My publisher, Wild Rose Press, holds a chat every Tuesday evening covering various topics for writers. This week we talked about various aspects of marketing a new release. This chat came on the heels of a separate conversation I had with a fellow local RWA chapter member on marketing and FB promotions. At the same time, I’m mid-stream on a big marketing push for my 4 releases going on this month.
These things all converged and I thought it would be interesting to have an open conversation about what’s worked for me in the past and what’s currently working.
I started out self-publishing for the first 2 years I was published and have been with TWRP for another year. So 3 years and 8 books releases (some for re-releases) later, I’ve tried a lot of different things. Lately I feel like each release involves me waving my arms around madly yelling “book for sale” among a throng of others doing the same, and getting ZERO results from 99% of my efforts in terms of sales. That said, there are some other benefits to be gained–including relationship building with readers, name recognition, getting reviews, and building friendships with other authors–and I’ll mention those as I go.
So, for better or worse, here’s what I’ve tried and how it’s worked. (Warning – massive list below). Throw in your 2-cents! Am I missing anything huge (cause obviously I’ll try anything at least once)? Have you had similar or different experiences? What’s worked for you that hasn’t for me?
Keep It Up?
|Website (General)||Views have grown on my website over time as well as blog followers. According to analytics, I have both regular visitors and new visitors daily.||Yes. Per Lisa from TWRP, readers need a landing page that doesn’t require they be a user to get to it (unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other tools).
My Tip: At a minimum, have the following pages: About the Author, Contact, Books (if more than 3 books, I suggest a page for each book)
|Website (Book Pages)||Used to be one page, but once you have more than ~3 books, it’s time for a separate page for each book.||These pages continue to get the most foot traffic from new visitors. Makes sense, they’re curious about what I write.||Yes. Not hard to create/maintain, and get they regular visitors.That said, I’m trying to decide if I have way too much stuff on the pages these days. Do I pare down and simplify?
My Tip: At a minimum, make sure to include: the cover, the blurb, purchase links. If you have other book-specific marketing, you can also include that – book trailer, review quotes, excerpt, tag line, etc.
|Website (Other Pages)||These days there’s a ton more on my website – everything from quizzes, to a press room, to FAQs). Most of it doesn’t get any visits. Some of it is helpful for me in terms of maintaining information.||I’ll leave what’ s up there. Most of it requires very little touch. Debating if I want to continue to update things like my Press Room page. Worth it?|
|Blog – General Posts||No change over time. Maybe 1-2 comments or likes (if any – none is more common). I do get more traffic from authors when I post on writing-related topics.||I like to blog, so I will continue it. It’s more like journaling the experience for me. If you don’t enjoy blogging, then I’d say don’t bother until you have a lot more readers to visit the site. Although the “if you build it, they will come” method does have something. You have to decide on ROI.
My Tip: Be consistent. If you blog once a week, make it that same day and make sure to do it every week. Also, pay attention to other author’s blogs that you enjoyed/connected with and keep a list of blog topics for yourself.
|Blog – Release Posts||No change over time. Maybe 1-2 comments or likes (if any – though I’m more likely to get something with these).||Yes. I use these pages to promote the release on other social media and I do see them pop up in search engines.|
|Blog – Author Spotlights||One of my favorite things to do is support my fellow authors. These also tend to get the most visits and comments and likes of any posts. I will say, the majority of the visitors are fellow supportive authors.||Yes. Because I enjoy it. Also, in terms of marketing, the visiting authors have readers who might visit my site and become my readers as well. I don’t see a ton of evidence of this, but that’s okay.
My Tip: Make it as easy for the other author as possible. I do find the interviews get the most traction. Try to make your interviews not the usual “what was your inspiration” and “did you always want to write” questions.
|Facebook – Fan Page||Used to only post here and not on my personal page as I had 0 friends. (This is my author stuff. I keep my personal life separate.) I got great interaction and participation.||Then FB, in all their glorious (greedy) wisdom, changed who sees my posts and how and even drops fans who haven’t commented/liked/shared in a certain amount of time. In addition, you can only invite friends to FB events, not fans.||Unfortunately, yes. FB has rules against using personal pages for business. These days I double post on by my personal and fan page to try to reach more folks. What a pain!
