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. I have a self help guide book coming this May, so watch this space.
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!
Well that was a ride… and I’m partially still on the rollercoaster of emotion, sales and everything else that comes with having your largely unknown book thrust into the hands of the mainstream… this is my reflection, review and hopefully knowledge passing-on post about how my Featured Deal with Bookbub went. Let’s dive in…
For those who just want to know the results, scroll down. For the finer detail start here…
Firstly who are Bookbub? In a sentence-ish; they are a big time distribution site that advertises books to a huge following with a somewhat promise of actual return on investment – they are hard to get in with, very hard and their featured deal is considered the Holy Grail of promotions. You can read more about them here in my post explaining how I got a featured deal… Authors can sign up to Bookbub, create a profile and then list their books. People can even leave reviews for them…
Who am I? Well for those who have arrived on this blog’s shores for the first time, hello, I’m Lee, I’m from the UK and I am an indie author of 6 books so far. I’m relatively unknown although I’ve been around for a few years now, my books have a moderate to small amount of reviews – I’m a small time scrappy underdog of an author trying to get the world to read my stuff and I don’t give up… In terms of book sales, I’ve sold around 1000 since 2016 through my various promotional efforts. I’m nowhere near earning a living from this but one can dream right?
Who were bookbub going to Feature from my backlist? My super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’.
After somehow agreeing to advertise my book, Bookbub agreed to feature it on Saturday the 6th of February in all their major markets. The US, UK, Canada, Australia and India. It would be advertised as Free to download and so I set the price to zero for that day. Because I have other books available I set them to 99 cents a piece also…
Top Book Promo tip: A Free book promo is a great way to get a lot of downloads. It’s a please all method that many folks will grab. Personally I tend to keep my free promo day’s few and far between – once every quarter is probably enough and even then for me it will be a different title every time.
I’ve always had a rather funny relationship with Lady Luck. On the day of the promotion I was struck down with a rather bad spell of food poisoning. Even in my reduced state I managed to do some tweeting and social media-ing but things were not great for me, we’ll go into what I did to promote the deal below, however in terms of book promotional efforts let me refer you to the graphic…
I think we can all agree 10,000 plus downloads in one day for a small time nobody like me is pretty damn incredible. Now I know it was free but normally my reach for a promo like this is 10% of that. Damn, that’s a lot of downloads! The free downloads trickled into the next day with 580 more by the time the price went back up to 99 cents.
If my maths is correct and if 8000 of these readers actually read The Teleporter fully then I am set to make about 3 Grand from page reads…
Final Free Download count: 10,926
Due to my state of health I couldn’t properly track chart positioning’s during the day of the promo but it went to #1 in multiple territories. But that’s not all. For the day I set the price of my other books all to 99 cents or equivalent and they sold!
As you can see the numbers aren’t huge but every book I have available sold for actual money and so here comes another top tip:When promoting a book for free make sure you set your other works to a discount – this will near enough guarantee a little interest. Of course this only applies if you have other titles, if not grab that pen and get writing more books!
Here are the final figures of everything I sold after a week:
It’s quite funny that I only sold 1 paperback out of 10,000 sales. Thanks to whoever bought it, you are literally 1 in 10,000! Basically every sales record was smashed during this run with sales happening for a record 9 consecutive days after and so that brings us to…
Now the immediate results were awesome but the real result of any book and it’s promotion is best measured over time. Boy this is where the real rollercoaster began…
Literally on the day of the promo KENP page reads shot up. From an average of 20-50 page reads a day to hundreds, the 10,000 readers had began their journey but that’s not all. Now The Teleporter was in front of newer eyes it began to sell even after it was free. Every day after the promo for a week it sold.
This is where a free promo or any promo will pay off because the exposure has pushed the book a lot further up the charts in front of new eyes. And then after a few days came the crowning moment…
The orange label of destiny found itself attached to my scrappy little underdog of a book. The Teleporter had become a best seller and made me, a best selling author… while my food poisoning had subsided and I was seemingly on cloud 9, things weren’t all celebratory…
Lessons learned the hard way….
