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KittenEV
03-14-2019, 11:31 AM
Hi guys. I was wondering what the best way to market a self published book would be. I've tried word of mouth, started a Facebook group, got a Twitter, and done a few Facebook ads. But nothing has really gotten much return if any. With the Facebook ads I ended up paying more than I got back.

How do you all market your books? I know that having more books is one way and I'm currently working on the sequel to the one I have out but it's slow goings.

Polenth
03-15-2019, 01:40 AM
For things that are free, nothing beats Twitter for me. I can track most sales to Twitter (especially if someone else says something about the book, but to get that, they have to know it exists... and that usually starts because I said something on Twitter). However, I don't mean you can start an account, throw up some tweets, and magic happens. You're following 41 people and have 29 tweets. That's not going to cut the mustard.

For things that are paid, Amazon Advertising (previously AMS) was the best. The returns on clicks and purchases was decent for that, which isn't surprising, as it's advertising to people who are already on the site looking to buy books.

Netgalley and Bookbub are things I wouldn't mind trying, but I don't have the funds for that.

KBooks
03-15-2019, 01:59 AM
I'm new to Twitter too! And followed you. I would keep a Tweet for your book pinned at the top of your feed. Sometimes people will like or retweet it. Also, I have found tags like #amwriting and #writingcommunity have lots of other writers working on their books for cool conversations and meeting people.

indianroads
03-16-2019, 12:38 AM
If you published on Amazon, you can advertise there. Beyond that, try building a website with some short stories with links to purchase your books. A separate Facebook page for your author stuff (for me, Facebooks don't yield much). I have a few books down at a local store that sells local art and crafts... haven't gotten much from that though.

I'm an old guy, and so don't know much about Twit or Linked in, so I can't help you there.

lorna_w
03-22-2019, 05:31 AM
Write more books. Write books in series. Once you have five or six books out is the time to think about marketing the most likely one to attract fans. Until then, it's very likely to be a waste of your money, and messing about on social media will absolutely be a waste of the limited time you have to write more books.

To answer your question, I advertise seldom and spend little time, money, or effort on it. I've tried this form and that, but now I advertise only at the appropriate newsletter sites a couple times per year, for they are the only way I can get a trackable, consistent ROI. I don't do social media (I tried, but it's not for me), and my sales don't suffer for the lack. I have a website and a mailing list which lists my email address so fans can write me directly via it, and I always answer back. My time is, I know, still best spent writing more books. Each new release means more chances to find new fans, and they'll often buy their way through all of my growing backlist. Steady backlist sales is how I make a living. Writing more books means if one fails, I can avoid feeling much regret or angst and go forward and immediately write the next. (Earlier in my career it meant I was also getting better at my craft, but I suspect after this many books, I'm about as good as I'm likely to get.)

You're in a great, active, potentially high-paying sub-genre with a lot of eyes on new releases. That's terrific news. Write series, write as fast as you can put out a decent book, study the self-publishers at the top of the list in your categories, make sure your covers look like those best sellers' covers, and write more books.

Sorry to be a broken record here, but it is the main "secret to success." It's really no secret. Just a whole lot of work. People who earn $100,000+/year at this have out 30+ books on average. A significant number of them do not advertise at all. Some of them are not on social media at all. Some of them do not hang out with other writers online at all.

Marketing before you have a body of work to market is putting the cart before the horse. It's akin to having a great idea for a single new coffee drink and deciding you're ready to open a storefront opposite your local Starbucks--it's going to take more than one menu item, I'm afraid, to compete for customers. So write more books.

Laer Carroll
03-22-2019, 06:05 AM
Lorna is absolutely right. All the promotional stuff we are advised to do has almost no effect on our sales. Sad but true.

Of course, there are lots of "experts" who try to tell us otherwise - especially if we pay them somehow, such as getting their "free" booklets (for the low, low cost of giving them our email or Facebook acct so we can get more "free" stuff).

The only thing that works reliably is, as Lorna says, WRITE MORE BOOKS. It may not work, but you have no better way to spend your time.

