that some of the pricier vendors might be more inclined to list books with Amazon rankings that are already decent – so to begin, I submitted my .99 cent sale to a number of no-cost “ebook deal” websites that will advertise a DISCOUNTED ebook at no charge. Here’s where I submitted – but many of these vendors are now defunct:
- Bargain Booksy. A request for an editorial feature is the only “free” option here.
- Addicted to Ebooks.
- Bargain Ebook Hunter, via HotZippy. (Completed form gets your title submitted to both Bargain eBook Hunter and Pixelscroll)
- Ebooks Habit.
- Best EBooks Free. (Free at this writing.) Easiest submission of all and an instant reply.
- Books on the Knob.
- Booklover’s Heaven.
- Choosy Bookworm.
- EReader Café.
- EReader Perks.
- Just Kindle Books.
- The Midlist (gone!).
- People Reads.
- Pixel of Ink’s 99 cent promotion.
- Read Cheaply.
- Reading Deals.
Note: Many of these sites have requirements – ranging from FB likes to the number of reviews a book must have. Almost all include Kobo & B&N sale links. Most will not guarantee your “free” listing, and most also offer paid options. I only submitted to the free options. As a personal choice, I excluded Facebook sites that also offer these services. If you can add stand-alone websites to this list, please leave the link in comments!
For the second week of my sale, I submitted to these low-cost sites:
- Fussy Librarian. Listing to be included in their newsletter, cost: $3. Overall prices at this writing range $3-$6.
- EbookSoda. Cost: $5.
- Flurries of Words. Date-specific .99 cent book promotion, cost: $5 per book. 48 hours advance notice required.
So I figure week two will cost about $20. I staggered the “run” dates to try and get some idea which sites increase sales the most. (Follow-up: VERY FEW sales from these low-cost sites). And while my sale is running, I’m going to read up on what “them in the know” are advising. Here are three pertinent articles:
Is there a “best day” to promote books in the Kindle Store?
“Although slightly fewer subscribers open their BookGorilla alerts on weekends, those that do open them are more likely to purchase Kindle books … we find that Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday are the top three days for paid Kindle downloads via BookGorilla, in that order.
Tend Your Garden
Joe Konrath once said, “Your ebooks function much like a garden. On rare occasions, a plant will thrive with little help from you. Others may whither and die no matter how much help you give them. But the majority need to be constantly tended. Planted, watered, fertilized, weeded, pruned, mulched, replanted, harvested. In other words, lots of work. … But if you’re doing what you can to make your books discoverable, you have a better shot at sales than those authors who self-publish then self-ignore.”
Doing It Wrong
We can count on Russell Blake to keep us real. Here’s a recent post that will either leave you laughing or checking your social media feeds. Either way, he’s the best. “If you can fall against the keyboard and claw out a few lines of sub-custodial drivel, presto, you’re an author. So it’s not fascinating to anyone but you. Honest. It takes more. If you want to sell books using social media, here’s my suggestion: develop an interesting personality, blog, tweet and Facebook about things that genuinely interest you (that don’t involve you trying to sell someone your stupid book), and maybe, just maybe, if you demonstrate that you can write, are relevant, and have interesting things to say, some folks might think, “hey, maybe I should check out one of his/her books – they might not completely suck, like most of the rest of the dross clogging the drain these days!”
Images by James Vaughan, Gerard Stolk