Being a Career Author. Do you have what it takes? Part 5 Marketing

Happy Monday! I hope the weekend treated you well!

If you just popped onto my blog, welcome! If you’ve visited before, welcome back!

We’ve been going through the Written Word Media Survey they conducted last year in October.

They broke down three types of authors–the ones who make less than 60k a year and have six books in their backlis, 60kers who have 22 books in their backlist, and 100kers who have 28+ books in their backlist. They broke those groups into sections on who pays how much for what.

My last blog post was a convoluted 2000 word monstrosity on how even though everyone advises authors to have a professional cover made, if you write in a genre that supports a simpler cover, there’s no reason why you can’t learn how to do them on your own. At any rate, you can read it here, and watch my rudimentary YouTube video on how to use Canva templates for an e-book cover so you don’t have to start from scratch. I hope to do a few more of those videos–if I can make a cover, anyone can.

The next installment of this blog series is marketing.

For fiction, marketing isn’t what it used to be. Even three years ago when the words “author platform” were the buzzwords in the author community, hardly anyone says those words now because nobody cares. (And this is for fiction. Memoir and nonfiction have their own rules and nothing I’m going to get into here.)

For fiction, author platform isn’t as important as a simple newsletter, and before, author platform meant your presence on everything from Twitter to Google Plus. That’s not true anymore.

If the author platform is falling by the wayside, how do you “market?” Marketing is simply finding out what kind of books people want and/or need to read and telling them about your book if your book fills that want or need. That’s it. Author platform used to do that. You would use your platform to draw readers to you and your content.

But as the survey points out, you can use promos and let them tell readers about your book. That’s a lot easier than tweeting into the void.

marketing promos

graphic taken from survey linked above

According to the chart, BookBub came in first for promos. Not everyone will be approved for a featured deal, and sometimes Amazon doesn’t like them. The too-swift uptick in sales flags their algorithms. I’ve heard from some authors that they’ve had their books frozen due to suspicious activity. They get it sorted out but it takes time and they lose sales. Also, featured deals are expensive. I know in some genres they can cost up to $600 so they aren’t an option for all authors. 

Promos like Freebooksy and Bargainbooksy work better than ads. I have found that for my own books, anyway. And as the article points out, there is no learning curve. Set your sale, set your promo, and walk away. Let the promo platform deliver your book to their readers.

Marketing-Is-Hard-graph

graphic taken from survey linked above

But what the article doesn’t say is it makes the most sense to use a promo on a book one in a series. If you run a Freebooksy promo on a standalone, yeah, you’re paying to give your book away. And contrary to that poor delusional soul on Twitter who thought being on the top 10 list of free books on Amazon made her a bestseller, unfortunately that isn’t the case. A bestseller implies you are selling books. Nice try though.

If you’re in KU, sometimes you can get some page reads from a Freebooksy on top of giving your book away because instead of downloading it for free, a reader who has a membership with Kindle Unlimited will read your book there instead.

Ads aren’t bad, but they’re complicated and keeping tabs on them so they don’t lose money is time consuming.

If you’re in KU it makes the most sense to learn Amazon ads–then you’re advertising for sales and page reads. If you’re wide and are everywhere like Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, Nook, using Facebook and BookBub ads (not the featured deal) makes sense. Though there is a way when creating your Facebook ad to choose Facebook users who like the Kindle, and that would target only those who buy books from Amazon.

I have dabbled in all the ad platforms and lost money on all of them, too. Your ads will only work if you have a killer product (cover, blurb, title, and look-inside) and it’s only after you lose money when you find out that your cover may have missed the mark or your blurb sucks.

Promos also feature your book’s cover and promos like Freebooksy and BargainBooksy gives you 130 characters or so for a short piece of ad copy so it’s worth it to take the time to write a short hook for each of your books.

Of course, the saying that the best marking marketing for your book is writing another book will never be wrong, and a steadily growing backlist will ensure your readers that you’re going to be around for a while.

Which may also take the place of author platform. Why be everywhere when you could be writing?

What can you do?

  1. Write more books. Promos only work if you have a library to offer your readers. Unless you’re looking for reviews. Freebooksy is around $100 a pop. Not in the BookBub featured deal pricing, but still spendy. Know what your goals are and make the fee count.

  2. Make sure your book is solid. It’s all a waste if you don’t have a good book to offer.

  3. Don’t be scared to stagger promos or overlap them for a longer sales tail. If you put your book on sale for .99 schedule a BargainBooksy and an E -reader News Today (also known as ENT). Authors who are trying to get in on a list like the USA today bestseller list schedule a ton of promos for the same time.

If you want to learn an ad platform there are lots of resources out there:

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For Amazon ads, the best thing you can do is follow Bryan Cohen on Facebook. Ask to join his Selling for Authors Facebook group, and do the 5 day mini challenge he’s starting on January 13th. It’s free, and he will teach you how to use the platform correctly and not go broke. Oh, but I thought you said you lost money, you ask. Yes, yes I did. It wasn’t due to following his instructions, but because an ad for The Years Between Us took off, and no one liked the blurb. So I got plenty of clicks on that super awesome ad, but no sales. I should have killed the ad sooner, but I didn’t and that’s my fault.

BookBub. BookBub has a newsletter they send out to all their subscribers. At the bottom of every newsletter are sponsored books. You bid like you would on Amazon, and if you win, your book has a place at the bottom of the newsletter.

Readers click and it takes them to wherever you linked the ad. The best resource I can direct you to is David Gaughran’s book. He knows how to run that platform, and I would’t try to do any BookBub ads without reading that book cover to cover. When I was wide for two months, I tried BookBub ads. I wasted the money to test ads, to test the graphic, whatever. Don’t Run Away was permafree, and I got a lot of downloads. That didn’t lead to sales of the other two books in the trilogy, and only after two months I went back to KU.

