Welcome back to Day 3 of the Indie Panel. I’m really excited about today because it’s more nitty-gritty. More personal writing and business stuff.
But, if you’ve missed the first few days you might want to catch up first:
Meet the Panel
DAY 1: Why they did it AND Who should consider it
DAY 2: Editors (who, what why) AND Finding your vendors
DAY 3: Processes & Timelines
DAY 4: Promotion
DAY 5: Resources
DAY 6: Things I’d do differently & Myths and Advice
About how much time do you spend per day on promotion & how has promoting changed as yo’ve put out more books?
I spend effectively no time each day on promotion. I look to interact with fans who reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or via email, but I don’t use those sites to repeatedly ask people to buy my existing titles. (I did try that strategy once, early on in my writing career. Dismal failure in my case.) I do announce my new releases a few times when they arrive.
I also submit my books to the many paid promotion sites like BookBub, Ereader News Today (ENT), Pixel of Ink, Kindle Books and Tips, BookBlast, and others. The larger sites are able to promote your books to a social media reach of hundreds of thousands of readers who are looking for a book like yours, and often selection for any of these promotional sites can be the final push your books need to become consistent sellers. These sites are highly selective; I’ve seen many outstanding, highly rated books rejected, so don’t be discouraged if your first efforts with the large sites fail.
I’m the wrong person to ask, since writing/publishing is my very, very part-time job. (My full-time jobs are mother and attorney.) I maybe spend 15 hours per week total – maybe – on the writing gig. Often it’s less than that. Much less than that. But for me, I’ve found that the best promotion is a new book, so I spend more time doing that, if possible. I just don’t have the time for promo, so what little I do is pretty much all in the form of throwing money at the issue or passive promo such as this blog.
But yeah, I need to do more in the way of promo. Maybe if they invent that 27th hour of the day? So I’ll be stalking this blog for ideas from these other brilliant authors!
I spend almost no time on promotion. Actually, promo has become a running joke with my friends. Every time I buy an ad or get nominated for an award or am interviewed or whatever promo’y thing it is that happens, happens — my sales stop. I am promotion Kryptonite.
That doesn’t stop me though! I’ve tried ads, facebook promotes, tweets, banners, sales, countdown sales, Amazon Select… I’ve currently decided to put all my YAs on sale for $.99 for my birthday week. The key for me (or at least my piece of mind) is not to expect anything from these efforts.
Two things that my readers seem to like are my cover reveals and newsletter (sign up HERE (hmmmm… maybe I’m getting better at this PR thing)).
On the flip side of that, I’m addicted to twitter. People try to tell me this is promotion. It’s actually just me goofing around with other readers and writers. I’m a big believer in Twitter Ridiculousness.
An hour a day, maybe? Promoting changes when you have more books because the approach is different. You find out fast that you aren’t promoting books…you’re promoting YOU.
I spend less time now on promotion than I did when I sold my first book to New York. As your readership grows, I think you find your time is more productive spent writing new books than chatting with readers on FB and Twitter and blogging about what’s going on in your head. Don’t get me wrong, I love interacting with my fans, but I have to balance that with writing the next book.
These days I have an assistant who tries to keep me organized. I say “tries” because I can be very scattered and when I get busy working on a book I tend to push aside everything else and don’t respond to emails and requests like I should. Thankfully, she puts up with me, because at this point I couldn’t do what I do without a little help. I’ve found blogging not to be an effective use of my time, but I love to pop onto FB and give away books or leave snippets of upcoming books for my fans. Newsletters are a must to spread the word about a new book, and I’ve found success with things like FB release parties and Twitter parties. At the end of the day, though, the very BEST promo I’ve found is simply giving my books away for free. If a reader loves a free book from an author, they’ll go download everything else that author has ever written. I know some people think setting books to free is like throwing money away, but for me it’s been the exact opposite. It’s been a money-maker.
