Thursday, November 29, 2012

BOOK PROMOTION MYTHS DEBUNKED – for self-published authors

There is so much written about the importance of promotion, publicity and marketing with a new book that new authors often get caught up in it and forget that they are writers.
Here are my conclusions following the recent release of my latest novel.

WHAT I DIDN’T DO.
I did no pre-publication promotion. I did not send out media releases or media packages. I did not have a book launch. I did not do any subsequent book signings. I did not ask friends to buy my book. I have done no marketing.
Currently, I have NIL Reviews or Stars and only 1 ‘like’ registered on the Amazon book page – yet, after less than 2 weeks, my e-book is selling 6-10 copies a day on Amazon and, yesterday reached No 9 on Amazon’s eBook Fiction>Sea Stories list.
So why is my new book selling? And in a genre which is difficult to compete in (particularly for a female writer)?

WHAT I DID DO.
I finished my final edits to my manuscript on Thursday morning, 15th November (two weeks ago today). On the same afternoon, I published it as a paperback with LULU.com.
I ordered a single copy for myself and that night sat at home, opened a bottle of champagne and drank half (on my own) after toasting my achievement.
The same evening I sent the MSS to Custom-Book-Tique to be formatted for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Three days later – the book was published as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle website.
I created a page on Facebook dedicated to this new novel, I posted my release onto Facebook (twice) and on my blog. Then I sat back and within days was amazed.

The e-Book started to attract orders – 1,2,4,6 a day (90 books so far – not huge, but not bad in 2 weeks!
Remember – No pre-promotion. No who-ha. No costly mailings to libraries or news media. No printed promotional postcards or flyers. NO phone calls. (Yes, I have done it all in the past).
I did send out 6 review copies of the paperback to appropriate places, but so far have had no replies.

So, WHAT IS THE ANSWER? Why are people buying my book?
Firstly, and most importantly – sales are the result of Amazon’s unsolicited promotional tactic of adding the few short words on the book's page, namely “…Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
…..”
I understand this statement has a viral effect and I believe that sales grow exponentially from it.
Secondly, that this book was a sequel to an earlier book (also self-published as an e-book).
Other facts which are important but are not as significant here:
This is my sixth published novel, I am told I write well, and the book was professionally formatted (the sort of thing potential readers ‘look inside’ for when purchasing from Amazon).
In the past, I have spent hours on promotion and marketing on previous books and achieved very, very little. I have spent oodles of money on promotional material – in fact, in some cases, more than I ever received in Royalties from those early books from the traditional publisher.

MY ADIVCE:
Finish your novel – and if you are confident your work is polished and saleable, self-publish in paper and e-book.
Then ignore all the advice you get about promotion and marketing and START WRITING YOUR NEXT NOVEL.
The novel referred to here is THE TAINTED PRIZE by M.C. Muir

9 comments:

frances burke said...

Sound advice, Marg. You're in good company with people like KK Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith who say virtually the same thing about publicising.

Margaret Muir said...

Thank you for leaving a comment, Frances. I have to admit that I tend to revolve in my own little world, so I have not read the observations by Rusch and Smith, but it does not surprise me. In the past I have wasted so much time, effort, and physical and mental energy on Promo, Publicity and Marketing, I could have probably written another couple of books.
Marg

Darlene Williams said...

Maybe I've been overthinking promo for when I publish, the prospect of which is rather daunting if you consider all the different social media avenues commonly used.

Something to think about. Thanks Margaret.

annabelfrage said...

How encouraging!
And what a relief to be able to relax a bit re the promo, an entirely unfamiliar world for me. And you're right, at times I sit by my computer to WRITE and four hours there's nary a new sentence added to the WIP, but boy have I posted and commented, and mailed and ... AGH!

Anna

Deborah Swift said...

Hi Margaret I agree,having more books to your name is a great strategy - but - no promotion works best when your books are a)priced very cheaply and b) for a more niche market of, for example, maritime readers as your book is. For general women's fiction or other sorts of fiction where there are thousands of competing titles released each month that strategy might not be quite so successful, particularly if you want to price your book higher or are tied to a publisher. I think I'll go with the belt and braces approach of marketing judiciously and writing a lot!

Linda Banche said...

Margaret, my sentiments exactly. I did the same as you--I started with promo, promo, promo because that's all I heard people talk about. And my books didn't sell. I thought there was something wrong with me, so I promoed more. Still not increase in sales. So, I promoed more. Nothing. I was so tired from all the promo I couldn't write.

Finally, I decided to cut down on the promo. My sales, never very good, didn't do much of anything, but then, I wasn't wasting time on promo.

I decided to self-pub something. I wrote a 13,000 word novellette which I self-pubbed on October. So far, in a month and half, that little novellette has sold more copies than three of the five novellas I have out there. I have done some promo, but not much.

I was ready to give up. Too much energy spent on promo and nothing to show for it. I'm certainly not getting rich, but now I have some hope. So, I'm going to make that novelette book 1 in a series. I'm working on book 2 now.

Wishing you tons of success.

Margaret Muir said...

Thank you all for your comments. We all work differently and have different expectations and at certain times are more motivated and determined than others.
As I mentioned, I have tried a swathe of promotional and marketing tactics - both with and without the support of a publisher behind me. But with self-published e-books, I'm happy to sit back and let the Amazon machine do the promotion on my behalf.
Regards MM

Beth Camp said...

I really appreciated finding this thread of comments on promotion and marketing as I agree this topic is one that makes writers tear their hair out! What is best? What should I do? The strategies seem endless (and time-consuming). I experimented with a small book of short stories (have sold more personally than online) to learn e-pubbing, and am getting ready to unleash the first of three historical novels. Still takes courage. I'd rather be writing. Comments here suggest we should all be writing.

Margaret Muir said...

Beth,
thank you for leaving a comment and good luck with your forthcoming books.