Ah, the reading, reviewing and recommending of books. The truth is I haven’t done one of these posts in quite a while and considering it’s Indie April, now would be an awesome time to share some awesome indie books. Let’s dive in…
‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen
The first awesome book on our list is a bravely told memoir that highlights the journey of Danielle Larsen while focusing on mental health and her relationship with an abusive partner. These are sometimes difficult subjects to talk about but in this book they handled with grace and the story is ultimately inspirational. To quote my recent review ‘This book acts as guide in some senses to spread awareness while also informing others. The narration style feels natural and relays every moment with dignity and there are some moments when you cannot help but feel for a person who has been through so much…’
‘How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market’ by Ricardo Fayet
We’re moving into book marketing territory now with what stands as a pretty extensive and awesome guide for authors. Anyone looking to seriously make a career out of their words can benefit from this guide which is basically a bunch of Reedsy blog posts packaged together in one place and a whole lot more. I came across this one via Reedsy Discovery as I have been a reviewer for their platform for nearly a year now. This one is definitely worth a look! You can read my full review here.
‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean
The newest release from Brooklynn Dean did not disappoint and according to twitter she is already working on the sequel. Using intimate description and a unique style this tale of apocalyptic proportions will take you places, they might be violent and brutal places but I could not look away. From the obvious symbolism to the lesser visible deeper meanings in this book, ‘Deification’ is an awesome encapsulating read. Here’s my full review.
‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber
From the first line of the blurb I was already hooked and this book was right up my alley as they say. Set in a dystopian type future the story focuses on a small forest town as an aging and sparse population try to get by. They are disturbed when a group of younger Militia turn up and well, the Raven woman works her magic so to speak. I thought it was an awesome read and you can check out my review here.
‘Pestilence’ by Susie Kearley
Now the past year might have felt like the apocalypse to some but this book lays out in detail what could happen if a fungus could really bring the end of days. From the emergence of a new wonder drug to this fungus brought into existence by a warmer climate, Pestilence is a charmingly British but very well thought out read. Susie Kearley had this novel in the pipeline for thirty years and you can tell she has worked incredibly hard to bring it to publication. Although it is a longer book it doesn’t feel that way as the pages fly by. An awesome read and you can find my full review here.
That wraps things up for now. You can expect a new indie book review hopefully by the weekend. Thanks for stopping by!
Ah promoting the books, I’ve done this a lot recently and we’re back again to share methods, results and all things about the promotion of books. This is also a sequel to another post I put out at the start of the month and this time it’s literal…let’s dive in!
The aim of this post/who is this for…
The main aim of this post is to share results of a recent book promo run by informing other authors how I did it. This is with a hope they can use this info to sell some books. Much of this stuff can be applied to books that are stand alone, series, fiction or non and for all authors of every level – the self help guide book is coming next year… For those not interested in the full detail or a recap from last time just skip down to the actual start of this post…
To set the scene, at the beginning of this month I promoted the e version of my thriller/horror ‘Cemetery House’ by making it available for free via Amazon. My main aim consisted of two objectives in this promo run:
1. To get as many free downloads for the book as possible + some discounted sales after.
2. To promote the wider ‘Order of the Following Series‘ it is a part of. The next book in this series (Darke Awakening) drops at the end of this month.
The results of this promo run were unexpected and again quite good. While I have shared the results in the previous post the numbers have gotten a little better since.
A good promo run will give books long term visibility after and drive sales, sometimes these sales come days or weeks later.
Updated numbers from part 1…
Free downloads of ‘Cemetery House’ during this run
Sales of ‘Cemetery House’ after the run @ 99 cents:
Sales of other books in the series during and after the run
Sales of other books in my backlist
Part 2 actually starts here…
Okay so part 2 and book promo run 2 of September 2020 would see the overall aim widen slightly, and with all book promotion runs it’s important to set out a clear aim from the start. Lessons from promo 1 meant that we know when advertising a book that is part of a series, the other books in that series will probably sell also. This time around, the newest book in the series set for release at the month’s end was also available for pre order.
Aims of this promo
The aims of this promo were as follows:
1. To get as many free downloads for ‘Darke Blood’ a vampire occult thriller which is part of the wider Order of the Following series.
2. To get as many sales for other books in the series which are discounted @ 99 cents or equivalent in major Amazon markets.
3. To drive attention towards the next book in the series ‘Darke Awakening’ which is also a direct sequel to the book being promoted for free and will be available to pre order at the time of promo and the hope is to actually get some pre orders.
Strategy – how was I going to do it?
