Today's post is all about marketing. How we do it, what's worked for us, and what hasn't. We'll debunk some myths, share some marketing horror stories, and hopefully leave y'all with some good information.
Oh marketing, you are (sometimes) the bane of my existence. I love getting inside of it and seeing what works and what doesn't, but sometimes that "what doesn't" part can be extremely frustrating. Luckily in the last year or so, I've gotten a bit of a better handle on some things I KNOW will work, and I've weeded out what doesn't work (for me.)
The best marketing tool I've used is a Goodreads giveaway. People LOVE getting physical copies of books, and they especially love winning a *signed* book. I did a giveaway for my first book, and something like 1,000 people added it to their TBR shelves. Will all of those people read it? Nope. BUT, people got excited to add it, and some of those folks might, which could result in sales.
The worst marketing I did was Facebook ads. They aren't bad per se, but you have to be careful with them. Facebook ads are a process. You want to look at who you're marketing TO (you can filter to several countries, loads of them, or just one), what age groups you want to reach, what keywords to use, and most importantly, how much money you're willing to spend. You can have a Facebook ad with lots of results without breaking the bank, but you want to target it to a call to action (ex: Buy my book!) on release day or a $0.99 promo, etc. Marketing those ads just to get page likes will result in empty likes, people who never interact with your page.
So, there are definite pros and cons to marketing. I think another thing I've learned is just to be genuine in your marketing on social media, too. Twitter is my home base, where I spend and invest the most of my time, and zero money. I have a wonderful following there, filled with bright, funny, passionate people. I rely on word of mouth there for sales, and only promote occasionally, like on release days, cover reveal days, etc.
I've tried dozens of different marketing techniques over the last 3+ years. I think that's the beauty of being self-published: you're free to get creative and try as many different things as you want, including adjusting the price of your book. It would be great to have a marketing team and even some of the expense covered so it's not all out of pocket, but there have been things I've tried that I knew I wouldn't have had the freedom to do if I wasn't self-published.
I've done several blog tours and book blitzes, and have had varying degrees of success. Blitzes are great in a way because it gets your book a lot of attention, and it's good for things like increasing followers and adds on GoodReads, but that only goes so far, especially since I'd rather make connections with people than gain a ton of followers who won't ever interact with me. The tour that worked best for me was the 'reviews only' tour I did for my fourth book, Waiting for the Storm. Several dozen bloggers received a free copy of the book and posted an honest review on their tour date. It got me a ton of reviews (ranging in star ratings, which was good), and I think people would rather buy a book that's been 'recommended' by a blogger (or even that a blogger hated but was honest about why they hated it, and those things happen to be things that a particular reader likes, so they give it a chance) rather than just seeing the cover, reading the synopsis, and maybe looking at a teaser and a bunch of links. Something else that has worked with varying degrees of success are anniversary sales. I usually reduce the price of my books on their publication anniversary for a few days or a week.
New things I plan to try for my next release, Something in the Air: paid Facebook ads and maybe even blog ads, and a block of time on NetGalley. I haven't tried many new things with marketing lately, so I think it's time to branch out and start adding to my list of what works and what doesn't!
I've tried a few different advertising routes. I invested a little bit into several Facebook ads. The one worked well for getting my official Facebook page a ton of likes, but it didn't do much else. Others that were for specific posts (for a new release/sale) didn't boost my sales any more than usual. Those ads, in my opinion, can be hit or miss. It all depends on whether you've got the right hook to draw people in.
I have had several release blitzes and blog tours for my books, all of which were a great benefit. You can only spread the word so much on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog--it definitely helps when you have hundreds of other blogs posting about your book. Even if you don't get an immediate sale from someone, they might recognize your name later and give you a chance on your next book.
The one thing that really made the difference for me was NetGalley. Several tour and promo companies (like the one with Patchwork Press) have what's called a NetGalley Co-Op. What you do is pay for a certain number of months to have your book listed on NetGalley. I put two of my books up last fall, each book was available for one month. There were lots of requests and I got a decent number of reviews from it. I also had several readers send me messages asking me to set up a street team. Thanks to them, Lilly's Lovelies was started on Facebook! NetGalley can be an exceptional way to market your book.
I haven't done too much in the way of marketing for my books. With my first book, I put together my own blog tour by emailing a bunch of blogger friends who hosted me on their blogs for spotlights and interviews. A couple months after the release, I paid for a three day blitz to see if I could get the word out further for my book. I sold a few extra copies than usual, but nothing to write home about. I paid for ad space on a blog for a week for my second published book during release week, so I can't say for sure how much that impacted my sales, but I think that it helped a little bit because I read a comment somewhere from someone saying they saw the ad and it piqued their interest.
One thing that was very useful for me was taking part in a 99 cent sale along with a bunch of other authors. It definitely boosted my sales and got my books in the hands of more people. And what was nice about that one was that it was absolutely free! There need to be more of those out there, let me tell you.