Wholeheartedly, if I were to do Featured Deal again, I would. The results above you can see have turned a corner for my authoring career but and although I am relatively thick skinned there came a point where reviews started coming in and not all of them were positive. In fact the rating across the board for The Teleporter has dropped a little. It appears only the folks who didn’t like it are leaving reviews…
Lesson: When you present the mainstream with a free book they will download it no matter their taste. They see the price first and perhaps nothing else. Some of these folks might not like what they read and they will express that in sometimes scathing, hurtful reviews. This started to unfold by day 4 and it’s still unfolding, although there’s were so many more positive reviews, the negatives are the one’s we dwell on… As an author I know the reality of reviews, I am also an adult but sometimes things folks say can hurt. That is probably the one warning or take away I want anyone else to have from this: the more your work is exposed to the masses, the higher chance you’ll find someone who doesn’t like it. That’s okay and it’s normal because the whole literary industry is built upon it’s favourite word; subjective. Those who have left scathing reviews don’t really provide me with any valuable feedback so it’s kind of pointless. Either way it’s also quite hilarious to see people react in such a way for a comedy. It kind of makes me want to write a sequel just to get back at them.
Comedy is probably the most subjective genre out there, the gulf of different reviews has proven that. The highs have been high and the lows have been scathing – people really will tell you if they didn’t like a comedy… combine that with it being free and the emotion exploded. My author friend Karl on Twitter explained it way better than me..
Like most things in life we skim over the bad and embrace the good, and so that’s what I will do now…
The 2nd Aftermath…
I’ve never received so many new reviews in such short time. The amount of ratings The Teleporter had was below 20 and now it’s growing, good or bad, a rating is a rating. Here’s a couple of the better one’s…
But that’s not all because the aftermath kept on aftermathing…
By day 9 The Teleporter had crossed over 50 ratings in my home territory of the UK – just another awesome achievement. Ratings above all are proof of readership.
Factors for Success
I’ve explained everything the best I can but for anyone looking to successfully promote a book via Bookbub or not, this is the section for you because now I shall delve into what I did and why it worked… Some of this stuff might feel like a repeat but this is what you need to successfully promote your book:
Pro cover art work and banners to boot: Selling books starts with the visuals and people do judge them by their covers. I have invested good money in my cover art work and it looks great. Design for Writers deserve the credit for this but you need a pro looking cover to sell books! Combine that with a shiny banner and you are set.
A badass social media game: Due to my wonderful engaged following on Twitter I am currently killing it with tweets regularly being liked by hundreds of folks. Things have really stepped up recently and so that has to be taken into account for the success of this promo!
Distribution: The greatest struggle an author faces is making the world aware of their works. What did I do to spread that awareness? Of course Bookbub helped but I did these things also:
Used my mailing list: I have an email list of 80 or so readers. On the day I sent them an email with the above banner and information on where to buy my other discounted books.
Utilised that social media following: On the day I put out a blog post, put out a post on Facebook and plastered the link all over twitter to over 6000 followers. Using the right hashtags can increase visibility big time. In particular I took advantage of the #shamelessselfpromo movement that happens over on twitter at the weekend. My tweet is below:
Took advantage of having a backlist: The best way to sell books is to write more and have more available. Not only did folks download The Teleporter for free but they bought the others that were discounted.
I didn’t just rely on Bookbub: Okay Bookbub’s reach is awesome but I really wanted to make sure I got the most out of this promotion so I also advertised The Teleporter on a range of other promotional sites. Some were paid and others were free. They were:
E Reader News Today
Indie Book of the Day
Armadillo E books
Timing: This is a huge factor for success of a book promo. Without looking at genre and the time of year because that’s a thing, The Teleporter was available on a Saturday which is normally a busy day for internet traffic.