Like the previous promo this book would also be available for free through two days but this time on a Friday and Saturday (18th and 19th of September). My choice to use Saturday was to coincide the promo with Twitter’s #Shamelessselfpromosaturday which in recent times has driven a lot more traffic and attention to my posts. The writing community of twitter is something you should plug into, especially for promotion and engaging with other like minded writers. My following is above 4k and so this works as a good free boost. You can see the results and what that tweet looks like below.
Of course one method of social media is not enough to amplify my voice to tell the world this book is out there and free so I would also put out a post on my Facebook page to 500 likers and a blog post to nearly 500 followers on the 2nd day.
My main point of attack in this promo would be as usual to use a range of paid and free book promotion websites that advertise a book using extensive mailing lists and their own sites to reach readers.
Lets look at how it went, then I can share which promo sites I used and what factors of success were…
Darke Blood reached #3 in the Amazon UK Occult chart.
Darke Blood reached #1 in the Amazon US Folk tales/ Myth collections chart.
6 of the ‘Darke Blood’ sales on this day were free downloads that overlapped while 6 were sales at 99 cents.
The best moment of Day 3 was a single pre-order came through for ‘Darke Awakening’ which means that all three aims were now ticked.
Analysis/Factors of success
This was a decent promotional run with exceptional sales of other books in the series most of which were from the US. There was a time when I had only sold 13 or so books in the US and now that figure has been blown wide open. To get a pre order for a brand new release is also huge, although it’s only 1, it’s better than zero!
A huge factor in getting all of these sales and the pre order is listing the books in a series together via Amazon. This boosts visibility big time, especially when one of them is free!
Sub Factor of Factor 1
Just before the promo I did a little sneaky and amended the blurb of ‘Darke Blood’ on Amazon…. This is what I put before the blurb…
Coming September 30th – the next book in the Order of the Following Series – ‘Darke Awakening’ Pre Order Available Now!
At the time of the promotion the 3 books in the series had reviews/ratings in the two major Amazon territories (UK and US). Established books with some reviews always do well when given away for free and those that weren’t free had a good amount of reviews also which helped. Reviews and ratings are useful for selling books as they tell a reader how good/bad a book can be. Getting reviews takes time and so do numbers like this…
Price is a huge factor in this whole deal and I’m not just referring to everyone liking a freebie. The two other books are both priced at 99 cents or equivalent and this helped, perhaps if they were priced higher they would have been downloaded less.
The promo of ‘Cemetery House’ which was covered in part 1 resulted in 4 new ratings on Amazon soon after which directly effected the decent sales of it during this run. This is proof that one promo run can help another.
For this promo I used a few sites that are UK based and this directly drove more sales in that territory.
Great looking professional book covers, investing money and a social media following are all factors that help books get sold. These days I also use book banners which I made myself but for a little money you can probably get some made professionally and they are a nice little touch.
As you can see the two free promos side by side. The first one was indeed more successful and the top factor for that was labour day weekend in the US – people were looking to probably enjoy their weekend with a book or two.
The graphic below with free sales removed looks all the more impressive. Not only does it show paid sales after and during the promo but to date this is the best month of sales I have ever had in nearly 5 years of being published. Context: Upon release of Book 1 ‘Open Evening’ it sold 41 copies in the first month…
Book Promo sites
This whole deal sits on the shoulders of paid advertising and book promotion sites who help amplify that voice so folks can hear you shouting about your work. These are the ones I used:
Bookbongo – Cost $5
Ebook Booster – Cost $20
Bookrunes Cost – $25
Freebooksy (Thriller promo) – Cost $40
Bookzio – FREE
Book Hippo – FREE
Book angel – FREE
As you can see I invested less money for this promo which may have effected it’s overall success but I’m only willing to spend so much..
Traction takes time when it comes to books. Over the years I’ve learned a bunch and partially mastered all of the factors that go into selling them. I still firmly believe the best way to market and sell a book is to write another and another until you have a backlist, so keep going writers! Whether or not a book is part of a wider series doesn’t seem to matter.
Getting that one pre order made the whole thing a little sweeter, selling a brand new title is hard especially when it’s the 4th book in a series but the launch is hopefully bolstered by that handful of pre orders. The purpose of this promo was to help establish more readers for that series, did we accomplish that? Time will only tell…
Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope you got something out of this post that will help your writing and book promotion journey. Peace out!
Ah the selling of books, I’ve done that, quite a lot this year and my latest Book Promotional efforts are looking towards being personal best material. With that in mind and for the purposes of helping a fellow author, here’s a detailed breakdown of what I did and the results I got. Roll the intro….
