As a self-published author I’ve been reflecting on my journey promoting my book Olga – A Daughter’s Tale and I thought, dear reader, it might be useful to share some of the promotional strategies I’ve used to sell my book. Some have worked and some haven’t ….unfortunately!! So here goes.
Bookmarks: (Paid) This was the first promo I did and was about two years ago. I delivered 500 bookmarks through letterboxes. I was full of hope and absolutely convinced people would rush to buy it!! Wrong! Bookmarks are a great promotional tool but they need to be used effectively. A better marketing strategy might have been to hand them out to a captive audience, particularly now that e-books are on the market. You know like people in a queue…..a very long queue! Or on a commuter train. How many people do you see reading an iPads or iPhones?
Press Releases Free and Paid: (Free and Paid) I’m told press releases work, but not for me they don’t. I’ve tried three times using free and paid sites and am not aware of any feedback or sales. Will I use them again?…..probably not.
Sydney Writers’ Festival (2010): 300 paperback copies (Paid ….a small fortune!!) I’d read somewhere that when planning promotional strategies one should look outside the box. Hence my giving away 300 copies of my book! At the same time I handed out a flyer that included a summary, some reviews and my contact details. The outcome I was looking for, apart from increased sales, was feedback in the form of reviews. One person gave me feedback! This promotion should have generated more because I know my book is good…very good. I’m pretty sure the lack of response was because I didn’t plan it properly. Handing out flyers with the book is fine, but what I should also have done was to put little labels on the book with my contact details so readers could contact me. People throw flyers away – I do. And perhaps I should have asked for email addresses so I could follow up. A couple of expensive lessons learned there!
P & O Cruise: After the Sydney Writers’ Festival I went on a cruise and just before I disembarked I left 3 copies of my book in the ship’s library. These copies had labels with my contact details on and guess what…..3 people emailed me to say they had read my book, how much they enjoyed it and I got great reviews! Lesson learned from previous experience with Writers’ Festival.
Media: TV & Local Radio (Free) I had a few copies of my book left from the Writers’ Festival so I sent them to presenters of local radio stations, TV morning shows and book programs along with a covering letter asking them for either an interview or a review – all to no avail. Got lovely ‘thanks….but no thanks’ emails!
Banner Ad and Book of the Day on Kindleboards: (Paid) I participated in both of these programs and whilst they brought my book to the attention of lots of people neither generated many sales and they certainly didn’t cover the cost of the ads. I was disappointed with the response so I posted my discontentment on the KindleBoards discussion forum and interestingly that generated more sales than the ads! I got some really good constructive criticism about my ad from professionals and useful advice by other members of the forum so I ended up feeling I’d got a return on my investment! Others advertisers, I believe, have done well with these ads.
Discussion Forums: (Free) I’ve found these very useful and informative. But by far and away the best one for me is Writers Café at KindleBoards. Every time I go there I learn something new or pick up a tip or a useful link and if you have a question or a problem you can post it and get lots of help. Kindle Users Forum for book promotion is useful too.
Book Blogs: (Free) I believe reviews are important to the sale of a book so I find book bloggers who will review my genre (biographical fiction) and request a review. I’ll also offer to do an interview and/or giveway as well and it’s paid off. I’ve been quite successful in obtaining a lot of reviews this way.
Goodreads: (Free) Without doubt the best book website for readers and which also gives recommendations. It has over 7 million members! The Goodreads Author Program is free and designed to help authors reach their target audience – readers. YAH!! This is the perfect place for new and established authors to promote their books. It’s brilliant, very user friendly with a wealth of information and interactivity between members on it. I recommend participating in their Giveaway program – it gets your book in front of hundreds of members and is a great way for generating reviews too. A drawback for some authors though is that you can’t offer e-books as a prize in a Giveway, only printed copies.
LibraryThing: (Free) Another great website for authors and readers. This one too runs a Giveaway program and what I like about this one is that the Giveaways can be e-copies of your book and these too can generate reviews…always a good thing.
Smashwords: (Free) I hardly sold any books on Smashwords. But it’s worth being on it because they will convert your book into any format, i.e pdf, mobi epub, etc. You’re then able to gift copies to others which can be downloaded from Smashwords in the format of the reader’s choice. So really useful from that point of view. I’ve gifted hundreds of copies that way.
KDP Select: (Free) This is the program that, without doubt, has generated the most sales for the ebook version of Olga. Sales are not in the thousands but while I’ve participated in it there has been a definite spike.
To qualify for KDP Select you have to agree that, for three months, your ebook will not be sold anywhere else on the web. After that period you can opt out or remain in the program. This embargo doesn’t affect printed copies. You can continue to sell printed copies of your book wherever you choose. My experience and that of many others is that it’s definitely worth considering.
Linkedin Groups: (Free) I’ve heard really good reports about Linkedin – hot on the heels of Facebook and Twitter apparently. I’ve only scratched the surface with it but as I’m convinced my book would make a good film for TV or the cinema I’ll be looking for contacts within it to pitch to.
Facebook: (Free) I’ve posted to a variety of different groups on Facebook usually when my book is on promotion as a freebie. I’ve only had a handful of sales as a result but it’s still a useful tool for authors.
Twitter: (Free) I didn’t like Twitter when I first started using it but I love it now because you never know what to expect. I’ve certainly sold some copies of my book and made good contacts. Plus I’ve had requests to do interviews on blogs and recently did an interview for a Caribbean women’s ezine ow.ly/9trGT But to make it really work, you have to keep engaging with your followers and finding new ones and I struggle to do that because I work fulltime.
BlogTalk Radio: (Free) Emanating out of Twitter was a request for me to do an interview on BlogTalk Radio but for one reason or another it never eventuated but I’d like to give it another go.
Book Signing: I’m due to do my first book signing at the end of March and although very nervous, I’m looking forward to it.
Real Live Bookshops: Olga – A Daughter’s Tale is now on sale in three bookshops in Sydney. Gleebooks, Better Read Than Dead and Abbey’s Bookstore. It’s a fantastic feeling to see my book in such prestigious bookstores. Haven’t sold any copies yet, but hey ho at least it’s on their shelves!
So there we are, dear reader. In summary the programs that have worked best for me are KDP Select, Twitter and Goodreads. To a lesser degree, but still very useful, is LibraryThing. It’s interesting how ‘free’ has produced better results than ‘paid’ – bit of irony there!
The other thing that stands out for me is how important it is to keep communicating with people because you just never know where the next useful contact or sale will come from. But when all is said and done it doesn’t matter how many programs you use to promote your work or how much money you spend trying to boost sales, in the end the most powerful tool to get people to buy your book is ‘word of mouth’!