I'm a case in point. Book #7 was no different from all my previous books. Same themes, kinds of characters, and actions. I expected it to follow the same pattern: make a few hundred bucks each year, year in and out.

Then the third week of being online at Amazon sales went up. Then up. Then up. By the end of the month I was selling 50-60 books a day. This kept up for three months then sales slowly tailed off to the usual 3-4 books a day.

I got questions about a sequel almost immediately. They came from my Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon accounts. Luckily the character who'd almost forced me to write her story had kept after me to tell more of it. So when the original book bottomed out I had it ready..

I put it out and immediately was selling 20-30 books a day, then 40-50. Sales have now leveled off and will slowly tail off - IF it follows the usual pattern. It might not. Sales might quickly plummet.

One thing immediately surprised me. The original book began selling well again, to the tune of two for every three of the sequel. Apparently some who started book 2 decided they wanted to know what came before. So the market had NOT reached saturation for book 1.

And my main character STILL insists I tell more of her tale. I'm well into book 3 - and have a related book ready to go when people get tired of reading about my "Space Orphan." And have a contemporary romance that keeps sputtering along, a genre I love but have always found much harder to write than I would have guessed.

So - WRITE MORE BOOKS. You will anyway. Face it. You're stuck. You're a born writer, though you may hate the thought. Join the club of the rest of us sufferers from this affliction.

Polenth
03-24-2019, 02:48 AM
Though having a lot of books helps sales, it's not viable for slow writers to have a huge backlist before starting any promotions. I wouldn't still be here if I'd done that (and I'm still a long way off having a real backlist, because I really am that slow). I wouldn't write more books if I didn't do things like social media. I'd just sell less of the books I have.

I've also found that social media has benefits outside of direct sales. The direction of my last release was based on what people were discussing as things they wanted to see and didn't see very much. The result is higher sales of that book. This is also important for slow writers, because a new project can take several years, so it's worth having some idea of whether it's going to sell.

M. H. Lee
03-24-2019, 05:37 PM
In theory the advice to wait until you have a lot of books out is good advice. The more books you have for readers to go to when they find you, the more profitable that advertising will be for you and the more likely readers are to remember you and come back for more the next time you release.

But the problem I have with that advice (and it crops up often to wait until you have at least three books out to advertise) is that you might as well not publish if you're not going to advertise. Because as a brand new writer publishing today (this was not necessarily true pre-2015 or so and is not necessarily true in hot markets today but is for most new authors), if you publish with no advertising your sales will be very close to zero. You may get a boost from family and friends and that may lead others to your books, but what is more likely to happen is crickets. And, at least on Amazon, you will be punished for that. A book that has only twenty sales in its first six months is a book with a very poor ranking. And reviving that ranking later through advertising when you have more books out is incredibly challenging to do. It will take weeks if not months to get and hold a good ranking with that kind if history behind a book. Far better to have a steady baseline of sales on that first book if you can get it, even if you don't make a lot of money doing so.

Is it the ideal model? No. But most of us can't operate under the ideal model, so we work with what we have.

For the OP, I would try AMS ads if you haven't already. Those are where I personally have seen the most success. (Including on standalones.) You can also do 99 cent promos or free runs using list-based sites like Freebooksy/Bargainbooksy, ENT, or Robin Reads but those types of promos are less effective today than they used to be and authors often make their profit on readthrough to other books in the series.

lorna_w
03-24-2019, 06:56 PM
In theory the advice to wait until you have a lot of books out is good advice. The more books you have for readers to go to when they find you, the more profitable that advertising will be for you and the more likely readers are to remember you and come back for more the next time you release.

But the problem I have with that advice ...

I'm not disagreeing with your point that single books just sit there without advertising. The problem is, they usually just sit there WITH advertising, and therefore advertising is a waste of time and money. The difference between selling zero of a first book in a month and three of a book in a month may be psychologically significant, but it isn't significant in any other way. It's still not making money. If you want to be a professional writer, the point is to make money doing something you enjoy doing, so that you can have the time to do more of it.

Writing fiction has never ever been a quick road to wealth, and self-publishing didn't change that. (If in any sense it did change it, it was for a heartbeat in the year 2011, and the field is though only eight years removed from then, also about two generations removed from then.) Waiting to advertise until it's a logical time to advertise also requires patience.

