Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Planning book promotions

I'm preparing to embark on the biggest ever promotional push I've run on any of my books.

My Tomorrow Your Yesterday is going on to Kindle Countdown Deal for the second time on June 15th. The first time was back in the spring, soon after launch when it was a lot less established than it is now. Even so, I was very pleased with the results. Despite very little promotion on my part, sales soared during the week it was reduced, and have continued at a very nice level ever since.

This time, I've decided to go in all guns blazing and invest some serious money in the promotion to get the word out there. This is not as straightforward as it sounds. It is very easy to spend a lot of money on book promotion and not get results - there are literally hundreds of advertising options out there which can be quite daunting for an inexperienced author. How can we make sure we are investing our money wisely? Something that might only cost $5 might not seem much of a risk but is it really worth spending that on someone who will "tweet your book to my 25,000 followers". I would suggest not. I would ask yourself this question. How many of the endless tweets in your news feed do you click on? Do you even read them?

I feel that it is far better to investigate some of the more established sites out there who are dedicated to books and do more than just share on social media. Those that have an established mailing list are probably the best option - you know they are promoting your book to people who have specifically signed up to be informed of book deals. How do we know which ones are good, though?

The only sure way to measure their effectiveness is to try them out. However, by doing a lot of homework first we can certainly help ourselves. I have spent hours and hours every day for the past month reading up every single scrap of information I can on these sites to try and identify the good, the bad and the ugly. This means not only looking at the sites, but also going to many forums and other author groups to find out what people who have used these services offer. Having done all of this, I came up with a plan of action, based on a budget of around $250. That might sound a lot, and it probably is more than many reading this would want to invest in a promotion,but my view is that you have to speculate to accumulate. This is what I did when I set up my own business 7 years ago - for the first year, I ploughed every penny back into the business, not only advertising but also investing in the best possible equipment.

I've followed the same principle with my books - the money from my early sales all went on covers and proofreading for the next one. It's certainly paying dividends. Hence my decision to put so much money into this promotion. I've actually ended up spending significantly less than $250 across 7 different sites - roughly $25 per site.. Hopefully, by the end of all this I'll have some pretty good ideas of which were the most effective. I do realise that many of you reading this will not want to spend anything like this amount on a promotion. However, should you have a budget of say, $25,  for your promo, hopefully my experience will give you some help with your decision as to where to invest it.

Initially, after I'd done all my research, it was clear that I had two options and I ended up with the option 2) below.

1) Spend the entire budget on Bookbub.
2) Spread the budget among lots of other sites.

Bookbub are hugely more expensive than the other sites, and with good reason. They are by far the biggest and generate thousands of sales. Authors spend several hundred dollars on ads with them, but are more or less guaranteed a huge return on investment. Being featured by Bookbub is pretty much the equivalent of being recommended by Richard and Judy - it will send a book viral.

To give an example, last week they sent me a recommended book in my daily email that was langusishing at a rank below 1 million on This would suggest that it had not sold a single copy for many months. By the following day, it was ranked around #210, meaning it must have sold many thousands of copies. Bookbub truly is the holy grail of book marketing. Unfortunately it is very difficult to get into, and I don't know many people that have. They can only take a fraction of the books submitted to them and I have been turned down several times, including this time. If they had taken me, an ad would have cost me at least the $250, possibly more. Expecting that it was likely I'd be turned down I decided not to waste the time waiting for the inevitable rejection and got on with researching other sites. That's not pessimism, it's realism, and I had no intention of wasting that week.

I concluded that there are a lot of very good sites out there which charge a lot less than Bookbub do. Of course, the expected uplifts are not as great, but for the money spent, I have high hopes for those that I have selected as partners for this promotion. Most of these sites do also have selection criteria - they are looking for attractive, well formatted and error-free books, and a minimum number of reviews - usually around 10. I'm pleased to say that all 7 of those I applied to have agreed to feature me. Total invested? A very reasonable $174 (£117). So who are the sites I am hoping are going to be my "Magnificent 7"? All will be revealed tomorrow.

A quick update before I go on the 1,000 sales in June project. Yesterday I had 16 taking me to a total of 41 - the on target figure is 66, so I'm 25 behind, but remain confident. Tuesday, on average, is my slowest day, so 16 is a perfectly reasonable tally. UK sales rank has gone back up to #8,284, but in the US, I've dropped down to #25,291.

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

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