Which Book Marketing Effort is Most Effective?

Which Book Marketing Effort is Most Effective?

(The feature image at the top of this post belongs to Disturbet)

Everybody knows that word of mouth is the MOST effective method of selling and promoting your book. But that puts you (the author) in the passanger seat, not the driver’s seat. You can’t simply wait around for people to talk about your book if you haven’t made the effort to expose readers to it.

Free publicity is also a major book seller because more people trust news promotion over paid advertising. But the Catch 22 on the free publicity ordeal is that, in most cases, you need to sell lots of books to earn free publicity.

So what authors really want to know is this:

What can I do so that to reach the widest audience possible with the least amount of money spent?

So what I’d like to do is share the various marketing efforts I’ve made and disclose some of the sales reports I received as a result of those efforts.

 

Some of these marketing methods have helped me climb to #1 in Short Story Collections in all of Kindle and #5 in Christian Fiction!

Amidst Traffic Best Selling Short Story Anthology Amidst Traffic Best Selling Short Story Collection

I was able to achieve this on two separate weeks! One at the end of July 2013 and one in the middle of the following August!

 

But first a few disclaimers:

1) I’m NOT a marketing Guru. I wouldn’t even categorize myself as a best-seller. But I did hit the best seller list in my particular niche category two different times. I’m just willing to share with you which marketing methods have been most effective for me and my book.

2) Primarily, I’ll be talking about sales stats of my short story collection, “Amidst Traffic.” The disclaimer, in this case, is that short story collections don’t sell very well. So my hope (for you) is that your sales numbers are much higher than mine.

3) Your book better be good. If your book is not well reviewed or hasn’t won any awards, then don’t waste the money promoting it. Instead, spend the time, money and effort honing your craft and writing a better book.

4) Personal results WILL vary.

5) Most of my sales stats refer to Kindle or digital copies. I’ll address paperback sale when applicable.

6) Marketing is about exposure; therefore it’s a prolonged process that should have long-term goals in mind. A lot of marketing efforts will yield little to no results immediatley. It’s only they build on each other accumulatively that better results will show themselves in the long run.

7) Some of these sales stats are rough estimates because at certain times I had multiple promotions running simultaneously.

 

A list of marketing options I’ve tried:

 

Bookbub-logo

(BookBub Webiste)

This is, by FAR, the best marketing option out there.

How it work: BookBub requires you to drop the price of your book for a limited time offer (say, 5 days or so), and they send out an email blast to hundreds of thousands of email subscribers interested in your specific genre.

How much I paid: $220.00

Note that prices vary depending on your book genre (some genres have more subscribers than others) and your sale price (the lower the price, the less you pay). In my particular case, I dropped the price for $2.99 to $0.99.

How many books I sold: Within a two-day span following the promotion, I sold approximately 485 digital copies (Only 8 were Nook sales, 1 was on Smashwords, and the rest were Kindle). The week following the BookBub promotion, I sold approximately 60 more copies (Only 3 of them were Nook sales).

“Amidst Traffic” climbed to #404 in all Kindle sales for that period of time, to #1 in all Short Story categories and #5 in Christian Fiction.

Some things to consider:

By my calculations, because of my royalty percentage, I needed to sell at least 650+ digital copies to break even. So from a profit standpoint, I didn’t fare well. But by far, this was the most exciting result and jump in sales from a single marketing effort. Also, BookBub is very selective in which books it agrees to promote. The selected book needs to look professional, have positive reviews and promote a legitimate sale price for the offer. By this point in my book’s marketing life, “Amidst Traffic” had earned several awards and already had 36 reviews (4.4 star rating) already in the bag.

 

 

newebookboosterlogo

(EBookBooster Website)

 

How it works: This service is more of a time saver than a promoter. The reality is that there are hundreds of book promoting websites that allow authors to submit their book sales for free. EBookBooster saves authors time by posting the promo sale on their behalf to a list of the top promotion sites. In my case, I purchase the package that promoted “Amidst Traffic” to 25+ promotion sites.

How much I paid: $25.00

How many books I sold: By my running estimates, I sold approximately 100+ books in one day when the various promo postings went live. This was not combined with any other running promo (I made sure to schedule each promo on a different day).

