Your book is now available on Amazon. It may be available on Smashwords, Kobo, I-Books, etc. So how do you get noticed in a sea of over a million books? How do you stand a chance of just breaking even on your editing expenses?
The quick answer is you must market your book with both paid and free advertising. Marketing? What's marketing? An ad in the newspaper? A TV commercial? Probably not. In my writing business adventure of the last three years, I'll share some lessons learned.
The first piece of advice is to make certain you have an ebook that functions well on the sites you sell it. However, you should also have a paperback version. Why both? Most of my sales are ebooks. The ebook market for independent authors has blossomed profusely over the last couple of years. There are literally hundreds of websites who will promote an ebook for you (for a fee). Paperbacks are still relevant in the age of the tablet. You cannot autograph a Kindle copy at a book festival or speaking engagement. The local bookstore doesn't sell ebooks, but they can sell your paperback. Even though my revenue stream from paperbacks is small, they are an invaluable component of my marketing plan.
Before you panic about your non-existent marketing budget, there are lots of free ways to get the word out on your new book. Here are a few to consider.
1. Use your author platform. This includes your website, Face Book page, Twitter, blog, and any other social media outlets you use. Face Book has many reader groups and some allow you to post sales or launches at no cost. Be sure to read the group's rules before posting. You don't want to be banned on your first outing.These groups are also excellent ways to connect with readers of your particular genre. I recently participated in a Face Book event with a group of mystery authors. The virtual event was a success, garnering new subscribers to my newsletter and there was a nice increase in ebook sales.
2. Send a press release to local newspapers or arts organizations. They may or may not pick it up as a news item, but they can be very effective. Some might scoff at such an old-fashioned approach. However, I've received invitations to speak because of press releases, sold books at the speaking event, plus seen a bump in eBook sales afterwards. I've also received grants to speak, which combined with books sales made for a good month.
3. Make connections with local organizations. Many clubs are looking for speakers and interesting topics. If you enjoy meeting new people and talking about writing or an area of expertise, this may open doors to sales. It requires a little courage and a well-rehearsed elevator speech to pitch yourself, but meeting potential readers personally can gain new fans. Sometimes it provides extra income in speaking honorariums or fees.
As I stated above, there are lots of web marketing sites to promote your ebook. You'll find a list on the Readers and Authors page. Results are varied with each site. Fees range from free to several hundred dollars for a promotion spot. Some sites only accept free books. Others accept bargain priced and free books. Each site has different rules regarding genre, pricing, number of reviews, etc. Read them over carefully. Caveat emptor. There are lots of sites with few subscribers and unmotivated subscribers. There are also scams. Take the time to read through the site's information. Please peruse the author specific links on the Readers and Authors page for more detailed information.
No one can guarantee the number of downloads or return on investment (ROI) when you run a paid promotion. One site may consistently give you good sales and then a promotion with them tanks. What day of the week should you run a sale? Who knows? Much of this is like predicting the stock market. You need to experiment and develop your marketing plan over time. What worked last year may not work this year.
Marketing takes up a great deal of time, researching promo sites, posting info about your sales, sending an email to subscribers. You need to set aside a chunk of time each week to tweak your plan, and look to the future to schedule sales and new promotions.There are lots of risks in business and marketing is risky. It's an area most authors avoid. It's scary, uncertain, and takes money. Start small and work into paid promotions (you can afford) on a consistent basis. Not marketing your book(s) guarantees a low profile unless the Book Fairy decides to sprinkle some sparkly dust on your tomes to attract readers.
When I was starting to get serious about marketing a couple of years ago, the best advice I received was from another mystery author, R. P. Dahlke. After bending her ear about the dismal results of free promotions, she said, "You have to run paid promotions to get sales." She was right. Her rule of thumb at that time was 10% of the previous month's royalties became her current month's marketing budget. Using that, you won't get into debt or run amok throwing cash to every promotion site. If your royalty amount is zero, drop Starbucks for a month, and use that to start. I'll also recommend purchasing her little book on marketing. It's only 99 cents and you'll get great ROI on that. Here's the Amazon link.
With over 30 years in administration as a manager, paralegal, and administrative professional, my experience runs the gamut from finances, policy, contracts, and human resources. My goal is to help writers navigate the business side of writing with understandable and practical advice.