Time flies when your busy reading, writing, tweeting, blogging and just trying to survive this world. Today marks the 4th anniversary of when I took a huge plunge into the unknown by releasing a super hero comedy novella called The Teleporter.Today, it is my most successful book.
The truth is, I really wanted readers to enjoy and find something within that at least made them laugh just once because comedy has brightened my life so much over the years and if you can laugh at just one thing every day, even if it is in the mirror like me, then you’re probably doing okay. Back when I began this indie author journey, there were just two stories that kept nudging me to write them, one of of which became my debut and the other became The Teleporter which at the time and probably even now is a far cry from my usual genre of horror, thrillers and stuff that seems darker in tone. When I wrote it, I just wanted to have some fun and come away from those darker tones.
There is a lot of advice going around in the writing industry about staying in genre and not pushing boundaries too far from your usual stuff but The Teleporter goes against that grain and took me out of my comfort zone. While some ‘industry’ advice does work for all, following your heart and your creativity is important because anytime I have created out of my comfort zone, things have eventually gone well. After an initial release that saw less than 20 sales in the first month, I was convinced very early on that I had failed. 2018 Lee was a different, less patient creative who had no idea about the path that was coming.
It is never too late for a book to find success and The Teleporter is proof of that because just over a year after release, BookBub selected it for a featured deal. A BookBub featured deal is a huge thing for any author and is often referred to as the holy grail of advertising deals. For a very small time indie author to have a book I thought nobody liked selected by BookBub was a truly special moment and then in 2021 they selected it again – at the time, it had around 20 Amazon ratings. These two moments are what I always draw to whenever I have any doubts because if a site like BookBub who often feature literary giants like James Patterson and Stephen King say yes to my book, well then I must be doing something right.
And today there aren’t many doubts about this book which was downloaded over 10,000 times in a single day for that second featured deal. Just some days later it then became a Best Seller on Amazon and just months after it hit 100 Amazon ratings. Every month since that second deal which was the best business decision I’d ever made, The Teleporter has always sold copies and to me is the greatest proof that it is never too late for a book to find success.
To all of those who have supported this super hero comedy, thank you.
And so I’m back to share my most recent book promotion results. Those who do follow me on Twitter might have seen my efforts last weekend and so I am here to share my results with a hope it may help a fellow author.
For those who don’t know me, my name is Lee Hall, I’m an indie/self published author of seven books from the UK. I’m a huge believer in helping and supporting other creatives in the community and the majority of my success has come from building trust with others. I also never give up and my dream for the world to read my words is getting closer by the day. Using mostly social media, I regularly sell books around the world but every now and then I’ll give those books a little extra help by way of some paid advertising.
So what do I mean by book promotion? Well to me, book promotion is a large umbrella of variety that covers many different methods to sell books. As an indie and someone who began this journey at zero much like many of you, I have determined that sometimes, selling books is really hard but not impossible. Its all about visibility and making people aware of your work.
There are a plethora of ways to increase your visibility and the majority of mine comes from Twitter where I have over 25,000 followers – something I spent a long time working at growing. From this, I normally manage to get sales roughly every other day which is awesome but every now and then I like to give my books a bigger push.
From the seven books I have published, four of them are a part of the Occult Order of the Following Series which is horror/thriller in genre. My next release is going to be the fifth and final book in the series and so my aim for this book promotion was to increase my sales for theses titles.
So how was I going to promote these 4 books? By way of some paid advertising. Over the years I have used many different book promotion sites which are basically websites that offer a range of advertising for a fee while some are free. Many of these sites have access to large mailing lists which can help get those books in front of newer eyes. This method normally focuses on selling digital books and my e book sales have always been stronger than paperback.
Generally, the more books you have available, the more cool things you can do to try and sell them.
Free is good for visibility:For those who do have a series like me, pricing Book 1 for free in digital format and then discounting the others to 99 cents or equivalent will help sales.Book 1 will most likely attract readers who then will hopefully check out the series. Those with e books enrolled in KDP select will be given a number of optional days each period to price your book for free.
Create a Series Page:Amazon allow you to create a separate page for your series which also helps for visibility. Having this link to share helps direct readers to your work. Here’s mine.
Time and Urgency:Running a promotion for just a short time really helps create a sense of urgency – Amazon allow five days for a book to be free but one or two is perfect.
Invest with Money: I’ve said this before but if you want serious results, sometimes you have to spend money for that.
Spread across Platforms: When I run any promo, normally I create a post on here where my 900+ followers will see. I also do some stuff on Instagram and of course Twitter. This cross platform spread helps get the word out.
Book Banners: Book Banners work quite well for a nice visual that can be shared across social media. Combined with a professionally designed cover, they help. I created this banner myselfand there are plenty of decent online Photoshop sites out there along with licence free image sites like Pixabay.
Who did I advertise with?
For this promo which I ran for just one day on Saturday April 9th 2022, I advertised with Free Booksy and their awesome series feature which allowed me to link the rest of the books in my Order of the Following Series beginning with Open Evening (Book 1) which was free.
Stacking Promotions: Normally during any promotional run I will advertise with multiple sites, this is known as stacking, but for this promo I used just Free Booksy. They offer a range of advertising services and not just for series.
This was the first time I had used just a single advertiser. And so, on with the results!
There are two main ways in which I look at the results. Firstly the free downloads of Book 1 Open Evening:
Just 3 downloads shy of 300 for a single day with just a handful over spilling the next day was a fantastic result. With 6 different territories taking part and considering this was a promo with a single advertiser, I am happy. But, did the free promo entice any paid sales for the rest of the books in the series?
The answer is yes! And I haven’t seen that many paid sales in a single day for quite some time and because I have never ran a series promo with just a single advertiser, this is a personal best!
The most popular title seemed to be Book 4 Darke Awakening which had a rather quiet release back in 2020 and proves my theory that it is never too late for a book to find sales!
Now the best indicator of a good book promotion run isn’t the day of the run but what happens after. And a good book promo run will continue to bring in results for some time after. Seeing as this run was only a few days ago, here are some more results:
After a very dry spell in terms of KENP page reads, they finally sparked to life. All of my fiction is on Kindle Unlimited and so that extra visibility has boosted page reads!
It might be unrelated but the day after the promo, my super hero comedy The Teleporter hit 180 Amazon ratings! So perhaps this promo even brought in other books in my bibliography.
Factors for Success
With nearly 400 digital copies of my works finding readers, let us look at why this promo run was a success:
All of my works have professionally designed covers which is a must for that first visual impression. Check out Design For Writers – they do some fantastic work and have done all of my covers;
Some reviews help and every one of the books in the Order of the Following Series have at least 5;
I have a series page on Amazon which means all of the books in the series are in one place;
The price reduction across the series pretty much guaranteed a few readers looking for a bargain to grab them and because this was a one day only deal, the urgency probably motivated that;
I invested money in the promotion and sometimes you have pay serious money to get serious results;
My social media game was on point. Not only did I put out a post on here but during the day I was active on Twitter and made sure my audience knew about the promo.
I do hope this post has helped in some capacity because marketing and selling books is an uphill struggle for most of us. These methods seem to help but there is always something else to do be done. You can only do what you know at the time. My advice would be to take your time and try and few things at once. It is never too late for a book to find readers and my first book Open Evening which was released in 2016 is proof of that!
Thanks for reading!
Here’s a short list of resources that will hopefully help with your book promo efforts:
Writing guides that help fellow authors, bloggers and social media-ers has become a vital pillar of my content in recent times. There’s a reason why this here blog is followed by over 900 good souls. Helping others also feels good and then seeing them succeed via some of my advice is even better. This post is dedicated to the top 5 guides I have put together this year, most of which are centered around book promotion, selling and social media.
5. Let’s talk about… why your book isn’t selling…
Viewed an impressive 400+ times this year, this post is dedicated to helping authors find all kinds of ideas to sell their books before and after publication. You can read the whole thing here.
4. How I landed another deal with Bookbub
Those who have been around a while will know that this year a major turning point came for me in the form of a BookBub Featured Deal for my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’. 10,000+ people downloaded it in a single day. Shortly before the promo run I put together this detailed guide on how I got the featured deal. And for those asking, a BookBub featured deal really is worthwhile.
3. Book Promotion Results: April 2021
April 2021 serves as a record holder for so many things. It was my first $100 royalty month, it was also the month where my highest amount of paid sales happened in a single day. This guide highlights how I did it.