I don’t spend time every day on promotion, but I try to post something on my Facebook pages or Twitter a few times a week. I’m also part of a group blog (www.kissandthrill.com) so a portion of my weekly promo effort is focused there, which usually isn’t promoting me but promoting other authors and the romantic suspense genre. Frankly, I’m much more comfortable promoting others than I am myself. I love giving out other authors books on Facebook or Twitter, and it’s been a good way to expand my reach, especially on Facebook.
I spend very little time promoting when I’m writing. Maybe a half hour per day of talking to readers on facebook and twitter. When I have a book release coming up I spend more time on promotion—teasers and excerpts on social media, getting ARCs ready, preparing my newsletter. I haven’t changed my process all that much since I started. I guess I used to spend more time submitting to book bloggers and trying to get reviews. I never found the blind submission to bloggers tactic really helpful. It helps having more of an established readership now, of course—reviews come more quickly/naturally and I have an easier time getting ARC readers. The promotion tactics that I’ve had the best success with are usually the ones that don’t require a lot of hands on effort–having perma-free titles to drive readers to my series, making it easy for readers to sign up for my mailing list, and using Bookbub/ENT/other promo sites to get attention.
If by promotion you mean blog tours, interviews, contacting bloggers to do reviews…pretty much zero now, and it’s always been zero. The only promotion I do at this point is a couple permafrees and a couple discount box sets with other authors. I do a Bookbub ad every now and again, I suppose, to boost the permafrees. I do maintain a somewhat active presence on Twitter and Facebook, but it’s pretty much one or two notices for a new release and the rest of the time I just BS with fans and answer their inquiries. Other than that, all my time is spent writing.
In 2013 I spent more time on promotion than any previous year. I went on blog tours and made teasers. I tried to up my social media engagement. I was probably spending at least an hour a day on promotion. Did it pay off? Not really. You never really know how much long-term impact some of this may have, but I didn’t see any spike in sales or interaction and I don’t think it was worth my time for the most part. In 2014, I am concentrating on getting my books written and engaging with fans in whatever way comes naturally. I am not sure how many hours that comes out to per day, but it’s basically a few minutes here and there on social media. I think the key is that you shouldn’t let the time spent on promotion take away from writing time. The books should always come first.
As for having more books out, I think the promotion gets somewhat easier. You have more products to promote, so you also have more tools (free, sales, ads, etc) than you have with just a handful of books or with a single series.
I don’t spend any time promoting on most days. I used to do quite a lot of promoting when I started out – since I wrote YA paranormal, which was very socially-oriented, I tried to do blog tours. They were somewhat effective. As my reach as an author extended, I stopped doing the exhausting, time-consuming tours, and focused on funneling readers toward a mailing list instead. It’s much more passive promotionally. I occasionally update my social media so my readers know what I’m up to, but I don’t actively encourage people to find me there.
What do you think is the best promotional strategy/resources for newer self-publishers??
As difficult as this may be to hear, I think the newest writers should avoid worrying about making huge amounts of money. The odds that your first book will sell wildly at $3.99 in the first month or two are probably about the same as the odds of you walking on the moon in the next year. Your goal is to find readers who will love your work and want to read (and pay) for more in the future because they know your work is a match for their reading interests. Use KDP Select free days and countdown deals to give potential readers a chance to try your work with little cost risk to them. Be sure to ask readers to leave reviews; reviews provide social proof on a product page that others have read your work and, hopefully, have enjoyed that book. More and better reviews don’t hurt in terms of acceptance by major promotion sites, either.
When you get those first readers of your work, it’s critical that you have a way to let them know you’ve got new books available. You can try to do that via Twitter and Facebook. However, the former is lots of noise and your own “Buy My Book!” tweet will get lost among all the others unless you repeat it so often you look spammy. Facebook’s doing all kinds of weirdness now, and it’s possible only a few fans of your page will see your new book announcement there. With that in mind, your best bet is to create a mailing list just to announce new releases. Sites like MailChimp are free to use until you have enough subscribers that you won’t mind paying. Make sure the link for your mailing list is everywhere; at the end of each book, your website/blog, your Facebook page, your email signature, and so on. With enough names on your list, you won’t have to worry so much about lining up paid promotions.