First of all, before setting out and committing to any type of book promotional run its important to aim for something. What exactly are we looking to achieve here? In my case which I hope doesn’t sound too complex I wanted to promote my book ‘Cemetery House’ and get as many folks as possible to grab a copy during the run. The ‘run’ meaning the time it was going to be free to download and advertised. The more complex bit is below and optional to read.
Not so important background info, skip if you don’t care…
Over the 2 years ‘CH’ has been available it’s been the most under-performing book on my back list. It has the least amount of sales, reviews and I’m not sure many have actually read it. This is a shame, because it’s the bigger, better older brother to my clunky (but also good) debut novel ‘Open Evening’. ‘Cemetery House’ is also part of the wider ‘Order of the Following Series’ which continues in the form of my 6th book which arrives at the end of this month (September 2020) so you kinda need to read it in order for book 6 to make sense. My true aim in this promo run was to fix all of the problems stated above by getting some folks to actually download and eventually read it.
Strategy – how was I going to do it?
So the best way to get as many downloads for a book is to set the price to Free for a minimal amount of time. 2 days works quite well, you can generate a sense of urgency by saying ‘Free for a limited time only’ which is a sneaky way of pressurising people into downloading it. So as all of my works are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they allow you so many days within a certain period to set any of your books for Free. So I did that.
Cemetery House would be avalable for Free on the 3rd and 4th of September 2020. And then advertised as Discounted on the next two days.
While Free is good, along with the small space of time this offer is available they are not a guaranteed way of shifting books and like every author everywhere the greatest struggle we all face is being heard. Our voice is only as loud as our social media following and even that sometimes isn’t enough.
My go-to way of amplifying my author voice is to used paid advertising in the form of Book Promotion sites. Using a combination of paid sites and some of which were free, I would be able to amplify my voice while also working in tandem with my social media platforms on the days of the promo to maximise telling folks about it. This strategy can be used for all books across all genres. E books sell a lot more than physical copies in my case but that’s not to say you can’t use this strategy to sell all types. Just do your research, there are plenty of authors out there who share their results. And use the Google if in doubt.
Results first, how I did it later…
While you all probably just want to know how I did it, you first need the context of how well things went to gauge whether or not you can try and achieve the same. So here are the results.
Cemetery House Free Downloads: 1643
Stuff I didn’t expect or account for:
Selling nearly all my back list in one damn day….
Including sales of the other two books in the series which are priced at 99 cents:
Darke Blood: 20
Open Evening: 30
Sale of other books not in the series:
The Ghost Beside Me: 1 x Paperback
Total Sales of priced books on Day 1: 51
I probably sold 51 books last year in total without promo. This is an unexpected but wonderful result.
Open Evening sold 33 copies on release way back in 2016. For this promo, in which it wasn’t even specifically advertised, it got downloaded 30 times in one damn day.
All 3 books in the ‘Order of the Following’ series sold very well over the promo run. A huge factor in the success of this is governed by the fact ‘CH’ is the middle book in the series, although there is no particular order in which you need to read them. It is also mentioned on each of their Amazon pages, as seen below with Open Evening. It is mentioned in the start of each book also.
Although on this run I advertised ‘CH’ as stand alone which it can be enjoyed as, there was still plenty of interest for other books in the series and they are both available for 99 cents.
Honorable mentions for both ‘The Teleporter’ and ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which sold copies without any prior advertisement on this run and proof that my single best piece of marketing advice is true. That advice being, the best way to sell a book is to have another available, and then another and so forth. The graph and breakdowns above sing from that hymn sheet big time!
Amazon Chart Movement
My newest strategy in promoting free books is to then advertise them straight after the run as discounted. On this occasion this only generated 3 discounted sales of ‘CH’ after the run, but the sales of ‘Open Evening’ and ‘Darke Blood’ rocketed them both up their respective charts, from several thousand to double figures in a matter of days which will give them some new visibility as they begin to recede back to the dark depths of the unknown, like me…
‘Tis the season
All three books in the Order of the Following Series are occult, horror or thrillers. I’ve been waiting all damn year for the Spooky season to promote them and they always do well this time of year so let that be a top tip; genre and seasons coincide with sales no matter what book you’ve got to offer non fiction or fiction. People will gravitate towards a spooky tale during the run up to Autumn and Halloween. This is probably why ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ sold some copies also.
This was also the run up of Labour Day weekend over the US which is a big market to tap into. Those good folks from the US of A have supported me well over the years!
Execution – what I did
This is most probably best described as the ‘good part’ of the post and probably the reason why you are here, so here’s what I did.
