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message 1: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Hi All - I ran the creation of this thread by our fearless moderator Ann, thinking it would be a good idea to have a spot where authors could share their marketing/promotional experiences, and how they have impacted sales either positively or negatively. The hope is that some of the more successful authors, in terms of sales, from our group will share what has worked for them and we can all learn from this.

As a starting point, I think it would be interesting to the group if authors could share sales data and then a brief description of the marketing/promotional strategies that they used, if any. What components of your platform seem to work well, and which ones don't? Which promotional vendors worked best for you?

It is totally understandable that some authors would prefer not to disclose sales info. In order to make this less intrusive for those that are OK with sharing this data, I think it is best to categorize sales amounts in broad categories. So, here's what I came with up: <100, 100-500, 500-1000, 1000+. This would be combined paper and ebook sales of your single best selling book. Giveaways I know can eventually help with sales and reviews, but for this exercise let's exclude freebies.
Thanks in advance for any and all input. We can certainly shape the parameters of this discussion as we go. I'll be posting my own POV on all this later. Time for real life chores :)


message 2: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Well, I offer my first book free, but since Sept. of last year, it has over 500 downloads with more coming everyday. I haven't even started trying to market my others, just the one, and I've almost sold 100 copies of those. Not the greatest success story, but honestly better than I thought my first books would do.


message 3: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments I'm just beginning myself. I currently have one book, and it is free until mid-March.

I have a strategy in mind (which includes writing a lot more books in a variety of genres), but I have no data on how well it might work.


message 4: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) In a misguided attempt to get reviews, when I published my first novel I offered it free for a day, and got nearly a hundred downloads. No reviews. Sales were terrible through the year, and maybe because everyone who wanted to read it got it for free. But after being on Goodreads, Facebook, and other places for over a year, my second novel fared much better. In less than a month it sold more than my first did in a year. And it has continued to sell, at full asking price, thru February. No reviews yet, and sales are trending downward now, but it appears that networking on the social sites did the trick. Of course, it could be that the second book had a better cover and more exciting opening chapters, so it's hard to pinpoint any one thing. Both are stand-alone works, with no story connections between them. I understand that series works do much better.


message 5: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Thanks for sharing everyone. Interesting comments so far. Will touch base on this later tonight.


message 6: by M.K. (new)

M.K. Cathcart (mkcathcart) | 14 comments I wrote a book about Korea taking over the world. I sent it to the Korean embassy and they advised me not to release it. Got people talking about it. I also gave away 1500 copies over 3 days and sold 5-600 copies outside of that in a few months. I'm waiting for reviews on various blog sites and have a magazine review in April. I sent off probably 60 or 70 requests to mags and bloggers and have been accepted for 4 maybe which from what I hear is pretty good. Perseverance, nice emails, luck and a talking point for readers / something to hook them in.


message 7: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments M.K. wrote: "I wrote a book about Korea taking over the world. I sent it to the Korean embassy and they advised me not to release it. Got people talking about it. I also gave away 1500 copies over 3 days and so..."

Nice stats M.K. did you use a professional editor and/or pro cover designer? How many Amazon reviews were recorded in the months after the giveaway and the 500+ sales? You must have promoted the fact that the Korean embassy advised against release, which prompted curiosity and sales. Genius...

Was there any kickback form the embassy after the release?


message 8: by M.K. (new)

M.K. Cathcart (mkcathcart) | 14 comments Yeah pro editor. Pro designer. Still sitting on 5 or 6 reviews off 500 sales which is about right from what I can see but it's frustrating! And yeah, it's on my Amazon info page and on the front of the book. I think I was lucky with all the build up around Korea with the Interview and such. Might be why sales are drying up now..? And I spoke to the Embassy on the phone a couple of times, email hacked the next day but who knows if that was unlucky timing. I think it's a hell of a lot of luck if you sell 1 copy or 100,000. You can't influence who talks about your book and what they say but if you at least give them something to talk about....it can't hurt.


message 9: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Bunnell | 61 comments Yes, a provocative subject is the best PR money can't buy, I always say. My book's controversy happens to be in the area of fanatical faith, and the book has already been called "wicked and evil," by individuals who asked the bookstore where I'd just finished a reading to take my book down from the shelf.


message 10: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments As a newbie author that plans on publishing my debut novel, The Budapest Experiment, in the middle of April, I am doing my "due diligence" researching the industry and developing an author platform. While I don't have any sales data or successful marketing techniques to share, I have been on Goodreads for about a month now and have learned a valuable lesson concerning indie authors that most of you probably already know but I thought I'd share.

