“Nobody counts the ads you run;
they only remember the impression you make.”
That’s a massive title, yes? Let me explain. Two years ago, I wrote a post entitled Marketing Sucks.
Guess what? It still does.
I stand by pretty much everything in that post, the exception being…is writing a book a remarkable feat? According to Forbes (2013) between 600k-1M books are published each year, with roughly half of those being self-published.
What’s even more troubling is that on average, books sell roughly 250 copies before they, well, for all intents and purposes, die.
But, let’s think about that number. 250. Have you sold 250 copies of your books? I haven’t. (I’ve given away more than that, but I’m talking about selling.) And what about the writers who sell millions of their books?
It’s plain to see that many of us will be lucky if we ever sell a single copy in order to get Stephen King’s millions to average down to 250.
I am lucky enough to have sold more than a few copies of my books. But not enough to brag about. If I’m being honest, which I always try to be, I am actually lucky to have sold any at all with what little marketing I’ve done. (I touched on why that is last week.)
But, I’m afraid, it’s time to poke the bear.
I’ve got to do some marketing, because so far I’ve only seen one Diane. If you don’t get that reference, you didn’t read the post I linked to at the top. The point is, with the sheer amount of books published yearly, I’m at the bottom of the self-published sea. The Marianas Trench, actually. Nobody is going to find me way down here in the depths. I have to swim, and I have to just keep swimming (if you didn’t read that in Dory’s voice, I worry about you) until I get at least a breath of air.
And no one is going to market for me. I mean, I guess they would if I paid them to. But I don’t know
many publicists who want to work for high-fives and IOUs.
What I outline below should not be considered an official plan. Nor even is it really advice. I’m merely laying out a few avenues I am going to try and then, for better or worse, I’ll update on how things are performing once they’re setup and then I’ll give a “definitive” update somewhere around three months after the launch of The Harlot of Blue Ridge.
At this point, I am really prepared to do some silly things if that’s what it takes to find readers. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t think there’s a true one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, or we’d all be sitting on a beach, sipping margaritas, and chatting about our favorite Shakespearean theories. I’m ready to try a bunch of things, throw a lot of darts, and see what hits and what misses.
So, if you’re interested in any of these avenues it may be worth your while to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter for updates, especially since there are so many things to try, I can’t possibly list them all in one post.
See what I did there?
Probably the only consistent piece of advice I have heard in the last few years is have a newsletter. Have a newsletter. Have a newsletter. Build your email list.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there have also been people who despise the idea of an email list. I guess, to some, it is the equivalent of those spammy people who friend you on Twitter, send you a 1500 word essay via DM about why you should buy their book and then within 24 hours, they’ve dropped you.
Or maybe it just sounds like too much work, I don’t know.
At the time I am writing this, my newsletter has a whopping 16 subscribers. I’ll wait for you to finish laughing.
Done? Good. So, in order to grow that number, I know I have to do three main things:
Offer perks. And just learning more about me isn’t enough. For some people, just the fact I’m going to let them see deleted scenes may be enough. Others may like subscriber-exclusive giveaways. I’ve got to make it an attractive thing.
Consistency. I’ve committed to sending out my newsletter on the last Thursday of every month, and am upfront that there may be additional newsletters going out around the time of book launches or special promotions. I’ve said no more than 16 emails per year.
Advertise it. This means I will have to post about it on social media, my blog (see the new newsletter tab up top!) And when I do live events I’ll have to have a newsletter sign-up sheet. The social media thing will be the death of me. Luckily I have Buffer to fall back on. I can load it up with posts, set up dates and times, and then let it do the promotion for me so I don’t have to think about it.
I subscribe to several authors’ newsletters, both indie and trad, and I’ve spent the last couple of months deciding what I do and don’t like about them in the hopes I’ll produce something subscribers will enjoy. I’m sure I’ll make some tweaks here and there as I learn more.
I’ll update you all soon on how much, if any, growth I see with my newsletter.
I am not convinced that KU is the best option for me. I think there are certain genres that do extremely well there—such as contemporary romance.
However, I have been reading more about people using KU as a launching pad before going wide. I am going to give this method a try with The Harlot of Blue Ridge. The plan is to take advantage of some free days and countdown deals in hopes of getting reviews before going wide.
Since I am hoping people who read Harlot will also want to read Alabama Rain and vice versa, I am going to work on pulling AR out of wide temporarily so KU readers can access both. Depending on how successful they are will determine how long I leave them in KU.
