Working in the Word Mines – Promotion
Regardless of the route you took to get your book into the marketplace, you’re going to have to do some promotion. Well, with one exception. If you got a six-figure advance from a publishing house, then you can rest assured that they’ll throw some marketing muscle behind your book. But if you got a standard deal, or put your book out yourself, you’re on your own.
Here are a few things that have helped me get noticed:
The first, most basic rule of promotion. Be present. A good platform will give you a place to build a community, give out information to people who already know who you are, and to provide a reason for new people to get interested in you. I use this WordPress blog, my Twitter account, and Facebook. But because I’m lazy, I don’t want to update all three. Wordpress can automatically send things to Twitter, so I have that covered. For Facebook, I use:
NetworkedBlogs is a free service that can push content from your blog to a Facebook page. I post things to my blog, and this service creates posts on my Facebook account automatically. It’s free, fast, and best of all, preserves the images and formatting of your blog posts when updating Facebook.
All I have to do now is post once to WordPress, and it goes out automatically to the other services. Use your platform to stay engaged with your readers and to provide a way to find your work.
Once you have a place of your own, you need to get people to visit you. The first way is to be active in your online community. The goal here is not just to give back as much as you can (I’m sure you got plenty of advice from other people’s articles and blogs before you got that first book out), but to find opportunities to network with other people. Things like: guest post on each other’s blogs, give and get mentions on book sites, and generally exchange help with your peers. You’d be surprised how quickly your name will get out if you provide value to others. Check out sites like Goodreads, LibraryThing, or the writing areas of Reddit.
Honest reviews are critical. A word of advice. No matter how tempting the anonymous nature of the internet might be, do not create dummy accounts and write glowing fake reviews of your stuff. Also, don’t ask your friends and family to write fabulous reviews, either. Feel free to ask them to read and review your work, but that’s as far as you can go. Reviews will accumulate naturally over time, but to jumpstart the process there are two things you can do.
First, submit your work to as many popular review sites as you can. You can find a great list here. Secondly, you can try a service like BookRooster, which for a fee, will distribute your work to readers in exchange for honest reviews. These reviewers don’t know you or care about you, and the service doesn’t ask for anything but honest reviews. You aren’t buying good reviews here (otherwise I wouldn’t recommend them), so be warned. Any reviews you get from here will be posted with a disclaimer that the reviewer received a free copy of your book for review. The best use of this service is to get some reviews up quickly, and to break the ice so that other reviews will follow.
Here’s where it gets tricky. JA Konrath is famous for warning against paid advertising for authors. And with one exception, I agree. I tried several different forms of paid advertising, and while I did get sales, it ended up costing me more than the income I got from them. I had pretty much given up, when a friend of my wife’s who is also an author, mentioned Project Wonderful. PW is an ad network that serves webcomics. You’d be amazed at just how many different webcomics there are, and how much traffic they get. I’m targeting sites with 10,000 unique visitors per month and up, and that’s on the low end of the scale. PW uses a bid system, where you bid on a site and the max bid per timeslot gets shown.
First, you’re going to want to create some ads. Here are mine:
Then you want to search for comics to display them on. There are several different parameters you can set around spend per day and max amount per bid, as well as a host of other controls for both spending and the regional scope of your ad. I’ve had success with both targeted ads, which means I found comics that I though matched well thematically with my books, and with a campaign. A campaign lets you target all of the sites that match certain criteria, and automatically makes bids for you. This allows you to spend the least money possible across the largest range of comics that fit your parameters. The upside is the increased coverage, but the downside is that your ads may show up on comics whose readership will have no interest in your offerings.
Here’s a shot of my current campaign:
One more thing. When someone clicks on your ad, you can send them straight to Amazon, or wherever your books are sold, but you might consider a landing page instead. This allows you to show something a little more compelling than the default product page, as well as give them multiple choices for how to buy. Here are the pages for Bad Radio and Walker.
Note that at the bottom of each there are links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The nice thing about these is that can can be affiliate links for your books. These are basically custom links from the site that sells your books, that give you a small percentage of each sale in return for referring the buyer to them. These are easy to set up and well worth the trouble.
That’s pretty much my promotional strategy in a nutshell. If you have any other tips that work for you, leave ’em in the comments.