From what I've learned, indie authors, for the most part, write mostly for the love of writing. Self publishing has allowed many authors, who previously did not have a platform, to share their stories with the rest of the world. It provides a vehicle for authors to express their creativity and talents coming from the depths of their souls. We all hope that many will be interested in our writing and share in our feelings.

For me, I liken it very much to be being a musician. If I were to count all the money I've made in my lifetime from playing gigs, it would probably be less than three months of my current salary. Yet, my love of music and sharing that with a live audience was the ultimate "rush", and kept me going at it for over 30 years. Like authors who may not have a lot of sales, it was never as much fun playing to a nearly empty venue, but you always put your heart and soul into the performance regardless. The energy created from a packed house, that was "into" your music, was a euphoric feeling, and I imagine the same feeling an author would experience hitting the bestseller list.

I am truly inspired by the persistence and fortitude of my fellow indie authors. Having just wrote a novel of 150,000+ words, I understand what a painstaking process this is, and then having to dedicate countless hours to building a platform, marketing, and promotion, it is truly a labor of love.

Write on...


message 11: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Below is an excerpt from a previous post I made on a separate discussion board that relates to this topic. I apologize if you have seen this before.

From a newbie that does not even have an author page yet, you can take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

As a new author, business geek, and entrepreneur I have been researching the self publishing industry for close to two months now, prior to the release of my debut novel. Included in that research are comments made in posts in this awesome support group, as well as others. Many times I read about the lamenting of new authors that they published with little time spent, and knowledge of, how to market. It makes sense that there are probably many new authors out there that have had little or no training in sales and marketing. I think in many cases there is often a rush to publish, and who can blame a new author's anxiety for wanting to get their work out there. I am chomping at the bit myself. Someone in our group put it nicely as "premature publication". Some in these groups have also indicated that they do not have the money/resources to invest in promotion/marketing.

So far, my research has found that the keys to a successful launch should include: 1) professional editing, 2) professionally designed book cover, 3) a posted summary or "blurb" that is enticing, 4) author web site, and 5) email lists/social platforms. I think it is a great advantage when readers are allowed to develop an affinity with the author,"feeling part of what you created". I am sure there are cases of successful launches that do not contain the components listed above, but I would be willing to wager they are few and far between.

It is also my belief from the research I've done that content is king and making your content new, different, creative, and distinguishable from the rest of the pack in your genre will give you a much better chance to succeed. I think great content eventually finds its own level of interest with the general public.

I would love to hear other's thoughts on this. My guess is that if we were able to effectively measure components, generally, sales success would be around 80% dependent on quality of content, and 20% marketing/promotion.

OK...enough of my blabber for one night.


message 12: by Renee (new)

Renee Marski | 26 comments I'm slowly building my platform. I didn't actually know anything about promoting when I first published and I have learned a lot. I have heard that pinterest is a good source but I'm just navigating it trying to figure out how to get more followers. Tumblr as well, that site is just confusing.

So far most of my sales have been friends/family. So I can't really count those as sales. Looking forward to reading what others post.


message 13: by M.K. (new)

M.K. Cathcart (mkcathcart) | 14 comments Ken wrote: "In a misguided attempt to get reviews, when I published my first novel I offered it free for a day, and got nearly a hundred downloads. No reviews. Sales were terrible through the year, and maybe..."

As far as I know free downloads (amazon) can't leave reviews.


message 14: by Steven (new)

Steven Dewald (redoak) | 4 comments My best success so far was with my first self-published book, "Under a Poacher's Moon - Stories of a Wisconsin Game Warden." Since 2011 I have sold 1400 copies. I have learned that it is important to fill a niche. In my case I wrote about game wardens. If you Google game warden my book usually pops up. My marketing effort hit outdoor magazines/hunting fishing newspapers first. These are where readers go to get information about the related topic. Conversely when I did my first fictional novel I have sold less than 100. So in my next novel I will focus on the "key word" searches to hopefully move people interested in police and/or game wardens to try my next novel.


message 15: by Ann, Supreme Overlord (new)

Ann Andrews (annliviandrews) | 687 comments Mod
Even if you download the book for free, you can still leave a review on Amazon. But if Amazon's algorithm can somehow connect you to the author, your review may be removed. But I'm pretty sure there are no rules that say you cannot leave a review for a book you downloaded for free. I get a monthly Kindle Deal from Amazon for free and I'm able to leave reviews for those books.

