The Many Faces of Promotion

PJ Sharon here, and I thought I would address a topic that every author struggles with. Promotion. It’s difficult for most of us to toot our own horn, let alone jump up and down shouting about our books to the ethers. Even if we  overcome the discomfort of having to talk about ourselves and our books, the work only begins there. I wanted to share with you some of the promotional efforts I’ve learned about over the past year ,and their effectiveness in today’s market.

KDP Select-You probably remember my FREE promotion through KDP Select (read about the details here). For authors uploading their books to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the Select program has lost a bit of its charm. With so many FREE books flooding the market, the five FREE days are not producing the same outstanding results they did even a few months ago.

Blog Hops- A group of authors get together (I think 10-20 max works best). Someone creates a landing page with all the details and rules, and everyone works together to encourage readers to “hop” from one author’s web site to another, entering to win prizes in a massive giveaway. Entry can be contingent on “liking” a FB page, signing up for a mailing list, or “following” you on Twitter. Prizes often include free e-books, gift cards to Amazon or B&N, or even a Kindle or Nook if authors want to chip in and do a big giveaway. With 20 authors, it’s only about $5 each. Hops generally have themes. They are a great way to network with other writers, meet potential readers, and gain some exposure without much cost other than your time. Check out the “Summer Splash Blog Hop,” hosted by a few friends of mine.

Facebook Contests-This one you need to be careful with. FB has some rules about holding contests and you can read them here. I haven’t done this yet, but may at a later date—once I study up on those rules. It seems like a great place to hold contests since there is so much visibility. You can also set up FB Ads that target your specific audience. You decide how much you want to spend per day and they will help you create an advertisement for your book. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the benefits of this and have not yet tried it.

Blog Tours- Blog tours are great for a new release. Essentially, you contact bloggers who have a readership that might best fit your book. Contact them well ahead of time (at least two months before your tour), and ask them nicely if they would consider allowing you to be a guest on their blog. Offer to write an original post that might be appealing to their readers, or ask if they have set interview questions they would like you to answer. Be professional; don’t make them do the work. Have your post to them by whatever deadline they’ve set, including any pictures, book cover, bio, buy links, and a short excerpt or review of your book, as well as any contact info you’d like them to include, such as your FB author page, Amazon author page, website, or Twitter handle. A blog tour can be as jam packed as you like, but remember, more is not better when it comes to promo. Your peeps who are helping spread the word will get as tired of seeing your book as you do of shouting about it. I think 4-6 weeks, 2-3 posts per week is a healthy tour. That is 10-20 posts at targeted blog sites. You can hire someone to set these up for you for anywhere from $20-$75. Or you can do it yourself. On the day of your “appearance,” plan to check in frequently and respond to comments. Blog tours are still one of the most successful promotional tools you can use. It takes a bit of research to find the right blogs, but for a small yearly fee, you can join a site like Author EMS, and there are amazing resources available to point you in the right direction. That site is worth every penny!

Paid Ads- These are hit or miss. Sites like Kindle Nation Daily and E-reader News Today can give you a nice bump in sales and exposure, but they are a bit pricey ($50-$299) for a one day ad. If you are doing a big promotional push and you have some expendable cash, go for it. But you’ll have to plan ahead, since their ad space fills up months in advance. I’m also not a big fan of advertising in publications like RT magazine or RWR. Yes, you might get some nice exposure, but for the hundreds of dollars you’ll spend, you won’t recoup the loss in sales generated. Those magazines are targeted more to writers than readers, although RT ads can get you a review that might give you some nice street cred.

The list goes on, of course, and includes book signings, Good reads giveaways, On-line book launches, and Twitter parties. You can also hang out on sites like Shelfari, Kindle and Nook Boards, or Wattpad, where you will likely find your audience just waiting to connect with you, their next favorite author. There are endless ways to promote and no one size-fits-all promotional plan. Be creative, pick one or two ideas that work with your social media platform, and jump in. I try to do one big marketing event per month.

This month, I’m part of a YA Note Passing promo with a dozen other YA authors. It’s a fun way to find some new YA readers and writers, and give away some great prizes. You can find details on our landing page which is the FB page of Sykosa, a very troubled young lady who is our head note passer. My main character from Heaven Is For Heroes, Jordie Dunn, will be getting some shady advice about her love life from Sykosa on Friday at YA Beyond. I hope you’ll pop in and say hello.

The bottom line is that it’s not all about “BUY MY BOOK!” Promotion is about reaching out and connecting to readers. Have fun with it, try not to stress out, and if all else fails, enlist your friends to toot that horn for you. Happy promoting!

Questions? Promotional opportunities you’d like to share?

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21 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Promotion”

    1. You’re very welcome, Gerri. I know you have a release coming up (can’t wait to get my grubby paws on that one), so you definitely should be scheduling your blog tour if you haven’t done that yet. I love your Street team idea. I think a lot of authors are finding them to be very effective. Best of luck and let us know if we can do anything for you here at the Scribes:-)

    1. Happy to spread the word, Marian. I’m so excited to read your Jake Carrington Mysteries. It’s fantastic that there are so many CTRWA members hitting their stride and finding their way to publication! Congrats!

      I’ll “see” you tomorrow for part two of my Self-defense lesson, “The Psychology of Self-defense”. I look forward to being your guest.

  1. Great post and very timely for me as well. I appreciate you sharing your experiences too. The good news is we do have so many promo options to choose from. The trouble is, when you’re a new author (like myself) it’s difficult to know where to spend your money and time. Thanks for the advice!

    1. Your welcome, Shari. I don’t recommend spending a great deal of time and money on promoting your first book, since there is nowhere for readers to go once they’ve read it. Spend your time getting the next book done and then promote like crazy! This approach will also give you some time to build that all important social media platform. Best of luck!

  2. Thanks PJ for all the advice. Very timely for me too. My debut Historical released in Jan. and the ebook was slow go. I’m just learning the computer promo fields and I can use any and all info and tips at this point. I thought to maybe hire a publicist, but found they are very expensive–I’d have to sell a lot of books to recup that. Thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you well and much success.

    1. Publicists are very expensive and basically, they will tell you what to do but they aren’t the ones who will be researching reviewers, gaining you a Twitter following, or setting up your FB author page. You might get a press release out of them and lots of advice, but the bottom line is that you still have to do the work. Take your time, do one thing at a time and see what sticks. What works this month might not work next month. I highly recommend joining yahoo groups such as IRInk (Indie Romance Ink) where you will gain invaluable advice and up to date promo ops. The influx of e-mails can be a bit daunting, but it’s well worth it to have over a thousand indie-authors giving free advice.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kiru. Some are less than others. I’m afraid most of have small or non-existent advertising budgets and there are so many ways to get the word out for free that unless you plan it into a big promo push, paying a sizable chunk of change just doesn’t make sense. Having said that, I’ve known a lot of writers who swear by Kindle Nation daily and Ereader News Today. DD Scott of the WG2E has done really well with those in the past. I think some of it depends on genre as well. I’m not sure YA books get as much of a boost from those ads as Romantic Suspense or Chick-lit does. You definitely need to consider advertising where your audience hangs out.

  3. I’m in awe of your superhuman powers of juggling, PJ! Glad it’s paying off for you, and thanks for the overview — very useful!

    1. It will be here before you know it, Jolyse. It’s great that you are info gathering now. When the time comes you’ll be prepared. Thanks for popping in.

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