My Tip: Combine marketing posts with personal posts. I find this is the best chance for readers to interact with you and get to know you.
|Facebook – Marketing Posts||Things like little giveaways and what-not. These used to work great.||Thanks to FB’s change, I’m lucky if more than 3 people participate or even Like it.||These days I’ve just about given up on doing these. I have to pay to boost the post to get any traction. Maybe I’ll do 1 a month or so, because I know my readers who stumble across them like them.|
|Facebook – Release Posts||Used to get ~100 likes from my lovely, supportive readers and friends.||Once again, darn FB, this has dropped. That said, I do continue to get many likes as compared to other posts. It’s dropped down to only ~20 or so.||Yes. Still important to announce the release everywhere.|
|Facebook – Personal Posts||These get the most responses. Go figure.||Yes. Readers and authors alike really do enjoy the relationship aspect. So do I.|
|Facebook – Banner Change||This also gets a ton of likes as compared to other posts.||Yes. Previous graphic artist here, so I enjoy putting these together. Maybe I should sell my services to other authors. 🙂
Tip: Don’t just make it your book cover.
|Facebook – Boost Posts||Didn’t used to have the option.||Now it’s almost required if I want to reach more of the people who Like my Fan page.||Rarely. Only for those few posts I really want to be seen by ALL my fans. It does help increase the likes and comments. I rarely spend more than $2-3 on a post and that’s only around release time. Frustrating to have to though.|
|Facebook – Ads||The only success I had in the past was driving likes. But found that was mostly people who wouldn’t read my books (oddly). So I stopped.||Trying these again, but to drive people to the buy pages for the books.||I’ll keep experimenting with these. I did see a modicum of success this month and some pick up in sales. Jury is still out on if it’s worth it or not.
My Tip: Definitely try several different images (up to 6) to see what works the best. Then use those images for banners and other marketing.
|Facebook – Party||I’ve hosted 2 and attended several as a guest author. While a ton of fun, it’s hit and miss if anyone except other authors show up.||Debating. I have a big one coming this Friday, based how that goes I’ll decide if I keep hosting one for my releases, or just hook up with other authors for them – because they’re definitely fun.
My Tip: If you host, definitely include several other guest authors – it broadens reach and spreads the work out and is much more fun. Do include giveaways. Try to post about every 5 minutes to keep the energy up. Try not to sign up for multiple close together in time because it makes your invitees have to choose.
|Twitter – General Posts||My twitter followers have grown, but I rarely get interaction on personal posts.||I’m sure I don’t use hashtags well. Twitter is easy to schedule. I don’t do personal posts often, just when I really feel like it.
My Tip: I find posts with images get more buzz. Definitely retweet your fellow authors.
Do use a tool like Hootsuite to help weed through the noise. And use Twitter Lists to guarantee you see posts from certain groups.
|Twitter – Release Posts||I do get loads of retweets from my author friends.||Yes. To me the retweeing power is worth it. I try to retweet as well. Name recognition is still good marketing. And I like supporting others.
My Tip: Don’t just use your book cover. Use a “banner” that’s more square – more of the image shows up that way.
|Pinterest – Boards||0 sales. Decent amount of followers, I guess. Hard to tell.||I see 0 sales from this. However, I use it for collecting my research. I am very image driven, so I find value there.|
|Blog Tour – Cover Reveals||Very few comments. Very little traffic. And if I do it too early, no sales.||No. Trying to save $ so I’ll do a soft reveal on my website/Facebook, but don’t plan to make a big thing of it at the time. I’ll do more for the actual release.
My Tip: If you do these, time them closer to your release, otherwise when you do release readers will think they’ve already seen that book out.
|Blog Tour – Full Tour||I used to get a ton of comments and see significant sales increases.||Less comments and sales impact lately. I do get reviews – best way for me to get new reviewers. I love the tour companies I use (Masquerade Crew & Bewitching).||Yes. Continues to be worth it for reviews in particular. These days it’s practically the only way to get them.
That said, I’m trying to save money now. I may reserve tours for single titles or the 1st books in series only (I’ve found you get less interest for the 4th book because the reviewer wants to have read the entire series.) Jury is still out on this.
My Tip: The blog tour companies all do different things to help promote and some focus only on your genre. Do your research and try a few different ones to find the one that works best for you.
|Blog Hops||Not a ton of comments/traffic. Any I do get seems like it’s all the other authors in the hop.||No. Not worth the time/effort unless I’m missing something.|
|Kindle Promotions (Free Books)||I found 80,000 readers with these free giveaways when I was self-published. However, by my last book, that had decreased significantly and was no longer worth it.||No. $0 for you and it doesn’t guarantee they’ll read it let alone buy the next book.|
|Price Decreases (Sales)||I continue to see a significant pop in sales units from these. Even better sales if I layer it with a pre-order price break. So $0.99 for book 1, and $2.99 for pre-ordering book 2.||Yes. My best boost for sales units and Amazon rank.
My Tip: I find if I pay to advertise with book discount websites, that’s what drives the sales. And even then it’s hit and miss. I’ve heard BookBub is worth every penny, but haven’t gotten in with them. I’ve also heard, the impact of the discount sites is decreasing. But as of my last sale in April, the effort was still well worth the expense.
|Begging for Reviews (Cold Calling)||I found my first 10 reviewers this way. Total beginners luck and that was 2012.||These days, I send each book to ~100 reviewers who haven’t reviewed me yet. I get maybe 1-5 (usually 1) yeses from that effort with each book.||Yes.