M.K. wrote: "Ken wrote: "In a misguided attempt to get reviews, when I published my first novel I offered it free for a day, and got nearly a hundred downloads. No reviews. Sales were terrible through the yea..."


message 16: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Steven wrote: "My best success so far was with my first self-published book, "Under a Poacher's Moon - Stories of a Wisconsin Game Warden." Since 2011 I have sold 1400 copies. I have learned that it is importan..."

Hey Steven - I think you hit on an interesting point. When marketing non fiction works it is much easier to identify your target demographic and plan your avenues of marketing accordingly. Marketing and promoting fiction is a much more difficult task, as your target readers are more difficult to identify and isolate, and encompass a wider range of demographics. I think this is why the substance of your content in the fiction world is much more critical than with non fiction. If your fictional story is a rehash of common themes in your genre with only a slight differentiation, you may have decent initial sales, but chances are the long term results will not be too good.

Other thoughts?


message 17: by Steven (new)

Steven Dewald (redoak) | 4 comments Hi Maurice, I agree with you that the fiction world is much more critical than non-fiction. Maybe it is because the categories are so broad, we get lost in the numbers. I do believe an author needs to create a theme or author identity so readers begin to follow for whatever focus we choose, be it vampires, game wardens, horses, etc. Every reader has a favorite topic. Our challenge is to find the subgroup of readers who want to read our specialty.


message 18: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Or to become a master of the craft like Stephen King and write every genre.


message 19: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Lol, exactly what I'm going for V.M.


message 20: by Zena (last edited Mar 03, 2015 05:41AM) (new)

Zena Wynn | 22 comments I'll add my experience for my first self-published book. First a little background so you have some perspective. I write romance and have an established readership. I'm most known from my paranormal shifter series which is also my highest seller.

My first self-published book was a contemporary interracial romance that was borderline women's fiction with romantic elements. It also came in at over 300 pages (super plus novel) and carried a super plus price tag ($7.99). This book was a part one, which concluded in the sequel which was release six months later. I advertised through Author Island ($50), using their Cyber Launch package. I also advertised on FB, Manic Readers, and my website.

First months sales on Ganxy (my publishing platform, also new) was 120 copies.

First month sales on Amazon (released a month later) was 490. The second month on Amazon was 194. I also uploaded to Smashwords and All Romance Ebooks.
When book two, the conclusion released, I saw sales of book one also increase. Book two sold better than book one because of it's shorter length and lower price tag ($5.99). I also offered both books together in a bundle at a lower price. Both books continue to sell but sales are in the 1 and 2 digit categories now rather than 3 digits of it's first release.

To give even more perspective, my first book, the paranormal romance released through Loose Id sold 900+ copies the first month. Each time I release another book in the series sales of previous books also spike. A lot of those sales had to do with three things: it was a werewolf shifter romance, an interracial romance, and the reputation of the publisher.


message 21: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Thanks Zena for sharing this info and your insights.

Your story lends itself to the winning philosophy of write, publish, repeat. As you gain readers/fans from publishing additional books in a series, and/or with the same main character, sales and marketing options open up for you as you can package a series, or groups of books together, after initial back list sales slow down.


message 22: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Hi J.M. - thanks for your input. I think that what your experiencing is a common phenomenon. I am relatively new to this game myself, but what I have observed so far is that new authors will often try to equate large numbers of free downloads with reader interest. If we look at it from a reader's point of view, what is more valuable to them? A book they downloaded for free or one they paid for? Which are they more likely to read first?

I totally understand the philosophy that giveaways may generate a few reviews and some sales, but my feeling is that if you allow those first customers that have an interest in your work to have the book for free, there's no one left to buy the book. I think the best time for a giveaway is after a book has been out there for a while and there's a second book coming down the pike soon. It would be interesting to hear examples from other authors in this group that did giveaways in the initial release period that turned into significant sales immediately after.

I might suggest offering your book for reads/reviews in groups here on GR that specialize in your genre. It is what propelled E.L. James and 50 Shades from less than 500 units in sales to the phenomenon that it is today.


message 23: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Well, Maurice, I tried an experiment with my first book, Little Black Stormcloud. I plan on offering it for free on Smashwords until the day I die....but who knows. Still, I found that with a free book even it has the same initial sales that a normal book would (Hundreds of downloads in the first few days) but then it's slowed down to where I only have 7 or 8 downloads a month. Still, it all adds up and now I'm almost at 1000 downloads for it.
Still, if I could go back in time, I'd probably put a price on it for no other reason than that I've had a few people tell me that a free book is shit. I mean, when you go to ask for a review, and the reviewer says "You offer the book free, it must suck."....yeah.
Lesson learned, put a price on it, and offer sales.


message 24: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Thanks for sharing that Riley. I think if you have 2 or 3 books in the cue ready or almost ready to publish and you feel the second and third are much better that the first, then keeping the first one permafree is fine.

