Do you have any marketing and marketing routine advices?Em
This comes at a really good time, as I am trying to figure out the benefits of social media vs the drawbacks.
To quickly recap, marketing is “paid” promotion while publicity is “earned” promotion. More on that in this blog post. As an author, there are relatively few places that you can target with paid advertising. In essence, you are buying billboard space somewhere on the internet, where you can put a nice poster that says “Hey! My awesome book is out. Buy it!”
The question is, where will that billboard get the most useful traffic? I can put an ad on Perez Hilton’s blog and it will likely cost thousands, but do any of our readers actually hang out there? Probably not. To get the most out of my money, I need to target places where readers hang out.
If you asked me seven years ago where the readers are on the Internet, I would have rattled off a dozen blogs. Now, most of those blogs have died out. Facebook offers an opportunity for targeted ad placement, and one of our colleagues very kindly took the time to explain the ins and outs of it. It’s complicated and honestly, given the steep learning curve, if we ever do this, I would just hire someone who knows what they are doing to run it for us. Our official page has 51,000 followers. I am reasonably sure that 1/3 of them are bots. The bots are rampant on Facebook. It does absolutely nothing to curb this. I’m wondering if I’ll be advertising to actual people or to bots. I’m really irritated with both Facebook and Twitter, the first because it’s so sloppy and the second because it creates a hostile environment and does very little to curb hate speech.
Goodreads used to be a good place for giveaways and reviews. You would run a giveaway of 10 copies of your upcoming release, ideally for at least a month, and if enough people entered, Goodreads would bump your giveaway to a more prominent place, effectively advertising your book release. But again, how much return on investment are you getting there? Who can say? There is anecdotal evidence that giveaways actually hampered sales, because people would wait to see if they won a book instead of buying it. Now, with the majority of people reading in digital, paperback giveaways are mostly a thing of the past.
I can tell you what doesn’t work. Book trailers. I have tried this before and I am 100% certain that unless you pay to have that book trailer inserted as an ad somewhere, posting it on YouTube and Instagram only advertises it to your followers, who would buy your book anyway. Blog ads also don’t work. I’ve done it a couple of times and never had any decent return from that. Now blog articles that recommend the book do work but only if it’s a genuine discussion of the book vs a copy and paste of the press release with the cover. Blog audiences trust the bloggers, so a personal touch is required to move any copies.
Which is why Gordon and I tend to shift that advertising burden onto retailers. In my experience, a well timed Amazon email or a Bookbub promo does much more for sales than a paid ad. This is something that’s usually negotiated between our literary agency and retailers, since NYLA acts as our publisher when we selfpublish.
We do spend money on our website – about $5,000 per year in hosting fees – and our newsletter, which is right now costing us about $400 per month and I really need to switch from Mailchimp, because they are just gouging prices now. ::sideeye:: We spend money on the website and newsletter because we found it to be an effective advertising tool. This is where we post news, free fiction, and articles, so it works for us. You know what worked really well? Offering a short story for the purchase of the paperback. The paperback sales blew up. We’ll probably not going to torture you guys like that again, but you did save some independent bookstore’s bottom lines.
I do hear about people in self-publishing spending $50,000 on advertising and getting awesome returns, but if I asked Gordon to spend $50K on advertising, his head would explode. My husband is prudent when it comes to investing money.
Me: We can assume costs and get a larger royalty share…
Him: Or, since we don’t know if we will make any money on this, we can let them assume costs and if it works out, then we will negotiate on the next one.
I would have to lay out my case very carefully and prove that it was worth it. Right now, I don’t know of any advertising venue to which I would commit that amount of money. If you do, share the wisdom in the comments. 🙂
Update: For those who asked about book trailers, here is a parody one I made with demo copy of the software. At that point, people charged thousands for book trailers and this cost me like $100. It was meant to look cheap and cheesy. Enjoy.