Chat Soup: what's up with ebook promo

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veinglory

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So, this opened another issue. Time for you to give me a reality check. Am I too cynical?

A lot of epubs seem to push some approaches I am less convinced about. Yes, I promote and market. But if I wanted to pay for services that sell my book I would have self-published.

* Chats. Almost everyone else there is an author too. Yes, authors are reader too, but sue me, I was aiming for a slightly larger demographic.

* Author subsidized adverts. At least one editor I queried replied--all ads are good ads. In my book, ads that don't garner sales are bad ads. Also, if the ads are garnering sales, shouldn't the publisher pay for them?

* Review sites. As a reader I likes sites with honest reviews. But publishers seem to send a lot of copies to 'puff' review sites that love everything. That's nice for quotes for your web site but are these places read by people other than authors? A few are, most don't seem to be. Shouldn't they be able to report visitor numbers? There are now so many review sites I sincerely think some are mainly a source of free books for the reviewers and actually reducing sales?

Shouldn't publishers be able to tell us what promotional activties work? At least they should track referers and be able to give numbers for top review sites, ad placements etc. In theory they should be able to even track actual sales by referer.
 
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JanDarby

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I'm a huge skeptic when it comes to all this individual promotional activity. Maybe I'm just lazy, and I'm justifying my approach, but, really, there's so much noise, and I don't see it having any effect. It's perhaps more of a "keeping up with the Joneses" thing, where Author A does an ad, so Author B feels she needs to do an ad and send to review sites, and so on.

Now, my sales aren't stellar, but they're pretty much in line with average sales for a novella that's not in one of the popular sub-genres of erotica, and is from a first-time author. I had -- count 'em -- one review (a nice one, but from a site I'd never heard of before I googled my name and found the review). No ads. No yahoogroup. No website even. Definitely no bookmarks, postcards, etc. And chats? I haven't participated in any, and only experienced one by a group of authors I do like, and it was AWFUL. People stepping all over each other, the well-prepared ones having their little speeches all ready to cut and paste, but coming across as overly rehearsed, and the majority of the time spent on the chat version of "can you hear me now?" Ugh. And virtually no readers participating, as far as I could tell. Even blogging, beyond group blogs, strike me as overly time-consuming, with little return on investment.

It's all just noise, with no individual voice being heard through the cacophony. Write a good book that will make readers want another one by you. Then write another. And another. Ultimately, that's what will increase sales. Or at least, that's my working theory.

JD
 

veinglory

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I would love to know if I am sending good traffic direct to them. Of traffic I send to my own site it seems like forum signature lines and blogging is not a complete waste of time. Of course maybe 1/100 of those uniques becomes a sale, who knows?

There is potential for ebook slling to be a finely honed machine, as the sales are potentially fully trackable!
 

veinglory

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p.s. I seriously considered setting up a blog for reviewing book review websites--but I already have EREC and POD People--I would just be too much. But FYI readers at places like RT who would do the reviews in an unbiassed reader-POV manner. IMHO many of these sites have reviews with heavy typos, spoilers and other weird stuff.
 

LilaDubois

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I'll admit that I've falllen victim to the panic attacks when I see what other authors are doing that I am not. I've been told, repeatedly, that reviews do not boost sales, even good reviews from the big reviewers. Reader's don't trust reviewers.

I really think that a single author promoting themself is not as effective, I think it is e-publisher name recognition that is the critical issue.
 

veinglory

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I do buy books based on reviews, but mainly from the Sunday papers. I just worry when I see all theeager new writers debating how many 1000 postcards to print and how to do a book signing for an ebook (really).
 

JanDarby

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I just worry when I see all theeager new writers debating how many 1000 postcards to print and how to do a book signing for an ebook (really).

Me too. And I went through the same sort of panic Lila mentioned when Liquid Silver first picked me up. I saw so many people doing all sorts of promotion that struck me as pointless, but what did I know? And I was hyperventilating, and it was kinda' ruining the fun of a first book, until I settled down and just enjoyed the fun stuff -- my first beautiful cover and my review and the occasional email from a reader who enjoyed the story.

