In our third and final installment of marketing tips by Author Mary Hamilton she offers sage advice on making the best use of blogs, discusses when to give books away, and ideas for utilizing paid advertising. I hope you’ve found her insights as helpful as I have. I’d love to hear your most creative ideas for how to sell the books you write. Share your ideas at HowWiseThen.com and I’ll share them with other aspiring, selling authors. Kathryn Haueisen
Sell What You Publish – Part Three
By Author Mary Hamilton
Blog Your Way to Book Sales
Another relatively inexpensive means of promoting your writing is to have a blog on your website. This can be enormously in getting potential readers to discover you, because the more you post, the better your ranking in Google’s search engine. However, blogging doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people. Plus, the sheer abundance of blogs makes it hard to stand out. Choosing a theme or a focus for your blog makes coming up with post ideas easier. Personally, I’ve tried blogging and found it to be a ravenous beast, requiring more time and attention than I care to give. For this reason, I rely on other bloggers by contributing posts to their blog.
If this appeals to you, start by building relationships with established bloggers, especially those that review or publicize books like yours. Read their blogs regularly to get a feel for the type of posts they publish, and leave comments. When you feel comfortable doing so, reach out to the host and ask if they have any openings you could fill. If you have a book published, you may offer a free copy to a lucky reader who leaves a comment. Even if you have your own blog, this gets your name in front of other potential readers. And it costs you nothing, except maybe the price of a book.
Give Away Books to Sell Them
Are giveaways effective? Yes, if your goal is to introduce yourself to readers. But if your goal is to sell more books, the answer is no. Giveaways work best if you have more than one book published. If a reader likes the free book, hopefully he or she will look for your other books and buy them. My first books were aimed at young teens and I conducted several Goodreads giveaways, but never saw any direct sales or reviews from the giveaways. More recently, I ran a promotion on KOBO where they promoted the first book of the series as free for one week. The promotion cost $5.00. So far, I’ve collected two purchases of each of my other two books in the series, which made me a profit of .31¢ I’ve begun using giveaways only when I guest post on someone’s blog, because it encourages more interaction with readers. Otherwise, I discount my books rather than offering them free. That way I at least make a few cents profit on every book sold.
Spent Money to Make Money
At some point, you will have saturated most of the free options. Then it’s time to consider purchased ads. Amazon and most of the social media sites offer paid advertising. Facebook has relatively inexpensive ads in the form of boosting one of your posts on your author page. The wisest use of the boosted ad is to pair it with a limited-time price reduction. Asking your friends to share the post will get it in front of even more viewers and potential readers. When you set up your boost, narrow your target audience as much as possible by gender, age, interests and the other categories listed. You don’t want to waste those advertising dollars on someone who’s not likely to be interested in your book, so be as specific as you can with the choices available.
Amazon offers three forms of paid advertising. To save time and space, I recommend Bryan Cohen’s informative webinars on this subject. (http://bryancohen.com ) He describes the three types of ads—sponsored, product display product and product display interest and how they work. I downloaded the webinar and listened several times to clearly understand what he was talking about. So far, I’ve found these ads to be mildly successful. The advantage is getting your book in front of thousands of potential customers (this is called impressions) but you only pay for the times someone clicks on the ad to learn more about your book. Don’t be put off by the amount he spends, which is quite a bit more than a beginning author can afford. It doesn’t have to be that expensive, but it is something you’ll need to study and keep track of in order to be successful.
Keep On Keeping On
I hope this helps you understand a little more about marketing. It’s intimidating to the average writer, but I’ve recently discovered it’s not unconquerable. It is something you can learn by studying and playing with and experimenting. Be willing to take the baby steps, and a year or two from now, you’ll look back and realize you’re almost running.
Do you have a success story to share with other authors new to marketing? Share them at HowWiseThen.com.