2. 10 ways to sell a book without dropping the link on social media…
This one always gets a lot of attention and you might have seen me sharing the link for it on Twitter rather ironically. Link dropping is a rather interesting subject on Twitter and this guide shares how to sell books without dropping a link. With a viewership of over 500 its one of my best performing posts of the year and probably will be for some time. You can read it here.
1. A Concise List of Book Promotion Sites
Any my most viewed guide of 2021 is a list that many authors including myself use as reference, hence the fact it will probably be evergreen. I update it regularly too and book promo sites are a wonderful way of advertising your books. Check it out here.
And if you are looking for more guidance on authoring, blogging and social media-ing I have a guide book which is coming to paperback in the next few weeks.You can find more information here.
Ah, the freebie, a normally guaranteed way to stir any type of consumer interest or so they say. This post will look in detail at the free e book promotion – something I know a thing or two about because since being published in 2016, I have run the free book promo 16 times… Yikes, that may sound like a big number but spread out over 5 or so years it has served me quite well. Let’s talk about it…
By definition, the free book promotion to me is the concept of setting the price of an e book to zero. This can best be achieved through Amazon KDP and if your digital book is enrolled in KDP select then you are allocated up to 5 optional days every period to list that book for free. I have highlighted the ‘optional’ part because although 5 days seems like a good amount, in my eyes the shorter amount of time a bookis free, the better – this taps into the whole impulse purchase and urgency thing which is quite important in selling anything. Creating a sense of impulse and urgency in a free promotion will increase the likelihood somebody will want to download your book.
So, is a free book promotion worthwhile?
There are plenty of authors I know who will never offer their work for free and that’s fine in my eyes. I suppose its a case of weighing up your individual options against the factors for success. For me, I don’t earn a living through the books I have published, in fact I am nowhere near that yet, so making money as a self-published author right now is not on my wish list. But gaining a readership is and if my free promotion is executed effectively then that is exactly what will happen, eventually, in theory, maybe…
This whole thing is subjective, so remember everyone’s situation is different.
I tend to use the word eventually in most of my author situations because this really is a long game and hopefully with my results below you’ll see that. Before we look at the results which have improved over time, there are several factors as to why a free promotion can be a success. Here are the main ones:
Type of Advertising/Budget
Probably above everything else, the who and how much you spend will dictate a lot of a book promo’s success. Higher end book promo advertisers also have higher quality readers who leave reviews like BookBub. Budget will also determine how much reach it will have. In my eyes, for a free promo, I’m going all in so the money I spend will be returned eventually through reviews, readers and even social media follows. You can find some of the book promo advertisers I have used here.
The second major factor in all book promotion is combining different methods – what I mean by this is perhaps playing around with the price/advertisers/books available. This is where book promotion runs can be deemed a success or not. In the many times I have run promos I have also reduced the price of other books or even advertised the free book before and after a promo. Just free is great, but other combinations are even better. I nearly always ‘stack’ my promotion too – this means using multiple advertisers over several days.
Social Media Reach/Activity
The higher and more engaged your social media following, the better it should be for any promotional stuff. Me; I’m pretty much addicted to Twitter and my following of nearly 20k does help. At a glance, the more you put into social media over time, the more you get back. If your profile gets bigger, more people are going to be interested in your work. Building trust over time online will create a fanbase eventually. How? Here’s a guide for that.
Genre/Time of Year
A wintery ghost romance probably won’t sell much in the height of summer but it will during the autumn and winter months. Genres and seasons do tend to go hand in hand. From late September all the way to Halloween works really well for horror and thrillers.
Length of Promo
I mentioned above that being enrolled in KDP Select will allow you up to 5 days every enrollment period to use for free promo but the shorter the promo run, the better. Impulse and urgency sell books that are on a price promotion.
Most of my free promotion runs saw better results after a certain amount of reviews. There is no fixed number but having over 5 will help a little. The more reviews a book has the better in theory. In terms of ratings, anything over 3.5 stars average rating should do quite well also.
My top book promotion advice is to have more books available and the more you have on your shelf the more a potential reader will invest in you. Even if their first read from you is free, if the experience is enjoyable then they may just return as a paying reader next time.
Make it Easy for the Crowd
Have you ever offered a physical book or two for free to your social media audience? From a signed paperback to an advanced e copy? Was the response mostly crickets and you weren’t sure why? There’s something about singling people out and then offering them something because every so often it doesn’t work. People don’t tend to like being singled out and so a free e book promo makes everyone feel part of a crowd with way less reader pressure.
We’ve looked at the factors now let us look at a few real life free book promo examples. When I ran my first free promo back in 2017 it was kind of a stab in the dark. Something I have tried to improve over the years… (the book selling, not actual knife things…).
Scenario 1 (2017)
Book Title: Open Evening + Darke Blood (Both Free)
Amount of Amazon Reviews: 6 (UK only)
Length of Free Promo: 5 Days
Books Published: 2
Budget Spent on Advertising: $70
Social Media Following:
Open Evening Free Downloads: 713
Open Evening Paid Sales After: 12
Darke Blood Free Downloads: 144
Darke Blood Paid Sales After: 29
A very good first attempt at a free promo. Although pricey, 800+ free downloads and then paid sales after for both books was a win in my eyes. Turning a profit at this stage is difficult and not a priority. This was a good entry level free promo and to me anything over 500 free downloads for a book is good. You can read in a little more detail about this promo here.
Scenario 2 (2019)
Book Title: Darke Blood (with ‘The Teleporter’ free on the final day)
Amount of Amazon Reviews: 10
Length of Free Promo: 3 Days
Books Published: 4
Budget Spent on Advertising: $100
Social Media Following:
Darke Blood Free Downloads: 3,403
Darke Blood Paid Sales After: 2
The Teleporter Free Downloads: 88
An excellent result. 3000+ downloads for any book in that space of time is huge. Capped off with the last minute free promo of The Teleporter on the final day – this proved my theory of eyes being on any other book you have published during a free promo – remember combinations? That’s a major factor for success which you’ll see in the third and final scenario. You can read my detailed report on this promo here.
While the above two scenarios are impressive in terms of numbers, the free promo gets more valuable when you have more books available. By the time of the next scenario (April 2021) I had 6 books available, 4 were part of a series and the free promo and a book series go hand in hand for combination stuff. This next scenario is also after my BookBub Featured Dealwhich was also a free promo and resulted in 10,000 downloads of The Teleporter in a day. Time is your friend with this stuff and you’ll see how my results shifted below.
Scenario 3 (2021)
Book Title: Open Evening with rest of the series discounted to 99 cents or equivalent
Amount of Amazon Reviews: 27
Length of Free Promo: 1 Day
Books Published: 6
Budget Spent on Advertising: $165
Social Media Following:
Open Evening Free Downloads: 940
Open Evening Paid Sales After: 2
Paid Sales of other books in the Series on that day: 176
Total Paid Sales that month: 230 – A record that still stands today.
You can see from the results that the free promo kind of takes a different role because the other books in the series all sold from that initial visibility. You can create a series page on Amazon that links all books in that series together – let Amazon do the work with this, they have the infrastructure so take advantage. Paid sales pushed all of my books up the charts and to better visibility and the best thing is this book promo broke even the next month. April 2021 was my first $100 royalty month and then the second was May. You can read about this promotion here.
Often overlooked is the concept of e book page reads with can be tracked via the KDP sales dashboard. As you can see from mine and historically they have spiked and even sustained after every promo run since 2017. With more books and promos this can become quite an opportunity while also tracking results.
From the scenarios and factors laid out before, you can make a free promo very worthwhile. Of course there have been plenty of not so great promos but they are all part of the journey. You just need a backlist, a budget and some tactics. So in conclusion and for an effective free promo, these things work well:
Minimum time – 1 or 2 days work fine. Impulse and urgency. Think of it as an occasion;
More books helps sell all involved. Discounted prices if its a series. Combinations;
Paying for advertising – kind of a no brainer, plenty of good book promo sites out there. Stack them over some days;
Social Media Following – helps but not essential;
Reviews – Some reviews help.
There are always a few anomalies and variables for the individual but everything laid out above should help to sell books. I have found running a free promo works best every quarter or so and over time it can help grow a readership. These days my book sales are regular and mostly at full price all because I started with the free promo some years ago and built a foundation from it.
Thank you for reading. What are your experiences with the free promo?Any lessons or thoughts?
If you enjoyed this post I have stack of more promo scenarios in my author/blogger guide book which is available now!
