Book promotion

My experiences with book promotions and advertizing services.

Promoting a book – or not (part 4)

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about book promotions on this blog. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been promoting my books. I have and I’ve occasionally even done a really good job. It’s just that I’ve also been busy with my newsletter, my new books, a couple of stories, and life in general, so no time for blogging.

But now, back to business. So far, I can say that some things worked for me and some – not so much. For example, Books Butterfly did not work for me at all. It worked a bit for the free book option, but not at all for the 0.99 $ book. In other words, waste of money, and a lesson learned. I also tried BookBub paid advertisement. It is a pay-per-click model, but one has to be persistent and tweak the ads constantly to see what works and what not. I did not have much time for that yet, but I’ll give it a go again soon. It does not waste any money if no one clicks on the ads, which is the case with my ads, but the ultimate goal is to have people click on the ads and buy the book. I’m light years away from it so I really need to work on my spaceship.

However, I did have a very successful free book promotion of “The Neighbor”, which reached #44 in free book downloads and #13 in the contemporary romance category on Amazon at the beginning of December. The promotion ran for 3 days with more than 3000 downloads. It was a combination of a booked feature on (which was really cheap), then another mention by bknights over Fiverr (even cheaper), and the most important thing – I got a slot in the newsletter of Freebooksy. This one was not so cheap but also not very expensive (120 $ for my category) and it was certainly worth the money. The newsletter ran on the second day of promotion and it alone brought me over 2500 downloads. Compare this to 200 downloads that Books Butterfly managed the first time I had a free book promotion for “The Neighbor” and the power of Freebooksy becomes clear.

Finally, I also have a Goodreads giveaway behind me, which is an option where one pays to have 100 e-books given away for free to the people of the Goodreads community that show interest in the book and register for the giveaway. I did it with an idea to see how people like what I wrote, to garner some publicity, and get some reviews. A lot of people wanted to read the book (over 1000), and I did get some reviews. Some of them were really great and made my day. Some were not so great – but they pointed out the faults in the book, which I must agree are there and which I will attempt to either correct or avoid in my future books. Finally, there was a one 1* review where the person said they hated the book and deleted it from their Kindle. I didn’t mind that one very much because people like different books and have a right to an opinion, but I wished the author of the review could have provided me with more information about what was so wrong with my book to provoke such a reaction. Today, interestingly, I noticed that that one review was retracted. I don’t know why, but it improved the overall rating of my book, so, thanks for the retraction.

All in all, of those 100 books I gave away for free, I only got 5 written reviews and 25 star reviews in total, which is very little. I guess for my future books the best way would be to organize some advanced reader’s copies in exchange for an honest review. Since I am already a member of StoryOrigin, which provides such services, it will probably go through that app. Now I just need to write.

With that in mind, I’m off to be creative.


Promoting a book – or not (part 4) Read More »

Promoting a book – or not (Part 3)

My book promotion journey threatens to become a book on its own. I might put all posts together and publish them as instructions on what to do (and what not to do). On second thought, I think there is plenty of similar books out there, but on third thought, they might be lacking my singular and very personal touch.

So, let’s see what’s new on the book promotion horizon of Verena Key world.

8.) To be scientifically accurate, I’ve booked Books Butterfly again, this time a platinum option (or something like that), which cost me more than the initial 80 $ top 200 push, but my book was also not free, although it was almost free (0.99 $). As before, they promised way more than they could deliver. The promotion was supposed to run for 2 weeks over their social platforms and they guaranteed 100 + downloads. I had 8 downloads altogether (counting KU reads), and at least 3 of those were the consequence of the tweets I booked over the eBooks Habit (just couldn’t resist). This time I decided to report that to the people from Books Butterfly, and they agreed to run the promotion for the remaining 92 books in November. They are very nice to talk to but something tells me that in November I won’t have much more downloads. Admittedly, “Forest Magic” is not the best book I’ve written, but it is also not the worst book in the universe, and certainly is better than many books out there that get hundreds of reviews. And maybe I am being partial, but I think I’m also realistic at least a little bit.