Some things to consider:

I would definitely test out EBookBooster again in the future, and I might schedule it with my next BookBub promotion to multiply the sales effects. Combined with BookBub, I could easly see myself selling at least 700+ books over a 5-day span.

 

180779_10150148724071217_2226885_n

(Ereader News Today Website)

How it works: This is probably the most favorable marketing model I’ve seen around because it works on a commission base. Ereader News Today (ENT) has approximately 450,000 fans on Facebook. When an author signs up for a bargain book listing, he agrees to pay a 25% commission fee of his book earnings. The formula is simple and it’s explained well on their site, but the important thing to understand is that the author pays an amount based specifically on the number of books that Ereader News Today helps him sell. This is all tracked through the website’s click-through algorithm. ENT sends the author an invoice after the promotion campaign is over.

How much I paid: $13.25

How many books I sold: 150+

Something else to consider:

I really wish that more book promotion services used this model. I think BookBub is the closest thing to this model in the fact that they have historical statistics they use to determine the price of a specific promotion campaign, but I haven’t found any other place that works on commission. By far, this is the fairest model because you know that you’re still getting a profit based on what you pay.

 

68364_452999978070859_1979135323_n

(BargainBooksy Website)

How it works: BargainBooksy works in a very similar fashion as BookBub but with a much smaller audience. They boast on their webiste that their promotion will get you in front of 70,000 readers. They have approximately 6,000 fans on Facebook and not many on Twitter, so I would imagine most “readers” are email subscribers.

How much I paid: $50.00

How many books I sold: The results here were very disappointing. I estimated a sale of approximately 10 or 15 sales coming directly from this offer.

Some things to consider:

When I received a sample of the promotional newsletter from BargainBooksy, I was disappointed to see how minimalist and simplistic their emails looked. It simply included the cover image of three books currently “on bargain” and their current sales price. I say this is disappointing because most other newsletters will accompany each book with a “hook” to help push sales. As a consumer, I wouldn’t buy any books promoted by BargainBooksy because of their lack-luster format. Additionally, you wouldn’t know what kind of bargain you are getting because their newsletter doesn’t display the pre-sale price. A sale is effective only when the buyer knows what kind of deal he’s getting.

 

kindle-books-and-tips-4-b-512x250

(Kindle Books and Tips Website)

How it works: Email blast and blog post for a limited-time sale price promotion.

How much I paid: $25.00

How many books I sold: Approximately 20-25 books.

Some things to consider:

Not a total flop considering the low cost for this promotion, and I might test it out again in the future.

 

1016062_609887385695891_388714601_a

(Kindle Nation Daily Website)

How it works: Kindle Nation Daily (KND for short) offers a whole menu of promotional options, from email blasts to blog posts and facebook promos. In the past, I’ve often noticed that email-direct promotions are much more effective than web banners and even social media postings. So I picked their Free Kindle Nation Shorts offer. You don’t have to drop your price to promote your book with KND, but I decided I would for this latest promo.

How much I paid: $199.99

How many books I sold: Approximately 40 books.

Some things to consider:

Considering that this promotion cost almost as much as BookBub, selling 40 books instead of 400 is really disappointing. This is actually the second time I’ve tried Kindle Nation Daily for a paid book sale promotion. The first time wasn’t much better, resulting in about 30 book sales at $2.99 each, using two of their paid services that cost me about $300. But I thought that by dropping the price to 99 cents, I would get at least 100-200 sales. Plus, I had many more reviews and awards compared to last time (I had only a dozen or so reviews at the time). The problem with KND, unlike BookBub, is that it doesn’t target specific audiences based on their genre preferences. So the book goes out to a boasted 157,000 “motivated” readers, but you (as the author) have no clue what their reading preferences are. It could be that 70% of them read only romance or thrillers, which does you no good if you like to write literary fiction. Plus, as it turns out, only 41,000+ of them are email subscribers.

 

logo-small

(Book Gorilla Website)

How it works: This is a sub-component service of KND. They send out promotional newsletters to email subscribers with a list of dozens of reduced-price books each day.

