Authors Answer 43 – Promoting the Book

It’s time to panic. It’s the indie author’s worst nightmare. It’s that horrific stage of publishing known as marketing and book promotion. This is probably the one thing that most authors dread having to do if they don’t have a traditional publishing contract. This time around, we have a reader question, from tlclark.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 43: I would love to hear anything anyone has to say about book promotions and what route work best for them.

S. R. Carrillo

So far, the best promotional value I’ve found is in my social media presence and giveaways. Particularly, giveaways.

D. T. Nova

So would I, since I lack the experience to say much about them myself.

Linda G. Hill

Promoting my novel, when it’s published that is, is not something I’m looking forward to. It sounds like a lot of work no matter how it’s done. I did have one idea of my own however; there’s a book drive for the Alzheimer’s Society in my town twice a year. I thought about donating to them and perhaps volunteering to sign some books when they’re sold, with all the money from the sales going to the cause.

Allen Tiffany

This is a tough one because it is so big and the ways to be successful can be very diverse. The question is kind of like ‘how to be successful in life?’ That said, there are some things that you can do to help improve your odds. I claim no expertise in this field, but I have recently published a novella on Amazon, and I’m averaging about 3.5 sales a day over the last month or so, and sales are ramping. So all those are good things. But 3.5 books a day does not mean I have it all figured out. I don’t.. For what it is worth, I’ll share a few points:

First, it all starts with the basics: Great story, well told, and well edited. Also must have a great cover and an engaging blurb. You need to maximize your “SEO” features on Amazon as well as on all your Social Media platforms.

The one thing I do think I have done well is get mostly 5-star reviews from Amazon’s top reviewers. It was a time-consuming task, but I carefully hunted them down and engaged them personally, asking them to review my novel. About 15% have, and I now have 10 such reviews from top reviewers, to include Amazon’s #2 reviewer.

I’ve actually written an exhaustive article on all the other things I’ve done, what has and has not worked, etc., on my own blog. You can see it here: WWW.AllenTiffany.COM.

Gregory S. Close

I’ve had little luck with book promotion through Twitter or Facebook.  Certainly not sufficient to make the investment worthwhile.  Amazon sales and giveaways have provided some temporary bumps along the way.

I’ve found that the best type of promotion has been mostly unintentional.  There is a really great community on reddit (no, seriously, on reddit) that I discovered at WorldCon in San Antonio a couple of years ago.  It’s a great place to discuss the fantasy genre, very accepting of different viewpoints, well-moderated, and very supportive of indie and self-published authors (at least the ones who engage the community for more than just self-promotion).  I’ve probably gotten the most “high-value readers” from that forum.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

In my personal opinion, book promotion is the worst part of being a writer. Give me the self-doubt, the revision hell, and the rejection letters any day; trying to promote your book is both physically and emotionally painful.

I’ve gone a couple of different routes. The first promotion I ever did was a free e-book day; I made “Nowhere to Hide” free for 24 hours on Halloween. It was successful in the sense that a ton of people downloaded the book, but it was a failure in the sense that not one of those people rated or reviewed the book, which was what I was hoping for. Later I did a couple of Kindle Countdown sale days, each of which only saw a tiny handful of sales. After that I joined the Self-Publisher’s Showcase, which got me a couple of sales in the beginning but then died off completely. Eventually I did a Goodreads giveaway and had some modicum of success; I gave away five books and got four 4-star-or-higher reviews in return.

I have also, of course, talked about the book on multiple forms of social media and encouraged people to read the first chapter for free on Amazon. In general I have found that no method really worked in any significant way. The most sales I ever got were right after publication (when all my family and friends were buying it) and sales have been pretty abysmal ever since.

I hate to sound like such a downer, but I’m just telling the truth!

Jean Davis

So would I. Beyond the usual blog tour, local signings, twitter and facebook posts, and online giveaways, I’m all ears for additional ideas.

Eric Wood

I have no experience here.

Caren Rich

I don’t have any experience with book promotions.

Paul B. Spence

I’ve run limited-time offers of the first book for free in digital format. I’ve also run Goodreads giveaways for signed copies. What seems to be working best at this point is giving away free short stories to get people hooked.

H. Anthe Davis

I’m a big chicken when it comes to promotion, so I’m just going to listen to the rest of the crew here and resist the urge to hide under my bed.

Jay Dee Archer

I have no experience promoting books, but I have had experience promoting blog posts. While not the same kind of thing, considering books are much longer than blog posts, I think some of the principles do apply for both. A good social media presence can help, and does get me some exposure, but it’s not the best way. I’ve found that the best way is through word of mouth, sharing by readers, and making things interesting and engaging.

You see, I tend to have busy days when my blog posts are promoted by others. Applying this to books, you could give away some promotional book in exchange for reviews. Make sure they’re on Amazon, though Goodreads can help, too (at least from what I’ve heard). Another thing is to have interesting content that will keep people coming back. I have a very good group of loyal readers here, and the same logic can be applied to books. Give them little bits that hook them, like short stories or little snippets of your writing on your blog/website for free. If they like it, they’ll be more likely to buy your book, and if they like that, they’ll want to see more. Write your books well, and you’ll have loyal fans who can’t wait to see your next book. And those are the best people to have, because they’ll rave about your books and convince others to check them out.

Yes, there’s a lot of work to get your name and writing out there, but definitely take advantage of your readers ability to promote for you, and encourage them to write reviews.

How about you?

Are you a published author? How do you handle book promotion and marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

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21 thoughts on “Authors Answer 43 – Promoting the Book”

  1. Sorry about the double pingback — something went wacky with my first version. And I actually ran a Goodreads Giveaway a couple weeks after this question came in the mail. The books are currently in transit toward the winners, so I expect to learn more soon.

  2. Speaking of promoting blog posts, where did “reblog” get moved to in the last update?
    (Also, I accidentally unfollowed you trying to figure it out, which is why you probably have a notification saying I just started following.)

    1. The reblog button is still at the bottom of the post, but I always use the one that was at the top of the page, in that bar. It’s confusing a lot of people.

        1. Actually, I just noticed that that my “reblog” only added a pingback here and not my comment, so I’m not even sure why I’d do that instead of just make a new post with a link.

  3. I prolly should’ve expounded on my answer – promoting my book via giveaways was the most successful in terms of getting it visibility. Lots of people added it to their TBRs. No reviews, though.

    What I neglected to mention was that my most review-generating promotions came from individually contacting bloggers who read in my genre to request reviews.

    Of course the ratio of requests to reviews is prolly like 15:1, but it’s not particularly difficult. Just a little tedious, time-consuming and nerve-racking.

    1. I can see it being like that. You can’t expect many people to review when asked. But I guess they say that 90% of selling books is marketing, the other 10% is writing and editing.

  4. Reblogged this on Elizabeth Rhodes and commented:
    I missed the Authors Answer feature for a couple of months, but I’ll be back next week. This week the authors talked about publishing books. Here’s what would have been my response:

    I have little experience with this and I’m learning the process right now. It’s obvious that the key is to have a social media presence, for no reason other than you won’t be seen otherwise. Keep a steady, regular presence somewhere, ideally several somewheres. Talk about your book, obviously, but talk about other things too. Keep up a blog. I’ve been updating my blog somewhat regularly and working Twitter for a while, and my Twitter audience at least is growing. I’ve sold a few copies.

    I did have a HUGE spike in people picking up my book when I offered it for free over one weekend. I suppose that’s decent promotion even without money changing hands.

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