I met with my critique group this morning and we spent a good portion of the meeting talking about how to promote our books. We’re a diverse group, writing non-fiction, memoirs, women’s fiction, romance, sci fi and mystery. Some are traditionally published and some, like me, are hybrid. But no matter what we write, or how we are published, the task of marketing falls squarely on our shoulders.
What it boils down to is this: You may have written a really good book, it may be edited, with an attractive, professional cover, but if you don’t market it, you are not going to experience success.
My group often teases me and tells me I need to run a seminar for them, to share what I’ve learned. Last fall, I decided to start treating my writing as a business. Why shouldn’t I make money on it? I spend a lot of time writing, editing, rewriting, and I run it through my critique group until I’m satisfied it is good enough to be released. I invest in professionals to help me get it to that point. So, it only makes sense that I should market it and spread the word about my books. And since I’ve gathered this information, done the research, and tried various things myself, I thought it might be helpful for others.
So, back to the topic – how do you get your name out there?
Blog. Blog regularly. You’re a writer, write. Let readers get to know you, hear your voice. Several years ago, I read a blog post by Tawna Fenske that resonated with me. I loved her voice, subscribed to her blog, and was so excited when her books started to sell. And I’ve bought most of them. Blogging gets your name out there. Google and other search engines like that.
Website. Invest in your own domain. It’s really not that expensive, and it’s not that hard. Do it on a shoestring budget to start – all you need is a domain and a host. I recommend starting with GoDaddy or Fat Cow, because they are user-friendly. I started with GoDaddy and changed last year to Fat Cow. I use WordPress as my blogging platform (check out the link for info as to org vs com), which integrates well with both. If you are new to creating a website, take the time to read their tutorials or watch YouTube videos BEFORE you begin. Seriously, invest in yourself – invest time and invest money. If you want to be a professional writer, act like a professional writer. And don’t bank on Facebook or any other social media site – you want to own your material and control it.
Giveaways. As far as I’m concerned, the jury is out on this. I’ve run Goodreads giveaways and I don’t think it’s done squat for my sales numbers. You might have a different take on it – feel free to comment and let me know what your experience has been if you’ve tried them. Amazon now offers giveaways, too, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Advertising. You have to spend money to make money.
Pay Per Click. It’s just what it sounds like. Your ad appears (usually in a sidebar) and, if someone clicks on the ad (which should lead them to your book’s Amazon page), you pay. I like this idea because it allows you to play with your ad as people respond (or not). You can tweak the text with your ad if you aren’t getting results. You control the budget. You can run PPC ads on Facebook, Google, Goodreads, etc. I haven’t had great results with these ads. I think they’re too small, too easily missed. I didn’t even realize they were there until I started buying the ads.
Subscription Promotions. There are a boatload of newsletters out there than send emails to their subscribers on a regular basis, usually alerting them to discounted ebooks. This has proven successful for me. To see just how successful, take a look at the yearly review I did last year. This gets to be really overwhelming, because once you start looking, you’ll find that everybody and their brother has a mailing list and wants to send your ad, usually for a reasonable fee. How do you choose? I recommend that you sign up for the newsletters. Pay attention to the newsletters that appeal to you. If they appeal to you, there’s a good chance they’ll appeal to your readers. Look at their subscriber numbers. Do they offer targeted newsletters, such as genre specific? What is their Alexa number (how high do they rank – click here for a good article)? Do they offer add-ons, such as a listing on their Facebook page or do they tweet about your promotion? (the best known of these, in my opinion, is BookBub. I’ve never run a promotion with them, because they are really pricey. Another is EreaderNewsToday, who I’ve had good luck with. There are lots and lots of others – EbookHounds, the Fussy Librarian, Robin Reads, ManyBooks, BargainBooksy, etc.)
Stacking Promotions. When you are running a promotion, I recommend running a series of ads. This serves several purposes: 1) you can evaluate the sales on the day of your ad, and 2) you can build upon your success (the idea here is that people from Day 1 ad will purchase your book, which will then make it appear on the “also bought” banner that appears on Amazon book pages, and 3) the more sales you get, the more Amazon’s algorithms notice you (and that’s a good thing).
Marketing Calendar. You have to KEEP selling. In order to do this, create a marketing calendar and plan your promotions. Some of the really good subscription services are highly sought after, and you have to apply early to get your book on the list. I’m trying to promote my books quarterly, but I’m still fairly new at this, so time will tell if this is a good plan.
Pricing. Pricing plays a huge part in marketing. Think about how much to price your book in the first place. I price my books generally at $2.99 or $3.99 as the regular price. Personally, I look for books at either $.99 or $1.99 when I buy, because I tend to be a bargain shopper. I’m willing to take a chance on a new author at that price.
Okay, this got way longer than I intended, but I wanted to jot some ideas down while I was thinking about it. I’ll spend a little more time on each of these things later, and go more in depth, but hopefully this’ll get you started. If you want more detailed info, make sure you sign up for my newsletter.
Happy marketing! (and if you’ve found something that works, I’d love to hear your thoughts)
If you’ve found this info helpful, feel free to pass it along.