How much I paid: This was included with my KND promotion as a limited-time package price offer.

How many books I sold: Unknown. I noticed no significate increase in sales.

Some things to consider:

If I were you, I wouldn’t actually pay for a Book Gorilla promotion, which runs between $100 and $200 depending on various factors. Book Gorilla tries SO hard to be like BookBub in its approach, but it fails miserably for a simple reason: Their email blasts are way too saturated. When Book Gorilla sends its promo newsletter to subscribers, each email contains a dozen or more listed books. From a consumer’s perspective, there are way too many books and it feels overwhealming, and it’s less likely that a purchase will actually take place. BookBub, on the other hand, promotes a maximum of three books per email, plus they are targeted to a very specific reader. The purchace chances are MUCH higher (as evidenced by the sales stats).

 

obwordpress1

(Orangeberry Book Tour Website)

How it works: Orangeberry partners with several dozen book blogs and social media outlets. The author pays to have his book appear across a span of different sites for a period of time to hopefully gain exposure and visibility. Orangeberry offers different package types based on an author’s budget and exposure goals. Orangeberry has approximately 100,000 followers on twitters plus (by rough estimate) has an outreach of at least another 50,000 readers/followers.

How much I paid: $100 (Orangeberry Phoenix 30-Day Book Tour package)

How many books I sold: When I first tracked this promotion, I couldn’t account for any sales that came as a direct result of this tour. However, I later received an email from one of the blogging partners of Orangeberry, and I was told that much of the sales associated with these tours come weeks and months later because official book reviews take place later down the road after the tour is over. More specifically, one blogger from the UK asked to buy 100 digital copies of the book for an upcoming event. I’ve since amended my original review of Orangeberry because I wasn’t originally aware of the secondary reach of this tour’s stage.

Some things to consider:

First of all, it’s important to highlight that Orangeberry’s customer service is stellar. They are very prompt, easy going and show care for all of their touring authors. After my original tour, I was asked to come back as a guest blogger, which is actually quite an honor, and my website was selected as a finalist for their design categories. Kinda cool.

Originally I wasn’t very impressed by the tour’s effect across the blogs. I hadn’t seen any direct sales from this effort and dismissed it rather quickly. But later, some additional opportunities and sales surfaced from the promotion that I hadn’t accounted for. I also received a large number of new book reviews on GoodReads, but it’s hard to say how these were produced because many of them seem to take a similar Q&A approach to critiquing the book.

Orangeberry is not a one-hit-wonder that I would use as a single marketing spear, but it does have secondary and tertiary effects that I hardly noticed at first. It also seems like the website is constantly evolving and growing to provide more dynamic services. It’s worth a look if you can afford it within your marketing budget.

 

goodreads

(GoodReads Website)

How it works: GoodReads allows authors to connect with readers for free, but it also allows them to create ad campaigns using a cover image. The author pays only when readers click on the ad.

How much I paid: I funded the campaign to run for about a several months with a limit of $300.00

How many books I sold: The GoodReads campaign dashboard stores a history of “clicks-throughs” (the number of times readers clicked on the ad), and in a two-month span, the book received 239 clicks, which is not very impressive. My total digital sales for those two months approximately 60 Kindle copies.

Some things to consider:

For the most part, banner ads and other click-through spot ads don’t seem to be very effective. I’ve experimented with some click ads on Facebook as well with limited budgets of $20-30 or so, and they’ve resulted very few (if any) discernable sales. For the most part, I would stay away from these types of ad campaigns in the future. Most of the time, these ad spaces are so tiny, readers hardly pay them any attention.

 

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway Promotion

imagesCAO2XS8LHow it works: One month, I decided I would give away a free Kindle Fire HD tablet as a raffle to one lucky reader. In order to enter and win, readers needed to have purchased the book and share a link on Twitter.

How much I paid: $169.00 to pay for the Kindle Fire HD

How many books I sold: Approximately 70 digital copies.

