by Jill Amadio
Do you spend time each week promoting your books? Many of us loathe having to leave our fascinating work-in-progress and slog through the various social and publicity sites. While there are tons of how-to books out there to provide guidelines, there’s nothing like hearing expertise straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
One of the hardest working U.S. publicists with a long list of international fiction and non-fiction clients is Penny Sansevieri. She’s a whiz on how to grab publicity, and writes a free tips blog on her web site, www.amarketingexpert.com.
She has written several books on marketing including her latest, “50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books,” and “How to Revise and Re-Release Your Book.” I wish I had read the latter after my traditional publisher went belly-up and I re-released my mysteries with KDP on amazon. I missed several ways to promote them including asking for reviews from new readers and new Facebook friends. Here are some tips Penny recently revealed:
- Create an eBook. More and more readers buy kindles and iPads.
- Write for popular blogs like The Writers in Residence (sorry, I added that myself!) Social media, said Penny, can be a black hole in effectiveness so choose wisely. Build a fan base by writing a newsletter and/or a blog for your web site. Knowing your core reader through your fan list is a must. You might divide the list into general mailings, fan reviewers, and a super-fan group. If your readers are on Twitter then there is no need to be on Facebook. Time is limited so spend the time and investment finding where your readers are. If social media is part of your overall campaign, don’t spend more than ten percent of your time there. For a quick and easy way to find out where your readers are, follow the big authors in your genre and watch where those authors are investing their social media efforts. This will tell you a lot, especially if they have much engagement on particular sites that you may not have considered using.
- Add content to your amazon.com author page periodically.
- Assess the market. An important part of that is your book cover. If your publisher produces one you don’t like, complain.
- Give yourself time for your book to get some traction. Allow at least 90 days to get reviews and gain exposure.
- If your settings are real places, set up library and bookstore events there. Or find a similar setting and compare them, and target their local media.
- Call radio stations weeks ahead to set up phone interviews.
- Set up virtual events. For instance, if you have a book, say a YA that resonates with schools, you could do Skype events, which are very popular with schools, or Skype events for book clubs.
- For indie authors in general the best way to maximize exposure is to take a hard and realistic look at who your core readership is.
- Personal recommendations are 95 percent of books sold and are the best and most powerful marketing you can have. However, only three percent of readers will review your book without any prompting. Solution? Include back matter asking for a book review, or to contact you directly, plus a reader letter that asks for sign-ups.
- Send out ARCs. Amazon will be doing them soon so authors can order copies. Or send out review copies of your manuscript nicely set up like book pages when your book is 90 percent complete. Include high-profile bloggers and media.
- Following other authors is a terrific way to share your recommendations and network. Help big authors with launches by sharing their newest titles in your social feed. Share content, and, guess what, when it comes time for you to promote the book, they’ll be sharing your stuff too.
Penny told me that she loves giveaways whether you’re doing a Goodreads giveaway or an eBook promotion. As an indie author you have full control of your book’s success. How about discounts on your books? This is called ‘stacking’ and quite literally refers to the piling up of multiple promotional opportunities that are important to an indie author. Once your discount eBook price and dates are set, it doesn’t stop there. Research all the opportunities available to ensure the discount dates are seen by as many readers (and potential fans) as possible. Keep it varied and have a mix of both free and paid opportunities.
‘Free’ is a bonus if you don’t have much of a marketing budget. Submit your promo to all of the free sites you can find since placement isn’t guaranteed. Remember, it’s easy on the bank account, so embrace the legwork. Paid opportunities vary in pricing but no matter what, if they charge you, you get what you pay for, so you can count on that exposure. Have a budget for every discount eBook promotion you can do, however small. For the amount of quality exposure to real readers, Penny suggests a budget of between $50-$100 if you’re doing book promotions once a quarter. As for a discount price for your book, aim for no more than $1.99 if you can’t offer it for free, Keep it at that price for five days.
Marketing sites online include many to which you can submit discounted books. They include BookBub which is the Holy Grail. They are tough to get into so submit every month no matter what, because the time you do get up on that site is a different level of book marketing. Also, Free Kindle Books & Tips has a free author newsletter; other sites include Frugal Freebies; Indie Book of the Day, and StoryFinds. Paid sites include Awesome Gang that also has an interview option; Book Bassett that includes an indie author guest post; Bargain Booksy; BookGorilla; eBooksHabit for paid and free options; Digital Book Today, paid and free, and two other paid sites, Booklemur, and BookGoodies.
That’s an awful lot of advice from a real pro, so I shall end this blog, fellow authors, and get myself in gear to follow as much as I can. Still, I would much rather be writing my next mystery!
(Posted by G.B. Pool for Jill Amadio.)