In my case, and I'm sure many others in the group, if you offer your first book for free and have nothing to follow up with right away, you my get lots of downloads of that book, but in addition to losing royalties, you may lose your real potential future market as your free book gets piled in with a bunch of other free books and has a slimmer chance of actually being read.

For my debut novel of 150,000+ words my plan is to sell from the get go with the only free copies distributed as pre pub ARCs. Then 6 months after the release, as the sequel is getting ready for pub, the first one will go up for free to promote the second one. I'll let everyone know how that strategy works out for me. LOL

As a veteran of the writing/publishing wars, what would be your guess as to what % of the almost 1000 downloads you've had for that first book, actually got read?
Thanks...


message 25: by Isabelle (last edited Mar 17, 2015 08:26AM) (new)

Isabelle Livingstone (isabellelivingstone) | 8 comments ok let me see if I can be of help. Three things to consider though in this advice.

1. My book is non-fiction (but Ive talked to fiction authors about this process and its worked for them)
2. I researched the categories extensively to find out which categories were small enough that I could reach the top 100 at release at the least and the top ten as hopeful (which did work) IF you dont know how to do this you can send me a message or ask on here and Ill do a separate post.
3. My book was censored by amazon after 6 months which changed my numbers. But it worked for the first 6 months so I hope you will consider it!
Ive hit over 7k in sales.
These factors helped me more than traditional marketing (ads/facebook etc etc)
1. After picking two distinct categories that arent under the same parenting category- and doing other pre-launch work - publish about 2-3 days before official launch date. When launching pick an inflated price - (see why below)
2. 9 hours before launch - change price to 99 cent so that it will show a huge discount and state- LAUNCH SALE so people dont think its just because it wasnt selling.
3.Next will be a free promo so sell as many possible during this time (use a pre-determined list of all outlets you will send your 99 cent book to market through-many 99 cent options) Market it very hard during this time.
4. If you have chosen the appropriate category you should hit the hot new releases list. Once you hit this list-
Switch to free for a pre-determined amount of days - you could choose 3 and advertise as 3- because you were in the hot new release category you should hit top free listing very quickly- if it takes you more than 3 days advertise you are keeping it free for 2 more days. Hit your pre-determined free promo list (again lots of options for free books) ON FIRST DAY so it spikes numbers and you dont run out of days.
5. Before the free promo ends -24 hours before- set the book at your ideal pricing so it will be there when the free promo ends and not at 99 cents.

This will gain you top visibility and is the ultimate way to utilize amazons algorithms. You will gain the most momentum in multiple lists, hot new release, top free, and hopefully top rated! This will also allow for the most reviews if possible.

On the topic of reviews:
IF you are so lucky to have an emailing list- two week before launch email your list and ask if anyone would like to be on the 'review list' they will relieve a free copy of all your new releases in return for an honest review. About a week before launch send everyone that agreed a free copy to read and let them know your time constraint as you want as many reviews to come in when you launch as possible as it will up your visibility.

When you launch send an email and remind them they can now post the review and to put at the top: "I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review"

If you dont have an email list you can do this same thing through facebook group pasts- and maybe there are goodreads groups made for this as well! It is well worth the effort as it is a large part of the amazon algorithm.

As everyone says- your cover, title, description, and author page will all have to be in perfect order for this to work. As youve probably had enough advice about most of those- let me just comment on the description.
It is of utmost importance that your description stands out- here is a site that informs you on how to do html: (that amazon accepts.)
http://bookmarketingtools.com/blog/ho...

-even in fiction it is also critical you take advantage of your SEO- your top SEO words should be used 3-6 times in your description and title and also in the keywords section when you upload your book.

All of these points have many more facets that follow..if anyone has questions please let me know.

My point of this post is that these factors were much more helpful to me that traditional marketing.

Before my book was censored I was in the top ten for my categories if thats helpful. Now you cant even search for my book! I have no idea how customers are finding it but luckily they are.

I realize this was a slightly different angle than you guys were talking about but I found it critical so I hope it helps!

Thanks-


message 26: by Isabelle (new)

Isabelle Livingstone (isabellelivingstone) | 8 comments Isabelle wrote: "ok let me see if I can be of help. Three things to consider though in this advice.

