Writing guides that help fellow authors, bloggers and social media-ers has become a vital pillar of my content in recent times. There’s a reason why this here blog is followed by over 900 good souls. Helping others also feels good and then seeing them succeed via some of my advice is even better. This post is dedicated to the top 5 guides I have put together this year, most of which are centered around book promotion, selling and social media.
5. Let’s talk about… why your book isn’t selling…
Viewed an impressive 400+ times this year, this post is dedicated to helping authors find all kinds of ideas to sell their books before and after publication. You can read the whole thing here.
4. How I landed another deal with Bookbub
Those who have been around a while will know that this year a major turning point came for me in the form of a BookBub Featured Deal for my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’. 10,000+ people downloaded it in a single day. Shortly before the promo run I put together this detailed guide on how I got the featured deal. And for those asking, a BookBub featured deal really is worthwhile.
3. Book Promotion Results: April 2021
April 2021 serves as a record holder for so many things. It was my first $100 royalty month, it was also the month where my highest amount of paid sales happened in a single day. This guide highlights how I did it.
2. 10 ways to sell a book without dropping the link on social media…
This one always gets a lot of attention and you might have seen me sharing the link for it on Twitter rather ironically. Link dropping is a rather interesting subject on Twitter and this guide shares how to sell books without dropping a link. With a viewership of over 500 its one of my best performing posts of the year and probably will be for some time. You can read it here.
1. A Concise List of Book Promotion Sites
Any my most viewed guide of 2021 is a list that many authors including myself use as reference, hence the fact it will probably be evergreen. I update it regularly too and book promo sites are a wonderful way of advertising your books. Check it out here.
And if you are looking for more guidance on authoring, blogging and social media-ing I have a guide book which is coming to paperback in the next few weeks.You can find more information here.
I’ve been promoting my books again and for the first time I had seven to play with. It is my belief that the more books an author has, the more promotional things one can do with them.
September 2021 served as a milestone month for me as it is five years since my words first graced publication. It is also a crucial month for many of my books as their genres tend to pick up around this time of year and look at that – a promo tip in the damn intro, horror, thriller, occult, spooky, ghosts, gothic – all of these start selling rather well from Labor Day onwards – that’s a public holiday weekend over in the US and for me the spiritual beginning of spooky season.
Like all of my previous book promo posts this will look into my plan, my results, how I got them and of course the most important part of any book promo – the longer term results. That’s part of the reason why this post has only just dropped, exclusively first on Patreon and then to the awesome followers on my blog. Let us dive in!
In any type of promo run its good to set out an overall aim while also setting a realistic or at least an achievable expectation but first of all and for beginners, what do I mean by promo run?
To me a book promotion run is when I advertise my books in order to sell them over a short amount of specific time. There are many inputs and ways to promote books and my process consists of paying for some advertisement every quarter or so while also reducing my prices to hook in new readers for just a few days. This quarterly or so method keeps sales from completely tanking to zero and while I am continually active on social media, newer readers are in theory always arriving onto my authory shores. I tend to sell books regularly via social media or mostly Twitter but not in huge numbers so I like a nice burst of sales every four or so months.
So on this occasion I would be running two price promotions simultaneously.
The e version of my debut high school creature feature horror ‘Open Evening’ would be Free to download celebrating five years since publication, for one day.
And the rest of my e books (6 others in total) would be reduced to 99 cents or equivalent for the whole of Labor Day weekend. In this category there are some books which are stand alone and others that are connected to ‘Open Evening’. Most of which are spooky season appropriate or popular all-year-round sellers.
Promo tip: Setting one book for free and advertising it will bring eyes onto all other books if you have any. Time and time again I have sold other books on my shelf while another was free. Discounting these titles pretty much guarantees some interest.
My overall aim was to sell as many books as possible to try and make an effort towards paying for the advertising I was going to use.
The Results Pt.1
The results of an effective book promotion run will last for days after the initial advertising dates but Pt.1 will look into the results of the first few days. So first of all let us look at the total.
As you can see the blue bar represents the free downloads for ‘Open Evening’ which managed 377 in one day across 6 different territories.
So that day broke a new record for me personally. This is the first time all 7 of my books were downloaded in 24 hours and every other book on my shelf although discounted made paid sales on the next day also.
Paid sales for Labor Day weekend are as follows below with my newest release and self help authoring and blogging guide book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ being the top seller followed by ‘Darke Awakening’ my newest release after ‘CCC’.
Let us briefly look at some chart movement which is an often overlooked part of these promo runs because good chart movement equals more visibility from passing trade.
Seeing as it was my top seller of the weekend ‘CCC’ made the best progress by hitting #10 in the Amazon US Writing Skill Reference chart which is a huge achievement because this chart is super competitive. I’m talking authors who do TedTalk’s normally head up the top spots.