I’ve been promoting my books again and for the first time I had seven to play with. It is my belief that the more books an author has, the more promotional things one can do with them.
September 2021 served as a milestone month for me as it is five years since my words first graced publication. It is also a crucial month for many of my books as their genres tend to pick up around this time of year and look at that – a promo tip in the damn intro, horror, thriller, occult, spooky, ghosts, gothic – all of these start selling rather well from Labor Day onwards – that’s a public holiday weekend over in the US and for me the spiritual beginning of spooky season.
Like all of my previous book promo posts this will look into my plan, my results, how I got them and of course the most important part of any book promo – the longer term results. That’s part of the reason why this post has only just dropped, exclusively first on Patreon and then to the awesome followers on my blog. Let us dive in!
In any type of promo run its good to set out an overall aim while also setting a realistic or at least an achievable expectation but first of all and for beginners, what do I mean by promo run?
To me a book promotion run is when I advertise my books in order to sell them over a short amount of specific time. There are many inputs and ways to promote books and my process consists of paying for some advertisement every quarter or so while also reducing my prices to hook in new readers for just a few days. This quarterly or so method keeps sales from completely tanking to zero and while I am continually active on social media, newer readers are in theory always arriving onto my authory shores. I tend to sell books regularly via social media or mostly Twitter but not in huge numbers so I like a nice burst of sales every four or so months.
So on this occasion I would be running two price promotions simultaneously.
The e version of my debut high school creature feature horror ‘Open Evening’ would be Free to download celebrating five years since publication, for one day.
And the rest of my e books (6 others in total) would be reduced to 99 cents or equivalent for the whole of Labor Day weekend. In this category there are some books which are stand alone and others that are connected to ‘Open Evening’. Most of which are spooky season appropriate or popular all-year-round sellers.
Promo tip: Setting one book for free and advertising it will bring eyes onto all other books if you have any. Time and time again I have sold other books on my shelf while another was free. Discounting these titles pretty much guarantees some interest.
My overall aim was to sell as many books as possible to try and make an effort towards paying for the advertising I was going to use.
The Results Pt.1
The results of an effective book promotion run will last for days after the initial advertising dates but Pt.1 will look into the results of the first few days. So first of all let us look at the total.
As you can see the blue bar represents the free downloads for ‘Open Evening’ which managed 377 in one day across 6 different territories.
So that day broke a new record for me personally. This is the first time all 7 of my books were downloaded in 24 hours and every other book on my shelf although discounted made paid sales on the next day also.
Paid sales for Labor Day weekend are as follows below with my newest release and self help authoring and blogging guide book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ being the top seller followed by ‘Darke Awakening’ my newest release after ‘CCC’.
Let us briefly look at some chart movement which is an often overlooked part of these promo runs because good chart movement equals more visibility from passing trade.
Seeing as it was my top seller of the weekend ‘CCC’ made the best progress by hitting #10 in the Amazon US Writing Skill Reference chart which is a huge achievement because this chart is super competitive. I’m talking authors who do TedTalk’s normally head up the top spots.
Overall. I was happy with the sales of this weekend which led into several days after of sales which we will look into soon. But first let me break down what I did to get these numbers.
Methods of Promotion
My biggest tip when it comes to advertising books is to invest money. If you want serious results then you need to advertise seriously by spending. This is probably why I do this every four or so months. These days, I let my royalties accumulate and put them into advertising. It is also worth noting that being an indie author isn’t my primary source of income so I can afford to make losses financially with these promos – but to me there are no losses, just opportunity to find more readers and gain more traction as an author in the market – that’s what I’m really paying for.
Here are the book promotion sites/services I paid for:
‘Open Evening‘ – Free Booksy Horror Series Promotion. Cost $65 and this gives you an option to link all 4 books in the series which I did.
‘Consistent Creative Content‘
Bargain Booksy 99 cents Promotion. Cost $30.
Bookrunes. Cost $25
E Reader News Today – Humour Category. Cost $45.
Book Doggy. Cost £20
Total Advertising Cost: $185
As you can see my budget focused on evenly spreading the advertising. I could have run ads for every individual book but these three at the time were my most popular.
What else did I do?
Of course advertising via book promo sites is just part of my efforts. I also put out a blog post on here and various tweets throughout the weekend sharing various visual things. My Twitter following is over 15k which is a big opportunity for book sales. For those visual things I used these book banners in particular:
Book Banners are relatively easy to put together – I make my own using free stock imagers and Pixlr. Banners add just that little extra dimension to the visual appeal that may grab a potential readers attention.
The Books in my Order of the Following Series also have their own series page on Amazon – this helps for whole series visibility especially when one of the book in that series is free and the others are discounted.
Random Promo Tips:
Most book promo sites will ask you to include a brief description of the book that isn’t just the blurb. This is an opportunity to get creative and even mention that it could be a part of a series or that the rest of your works are currently discounted.
On social media think about terminology such as ‘For Today Only’ or ‘Exclusive Discount’. Stuff that embraces the gimmick of selling and stirs impulse. I always run a promo for just a few days to add a sense or urgency. Although Amazon will let you run a free promo for up to 5 days, 2 is enough.
Weekends tend to work really well post pandemic and so I like to include at least a Saturday as there is way more traffic online.
Existing reviews for a book really help sell more books – this is part of the reason why you see me put out a weekly Tweet saying how important reviews are. Most of my books have at least 15 reviews. This helps, big time!
The more books you have, the better things should be. Having just one or two books is much more of a challenge as readers tend to gravitate towards authors with more releases so get writing those books. This deal gets better with time.
The Results Pt2
Now it may seem like a paid quite a large sum to pay for some advertisement but all promo runs aren’t just about sales. Let us take a look at the most important part of a promo run – the aftermath…
From the 2 days before the promo and to the 8 days that followed I had at least 1 paid sale. This is 10 consecutive days of paid sales and new record. As you can see the rest of the month sales of the paid persuasion trickled in. Now if we compare it to the month previous…
The coloured bars may seem bigger but the numbers are drastically smaller for that month previous and this is just one of the things I am paying for with this promotion – extended visibility which in turn drives so much more.
September 2021 almost became another $100 royalty month and its not quite covered the cost of the promo but still a good portion of it has been recovered. Now let’s take a look at the wider scope in terms of royalties…
This 90 day graphic looks a little more promising but sales is not all that I am paying for because there is something else these promos drive and they are gold dust to authors and maybe worth more than a lot of money.
Reviews started appearing a few weeks after the promotional run, in fact 8 ratings for several different books came from this promo run which is a new monthly record and confirmation that this money investment was very much worthwhile. You can read a breakdown of the other reviews here.
Making money, getting more reviews, and sales takes time to master in the world of book promotion and this post is only just a snippet of years worth of work I have put in to figure all this out, that is without mentioning the work that goes into writing more books but, there is hope because this post above all shows that indie authors can sell their work and make money from it.
To me, book promotion runs are just a portion of what I do, perhaps even a small slice of a much larger cake that includes social media presence, blogging, reviewing other authors books and being a brand. There is always some work to be done in order to sell my brand and my works and remember that the more social you are on social media, the more someone will notice and eventually invest in you. Build trust and engage with others, that sells more than anything. Thanks for reading and peace out!
While the majority of things in writing can be subjective, most authors will know the struggle of trying to market and sell their work. The sheer variety of ways to try and market books these days can be quite daunting but I reckon I’ve got a decent grip on it. Follow me as I lay out my latest book promotion efforts with a hope it helps another wordsmith…
What is book promotion some of you ask? Well for the beginner and to me book promotion is any method that is used to sell books. This can be through a price reduction, paid advertising, free advertising and even less direct advertising like a social media presence. There are so many ways to promote a book and most of time I tend to combine these methods.
Firstly and quite importantly when it comes to promoting a book its good to have something to aim for or at least a reason why you are promoting a book. While sales is normally the main priority, this time I had another aim alongside that – more on that in a moment.
The book I would be promoting this time around was my very recently released self-help authoring and blogging guide book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ and on June the 26th it would be discounted to 99 cents (regular price $3.99) for that day only. My methods of advertising would be a paid promotion via book promo site Robin Reads and I would also be leveraging my social media following across a few different platforms. After the book’s initial release the sales have began to drop off to almost zero so a little advertising will hopefully jump start things.
Let’s break that down into three factors.
Time– an important factor when it comes to promotion. One day only for this promo adds urgency for potential readers to buy a book on the day.