JD
 

veinglory

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I couldn't say much about print books. I have my first story in a print anthology coming out, well, actually today. I think that with print it pays to get off the internet and out there doing radio interviews, sending press releases and --of course--prompting local stores to stock it.
 
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Jackie Coupe

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I can tell you what doesnt work for me:

running your own forum
running your own webspace
giving free reads
prizes
reviews
traffic swap sites
ebook publishing

People get suspicious I think of your intentions.

Someone said to me that the only real way to make money is to get your stuff in print. Easier said than done if some of the stuff you write doesn't easily fit into a category.
That being said, I have sold more copies of printed books than my ebook when really, I feel I pushed the ebook more at the request of the publisher.
 

MargueriteMing

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I just said it in another thread but I'll say it here too, it seems a beter place for it.

A writer's job is to write. Our job isn't to do market surveys. It isn't to do promotion. Our job is to write. When one book is done, send it out and start the next.

The publishing company belongs to the publisher. It's their job to print, distribute, and promote books. This is what they are being paid to do. When they ask authors to take time away from doing their job (writing) in order to do the publisher's job (selling) then there is a major problem--the publisher isn't investing enough of their proceeds in doing promotion.
 

veinglory

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There is money in some ebook niches with certain publishers. But if you are writing work suitable for a medium to large print house that is probably a better option.
 

Stacia Kane

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I can tell you what doesnt work for me:

running your own forum
running your own webspace
giving free reads
prizes
reviews
traffic swap sites
ebook publishing

People get suspicious I think of your intentions.

Someone said to me that the only real way to make money is to get your stuff in print. Easier said than done if some of the stuff you write doesn't easily fit into a category.
That being said, I have sold more copies of printed books than my ebook when really, I feel I pushed the ebook more at the request of the publisher.

Huh, I know what you mean. I'm so over contests. I don't like giving my books away for free, especially not since A) Most people who enter those contests wait to buy the book until they know they didn't win, and B) If they lose, they don't buy the book anyway. For my last releases I did a contest where to enter, all you had to do was register with my forum and post something. Quite a few people registered, only three actually posted. Yippee.

I really do think the only thing that really matters is which publisher you're with. I personally hate seeing a lot of promo on loops, it turns me off of whichever author's doing it. (I especially hate when authors do promo during other authors' chats, but that's another tale). People are either going to go to your publisher's site or not. Promo might help, but they either will or won't, really.

JMO.
 

veinglory

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It's reassuring, if somewhat depressing, to see I am not the only one getting this impression.
 

veinglory

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We may be swinging too far in the 'don't bother' direction though. Check out the new thread...
 

JulesJones

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Me, I think the best promo is
a) being published with a publisher the readers respect
b) writing the next book.

I spend very little money on promo (with one exception). At heart I'm an sf writer, even if I'm published by a romance house, and I came out of sf culture -- and I was exposed to Yog's Law the very first time I went looking for some advice on how to format a fiction manuscript for submission. I'm willing to spend money on promo, but I think first about whether it's going to generate enough extra sales to cover the cost. And my view is that in my little corner of publishing, it mostly doesn't.

Run the numbers. I can get a minimum order of 500 bookmarks for about $45 including shipping. (If I was going to do it at all, I'd get more than that, because it's only another $10 to add another 500 bookmarks, but I'm looking at the absolute minimum cost.) I'm going to have to sell an extra 32 copies of my best-selling book just to cover the cost before I start seeing a profit. Am I likely to? Well, no, probably not, not in epublishing. It's not quite that simple, because some of those new readers will go on to buy more books, and with the current size of my backlist it might be useful to promote the newest book to new readers. But it's very easy to spend 20 copies here and 30 copies there on advertising for the book, it adds up, and at the end of the day you don't see the return on investment.

A website is a useful place to park excerpts (which in my experience do help sales), and I would advise someone to buy the domain name even if they don't want a website, just to stop other people buying it. It doesn't have to be fancy. I have a seriously no-frills website -- it doesn't have the pretty pictures and layouts you see on some sites, but that's because it's deliberately designed to be accessible.

