Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IWSG: 5 Tips about Book Marketing

MARKETING STRUGGLES

If you're a published writer, you'll know what I mean when I say that the months you slaved over writing and revising your novel was the easy part

Statistics vary (since publishers and booksellers like Amazon won't release them), but around 2500 books are published in the world every day, and that's about a million books a year. So your newly published book is one in a million releasing in any given year. And let's not forget about the millions of past published novels that are still for sale.

Yes, my book (and yours too) is a grain of sand on a beach.  Even those who're published by the Big 5 do not automatically sell well.  Those "Bestseller" lists are pretty small compared to the number of books available for sale.

It's very depressing to have worked so hard but not have good sales...

What's the key to selling?  Marketing.

I've watched countless marketing videos and been on many online seminars about marketing, plus I've actually asked authors who're doing well how they did it.  (I asked speculative fiction authors, not romance or erotica authors, which is a whole other ball game.)

Here's what successful authors told me:

1.  Get on Bookbub.  It's an emailed newsletter with over 2 million subscribers, listing books that are free or heavily discounted. They send newsletters to special interest groups (your western novel will reach those who like westerns).  The best way to sell is put your book at free or 99 cents.  Not only will Bookbub get you lots of downloads, but if you have other books, you'll probably see a rise in their sales too. However, Bookbub has become very picky and accepts mostly well-known, multi-published authors from large publishers, or well-selling books with 50+ great reviews. (Yes, like banks that loan money, the best way to get accepted is to prove you don't need a loan -- or need Bookbub to boost your already good sales.)

2.  Offer FREE short stories, novellas, or novels even if only for a limited time.  There are few things people like better than free stuff.  You can put ebooks on Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon (and force Amazon to change from min 99 cents to free by hitting "tell us about a lower price" which they match after you tell them 50 times or so), or create a download page where you put ebooks in PDF or various formats.  If you get enough downloaders, some will become fans.

3.  Have your own newsletter.  This is a tricky one.  Lots of authors are doing this now, and many people give advice on how to do it.  While advice varies, the same adage about free stuff applies.  Don't bombard your list with advertising and hope they'll buy.  People don't like that and will unsubscribe.  Instead, offer special ebook freebies (or bookmarks in the mail, etc.) available only to them.  Have great content -- anything from writing tips to funny anecdotes about your last vacation.  Offer sneak previews, like the first three chapters of a book you haven't published yet.  And this one -- I just got a newsletter from an author who released his book a few days early on Amazon. He cut the price in half and only informed those on his list that it was released.  They got the discount before the price went up on its official release day.  Make your subscribers feel special, entertain them, give them things so when they see your newsletter in their inbox they want to open it, and then they'll be likely to buy when you have a sale or new release.

4.  Paid Advertising.  Another tricky one.  You can lose big this way unless you're very well informed.  A few tips:  
a) Go visit your competitors' websites (successful authors writing the same thing you do). Study their images and the way they phrase their ads.  They're often designed by agencies, and there's no rule that says you can't copy them.
b) Make sure you target the right audience.  An ad on FB that appears to everyone won't help you.  You can get FB to advertise to a select group, like "Dean Koontz followers, ages 30-40, female." Or find online ezines that cater to your specific genre and have a big readership.
c) There are other newsletters like Bookbub but not as expensive.  Read up on them to find which have the most subscribers.  Or find listing sites that will put your book on their main page.  You can use Alexa Traffic Rank (free for Chrome browsers) to see how much traffic (readers) the sites have compared to others. Don't get sucked into paying for an ad on a newsletter or site unless you're sure it reaches the most people.

5.  Social Media.  Don't expect to sell using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.  You won't get far screeching about your book every day except unfriended and unfollowed.  Even a well-trafficked blog doesn't guarantee sales.  But people can't buy your book if they've never heard of it.  The best way is to honestly connect with people who have the same interests as you -- the more the better.  Interact with them, retweet their tweets, comment on their posts, be friendly.  Then, when you have a freebie, special giveaway, a sale, or a new book released, you can use these people to get the word out.  Those who really like you and are interested in the genre you write are likely to buy.


For more in-depth info, try this link:
7 Tools and 110 Strategies to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers at DigitalPublishing.com



This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group. Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.

37 comments:

Denise Covey said...

Hi Lexa! It's nice being awake while it seems the rest of the world is asleep. I get to get an early crack at the IWSG posts. Marketing must be a nightmare. After reading your post and knowing how you struggle with this, I think that sometimes just the right amount of luck helps. It's annoying how many avenues are closed to emerging writers, even Bookbub, or very nearly closed. I wonder if it's because of often low-quality writing? I hope you find your answer. Being nice to people can't hurt. We can do with a bit more of that :-)

Yolanda Renee said...

The right amount of luck and lots of cash - referencing Denise's comment.
It is depressing and for the amount of time involved, almost not worth it. I think I'd rather wait for lightning to strike. :)
I'll keep pushing for what it's worth, but damn if it isn't a drain! And like I said in my post it steals my joy!

Great informative post Lexa! Wonderful, actually!

Kate Larkindale said...

