First off, I want to thank D.D. and all of the WG2E bloggers for their wonderful support this past year. Unfortunately life has brought a ton of busy stuff my way lately, so this will be my last WG2E post. I will still be active and around, so please do feel free to keep up with me on my Facebook page and pop in to say “hi”: http://www.facebook.com/gemmahallidayauthor
Having said that, the aspect of self-publishing that I want to leave everyone with today is maybe the most important: promotion. Writing a fab book is only step one to selling well. Promotion has to be a big part of your plan if you want to succeed. I’ve found that there are three specific types of promotions: 1) promo aimed toward building your brand and name recognition, 2) promo aimed toward immediate sales, and 3) promo aimed toward building your readership.
The first type of promo is what traditionally published authors have been doing for years, and it does still work well to slowly build your career. Examples of this type would be sending swag to conferences, taking out ads in magazines, and sending book to reviewers and bloggers. It generally leads to very few immediate sales, but it does get your name in front of readers which will eventually build recognition for you both within the industry and with readers. I’ve done this off and on throughout my career, but I did the most when I was first starting out to really try to make a mark with my brand up front.
It’s hard to see an immediate impact, so it’s difficult for me to say exactly what has worked the best in this area, but I prefer inexpensive promotions with big impact. The one that I loved the most was for my second book, KILLER IN HIGH HEELS. A friend of mine had read the book and said it was so funny she almost peed her pants. Totally what I was going for. I took her quote and the book cover and had business cards made up at Vistaprint. I then printed out a hundred coupons from the Depends adult undergarments website and attached them to the business cards. I sent those to the RT conference that year, and I got a TON of response from them. Several bloggers wrote about it as the most unique promo at the conference, and I got emails from readers who got a chuckle out of it. I’m *pretty* sure no one cashed in their coupons, but the whole point was to get my name to stick in people’s heads. So for very little cost, I got a big impact with those. Another similar promo I did was for my 5th book, which had a wedding it in. I had wedding invitations printed up and sent them out to bloggers and reviewers “inviting” them to “attend” the wedding by requesting an ARC to review. I got several nice reviews out of it, so I was very happy with that.
The second type of promo is geared toward immediate sales, and you can easily track its effectiveness with your sales data and rankings. I think most self-published authors are focused on this type of promo more than any! Playing with pricing and freebies is a great way to do this. Contests can also make a big difference. For example, I currently have a contest going through my Facebook page to boost sales for my upcoming release, SECRET BOND. The basics of the contest are that I’m giving away 3 gifts cards to 3 randomly selected people who help me get the word out about the book. “Shares” on Facebook are how people enter. The twist is that I am upping the amount of the gift cards by $10 for every pre-order I get on the book, so readers have a big incentive to pre-order the book themselves as well as share the info. So far I’m super pleased with the number of pre-orders. The book’s ranking has dipped as low as 1000 on Amazon, and it doesn’t even come out until May 1st! You can check out the particulars of the contest here: http://www.facebook.com/gemmahallidayauthor#!/gemmahallidayauthor/posts/308646292594506
I know pre-orders aren’t possible with every book (This is the first self-published one that I’ve had pre-order with, and Amazon randomly offered it to me, so I’m not sure I’ll be this lucky again!), so another thing I’ve done in the past to boost sales on a new release is a BOGO, buy-one-get-one-free. If readers send me a proof of purchase of the new book, they get a coupon code to get one of my other books free at Smashwords. Oddly enough, I don’t usually get a lot of people actually taking me up on the offer, but just by running the contest and offering it, it seems to boost sales.
The last type of promotion is, in my opinion, maybe the most important. Name recognition only goes so far, and immediate sales are great, but you need to keep scrambling for them. Loyal readers are forever. Most of the promotion I do lately is geared toward cultivating and thanking my loyal readers. I very highly recommend that every author have a mailing list that readers can subscribe to, even if you only send out notices a couple of times a year. This way, you have a list of your readers and can reach them whenever you want. (I personally send out notices 2 to 3 times a month, but there’s no “right” amount of times.) The power of the mailing list is awesome. Whenever I send out a notice to my readers, I see a huge bump in sales or downloads or whatever the notice is asking of them. It’s an amazing tool to have in your pocket when it comes to sales.
As a new author, it’s slow going to build a list. I know, I’ve been there. I started my mailing list before I was even published, almost 10 years ago. For the longest time, it was half populated with my family and friends. But I’ve found that contest are a great way to grow your list little by little. I do at least 3-4 contests a year where all readers have to do to enter is add themselves to my mailing list. Of course you get some contest trolls who will join then immediately drop off, but you do get some really great readers as well, so I find it worth the cost of prizes. (I usually do prizes it eh $25 range, so you don’t have to lay out a bunch of money for these.)
I also do a lot of reader appreciation giveaways. I’ve got one going currently that has been very successful. I’ve gathered a group of self-published authors to donate free books to my readers, and I’m giving away coupon codes for 6 of those book to my newsletter subscribers each month for 6 months. It’s a win/win in that the authors who donated books are getting the exposure to the 15K+ readers currently on my mailing list, and my readers are getting tons of free books from new authors as well. So far I’ve had over 2000 new subscribers sign up for my mailing list due to this promo, so I’m very happy with that! You can check out the details here:
And those are my best promo tips. If anyone else has some promo gems to share, please feel free to post!
Thanks again for having me here on WG2E, and I look forward to seeing you all on the bestseller lists soon!