When I do get a yes and the review is good, they are more likely to want to review next books. I’m building relationships here (some have turned into true friends) and it also means a handful of reviews I can rely on getting with each book. Not every reviewer can (or even wants to) do every book, so it’s a different handful each time. But still, consistent reviews. BTW…I do want honest reviews, and expect those – even from reviewers who’ve become friends.
My Tip: Keep a list of those you’ve requested reviews from for each book, which ones said yes or no (and why), and the review rating. Helps you figure out who to submit to next time.
|Book Trailers||I don’t have an #s that show a correlation to sales. However, I get the most comments on these when I post them anywhere. So they do generate interest. However, so many have them now, that the impact is decreasing.||Yes. But mostly because I enjoy doing them. 🙂
My Trick: I create them in PowerPoint and then save as an MP4.
|Newsletter||These were my most loyal readers to start and a short list. And 90% would open and read and even click.||With various giveaways encouraging sign up, my #s have increased, which is a great direct way to get in front of them. However, only ~50% open it now.||Yes. But I’m going to let this grow more organically rather than pushing it. I want my newsletter to be people who really care.
My Tip: Use a free newsletter tool like MailChimp. Makes it so much easier and they have analytics.
|Press Release||Just started these. It’s $10 bucks for another website to send it out for you.||Yes. Hard to correlate sales, but it’s easy and relatively cheep. So keeping on chugging.
My Method: I create my own (there’s a ton of blogs on how) and then use PRUrgent.com and pay them $10 to distribute. Only tried it for 2 books – jury is still out.
|Facebook Groups||I belong to several promotional groups on Facebook which are set up specifically to promote. Most have 1000-20,000 followers. And I do see a small boost in sales. I’m not sure which individual group is the most effective as I post to all.||Yes. Seeing small pops in sales and good name recognition opportunity with so many followers on each group.
My Tip: You must have good graphics – text gets lost in the shuffle. Post regularly (once a day or once every other day).
|Yahoo Groups||I announce in the groups I belong to, but it’s more part of my author network of support than for marketing.||Yes. But not for marketing.|
|Contests||I saw a huge boost in sales from my win in the FF&P Prism Awards, but nothing from other contest wins. Also, publishers and agents were not knocking down my doors with interest.||You need to pick and choose here IMO. Be selective and try to go with contests in your genre or with big reach to readers. That said, I find contests fun, so I’ll continue to enter for that.|
|Releasing Closer Together||I’ve heard that releasing books within weeks of each other helps boost sales.||Jury is still out. I’m releasing all 4 Svatura books this month. But they were previously self-pub’d 6+ months apart for each book and so that might not kick in. Keep you posted.|
Very informative blog post. I like your web page and the way its organized. You have a lot of information but it’s quite accessible, user friendly so tto speak..
Thanks Tena. I try to have fun with it. Previous web designer, so I try to make it easy to get to stuff.
Interesting. Agree on yahoo groups–I stopped using them altogether partly because it was so cumbersome to post. Also agree on having guests—you get a broader range of readers. Thanks for the blog.
Yahoo is hard to get into if you don’t have a Yahoo account. I’m part of so many groups at this point that I go in and do everything at one time. But I don’t use any of them for marketing really. Like I said – more for relationships with other authors who get me. 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing all this information. Coming up with marketing ideas is the most frustrating thing I can think of. I thing we should all pitch in a certain amount of money and hire a marketing firm to handle this headache for us. lol
Lol. Sold! I’m in. Where do I sign up?
If we can get 98 more people to sign-up we’re in business! lol
Thanks for the information, Abigail. Very enlightening. I’m still searching for the best method to generate and maintain interest–and sales! V
It’s definitely not any one thing, but a combination of efforts. I’m still looking for the best combo. 🙂 It would be nice if TWRP asked me back!
Thanks for info. I found the blog tour I did a couple of years ago a complete waste of time and money. Images on Twitter seem to have generated a bit more interest. Where do you get your press releases from?
I find the tour company and the rules they set up to make a difference with the blog tours.
I do find that images on Twitter get a lot more notice than just text, although I still have a hard time tracing them to sales.
I use PRUrgent.com. I create the press release myself (there’s a ton of websites on how to do that) and then pay them $10 to send it out for me. I’ve only tried this the last 2 books. Jury is still out on effectiveness.
Thanks for that – will give it a try
This was very informative. I’ve tried most of these and had similar results.
I’m such a newbie that I just feel like I’m flailing around. All the talks about marketing have sounded like this to me: “We don’t know what works. We fling a bunch of stuff out there and some of us sell books.” So some details of what does and doesn’t seem to work for an individual helps a lot!
My suggestion is try anything you think you’d have fun doing. 🙂 This is supposed to be fun!
Great blog! Thanks for sharing this information. You’ve given me some new ideas for marketing and confirmed my thoughts on others.
Glad it was helpful! 🙂