In terms of other promotions, it’s difficult for newer writers with only one book out to be accepted by the larger promotion sites. (It’s not easy for those with 5-10 or more books, for that matter.) If you’re not in Select or aren’t ready to try a permanently free title, you can experiment with price pulsing. This means you set your book to, say, 2.99 as a normal price, and then lower it to 0.99 for a week periodically. There are “bots” which find books that drop in price and which will announce this for you. You’ll typically get a nice upsurge in sales for a day or two. That means more potential readers who can read and love your work, leave glowing reviews, and sign up for your mailing list.
Write the next book. Seriously. And make it part of a series. Most readers don’t want to get invested in a new author unless/until they know there are other books they can glom onto, so don’t spend a lot of time/money promoting your first book if that’s all you have.
Keep moving forward. Don’t stop writing to promote. Don’t stop promoting to write. Do what you’re comfortable with. Don’t make yourself miserable or you’ll make other miserable. Always have something on you to give people when they ask what you write. Enjoy talking about more than just your books.
Write the next book.
Although, my view differs a bit on this. I’ve found that when you put out a lot at once, people expect that to continue. I wish I’d spread out my RVHS books a bit because they’ve been out 2 months and people emailing for more… which is AWESOME, but unfortunately I can’t write that quickly.
Read. Read. Read.
Bookmark authors who are doing things you like and make notes of what you can learn from them.
Write. Write. Write.
Your cover and your blurb are going to sell your book. Period. Your words will sell you, and your readers will start coming in. INTERACT. Socialize. Engage. Answer questions and enjoy the heck out of it. AND DON’T READ YOUR BAD REVIEWS! Seriously, it’ll just screw up your brain. 😉
I mentioned free books above. I still think that’s the very best promo an author can do, but ONLY if you alrady have 3-4 books in a series available for purchase. If you’re a brand new author, don’t give your ONLY book away for free! Wait until you have more. Otherwise you really ARE throwing money away.
Aside from that, I strongly believe that the best thing an author can do is…write more books. Even if you have the #1 NYT Bestselling book, it’s going to do you no good in the future if you don’t have other books for your fans to go buy, because eventually sales will drop off. I see a lot of newbie authors stressing over promoting their first book. I really don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to promo a lot until you have at least three books out.
And after that…my advice would be to…write a series. Readers LOVE series. Especially romance readers. They love following characters, and if they fall in love with a character in one of your books, they’re going to look for them in another book. Series are a great way to get readers to buy more books.
Get the newsletter sign up started right away. It’s a slow process to build a mailing list, but these are your core fans. Write a series, and after the first book has been out for several months, make it free for a while. Making Concrete Evidence free has expanded my reach enormously and had sold a lot of copies of my other two books.
Create your online presence from the start so maintaining it is easy as you go along. A mailing list, twitter account, facebook page, and a blog are pretty basic and easy to maintain. In order to use the powerful promo sites you need reviews. In the early days you can encourage reviews by giving away free books and doing giveaways on Librarything and Goodreads. Any promo that you do is going to be more successful the more books you have out so writing the next book should be the number one goal.
That really depends. If they’re prolific/fast writers, I still think using a first book in a series as a permafree is a very viable strategy. If they’re a little slower as a writer, that might not be as good of an option because it takes a big chunk out of their sales. In that case…I honestly don’t know what I’d suggest doing. I’m pretty much a one trick pony.
The best promotional strategy for newer self-publishers has to do more with the books themselves rather than some kind of big marketing push. Write a series of connected books and get them out as fast as you can without sacrificing quality. This is the best strategy I know. In most cases, good books in a series will grow a career much faster than things like blog tours and swag.
It’s hard to say. It differs widely based on what genre the author writes in. Generally speaking, I’d say that most self-publishers couldn’t go wrong by releasing interconnected books (ideally in a series) on a fairly tight time frame and using the first book as a loss leader to drive traffic toward the earlier books.
Want to check one of the authors out? Just click on their name. 🙂
Two more days of awesome discussion to come!