One of the biggest questions authors face in marketing books is how to effectively divide resources (in terms of both time and money)? And, does it even work? I scoured the web looking for answers to these important questions and found lots of divergent opinions. Let’s first walk through some important marketing concepts to provide a framework.
Knowing: As some of us already instinctively know, a reader must know, like, and then trust a product. (Do They Know, Like and Trust You). When we talk about advertising in the writing industry, we are usually working on the first platform – simply getting our readers to know us. For authors just starting out, this is usually our biggest focus: we are intent on finding new followers, joining Goodreads groups, Facebook, Twitter, etc. in an attempt to get our name out there.
But it’s not enough.
Liking: Readers must also like you. They want to know the author a bit more and like anything they have read by them. This includes being real in your communications with readers and developing consistency, even with your advertising. For instance, what does your Twitter profile show right now?
Trusting: A reader must trust that whatever a particular author has written will be of good quality. This includes what we put on Twitter and Facebook. Is it simply self-promotion, or is it things that your readers will also find interesting? As a friend in RWA recently asked me, what value do you bring to the table as a writer? If I’m not showing that value to others, then there is no point to any social media platforms or advertising.
The largest part of trust, though, is whether the reader believes that your next book will be a good one, based on what they know of you. And this is where the author must decide how much time they have, overall, to devote to the writing life (including advertising and marketing)? Would you be better served by writing better and more books?
With that framework, I still wanted some hard data regarding how well Goodreads or Facebook ads sell books. As it turns out, that is hard to measure. Obviously, you can measure clicks on your own site (and the originator site) but I have been unable to find anything that provides a breakdown of what that metric looks like for any specific authors.
On a personal note, I’ve been running Goodreads ads for about a month now, and I have had close to 2,000 views and ZERO clicks. I may have had my genres or authors too narrowly defined. Luckily, this is pay-per-click advertising. Personally, though, I have not seen a direct benefit of running the GR ads.
What I did discover, though, will probably not surprise any of us: FREE SELLS ITSELF.
Giving Books Away:
The first heads-up I had of this phenomenon was a presentation from Beverly Kendall regarding the world of self-publishing. Her conclusions were, essentially, the following:
- Write a series
- Give away one book in the series
- Add a cliff-hanger excerpt into the freebie
- Promote the hell out of the freebie
Lindsay Buroker gives similar advice, saying that “…the 100% most effective thing I’ve done to increase my sales is giving ebooks away for free. Long-time readers have seen me say that a lot, and it’s because it’s true. For me, it’s blown everything else out of the water.” (Does Advertising Work For Authors)And in an article on Forbes.com, we read that “The authors who did best, however, did everything except pay for reviews: They gave away review copies, submitted to book review blogs and the mainstream press, sought popular reviewers on Amazon and asked their readers through email lists etc.” (Book Promotion For Self Publishers A Waste Of Time)
Like everything, though, it is a very personal choice as to how we spend our marketing money and what we do with it. There are countless other options not addressed here: blog hops, banner advertising, etc. I do know some authors who report success with all of these. In the end, it is all about a connection with the reader. The best way an author can achieve that magic is a curious mix of personality and some trial and error.
Please let us know how you’ve fared in the advertising world! Would love to hear your thoughts.
- Magic And Mayhem Writers.
- Angela Quarles
- Lisa Schroeder Books
- Mathew Iden
- Lindsay Buroker
- Fessing Author
- Clayton Lindemuth
- Beverley Kendall
- Michael Hicks
Erin Moore has been writing her entire life, and only recently found her voice in the paranormal romance world. Writing is her escape from taking care of two little people (and one unruly husband). Lover of travel and all things shaman, she spends way too much time at Starbucks. Find her on Twitter or Facebook!
Madeleine Greenway, perfectionist and analyst for Surety Bank, has no place in her rigidly organized life for something as unpredictable as a man, much less a Native American shaman. Sent to the White Mountain reservation to help the tribe finance its new casino, she meets Tak, a proud, beautiful Apache, and finds herself surrounded by something magical in the Arizona desert. His touch becomes a passport to otherworldly bliss, and the strange coyote she sees makes her question what’s real. But it’s the amazing sex with Tak that makes Madeleine lose sight of her goal—to guarantee that Surety Bank’s investment in the casino won’t fail.
Last in a long line of shaman shape-shifters, Tak Nah-Kah-Yen has sworn a vow of celibacy to his gods. But Madeleine’s lithe body and honeyed lips compel him to forswear his pledge, claiming her for his own. His passion for her overshadows his link to his gods at a time when he most needs their help. Desperate to find funding for the casino and lift his people out of poverty, he’d accepted start-up money from less than savory sources who are willing to kill to guarantee their profit—the profit Madeleine’s bank jeopardizes…