So what works when it comes to marketing your self-published book?
Well, maybe that's being overly cynical. You may find some things work infinitesimally, but let me assure you there is no book marketing "silver bullet". At least that's been my experience over the past seven years with my eight novels and two plays.
But, hey, I'm ever the optimistic (what's the alternative?) and so when I received a promotional email (no personalized salutation) from an indie author saying she noticed I’d reviewed a book similar to one she had just written and if she sent me a free e-pub edition would I be interested in reviewing hers, I was curious as to know how she culled my email address from the millions on Amazon.
So I agreed to review her book on the condition she tell me how she got my email address and any other tips she might have on marketing. She responded favourably and was very forthcoming.
This all transpired in early October 2017 and I wrote a blog (see my previous blog entitled Book Launch Case Study) about what she had undertaken to produce and market her novel on October 18th.
As promised I read and reviewed her novel and rated it two stars. It was classically amateur. As well as posting the review I sent her a long, constructive (at least I thought it was) email with suggestions on improving the book and her overall writing.
She sent a terse reply saying I clearly did not enjoy the genre and her book obviously was not for me.
So I thought I would wait and see if the money she spent on marketing would increase the popularity of what I considered a bad book.
Her book was published Sept. 27, 2017 and here's what she'd done and spent up to the point of sending it to me:
- To produce her book she hired two beta readers at $50 each and got a book cover artist from her writers’ group to design her cover for $65. No editor was needed she said as she just happened to be one herself.
- She purchased a Book Review Targeter app for $200 (that's how she got my email address).
- She uploaded the culled emails into Group Mailer and had "about forty-five people agree to read and review a free version of the book and an additional twenty who declined the free copy and purchased the book to review it.”
That's 65 people who agreed to review her book. Keep that number in mind.
In addition, she said she had another three or four lists (from additional similar books) she had yet process.
- At the end of October she was running a 99¢ campaign for the e-book edition for two days on Amazon and one-day free book promotions on Pretty-Hot Books and Discountbookman, spending ten dollars for a featured promotion on bookreadermagazine and running a giveaway on Goodreads.
- Let's not forget her friends, colleagues and clients whom she apparently had no problem asking to buy and review her book. She also asked writers in her writers’ groups to share information about her book on their Facebook pages and had started looking for blogs to ask bloggers to mention it.
All this cost her $375, and, I might think a bit of personal integrity and perhaps even a friend or two. But who isn't prepared to sacrifice their integrity, friends and even money if it means hitting the Amazon Best Seller list?
In the 71 days since her book was released she's had 7 customer reviews on Amazon with an average 4 star rating. Her book is currently ranked 3,359,000 on Amazon.
So what's the take away from this book launch case study?
Am I happy she fell flat on her face? No. Am I vindicated that her efforts fell miles short of what I imagine her expectations were? No (well, maybe a little).
Mostly I hope she's gained some knowledge, maybe a bit of humility and carries on, but with emphasis on improving her craft rather than her marketing schemes. Maybe even get that email I sent out of the deleted file and take a look at what I suggested.
And always remember what Nietzsche said, "Art is the proper task in life."
And that would be whether it sells or not.
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs
Author Amazon Page https:www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU
The 9th annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale is drawing to an end with thousands of E-books, including mine, offered free or at deep discounts through the month of July, 2017.
You might want to take advantage of this offer and download some of my books free since I am resolved not to give anymore of my work away with the exception to my ADVANCE READING TEAM.
Why is that, you might ask? And why now?
There is a school of thought among book marketeers (no, it's not a typo since I consider them in the same category as racketeers) that giving away your work will create readers who will write reviews that will generate book sales.
It's a lie.
Take for example this Smashwords promotion. A total of thirty-seven copies of the five books I offered free were downloaded. My other five titles were offered for fifty-percent off. Zero were downloaded. The vast majority of the two hundred and five books that have been downloaded from Smashwords over the past five years have been free. They've generated zero reviews.
There are two things about offering your work free to readers:
- there's no downside. The reader has invested nothing, so if he doesn't read it he's lost nothing.
- free is equated to no value. The reader thinks the work is garbage (and he might be right) and that's why it's free.
