Marketing and advertising is probably the hardest thing about being an author. Most of us are happiest on our own behind the computer monitor, pounding away on the keyboard. Okay, so that’s me. I admit it, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. Doesn’t mean I’m unfriendly, I’m just better in writing. But I digress...
In the past, authors published by one of the Big Boys got multi-city book tours, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, etc. Today, whether traditionally or independently published—I do both—we are expected to do our own marketing campaign. If you don’t let readers know they’re there, you might as well hang up your pen.
The good news is, the Internet makes it possible to do a lot of marketing free through social networking. If you build up a fan base through Facebook and ask all of your friends to spread the word, adding a link to your website (because you have to have a good website), and joining LinkedIn groups for mystery writers, as well as groups pertaining to your platform, you’ll be well on your way to selling books. In my case, because my character is a forensic handwriting expert, I’m a member of private investigator and forensics groups. When I have a new book coming out, an article, or am making an appearance, etc., I post it to those lists. The results may not be huge, but supposedly, every new reader represents five more.
You want bigger? If you’re ready to spend a few bucks and have an e-book to promote, BookBub seems to be the way to go. If you aren’t yet familiar with BB (or similar services like Riffle, or Pixel of Ink), check them out. Once you sign up as a reader with BookBub and tell them which genre(s) you enjoy, they will send you an email every day with four or five listings of free or very low cost e-books in that category. You can also be one of the advertisers.
BB charges for advertising according to genre. They decide where your book fits and they write up your blurb. As an author, you pay according to how many subscribers they have in your category. Mystery has the largest number of subscribers—nearly 1 million now. The fee increases according to what you are going to charge for your book. The fee is the lowest if you’re offering your book free--currently $300 for mystery. If you’re advertising your book at .99 - $1.99, the advertising cost doubles, and it keeps rising according to what you are going to charge. These latest numbers were interesting to me because I just advertised a giveaway through BookBub on February 21st. The number of Mystery subscribers at that time was around 750,000 and I paid $260 for my advertisement. Here’s the link to their pricing page: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing.
What’s the benefit? According to their site, the average number of downloads for a campaign in Mystery is 18,700, with an average of 1920 books sold. Over the five days that I offered Poison Pen for free, I had 56,000 downloads! I’ve been tracking my Amazon rankings and even now, more than a week later, I have seen a big bump in sales of all my books. In addition, there have been more than 30 new reviews (mostly good, a couple of crappy ones—why do they do that when they got it for free?!). The rights to my other e-books are owned by Penguin, so I won’t know about those sales until they send me royalty statements, but I have to assume from the rankings that they're doing pretty well.
I should note, BookBub doesn't accept every applicant, and they don't seem to take brand new books. Your book has to have a track record with at least a few good reviews first.
Will I do it again? Oh, yeah. The next book in my series, Inkslingers Ball, is scheduled for release in May, and I will make my standalone available. That is, assuming BookBub hasn’t priced themselves out of the market by then.
What do you do to get your books seen?