I released my fantasy novel The Salbine Sisters around two months ago. I thought I’d recap the promotion I’ve done so far, in terms of what has and hasn’t worked. Since I can’t definitively link a sale to a specific promotional effort, it’s possible that I could be attributing a sale to an effort that doesn’t deserve it. Also bear in mind that what worked for my book might not work as well for yours, and vice versa. With those two caveats in mind:
Interviews – I’ve done three interviews so far: The Outer Alliance, Broad Universe, and From the Shadows. I saw the largest sales bump when I did the interview at The Outer Alliance, which isn’t surprising, since its target audience has a narrow focus that matches my book very well. When surfing around looking for potential reviewers, interviewers, and guest posts, it’s tempting to assume that a large number of followers means a higher potential for sales. Not so. You’re better off participating at a blog with 50 followers who will all be interested in your book, than at a blog with 1000 followers but only 1% might be interested in your book.
Effectiveness: Can be high, depending on the audience
Goodreads Giveaway – I’ve done two of these now, one for The Salbine Sisters and one for my first book. Before I did the one back in February, I asked folks on the Canadian POD group to share their experiences with Goodreads giveaways. A few had tried them and said the giveaways prompted many people to add the books to their “to-read” shelves. But nobody mentioned sales.
My experience was similar. A lot of people will enter the giveaway (everyone loves a chance to win free books!), and quite a few will add the book to their “to-read” shelf. But I’m a curious sort, so I visited the profiles of some of the people who added my book while the giveaway was underway. Typically I’d see something like the following:
Read shelf: 20 books.
To-read shelf: 1800 books.
I suspect that people are trying to game the Goodreads giveaway algorithm. Giveaway winners aren’t determined by a random draw. Goodreads uses an algorithm to determine the winners, and from what I can gather (and this is all speculation), it chooses people who will most likely review the book. It’s not unusual to visit someone’s profile and see a ton of reviews that start with, “I won this in a giveaway.” I’m guessing that people add a giveaway book to their “to-read” shelf because they think it will increase their chance of winning the giveaway, not because they intend to buy and read the book. Anyway, I haven’t seen any sales from the two giveaways, so I’m scratching this off my list for future books.
Cost: Print+shipping costs.
Chats – I participated in a weekend Yahoo group Q&A with readers in my target audience. I saw a significant bump in sales over the weekend and had a lot of fun. If you can find a group that does chats/Q&A sessions and is a good fit for your book, definitely give this a try.
Effectiveness: Can be high, depending on the audience
Indie Preview Blogs – Under this umbrella are blogs owned by indie authors to help showcase indie books. Typically you send the blog owner an email with your book’s details, and they’ll eventually post the information to their blog. I’ve done this with three blogs so far: J.C. Phelps, Mark’s Writer Bloc, and Spalding’s Racket. Only Spalding’s Racket affected sales, and that’s probably because he also posts submissions to the Kindleboards. I suspect that most readers of these blogs are other writers, and I learned very early on that it’s a waste of time to promote to other writers. I knew that before I submitted to the blogs, but still went ahead for the SEO benefit. This is a long-term potential gain thing. Nothing may come of it, but it’s free and doesn’t hurt.
Effectiveness: Low for sales, but might result in higher search engine visibility in the future.
Listings, preview sites – Under this umbrella are sites that aren’t directories, but are sort of like directories. They’ll take your book’s information and add it to their database. I do this purely for the SEO benefit, so this is another potential long-term gain thing. Example: Manic Readers.
Effectiveness: SEO only
That’s it so far. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention reviews. I have about eight review copies out, but no reviews yet. I’ve learned that even the smaller book bloggers are backed-up for months, so if you want to make a splash and have reviews come out around a certain date, you’ll have to secure those reviews three to four months in advance. I don’t mind that reviews will trickle out over time. One advantage to self-publishing is that your book won’t be swept aside by a publisher for newer releases. In fact, I plan to line up another reviewer every time a review is posted, to keep the reviews coming.
Things on my list to try in the new year:
- Guest posting
- Giveaways on blogs with audiences that match my target market
- Radio show (I’m booked on one in March)
- Awards (I’ve entered my book for one and am considering another)
- Library Thing giveaway, which will probably show the same results as the Goodreads giveaways, but I figure I’ll try it anyway.
- I might look into facebook ads. I’ve heard they’re not that effective, but they’re cheap, and I’m curious.
- I’ll continue to secure reviews and interviews, and keep an eye out for other opportunities like the Yahoo group Q&A.
- I’ll continue to submit to sites that might offer an SEO benefit down the road
Any other suggestions? What has and hasn’t worked for you?