A First Attempt at Marketing

‘I’m a writer, not a marketeer!’

Yes, well, marketing is a fact of life for authors. And not only those of us who are self-published. Many writers who have been picked up by a professional publisher find that the publisher still expects the writer to do a lot of the publicity. 

In the last two years, I’ve worked on getting a website up, establishing myself on social media (even Twitter!), and learning all that I can from successful writers. And I’ve concentrated on writing a book series, as that’s said to be the best way to get people hooked on your writing. 

Now that I have three books published in my ‘Penny White’ urban fantasy series, I felt it was time that focused on helping my books to find new readers. I had followed the advice of getting good covers done, offering an enticing blurb, and obtaining reviews. 

All of the books are enrolled with KDP Select, which allows a digital book to be offered free for five days out of every 90 day enrolment period. I decided to offer the first book, ‘The Temptation of Dragons.’

The first publicity company I booked was Books Go Social, on 23 May. This cost me US$99.00 for a three month enrolment. The company sends out tweets across their subscriber base at regular intervals, and I had to pick a sentence which would draw people to the link for my book. Upon reflection, I should have chosen something other than ‘A gryphon with sarcasm management issues. I need red wine.’ Dragons are probably more of a pull than gryphons, after all. I did see a few sales, but nothing major. 

On 26 May, The Temptation of Dragons’ was featured on the LitRing weekly newsletter, along with two other books, as free for signing up to a newsletter list. I had over 150 people contact me to ask for a free copy. 

On 9 June, I spent a morning recording video of me reading from the book, with inference from my parrot, Tilly. I edited this and released it across social media and YouTube. I had a couple of people join my newsletter list as a result, but couldn’t really see an increase in sales or Kindle pages read on Kindle Unlimited, despite over 1300 views on Facebook. 

The five day free period ran from 12 to 16 June. I booked Books Go Social to include the book in their email on 13 June, and this time I chose the sentence, ‘Giving a dragon the last rites changed my life forever…’ I also paid  US$55.00 to Booksends to access the 26,000 fantasy readers which they claim are on their mailing list. I also put out an advert across my social media, and friends who liked my work shared it across their own sites.

Here are the statistics for each day of that five day period:

Date                                   Free Downloads                      Sold                               KU pages read

12/06                                301                                         0                                      0

13/06                                1033                                       3                                     118

14/06                                245                                         1                                     1533

15/06                                118                                         4                                     697

16/06                                125                                         2                                     1173

Book sales and Kindle Unlimited pages read have continued since the promotion. I have dropped the price of the book to 99p, and people are still buying/reading it. 

The jump on the day the book was included in the two marketing emails is obvious. But it’s also interesting to note the number of downloads on the Monday. Who knows whether Books Go Social, the LitRing email, and/or the video had already whet people’s appetites? In addition, at the height of the downloads, the book went to number 10 in its category and 147 in free Kindle books overall.

Books sold and analysis of Kindle pages read proves that people are going on to the second and third book as hoped. I’ve also had new people join the newsletter list, and a few more reviews have been left on Amazon.

Of course, there’s much more I could have done. Paid for more advertising, picked a better marketing sentence, run the two email promotions on separate days, or let the parrot do the reading whilst I interfered. I’ll think all this through before whatever I decide will be the next marketing push. But I am happy with the results bearing in mind what I’ve spent and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. And Im grateful to all the friends who helped to get the word out!