1. My book is non-fiction (but Ive talked to fiction authors about this process and its worked for them)
2. I res..."


I thought after all that I should at least post a list for each of the promos I suggested- the 99 cent one and free one so you can get the visibility you want during that time!
Here are two links- let me know if you can view this as I dont know if you have to be logged in or not. Otherwise I can copy and paste:
http://www.tckpublishing.com/list-of-...

http://www.tckpublishing.com/top-kind...


message 27: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Isabelle wrote: "ok let me see if I can be of help. Three things to consider though in this advice.

1. My book is non-fiction (but Ive talked to fiction authors about this process and its worked for them)
2. I res..."


Awesome! I might be stealing this later to add to our author resources post!


message 28: by Isabelle (new)

Isabelle Livingstone (isabellelivingstone) | 8 comments Thanks! Im glad it has the potential to be helpful! Of course now Im thinking of all the details that could be added - although its endless of course..but maybe I can try and write up a more comprehensive list and Ill send it to you or post wherever will be most helpful.


message 29: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
If you could send it to me, that would be awesome. Harder to lose that way x D


message 30: by Zena (new)

Zena Wynn | 22 comments Today I tried something new (for me). Through my publishing platform, Ganxy, I have the ability to collect email address for a mailing list. I normally use it to announce new releases. This month I created a one-page newsletter using Publisher. The newsletter basically announced the new release, a book I'm working on, and a the sale of a previous release on Amazon. I saved it as a jpg and sent it out via email to the 200+ people on my list. I also uploaded the newsletter to my FB page just as an FYI. The views on my new release increased by 63, and I saw 2 new sales.


message 31: by Mik (new)

Mik Hetu (TheDalaiNapa) | 9 comments Isabelle wrote: "ok let me see if I can be of help. Three things to consider though in this advice.

1. My book is non-fiction (but Ive talked to fiction authors about this process and its worked for them)
2. I res..."


THANKS, Isabelle!


message 32: by J.N. (new)

J.N. Colon (jncolon) | 2 comments Isabelle wrote: "ok let me see if I can be of help. Three things to consider though in this advice.

1. My book is non-fiction (but Ive talked to fiction authors about this process and its worked for them)
2. I res..."


Hi Isabelle. Can you please explain how to research the categories to find the smallest ones? Thanks.


message 33: by Mik (new)

Mik Hetu (TheDalaiNapa) | 9 comments Maurice wrote: "As a newbie author that plans on publishing my debut novel, The Budapest Experiment, in the middle of April..."

Maurice, by your posts I can see that you have done a good deal of intelligent research into self-publishing and marketing. For your mid-April launch, you may want to consider posting on the new and growing www.IndieBookBoosters.CLUB - "If we always helped one another, no one would need luck." – Sophocles


message 34: by Marcie (new)

Marcie | 1 comments Hi, I've created a new feature on my blog, To Read or Not To Read. Its purpose is to spotlight new authors and their books. I plan to run it the first Friday of every month, starting April 3. If anyone is interested in it, you can find the details here: http://www.toreadornottoread.net/p/fo... Thanks!


message 35: by Denise (new)

Denise | 23 comments Hey everyone! I just ran across this today. It's a chance to have your book included as part of a Grand Prize. It's free, so why not?

I'm always looking for new ways to get my book out there so if anyone has any ideas ...


message 36: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Mik wrote: "Maurice wrote: "As a newbie author that plans on publishing my debut novel, The Budapest Experiment, in the middle of April..."

Maurice, by your posts I can see that you have done a good deal of i..."


Hi Mik, Sorry, I just got around to seeing this post today. Been crazy busy platform building and getting my act together for the launch of my novel, which now won't be until early-mid May. Just in time for beach reading:). I checked out the Booster site, seems interesting and certainly cheap enough. Did not see anything there to "join" unless you just enter email and a password at the Login screen, but that looks like it is for existing members? I think there needs to be more direction in this regard. They bill you thru PayPal? Once published I will probably give the site a try.