E Reader News Today – Cost: $40 – Date: 3rd and 4th
E Book Booster Guranteed Promo – Cost: $20 – Date 3rd and 4th
Pretty Hot – Cost: $25 – Date: 4th
Bookzio – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th
Booangel – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th
As you can see some of the dates and sites overlap with one another. A top tip: if you really want to know how much reach a certain book promo site actually has, then just advertise with them only on a single date. The more expensive normally means better reach but that’s not always the case. Remember you have to be willing to spend a little money if you want some good reach.
On the first day of the Free promotion I put up this banner and then RT’d it later on in the day to coincide with Eastern Time for my American Friends. I’m near to 4k followers so it probably helped with some international reach. I’m proud of this banner which I put together myself via Pixlr.
My ‘gram following isn’t huge but I also shared the banner and put some other info about the results via my story. Come and say hi, you can find me here...
Good ol life invader. I don’t use my page that much these days but my 500 plus following will always be appreciated and so I shared the banner and relevant links on day 2.
A blog post
My blogging efforts are very busy and so I didn’t have the time or space to put out a post on the Free days so instead I put one out on the Saturday. If you want to know what it looks like, here’s the link…
Factors that helped…
Having already mentioned that ‘CH’ is part of a wider series and this is clearly marked on each book’s amazon page, what else helped shift a bunch more books than usual?
Reviews, ratings, critiques whatever you call them, spiritually they don’t matter but in the sense of book promotion they do so it’s a conflicting double edged sword. Even though ‘CH’ did not have any US Amazon reviews at the time of this promo, the two other books did. Having a star rating on Amazon will help shift more copies and I could even argue that is the only purpose reviews serve – that’s a rabbit hole of debate that I wont go into right now.
I firmly sit in the corner of investing well in a good book cover. This is such a huge factor that will attract passing trade. Yes your book is free and being paraded in front of a big internet audience but does it look good? People do judge a book by it’s cover. If you scroll to the very top of this site you will see all 5 of my book covers. Trust me, they matter in sales and they are shiny also.
I Invested with money…
It doesn’t take a business major to see a potential flaw in this book promo run. Giving a book away for free but paying for advertising, how are you going to make a profit? The answer to that question is, I’m not, in the short term. The purpose of the book promotion is to maximise readers, if your work is quality enough for readers to look at more of your books then this will eventually lead to potential profits. Right now I am in the process of building that readership which is growing. This also coincides with having more work available which the results of this promo have proved as a tactic in selling books. If you seriously want success in publishing you need to invest money.
The numbers speak for themselves and I was pleasantly surprised to sell anything more than what I tried to promote. Like everything in publishing apart from the story, us writers aren’t actually in control and that’s both scary and thrilling. Embrace all the stuff you don’t intend to achieve in writing, trust me, its normally the best stuff. Quite recently I have been very much enjoying the connecting with fellow writers who’ve published all types of works from cookery books to vampires which are still the fashion!
To everyone who has read up to this point thank you, I hope you find this post useful an you can hopefully expect the full guide book to arrive next year. But just remember, this post is just Part 1…
The results are in! Let’s take a look at my most recent book promotion efforts and analyse what went well and what didn’t. Here we go…
Seeing as this year kind of took a dive in March, some will even argue it ended there. I decided to take what was happening in my stride and carry on. Carrying on might be the single best decision I have made in all of my blogging, writing and general being online endeavours. Trust me, and it was really tough to begin with. The numbers for this blog, my sales and overall results were dwindling for a little while until I dug deep, thought of a few new ways to continue producing content and kablamo, things are looking good, in fact they are real good, I’m talking best ever numbers kind of good.
I do truly feel for the many folks out there who have been stopped in their tracks from what’s currently going on (we don’t dignify these times with a name) but for me and without realizing this whole deal has kind of fallen into my hands with an opportunity that I have seized. For anyone struggling right now who is able to produce some kind of content, I would highly advise you do so, this world has changed and probably won’t be going back to ‘normality’ possibly for a while. More people seem to read my blog these days than my books, which is cool but we’re here to talk about my books…
Seeing as I have five of them (books not kids, I hope…), I have content that is readily available right now for people to access. This year I have stuck to my guns in trying to do all I can to promote Darke Blood, the series it’s a part of and the sequel which drops next month. Having that wider back list gives me the options to change things around and promote another work, that work beingThe Teleporter– a stand alone, novella length comedy book about super heroes with a political edge – it’s current, relevant and relatable. Seeing as Marvel is mainstream these days having a super hero tale is quite handy – and trust me people grab this book when they see it probably more than any others (of mine).
So I decided I wanted to get 2 things out of promoting the Teleporter this time around:
(this is important in book promotion, you need to decide what you want to get out of it, then you can manage expectations/disappointment levels after…)
1.First and foremost I wanted as many people to grab it while it was free for one day.