Price– From $3.99 to $0.99 is quite a jump and adds a level of extra persuasion for potential readers.
Reach – Using a paid advertising package via a book promo site and my own social media following meant that I could reach more potential readers on the day.
Combining these three factors should result in a positive outcome for any book being promoted although different books have different circumstances to face such as rating and genre. You’ll also notice the book cover for ‘CCC’ is professionally designed and a beginners tip: potential readers do judge books by a cover so invest in a professional to give a book the best chance of selling.
For this promotional run I had another aim and that was to push ‘CCC’ up the Amazon charts so it could get a little more visibility and hopefully a few more ratings because my intention longer term is try and secure a BookBub Featured Deal. A few more ratings would increase the chances BookBub would say yes and their Featured Deal Advertising package is basically the holy grail of advertising. For me to get this book featured by them would be the dream as it would reach so many more readers. I consider this promo run a partial stepping stone towards a bigger picture.
As you can see the blue bar represents the launch of ‘CCC’ which gradually tailed off into June.
And then June had a few sales but then things became pretty sparse so it was time for some promotion!
On June the 26th and for one day only Consistent Creative Content was discounted to 99 cents from the original price of $3.99. Here are the results:
Sales in 5 territories and even some further sales all the way into July. A good promotion will keep a book visible and selling for some time after. A great book promotion will pay dividends even months later.
The best chart movement came from the US and these numbers were in the high thousands at the start of the day. They are super competitive charts so to see these numbers improve was awesome.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I checked Amazon to see ‘CCC’ in the top 4. Fantastic!
It would have only taken a few more sales to hit best seller but that’s for another day perhaps.
Factors for Success
I’ve shared my aims and the basic details of the promo but what are the finer details? Here’s what I did/what happened during the promo.
Social Media and Visuals
Using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and this blog I spread my social media coverage wide and shared this book banner. Book banners make for a nice additional visual that should hopefully enhance the cover of a book.
I also shared a visual representation of some recent reviews and spread that around the platforms.
Specifically on Twitter I took advantage of the #shamelesselfpromosaturday hashtag and combined with 11k followers that helped spread the word significantly.
In general, social media is a hard arena to sell books in, especially as the platforms tend to notice you sharing links and things. This always makes for a challenge. You can read more about getting better results at Twitter hereand you can read more about selling books without dropping the link here.
‘CCC’ already had some reviews and ratings but it really needed a few more, especially if I want a BookBub featured deal, they need to see recent review progress. Reviews serve a book for the purpose of promotion more than anything and some very needed reviews arrived right on time…
And on the day fellow author Ellen Khodakivska released this awesome review!
Reviews also started appearing over on BookBub which is vital for the long term and very much appreciated.
This ‘stepping stone’ promotional run succeeded in helping ‘CCC’ climb the charts and get some much needed visibility. Having paid $60 for the promo via Robin Reads the royalties are at a loss currently but I paid for this promo using the previous months royalties so I’m taking it as a win. To be able to put money back into to promotion after making it from a book is the stuff of dreams.
Remember its all about Time Price and Reach. If you can get those factors right then hopefully sales will come in. This time around I didn’t break any records but I jumpstarted my sales slump and positioned myself for a better chance to convince BookBub to say yes.
I’m not particularly interested in making a huge amount of money in authoring and this book I have written is to help others more importantly. Hopefully this post helped a fellow wordsmith and you can read so much more about book promotion via the resources section or alternatively you could buyConsistent Creative Content which is currently $2.99 or less in some places and is full of guides like this one.
Thanks for reading and next stop BookBub…. or I will at least apply for their featured deal….
Okay, this isn’t my first rodeo in releasing books and over the years I’ve tried to keep my expectations grounded but I have concluded that releasing a new book as an indie author in the social media age no matter how high your following, is like trying to draw blood from a stone… Great start right? But it gets better below…
Even with that engaged and loyal following it just seems we are fighting against the elements. The elements being the social media platforms who only push certain posts – that’s the true competition here, overcoming the algorithms to simply get the message across. In order to have a successful book launch – there are many inputs but above all you need to grind out sales in anyway reasonably possible. Remember the ‘reasonable’ part, we can only do so much that is regarded as sensible to try and sell.
This feature length post will dive into everything I did to overcome the algorithms and fight back with the methods I used to firstly promote that fact I had a book coming, then promote the pre-order and then the actual release for my 7th indie published book – a guide book about authoring and blogging. My hope is that a fellow author can take something from this to have a better or at least successful launch.
1. Initial Promotion
To me, the promotion of a book should begin as soon as an author begins writing. This has several inputs but the most important thing you can do is talk about the coming project via social media at the earliest possible moment. Even if you have just started drafting, most of the time us writer folk will know if we have a project that will become a book.
Of course this is also at your own discretion, perhaps sharing the full plot and main character arcs might be overkill and some authors won’t even share the title in fear of plagiarism which is okay. Share what feels comfortable to you. Use a placeholder title, hell, this time I even put together a mock up book cover. My advice would be to start slow, on social media, variety is key, so every now and then drop a hint that you have a book coming.
If you have a common interest with the book you are writing then perhaps think about sharing content that is related to it and not directly your book – writing a book about witches and vampires? Try sharing interesting stuff about that on social media while relating it to your work – maybe a few vampire memes or something fun. For me and back in August I started drafting my self-help guide book for authors and bloggers. This came from a blog post I wrote reflecting about blogging and I have always shared my book promotion results so I had a common interest because the project was going to contain blog advice and book promotion results. From August 2020 all the way up to April 2021 I shared my book promotion results, social media guides and every other type of resource I could – all of them relate to my book and lots of folks read them. You can find most of them over in the resources section via the menu above.
Quite early on I also envisioned a release date that would be in April/May and so then I booked my awesome cover artist for then. Now all I had to do was write the damn thing…
Ramp Up Social Media Presence
From August all the way to May I spent way more time on social media and specifically Twitter which is now my #1 platform. My motivations in writing kind of evolved during this time, I was already supporting fellow authors with reviews but now I wanted to go further and help them more by sharing my experiences from over the years. My belief now is that helping the writing industry will eventually help me in some way but if not at least somebody has got something positive from my social media engagement. Sales is not something that drives me, it never has, writing and now helping others drives me.
By December 2020 I hit 5000 Twitter followers, by January it was 6000 and by the end of April I hit 9000. That will tell you how much of an opportunity Twitter is to gain a following and I was at least doing something right. All I did was show up every day and try to share something helpful. Just sharing links and being sales driven will not work long term. Connecting with people on a personal level will.
I was also continually blogging with all types of subjects from those book reviews to various guides I put together. Readers always want new content and so I was providing that. The title to my guide book is ‘Consistent Creative Content’ and to me that is what you need for success. I really did put in the work for this and for much of the time I treated it like a job but importantly it was fun.
Having Other Books Will Promote Newer Books
Some of you might be sick of hearing this but my top book promotion advice is to write more books. Having more books as an author will entice readers to at least check them out if they enjoyed something you’ve written.
Between August 2020 and May of 2021 I promoted my other works through advertising and price reductions, some were even free. I had 6 of them to promote and the more works you have the more things you can do to promote them.
My super hero comedy ‘The Teleporter’ was even advertised with BookBub via a Featured Deal in February 2021.
10,000 people downloaded the book in one day and soon after it made Amazon best seller. Reviews and ratings poured in and soon reached over 100. All of this stuff worked as good advertising for my coming guide book as I shared it on social media. I also shared how I got the Featured Deal. All of this helped the cause for promoting an upcoming author guide book. Persistence and mostly hard work to stay present on social media basically convinced BookBub to say yes among some other factors.
You can see from the picture above that my book made it as a best seller with less than 30 ratings. If my book can get that, then yours certainly can!
Gradual is Key
The key to this initial stage is to take it gradual, even with my tight schedule of initial draft in August to release in May, I wasn’t spending every hour of every day tweeting about it. I consider Book Releases a big time one off event every year like Christmas – the rest of my endeavours like blogging and even individual tweeting is like a weekend in that sense. That’s a weird analogy but the key to this is to spend more time being a person on social media as opposed to being sales focused. Sales will come naturally if you go about your day on social media with an aim to just connect while producing regular content – there are so many awesome people online who just want to talk – even as an introvert I value talking and many of them will also appreciate your content – whether it is blog stuff or just tweets. .
