I realized this morning that I didn’t have much planned going forward in the way of marketing. For the last eight months or so, I’ve had marketing booked for each novel out about six weeks. When I looked at the calendar that has all that laid out, it was disturbingly blank. My first thought was, “Seriously?? I already did that!” because sometimes I feel like I spend a crazy amount of time marketing. And I don’t even like marketing! My second thought was, “This is just like doing laundry! It never, ever ends…” That was followed by a big self-pitying sigh. If people would just quit wearing clothes. *sigh* again.
Your book only sells if people know it’s out there. Unfortunately, in the universe in which we live, we have like twenty-seven billion competitors. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Every single book in every single genre is technically a competitor for a reader’s dollars. You have to give them a reason to choose yours. And the first way to do that is to make them aware that the book exists. Seems self-explanatory, but somehow we think that the fact that it’s available on Amazon should mean that people will find it. I did, at first. I didn’t do any advertising, even for free promos. I just sat there, listening to crickets… Well, there probably weren’t crickets.
Doing a KDPS free promo IS a great way to get your book out there, but making it free doesn’t put it up on some magical Amazon billboard with arrows and neon lights. If no one knows your book is free, you may not give away enough to make it to the Free Bestseller list. And if you don’t get it there, at least in your categories, you won’t give away more. It’s a vicious cycle, I know. (And as a caveat, I wouldn’t worry too much about KDPS unless you have a second book out or coming out soon, where readers of the free books can buy the next one. Giving away a free book should point the reader to another action, specifically a purchase. Give away books to whoever you want, but don’t spend money marketing a free promo if there’s no book for that follow up action.)
Promote your free days by marketing them. There are sites that will list your book for free, or that may list your book for free, if they have room on the day you select. Several of those sites only charge $5 for a guaranteed listing, so it’s worth sacrificing one of your white chocolate mochas to do that. There are other sites, like FreeBooksy and eBook Booster, that give you a lot of exposure for $40+. If you have other books and are running a free day, I’d recommend those. If your budget is open for it, and you have a good number of good reviews, you can try a listing on BookBub. (You can see my semi-giant list of marketing sites here.)
Paying for promotions when your book is NOT free costs more money. Bookbub is by far the best avenue for this at the moment, but pricey. The one ad I ran through them more than made up the cost, but be careful about genre. For instance, IXEOS is YA dystopian sci-fi. I ran the book in Science Fiction, not YA, because YA doesn’t do so great on BookBub. Look at the average downloads on their website for your genre, vs the price, and decide where best to list it. Kindle Books & Tips is a great venue, and Kindle Boards Spotlight ads do pretty well. I, personally, haven’t had much luck with Facebook ads, but I know people that do. Be careful on your targeting and try to get the number down from 4-bazillion to about 20-50,000.
A good rule of thumb is to have an ad for your book (or for each of your books if you have multiple) somewhere once a month. Exposure is key, as is word of mouth, so you want people to know about your book, read your book, and talk about your book. Blog, tweet, G+, Facebook, and be on any other social media site you can handle. (For me, blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking are about all I can take!) DO NOT SPAM. Ever. Period. You will do the opposite of what you’re trying to do, because people will hate the sight of your name. Blog, Tweet and post useful info, personal author-related info, and content that people will like. Intersperse that judiciously with a sprinkle of book promotion. I don’t know the magic formula, but I’d say no more than one promo-type thing to every five “real content” post.
Keep your total postings reasonable, too. I try to blog twice a week. I think I could do three, but daily seems too much – people get saturated, and you want them to read your blog, not think, “What another one?” Unless you have super fabulous, super interesting, super useful info, in which case, by all means blog daily! I just don’t… at least not on the subject that this blog is dedicated to. Tweets are hard. My personal limit is about a dozen a day max, which includes Retweets and comments on other Tweets. On Facebook, I try to post something daily, even if it’s just a fun meme or quote. My max there is about three per day, not including responses to comments. Basically, respect your audience/fans, and give quality without killing them with quantity.
Another way for exposure is to tweak your categories on Amazon until you are in the smallest you can legitimately be in. I changed my categories recently for the Quinn adventures, and have since been in the top 50 on the Genre Fiction>Mystery & Thriller>Thriller>Historical Bestseller list. Amazon put my IXEOS books into Teens>Science Fiction & Fantasy>Science Fiction>Aliens, and I’ve stayed in top 40 on the Bestseller list for a couple of weeks. Now, that isn’t a category you can put your book in from the KDP Dashboard. But if you find a non-listed category, you can go into your dashboard, remove one of the two categories you are listed in already, then send the KDP Help Desk an email requesting to be put into your new one. They almost always will, but you have to have one category free for them to do it. This is well worth the effort, because your book is on those Bestseller lists and thus available for people to see without any other marketing or promo on your part.
Finally, and I just learned this one myself (thanks Melissa Foster), monitor your keywords. If another book in your genre is trending, put that book title in your keywords. If your writing or book has been compared to another – and more well-known – author, put that name in your keywords. This way, if someone is searching for that title or author, your book also comes up. Change this monthly if needed to follow market trends! My Quinn books have been compared to Clive Cussler, so I have Clive Cussler in my keywords. My IXEOS books have been compared to The Maze Runner and Falling Skies. I have updated my keywords to reflect that. This is especially important if you write current-events type non-fiction.
I’d like to say this part of the job comes to an end, but I don’t think it does. While the beauty of ebooks is that they’re out there forever, the difficulty is that they’re out there forever! They’re like children who never grow up and leave home… You still have to tend to them. At least they aren’t eating you out of house and home or having loud parties til 3am. So there’s an upside.