Tuesday, February 23

Book Promotion

Well, here I am again, and today, I want to talk about book promotion. I confess I'm terrible at promoting my own books. Sad for me because, as an Indie Author, I'm the only one who can promote my books. Yes, my fellow authors are always great about reposting my "commercials" on Facebook and Twitter, which is pretty much the extent of my social media presence. I really appreciate it when they do that and I love returning the favor. But the bottom line is I'm the one who has to figure out which promotional sites are worth spending my hard-earned money on, which book blogs I want to approach, how frequently I want to put up book information on social media, how often I want to blog about my books, and whom to target with my promotions.

We had a great discussion about marketing and promotion at our February Indiana Romance Writers of America meeting. Lots of great suggestions and discussion about what works and what doesn't, and of course what worked for one author didn't always work for others. The biggest issue for all of us was money. It's hard to justify spending several hundred dollars on a one-day promotion when your royalty checks don't come close to that in six months.  But then there is the old, "you gotta spend money to make money" adage, which is also true. Ack!

As you all know, I write romance for Baby Boomers, which means my characters are older than the average romance novel characters. I spend a lot of time--probably more than I should--trying to figure out how to get my books in front of a larger audience of Baby Boomers. I'm not convinced blog tours are a way to go. I love blogging, but I'm not sure it sells books on any kind of a grand scale. I think Facebook is not a bad way to get your name out, but Twitter does not work for me. I'm there and I'm tweeting, but when I did an ad with a promotion company that tweeted your book for you, I didn't sell a single book. I just think Twitter goes by too fast, plus, I'm not great at Twitter, most likely because I don't spend enough time online.

I did a free book promotion on Amazon when the first two Women of Willow Bay books released and actually had over 14,000 downloads of ONCE MORE FROM THE TOP, so giving books away for free apparently works. I didn't notice a huge dramatic uptick in sales of the other book, however. And frankly, giving away my books for free doesn't feel like good business unless I have a bunch of different titles out there, which I don't at the moment.

I just recently I did a promotion with BookBub, which is a company that sends out millions of emails notifying subscribers to their website about deep discounts on books. If you aren't a subscriber, I highly recommend that you become one. I've discovered so many new and wonderful authors there! My BookBub promotion went out to readers in Canada, the UK, and India. I sold more books in two weeks than I've sold in a year, so I can definitely recommend BookBub. Only problem is, it's very hard to get accepted there when you submit a book for promotion and they are kinda pricey. But that promotion was well worth the expense. It's something I'd like to do again in the U.S.

Even though it's hard for me, I do think promotion is important and to that end, I'm actually planning on doing two book signings this spring--one in my home town and one at the Spring Fling Conference in Chicago. But you know, I really believe that the best way to sell books is to write books. I'm not an author who can crank out five or six books a year, but I try to get one out every year to eighteen months, which is the most I can do and still maintain my editing business and the rest of my life. So, my best strategy is to just keep writing and build my little niche audience of Baby Boomers.

So talk to me, authors. How do you feel about doing promotion? What works for you? What doesn't?

















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11 comments:

  1. Great post, Nan! Promo is such a big question for all of us, isn't it? As you know, I pretty much hate it all, especially since I so often feel as though I'm preaching to the choir. As generous and supportive as other authors are--and I'm sure they break records when it comes to that--they can only buy so many books and recommend to so many friends. I wish I had real answers.

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    1. It is hard--why isn't there a mechanism in place that just flows your book information out to the world as soon as it's finished and ready to go? Hmmmmm...maybe we should work on that!

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  2. I'm with Liz... I feel like I'm just re-posting the books of my fellow authors back to my fellow authors. But "ya gotta start somewhere" as the adage goes. And Nan, You may write baby boomer characters, but your market is really much broader. Many of us (younger generations) can empathize with what your characters experience!

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    1. We are preaching to the choir somewhat, I think, Ava, but yes, you do have to start somewhere and actually, most of my FB friends aren't other authors, so word gets round. And thanks! I'm glad someone younger is appreciating my Boomer gals!!

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  3. Promo is so hard! I'm still trying to figure it out, to be honest.

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    1. As we all are, Kristi, as we all are!!

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  4. I agree wholeheartedly, Nan. It's so hard to figure out what works and what doesn't. Back in the days of print only I heard many authors say you needed to have five books published in order to have name recognition. Now with the over four million books available on kindle on any given day, it is most likely double that, maybe even triple. Ha ha.

    I write because I love to tell stories. I'm happy when someone tells me they enjoyed my book, or leaves a review on Amazon. There is no money in this venture, at least not for me, but I continue to write, and I continue to play the game of promotion via FB, Twitter, friends, and family although for the most part it's a spit in the ocean. I released my seventh book with Wild Rose Press on Feb 12th, numbers are mediocre. If I keep writing two books a year, and keep getting better, maybe I'll reach that level of name recognition by 2020.

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    1. Roben, I'm impressed you can do two books a year! That's great! I don't know anymore what the magic number of titles is for success, but I do know that the spaces are the top are limited. I write because I love to tell stories, too, so I guess that motivation and not sales is the one we should focus on. Thanks so much for coming by, sweetie!!

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  5. I love this blog because it addresses every issue I have faced in trying to market books. Here's the thing: Nan, as you and I know from our anthology experience, there are authors who are terrific at getting a lot of followers (like 10,000!) on social media, but even that doesn't translate into sales. It takes so much time to build that kind of following, and though everyone says you need to do that, you and I know it has its limits. And Twitter. I gave Twitter a really strong effort with my last book. I paid someone to design interesting Tweets and manage them. But I found, as you said here, that they are too "fleeting," and besides that, there are thousands of people tweeting about their books. But who is buying, and who's reviewing (and that's another topic of interest, flagging reviews for indies.) I sound so negative here, but I have no marketing ideas to add, except one thing...Keep writing. Write hard. Write well. And when your best book of all hits, people will go back and buy all your others. Thanks for the great discussion everyone!

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    1. Excellent points, all, Rebecca! Honestly, I think all we can do is write and do our best work and put it out there and let our niche followers help us promote and get the word out. Keep writing--that's the main thing--you are so right, baby! Very glad you came by!!

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  6. This is why I've resisted indie-publishing because I know that I would suck at promotion. I'm too much of a distracted procrastinator. LOL

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