Some things to consider:

I later discovered that this promotional tactic is quasi-illegal because when you require someone to purchase something (even if it’s only 99 cents) in order to win a contest, that immediately constitutes the “giveaway” as gambling by legal definitions. I had picked the winner at random using specific hashtags and a randomizer website. It was a cool promotion, and it made readers very excited, but it didn’t generate nearly as many sales as I would have expected.

 

Printed Promotional Flyers

How it works: Last year, around Christmas time, I decided I would drop the price of the book down to 99 cents and promote the sale by going around various shopping malls using postcard-sized flyers. My wife, a friand and I “car bombed” approximately a thousand cars with these little ads, placing them below the windshield wipers.

How much I paid: $100 to print the flyers.

How many books I sold: Zero.

Some things to consider:

This tactic involved a lot of driving and running around. It showed me how much my wife really loved me to promote my book in the middle of winter. This was a scattered attack, and even though it implemented a”call to action,” it lacked the impulse that was needed to go with it.

 

Book Signings & Book Events

943017_598061196871645_1743990170_nHow it works: It’s become harder and harder to set up book signings with actual book stores. For a discussion on how to set up book signings in today’s modern book market, please read this article.

How much I paid: Time, effort & coordination (plus the cost of books).

How many books I sold: The one day I set up a book signing at a local coffee-house/restaurant, I sold 20+ paperbacks in one day. Then, last May, I was involved in the Pittsburgh Author Symposium, where about a dozen local authors got together on a summer evening to sell various books. During that event, I sold about 6 copies of my book.

Some things to consider:

Upon immediate reflection, I felt somewhat discouraged by these sale numbers, but one day I spoke with another fellow author (who is published by a small press) who told me that selling 20 paperbacks in one day is actually really good, and that he typically sells only a handful of paperbacks during book events depending on the venue and setting. Plus, there’s actually something much more rewarding (and personal) about selling a paperback to a reader. It’s intimate, it’s interactive and it offers more networking opportunities and relationship building than selling digital copies.

 

Speaking Events

2505_166910026805207_1688928932_nHow it works: These are similar to book signings and events, except in this case I’ve gone around and presented workshops on self publishing to groups of interested authors. I’ve done work shops at libraries and a small colleges, always with a very rewarding feeling and positive feedback.

How much I paid: Time and effort and coordination.

How many books I sold: At each speaking event, I sole about 5 or 6 paperbacks.

Some things to consider:

If you have valuable information to offer and you’re just getting around to promoting your book, this actually a very effective means for selling paperback copies. Depending on the material you want to present, and the venue willing to host you, you might even be able to charge a fee for attendance and “include” a copy of your book in the package price. Consumers and readers always love a deal. That’s how most of us justify buying or paying for things, especially when we know/think we’re getting something “free” out of it.

 

 

booksauthors1

(Books & Authors Website)

How it works: This website provides a twitter service. Depending on the package you purachase, your book will be tweeted either once, twice or three times a day for a month straight to a group of approximately 70,000 followers.

How much I paid: $75.00 (for two tweets per day)

How many books I sold: Hard to say. I’ve combined this promotional experiment with a list of others that were scheduled on specific days (which make it easier ot track). My guess is that I’m receiving maybe one or two sales per day from this offer.

Some things to consider:

I think that twitter is a dying marketing tool at this point. It’s been very helpful to me in the past to discover new authors and random readers, but it’s becoming way too saturated with shameless self-promotion, spam bots and irrelevant material. It’s just too cluttered, too busy and too messy to be noticed among the noise. Additionally, when I first signed up with this twitter package, Books & Authors had nearly 100,000 followers (this was the beginning of July 2013), and now (I first wrote this post in mid-August for a later schedule time), they have less than 70,000 followers, which makes me wonder how many of its followers actually care about what they’re posting and how many decided to unfollow due to saturated marketing tactics. Back in March 2013, I decided not to spend any more money on marketing and use just twitter to sell the book for a while. In my first month, I had sold more than 40 digital copies, but the numbers dropped in the following months. The results were harder to replicate.

 

Awards

1010951_616435325034232_574300402_nHow it works: There are dozens of nationally-recognized book competitions out there open to indie authors. I submitted my book to about six different contests and placed as a winner for one of them and a finalist in two of them.