9.) Bargain Booksy ran my 0.99 $ “Forest Magic” again, and this time I had 30 book downloads after only one day of promotion with them. Not to mention that my last promotion of “The Neighbor” with them had brought me several sorely needed star ratings on Amazon. So, obviously, Books Butterfly could learn from them, and try to build their audience according to their preferences. Also, Bargain Booksy is very transparent and I actually see where my ad is posted and how it looks like – which cannot be said for Books Butterfly.

10.) Paid ad on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog site

Something new I tried was to pay 50 $ for a month worth of advertising on SBTB site. I came across this blog while aimlessly surfing the Internet and became a big fan. I like the informativeness of the site but also the humor. Some of the book reviews I read there made me laugh until I cried and I suggest them to anyone who needs a mood boost. At some point, I also realized they posted ads for a very accessible price (when you compare it to Amazon or Facebook paid ads). Besides learning how to make an animated GIF in Photoshop (I had no idea that was even a thing), I had around 25 clicks so far on the ad. I also advertised the Goodreads Giveaway (I’ll come to that) using that ad, so whereas I can’t tell how much overall effect it had on my sales, or on the number of entries for the Giveaway, I like to think it did have some effect, considering that I did not really advertise the giveaway through other channels.

11.) Goodreads Giveaway

There is a pop-up widget right on my homepage telling you all you need to know about it. For the uninitiated, Goodreads is a great platform where people talk about books and other book-related stuff, post reviews, blog, exchange ideas, or simply support each other. I became a member some time ago and like to go there occasionally and exchange opinions with other authors or readers. Goodreads use to organize these giveaways for free. However, recently Goodreads has become a part of the Amazon universe, and as we know, in that universe nothing is for free. Except what they allow you, and a giveaway is not one of those things. Opinions are divided as to the usefulness of the whole process, but for 119 $ you are now allowed to give away 100 free copies of your book. So, essentially, you are buying your books from Amazon and the people on Goodreads distribute them to the interested readers. Theoretically, one could also gift copies of the book to random people, but the trick is exactly that – I do not know 100 random people who might be interested in my book. Goodreads does. So I pay them to share that knowledge with me (indirectly). Considering, however, that this really increases the visibility of the book on Goodreads, and has gained me some followers, I think it is not such a bad deal. I was convinced that I would have trouble collecting even 50 entries, but so far, almost 600 people had entered the giveaway and I am impressed by the number. For all of those who do not get a book, I would be quite happy to organize another promotion on Amazon and inform them when they can download the book at a reduced price, but I don’t have the means to contact all of them. I’ll try and post a notification on my Goodreads author page at some point – maybe they’ll see it.

12.) Reviews, reviews, and reviews!

Yeah, they are important. After a lot of effort and waiting, I finally got my first written review on the book “Neighbor”. Thank you so much, whoever you are, for taking the time to write how you liked my book. And even the comment that they found the end too short – I think that, too. I still think I had to make it that way because there was not much more to say after that last chapter and I had to finish the story somewhere, but when a reader complains that 400 + pages book is too short, it only shows that they really liked reading it and wanted more! I am inclined to write a whole extra chapter just for that one person, and if I find time I will 🙂 Having such a nice review attached to my book led to an increase in sales, I believe (because I’m sure it was not the amazon ads that helped). So, readers, please, review our poor books. Honest reviews are the best advertising there is. Having said that, yeah, I have been offered to pay for reviews, but I am not a fan of such things, so I won’t. Even if they try to make it sound like I am not really paying for reviews, but for presenting my book to potential reviewers, blah, blah… It’s paying for reviews, essentially. So,… no.

I’ve had many other interesting experiences in the past few weeks – signed up for a workshop on writing, will attend a romance writer’s week organized by ProWritingAid, am supporting the development of a new serialized fiction platform called Resurgence Novels, and have written two interviews about myself and my books. But more about that later. I’m obviously having a blast and will report back soon!