Oh yes… The dreaded M word. I work in marketing and I still don't have a handle on how best to approach it. At least I have some time before I need to worry about that again.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for all the tips. I didn't know about a lot of it. These all sound really good ways for Indie writers to go. And you're right, not all traditionally published books do that well either.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess Bookbub is not only very picky now, but very expensive. My publisher ran an ad through them for CassaFire but when they applied to do the same for CassaStorm, it was rejected - which they said was for the best, as it was almost five hundred dollars now.
I know I missed the boat with a newsletter...

Rhonda Albom said...

I had no idea there were that many books being published everyday. That's not very encouraging. Great tips, should I ever become publishes.

SA Larsenッ said...

This post couldn't be more perfect timing for me. The angst of marketing is actually what I wrote my #IWSG post about today. As I read all your suggestions I felt my head begin to pound. I get so stressed when I try to learn about marketing. And the newsletter thing...I know I can't avoid that any longer, but I'm still unsure what do, material to include in one, and question who the heck wants to hear from me on a monthly basis????

Munir said...

Those are great tips for people who have written books and would like to spread the word. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Kay said...

I tend to spend more time writing, instead of trying to promote the books that have been already written and published. I never expected to make a lot of money with them....just a personal goal, I guess.

Melissa said...

Great post. I haven't tried Bookbub yet, but I've had success with other e-book advertisers.

IWSG #119 until Alex culls the list again

Cherie Reich said...

Great tips on marketing!

Annie said...

Good tips. Thanks for sharing! (And good luck with your own continued marketing efforts.)

Shah Wharton said...

Bookbub is far too pricey for me, not that my books would be accepted. Esp if Alex's wasn't??

Great tips!

http://shahwharton.com

Jennifer Hawes said...

Great tips for today! Thanks for paving the way for the rest of us:)

Chemist Ken said...

These are great tips. I'm bookmarking this page immediately. Thanks Lexa.

Sharon Marie Himsl said...

Pretty discouraging, BookBub. A great place to buy books cheaply, but as a marketing tool, it sounds pricey and too picky (see Alex's post).

T. Drecker said...

I guess BookBub has been too discovered. What a shame. But I'm filing some of the other tips. Marketing is always a science for itself.

Julie Flanders said...

Marketing is such a nightmare for me that this list is really helpful. Thanks for the advice! Now I just have to actually do the tips. Of course, I will get started right away.... :D

shelly said...

All great advice, Lexa.

Stephen Hayes said...

It would seem that writing the novel is the easy part. Marketing is the real challenge.

Christine Rains said...

Awesome tips! I really need to do the BookBub thing. I do give free stories and I know that does help attract readers. I'm slowly building my newsletter list too. It's tough, but it'll be worth it in the end.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I'm saving your post, Lexa. Marketing is one thing I hate to do. I know it's necessary, but I'd rather be writing. I've been planning to start a newsletter for ages. Guess it's time to do so. Then comes the insecurities that no one will subscribe. :) I just took an online Marketing course and hope to try the suggestions on it.

Hope you find what works for you.

DMS said...

Great advice, Lexa! So many good tidbits in here and lots to think about. Marketing is definitely hard work and it is important to get out there and interact with others. :) Thanks a bunch for the tips!
~Jess

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great tips! I think giveaways definitely help and someday I'll get that newsletter working.

Medeia Sharif said...

Great tips. I know BookBub is pricey, but I'd like to try it. It is daunting to know that many books are published each year.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Lexa, what great advice!! Marketing is a pain. I've tried Bookbub and have always been rejected. I don't know what they're looking for. But I have run across some other good sites that seem to help with sales.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm just amazed that as many authors as I know continue to write, publish and promote their books. It's a constant cycle and so much work. Yet, exciting and, in many ways, motivating. I totally get that the social media I'm engaged in will not sell books. The reward for me is that I'm connected to other people who understand what I'm doing and even maybe why.


You're doing a super job in informing people, Lexa!

Kim Lajevardi said...

Great advice about marketing. I had no idea how many books were published daily. Geez.

dolorah said...

Marketing is a scary prospect. Thanks for the tips.

Cathy Keaton said...

Thanks for pointing these tips out, Lexa! I'm still stuck at the part where you have to actually finish your first draft before you can worry about all this even harder stuff. I'll be sure to come back to it when I need it. :)

S.K. Anthony said...

I absolutely agree with the social media tip!
Well, with all of your advice, but that stood out to me. Awesome post :D

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

One thing I don't understand. Do you contact your publisher and ask them to offer the book free to BookBub? Or do you have your publisher send you the right format? Great post, Lexa.

Lexa Cain said...

Joylene Nowell Butler - I'm not sure of all the details because I've never done it, only heard about it through word of mouth from successful authors. I snooped around a little and I think this page on BookBub can answer your questions. https://www.bookbub.com/partners/overview

Birgit said...

Gosh these tips are very handy and I am always having my eyes opened to all that is out there but also to how much time is spent on trying to get your book noticed-it is a full time job!

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

Thanks for all the tips and for the great link! Writing the book was most definitely the easy part.

Murees Dupé said...

Lexa, this is awesome advice, thank you for sharing. The marketing aspect still scares me. I agree, writing the book was definitely the easy part:)

Ann V. Friend said...

Thanks Lexa, good information to know when I finish my book (smile) Blessings!

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