How much I paid: $550.00 total for all the contests

How many books I sold: It’s hard to tell how many books I sold as a direct result of the awards I won, but I think it increased my sales percentages some.

Some things to consider:

In submitting my book to awards, I was more interested in receiving validation for the quality of my work than in treating it as a marketing tool for book sales. From a sales perspective, submitting your book to a bunch of awards is proabably a mediocre to bad investment. But for the sake of sanity and assurance, it stabilized my efforts and my beliefs in the quality of my work.

 

 

How about you?

Are there any marketing efforts you’ve tried that proved to be really effective?

 

Note: I will be updating results to this blog post as I try new marketing options or remember other efforts I’ve already tried.

About Michel Sauret

I'm a independent and literary fiction author and Pittsburgh-based photographer

13 comments

  1. Fantastic article. Very helpful and insightful. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. Just wanted to let you know I found your posts very interesting, pith and informative. I arrived here by mistake and so far I’ve read about six posts. Good job and thank you for the effort. Certainly made some notes to consider when I finish writing my book.

  3. I’ve been looking for information like this. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Placing flyers on cars in the middle of winter…now that’s true love.

  4. Hi Michael,
    This is such a helpful compilation of info. As an indie author, did you invest in professional editing of your book? And did you put any time/energy into an agent search, or just know from the onset that you were going to go the indie route? As you know, limited time and money make each of these decisions so important! Thanks for sharing.

    • Unfortunately funding was limited, but I had a friend do a copy edit of the book and my sister served as my marketing agentagent. She really helped me push the book to the local market, and at one point even organized the first ever Pittsburgh author symposium!

  5. Your observations on your specific marketing efforts align precisely with what I have experienced using some of those same sites, as well as validating my suspicions on the potential effectiveness of several others. The nasty question, as always, is: What are the sales results? I too have spent several $50.00 and $100.00 bills on sites that yielded literally 0 sales.

    Thanks for a job well done. You’re right on.

  6. Thanks for the great guidance…are there any nook BN sites you’d suggest??. I had great success with Book bub on amazon smashwords and Barnes…but everything else seems all amazon all the time.

    Other than my Book bub promotion I get very little traction on BN Any suggestions on how to drive more traffic? thanks Scott

  7. Great article, thank you for sharing your insights. Exactly what I need right now.

  8. Hi there!
    I don’t track my sales carefully enough to provide useful data, but the best marketing tactic I ever tried was the free sale option offered by being in the KDP Select program. There’s a lot of talk about how the ‘power of free’ has diminished dramatically, but it’s still a great way to enhance visibility in the short term. In order to promote the freebie, I did some rigorous searching, and found a lot of sites, Facebook groups and Twitter accounts that promote free ebooks as their main MO. I contacted every single one of them! I also got in touch with any Facebook group that had a similar theme – as my book was about traveling to volunteer in an animal refuge in Ecuador, I found groups about volunteering, travel, and animal lovers, and sent a polite message to their admins asking if it would be okay to post on their Wall about my book. Because it was a freebie, they were generally very receptive to this, and I got no complaints of spam by taking this approach. I did the same with online groups I could find – travel bloggers, voluntourism sites etc. Some of these became contacts that allowed me to write guest-posts at a later date, linking to my book weeks or months later, when it was at full price. Some decided to review the book once they were aware of its existance, and many bloggers downloaded the freebie themselves even if they didn’t think their audience would appreciate the plug – and several of these got back to me subsequently, and have become readers and fans.
    In total I gave away over 47,000 free books over two separate, two-day free sales. Each time the increase on ranking was dramatic, and many full price sales were made as the book slid back down the charts. But perhaps the best take-away from this I found was that getting in touch with Facebook page or group owners, websites and bloggers in a field appropriate to the book’s content, created relationships that could potentially be more far-reaching that advertising with a newsletter. I try to do as much of this networking as time allows, and it’s far harder to measure the success of it when compared to, say, a Book Blast from ENT or an equivalent. But it makes a good part of a long-term marketing strategy, which I think is vital for anyone wanting to turn this game into a career!

  9. Thank you for sharing, it really helped me to avoid making a very costly mistake.

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