Overall. I was happy with the sales of this weekend which led into several days after of sales which we will look into soon. But first let me break down what I did to get these numbers.
Methods of Promotion
My biggest tip when it comes to advertising books is to invest money. If you want serious results then you need to advertise seriously by spending. This is probably why I do this every four or so months. These days, I let my royalties accumulate and put them into advertising. It is also worth noting that being an indie author isn’t my primary source of income so I can afford to make losses financially with these promos – but to me there are no losses, just opportunity to find more readers and gain more traction as an author in the market – that’s what I’m really paying for.
Here are the book promotion sites/services I paid for:
‘Open Evening‘ – Free Booksy Horror Series Promotion. Cost $65 and this gives you an option to link all 4 books in the series which I did.
‘Consistent Creative Content‘
Bargain Booksy 99 cents Promotion. Cost $30.
Bookrunes. Cost $25
E Reader News Today – Humour Category. Cost $45.
Book Doggy. Cost £20
Total Advertising Cost: $185
As you can see my budget focused on evenly spreading the advertising. I could have run ads for every individual book but these three at the time were my most popular.
What else did I do?
Of course advertising via book promo sites is just part of my efforts. I also put out a blog post on here and various tweets throughout the weekend sharing various visual things. My Twitter following is over 15k which is a big opportunity for book sales. For those visual things I used these book banners in particular:
Book Banners are relatively easy to put together – I make my own using free stock imagers and Pixlr. Banners add just that little extra dimension to the visual appeal that may grab a potential readers attention.
The Books in my Order of the Following Series also have their own series page on Amazon – this helps for whole series visibility especially when one of the book in that series is free and the others are discounted.
Random Promo Tips:
Most book promo sites will ask you to include a brief description of the book that isn’t just the blurb. This is an opportunity to get creative and even mention that it could be a part of a series or that the rest of your works are currently discounted.
On social media think about terminology such as ‘For Today Only’ or ‘Exclusive Discount’. Stuff that embraces the gimmick of selling and stirs impulse. I always run a promo for just a few days to add a sense or urgency. Although Amazon will let you run a free promo for up to 5 days, 2 is enough.
Weekends tend to work really well post pandemic and so I like to include at least a Saturday as there is way more traffic online.
Existing reviews for a book really help sell more books – this is part of the reason why you see me put out a weekly Tweet saying how important reviews are. Most of my books have at least 15 reviews. This helps, big time!
The more books you have, the better things should be. Having just one or two books is much more of a challenge as readers tend to gravitate towards authors with more releases so get writing those books. This deal gets better with time.
The Results Pt2
Now it may seem like a paid quite a large sum to pay for some advertisement but all promo runs aren’t just about sales. Let us take a look at the most important part of a promo run – the aftermath…
From the 2 days before the promo and to the 8 days that followed I had at least 1 paid sale. This is 10 consecutive days of paid sales and new record. As you can see the rest of the month sales of the paid persuasion trickled in. Now if we compare it to the month previous…
The coloured bars may seem bigger but the numbers are drastically smaller for that month previous and this is just one of the things I am paying for with this promotion – extended visibility which in turn drives so much more.
September 2021 almost became another $100 royalty month and its not quite covered the cost of the promo but still a good portion of it has been recovered. Now let’s take a look at the wider scope in terms of royalties…
This 90 day graphic looks a little more promising but sales is not all that I am paying for because there is something else these promos drive and they are gold dust to authors and maybe worth more than a lot of money.
Reviews started appearing a few weeks after the promotional run, in fact 8 ratings for several different books came from this promo run which is a new monthly record and confirmation that this money investment was very much worthwhile. You can read a breakdown of the other reviews here.
Making money, getting more reviews, and sales takes time to master in the world of book promotion and this post is only just a snippet of years worth of work I have put in to figure all this out, that is without mentioning the work that goes into writing more books but, there is hope because this post above all shows that indie authors can sell their work and make money from it.
To me, book promotion runs are just a portion of what I do, perhaps even a small slice of a much larger cake that includes social media presence, blogging, reviewing other authors books and being a brand. There is always some work to be done in order to sell my brand and my works and remember that the more social you are on social media, the more someone will notice and eventually invest in you. Build trust and engage with others, that sells more than anything. Thanks for reading and peace out!
While the majority of things in writing can be subjective, most authors will know the struggle of trying to market and sell their work. The sheer variety of ways to try and market books these days can be quite daunting but I reckon I’ve got a decent grip on it. Follow me as I lay out my latest book promotion efforts with a hope it helps another wordsmith…
What is book promotion some of you ask? Well for the beginner and to me book promotion is any method that is used to sell books. This can be through a price reduction, paid advertising, free advertising and even less direct advertising like a social media presence. There are so many ways to promote a book and most of time I tend to combine these methods.
Firstly and quite importantly when it comes to promoting a book its good to have something to aim for or at least a reason why you are promoting a book. While sales is normally the main priority, this time I had another aim alongside that – more on that in a moment.