Gradual is also important to you can avoid the ‘b’ word – burnout, which is a real and sometimes a crushing thing. I try to stay busy and do the work – this way I tend to avoid even thinking about being tired. There is no finish line so I just keep going gradually. When I do get down about this deal I take a step back and stay off social media for a while. Even a few hours away and a nice walk will clear my head.
Nuts and Bolts
This post won’t really focus on the details of what goes into putting a book together. I’ll call them the nuts and bolts for the purpose of this one but this stuff is basically the editing, beta readers, cover artist organisation and release date decision which is all part of the initial section because you need it before the next section.
So let’s say you have a completed, edited and polished manuscript that is ready to be uploaded to Amazon or your book retailer of choice. You also have a professional looking cover. At this stage I firstly published a blurb reveal on this blog and then when the cover was ready I published a cover reveal but on this occasion I used that reveal to also launch the pre-order…
Top tip: Using a cover reveal to also promote a pre-order is good little surprise for potential reviewers and in my sense drove some early pre-orders. Consider it a two in one type of deal.
2. The Pre-Order
Some of you might be thinking, why a pre-order? Why not just launch the thing and be done? Who the in the hell actually has any demand as an indie author to get someone to pre-order my work? Well friends, that’s the opportunity a pre-order presents.
To me running a pre-order is a vital middle stage of a book’s release and you only really get one chance with a book release so why not do something before to ramp up further promotion – that’s my thinking anyway.
Amazon allow you to set up a pre-order for your ebook and this is something I strongly suggest you take advantage of. Why? Well firstly you’ll have an Amazon product page to share and play with – this is huge for driving traffic towards your work. Normally after 12 so hours of setting up the page will be live on Amazon, all you really need is the cover and blurb – you can upload the manuscript file later. Having an actual Amazon URL means you can also bring the book promotion advertisers into play. Consider running a pre-order as opening a door of opportunity.
The most vital reason why you should set up a pre order is because when somebody does order it, you’ll be able to climb the charts. After launching my pre-order late on a Friday night this gave me opportunity to start sharing it on the weekend and weekend social media pre-pandemic days is always busy so there’s plenty of opportunity. This is a break down of the days leading up to release I spent promoting the book.
Pre-order goes live on Amazon. Its a Saturday so I utilize the shameless self promo Saturday hashtag and put out a tweet. I attach the link to the cover reveal/pre-order launch to that tweet.
With Twitter in play and my blog (for the cover reveal), I now put out a post via Instagram and Facebook. Fly my pretties! Some of my followers are only present on one platform so this guarantees extra coverage.
By the end of day one, my book hit’s #1 in the hot new releases chart on Amazon UK for Writing Reference. As you can see there are a few big names around the top of this chart.
Total Pre-orders for Day One:
9 – an exceptional start!
For the time this book is on pre-order I’m doing my best to try and share stuff about it with variety and not just sharing the link all day. As far as I am aware Twitter and Facebook do their best to bury your posts if they contain links – this is just from my experience anyway. Day 1 started really slow but picked up later on and became quite phenomenal. So by Day two, I made sure to share the chart above to my following which drove a few more pre orders. Again I spread the posting out to other platforms – Instagram and FB.
I then put together a book banner because book banners just add a little more to the visual appeal of a book. During this day I also replaced the placeholder book cover with the actual cover in all of my guides on this blog. My longer term plan was to share one of these posts every day (common interest).
In terms of tweeting, I did tweet about the book a few times but my focus was on sharing the free content on this blog and so on this day I shared my ‘Building an Algorithm of Trust‘ post about Twitter success.
Total Pre-orders for day Two:
2 increasing the total to 11 (this is such a grind but those numbers are great)
The reason I say this is such a grind is because although I am putting in every effort not to directly share the link it is still hard and I’m not sure whether or not my stuff is visible. Are my followers seeing my posts? Is the algorithm stopping me? Just have to keep going.
So day three is here and it is a Monday which means business as usual. Twitter is a different landscape during the week, users are at work or just busy so trying to get the attention of them is harder. I share a guest post on this blog and dive into the tweeting. In my head more ideas are forming on how to share more of my self help book to entice more pre-orders. Because the Amazon product page is currently in pre-order nobody can preview the book so I decide to put the first few pages into a blog post excerpt and I’ll share it on day four. Of course this post will include links. I make a point of telling my following to expect the excerpt tomorrow – it is well received.
I spend my day tweeting and confiding in my followers. This post was my mood…
Total pre-orders for day three:
4 increasing the total to 15 (this has now beaten the pre-order total for my last release!)
The excerpt goes live on my blog and I wait. Of course the tweet about it doesn’t get the best amount of attention, I even put the link in the comment below as opposed to the main tweet but still it got swallowed up I think. This is the grind I’m talking about. You build an engaged following who are interested in you personally and are willing to buy from you but then you share a link and its a ghost town. Being the little person sucks sometimes…
To add more to that concept of being the little person, today I attempted to run a Facebook ad and had my account suspended for doing so. I’m not sure why. Perhaps they thought it was someone else trying to advertise my book on my account…
At the close of Day four I put out a tweet sharing a guide on how I got 5 thousand tweet machine followers. Again the reception isn’t great although this is a dated guide. The grind continues but I’ve still got a few more tricks up my sleeve. Just have to keep going.
Total pre-orders for day Four:
2 increasing the total to 17
Today I have a masterplan to get more eyes on my tweets. Of course my mantra is to share stuff that someone can find some value in, whether it be something helpful or even fun. My plan is to first share my greatest statistic as an indie author to just show others we can be successful and secondly I am going to change my pinned tweet.
Top tip: After changing your pinned tweet ask your following to retweet it and do the same for them. Guaranteed exposure that will push your tweet around with little effort.
The statistics tweet and pinned tweet thing went quite well. After that I also shared my recent sales figures which had the best daily sales average ever and included a tip in that tweet.
Total pre-orders for day five:
2 increasing the total to 19
Todays masterplan includes advertising the pre-order to include a free book. See my tweet below.
Now I thought of this little deal overnight and personally I think its an awesome idea. The only problem is nobody else seemed to think so. Was the algorithm blocking me from getting this to my following? Thinking about it further maybe sending me screenshot of the pre-order is just too much effort and maybe most of them have already downloaded the Teleporter. Either way its good to try new ideas, if they fail so be it. Nothing lost.
Today I gained a single pre-order keeping what is now referred to as a streak, alive.
Total pre-orders for day six:
1 increasing the total to 20
Today my sights are firmly set on celebrating the milestone of 10,000 Twitter followers which eventually happens early afternoon. For a while I’ve been thinking of what I’m going to say and so I take a wild stab at recording a short video.
The reaction was positive and supportive. 10k is going to take a while to sink in and for my efforts even a single pre-order came in. The grind continues and I can’t help but be thankful for the support!
Total pre-orders for day seven:
1 increasing the total to 21
Saturday again and I intentionally set up the pre-order to run through 2 weekends as for me they appear to be busier for traffic and engagement which in turn drives sales. Of course I run a self promo post on Twitter and drop several links in the comments for the various guides you can find via my resources section. I share the excerpt again. It has come to the attention of some authors that Amazon seems to not be working – some books including mine aren’t searchable on their site. Great – more odds stacked against me.
Total pre-orders for day eight:
1 increasing the total to 22 – this is now double my last pre-order run!
The grind continues, this is becoming quite a slog but I’m hanging in there and remain hopeful that those who haven’t pre ordered might show up for the release day. That would be awesome and special to me. I would really like this to be my best release ever. Today I tweet quite a lot and speak about book selfies which in fact do sell books from experience. Of course I run a self promo post because Sunday is a good day for that and I link a book promotion results blog post to it.
Amazon seems to be working again now and the book is searchable.
Somehow and with odds against me we get a single pre-order which keeps my hope and the ‘streak’ alive.
Total pre-orders for day nine:
1 increasing the total to 23
Monday is here and it is the week of the release! Work is priority today (my day job) and it is a long day. I’m unable to find much time to spend on social media and there is no blog post today either so eventually I share the post about getting a BookBub featured deal – I’m kind of just waiting for the release now. The streak will probably end today although I am keeping the faith and after work I dive back into tweeting. It is looking like the awesome and flawless run of order is over.
Somehow we get a surprise…
This wonderful author Emma Jordan arrived at just the right time and saved the streak! Therefore I happily paid it back and added her book to my TBR list. After promising to give a shout out to anyone who pre-ordered the book I then get another pre-order on the same night! Faith restored – this is becoming quite an exceptional thing. I’m looking at the perfect pre-order run – maybe I do know what I am doing!
