I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but marketing on the internet can be very, very tough! Or, it could be just me…
Previously, On Hypertransitory…The Cold Elf
In my last post I announced my new fantasy ebook The Cold Elf.
Besides the book itself, I talked about some of my intentions towards the marketing, but mostly with regards to the artwork. This post will go more in-depth into my upcoming marketing plans for this book.
Fantasy and sci-fi are favorites of mine, and this short story was my first foray into going the whole nine yards with creating and selling this thing.
Although I always hope for the best, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get it in front of people, so I’m prepared for an uphill struggle.
How To Learn From Stupid Clowns
Hey guys, guess what? I’ve got a new ebook out called How to Deal with Stupid Clowns who don’t know what the Hell they’re talking about! Pick it up, today!
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A few years ago, when I came out with my ‘Stupid Clowns‘ ebook, I wasn’t able to get it to sell, despite doing what I thought you were supposed to do to sell an ebook.
Some time ago I took stock of the situation after many months away from even thinking about that book. I assessed the situation and concluded that I had made several errors that foiled my efforts. Those mistakes were:
Oh, well. Lessons learned.
Breaking The Cycle With The Cold Elf
Now, to revisit all four of these issues with the new book, here’s how I decided to proceed this time:
Hopefully these changes in strategy will yield better results this time around.
Moving On With The Marketing
I can’t just sit back and relax, unfortunately. Gotta keep on keepin’ on with the marketing. I’ll outline my upcoming strategy for promoting this book. It remains to be seen how much of this will work, but I’ve been reading and following what successful authors are doing, so hopefully some of this proves worthwhile.
Social Media Marketing
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I don’t want to just bombard folks with my links. Some of the methods I’ll employ are:
In addition to the traditional social media sites, I’m going to get more active on the art sites to see if I can pique any interest there. The largest of course, is deviantART.
I’ve been on deviantART for probably four years. I sometimes post there, comment on a few other pieces I like, then I won’t check back in for months. As with anything, getting a lot out of it is going to take some time and effort on my part to develop a following.
Once again, the post engagement I get over there is usually from my fan art of characters that I don’t own. So again, it’s back to drawing or 3D-ing Marvel and DC characters to get people interested, then hope they stick around for my own work. At least some of this stuff can be repurposed for Instagram/Pinterest, etc.
Besides deviantART, there’s ConceptArt.org to share your work, help and learn from others, while ImageKind is an online art gallery for selling your art. Taking part in the forums of both of these sites could be an opportunity to not only get eyes on my art, but introduce the story to like-minded people. Other artists aren’t likely to purchase art from me, but if they’re also doing fantasy art they might pick up my fantasy ebook for $0.99.
A lot of people use 3D programs to create the covers to their books, so they’re right there with me in the trenches. At the very least we can all commiserate.
I’ve been a member of the Goodreads website for a few years, but again, I never got that involved. When I signed up I wasn’t actually reading that much, but someone recommended it to me. Recently, I started logging back on over there, but more to read other people’s reviews and blogs than to post anything myself.
Then, a short time ago a friend of mine sent me a link to a book called Goodreads For Authors. There’s some really good stuff in here that I hadn’t thought of. Some of it isn’t actionable for me at this point, but it’s kind of a long game. Some of the ideas depend on you having more than one book out already (technically, I have two, but since ‘Stupid Clowns’ isn’t in the same genre as my current book I can’t effectively use it).
She posts all kinds of great advice on how to call attention to your book. She used pretty much every method, and breaks down the pros and cons for each one. She has a lot of strategies that you can try right now today, even without the “author platform” you hear about so often.
I got loads of good ideas from her book -but like before, some of them aren’t quite actionable with only one book, so once more I gotta play the long game here and lay some groundwork.
Finally, the Kindleboards are a useful resource for answering any questions you might have when it comes to making and promoting your ebook. I found a great article breaking down the do’s and don’ts of using the site here: Kindleboards- The Best Resource Around.
Throwing Money At The Problem
Even though I don’t have a ton of extra cash to spend on ads and such, I’m willing to spend a bit within reason to further the cause.
