Do you ever feel like you're running a marathon that has no ending? That's marketing, and that's why...I'll just say it...Marketing is really, really hard!
There are some authors out there who love marketing and are really good at it. I'm not one of those. I was that kid who never raised their hand in class or spoke if they could help it. I write my thoughts more often than speak them. I like it that way. It's familiar and comfortable and, let's face it, a lot easier. For the past few years, I've had the excuse of being up to my eyeballs in dental hygiene school to get out of marketing. It honestly consumed 90% of my waking hours and tormented my sleep regularly right up to graduation day. I could hide behind excuses as an Indie author.
Not so anymore.
I'm thrilled to have two really fabulous publishers now, Clean Teen Publishing and Limitless Publishing. With that comes a heavier responsibility to do marketing. I'm not the only one with a stake in my books' success anymore. In fact, it was part of one of my publishing contracts that I heavily market my books for the first year. So, no more safe and comfortable. No more relying on my books to sell themselves.
As soon as you start looking into how to market seriously, your To-Do list starts looking like this! -->
There are blog tours and cover reveals to set up, an even if someone else is doing the setup for you, you still need to answer interview questions, write guest posts, stop by every tour stop and say thank you, and share links to all the posts on every social media outlet you can find.
Then there is daily promoting on Twitter or Facebook, but not too much promoting because nobody likes social media spammer. Along with social media comes interacting with readers and other authors, because if you're not interacting with the people who might buy your books, or the authors who can help you promote, you're wasting your time on social media.
Promoting takes money, as well, and even if you have money to put toward that, trying to figure out which ones are actually worth it is hard, really hard! There are no guarantees in marketing. It's a lot of trial and error. A simple tactic may pay off big, while a lengthy and time consuming effort produces absolutely nothing.
One of the toughest parts of marketing is convincing readers your book is worth the risk. If you're not an author everyone knows, it's a risk. Even if the cover looks amazing and your blurb is stellar, it's still a risk. How do you give readers confidence that your book is indeed as awesome as you're telling them it is?
How do you get reviews? I heard a statistic that said only 1 in 10 people who buy your book will come back and review it on Amazon. That seems pretty good, but I'm not sure that was a scientific study. I haven't seen that with my books. I'd have way more reviews if that were true!
So what do you have to do? Find readers willing to accept a free copy in exchange for a review. Sounds easy, right? FREE BOOKS!!!
Not exactly. Spamming the book world for reviews doesn't work very well. You need to build relationships with book bloggers and other authors. The types of readers who review regularly and have good reviewer rankings already have tons of books to read. You have to convince them yours is worth the time.
So when I sit down to do marketing, where do I start? Well, after staring at my computer for a while...I ask someone who knows more about it than me. Other authors.
I've learned about the many Facebook groups for promoting books from Holly Kelly (author of Rising), about tours and cover reveals from Angela Fristoe (author of The Touched Trilogy) through her awesome blog Turning the Pages, about giving presentations to local schools from Gail Wagner (author of Donegal Sidhe), from great articles on Huffington Post from authors like Kelly Anne Blount (author of The Necoh Saga), and Rachel Thompson (author of Broken Pieces) who also founded Bad Redhead Media and is in general just awesome at marketing and interacting with her readers. Apryl Baker is the queen of Wattpad, and she helped me figure out what the heck I was doing there, as well.
According to Guy Kawasaki, for four weeks after the release of a book, you're allowed to go crazy sharing links on social media. After that, keep "buy links" to less than 10% of your posts on social media. The rest should be quality content and interacting with readers, which I know Rachel Thompson will agree with. So, you have four weeks to really pimp out your book. Ready...go!
Jump in with both feet. Marketing should really start months before your book ever hits bookstores or Amazon (some say 9 months), but better late than never right?
Here's what I have been doing (what's worked and what hasn't):
I'm not really sure what I'm doing on Twitter. I post links about my books, but more often, I post links about other people's books and and interviews and reviews on my blog. Somehow I ended up with 2K followers and I'm trying to keep them interested.
I scout out blogs and websites who are willing to share news about my book releases. GoodKindles shares free and non-free titles. I found this GallyCat article that shared a bunch of sites to promote on (some paid, some free), and I've been testing a few out. I'll share which worked and which didn't as soon as I figure it out!
Free Booksy has so far gotten the best results when posting about a free book and having readers come back to buy the rest of the series. One promo with them several months ago is still showing results.
I've done several Goodreads Giveaways, but I can't say I've noticed a significant change in sales by doing them. I've gotten a few reviews from these, but not many, even though Goodreads winners are encouraged to write a review.
I tested out the KDP Select program with two of my titles. I know some authors say they have had phenomenal results through this program, but I haven't seen it. I get only a few borrows per month and the free book promotions don't seem to drive further sales.
I've done several blog tours with various companies, and so far the only one that has produced noticeable increases in my sales has been with Turning The Page YA Blog Tours. I'll continue to do blog tours with Angela, but I'm on the fence about trying anyone else.
Reviews are always a great way to promote. I'm all for using big and small blogs for reviews. I don't think ignoring little blogs and only going after big bloggers is a good idea, because many of the smaller bloggers will not only review faster, if they like your book, they'll continue to share your book in the long term.
Promote locally. Gail Wagner, Amanda Strong, and I have teamed up and spent some time giving presentations to the local schools. We've had a blast doing it, but we've also sold books! The teachers, librarians, and students want to read the books we tell them about, and it gets them excited about reading and writing, which is an even bigger bonus!
Wattpad. There is good and bad that comes with Wattpad. You'll get nasty comments from teen readers with no manners, but you'll also find some of your most loyal fans there who will tell everyone they know (literally) about your books. One way Wattpad has been a big help to me, aside from being a great place to connect with readers personally, is gaining reviews. Even when readers read your book for free on Wattpad, they still love having an "official copy" to keep and show off to their friends. When I finish posting a book (either permanent or temporary) I'll offer to send ebooks to the first ten readers who write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Also, I have several perma-free books posted on Wattpad, and if the readers want to continue the series, I'm happy to send them a free copy AFTER they write a review for the previous book. It's really helped me boost my review numbers.
Connecting with other writers is probably one of the most beneficial things an author can do. We all know how hard it is to get our names out there and most are willing to help each other spread the word. Share their links and pins and posts, and they'll share yours.
Marketing sucks. It's hard, and half the time you have no idea if what you're doing is working until much later, but it's a necessary part of being an author. Don't hide behind not knowing how or being afraid to mess up. A lot of what we try probably has little to no effect, but when we do find something that works, it's like being handed one of these...
I'm not sure what these are, but they look yummy and fun to eat :)