Late that night I get a message from a fellow author and blogger who wants to interview me, of course I say yes.
Total pre-orders for day ten:
2 increasing the total to 25 (ten straight days of pre-orders! I’ve never known anything like this…)
With a spring in my step after yesterday’s awesomeness I set out to put together a twitter thread on how I got ten consecutive days of pre-orders – this is a great opportunity to share and help others while advertising my efforts – a win win situation in my eyes.
Although this thread is well received, no pre-orders are coming in so far and it is starting to get late. By the late afternoon I know that the US followers are online and so I push the semi-panic button – I put out a tweet asking for RT’s for my pinned tweet in exchange for RT’ing theirs. The notifications come flying in… My pinned tweet – a video of me celebrating 10k follows from last week spreads around the twitterverse.
The interview I did for a fellow author and blogger Megan Hinde goes live and does rather well in reaching indie authors. I talk about writing and where it could go – this was nice to talk about. You can read that here.
It is getting late and no pre-order, maybe the streak is about to end. A perfect run would have been awesome but 10 days in a row is still fantastic. In one last ditch effort I ask and…
Pre-order 26 arrives at the very end of a day well spent promoting and tweeting. The support from my followers is truly exceptional and this is proof that I am able to sell books to the individual and if you can do that, then you can sell to multiple individuals. Of course I then gave this awesome follower a shout out!
Total pre-orders for day eleven:
1 increasing the total to 26
And so the final day of the pre-order run is here. I’m part-excited, part-jittery, part-tired and just want this book out there now. 26 orders is better than I imagined. If I can get just one order today then this would have been a truly historic moment. This whole time I’ve just been leveraging social media and blogging – no adverts, just socials. My plan today is simple, do some light tweeting and put out a final rallying blog post on here.
My Weekly Ramble post goes live and almost instantly a single pre-order comes through.
We did it. We fu**ing did it. A small time indie managed to get a perfect score on a pre-order! An order every damn day since launch. But then the truly incredible happens, 3 more come in.
Just under 2 weeks for a pre-order with 2 weekends is just about the right length in my eyes. I’m almost dead but as someone once said ‘superstardom is close to post-mortem’ and so yes it was taxing but overall worth it. Now with the release on Thursday that gives me room to promo and leverage the blog and social media until the weekend in 2 days time.
3. The Release
Having now released seven books in the last six years I firmly believe that no matter what happens at release it is never too late to sell a book or find success. The release to me is day one of a journey in which that book takes. At the point of this book’s release I am physically and mentally done. While the support has been phenomenal and the graphic above proves that, I need a vacation and more importantly I need to go away from promo mode and write – that’s what truly matters to me, the releasing of books and everything that goes into it is such a grind but from what I achieved it is possible to find success. This is especially so for anyone who starts this journey from zero – I’m talking to you fellow indie author and please use this post as hope and inspiration that you can find success as a creator. This journey in the latter stages was paved by some wonderful supporters who I will continue to engage with everyday on here and through my other social media channels. They were the true power in all of this and my will to never ever give up.
This section will be quite short because at the time of writing the release has only just happened and to me the life of a book only really starts then. Where it will go is governed by time and the support is has got through a fantastic against the odds pre-order run.
The good thing about having such a great pre-order run is that I’ve already done the work to sell my books to readers who now already have the book on their devices. This meant that on release day I focused more on celebrating than actually pushing to sell more. To me, the work is done and an almighty amount of pressure was released on this day. We all have expectations and now everything begins to subside.
That kind of wraps things up for a post that is rather long. Below you shall find some concluding points to use as reference for a successful launch. I wouldn’t be an indie author if I didn’t try to sell you something so you can find pretty much everything it took to get to this point in the main subject of this post; my book which is out now.
If you type ‘Consistent Creative Content Lee Hall’ into Amazon, it should come up.
Peace out, thanks for reading.
Concluding points of everything above in short form:
Talk about the project at the earliest possible time. Start slow and ramp up.
Use a placeholder cover and working title if necessary.
Common interest – share stuff that has something in common with your book, even a meme or something fun.
Ramp up social media presence – gradually being on there more will eventually drive results if you post and engage with others. This might interest potential readers.
Promote other works if applicable – more books sells more books…
Launching and running a pre-order is good for ramping up promotion of a release.
I incorporated the cover reveal and pre-order launch in one go.
You’ll have an Amazon product page to share and use for advertisement and chart placement if you do get orders.
Around 14 or so days works well for promotion of the pre-order with a couple of weekends included in that time. This is plenty of time to create a couple of pinned tweets on twitter and ask your following to RT them.
Share an excerpt of your book via your blog if you have one. The Amazon product page doesn’t allow potential readers to ‘look inside’ a book on pre-order.
It will be a grind, but keep going and keep trying to find different ways to overcome the algorithms and get your book out there to readers by just being social online. You can do it because I did!
Alright authors. here it is and due to popular demand the results of my most recent book promotion efforts which took place on the first weekend of April 2021. For the sake of helping a fellow wordsmith we’ll be looking into the basics, what I aimed to do, the results, how I got them and of course factors for success. This will be quite detailed but for reasons laid out ahead.
There might be some new faces visiting this here blog for the first time so allow me to introduce myself if you don’t already know me. My name is Lee Hall, I’m an independently published author from the UK. I have several books available and I am determined to persuade the world to read them – that is and always will be my dream. I’ve never given up and slowly over many years I’ve found some success. My readers and following on social media have been kind enough to keep that dream alive by showing amazing support. It is also my belief that authors should help each other because we are on this journey together so this post is for authors to hopefully gain something from. Let’s dive in…
If you are published you’ll probably know that an author’s greatest struggle is informing the world their work exists. The next challenge is convincing someone to spend money and actually buy it. I know this pain very well and everyone with a book for sale feels it. Unfortunately just saying your book exists is not enough to sell it mainly because our voices aren’t loud enough on their own, so how do we amplify that voice? Through book promotion.
Book promotion is a rather large umbrella that covers many different methods of marketing and advertising. There are numerous ways to tell the world your book exists while also persuading a potential reader to buy it. Some require long term effort while others are instant, we’ll go into some methods below. Before setting out to promote your work it’s important to decide what you want and how you are going to do it along with setting a realistic expectation.
My aim on this occasion was get as many sales as possible for my four books which are all part of the Occult ‘Order of the Following Series’. The first book in that series ‘Open Evening’ would be free to download on Saturday the 3rd of April while the other three would be discounted to 99 cents or equivalent on that day also.
If your book is published via Amazon and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they will allow you to set your price to free for so many days every period. Free is an effective, please-all method of getting downloads. It doesn’t guarantee reviews or even reads but that’s the gamble with every book sale.
The main method I would be advertising this sale was through various book promotion sites and across my own social media channels. For beginners, book promotion sites are an effective way to advertise books online. Some advertise for free while the better ones you have to pay for. More info on book promo sites here.
In terms of expectations, I envisioned some paid sales for the discounted books while the majority would be for the free book.
Top promo tip: If you have a series available, setting the price to one book for free and lowering the price for the others will drive sales to all books in that series if promoted well for a short time.
Background information: In February I managed to convince high end Book Promo site BookBub to feature my stand alone super hero comedy ‘The Teleporter’. It was downloaded 10,000 times, became a best seller and has got over 100 ratings since then. This is probably important to note because after that promo a lot more eyes have been on me and my work. The aftermath has been rather incredible. You can read about that here.
So this is how things went on Saturday the 3rd of April. After what started as a rather slow day soon took a turn for the better…
The free to download Open Evening made its way around the world with an impressive 874 downloads while every other book I have available sold, this included books that were not advertised anywhere! Now lets take a look at the paid sales that day in a little more detail.
176 paid sales in one day is a record breaking statistic for me. Not only did this smash the previous record of 60 paid sales in one day (2019) but also the monthly record that was 120 (September 2020).
‘Darke Awakening’ took the lead and sold nearly triple the amount it sold on release last year. Overall these numbers are something I’ve never seen before!
Let’s take a look at Amazon chart movement.
The highlight was seeing Open Evening beside Dean Koontz’s ‘Odd Interlude’ via the Free US Occult Suspense Chart.
‘Darke Awakening’ did the best in paid charts by peaking at 21 in the US Vampire Thriller charts. ‘An English vampire book in America’ being in the top 25 of the biggest Amazon market is huge! It was in the 1000’s previously!