The book I would be promoting this time around was my very recently released self-help authoring and blogging guide book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ and on June the 26th it would be discounted to 99 cents (regular price $3.99) for that day only. My methods of advertising would be a paid promotion via book promo site Robin Reads and I would also be leveraging my social media following across a few different platforms. After the book’s initial release the sales have began to drop off to almost zero so a little advertising will hopefully jump start things.
Let’s break that down into three factors.
Time– an important factor when it comes to promotion. One day only for this promo adds urgency for potential readers to buy a book on the day.
Price– From $3.99 to $0.99 is quite a jump and adds a level of extra persuasion for potential readers.
Reach – Using a paid advertising package via a book promo site and my own social media following meant that I could reach more potential readers on the day.
Combining these three factors should result in a positive outcome for any book being promoted although different books have different circumstances to face such as rating and genre. You’ll also notice the book cover for ‘CCC’ is professionally designed and a beginners tip: potential readers do judge books by a cover so invest in a professional to give a book the best chance of selling.
For this promotional run I had another aim and that was to push ‘CCC’ up the Amazon charts so it could get a little more visibility and hopefully a few more ratings because my intention longer term is try and secure a BookBub Featured Deal. A few more ratings would increase the chances BookBub would say yes and their Featured Deal Advertising package is basically the holy grail of advertising. For me to get this book featured by them would be the dream as it would reach so many more readers. I consider this promo run a partial stepping stone towards a bigger picture.
As you can see the blue bar represents the launch of ‘CCC’ which gradually tailed off into June.
And then June had a few sales but then things became pretty sparse so it was time for some promotion!
On June the 26th and for one day only Consistent Creative Content was discounted to 99 cents from the original price of $3.99. Here are the results:
Sales in 5 territories and even some further sales all the way into July. A good promotion will keep a book visible and selling for some time after. A great book promotion will pay dividends even months later.
The best chart movement came from the US and these numbers were in the high thousands at the start of the day. They are super competitive charts so to see these numbers improve was awesome.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I checked Amazon to see ‘CCC’ in the top 4. Fantastic!
It would have only taken a few more sales to hit best seller but that’s for another day perhaps.
Factors for Success
I’ve shared my aims and the basic details of the promo but what are the finer details? Here’s what I did/what happened during the promo.
Social Media and Visuals
Using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and this blog I spread my social media coverage wide and shared this book banner. Book banners make for a nice additional visual that should hopefully enhance the cover of a book.
I also shared a visual representation of some recent reviews and spread that around the platforms.
Specifically on Twitter I took advantage of the #shamelesselfpromosaturday hashtag and combined with 11k followers that helped spread the word significantly.
In general, social media is a hard arena to sell books in, especially as the platforms tend to notice you sharing links and things. This always makes for a challenge. You can read more about getting better results at Twitter hereand you can read more about selling books without dropping the link here.
‘CCC’ already had some reviews and ratings but it really needed a few more, especially if I want a BookBub featured deal, they need to see recent review progress. Reviews serve a book for the purpose of promotion more than anything and some very needed reviews arrived right on time…
And on the day fellow author Ellen Khodakivska released this awesome review!
Reviews also started appearing over on BookBub which is vital for the long term and very much appreciated.
This ‘stepping stone’ promotional run succeeded in helping ‘CCC’ climb the charts and get some much needed visibility. Having paid $60 for the promo via Robin Reads the royalties are at a loss currently but I paid for this promo using the previous months royalties so I’m taking it as a win. To be able to put money back into to promotion after making it from a book is the stuff of dreams.
Remember its all about Time Price and Reach. If you can get those factors right then hopefully sales will come in. This time around I didn’t break any records but I jumpstarted my sales slump and positioned myself for a better chance to convince BookBub to say yes.
I’m not particularly interested in making a huge amount of money in authoring and this book I have written is to help others more importantly. Hopefully this post helped a fellow wordsmith and you can read so much more about book promotion via the resources section or alternatively you could buyConsistent Creative Content which is currently $2.99 or less in some places and is full of guides like this one.
Thanks for reading and next stop BookBub…. or I will at least apply for their featured deal….
Yes kind reader you read that title right because today and today only you can grab my recently released self-help authoring and blogging guide book for just 99 cents (or equivalent)!
This is a one-time super fun happy book discount* and it is unlikely we’ll ever see a discount like it again. The usual price was $/£3.99 and today you can download the book for a fraction of said price. Click on the banner below for the Amazon product page and if you need a little more persuasion there are few things below which might be of interest!
* Super fun happy not included…
A few things that might be of interest…
You might be thinking yes that’s an awesome discount but where’s the real sales pitch other than a discounted price and I’m with ya so here’s not one but two exclusive excerpts of Consistent Creative Content…
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!
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!
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…