Promoting books is getting harder by the minute
Erika M Szabo
Book marketing is a booming business and new promo services pop up by the hundreds every day. But, which ones are effective? Which ones will result in sales?
The authors work hard for months and even years to write the story and then invest a lot of money to publish their books. Naturally, they want to get paid for their work, just like anyone else who works for a living.
Newly published authors
At first, they try to make their friends and family buy their books. They go through the stages:
The "Hey, I'm published! Would you buy my book?" stage
The "Hey, I'm published! Would you buy my book?" stage
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The "You love me, don't you? Please buy my book!" stage
Picture credit: http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com/2012/06/when-in-doubt-tell-jokes-look-at-cute.html
The "You must hate me 'cause you still didn't buy my book." stage
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The "Buy my damned book or I won't speak to you again!" stage
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By the last stage, the authors realize that they need serious promotion if they want to get paid for their work.
Authors, who don’t have a book marketing team of big publishers behind them and don't know how to market their books on their own, are lost in the jungle of book marketing. Indie authors have to rely on researching promo services or get advice from fellow authors in support groups.
At first, the authors want to see immediate results and tend to use loud, jazzy promotion methods.
It is crucial for every author to have profiles and author pages on social sites. They work on building their pages, join groups and slowly get their pages known to readers. However, when they have a high number of followers and post about their books with buying link, the post is shown only to a few people who follow the page. Why? It is simple. The social sites want to make money so they prompt the author to pay for boosting the post in order to be shown to more people. When the author posts a picture without link ad adds, “Click on the link in comment” very few people will bother to open the comments and click on the link.
The authors join promo groups on social sites thinking that readers browse in groups to find books to read. Most readers don't. The authors post their book link because thousands of other authors do it and, nobody is interested because nobody "liked" the post or even seen the post. They join more genre specific groups and because so many authors post their book links, the new posts bury theirs. Then they get into the habit of posting their book links every day in every group, spending hours on useless promotion.
Then the authors tweet, and tweet about their books until they're blue in the face and nobody likes or retweets their tweets. Then they start retweeting other authors' posts, join "authors helping authors" groups and voila, their tweets are retweeted by many. Is it effective? Does it worth the time? Hardly. Most of the retweets come from fellow authors who just click "retweet" without even knowing what the book is about and very few readers stumble upon the posts.
The authors soon realize that this is a waste of time. Seeing their books in many groups gives them only false security and a false picture of having their books visible. In fact, most of the group members are authors who want to sell their own books. Thus, everyone is preaching to the choir.
I created a promo group that proved to be more effective than most groups. The authors add their book links to genre specific posts only once, there is no need to promote their books daily. Readers can easily find books in their favorite genre. Feel free to join the group HERE
When nothing works, the authors take desperate measures and send their book links in private messages or in emails to their social site contacts.
No, no, and did I say no?
The message meant to be a friendly reminder on the author’s part might results in nasty replies and clicks to the “unfriend” or even “block” buttons.
The author thinks, Nothing works, let me try a paid promotion. They must know what they're doing, right?
The truth is that most of these services, usually offering low fees, use a team (mostly people from India and the Philippines who get paid pennies for their work) to post books in hundreds of Facebook groups and tweet every hour for a day or more about the promoted books. The authors are happy and think, Wow! My book is seen by thousands of readers.
But when the author scrolls through the posts in those “thousands of members” groups, they find out that the book posts are seen by none or the most, by 1 or 2 people.
The authors pay the fee and their post is tweeted by a user who has thousands of followers. The sad truth is that the proudly displayed 5000 “followers” could be bought with a few dollars. Those are just numbers and the so-called followers will never look at any posts. Moreover, the book post is retweeted automatically by the same people over and over, and over, which is just useless display.
It sounds great when a promoter tells the author that they send out their book to thousands of readers, doesn't it?
Reputable, effective, long-standing newsletter services such as BookBub are very choosy, and they will only accept books that have at least 30 reviews and 4 or higher rating. Their service is costly; it can cost $600 for one promo, which very few authors can afford. Some authors report great success, others have not so great experience with it.
There are a lot cheaper newsletter services but the problem is that readers became accustomed to free books. Therefore, very few readers pay for books written by not widely known authors who advertise in newsletters.
It is a great tool for very productive authors who can publish at least 3-4 books a year. The author sends out teasers from the new book and when it's published, the subscribers are ready to buy the book. It doesn’t work for new authors with 1 or 2 books or less productive authors who don't have much to announce in the newsletter, so the subscribers get bored.
Why would any author give away their books for free? They don't get a free haircut, the mechanic charges a hefty fee to fix their cars, and they have to put food on the table just like anyone else who works for a living.
"Every author does it, I must do it too," they say. "Having a lot of books downloaded for free increases my book rank on selling sites."
Is it true? I did countdown deals a few times years ago that offered the book for free for one day. I didn't see any benefit of giving my books away for free. The way I look at it: if readers don't respect the work I put into writing and publishing my books, they don't really need to read my books. If they want to read for free, there are plenty of authors out there who don't respect their own work and don't mind if they're not getting paid for their work.
What works for me?
I don’t bore my social site followers half to death by shoving books into their faces ten times a day. The "Boy who cried wolf" fact applies to book promotion well. The louder you scream about a book, the less will pay attention after a while.
I promote on my author website
Book promotion works on well-established author websites that are promoted with well-placed keywords and page descriptions.
The genres I write (magical realism, fantasy, and children’s books) are not very popular genres but I have steady sales from visitors who click on links on my website pages. I have my pages submitted regularly to search engines worldwide which results in hundreds of visitors who find my keywords in web search.
Do you want to give it a try? Click HERE
My author blog didn’t get enough attention. Why? Because alone I couldn’t keep the constant interest of blog viewers. One author can post only so much before the interest dies out and the visitor numbers decline.
The blog of Our Author Gang works because we do it together. There are interesting posts every day, readers can click on pages where they find their favorite genre books. Would you like to be a guest author or join our gang? We will accept four more gang members, click HERE to read more.
Every time my books are in the monthly Publisher Magazines, my sales jump. Readers like to turn the pages, relax and browse, read a little bit about the books that grab their attention and click on links to read more. Click HERE to see the magazine promo options.
I also get a lot of views of my author magazine and my book presentation magazines which have free chapters and buying links. See my magazines HERE
Thank you for reading my post and best of luck with book promotion!
Click and check out my books
What is your experience with book marketing and promotion?
Where do you find books?
Do you respect the authors' work and pay for their books or do you look for free books?