You have X free hours to write, market, run social media, research your books, revise, proofread, find cover artists, talk with other writers online, fill out necessary forms, and pay taxes. As a full-time writer, I have 40 hours to do all that, but I still make sure 30 of those hours are spent creating new product. Some of the other stuff is unavoidable. For that which is not avoidable, a smart businessperson prioritizes her time.

Running a successful business is largely about awareness of ROI. Return on investment. This is why I hate AMS. As you cannot truly connect a sale to an AMS ad, I avoid them, for I cannot track my ROI. Your time is also a commodity, a resource for your business. I argue it is THE resource for a writer's business, and you want to maximize your return on your hours. Spending ten hours a week on a writer's forum is, for instance, a poor use of that precious resource. What's the monetary return on that? Maybe one sale from an interested party you helped, recurring once a year? Poor return. (You're as likely to get a one-star review from someone you ticked off at a forum or on social media.) If you can wangle your way into a group of people earning far more than you do and mostly lurk and learn? Better use of your time. Advertising is a difficult topic to learn in self-publishing, and no one system works for anyone, and the advertising landscape is always shifting, so it's not as if you can learn it once and you're done spending time on it. Learning keywording alone is the study of many dozens of hours. Without developing expertise on that, or joining the best self-published writers' groups you can where the information is discussed by top earners in your genre, you're stabbing in the dark and hoping PPC ads work.

So let's say you have a full-time day job, or full-time responsibilities at home as a caretaker. Your writing hours are limited, maybe to 500 hours per year. Should you spend that all on learning the business end of things, like advertising, after you have one book done? Or should you hang out with other writers and commiserate? Or should you perhaps write another novel in those hours?

Laer's experience is the most common sort of success story and is close to mine. I have a series that has grossed half a million dollars and I've pocketed just under half of that, and very little of that was because of advertising, which I only started bothering with years after it was published and ranked on its own. There is no way -- no way -- that any effort I can make in advertising returns nearly $300/hour, the way that writing that series did. That's the kind of return on investment I'd like to replicate, and the only way to replicate it is to keep writing new books.

Was it my first book I wrote? No. Was the series the first thing I self-published? No. Did I know it would be a hit? No. I wrote books, I put the trunk novels up fairly rapidly, and I had increasing income that was nothing get excited about (but that made me happy nonetheless, for it was better than zero), and I kept working my butt off, writing, writing, writing.

Everything I learned about advertising and the business, I absorbed while I was writing more books, and after my 3K words were done for the day.

So yes, to your point "you may as well not publish (books written slowly)," you certainly could be patient and hold off until you had three and then publish them quickly, one a month with an advertising push. Or you could put them up one by one as they're done, as Laer and I did, forget about their performance, move on to writing the next, and stick your head up around book five or six and say "okay, I have some product to market now, so now's the sensible time to learn about marketing, and I'll dedicate five hours a week to learning how, with an eye toward spending money in about four months after I've accumulated this knowledge." You could cultivate patience and not just jump on every random stranger's advice, but actually study the matter and figure out what the winners in your subgenre are doing to promote and mimic what you can afford.

That's a more sensible business model than throwing a bunch of time and money at promoting one book and praying that something sticks. Most writers are more creative than business-savvy, but these are skills that can be nurtured. Personally, I hate the business bits, but I've learned them despite my dislike for the topic, and therefore suspect this means anyone smart enough to complete a novel also can.

Laer Carroll
03-27-2019, 01:38 AM
You might be wasting your breath, Lorna. New writers complete a first book and desperately desire it to be a hit. ADVERTISE! I'll do that and I'll be J. K. Rowling! Sensible words can't make an impression on that desire.

Writing is a tough, tough business. Only the tough will last. Or those who MUST write, difficulties be damned.

ADDED: If you do advertise, first go to this AW forum. Lots of wise advice.

https://absolutewrite.com/forums/for...eas-and-Advice (https://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?48-Book-Promotion-Ideas-and-Advice)