Tag Archives: authors

Self-Publishing And Promotions: 3 Vital Book Advertising Tips

Self-Publishing And Promotions: 3 Vital Book Advertising Tips

Book advertising is the latest hot trend in self-publishing, so let’s look at some tips which may help you to make money, or at least, prevent you from losing money.

Over the past few months I’ve been chatting with authors who use many different forms of advertising.

Here’s a good list of paid and free advertising venues from Reedsy. Results vary, as you might expect. There’s a reason that many authors just toss their books into KDP Select; it saves time, advertising-wise.

Of course “free” is authors’ most popular form of advertising.

Book advertising: does “free” still work?

“Free” will always work. But you need to be careful with it.

As I said in Book Marketing And Freebies: How To Escape The Tyranny:

If freebies aren’t working for you, for whatever reason, stop offering freebies. Simple.

We’ve got more on freebies below, in our second tip.

Let’s look at three tips which will help you to navigate the choppy waters of book advertising for self-publishers.

1. Know your ROI (Return On Investment): it may not be money

You need a reason for whatever you’re doing in advertising. If you’re marketing a book, you want to:

  • Sell copies; or
  • (If you’re using your free days in Select) Bump your book up in the rankings on Amazon so that you get greater visibility; or
  • Do a little branding; you want readers to become familiar with your name.

Here’s a step by step process to go through before you advertise

  1. Decide that you want, and set a goal, with a time limit;
  2. Decide how much money you want to invest;
  3. Have a way of tracking your ad spend and sales, so that you can see whether you’re making money, or are losing money.

As we suggested above, you may not be after direct sales. You may want to familiarize readers with your work. So, if you drop some money on Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) for a book and lose money, it will still hurt, but at least you’ve achieved your goal of becoming a little more visible.

2. Know what you’re doing with freebies: have a REASON for your freebie

I’ve spoken with several authors who were giving thousands of books away — with zero sales.

Unbelievable, right? I kid you not. My mantra for these authors, and for YOU if you’re taking this freebie thing way too literally is: “I SELL BOOKS”.

I know that online forums are packed with authors for whom freebies work, but think for a few moments about how free samples work in everyday life.

Let’s say you’re shopping at your local supermarket. It’s a Friday, a big shopping day. People from several food manufacturing companies are offering free samples. You can nosh on King Island Brie, plus a new sourdough bread; in addition, you can sample a new chocolate.

Think about what’s happening here. Does the King Island person offer you an enormous brie, the size of a dinner plate? Nope. You get a small teaspoon-sized wedge. What about the sourdough person? Does she hand you a sandwich? Nope. You get a tiny slice, the size of a spoon. The chocolate person offers you a square of chocolate, not a chocolate bar.

Sales people who offer free samples offer small samples, and the sample people are at a store for a day; or at most, a couple of days.

Sticking with our freebies in the shopping mall example. Go for a wander around the mall in your imagination. Here’s a bookshop. Excellent…

Look for the freebies in the bookshop. What’s that? There aren’t any? Well, fancy that. Ask the sales person what’s free today — she might give you a bookmark that a publishing company offers to promote its latest (they hope) hot seller.

You can stroll around the mall all afternoon. You won’t find full-sized anything for free, and while some stores have free samples, the samples are small, and they’re available only for a few hours.

3. Test and go slowly in book advertising: what works for others may or may not work for you

I adore advertising, because I’m a veteran copywriter. I read the ads in magazines as diligently as I read the content. I even read junk mail.

However, when it comes to spending money on advertising, I’m frugal, because you never know what will work for YOU. Yes, people can tell you that they made $5,000 last month on Facebook ads on a $500 ad spend.

That’s them. Your mileage will be different. You may be promoting a book in a different genre. Facebook may tinker with its algorithm, and offer your ad to people who’d never buy your book.

So, in book advertising, as in all advertising, go slowly, and test the waters. Try a small ad, for one book. Watch your numbers: how many sales did you make which are directly attributable to the ad?

Let’s say you use a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising network. You make a ROI of 500% — you spent $100 and got $500 back. Magic — you decide to ramp up your advertising significantly. STOP. Please don’t do that. Increase your ad spend slowly, always slowly.

Here’s a rule of thumb for PPC. You don’t know what will work until you get at least 300 clicks. (Unless you’re paying $5 per click. In that case, kill the ad as soon as you become unprofitable.)

Book advertising works best when combined with other promotions

I know many authors who focus solely on advertising to promote their books. They have a mailing list, but only post when they release a new book. It works for them. For whatever reason — their book hits exactly the right tropes for a genre, or they already have a following — they sell.

In general however, paid and free book advertising works best when it’s combined with other marketing, such as blogging and social media, for example.

Good luck with your promotions, and please be wary of “free.” 🙂

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

eBook: $5.99
In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams. More info →
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Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: Romance Writing, Book 1
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
Love makes the world go round, and of all the genres in fiction, romance, with its many sub-genres, is the most popular. More info →
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What’s The Best Software To Write A Book?

What’s The Best Software To Write A Book?

For some reason this question’s been coming up frequently: “what software’s the best to write a book?”

The short answer is: whatever you use for your writing sessions now.

Here’s why. Writing a book is challenging, even for people who’ve been at it for years. Learning new software is stressful.