Thanks for the "intelligent research" comment :)

Maurice


message 37: by Mik (new)

Mik Hetu (TheDalaiNapa) | 9 comments Maurice,
Thanks for taking a look at www.IndieBookBoosters.CLUB. You're right: we should make the joining button more apparent. For now, just click the Membership tab, go to the bottom of the list of Author Member benefits, and click on "Can enroll HERE"
I suggest you join BEFORE your launch so we can help you with it! This month our members Jackie Parry (who has a bestseller) and AJ Sendall are planning to launch, so we're going to start some kind of "Help Launch" notification. We can include you in it, too!
See you on the site!
Mik


message 38: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments OK will do in the next week or so.


message 39: by Tina (new)

Tina Tamman (tina_tamman) Publishing may have changed enormously in recent years but practices and who knows whom (and what) have not. My book (intelligence biography) is self-published and it bothers me a lot that on Amazon.com two companies are offering the paperback at inflated prices. They are not companies I know and there is nothing I can do about them, but I feel they undermine my marketing ideas. Anybody about to buy an electronic version (cheap) will wonder about the content if the paperback is so expensive, even if they are not buying the paperback. It is this kind of small detail that adds to the burden of marketing. I just don't understand the marketing game.
Has anybody else come across anything like that?


message 40: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments We published our first novel in early May 2013. We did no promotion at all. Neither of us are on any social media except GR (and that's only me). We did set up a blog (which got maybe 1 or 2 unique visits a day then, and doesn't do much better now).

Within 30 days, that book sold over 1000 copies (all Kindle editions). While I think I know the (fortuitous) reason, the details of the process that allowed us to benefit from it are obscure to me.

We did make what we believe was one mistake: a free promotion at the wrong time. Although the free promotion resulted hundred of downloads in a day and shot the book to No.1 in our genre (mil-sci-fi) on the Amazon free list, it also took some wind out of our sails when sales were climbing, because being on the free list removes you from the paid lists, and also drops you off the “also bought” lists, which appear to be a primary source of exposure.

Falling down in rank/placement those lists due to the free day -- which we’d scheduled in advance, not considering the impact, since we expected to sell maybe a book a week (if we were lucky) -- is something the book never fully recovered from, and hastened the roll-off in sales.

Since then, we have dabbled in “marketing” -- this has consisted of trying to get our books listed on some website or other. We’ve done no paid advertising, beyond giving Amazon’s new pay-per-click program a whirl. (And we never paid anything there, because we never got a click.) We still have no presence on social media (except here), although we did try a site that tweets your book to its followers. Unsurprisingly, our dabbling yielded no discernable results.

Each launch of a subsequent book has built on the success of the previous books, and (as has been noted) boosts sales for all books significantly. Our main handicap seems to be that we release about one book a year, and readers would prefer maybe twice that.

We do have a counterexample. My co-author released her novel 6 months or so after we released our first book. We did everything the same (which is to say we did essentially nothing). In almost 18 months, that book sold less than 100 copies. (Changing the price had little or no effect.) A month ago, we did tweak some things and so far it has been selling better (a few sales a week vice a few a month). Promoting it with a couple of free days did seem to help (and garnered one review so far). The dynamics in its genre appear to be quite different, and it is plausible that some form of marketing could further improve sales, but we have no intention of pursuing that (at this time).

What we think we have learned from all this is that launching a book successfully depends on myriad factors with interact in complicated ways which we do not understand. Nor do we try to. If I were to state a bottom line it would be this: success is elusive, the reasons behind it are difficult to identify, the degree of control is minimal, price (between $2 and $5), number of reviews, and average rating are all weak factors, and everything is a moving target, making assessment difficult and often dubious.

But I do not pretend to be wise in these matters.


message 41: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Hey Owen, thanks for the insights. In what I have gathered so far, and like you don't pretend to be wise in this area, the success of a book launch is mainly dependent on the content. If I had to assign a ratio to it I would say 80% content/20% marketing/promotion. A great marketing/promotional plan and free giveaways may initially sell a good number of books, but if the content is not there those sales will not be sustainable. I have heard it said that "word of mouth" is the best marketing and I think it's hard to disagree. If the book has the content to impact a good % of your initial readers, they will tell others and the base will build. After that, you have to be ready to publish your next work to keep the momentum building.

POV from someone that is just a few days away from getting an author page...for what it's worth. :)


message 42: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Rob wrote: "Owen wrote: "We published our first novel in early May 2013. We did no promotion at all. Neither of us are on any social media except GR (and that's only me). We did set up a blog (which got maybe ..."

I can only hope that I will be able to celebrate that same milestone 50 days from release...congrats. It does take a while to build a base. They say it takes 3 or more books.

I saw you mention on another post an author you knew that did little marketing/promotion and ended up making $25,000+ in sales so far. This is probably a good example of where the content sold itself and "word of mouth" kicked in.

