Tag Archives: self-publishing

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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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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Easy Fiction Writing: 4 Profitable Ways To Use Short Stories

Easy Fiction Writing: 4 Profitable Ways To Use Short Stories

This week’s blogging theme is short stories, here and on Fab Freelance Writing.

I receive lots of questions about writing short stories. Writers often find that writing a short story convinces them that they can write salable fiction.

For me, the biggest benefit of short stories is that you can grow them into novels without much difficulty.

You can expand short stories into novels

My favorite way to get more mileage from a short story is to develop it further, into a novel. I’m so fond of this strategy that I need to rein myself in. A ghostwriting client is far from pleased when I tell him that — oops, sorry, your short story grew on me. It’s on the way to becoming a novel. Please bear with me while I write something else for you… 🙂

As I suggested in From Writing Short Stories to Writing Novels: 3 Simple Tips, the primary difference between a short story and a novel is that a novel has more characters than a short story, and more depth to the characters.

Let’s look at other profitable ways to use short stories.

1. Short stories are the perfect introduction to your other fiction

On several of the online groups of which I’m a member, authors are complaining about their sales. Nothing new in that. It can be discomfiting when your Page Reads in KDP Select go down, or when your books stop selling, no matter how much advertising you do.

Here’s my suggestion if you find that your self-publishing income is dropping: write short stories.

Short stories make wonderful content for promotion, and you can write a short story in an afternoon.

From A Writing Income From Short Stories: 3 Vital Questions Answered:

Before you publish a short story, offer it free to your blog’s readers for a limited time. If you offer a “free short story a month” or whatever schedule you choose, it gives you a boost in readers — and increases sales of your other fiction. Important: REMOVE your short stories from your blog before you offer them in Select as an Amazon exclusive, otherwise you’ll annoy Amazon.

2. Short stories are fun part-time projects

We’re all busy. You may not have time to write a novel: write short stories instead.

A friend writes short stories in her “spare” time — the time she spends ferrying her three children around to their various activities. She sits in her car, and taps her latest story into her tablet. She reports that she’s managed to turn this time which she previously wasted into a real boost for her self-publishing career.

She publishes her stories on her blog, then when she has enough for a collection, she publishes them as ebooks (after removing them from the blog) in KDP Select. Some months her KENP Pages Read income is better than her sales.

3. You can bundle your short stories into books — your own, and others’

You can publish your short stories as ebooks individually; you can also publish them in collections — bundles.

Authors experience a boost in sales when they collaborate on bundles. Because the price of a bundled collection is low, their direct income from having a story in a bundle is low, or non-existent. However, with each author promoting the bundle to his audience, it extends authors’ readership — and builds sales.

4. Need cash? Visit the freelance marketplaces and bid on short story projects

Publishers are always looking for ghostwriters. If you enjoy writing short stories, you can write them for cash. Visit the freelance marketplaces. You’ll often find projects asking for short stories in various genres, particularly in romance.

Changing genres? Write short stories

My own favorite use for short stories is to use them as my own little focus groups. If I’m thinking of writing in a genre for a ghostwriting client, I write a short story first. No sales? That shows that that genre isn’t for me. It may be at some time in the future, but not right now.

Have fun writing short stories; they may add to your income, painlessly.

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

$5.99
Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction. More info →
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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 →
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Amazon Kindle

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