The Teleporter is a niche genre: Bookbub are incredibly hard to get in with. Authors try for years to convince them and it’s perceived your book needs to be award winning and highly reviewed to have any chance. My book is neither, while it was accepted by them a few years back it’s a bit of a wildcard but the humour genre has a small catchment rate – by that I mean it’s not like the thousands of crime thrillers that get rejected each day because nothing against crime thrillers but it’s a popular mainstream genre compared to humour, the queue is longer – The Teleporter stands out in genre which is probably one of the main reasons it got chosen. Plus it’s good, fu***ng good and seeing as this is the second Bookbub featured it, they must like it also.
Reviews/ratings: Although the amount of reviews the book now has is much bigger, beforehand it was 20ish which means it’s had some readership and those reviews were from the year of release all the way to recently. Recent and old reviews together show a longevity of readership.
Investment of money: Bookbub charged me over $200 for this featured deal and if you are serious about promoting books you need to invest serious money.
If I can get myself a Bookbub featured deal and 10,000 plus downloads then you certainly can and everything above is proof of that. Never before has my authoring profile been thrown in front of so much exposure and for that I am grateful above everything else. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion and as I take a deep sighing breath of satisfaction, to me it was worth it. From the initial explosion of sales to the aftermath and even lessons learned and then the second aftermath, what a ride. This was my most important promotion moment as an author and it will hopefully be a huge turning point. Only time will tell.
The wonderful thing about this promotion is that it has proved indie authors who have a platform can also be given a voice and be successful. This featured deal was a victory for all of us indies and I’m incredibly proud of how it went. The best outcome is the fact my soon to be published authoring and blogging guide book had one section left blank to be written, it was a section that was going to explain my most recent book promotion efforts. Guess I better get writing!
On the eve of my finest possible book promotion moment I get shot down in the typical fashion that has always haunted me. Bad luck will never let anything of mine go perfectly, there always has to be something and only now am I slowly recovering from a bad spot of food poisoning that seemed to arrive just at that moment. Having to take time off work for the first time in over five years will probably do enough to describe how bad things were and mostly experienced through the height of what was my most successful day in book promotion ever. Silver lining I guess.
It’s that song, about things being ironic. A man winning the lottery and dying the next day. This bookbub promotion was lined up to be glorious and it was – results will be shared soon but the whole thing was just overshadowed by something else. It goes to show our health will always claim dominance to whatever else is happening. I was able to be semi active on twitter and managed to share posts across my social media fronts but not without huge effort. Overall it went well, very well and it’s a shame I am unable to appreciate the sentiment right now…
Either way I’m on the mend and I’m 10,000 readers up. Worth it? Most probably….
The promoting of books is a struggle most of us writer folks know. Just where does one start with book marketing? Through many years of trial, error and the sheer will to figure things out I’ve managed to learn a lot about selling books. I will always do my best to pass that on to others so perhaps they can benefit from hopefully something I’ve learned. The self help guide book is coming this year but until then…
This is how I landed another featured deal with Bookbub…
In this post I’ll explore how I positioned myself for success plus the who’s and how’s of everything to do with Bookbub who gave me, a small time, underdog of an indie author the greenlight again…
Who are Bookbub?
Bookbub is book discovery service that boasts up to 15 million users online and they are considered a top shelf promotional site that connects readers with books. Many authors have boasted great returns from actual profits to long term sales, reviews and success – this includes me. Once upon a time back in 2019 I managed to secure a featured deal with them that resulted then in my best day of sales ever. For beginners a good way of marketing yourself online is to use book promotion sites – check out my resources section for more. Bookbub are basically the high end version of any other book promotion site out there. They are a paid service but I consider any promotional method that charges an investment much like books.
Top Tip: Authors can create a profile on Bookbub and list their works. Some might even be listed on there already. You can also review and rate other authors books too. I recommend doing that to build up a profile on the site.