412mZB5USRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Facebook ads. Mal and Jill Cooper came out with the second edition of their book, Help! My Facebook Ads Suck! They explain the platform, what works, how to target your audience. I wouldn’t do a Facebook ad without at least skimming this book so you know what kind of ad to choose, how to put it together, and what kind of graphic to use. I haven’t done much with FB ads. Sometimes I’ll boost a post off my FB Author page. I did that a few times to announce I was back in KU, and I got a small bump in page reads for a little while. I also am boosting posts from my pen name author page to start a little awareness of the books I’ll be releasing in the spring. But nothing too hardcore.

They do include a page about Instagram ads. Since IG is owned by FB, you can run Instagram ads from your FB ad account. I never tried it, so I can’t tell you anything about my experience.

It’s best to focus on one ad platform and learn it really well. I’ll stick with Amazon Ads. Bryan is really easy to understand, and what he teaches you works. But he can only hold your hand for so long. You need to have a viable product or it won’t matter if you choose ads or promos. Nothing will work.

As for a list of Promo sites–people are so generous with what they know. A round of applause to Dave Chesson for putting this list together. 


That’s all that I have on marketing. No two books are alike, so no two books are going to sell alike. Find your audience. Are they like you? Where you do you find your books? Market your books there. Sounds simple, but in the end, it’s enough to make you swear off writing forever.

Good luck!


My next post talks about exclusivity vs. going wide and what the Written Word Media survey has to say about that!  See you then!

end of blog post graphic

 

Where do you find readers? Part 3

finding readers for your books blog posts part 3

BookBub

Not everything is about Amazon and Facebook. I’ve heard about them the most, and maybe you have too, but another ad platform you can try is BookBub. I’m not talking about the Featured Deal that is notoriously difficult to be approved for. BookBub ads are ads for your book that run in a BookBub newsletter. You pay a Cost per Click, or Cost per Impression.

If you’re not familiar with BookBub, I suggest you go on there and at least claim your author profile if you’ve published and put up a photo at the very minimum of involvement. You can find authors to follow, and also encourage readers to follow you. BookBub will email your followers when you release a book or they feature you. Similar to Amazon. To read more about what following authors and what readers following you can do for you, click here.

Anyway, if you’re interested in going for a BookBub featured deal, click here for guidelines and prices. Books that are published wide, have pleasing covers, and have lots of reviews generally have a better chance of getting approved. In other words, books that are already doing fine. But, you can always try.

If you want to know more about buying ad space and the process, you can read about it here.

And if you do decide to go for it and place a couple ads, research what makes a good ad, by reading this blog article. I’m all about researching before you spend any money, and you’ll go into it with a better understanding and a better chance of being more successful. The BookBub blog can help you market any book on any platform, so be sure to bookmark it, or sign up for emails.

Giveaways

free books

There are lots of opinions about giveaways. We shouldn’t train readers to want free books as it drives down the prices of books. People don’t value things for free. Free books don’t work anymore because there is so much free content out there. You don’t have to give away all your books all the time. That’s just not good business sense. But I did a Freebooksy for All of Nothing, and 6,000 people downloaded it. Would I have liked those be sales, especially since I paid to give away those books? Yes! But when I did a BargainBooksy for Wherever He Goes, it didn’t do nearly as well, and I dropped the price of that book to .99 especially for the promo.

When you think about giveaways, you need to decide what your business plans are. If you only want sales and you only have one book out, then giving it away won’t be an option for you. If you give away a Book One in a 7 book series, hoping to cash in on the other 6 books, that’s something else.

I agree that giving a book away may be better if you have a backlist so if a reader falls in love with your freebie, you have other books they can buy.

But even if you have one book, and it’s a solid book, and you may be releasing anothergoodreads stats one soon, giving a book away once could work for you. I don’t mind giving books away every once in a while–I usually do some kind of promo for each book I release then move on. After I did my giveaway for All of Nothing, I got a few reviews (the book has 11-12 depending on which platform you look at, and that’s the most any of my books have ever gotten) and there are some readers who have added it to their shelves on Goodreads.

So again, think about what your plans are if you’re going to give your book away.

There is only one place that I would think about doing a giveaway (besides my Freebooksy promos), and that’s Goodreads. Since they changed the way they do their giveaways, (there was a big to-do about it, and you can read it here) there is a cost involved. But because Goodreads is a site for readers, there’s a good chance anyone who wins your book will actually read it and review it. There are some people who just want to win stuff, but you’re going to encounter those kinds of people no matter what you’re giving away.

The standard giveaway is $119.00 now. If you have to save up a few months for that, work that into your marketing strategy, or begin saving when you know you’re going to have your next release. I know that $119.00 will feed my family for a week. But I also know I can skip a trip to Barnes and Noble and save that money, or skip my Starbucks run for a month and save that money, too.

If your interested in the pricing, guidelines, and perks of doing a giveaway with Goodreads, you can read here for the FAQs on the Goodreads page, and here, for a blogger’s perspective. Personally, I think since the giveaways are paid now, it reduces how many books are available, and gives you a better chance at discoverability. I always approved of the change, and I wouldn’t mind trying it out on my next release The Years Between Us, or I may wait and use it for the first book in my series.

You can do giveaways from your book’s sell page on Amazon. I have tried that a couple times with no apparent benefit. I blogged about it, and you read about it here. It didn’t do anything for me, and while it’s little work and it didn’t cost me anything, if there’s no value, I don’t see the point in doing it.

That’s all that I have for today! I hope you found a bit of value in this post, and join me for the last part of Where do you find readers in my next post. We’ll talk just a little bit about going wide. I hope to see you there!