At writers club this week, we had three great readers but still had time to spare. That’s when Les B. brought up the article in the Wall Street Journal that an investment company is buying Barnes and Noble. That got everyone talking about marketing and whether it’s better to get an agent and a publisher or to self-publish.
People in our group do both. Some self-publish because they love the freedom. And they still get enough sales to make them happy. Some self-publish because they just want their books available for family and friends. Two members are actively looking for agents. That’s a nail biter job in itself. And I self-publish AND have a publisher because I want to write two different kinds of mysteries, and I didn’t think I could get a taker for my supernatural series. Let’s face it. Some genres are a lot easier to sell than others. And, to be honest, I wanted to see what would happen if I stuck Muddy River on Amazon on my own. Ilona Andrews wrote a great post about the pros and cons of each: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/hybrid-authors/
Going it alone, though, means that it’s up to you to attract readers to your book. And I think that’s getting harder to do. True, writers have to work at promotion, even if they have a publisher, but they at least have some backup. One thing you can do with or without a publisher is a blog tour. Sometimes, they work. Sometimes, they don’t. But so far, Kensington has signed me up for a blog tour for every one of my books when they come out. The more work that goes into the blog tour, the better it is. I’ve written 20+ individual pieces for a single blog tour before, so that each site has something unique to offer. The one tour that only featured cover reveals and excerpts with a blurb wasn’t very effective. Why would readers keep reading the same pitch over and over?
Advertising helps. There are a crap load of books out there. You need to find a way to get a reader to find yours. Today, on twitter, I found a link to how to sell more books with Amazon ads. I tried that once and bombed. My friend tweaks her ad as she goes, and she’s been successful with it. Here’s the article I found: https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/how-to-sell-more-books-with-amazon-ads-for-authors/
I’ve tried Facebook ads, but those are really hit and miss for me, too. Still, you can invest $20 to boost your post and give it a go. (I’d read the article on Amazon ads to get ideas first).
We all know that nothing beats BookBub, but trying to get a slot there takes a miracle or more. And they’re expensive. Luckily for me, Kensington put The Body in the Attic on Bookbub and they’re putting The Body in the Wetlands on it July 10. I’m a lucky girl, and I know it. Still, if you can’t get an ad, you can get some traction there. I highly recommend becoming a BookBub partner, signing up and doing an author profile, listing the books you’ve written, and then–and this helps–recommending other authors’ books and reviewing them. I recommend books under my name for urban fantasy–Judith Post (https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judith-post?list=reviews&review_step=search ) and under my pen name, Judi Lynn (https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn) The good news is that when people follow you on BookBub, BookBub sends them a notification when you add one of your own books to your book page. That means, if you have 100 followers, an e-mail goes out to each of them when you publish a new book. The more followers, the better!
I just paid for an ad for Mixing It Up with Mortals on BargainBooksy at Written Word Media and dropped the price of my book to 99 cents. https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/about-us/# And it did what I wanted it to do. It got the book in front of a lot of new readers. It’s only the second book in the series, and I’m not expecting big results. That usually takes a while, if you get lucky. I’ve had luck advertising on The Fussy Librarian, too, but that site’s pickier–you have to have at least 10 reviews with a 4.0 average, and I didn’t have 10 reviews yet, (sigh), so I went with Booksy. For The Fussy Librarian: https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/advertising
There are other things you can do to help promote yourself and your book. I’m going to use Ilona Andrews again (because I read her on twitter). She posts snippets of whatever book she’s working on, on her webpage and then feeds that onto twitter: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/working-on-hidden-legacy-5/
I do the same thing. I use weebly to put up cover reveals, new books, and free chapters. Then I feed that onto my twitter account. I think of this page (my blog) as a way to reach writers, and my webpage as a way to reach readers. C.S. Boyack includes little snippets and news about the books he’s writing on his blog, too. I think it’s effect, but it takes both–posting the snippet AND linking it to twitter. My webpage: https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
Which brings me to three places that authors can promote themselves for free:
an author Facebook page (Look up the Facebook page for some of your favorite authors and see what they do).
Twitter. I make myself post something on twitter every day (at three different times, if I can) and to retweet some of the posts that I especially like. And I always list book releases, cover reveals, and sales there. Why not? If you’re lucky, friends and others will retweet you and help spread the word.
Goodreads. When I finish reading a book (and I can give it 3 or more stars), I write a review for both Bookbub AND Goodreads.
One last thing–and I know, I’ve written a tome this time, but I wanted to put in my 2 cents on marketing–, some authors have great luck with newsletters. I haven’t done one yet. Just haven’t gotten around to it. But Story Empire wrote a decent article on it if you’re going to give one a try (and most authors do). https://storyempire.com/2019/06/07/how-to-tweak-your-newsletter/
One more thing, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Debbie Macomber’s advice on how to launch your book when it comes out. Yes, I’ve shared this before, but someone might have missed it. And it’s good. https://insights.bookbub.com/book-launch-checklist-marketing-timeline-traditionally-published-authors/
Okay, I’m running out of ideas and steam. You’re probably ready for me to shut it anyway. I promise not to bombard you with marketing ideas again for a while. But if you’ve tried something and it’s worked for you, please share it with the rest of us. And happy writing!