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?
Marketing is a pain in the butt. Unfortunately it's a necessary pain in the butt.ReplyDelete
My favorite is BB. I can be very passive where that's concerned. In fact, BB will be advertising THE SACRIFICE as free on the 14th. I'm also planning during the same weekend, for RED TIDE to be in the KDPS Countdown program. We'll see what happens with that one...
I'm putting together an online class for August that I've titled Mashed Potatoes Marketing. Sort of a comfort food option to pure pain in the butt stuff.
Oh, by the way... I'm using the "thriller" category at BB. Last month it ran me $190. This month it's $200.Delete
Huh. I put in for Thriller and they said, nope your book is a mystery.Delete
Do you have it under Thriller on Amazon?Delete
No, it's under mysteries. I guess they checked :-)Delete
I will attend your class! Sounds like a much-needed one.Delete
I like the title of that! :) Not had much luck with BB yet. Submitted a couple of times, even with 20+ reviews, but no joy. Will try again later this year, when Book 3 is out.Delete
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This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I've tried to break the BookBub barrier to no avail. Not enough reviews is my hypothesis, although they do say they accept only 20% of applications. I've found The Fussy Librarian, which is newer, and still growing its reader base, but since they let you filter for genre and have quite a few to choose from, and go so far as to allow you to also filter for content, such as violence or graphic sex (or without!), your books stand a better chance of being in front of someone who's looking for your kind of books. Also, you don't have to discount your price, which saves a lot of hassle. I had a surprise bit of luck with Pixel of Ink--they found a reduced price I was offering for a week, and advertised it.ReplyDelete
Good to know, Terry. I hadn't heard of TFL, but will check it out.Delete
Nice article on marketing, especially since I'm looking for new ideas. I use Facebook ads primarily - it's a good way to grow you Facebook presence, but the conversion rate of clicks-to-sales is a little lower than expected. Much appreciated, and I'm going to check your book out!ReplyDelete
Thanks! Poison Pen is the first in my Forensic Handwriting Mystery series. You can read the first chapter of each book at www.claudiaroseseries.com Of course, you can do that at Amazon, too, lol.Delete
I'm always interested in discussions about marketing (and handwriting analysis:). It's a jungle out there! I suspect that at some point just as we writers who have become publishers hire editors (hi, Jodie) and cover designers, so we'll add marketers to our team - in the same networking, small business way we do others.ReplyDelete
OK, where's the next chasm to jump over?
I have used marketing/PR companies several times over the past few years and believe me, they are not created equal. Most recently, I used Cameron PR and Marketing in the UK because I'm originally from there and wanted to get known in my home country. They did a phenomenal job--interviews in 3 major publications, etc. Not cheap. Did it work? remains to be seen.
Dana Kaye of Kaye Publicity is also fantastic. She did a 3 month campaign for Last Writes and got me an article with byline in a mystery publication, plus loads of other stuff.
I've used others who...well, maybe that's for another blog!
With my third book due out this year, I thought now would be a good time to see what a publicist could do for me. Though I haven't signed the contract yet, I will have a six-week prelaunch campaign for Greene's Calling (Seventeen Book#3). Of course, there are no guarantees that this will improve visibility or sales, but I wanted to at least try it.Delete
Yes Sheila, I found a lot of "companies" that appear to be set up to rob authors blind! The publicist I've contracted has a good website, a few awards to her name, and testimonials that look genuine when I looked into them further.