2. I wanted actual paid sales after the promo date to drive the books chart position upwards and get some new eyes on the product – It will be discounted to 99 cents and this wasn’t just a ploy to turn a profit, what’s a profit in writing?
So this would involve fighting the promotion battle on 2 fronts but with mainly the same process – book promo sites.
For those who don’t know book promotion sites offer advertisement for a fee, some are free. They have access to big mailing lists and distribution methods to get your work seen. Considering this isn’t my first rodeo, I have compiled a list of trust worthy, reputable sites who can help. Using a bunch of different sites at the same time is quite a useful method.
For this promotion I would split the promo sites between advertising on the one free day and the next few days where it was discounted.
The Teleporter would be free to download on Wednesday 22nd of July and then discounted for 3 days after at 99 cents.
Here are the sites I used for the 22nd Free Promo:
E Reader News Today – (humor promotion) Cost $40
Bookrunes – Free Promotion – Cost $40
Indie Book of the Day – Cost Free
Book Goodies – Cost $9
Bookwerm – Cost $5
Book of the Day Dot Org – Free
ebook booster – Cost $20 – placements on up to 15 other sites
Sites I used to promote The Teleporter at 99 cents discount (23rd and 24th)
Armadillo Ebooks – Cost $25 – both dates
Prettyhot – (Featured listing) – Cost $25 – 23rd only
Discount book man – Cost $10 – 24th only
Bookbongo – (bookblast) – Cost $20 – 23rd and 24th
Bookdoggy – Free
So the promo sites were booked and now I needed to prepare my other promo methods. In the past I had explored the option of book banners – a poster that just doesn’t show the cover but acts as a kind of billboard. Seeing as Fiverr offers this kind of thing I got one put together for the Teleporter.
Generally people tend to click on the link more when they see something other than just a book cover. And it didn’t cost much, there are loads of different merchants on Fiverr who do this sort of thing at a very reasonable price.
This time around I would focus more on the days after the free promotion and kept my tweeting and general social media lips sealed until then.
On the discounted days I tweeted to my 3000+ followers and put up a post on my Facebook page to 500 followers and I even put together a blog post on here for my 500 plus following.
So how did it go? How much do I hate myself this time? I can honestly say it went rather okay to good, so not that much self hate…
Here are the results for the Free downloads on the 22nd with slight overlap on the 23rd
Overall this was the best ever day for The Telporter in terms of free downloads and the 3rd best of all time in all free promos I have done. Not bad at all.
I didn’t track the chart position that much on the Free day but it was #5 in one of it’s charts. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein was #1 at the time… I very much enjoy it when my book is in the same picture as something so highly regarded! Darke Blood did once go above a Dean Koontz book – my only claim to fame thus far…
And now let’s look at the results for the days after the Free promo when it went to 99 cents…
On the day after the free promo, 20 good folks downloaded the Teleporter while it was discounted. The next day we had 1 download and then on the third and final day we had 4. Someone else downloaded it at full price a few days after that also.
I didn’t properly track chart positions but it did climb higher than usual but got nowhere near single digit positions.
20 downloads in one day for any of my books is a win and this year’s best day of sales and my 2nd best day of all time. The 1st being last July with the same book but boosted by a Bookbub featured deal.
I can probably expect a few new reviews soon.
What went well?
The whole thing went well in my eyes but here are the factors that helped.
1.July, something about this month in the past two years has been really good for book promotion and this blog in general. July 2019 holds the record for most blog views ever and in 2nd place is July 2020 – beach read season I reckon…
3. The Teleporter is an established book and my 2nd most reviewed on Goodreads. It also has a good bunch of international reviews on Amazon. This helps big time.
4. I have a back list. Books sell easier when the author has more than one. People grab a book with hopes they like it and then will explore other titles if they do.
5. Fellow authors looking to give back – those whom I have connected with over the years and especially those who have books I reviewed sometimes feel inclined to return that favor, having one of my books available for free pushes that a little further – not that I expect anyone to buy my book in return for anything but it is very much appreciated.
6. The current state of affairs in this world: People need content, people are getting into reading more, e books are safe and are a low risk form of entertainment. Hence the opportunity arises.
Anything to improve?
Book promotion is led mainly by the following and voice of an author. If that voice is louder, more people hear. I’m always trying to improve that volume (following) and of course there are few things that could have gone better.
I did try to get a bookbub featured deal but to no success this time. Maybe I could have explored Facebook advertising but I didn’t bother this time around.
All in all this promo run went rather well. I have on final book promo run planned before the release of Darke Awakening in late September. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!