I think my work has value, but I'd still might consider offering it free during the launch if I thought it would generate future sales. It doesn't so there's no point in continuing to demean it.
The exception might be the first book in the Mattie Saunders Series I'm writing featuring an independent young woman with a social conscience and a bad attitude, who loves animals, but not so much people. There's some good evidence that offering the first book in a series free encourages readers to buy the rest of the series. I'll let you know once I have a few more books in the series written and published.
Members of my Advance Reading Team will continue to get free and discounted books as well as an opportunity to read new work before it's released to the public. You can become a member by clicking this link
No spam, no tips to live by, no click bait,
Here's a list and the link to my books, in e-book format, available free or deeply
discounted for two more days during Smashwords sale.
Loving the Terrorist - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/579221
The Rocker and Bird Girl - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727720
The LOCAL RAG - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/671782
End of the Rope - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/655643
Harry's Truth - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649522
Saving Spirit Bear - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/575296
Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/700967
FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend- 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515038
Abandoned Dreams - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/573742
The BIG PICTURE- A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515877
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.
This is my seventh novel, you'd think I should know something about launching one by now. Right?
Because I write this blog and facilitate creative writing circles I continue to read books and participate in webinars on book marketing hoping there'll be something new I can pass on.
There's stats, graphs, media mixes and the occasional ridiculous suggestions like:
- include the title of all your books in the header photo of your various social media sites, and
- post photos of five covers of your books on your Facebook opening page - bottom left column below your intro.
As if this preaching to the converted (since they're already on your site) will make a difference.
Currently, the Holy Grail of social media marketeers is "the e-mail list".
Building the email list should be the primary objective of authors and this is done through giveaways, signups for your newsletter and any other way you can get a person to divulge their email address.
Then, if done right - right timing, content and frequency, these lists can apparently be mined for gold.
Without exception these social media marketeers, authors and webinar presenters all have their own marketing company and will be happy to further enlighten you with an online course or program (for a fee).
Armed with the experience of six previous launches and now buoyed with all this new(?) marketing information I set forth on October 1, 2016 to launch my seventh novel, The LOCAL RAG.
The first thing I did was to enroll my book in Kindle Scout, Amazon's "reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing."
There's a forty-five day exclusive agreement stating you're not selling your book while it's part of the contest.
In essence this is an electronic slush pile, but it's free and easy though it provides little indication if your book is popular since, like most internet polls, it can be easily skewed by nominees who rabidly recruit votes from everyone they've ever come in contact with.
Then I sent an email with a free Advance Reading Copy e-book.
For the first time I used MailChimp. They offer a free service for lists less than two thousand subscribers. I have two hundred and thirty-five emails from people who at one time or another expressed and interest in my writing. MailChimp is worth investigating and certainly beats sending individual emails.
I enrolled the e-book edition of The LOCAL RAG in Kindle Select. For a ninety day exclusive Kindle Select offers me greater royalties, wider distribution, participation in Kindle Owner's Lending Library and the opportunity to offer my book free on Amazon for five days during that period. I chose five individual free days more or less spaced equally apart.
I've used this program for some launches and not for others. The results have been the same - zero.
By the end of the month I had sent out two follow-up emails urging people to vote for The LOCAL RAG on Kindle Scout and read and review my book.
Once the Kindle Scout promotion had expired (results pending but not holding my breath) I scheduled a giveaway from November 7th to December 4th on Goodreads for two paperback books, and here and LibraryThing for the same duration for one hundred ebooks each.
I set up a pre-order on Smashwords for January 7, 2017, ninety days out and once my commitment to Kindle Select is over. I'll likely offer it for free for a couple of weeks just for exposure. Smashwords is another non-starter, but what the hell.
I've joined four Goodreads groups and will endeavor to engage in meaningful and civil discussions during the next three months as well. Social media gurus insist joining and participating in online groups will increase sales - at least indirectly. This by far is the most difficult and time consuming part of the launch.
My goal is to get at least ten reviews and sell at least fifty books within six months of the launch.
With about one month down I've so far received three reviews (all five stars) and no sales.
I'll keep you posted.
Stay calm, be brave watch for the signs.
Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at
Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books
Video book reviews of self-published authors now at
Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews:
Cover Art of books by self-published authors at
More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin
View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/
Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music