What is a Bookbub Featured Deal
The site offers a range of advertising services but their Featured Deal is the holy grail of advertising. Authors who do get accepted are in essence paying for wider specific reach through targeted email lists. As you can read below they make it seem awfully hard to be accepted and it is trust me.
For me this time around Bookbub agreed to feature my super hero comedy ‘The Teleporter’ again but with a few differences. The US market was now included unlike last time and the book would be free as opposed to discounted. And now I have a backlist of 6 books – more about that further down.
Top tip: I’ve said before my best advice when it comes to book selling is to write another. Having more than one title available as an author will galvanise your brand and increase the likelihood of selling more while finding a readership.
How did I land a Featured Deal, again?
For some years I have been near enough constantly applying to have them feature one of my titles. Although Bookbub say they support indie authors – they only take on books of the highest quality and books that they know will sell. Yes there are indie books that fit this bill but they are strict with who they choose. Some authors have even boasted to have over 50 reviews and awards just to get accepted. Recently I’ve even seen Stephen King’s work featured with them so it’s kind of a big deal!
So you might be asking at this point what the hell am I doing getting chosen by them? Well friends, Bookbub obviously see something in my scrappy underdog of a book.
You can read my account of how I secured a deal with them last time but now things are far more improved and so I guess that’s why they said yes. There are several factors that led to them agreeing and so they are laid out below but timing and niche are probably big driving factors – The Teleporter is in the humour category – something more specialist compared to a crime thriller or another popular genre. Sometimes things just align but there are ways to position one’s self as an author to get noticed…
Top tip: Writing a book that has a specialist or niche genre may be difficult to market across a mainstream following but it also makes for an opportunity when big time advertisers need a particular gap to fill. Niche will make that writing of yours stand out…
Positioning Factors for Success – Why they chose me?
There probably isn’t just one reason why Bookbub said yes, luck might have played a part but here are some other factors that helped me position myself in their sights…
Apply: Okay this is a simple factor but applying for a featured deal sparked this whole thing to life. This probably led to Bookbub doing a little research on me.
Social Media Game: Over the past 6 months I have ramped up my social media game. What exactly do I mean by that? Well I’ve made every effort to create engaging content across my platforms and specifically twitter, look it’s a pandemic okay and I’m bored most of the time so I took that as an opportunity… Very recently my engagement rate has been through the damn roof on the tweet machine (look at the numbers on the tweets pictured below). Anyone who considers you in the publication and literary field will do their research and so recent tweets of mine have been getting a lot of attention and engagement. My following is on target for 6k followers, I only reached 5k back in December. That engagement has come mainly from the writing community so you could even say this opportunity was created by them!
Shout about it: Although this is linked to my social media game, every recent success I’ve had, I shared via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be proud of those reviews, sales, and anything else you achieve. It inspires others and shows you are the person to follow.
Recent Book Salesequals visibility: Quite recently something wonderful appears to be unfolding. In the month of January which is notoriously slow for sales, I’ve been selling books! This pushes those books up the charts in Amazon – something Bookbub will look at.
Recent Reviews for other works: Although it’s felt like forever since I received my last Amazon review very recently a few came in for both ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ and ‘Cemetery House’ thus proving people are reading my stuff.
I support the industry: You may have read from my recent posts about Changing the Culture when it comes to book reviews by authors. It is my opinion that authors don’t review enough books and so that’s what I do a lot of to support the industry – supporting the industry gets you noticed.
There’s a history: Somehow Bookbub said yes to featuring the Teleporter once before. Having that history is a rapport that basically kept my foot in the door.
There are also some more physical factors as to why The Teleporter was chosen…
Physical factors for success
Cover art and banner game: Undoubtedly the cover for ‘The Teleporter’ is an exceptional work of art. I have Design for Writers to thank for that and of course bolstered by a nice book banner makes the whole thing look professional and appealing. A pro book cover is worth the investment and something I consider part of the basic anatomy of a book…
A decent rating on Amazon and Goodreads: Bookbub will of course have done their research and ‘The Teleporter’ has a healthy amount of recent and older reviews/ratings spanning back to it’s publication in 2018.