‘Darke Blood’ just about crept into the top 50 of the US Occult Suspense Chart, again that was in the 1000’s beforehand.
‘Cemetery House’ managed a solid 52 in the US Occult Horror charts. A respectable number for what was my most problematic release back in 2018. Redemption!
For what was a truly fantastic day continued into the Sunday with more paid sales. This time ‘Open Evening’ started selling at 99 cents. Chart movement is an important thing because it throws books in front of new eyes and puts them alongside perhaps more known titles. This drives visibility for passing trade.
On this day my all time paid book sales record for the month was pushed to 200+ which then got further improved the next day…
As of this screen shot taken on the 5th the total for paid sales in April reached 216.
How I did it
This story is only half told because now we need to look into how I got these results and there are so many different factors as to why this sale was so successful. Hopefully this is the part where some of you guys can get something out of this information.
Normally during a promotional run I focus the advertising on one book but this time I spread that advertising across the series using multiple book promo sites. So here are the book promotion sites and the packages I used for each book:
Free Booksy – Horror Series Advertising Package for ‘Open Evening’ with the series linked – Cost $65
E Book Booster – Advertisement for ‘Open Evening’ – Cost $25
Bookrunes – Advertisement for ‘Cemetery House’ – Cost £25
Robin Reads – 99 cents Discounted Thriller Promotion for ‘Cemetery House’ – Cost $40
My Book Place – Advertisement for ‘Darke Blood’ – Cost $10
Total Cost: $165
This might seem like a lot of money to some but if you are serious about advertising then you need to invest money seriously. My recent BookBub featured deal cost around $250. This sale has turned out to be my most cost effective and potentially profitable!
Top promo tip: If you want to know how effective a certain book promo site is, just advertise with them only.
Factors for success
As you can see the paid advertising focused on the first three books in the series but the 4th book ‘Darke Awakening’ sold the most amount of copies. It is usually priced at $2.99 but the 99 cents discounted price is seen as quite a bargain. This was also the same for ‘Cemetery House’ which is usually $1.99 and was also discounted. Price differential, even by a small amount is a major factor in sales. Supermarkets do this all the time. Folks like to think they are getting a bargain and they were in this instance.
But why else did this promotional run go so well? (this is quite a list but here goes…)
The Basics (again)
Different basics this time but I firmly believe people will buy a book if it has the following things:
A professional cover, an enticing blurb, a unique title and a fair price. If your book has just these things, it will sell eventually, trust me.
Further visuals: Book banners seem to enhance the visual aspect of a book’s cover. I made most of mine through online photoshop sites and shared them through my social media platforms.
Some reviews/ratings: All four books in the series have some reviews and ratings. These take time to get but are very valuable when it comes to selling a book. That star rating is sat just beside the cover, people take it into account. Some promo sites will only accept books with a certain amount of reviews.
Open Evening was free: People love free things. Some folks won’t even think about liking the free thing before they grab it and if one of those books in a series is free, that leads into…
Amazon Series Link: If you are published via Amazon and have a series you can now create a separate product page for all the books in that series. This is kind of a no brainer and if used properly, potential readers will land on that page and they will then see all the books available. On this occasion they saw all the books were discounted.
Having more books, sells more books: If you have multiple books published then readers are more likely to buy from you. This is also my number one book selling advice – write more books. Easier said than done I know but authors with just one or two books, keep going because sales will get easier the more books you have published. Then you can do more things to promote them.
Having stand alone books helps also: I also have two stand alone books, one of which did very well a few months back in another promo. No doubt some folks who read it then saw these books were on sale and took the opportunity to buy one or two.
The sale only lasted a day: While over the years I have ran many different promos they all tend to be for a short time. This creates urgency, a one day only deal will push sales because a sense of demand is created.
The Easter weekend or any holiday weekend is a great time to advertise a bargain book. These days and post pandemic a lot more people are online and more people are reading. Saturday is a prime day for social media traffic and so I used that to my advantage.
The month of April is also a rather special time for Indie Authors because over on twitter there is a thing called #IndieApril where a whole lot of folks come out to support indie books. Which leads into…
A strong and long social media game…
For some years I have been slowly ramping up my Twitter game and the chances are you came from Twitter to read this. In very recent times Twitter has brought me extraordinary results simply because I’ve kept going and tried my best to help fellow authors. Every day I show up and do my best to inspire, inform, entertain and hopefully provide something of value to an exceptional group known as the writing community. I know for a fact they came out in droves to support this recent sale and I’m truly thankful for it.
There is no quick way to get an engaged following on social media, it just takes time and effort. People have to trust you and that takes time to earn. I basically treat it like a job. As long as you keep going, eventually social media gets rewarding. Twitter in particular has a specific psychology to get right. For anyone who want’s to know more about getting better at twitter, here’s a recent guide.
For this sale I took full advantage of the shameless self promo Saturday hashtag and basically spent most of the day present on the platform sharing book banners and links. I manned the bridge and put all my efforts into navigating the S.S Lee Hall Writer through book promo waters…
While the promotion was unfolding I kept my Twitter following informed how it was going and this stirred even more engagement and reaction leading to sales. This also led to further sales on the days after.
Convince folks to buy into you first
Over the years Lee Hall has become a brand of loyalty that supports fellow authors by reviewing and embracing their works. Yes I just referred to myself in third person…
Last year I reviewed 40 plus indie books. Be a player in the game and the game will support you. I tend to speak less about my work and more about others, people see that I’m not just here to sell books, I am here to do so much more and you are so much more than a book link on social media. Be a person first and book link later.
The back story of my story…
Because I have such an awesome audience on this blog and now on Twitter I shared a post about my high school days which were a struggle. That personal struggle is something that inspired ‘Open Evening’ and so a week or so before the promo I shared it on here and via Twitter. It was even my pinned tweet for the week running up to the promo. You can read that post here.
The writing winds of destiny seem to be blowing my way as of recent. I’m not sure if I accidentally sold my soul or something but lady luck is shining on me right now and I’m riding that momentum. First a BookBub featured deal in February and now this awesome weekend of sales that is still aftermathing.
It’s never too late
Even years after its release Open Evening is now being read by my newer following. Books will probably outlast the best of us!
Things eventually align
This journey hasn’t been easy but I’ve never given up no matter the results. Perseverance pays dividends eventually, you just have to keep going. I’ve learned a lot over the years and next month the fruits of such will be published via my self help guide book which is available to pre-order now for a discounted price.
The true result of a good book promo run will happen long after the actual sales so right now I’m unsure how effective it was apart from the obvious visuals and stats I have shared. Overall I’m pretty happy with how things went.
I’m still getting over the emotional rollercoaster of February’s book promo and then this happened. It’s incredibly humbling to see my books getting sold in the numbers they did. I haven’t done anything special or even clever. Over the years, I’ve just kept going and that’s probably all I am qualified to tell you to do. Keep going. Chase those words and eventually good things come to those who work for it.
I shall leave you with this final graphic which shows royalties that I have never seen before, royalties that have started to turn things towards a profit and for me above all, hope.
Thank you to everyone who supported this recent book promo run and for taking the time to read this. The recent support you have all shown is incredible. You can find plenty of other book promo stuff in the resources section right here.
It might be a sore spot but here it’s okay to talk about lack of book sales. They never told us we’d have to put in a lot of effort to market our own… While we’re all too busy wrapped up in thinking we achieved something by reaching the end we’ve actually only pulled up to the starting line… I’ll retract part of that statement and say writing and finishing a book is a phenomenal achievement but nobody forewarned me that selling it would be a pain in the ass. This post is going to explore what authors can do to fight back from the struggle to sell their work.
Sales don’t just magically appear for an author and so this post will explore what can be done to get them by listing the things we should have done or should be doing. While saying ‘buy my book’ tends to be frowned upon we’re gonna look at how you can still say that but in disguised form. Let’s dive in…
Things you can do Before Release
Let’s face it, fail to prepare and prepare to fail because most of the marketing work that goes into selling books normally takes place prior to release, hindsight eh? We could all argue otherwise but let’s agree that if we did it again for the first time, things would hopefully be better; from generating the initial buzz to ramping up all your social media efforts all the way to the nuts and bolts of putting a book together; all of this is supposed to take place prior to release. There are so many reasons why a book doesn’t sell because the initial ground work wasn’t effective enough. Most of my book promotion efforts revolve around amplifying my reach so people notice my work but if an extensive amount of effort is not put in before publication then that book might be doomed from then on to never sell. So what can you do before release to make sure it does sell? These things, some of which might appear obvious but are essential in my eyes:
Announce the project as early as you can – even during drafting you should have a book title and genre so talk about it. Tell your social media followers, create a blog post, create an email newsletter to send to folks on your email list – if you haven’t got one of these then get one. Make an early trailer or even a mock-up book cover. Tell your followers this book is coming.
