Monday, January 20, 2014

Marketing Symposium Jan 20th: My Two Cents.

Today, I'm posting along with several others about Marketing. Visit the blog hosts to find out more, and the other blogs are listed below. 

Thanks to the hosts: Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, Jeremy Hawkins, and Alex J. Cavanaugh.

This is just my two cents on the subject. Since April 2013 I haven’t had the time to do much marketing, so my sales have been low since then. However, I’ve had a few good promos here and there. I feel that every lesser known author is in the same boat. Most of us don’t have a big marketing budget or hours of spare time for social media. So what can you do? There are few things, but if you have only one published book, I believe it’s better to keep writing and gaining reviews before considering any marketing. With one book, you don’t have a lot to work with when it comes to marketing.

Why reviews are important: By themselves reviews won’t generate many sales. However having a decent amount of reviews will give the impression that people are actually buying your book even in times when sales might be slow. When readers browse for books and see the amount of reviews, they think “Hmm..people are reading this one. It must be worth reading.” Don’t we all think that when browsing on Amazon? I know I do. Yet, reviews take time to accumulate, and it takes some work. One must search for book bloggers and go on forums giving away free review copies.

Method 1: Going free combined with an ad at a popular reader site. This has been the best marketing method. At least for me. The best sites I know for doing a promo is Bookbub and E-Reader News Today. Of course, everyone knows about these two. At one time ENT would list your free book for free, and I happened to get in on that and gave away thousands of e-copies of “Seer of Mars.” This lead to about 500 paid sales at $2.99. I know, not very much, but it is science fiction. I don’t even care that I gave a way that many at this point. There’s really no choice. It’s the best way for the unknown author to gain readers, and these promotions are pretty much the easiest marketing you can do.

A decent amount of good reviews is the only way to get chosen at sites like Bookbub. You see, now that everyone knows about these sites they get a lot of submissions, so you’re competing with others to get in. They look at reviews, blurbs and covers. The book has to be novel length. The cover professional looking. Agents and publishers used to be the only gatekeepers, however, these sites seem to be gatekeepers too.

And they don’t want short stories, even if the story may be very good. It seems most e-readers are expecting novel sized works and they are disappointed when it’s not. I have a published short story and many of my reviews complain that they want more. Just like that AT & T commercial “We want more! We want more!!!!”

Then even if you have a good promo, eventually sales will drop back off to 1 to 5 a month.

Method 2: Write in a popular genre because some sell much better than others. Like romance! I’ve only published speculative stories, so no real experience in writing romance. However, I have been watching what other authors are doing. Recently I came across an email from ENT about their Book of the Day 2014 promo coming up.

This is what he said.

“Some genres are very successful with our audience while others don't do as well. Examples of genres that do well are pretty much any type of romance (historical, comedy, western, contemporary), mystery, suspense, drama and sometimes even horror. Genres that don't do quite as well are science fiction, fantasy, young adult, children's books and paranormal. If you want to promote a book in any of the genres that I've mentioned that don't do as well, that is totally up to you but I wanted to make sure to point that out.”

ENT is obviously a good source to find out trends. Here they point out that it’s possible you won’t make a profit from the ad you pay for depending on the genre.

Method 3: Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter. I’ve had sales from both. Facebook seems a bit better than Twitter as far as sales. Maybe because tweets go by so fast. In order not to come across as spam, it’s good to have that freebie. When you plug a free book, it’s not considered spam. Everyone likes to hear about a freebie. Free and social media go together. This is why you need more than one book.

More books = more exposure. When an author has several books published, they can create a chain effect. You can alternate which ones are free and/or have an ad going. Lately, I’ve seen authors publishing box sets of three or more books, and these are selling well. The only issue with this is that I see a lot of them selling for .99 cents. Readers feel they are getting an awesome deal. Authors doing this usually have other books such as sequels priced at 2.99 or 3.99 (or maybe more.)

Links: Be sure to have links to all your books in the e-copies.

Mailing List: When I published a sequel, I emailed everyone who had expressed interest in the first book. Even people on Goodreads just to give them an FYI. I emailed them one at a time. However, now…I have a mailing list. People easily miss posts on Facebook and Twitter, but with email usually people won’t miss it. My emails went something like this:

“Hello, I just wanted to thank you for your interest in my novel Seer of Mars (The Vallar Series.). I’m excited to tell you that the sequel is now available.” (insert link)

And add a personal touch if possible..especially if you know the person. Perhaps even add a coupon for freebie or a coupon for the paperback.

Caution: Not all ads work. Goodreads for example did not work for me. There were a few other sites where I had an ad, but it only generated a few sales. So now, before I take out an ad on any site, I check out the books that are already advertised and see if they are selling. Ideally, try and find one in a genre similar to your book. You’ll be able to see how effective an ad might be before you spend any money.

This concludes my thoughts, which seem longer than two cents. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Having several books available when one runs free seems to work best. You're right - write more books.
Interesting that the one site said young adult doesn't do as well. That seems to be what everyone I know is writing though. (And maybe that's why it doesn't do as well.)
Thanks for participating in our Symposium!

Jeremy [Retro] said...

great solid advice... thank you for sharing your journey and two cents!

Jeremy H.

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Good, solid, practical advice - thanks!

Sandra Almazan said...

Ads can be useful, but I haven't had a positive ROI on them yet. Maybe when I get more books out they'll be more helpful.

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. You really do have to find your genre and where it's selling, eh? That's terribly interesting about ENT's statement. Food for thought.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I really, really believe unknown authors need to have more than one book available.
I've heard lots of conflicting advice today but lots of people recommend ENT.

Chrys Fey said...

Even if an author only has one book out, it's important to market. I only have one eBook available and if I didn't market it, I wouldn't have the reviews, sales, etc. that I have now. You're absolutely right though that more books help. As soon as one book comes out you have to start working on getting that next one out.

My eBook is a short story too. I've noticed that readers get upset if they find out a book is a short story after purchasing it, so I made sure to add a note above my blurb on Amazon, Goodreads, and in my guests posts that clearly states it's a short story. This helps this confusion and disappointment.

A mailing list is a great idea! :)

Tara Tyler R said...

wow! lots of great tips!
i am loving this symposium! time for me to generate an email list. next books in the works, and that seems to be the steady piece of advice, keep writing!

SittieCates said...

I've heard that trying one's hand in other genres is one of the best secrets.

I also agree that reviews are definitely important. I'm trying to get more of 'em. :-) Thanks for sharing your tips!

The Musings of a Hopeful and Pecunious Wordsmith

Yolanda Renee said...

I agree more books, and lots of reviews get the most positive results, and what works for one won't work for all. Networking with other authors will help get the word out but finding your readers and networking with them will get you new readers. All great advice.
Thank you for participating!

Rusty Carl said...

That was very good advice. I really appreciate it. And 500 copies at $2.99 seems okay to me. So congrats to that.

M. J. Joachim said...

Perception is reality. It never hurts to know people have read a book before me. That said, I get a little suspicious of a bunch of positive reviews that appear to be nothing more than false promotion. Reviews have to be real, not just a lot of fluff for the author.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I think you're doing great, Cindy. Thanks for the advice.

Sherry Ellis said...

I think there's truth to keeping the books coming!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Thank you for the thorough breakdown, Cindy! I think what bothers me most about BookBub is the cost, and the the idea of having to submit and be "chosen"-- and yet people are paying THEM for the privilege of being chosen. I know they're super popular right now but there's something about it I just don't like. Pixel of Ink is also very particular but at least they don't charge for their promotions.