A while back I wrote a post on the merits of using the Facebook Boost Post feature. If you’re not familiar with it, essentially you can pay a certain amount to Facebook to force your post to appear in the timelines of more people than you would otherwise have access to.
There are many detractors who don’t like it, but after using it I determined it does what it says it will do, and for a relatively small amount of cash.
So I’ll probably do a test post with regards to this book, then boost it for $10.00 or so and see what the results are. It should be fairly easy using Google Analytics to see what’s coming in from Facebook in that time period.
There’s always the actual Facebook ads, as well. I tried using them a few years back with zero results, so I don’t know if I’ll try that again. If boost post does nothing I might give it a shot.
Another ad network I’m going to test out is Project Wonderful. This is a network where you can bid on ad spots for specific sites. You can even see what the going rate is for the spot you want.
From playing around in there a bit, I was able to see a few websites where I might get some traction out of a fantasy story like The Cold Elf. All I have to do now is make up a few ad banners in the necessary sizes and submit them. I’ll have to get used to their tracking system, but hopefully I can see what results I get (if any) right away.
However, with all this said, I should admit that I never ever in my life ever bought a book because of an advertisement. Not once.
Back in the days, I would just drop into the bookstores and peruse the shelves to see if there was anything new out. If I was reading a magazine like the old Dragon or such, I might see an ad for a book that I was going to buy anyway, but I never looked at an ad for a book I had never seen and decided to head out to the store and buy it.
So I guess I’ll have to hope other people don’t find books the way I do. I’ll know the answer soon enough.
Fiverr Promotion…Gotta Be Careful
I’m sure we all know about Fiverr.com by now. The place where people offer services for $5.00.
Fiverr has a kind of shady reputation, especially when it come to book promotion. There are those offering review services for Amazon that can get you kicked off the site, or at the very least get your name tarnished.
I wouldn’t ever pay anyone for a review. I know some of the services say they’ll buy the book and read it so they’ll be verified customers, then it’s all legit. Maybe it is but it feels off to me, so I wouldn’t go that route.
What I would do is pay $5 to post my book cover and blurb in a large book group or on a book site. This way it’s still all on me. If I did a good enough job, then someone will be interested, click on it and maybe buy it. If I didn’t create a compelling cover or blurb then no one will touch it, no matter how many folks are in the group. I can live with that.
Virtual Book Tours
If you’ve never heard Virtual Book Tours, these are services that have a network of book bloggers who will (for a fee) allow their blogs to become a “stop” on your tour around the web to promote your book.
Depending on which specific service you buy, you can either be interviewed, post an excerpt of your book, or do some other style of guest post, then leave your purchase links there on the site.
A few examples of these services are:
I used Virtual Book Tour Cafe for my ‘Stupid Clowns’ ebook back in the day. One thing I found out about a book tour is that it’s way more work than you think.
At the time I paid about $225 for a 15 blog tour over a month’s time.
The blog “host” (the owner of the blog where I would be posting) had the choice of either interviewing me, or simply handing over their blog to me for a guest post. Most of them chose to just let me guest post.
I had to write much of the material concurrently, since they would of course need time to check over my post and make sure I wasn’t crazy or something (I’m sure the title of the book didn’t help with that). So a ton of writing became due all at once, essentially.
The true problem was that I had a hard time writing something interesting for each stop. I could have easily just prepared the exact same post for each site but I didn’t want to do that, so I tried to change it up and give each stop the respect of some original material. That was a busy month for me. Whew!
There were some missed connections along the way. Some bloggers disappeared and didn’t post my material, while others were late. The owner of VBTC, BK Walker, was very cool and worked hard to keep everyone on schedule and make sure I got my money’s worth. Life happens sometimes with these blogs so you kind of have to roll with it.
In the end, that book tour didn’t result in many sales. I blame that squarely on the reasons I listed above -namely that I priced it too high and only had it available in PDF format. I think it would have went differently if I’d fixed those issues before the tour.