Up your social media game on all fronts – don’t just talk about your work, engage and get that following higher. My top advice when it comes to selling books is to sell yourself by being present online. Be social and post stuff that aims to inform, inspire, engage and help others – this might be more of a long term thing but go for it for the sake of that book!
Review books in a similar genre – start making your presence known in that genre by supporting it. Supporting fellow authors is a guaranteed way of getting noticed trust me. Some authors might even return the favour.
Reach out to BETA readers and then ARC readers who will leave early reviews upon release – people are the power when it comes to books. If they are true supporters they’ll spread the word through their own social media reach. Perhaps ask a higher profile author who writes in the same genre to take a look and offer to have their review quote on the cover. This one might take some socialising and the debut author might struggle but having folks in your corner will help.
Make sure your book has a good basic anatomy – nothing sells books more than a professional looking cover and an enticing blurb. Do your best to get these as awesome as possible. When you’ve got the final book cover it would also be a good idea to create a book banner to share on social media and pin to the top of your profile. I made the book banner below, pretty nifty right?
Set up a pre order, a price promotion and self promote – even if this is your debut novel I would suggest setting up a pre order for the e version via Amazon. Least this way you’ll already have an Amazon page and then you can share that link. You’ll be surprised at the folks who come out of the woodwork to support and pre order that book. You can even set up that pre order months before release. As an incentive, perhaps set the price for the pre order lower than what it will be after release and remember to tell your social media following about it.
Organise some advertising – there are book promo sites out there that will have a specific new book release package. This is worth exploring to enhance your reach. Here’s my list of promo sites.
Organise the official release – create a Facebook event for the launch day of your book and make a spectacle of the date. Invite friends and potential readers. Schedule a blog post on the day which leads into…
Blog about it – the pre release days of a book make for some great material to document via a blog. Talk about the story, the setting, the characters, share the blurb and share anything else relevant.
Promote other books on your back list – this only applies to those with other books but it’s important to bring them into play. Run a price promotion and mention you have another work coming in that promo.
Get yourself out there – there are plenty of places to submit guest posts and reviews to that might have a higher reach or following than you. This blog boasts a 800+ following and is looking for guest book reviews and articles.
Contact local press – its always worth reaching out to local press about your book because you never know if they are looking for some news to feature on a slow week. Is your work unique or does it have an interesting back story – local press love that sort of thing.
That’s 12 things an author can do prior to release to generate sales and I guarantee there’s probably a lot more. Now hindsight is a wonderful thing and all but what about those with books already out there? What can we do to sell our already published works?
Things you can do After Release
Run a promo or sale – like any other product out there books can benefit from being discounted or even free. You can do this any time after release to get some sales. Combine this discount or even free promo with some advertising and things might start to turn around. Reaching out to the right higher profile book promo site might result in your lucky day.
Let readers find you – this is a longer term strategy but just going about your usual business of blogging and supporting fellow authors will eventually get you noticed in a positive light. I’m saying this because it happened to me. After deciding to offer indie book reviews on this blog back in 2018 my views have continually improved and so did my sales.
Write more books – another long term one but having more books on your shelf equal more choice for potential readers. If someone liked one of your works they will at least attempt to find out if there are any more. I’ve released 6 books in 5 years and experienced a gradual increase in sales over that time. Consistency is key.
Try not to worry so much – Good things take time and it might actually be a constant battle to find sales. You might never be fully satisfied so don’t let it get to you. Back when I had even 4 books released there were some months when I sold nothing and now after so many years and more releases I sell on average a book every 5 or so days. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your legacy…
Consider lowering the price permanently – I’ve never sold a fiction e book for more than $2.99 so maybe consider aiming for lower than that. If your an indie I’m pretty sure you don’t rely on book sales for income so consider keeping your e books at 99 cents for a while – this normally guarantees a few sales.
Reach out to some book bloggers for a few reviews – the more ratings a book has the more chance it has of selling and most book bloggers will accept a free e copy in exchange for a review.
Blog about it – you can still blog about your work long after it has been released. Perhaps an in depth post exploring 5 reasons why someone should read it or even a ‘making of’ post. Talk about it and be honest, readers are drawn to that.
Social media – every now and then I will share the link and cover art via twitter. It’s important to remind your following what you’ve written and what is available. On twitter those shameless self promo posts are good for visibility, especially on the weekends.
Read an excerpt out loud – go live on your social media and read a passage or excerpt of your work. Show your beautiful face and a passion for that work you created.
You’ll notice the list of methods after release is smaller because the preparation is way more important but that doesn’t deny the fact after release methods are any less important or effective. It is perceived that the first 30 days of a book’s release are the most important for future sales but I’d beg to differ especially if you can achieve a good promotional run. It took three years for my third book to gain any kind of traction along with my 4th. It’s great to do as much preparation as possible but that doesn’t doom a book for eternity because in marketing and book sales anything can happen.
There is also another often overlooked resource and that’s to ask your peers. The writing community is full of different folks on different parts of their journey and they have valuable experience. I put the question out on Twitter and so here’s some wisdom from those who have sold:
The best way to figure out sales and marketing is research. Saying your no good at marketing is old and cliché. If you can write a book and tell an effective story then you can sell it. The Google is also there for you and so am I. Check out my Resources section for plenty of pointers on all things book selling, marketing and wider social media.
I hope you enjoyed this rather in depth look at why our books aren’t selling and if you have any other methods not mentioned then please hit me up in the comments! If you just want to shout and vent about not selling books, that’s welcome also!
I also have a self help guide book out which goes into much more detail about selling books, promoting them and even social media stuff. You’ll find it by clicking on the awesome cover!
Book promotion sites are a great way to advertise a free, discounted or full priced book. Over the many years of promoting my work I have built up quite a list of sites that have been effective in helping me get some much needed sales or downloads and now it’s time to help a fellow author.
What are Book Promotion sites?
For beginners Book Promotion sites are an advertising method that utilises a large reach of people through email subscribers or their site might get a lot of traffic because it’s popular. The general consensus with these sites is that they advertise something that’s either free or discounted so you’ll need to organise pricing depending on what a site will offer. Some will advertise your work for free while others will charge. Basically you are paying to use their voice which is probably louder than yours. Having sold more e copies of my work than paperback I’m inclined to say book promo sites focus mainly on e books.
This list is broken down into three different tiers. The high end, the middle of the road and lower end. They are listed this way to reflect on price and overall effectiveness. My tip would be to use sites from all 3 tiers in a single promotion for the best results. All of the sites listed can be found through a quick Google search.
The High End…
E Reader News Today
Except for the early days, every one of my promotional runs has included one of the above sites. BookBub particularly are very hard to get in with so be warned. Their featured deal if you can get one is the ‘holy grail’ trust me. You can read more about BookBub here. Some of these sites also expect your book to have some reviews but check their specific submission policies for more info.
Price Range: Anything north of $40
The Middle of the Road
Armadillo E books
E book Booster
It’s Write Now
These sites are probably the most effective for the money I have paid. Using a few of them in one promo can be particularly effective. Not all of them will charge you a fee also.
Price Range: From $10 to $25 – dependent on the package/ some sites are free
The Lower End
Discount Book Man
Free 99 Books
This is Writing
Best Book Monkey
While this list is classed as the lower end that doesn’t reflect fully on how effective they can be when stacked alongside other book promo sites. They are down here because all of them offer a free package.
Price Range: Mostly free but up to $5
Book Promotion sites are an effective way to market and drive sales for a book but they are not the only way to sell. You can read much more about marketing, book promotion and all things writery over in my resources section.
My top tip when it comes to marketing is to focus on getting people to invest in you as a person by being active in the author arena online. This can be as simple as leaving a review for a fellow author’s book or having a presence on social media. Look after fellow wordsmiths and they will do the same.
If you haven’t got a platform or blog for leaving reviews I have just opened submissions for them on this site which has a loyal following. There’s nothing better than authors promoting each other and so I will promote you extensively if you have a book review or article you want to publish.
Of course thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next one!