On Amazon US the book currently has 21 reviews/rating with an overall 3.9 star average
On Amazon UK the book has 24 reviews/ratings with an overall 4.1 star average.
Over on Goodreads it’s my 2nd highest rated book with 36 ratings and an average rating of 4.03 stars.
A few ratings on Bookbub: Mainly through my various author social media connections, a few nice folks have left reviews for the Teleporter on Bookbub.
Leaving my own ratings on Bookbub: If I have reviewed your work and if it’s listed on Bookbub then there’s a high chance I have left a rating on there. This probably contributed in some way.
A consistently growing backlist: Since 2016 I have released 6 books. This shows consistency and dedication while any reader including those who use Bookbub are more likely to choose an author who has more works – this further makes my point on the best marketing advice I can give authors – have a backlist so if readers like one of your works they’ll invest in another.
Not giving up: Okay calling my sheer will to carry on a physical attribute might be a stretch but on this author road you have to keep going and keep trying no matter what. I have submitted to Bookbub several times over the years and only twice have they said yes. Keep going, you never know when things will align.
So I’ve laid out all the possible reasons as to why they chose my book but what about yours?
Factors to consider
Now this post has probably drummed up some hope and interest for authors and why not because if I can do this, then you certainly can. But here are some things to consider if you are an author thinking of submitting your work to Bookbub…
Does it stand out?: The Teleporter without me probably realising is a unique book and rather niche. Is yours something that sticks out in a good way? There are millions of crime thrillers out there but only a handful of boozy super hero comedy novellas – its specialist.
Does it have the basic anatomy: The basic anatomy of a book in my eyes is probably the most important selling factor. Does your book have a professional standard cover, an enticing blurb and a unique stand out title? Is the editing the best it can be? If your book has those things and nothing else, you my friend are on the right path. Someone will eventually like your work if it has the basic anatomy.
The price: It’s going to cost me north of $250 for this featured deal. Make sure you’ve got the cash.
Do you have a backlist: One of the biggest outcomes of a Bookbub featured deal is what happens afterwards. Normally the author being featured will shoot up the rankings on Amazon and be visible to newer eyes so it’s vital you take advantage of that and the best way to do so is having a backlist readily available. This time around all of my other titles will be discounted on the day and ready for maximum sales. If you don’t have a backlist to sell then this might not be worthwhile.
Top Tip: When running a promo for your book if you have others, discount them during the promo and it’ll drive some sales.
I say go for it: Trust me when I say you never know unless you try. So any author out there who has doubts about their work being good enough – that was me and still is. Somehow I managed to engineer lightning striking twice so go for it!
When I casually checked my emails on a weekday evening after dinner I was shocked to see Bookbub said yes to my application but also big time excited because a Featured Deal is a big deal and will hopefully lead to me climbing another level in the realms of authoring, we’ll see and above all I will be ready!
As an author you probably don’t have to go far from the Google to find out what Bookbub is. For those not in the know, Bookbub is referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of book promotion sites and even more so for readers because it’s probably the most prestigious book connector site out there. And what’s even better is that they near enough guran-damn-tee returns on their investments…
From very early in my indie author career I tried and tried to land a promotion deal with them. Those lucky enough to land a deal report of a good amount of sales and even returns on the investment of a Bookbub ‘featured deal’ promo. Just looking at some of the ‘requirements’ for acceptance is pretty damn intimidating, with some even boasting you need 50 plus reviews, but…
The exploration of unique voices in story telling has returned with another Hall of Information Interview. Fellow author and story-teller Marc Cavella shares an insight into his world, from writing all the way to the niche but ever so interesting subject of politics in pro wrestling.
