Some authors can do it—hire a publicist, head out to interviews all over the nation, pay for TV commercials and glossy, full-page ads in national magazines. Most of us can’t, but all of us need some form of marketing plan if we intend to actually sell the novels we’ve spent so much blood, sweat, and tears developing.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no pro at this. I was late to the game. Several books on the market before I started developing a clue as how to reach the market. When I figure something out, I usually run here to 777 Peppermint Place—now known by the less flavorful name of Linda Yezak’s blog—and share with you. Last week, I shared “Effective Linking with Bitly,” This week, I want to mention a few other tools I’ve discovered—and most are perfect for a shoe-string budget.
Giveaway Contest Sites
My promo run on Gleam for Coming Home: a Tiny House Collection is still ongoing, so I can’t really score it yet, but Gleam and Rafflecopter are similar. I don’t know which is best—and at the moment, I’m frustrated with Gleam because I can’t seem to pull up a link to their homepage, just to my campaign page. I probably just need more coffee.
Anyway, what’s great about both of these sites is that they help you grow your visibility and following for little or no cost. Even using the freebie service, you can create contests that send potential readers through several steps of liking your Facebook page or following you on Twitter or, in my case, discovering my new website before becoming eligible to win a copy of your book. So with these services, you’re promoting both yourself and your product. With the paid service, you can also have the participants join your newsletter.
Since I haven’t tried Rafflecopter yet, I can speak only of Gleam—and even then, only partially. But Gleam isn’t totally self-evident. There’s a bit of a learning curve to creating a campaign. I went through and played with it to discover the most effective ways I could use it, and even then I goofed. I used the buttons that allowed contestants to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, then tried to use bonus points to have them follow me on Amazon and Goodreads. Problem is, the “Bonus” button doesn’t allow for links, so all the contestant had to do was poke that they’d followed me to win points in the contest. Actually following me turned out to be optional, and since Amazon itself doesn’t provide follower stats, I have no idea whether folks did. I can tell they haven’t on Goodreads. This doesn’t mean it’s not a good tool, just that I used it wrong. We’ll see its effectiveness at the end of the month.
But the point is to combine your efforts to bring attention to both your book and yourself. People signing up for a giveaway are voluntarily making themselves available for your social media promo efforts.
One of the best things I’ve found for this combo effort is Ryan Zee’s promo service. Not long ago, Ryan ran a campaign for “small-town contemporary sweet-to-mild romance,” and I jumped on board. This is a paid service, and joining that campaign cost me $60, not too bad on my small budget. Ryan accumulated 40 authors, each willing to giveaway two books each to only two winners (can you imagine getting 40 books for free?!). It was great for the contestant, but even better for me—it was a newsletter/Amazon-follower drive. Once the competition ended, Ryan sent me the email addresses of all the participants to use for my newsletter list. Of the over 300 who subscribed, only 22 unsubscribed after receiving the first newsletter.
Email Promo Services
Both of these services work for gaining a following, but for gaining interest in a release alone, I recommend one of the email promo services. There is an amazing number of these sites—I get inundated with “follow” requests from them on Twitter, and I’m sure you do too—but few are truly effective.
Prices on these vary considerably from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. BookBub is hands-down the best, but it’s also the most expensive and the most difficult to get on with. My go-tos are Digital Book Today, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Fussy Librarian, and Ereader News Today, among a few others.
Digital Book Today is great because it gives multiple access. For $30, Coming Home was listed on their blog and went out in two emails to their followers. But the most effective the ones on the list is Ereader News Today. It’s also the most expensive of those I use at $55/ad.
I found a list of email promo services on Indies Unlimited, my new favorite source on all things indie. I’ve been going through the list, discovering which other services are effective, but it’s a slow process because it’s a comprehensive list. If you try any of the other services, let me know what your results are.
The point of these services is to promote books that are free or 99c. If they take anything over 99c at all, they charge more. Some of them charge more or less for different genres too. You just have to look and see what fits your budget, then look them up on Twitter. Although these are email services, Twitter can give you a fairly good idea of the size of their following—though, while I was writing this, I checked my favorite, Ereader News Today. Their following is just under 3000. Go figure.
Combine any of these ideas I’ve mentioned with a Kindle Countdown campaign, and you’re likely to get good sales. Combine anything on this page with an askDavid blitz, and you can expand your reach.
Kindle Countdown is a free service through Kindle. You can access it through your KDP page. With the countdown, you can set your book on sale for a certain number of days, and Kindle will raise the price of the book as the days go on.
What’s great about the countdown is that Kindle pays the royalty at the regular price. What’s rough about it is that they won’t accept a book that has been on sale in the past three months, and they won’t allow the price to change after the campaign for three months afterward. Still, this works great to get attention for novels in a series. Play with the pricing of the books in the series to play off the campaign of the one on sale.
Tweet services are another great tool to use in concert with the others or independently. I recently found MelRock on Fivrr. This service has as reach of over 65K last I saw, and I intend to try it sometime, but the one I’m most familiar with is askDavid (on Twitter, the handle is @book_tribe).
David has around 58K followers, so getting on his tweet list alone can have quite a reach, but he encourages each participant to retweet the others, so the reach rises exponentially–all for $10.00. For that low price, you get 30 tweets that you design and schedule yourself using your own copy, images, and links. You’re allowed only two hashtags, so use them wisely.
When you’re designing your campaign, consider what you want it to accomplish and how to make the most of it. Ninety-nine cent sales are more for exposure than income, but they’re effective. Combining services can make them more effective.