You can write the greatest book in the world, the next War and Peace, but unless you can get it in front of a million hungry readers, it won’t make any difference how good your book is.
In the world of a writer, the right hand writes. The left hand markets!
Like many other writers today, I find a huge part of my day is spent on the marketing and business side of writing. Notice I didn’t say just “Indie” writers – that’s because even those writers who are traditionally published find themselves marketing their books as well. In this publishing climate, you can’t sit back and let your publisher get the word out about your book. The keyword with marketing is being proactive.
Where to start?
That’s a very good question. It’s one I get asked a lot, actually, so let’s start from the beginning with the basics. You’ve written a book. Now what? When I think back to my early days of Indie publishing, I was really a marketing novice. For about the first four months, I had no idea how or where to market. There are several books on the subject, but the truth is that marketing in this industry is an ever-changing beast. It’s fluid, just like the industry itself, so discovering what works for you takes time and research.
Let’s talk about ads –
Now, the first thing to understand about marketing ads is there are paid ads and free ads. My paid sites ad list is a cultivated list that I’ve acquired over the past four years. It’s extensive and I use it every time I release a book. It’s a little difficult to gauge where you get the most bang for your buck with these sites, so I usually budget my marketing dollars towards:
- The sites with the biggest following, and;
- The sites with the most reader interaction.
For reader interaction, just look at their posts and see how many comments they have. How many bloggers like their posts? The website itself? That’s a good indication. Some sites will tell you how many followers they have and with others, it’s kind of a mystery. But you can usually tell by the response to their posts. Many responses = a serious following.
Where did I start?
Paid ad sites –
When I first published, my first paid ad was with Kindle Nation Daily. It’s a fairly comprehensive site. The ads can be costly, but I have gotten a good response with them. Other sides to place ads with are sites like The Fussy Librarian, The Ereader Café, and Storyfinds. I’ve had good responses from them. Again, they do cost, but they’re much cheaper than Kindle Nation Daily. We’re talking $30 as opposed to $150.
Is there a Holy Grail of ad sites? The answer is yes – there IS a magic bullet…
Enter the almighty Bookbub.
Now, Bookbub started out a few years ago as a subscription site. It’s not a blog or any kind of feature website. It’s simply a subscription site that sends daily emails to its subscribers on featured deals. They have a massive following but a Bookbub ad can pretty much guarantee you some visibility in your genre. My first free ad back in 2013 wrangled me 52,000 free downloads. Yes, you read that right – 52,000. The only problem with Bookbub is that they’ve become so popular with Indie and Traditionally Published authors alike that they’re extremely competitive. It’s very difficult to get an ad with them and when you do, for Historical Romance for example, the ad is $600. They cost – but their results are measurable. They are, for many, the magic bullet.
Now, let’s talk about free ad sites and free or very inexpensive marketing –
These can work very well if you strategize correctly. Here are a few essential suggestions:
- Cross-promotion with other authors. No man is an island and certainly no author is, so reach out to other authors. Meet them, greet them, make friends. Network at author/reader cons so you get to know your fellow authors.
- Do book giveaways with fellow authors if possible – buy their books and give them away to reader with your own. Hopefully your author friends will do the same!
- Do book bundles (I’m the queen of those) because they WORK. Looking to gain readership? Do a book bundle with three or four other authors in a similar genre. Price the book at .99 cents (remember these bundles are about exposure, not revenue), and draw in new readership that way. Chances are, a reader will pay .99 cents for a new author they’ve never read and, if they like the author, the readers are very likely to run out and buy the rest of the author’s library or series. A .99 cent bundle is worth its weight in gold in that respect.
- There are several free sites out there for free and cheap books. Aurora Publicity has a list to share here: http://www.aurorapublicity.com/free-author-promotion/
- The best thing you can do for your career is make friends with other author and learn from them. The community of authors, as a whole, is very friendly and helpful. Where to reach out? Facebook! There’s a massive community there. Twitter is also good for that. You want to find groups where you connect, grow, and learn.
- One of the biggest places I found new readers was in Kindle Unlimited. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they found me there. That’s not an ad site, or a marketing site, but it is free to join Kindle Unlimited through Amazon. Just be aware that your book must be exclusive to Amazon for the 90 day term you are enrolled. However, to find new readers (and that’s what marketing is all about), I have found Kindle Unlimited to be the best free marketing site for me.
- Seriously – if anyone asks you to do an interview, or donate a prize to a giveaway, or be a guest at a virtual release party, DO IT. You want all of the (free) exposure you can get.
- Don’t be shy about reaching out to other authors or bloggers or websites and ask if you can be featured on their websites or blogs – or read their guidelines and find out how you can be featured. Remember – be proactive!
Marketing with Social Media –
This is a huge part of your marketing strategy. Readers are hungry to have contact with their favorite authors, so make sure you have a Facebook page, a Twitter, page, and a website. Make sure they are on every piece of marketing material you send out or print up. You want to make it easy for readers to click and find you.
Newsletters or blogs are essential – make sure visitors can sign up for your newsletter or blog via your website.
Giveaways and contests draw readers in. I run contests on my Facebook author’s page like this – I’ll give away something (book, swag, whatever). Winners are selected by random. But you WANT referrals – I will select a winner at random and not only give them a prize, but also the person who referred them. Gift cards go over well. It doesn’t have to be big – a little $5 gift card is fine.
The point is that you want that interaction with readers. It’s all part of marketing YOU!
These days, my marketing needs are bigger. I have hired a P.R. company to extend my reach. But until you reach that point, sticking with free marketing sites and cross-promotion strategies will help a lot. Reaching new readers won’t happen over-night but with hard work and a solid marketing strategy, you will see steady grown in the months and years to come.
But one last bit of advice – to keep readers, you must write a quality product and sell it at a reasonable price. The object is to keep ‘em coming back for more, and quality and good prices will do that every time. All of the marketing in the world won’t make up for a poor product, so make sure yours is as perfect as you can get it.
You know that movie tagline? “If you build it, they will come” – let me change that a little – “If you write it (and with a little strategic marketing), they WILL read”….