As you’ll remember, a few weeks ago I asked for your thoughts and feedback on paid ads and other kinds of promotions to try and sell your books. I promised to come back with a post trying to summarise the comments. As I shared the post in other places, I also got comments in Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks all for the comments, and although, of course, the numbers and the differences between people’s circumstances and books mean this is in no way scientific, I thought I’d collect common themes and mention some of the points that seemed to come through for me.
By the way, just in case you don’t remember or want to read the original post again, it is here.
Promoting your giveaways, special promos:
As I had read before, most people seem to think that Bookbub is a good option, although difficult to get in, expensive and not everybody seemed to make the money back (remember it’s for giveaways or promos, so it might be that sales follow as a result of it at a later date but…). Now it seems that big publishing companies are using it, so it might get more competitive. You need a good number of positive reviews, and the prices vary according to genre (more for more popular genres).
Here is a comment by a writer (thanks Carol Balawyder) about content in Bookbub:
I went on BookBub’s site and these are some of the writers I found: Jo Nesbo, John Irving, Sophie Kinsella, Dan Brown…I would be like a little league baseball player asking to go up to bat in the major leagues.
Quite a few people mentioned Ereader News Today that is more economical. For some it seemed to work better than for others.
Exploring new sites that are appearing all the time was also suggested. Of course the reach of those might be limited but a combination of many (if you have the time) might be worth considering. I’ve had good comments about The Fussy Librarian.
If you are offering free downloads, check as there are many places that suggest places that list those for free. I have tried a few but I don’t do free giveaways any more, and as I tried many, it’s impossible to know what worked and what not. In any case, some sites have very specific requirements and you need to submit plenty in advance for a chance, so planning is a must.
Word of mouth:
Big cheers for word of mouth. Personal contact, book clubs, etc… If you’re completely unknown and don’t have a lot of following, getting to that stage where you’re in the mouth of people can be quite difficult I guess, but yes, this is the best. And it costs nothing (or possibly some free books if you offer them for review). Of course, getting to the point where enough people have read and recommended is the crux of the matter.
Some people get postcards with information about their books printed; try local venues (libraries, book fairs, markets, local press, radio, independent bookshops if you’re that lucky). And of course, use your friends and connections…
This got quite interesting replies. I had comments about specific blog tour companies (both good and bad, but as they aren’t my personal experience I won’t mention those), people talking about things not going according to plan (people not posting, things being missed), others who organise their own.
Alina, who has worked in PR for many years and writes herself (she also organises blog tours, but despite her personal involvement in the topic, I thought her reply deserved to be quoted, as it covers many aspects other people brought up) told me this:
Blog tours are not advertising. They are closer to PR actually. Do they help? They do get your name out there. They get a bulk of promo posts and reviews for your book soon after it’s published. They also bring it back into people’s mind later on when you are promoting a second book, for example. And yes, if your book is promoted by some really well known book bloggers, that has an impact. So much so that some authors do exclusive cover reveals for example, where they go with only one blog.
Tours can be a bit hit and miss though, and sometimes it has to do with more than who organizes it and what contacts they have. Some genres are more eye catching than others, for example. All in all, I’ve never heard of an author (and I don’t mean just those I’ve worked with) say they reaped no benefits from tours.
As a reader, I have actually read quite a few books because they got great reviews from book bloggers I knew. I know who has similar tastes and whenever they recommend a book, I tend to check it out.
On the other hand I have read some comments from authors who did not feel a blog tour had done anything for them.
I’ve been reading recently quite a few posts about this. So far the conclusions as to the new PPC (pay per click) ads aren’t that encouraging. You need to pay a lot per click to make sure enough people see them to buy (as we all know the conversion rate is quite low, although depending on how you choose your add it might not be quite as low) and then it does not seem to be recouped. Of course, with regards to the effect on branding… It’s probably too early to call and it requires much more experimentation, but like most things, the more people get into them and use them, the more difficult it will be to make an impact. (Check out Nicholas Rossis’s blog as he’s been sharing a few posts on the subject).
Chris McMullen has also shared quite a few posts on the mechanics and how to assess your campaign with Amazon. I share one of them here, but check the whole series if you’re seriously considering it. Ah, don’t forget that to use this your books have to be in KDP Select, so if you’re thinking of publishing elsewhere, this won’t be an option.
Of course, Amazon advertises many other things and there are other ways to go about getting an ad campaign there, but I think most of our budgets would not reach there…
Ads in other sites (Facebook, Goodreads,…)
I haven’t come across much positive feedback on ads in Facebook. Early on they seemed to be difficult to target. Now some people think it might work for the brand but it does not seem to translate on sales (it might be worthwhile if you’re organising something that requires a certain number of likes, etc…).
Some authors have done fairly well accruing reviews through Goodreads either advertising or giveaways, although number of previous books and a strong following/readership seems to be imperative.
Everybody thinks reviews are important, but nobody seems to know exactly how. Some people have got good results from offering ARC (advance reading copies) of their books in groups in Goodreads or to bloggers, others say the bigger blogs with many readers are saturated and it might be months before they get round to your book, if at all. Approaching people directly seems to take time and not everybody thinks the results justify the time spent. (All resources are equally important though. It might be that we don’t have the money to pay for advertising, but of course, time we spend trying to advertise our books, with more or less success also has a value, and we need to weigh that up too. We know life is short but we don’t know how short it might be. Sorry for the philosophising.)
No, no, no paid advertisements
There were quite a few people who said there are far too many other options (social media, friends, other authors, developing relationships, words of mouth…) and publishing can already be quite an expensive business, so no, they haven’t tried and wouldn’t. And there are also those who have tried and consider it a waste of money.
And the readers?
Some said that they have bought books based on Amazon recommendations or ads, also on ads seen in periodicals or magazines.
People still look at covers but some are checking out blogs and discovering new books and authors through them.
Suggestions for further reading:
Sorry, I could not help the title of this section. I’ve mentioned some bloggers to visit if you want to check further, but also one of the bloggers who visited my original post suggested two interviews she’d published that dealt with some of these issues and I thought I’d share:
I’m sure there will be more feedback to come and I’ll keep you updated. In the meantime:
Thanks all for the comments, for reading, and you know, like, share, comment, and CLICK!
Ah, due to technical problems with the original image, I’ve changed the cover of I Love Your Cupcakes and I thought I’d officially share my new one (Thank you, Lourdes). 🙂