Since selling 300,000 books in a little over a year, one of the questions I am asked most frequently is: How did you do it?
Answer: I have no idea!
And that’s the truth, but I can tell you what I did and you can decide what might or might not work for you. The very first thing I decided to do was put myself out there and try everything!
Before I made a dime, before I had any idea if I would sell ten books let alone thousands, I started a Twitter and Facebook account. Next, I made a free website using blogger at Theresaragan.com and I began sharing sales numbers because I was super excited and I wanted to let writers know that they had options.
I have a writer friend who doesn’t spend a dime on advertising and she is selling incredibly well. I believe she posts on a few blogs every once in a while, including her own. This tells me that word of mouth is probably selling the most books. If someone enjoys your story and recommends your book to a friend, you’ll probably do just fine without spending too much money on promotion and marketing.
About Blogs: If you don’t like writing blogs, don’t do it. You need to put your energy into the things you enjoy doing…like writing a great book. Writing a blog post can be time consuming, but for some people it’s easy and fun. When trying to decide what to blog about, ask yourself what you would be interested in reading or learning about? Who is your target audience? For the past year, my audience has been writers, but I plan to have a new website up by the end of the year with a link for writers and a link for readers. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Let’s see…what else did I do? I used Windows Live Movie Maker to make video book trailers. It was easy and fun (also time consuming). I went to istockphoto for photos and music. Each video cost me about $30 by the time I was finished. You can view my videos HERE on Author Central. I also posted my videos on YouTube. If you have time and $50 to spare, try doing a blog tour. I did one and I enjoyed connecting with readers, but blog tours can be very time consuming. When my books started to sell, I was interviewed by Geovanni Gelati on BlogTalk Radio. I also ran a few contests on my website. I gave away some books and I have some names to add to my database. Now I just need time to start a monthly newsletter. In the beginning, I priced one of my books at $.99 but now all of my books are $2.99 and $3.99. I used to do the FREE thing, but I’m going to hold off on doing that for now (I never say never). All of my books except for A Knight in Central Park have been offered in KDP’s lending program.
Once I began to make some money, I advertised on The Romance Reviews, Eye on Romance, Digital Book Today, Frugal Ereader, Cents-ible eReads, Just Romantic Suspense and, of course, Pixel of Ink. In April 2011, Pixel of Ink mentioned A Knight in Central Park and my book went soaring to the Top 100 List at Amazon. The more books I sold, the more interview requests came my way–the more requests, the more opportunities (USA Today, Jeff Bezos’ Annual Letter to Shareholders, mentions in Publishers Weekly and Wall Street Journal, etc.) and thus more sales.
I did pay big bucks for a Kirkus Review of Abducted. Although I don’t know if I will do that again (because of the high price) I love using parts of the review for promotion and marketing purposes (product description, interviews, blogs). I also paid for advertising in Romantic Times and Abducted was reviewed and received 4 1/2 stars and Top Pick status, so I am using that to its full advantage also.
I did all of the above and I really have no idea what, if anything, really made all the difference (other than Pixel of Ink and going FREE). I like to think that the three months I spent (24/7) marketing and promoting my books and myself, made all the difference, but I really don’t know. In my opinion, luck plays an important role when it comes to shooting to the top of the charts. Better books than mine are going to sell less copies and vice versa, but I don’t think it does anyone any good to worry about things you can’t control. The best promotion truly is the release of your next book, so get writing!
If anyone here in WG2E-Land has other ideas to add to the list, please share. Curious minds want to know what you did to sell some books!
The Best of WG2E Wishes — Theresa Ragan