I do contests, and I mostly give away downloads. I have a specific reason for this -- I write m/m, and when I started m/m was still a novelty. There were readers who weren't willing to spend money on a type of romance they weren't sure they'd enjoy, but who were happy to read one they got free, to see if they liked it. I did pick up a few fans that way who went on to buy more books. I think that's less of an issue now, but I'm still seeing new names each time I run a contest in a new venue.

I also do signed prints of the cover art. I do very few of those (5 to 10 per title), and they're not really promo in the usual sense. They're paying forward. I am a squeeing fangirl myself, and I have done the standing in line to get an autographed copy of the book or play programme. I know how much a personally signed book can mean to a fan. But it's a bit difficult to sign ebooks... A lot of those prints go to people who have already bought several of my books.

As Veinglory can confirm :), I blog regularly, but it's mostly conversation with friends and other writers (two highly overlapping groups). There are some readers who hang out on my blog, but as far as I can tell the ones who stick around do so because they happen to be interested in what I'm talking about anyway -- it's certainly not being written as "enticement to readers".

Promo on Yahoogroups -- it can help, but if you're obviously just doing it as advertising it turns people off, and it's hard work. If you don't enjoy it in its own right, I'd really have to ask whether it's worth the effort. It's time you could have been spending writing the next book. It so happens that I *do* enjoy spending a day hanging out on-line, but only as a group -- when it's just me, I can feel like I'm talking to a blank wall. If there are enough authors there that we can talk to each other, it can be a lot of fun and is more likely to get some reader response anyway.

Chatrooms -- mostly other authors, mostly the same old names every time, and mostly not very many of them. And hard on the RSI. I'd say pointless unless it's something you actively enjoy for its own sake anyway.
 

Maryn

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Uh, what's "the RSI"?

Maryn, trainable
 

Lee_OC

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I'm a huge skeptic when it comes to all this individual promotional activity. Maybe I'm just lazy, and I'm justifying my approach, but, really, there's so much noise, and I don't see it having any effect. It's perhaps more of a "keeping up with the Joneses" thing, where Author A does an ad, so Author B feels she needs to do an ad and send to review sites, and so on.

Whew...i'm not the only one who feels this way.

During release week, I posted on my blog, ran a small contest, and posted on myspace. Other than that, I haven't done too much more. With my very first ebook release, I spent a lot of time on yahoo groups and solicited tons of reviews. Not sure if that boosted my sales at all.

This time around, I'll do what I can and concentrate on writing the next books.
 

JulesJones

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Maryn: RSI is repetitive strain injury - tendonitis, tenosynovitis and so forth. The high speed typing required in real time chats plays merry hell with my damaged wrists. I much prefer the sort of chats done on a mailing list, where I can read an email, answer it at my own pace, and take a break when I need to.
 

pepperlandgirl

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I found that the only thing that seems to work is publishing a lot of books and getting a lot of name recognition.

And writing in the right sub-genre. M/F contemporaries just don't sell. It doesn't matter what you do, they're not going to sell. M/F/M, M/M, paranormal (and all the subgenres of paranormals) sell much better. The most promo work I do is buy some cover add space at certain review sites, and I don't really expect that to boost sales too much, so I only do it for books I expect will sell well anyway---see above list.
 

Jackie Coupe

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I find I get more mileage when I get involved with a ezine or other compiled publication.
I've done a couple now and get good feedback from readers.
It usually doesn't pay, but like my above poster mentioned, getting name recognition is utmost.
I would prioritise that over 'publisher' recognition which they should earn through reputation and prescence in the publishing community.

When publishers fail you will still have your name.
 

veinglory

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This is a little off topic but worth mentioning. Most contracts can be terminated by either side with a month's notice (or some stated period). So if a writers is ever really unsatisfied they can end the association. This is one reason why I keep copies of my manuscripts prior to in house editing.
 
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