Q1. Let’s jump right in and start with writing. Where did story telling begin for Marc Cavella?
“The first thing I really remember sharing with a bigger group was a class assignment that I wrote in sixth grade. We had to write a fake advertisement for a product we’d created. I ended up writing an ad about a machine that administered corporal punishment to children so parents wouldn’t feel guilty about doing it themselves, and it got a huge laugh from the class. (Bear in mind that we were sixth graders.) I remember that even our teacher was crying with laughter (and yet she still only gave it a B+). That’s probably when I first learned that something I wrote could have a cool effect on people.“
Q2. Your latest book draws influence from an interesting subject– the politics of professional wrestling. This is a unique basis for a story and one I found highly enjoyable as fan of wrestling and reader. Please tell us more about ‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’ and what influenced the story?
“I’ve always been a huge fan of pro wrestling. I used to watch every show I could find when I was a kid—WCCW on ESPN when I would come home from school in the afternoons, WCW and NWA on the weekends, and all the old WWF shows like Superstars, Main Event, and Shotgun Saturday Night. So I’ve pretty much been watching wrestling for as long as I can remember—and I was an especially big mark for guys like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, The Four Horseman, and the von Erichs.“
“At the same time, I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to learn about the history of the things I liked. So as I got older and the “business” became more exposed via the internet, and later, social media, I started to dig a little deeper into wrestling’s past: The people who ran those old regional promotions like Jim Crockett and Verne Gagne, how the old territories worked and competed with each other, and how the business itself had evolved from the carnival circuits that ran shows around the country at the turn of the century.“
“So all of that together really served to influence the story and let me combine a bunch of different aspects into one piece. I enjoyed the opportunity to write it.”
Interesting, as a kid and teen I was drawn to watching wrestling, it made for great entertainment and escapism. Today much like you I enjoy the political element just as much.
Q3. I think we can agree the more prolific days of pro wrestling are behind us but that won’t stop us from looking back. Are there any moments or stand out personas that you have been drawn to over the years? What names would consider to be all-time greats that would perhaps make up a ‘Mount Rushmore’ of the industry?
“Man, that’s a great question. I was always a big fan of tag-team wrestling. The Hart Foundation was definitely my favorite, even though I couldn’t stand Jimmy Hart when I was a kid. (I have a great appreciation for him now, though.) I also loved teams like Legion of Doom and Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.“
“Stand-out moments for me will always include The Ultimate Warrior vs. The Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam in 1988. I loved The Ultimate Warrior as a kid and when I heard that music and Gorilla Monsoon’s famous call of the match, I yelled so loud that my mother came in to the living room to see if I was okay. Watching The Undertaker toss Mick Foley off the top of the cage at Hell in a Cell is something I’ll always remember, too. I was watching that show with some friends, and I remember looking around the room and seeing everyone’s faces just absolutely frozen in shock and surprise. I didn’t think he’d survived that fall, and then he goes on to get thrown through the top of the cage and down onto the mat. Insane.“
“As far as my wrestling Mt. Rushmore goes, the first name that comes to mind is Ric Flair, obviously, seeing as he was the biggest draw of an entire era and he was the total prototype for what a modern wrestler should be—fantastic at all aspects of technical wrestling, but one of the best promos of all time and a masterful storyteller. Bret Hart is always going to be up there for me, too. I read something recently that said he’d never injured an opponent in the ring, and yet his offense still looked stiff and believable. I think you’d have to put Hulk Hogan on there, as unpopular as he is with a large segment of the wrestling community, simply because of how big a star he was and how he helped to raise the industry’s profile so much during the 80’s boom. And as much as I want to say Andre the Giant or The Fabulous Moolah (as controversial as she is), I think you can make a case that Chris Jericho belongs up there as well, given that he’s had long runs as the top guy in multiple promotions working a variety of different styles for about twenty-five years now.“
Great memories and moments. Of course I agree with all the names mentioned, that hell in a cell match is something I always use introduce those who have never watched wrestling before, it normally hooks them in…
Q4. And just briefly what’s your take on the current wrestling industry?