I do think, though, since more people are likely to get Kindles for Christmas than they are a new Nook…I’ll likely let them stay in KU until at least February.
My friend, author Joshua Edward Smith, recently did a great post on lock screen ads with Amazon, and I am anxiously awaiting to hear an update. (Joshua recently released a fantastic financial thriller, Singularity—I cannot speak highly enough of this book!)
Since I am going to utilize KU at the launch of Harlot, I am going to toss some money at Amazon and utilize the lock screen ads using some of the tips in Joshua’s post.
There’s not a lot for me to say here, since I haven’t created the ads or decided how much to bid—or anything at all just yet. I will go more in depth on this in the coming weeks.
Social Media Ads
I would love if you’d comment below with any prevailing advice you have or your personal experience with social media advertising.
My initial assumption is that Instagram would be a good place for some sponsored posts because of how insanely popular Bookstagram is. There is one giant looming issue I have, though: the lack of clickable links. I don’t think there are many people out there interested in the painstaking process of copying and pasting. Something else that gives me a shred of hope is that I am getting a little better at InstaStories.
I think the second-best place for ads would be Facebook. If I can figure out, and I doubt I can with one go, the best parameters to set for the ad, they can take off.
Twitter, as much as I adore it, seems like the least likely to be worth my time and money. Please feel free to tell me if and why I’m wrong.
Online Launch Party
These always sound fun, though I haven’t the first clue how to make one successful. I haven’t really decided on if I’ll go through with one of these or not. If anything, I’ve considered doing a modified version of an online party. Maybe an Insta/FB Story with me reading some lines or a live Q&A. I know what my biggest hangup would be here, though: No one showing up. That would be my biggest fear, and most likely outcome. I can see doing the Insta/FB story thing. Perhaps instead of a live Q&A, I would ask for questions in advance and answer them via Stories. Idk. Logging in to do a live event and having no one there would deflate me completely I think.
In-house, Local Launch Party/Signing
When I launch Harlot it’ll either be late October or early November. My FAVORITE time of year. So, I am brainstorming ideas for setting up a few things around town. I’d like to approach a local book store about setting up a signing, which may not sound like my cup of tea because of my aforementioned fear of people not showing up to an online launch party, but I think there are enough people locally I could invite that would show up so I’d avoid that. I’m also thinking of seeing what I could set up at a local coffee shop or two.
I’ll need to tightly budget this because I’ll want to offer snacks and beverages at the in-store event (the owner appears to like wine and cheese events. *squeal*) but I’ll also need to have swag (which, just a heads up, I’ll be doing a post about swag soon), and the main thing—books. I’ll need to have a sufficient amount of paperbacks on hand so I actually have something to offer people.
Doing in-person events can get pricey.
ARC and eARC Giveaways & Book Reviewers
I plan on doing a small run of ARC copies from IngramSpark and doing a giveaway or three for an ARC, but also I want to find some book reviewers to send ARCs to as well. I’ve found a few on “Booktube” I’d like to approach, but alas, not a single one of them are accepting submissions…and haven’t for a while.
eARCs are a given. It costs me next to nothing to send eARCs.
And, even though I’ve done my fair share of complaining about it, I’d like to do a giveaway with Goodreads. So…that’s $119. And I can’t think of a single metric to determine if I recoup that cost. I know GR makes entrants add the title to their “want to read” list among other “marketing perks” (I think that’s their term), but I’m also cynical and believe there are many people who create accounts simply to enter giveaways and will add any and all books listed in giveaways and do not care at all about titles they don’t win. But, I’m still going to give it one shot. We’ll see.
All for Naught
But none of the above matters a single iota if I don’t have an amazing book with an amazing cover an amazing blurb, and amazing formatting. Because Mr. Bernbach’s quote up top is spot on. It won’t matter how many ads I run if I don’t have a product and brand that gives a good impression.
NO PRESSURE, RIGHT?
Obviously I’m working on the story—and I have a few ideas on how to expand on what I learned with formatting Alabama Rain.
I’m still tweaking the cover…and it’s completely different than I any previous design I’ve shared publicly.
I’m already working on the blurb. It’s gone through a few changes and will likely go through plenty more.
If you’d like to be among the first to see Harlot’s official cover, blurb, the release date, etc…then you’ll want to sign up for my newsletter. ♥
Have any must-try marketing tips for me? Please leave them below!
Have a fantastic week, loves. ♥♥♥
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