I became a published author almost a year ago now. Like many indie authors I took advantage of the wonderful opportunity that Amazon offers us and published exclusively with them.
And like many indie authors I came to realize that this wonderful opportunity was a double edged sword. While it’s amazing that the doors of publishing have been thrown open to us and that so many talented writers can now have their work read, having so many writers flood the market also makes it difficult to be read.
After all… you have to be found in the world’s largest bookstore before you can be read. In short, you need visibility.
So I changed my tactics for 2017. I resolved to promote my work on at least one platform per month. No more than one at a time though. Why, you ask? I want to know what works and what doesn’t and if I promote on more than one site at a time I won’t know where my sales are coming from. Make sense?
Now promotion doesn’t come cheap and most of us aren’t making a lot from book sales. I’ve read the comments posted to various groups on Goodreads (an incredible resource for Indies by the way) showcasing reluctance to spend on promotion. It’s understandable but let’s look at this another way. Yes, the odds of you recouping your promo cost are not good. Most of us sell our books for less than $2 each and a good promo can cost upwards of $100. Given royalty rates…well you can do the math but you gotta move a lot of books to break even.
With this attitude I set forth to see what kind of visibility I could buy. As anyone who has ventured down this road knows there is no shortage of sites that will take your money while boasting about their large subscriber lists or followings. How do we know what’s worth it? I’d suggest asking fellow authors; most are more than willing to help out by sharing their experiences. You should also subscribe yourself to the newsletter you’re considering at least a few weeks in advance. That way you can get a feel for the types of books they promote. A good rule of thumb is if they don’t promote anything you’d read, maybe it isn’t right for your book.
My first stop on the road brought me to Choosy Bookworm in January where I ran a 1 day promo at $1.99 for my debut novel Stillness. The response was underwhelming and discouraging. Let’s just say that I didn’t move the needle at all.
Trial and error though. Take what you’ve learned and move on.
In February I thought why go offsite when I want to direct readers to my book on Amazon and thus paid for Amazon Marketing Ads throughout the month. Amazon showed my ad for Stillness about 775 times during the 28 day campaign. These “impressions” had the benefit of not costing me anything since no one clicked on it.
Now you might be thinking that I’d be upset by this. No one clicked on my ad? No one bought my book from it? My attitude though is; why be upset? Amazon gave me free publicity for a month and sales are generated from ads over a long term horizon.
March 1 I ran another 1 day promo at $1.99 through Bargain Booksy this time. I had heard from a few of my author friends that this site worked well for them and so put my money down and gave it a try.
In so doing this happened:
What that says is the day of my promotion Stillness rocketed from near 1,000,000 on the sales charts to 11,436 in the entire Kindle Store! I would ride the wave to 10,541 before starting my descent back down.
Author rank looked like this:
Again not too shabby. I think I hit on a winner. And remember what I said earlier about my AMS ad? Turns out the higher you rank the more Amazon displays your ad. Makes sense if you think about it. So now since I renewed my ad before these spikes Amazon did me the favour of displaying my ad more than 11,000 times!
For a few days I achieved visibility in the world’s largest bookstore and you can too. For a few days you could find Stillness on the Mystery Thriller & Suspense Medical bestseller list next to such luminaries as Gerritsen and Cornwall. This is the opportunity Amazon gives us all. Find a way to gain visibility and your book will sell.
I’m living proof of that!