“The current generation is probably the most athletically talented, but I just can’t get into it like I used to. I think it’s gotten too bland for my tastes, to be honest. I don’t need a steady diet of chair shots and barbed wire, but once WWF became a publicly traded company, the corporatization really kicked in and it became very milquetoast to me as a whole. There are still some wrestlers who do great work both in the ring and on the mic, though.“
Q5. Let’s talk books. Do you have any other works currently available and what can we expect next in terms of writing from Marc Cavella?
“My first novel, “Tabernacle”, is available on Amazon and all other major outlets. “Tabernacle” tells the story of Edward Jones, an incredibly successful salesman who sells a product that none of his clients actually wants. I like to describe it as sort of a genre mash-up—it’s a dark comedy, but it’s also literary fiction with some suspense, noir, and neo-Western elements to it as well. It’s gotten some very nice reviews so far and I’m always glad when people tell me they enjoyed it. John Cena and Alexa Bliss make very brief cameos in it, so it has some ties to the wrestling world as well.“
“I’m currently working on some sequels. “Place the Flowers” follows Edward Jones as he eases into family life (sort of), but not without his own gritty twist to it. And I’m working “The Man from Coronado,” which focuses on Lance Sacramento, one of the wrestlers who appears in “The Ballad of Ricky Risotto.” I’m hoping to make a trilogy out of those wrestling-based novellas and release them as a paperback anthology in the summer of 2021.“
Sounds like you have some awesome projects lined up for next year.
Q6. What interests do you have outside of writing?
“I love reading, certainly. I’m also a huge history buff, as mentioned previously, and that extends to lots of different topics beyond wrestling and sports. I’m very interested in military history—I love going to the national battlefield parks we have here in America, especially the ones dedicated to the U.S. Civil War—and I’m lucky enough to live in an area that has a lot of Revolutionary War battlefields and museums, too, so I try to go to those whenever I can. I also enjoy poker and other card games as well and spent way too much time in casinos when I was in my mid-twenties.”
Q7. Tea, Coffee, beer or wine?
“Coffee, personally. But even that’s a rarity. I tried to get into wine for a while but I don’t think my palate is sophisticated enough.“
Excellent choice, my problem is I like all 4…
Q8. Do you have a favourite movie or go-to television series? Feel free to name a few and why?
“My favorite movies are Goodfellas and Rocky. (I’ll argue to this day that the original Rocky is completely underrated, even though it won Best Picture.) They’re just very well-written stories about people who are on the edges of society, and I’m always a sucker for stories like that. Back to School starring Rodney Dangerfield is one of my favorite movies of all time as well and one that I quote way too often, as is Back to the Future. I also think Predator is a fantastic movie. People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that, but it’s actually an excellent sci-fi/suspense movie. As far as TV shows, I’ll go with my staples: Seinfeld and Frasier.“
Great movies! Especially Goodfellas and Back to the Future although all you have mentioned are from an awesome era in cinema. I find myself quoting Predator a lot these days and Frasier of course is my go-to sitcom!
Q9. A hot topic over on Twitter these days, do you have any must read book recommendations?
“I’ll always recommend “The Sun Also Rises”—Hemingway at his best. And Robert Graysmith’s “Zodiac” is one of the scariest nonfiction books of all time. If you dislike either sleeping or feeling safe, you should definitely read it.“
Both excellent choices – the Zodiac film is a hidden gem also!
Q10. And lastly, a question I ask all interviewees. If there is one sentence of advice you give to someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?
“It’s going to be an incredibly challenging, difficult, and unpredictable road, but you can definitely succeed at it if you never give up.”
Wonderful advice and a great interview. Thank you Marc Cavella for taking the time to give us an insight into your world.