Maurice


message 43: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Rob wrote: "Wow, and here is me today hoping to sell that one more copy today on the 50th day since release so I would reach the massive milestone of 100 sales in total, what untill your message was something I would have been incredibly happy about ;-] "

Do be happy -- that is no mean feat. I'd feel bad if good forture I am not convinced I deserve reflected on your success.


message 44: by Owen (last edited Apr 19, 2015 06:09PM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Maurice wrote: "Hey Owen, thanks for the insights. In what I have gathered so far, and like you don't pretend to be wise in this area, the success of a book launch is mainly dependent on the content. If I had to a..."

Thank you. I agree that content does matter a great deal. As an example (and many caveats apply here, I hope I may be forgiven for not mentioning them all), I was able to track the relative sales of one of our book vs. another book by an established author of a successful, long-running series from Big 5 publisher in our specific subgenre, with an MC similar to ours (she even shares our MC’s nickname).

Our book and the other book were released within about 3 weeks of each other. Given the publisher’s marketing reach, and the fact this was our second book, the Big 5 book (I’ll call it for brevity’s sake) should have crushed ours if marketing efforts dominated. But it never did -- not even on launch. For the first 3 months at least, our book and the Big 5 book were pretty close to each other in the overall Amazon bestseller ranking.

The indications were that the Big 5 book’s content just wasn’t up to par and this was noticed from the start. But regardless of that, even a sub-par book should outsell our book if it gets vastly more exposure. So this suggested that whatever the publisher was doing, marketing-wise, it was not getting this book massive exposure compared to ours.

To what extent this reflects on the value of said marketing efforts or the willingness of the publisher to promote this particular book in the first, I obviously can’t say. But whatever the publisher did, it had to be greater than what we did. (This author is upper mid-list.) Yet, with all these advantages, it did not have a markedly superior result.

My point here isn’t that the publisher failed to get this book visibility. My point is more that something was getting our book visibility without us doing anything. The visibility our book got was great enough that the value-added of the Big 5 publisher’s efforts was relatively small.

I neglected to make this point my previous post and I probably should have: we are not the only entity trying to sell our books. Our outlet (Amazon -- we are exclusive) also wants to sell our books and has methods for doing so. The example I cite (and I’ve seen others) suggests to me that Amazon’s efforts on our behalf dwarf whatever we could do, so the marginal value of us trying to market our books is quite small, especially compared to the ROE of producing our next book, which is demonstrably the most powerful sales driver. Hence, we conclude that marketing (by us) is not effort well spent.

Having said that, I think there are a couple of things to be considered here. First, I suspect all outlets are not the same. It is worthwhile to examine each outlet to see which books appear in its “bestseller” lists and cross compare them, especially in your genre. If, for example, NYT bestsellers dominate in one outlet, but another outlet has indie authors represented in the analogous list, it is fair to conclude that the first outlet structures things to favor NYT bestsellers, while the second gets indie authors more visibility. This should be a factor in decided where to place your books. (Also consider the market share of the outlets, of course.)

Next, one should consider the acceptability of indie authors in your genre -- it appears to vary widely. In addition, ebooks appear to be more accepted in some genres than others. Indie authors producing ebooks are going to have a very hard time in some genres, period. In other genres, it appears indie authors are coming to dominate. In our sub-genre (based on a few snapshots -- not comprehensive) the majority of the top 20 bestsellers on Amazon are by indie authors. (I’ve seen it as high as 17 of 20.)

So allow me to offer a clarification as to why our books sell as well as they do: 1) indie authors are popular in our subgenre; 2) ebooks are popular in our genre; 3) Amazon’s internal marketing methods give substantial visibility to indie authors.

These are factors are independent of our books’ content -- they define the “field” in which our books compete. That our content is (apparently) deemed acceptable allows us to do so pretty well in this field. In different (ill-suited) field, selling our books would be quite difficult.

So authors should first consider their choice of field to give their work the best chance: indie vs. traditional publishing, ebook vs. print, choice of outlet/marketing strategy. Having done that, I think it comes down to content and luck.

I hope some of this is useful. Excuse my prolixity, especially on points that may have been obvious those more astute than myself.


message 45: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Crane (pamela_crane) | 23 comments Here's a couple tactics that I used, which seemed to bring me fairly consistent sales each month.

1. I wrote a "companion novella" that I give away for free, which ties into my full novel. It basically gives back-story about a shady secondary character in the primary book. Ever since that went free my other book sales took off. Yes, during a year and a half my sales have fluctuated, but at least books are selling each day. No complaints.