If you want to write a book, keep to your writing routines

You’ll hit “the wall” as anyone does when they write a book. This book crash usually happens around page 100 or Chapter 3. At this stage, you’re looking for reasons to quit.

The book’s crap and you have many, many excuses for not carrying on. The idea’s lousy, you’re too busy, you’ll write next vacation — and so on and so forth.

You don’t need special software to write a book

I adore Scrivener. I’ve been using it for a decade, ever since the beta version. Much as I love it, for the first couple of years I wrote in MS Word, then dragged the docs into Scrivener. Mostly that was because clients and editors wanted Word docs. But also, it was wanting to get stuff done.

You have a writing routine now, even if you’re a relatively new writer. If you tinker with that routine too much, you’ll procrastinate, or worse, you’ll block. Your productivity will go out the window.

Useful software for writing books

After all these years, Scrivener is part of my book-writing routine. My books and writing courses start and end in Scrivener.

I write shorter material like articles and blog posts in Ulysses. Not only is Ulysses a fun writing tool, it also makes it easy to output docs to HTML, PDF, ePub, and DOCX.

Many authors use the Ulysses app (Mac)
Many authors use the Ulysses app (Mac)

I know several authors who write their books in Google Docs. I couldn’t imagine anything more punishing, but kudos to them.

I’ve also heard good things about:

  • yWriter, which looks Scrivener-like;
  • (free) FocusWriter, a cross-platform app which is minimalist. The bare bones interface is meant to remove distractions;
  • (free) LibreOffice, an MS Office alternative;
  • (free) Sigil, open source, cross-platform, and useful only if you’re a little techy. Outputs ePub documents. Inputs can include HTML, and plain text. Creates elegant ebooks. If you’d like to try it, this is the official website.
Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99
Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters. More info →
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The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

eBook: $5.99
Do you love your life? If you don't ADORE your life, you can change it — more easily than you can imagine. More info →
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Self-Publishing Shock: “My Book Isn’t Selling…”

Self-Publishing Shock: “My Book Isn’t Selling…”

I hate receiving messages like: “My book isn’t selling, what do I do now?” Writing a book is hard, self-publishing is hard too. The fact that you’ve written a book wins you huge kudos — good for you. Now it’s time to buckle yourself in, and look on self-publishing as a business.

Here’s the good news. Just because your book isn’t selling right now, it doesn’t mean that it will never sell. In traditional publishing, if your book doesn’t sell, in three months it gets pulped. In self-publishing, your book is available forever.

The self-publishing competition is heating up: accept it (this is good news)

Well over 100,000 new ebooks hit the Kindle Store every month. I just checked, and in the past 30 days, 107,691 new titles have been added to the Kindle Store.

So, if you’re just hitting the Publish button, and are then sitting back waiting for sales, you need to be aware of the huge competition, and do a little more.

I talked about slumping book sales in this post, and advised:

You can start with doing more marketing, yes. However, that’s a slippery slope. You can spend too much on advertising, more than you’re likely to recoup in sales. My advice to “help! my sales are dropping” calls from self-publishers starts with advising them to go back to basics.

That post has never been more relevant. It’s no longer enough to publish, now you need to actively promote your books — and sometimes even that won’t help. Authors are reporting that their sales from Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ads and Facebook ads are woeful.

What’s an author to do?

Two things:

  • Don’t panic — business operates in cycles;
  • Get busy: be ready for the cycle to move upward.

1. Understand business cycles: you’re self-publishing, so you’re a PUBLISHER

Here’s the thing. Amazon’s Kindle set off a gold rush. Check the freelance marketplaces. You’ll find many “writer wanted” projects there.

Buyers are willing to hire writers to write books. They’re investing a few hundred dollars in each book,and are then publishing the ebooks on Amazon. They wouldn’t be doing that if they weren’t making money.

Please stop thinking of yourself as an “author”. Ditch your ego. Stop panicking and start thinking like a publisher.

Here’s how publishers think: they expect to publish duds, because no one knows what will sell. No one. As a rule of thumb, out of every ten books published, most will sell few copies. One or two might make reasonable sales. Out of a few thousand books published, one will be bestseller.

Depressing, right?

Not so. Self-publishing is a HUGE opportunity.

2. Get busy: self-publishing CAN be a gold mine

Look at it this way. Many thousands of authors are making great money on Amazon, because they’re writing good books, and are doing their best to promote those books. A few authors are making thousands of dollars a day; most are making nowhere near that.

However, when I see buyers hunting for people to write their books on the outsourcing sites, I know that opportunities exist.

So get busy: produce more good books.

Recall that you’re a publisher, and publishers publish more than one book a year, or one book a quarter. They publish as many books as they can.

Please realize that I’m not suggesting that you dump a lot of junk on the online book retailers. That helps no one. You’re wasting your own time. Write the best books you can, and keep self-publishing.

One dud book is nothing, and as we’ve suggested, it may take off next month or next year.

In the meantime…

Onward… 🙂

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly. More info →
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Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

$4.99
What If You Were Twice As Successful, Or Even THREE Times More Successful Than You Are Today? There's No Ceiling On A Writer's Income... You Just Need To Be Prolific. More info →
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Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.