What I did get out of it were more Twitter followers and Facebook page “Likes”. Some of those people I still engage with today, so overall it wasn’t a bad experience.
For that reason I decided to go back to VBTC again for The Cold Elf. Since I don’t really have it in me for a large tour right now, I chose to go with a “Book Blast Tour” for $45.00. This package puts out your book cover, synopsis, and possibly an excerpt, along with all your purchase and site info to between 5-50 blogs. Here’s hoping for 50!
This is where we’ll find out exactly how engaging that cover is. Hopefully people feel compelled to see what it’s all about.
As for the other services – I just now had ‘Stupid Clowns’ posted on Indie Book Promo for their “Gold Package” for $50.00. By “just now” I mean it just today posted as I’m typing this. What effect, if any, it will have on sales remains to be seen.
Moving on, Pump Up Your Book is a service I was interested in trying out, but their rates are a little bit more than I want to spend on it. I’ll have to give them a pass right now, but I’m interested in trying them out one day. If anyone has any info or has used the service, I’d love to hear your experiences.
Finally, I found Rockstar Book Tours just this past week when searching out new promotions for the latest book. Their service is actually free, but because of that they are a bit more picky (as stated on the site’s About page). I’ll likely let the VBTC campaign play out, check those results, then see if Rockstar Book Tours might be interested in promoting my book.
The Future – Where Is All This Going?
I’ve been saying throughout the article that this is a long game. What I mean by this is that I don’t expect to rake in a ton of cash on this first book.
I want to build on this, keep writing more books (in the fantasy genre first, then I’ll move on to sci-fi) so that people have options to choose from, and hopefully if they buy one and like it, they’ll be looking to read something else from me.
So in order to build up a readership, my first few outings will be fantasy works. After reading a ton of info out there, my thought is to use the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, but only after I have a couple of more books out to take advantage of it.
To break it down, enrolling in the Kindle Direct Publishing program means you give Amazon exclusive use of your book for 90 days. During that 90 days you receive five days (any five you choose) to make your book available for free. In addition, you’ll be paid for any of your books that are lent out via the Amazon Prime library.
The hope for most authors is that if you offer your first book for free, then you’ll expose more readers to it and they’ll continue on to purchase your next books. Or, if you have a book later in the series, people might go back and pick up your first titles.
As you can tell, it really wouldn’t pay to use KDP unless you have more than one book, so that’s something for a bit later. I have my next outing almost finished as it is, so that might be looking at a January release. I might even wait to have 3 fantasy books out before I put one in the KDP program, but we’ll see when the time comes.
However, it’s important to be realistic about what to expect from this. I’ve read in several places that after Amazon changed their ranking algorithm, the free offering didn’t work as well as it used to. If you’re already making decent sales you may not be willing to risk it. Here’s some more KDP Select reading:
Whether or not KDP works, my intention is to keep writing stories, keep producing artwork and comics and eventually become my own little publishing house. I’ll have to really plan out all my strategy with regards to projects and their release schedules. Right now I kind of work on whatever I feel like, but then nothing gets done for a long time.
So I’m going to concentrate on my fantasy (writing and art) offerings for now and push that out the door. While each project will have it’s own site, I’ll unify all of them under one “clearing house” site, probably under a domain with some variation of my own name (someone already has “johngarrett.com” so I can’t use that – curses!).
Sounds easy, right?
It’s that time again, folks. Just so you don’t have to search through this whole post for the links you want to check out, I’ll post them right here:
My Websites and Book Links
Social Media Stuff Links
Book Promotion Books I read
Book Promotion Sites/Articles
Art Sites I Frequent
Paid Promotion Links
Amazon KDP Links
The Wrap Up
Ok, so that’s all for now. I know this was a long one so thanks for hanging in there.
I’ll have to revisit this article in a couple of months and report what results (good or bad) actually came from these efforts. Undoubtedly I’ll have to revise my strategies on the fly if something isn’t working, but my hope is that I can come back with some good news on the progress of my ambitions.
If anyone has any thoughts, questions or ideas then please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear what you think.
But for now I’m outta here. See you guys next time!