2. I am releasing my 2nd full-length book, but I tried something different with this one. I decided to create a "free sample" of the book, which I give away. The book isn't releasing until April 28, but so far I've got triple-digit pre-orders, so I think the free sample really helped. Be warned that it can be tricky creating a free sample, but I figured out a way around the red tape. I explain it in my GR blog, so you can find the step-by-step instructions on there.

Along with those two things, I will randomly advertise on a website here and there, but those only deliver short-term spikes, nothing substantial. My two tactics above seem to drive the most sales for me, because people seem to love a freebie.


message 46: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Pamela wrote: "Here's a couple tactics that I used, which seemed to bring me fairly consistent sales each month.

1. I wrote a "companion novella" that I give away for free, which ties into my full novel. It bas..."


That makes me very happy to hear, because I am (or I would be, if I wasn't posting here) working on exactly that. We decided to try it as "shot in the dark" and it's nice to read some support for the value of that idea.

I will say that we have posted free chapters of upcoming novels in our blog, and that does seem to help. We have to go delete all of them about a month or so before release, which is a bit of pain, but we didn't have any issues over it.

Nice to hear preorders are working for you. We considered that, but heard some disquieting things, and decided to hold off until our next book.


message 47: by D.R. (new)

D.R. Oestreicher (droestreicher) KDP SALE/ROYALTY QUESTION: to writers who publishing Kindle books through KDP.

When does KDP show sales/royalties for Amazon gift books.

I sent someone a gift book (card) through Amazon.com and they redeemed the card/downloaded the book. Still I do not see the this as a sale (yes, sadly my sales are that low atm) on my KDP report.

Why doesn't it get reported. I've read the FAQs and this seems to be something that is supposed to work. Am I waiting for the 7-day return timer to count down?

I would really like to understand the process, and any clarification would be a help.

Thank you.


message 48: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments D.R. wrote: "KDP SALE/ROYALTY QUESTION: to writers who publishing Kindle books through KDP.

When does KDP show sales/royalties for Amazon gift books.

I sent someone a gift book (card) through Amazon.com and t..."


Have you asked Amazon? If you saw a charge for the gift book go through on your credit card, I would think they would also have to credit a sale to you. But I'm afraid I don't know how that works. Amazon may have a special policy about authors giving their books as gifts.

Also, I'm not clear what happens when an author gives a book as a gift to someone and they try to post a review later -- that maybe blocked by Amazon.


message 49: by D.R. (new)

D.R. Oestreicher (droestreicher) From KDP FAQs (my comments in parenthesises)

Customers can gift [all titles available through KDP] on Amazon.com, [except] titles that are not available in the country where the customer lives.

Your royalties will be based on the price and royalty ... at the time the Kindle gift was purchased, but the royalties will NOT accrue until the gift recipient downloads your title. (my emphasis, and the accrual seems to be delayed 24-48 hours).

As with all Kindle sales, the gift recipients will have the option to return the gift within 7 days of downloading.

Gift recipients will receive an email with a link to redeem the gifted title.

Gift sales will appear on your KDP reports once the gift recipient has redeemed the gift and downloaded the book to their device. (again this seems to be delayed 24-48 hours). We do not differentiate between gifts and other sales of your title.

[KDP] do not share the purchaser or gift recipient's contact information.

If a gift recipient does not ... download the gifted title they can choose to exchange the gift for an Amazon gift certificate. In this scenario, a royalty will not be generated. (CAVEAT EMPTOR - that the buyer of the gift)

Can I gift my own book?
Yes, you are welcome to gift your book to as many people as you would like. In fact, this can be useful as you try to raise awareness of your title. However, please be aware that gift recipients have the option of choosing a gift certificate instead. (This makes it sound like reviews of gifted books are allowed.)
.......................................
On the subject of Amazon pulling reviews ... the Internet is full of discussions on this topics ... this is the best post I have found ... http://www.amarketingexpert.com/amazo.... Note the gift CARD section. I suspect that a gift CARD is different than a gift BOOK discussed extensively in KDP FAQs. I am still researching this question. Note that Amazon pulls reviews with an algorithm. I suspect that the number of reviews and the rating is part of this algorthm. I only have 2 reviews ATM, one clear states that the reviewer is an old friend of mine. This is a 4 star review and it has not been pulled.


message 50: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Briginshaw | 74 comments After three novels and a year-and-a-half of trying to get something written about them in the press, my third novel "The Second Shooter" finally got some coverage in the London Free Press. It's included in a list of 15 books under their "Summer Reading" list.

http://www.amazon.com/Second-Shooter-...

Next goal: Get them to write a review.


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