Promoting a book – or not (Part 3) Read More »

Promoting a book – or not (Part 2)

The big promotion weekend is behind me and it is time to evaluate the results. My approach was not really scientific, having booked several promotion services on the same day, so I cannot give you an info about each one of them separately, just an overall effect they had on the number of downloads of my book. Plus, on this day, and the next one, I offered my book on Amazon for free. The idea was to entice people to look at the book and to create some buzz (am I using the right expression here?).

The conclusion: people looove free stuff.

And I am glad they do. I am absolutely thrilled that over 200 people have downloaded my book and are hopefully reading it now, even though I have not earned a single cent (and have actually accumulated some expenses due to the promotion fees). I will be even more thrilled if at least a portion of them likes the book enough to recommend it or write a review (like the persons who had given me the first reviews for my books – thank you so much!), and maybe even go ahead and read my other book. The experience with the publishing and marketing has sensitized me to a value of a good review, so I have decided to do my best to help other authors by reviewing their books (you can read all about it in my posts about book reviews). But, let’s get back to the promotional services I tried.

4.) Fiverr:

Fiverr, as I found out, offers all kinds of services, basically connecting freelancers with their customers. For around 30 bucks I booked someone to advertise my book on their Facebook pages over the course of 5 days. Oh yeah, the name was bookkitty. Oh, I just checked, my book ad is really posted there! Thank you bookkitty for keeping your end of the bargain. Unfortunately, no book downloads today 🙁 No likes on your post either. I guess you still need to work on your followers list, maybe?

5.) Books Butterfly:

I booked the cheapest option: an 80 $ top 200 push for free books (my book was free on the day of promotion) with guaranteed 1000 + downloads. Apparently, it should work in 92% of the cases. I guess I am in that 8% minority. Should I ask for a refund (I might be able to get a coupon to use it for their services again)? But, do I want to use their services again? I did get to a #214 rank in the contemporary romance category (if only for a moment), and to a #1014 rank in the overall Kindle free ebook download on the day of promotion, which is pretty good if one considers that there are over 60 000 titles in the contemporary romance category. However, only I am aware of that fact (and maybe my cat, if he was paying attention). And it might have been the effect of other promotion services, not them. Hmmm…. Therefore, my verdict: they promise too much. No need to do that. Why make people hope? I knew I was not going to get 1000 + downloads, and I was perfectly happy with my 200 + downloads, but I was kind of annoyed by their propaganda. And one other interesting observation: they seem to have something going on with BookBub (a fancy promotion site for books accepting only special books with a sufficient number of reviews) because they do not refund the money if the book had already been promoted over BookBub. Why? Add that to the mysteries of the universe…

6.) eBooks Habit:

For 12 $ (15 $ usually, but I had a promo code) you can book 24 tweets over the course of one day about your book on the day of promotion. Let me see, it amounts to one tweet per hour. Wow! I can do math! They claim to have a lot of followers, but I haven’t checked. Sorry 🙁 Anyway, it is not that expensive and it cannot harm to have your book promoted in the Tweeter universe, so I would go for it from time to time, maybe during some of my next book promotion actions.

7.) Reddit and Facebook:

On the day of the promotion I posted a few posts on Reddit and Facebook informing people that my book is free on that and the following day. I even got upvoted on Reddit and earned some Karma points! I really like those Karma points 🙂 And I had one like on the Facebook post. I feel so grateful! This did not cost me anything but my time, and I always get such a warm feeling when someone likes my post or upvotes me, so emotionally, this has been highly rewarding. Have I mentioned Karma points? 🙂 The conclusion: I would recommend it. There are many channels for posts about free eBooks and it’s free advertising. Plus, I became active on both Reddit and Facebook and had fun exchanging infos about books and favorite writers, which I intend to do in the future, as well. It’s nice talking to people, and even the messages from the Reddit bot make my heart beat faster.

Now to end this post, one interesting Amazon absurdity: several people came across my book and downloaded it (because it was free) by clicking on Amazon ads (which I’m paying for). So basically, I paid Amazon so that people would read my book. Whaaat? No wonder J.B. is (almost) the richest man on Earth.

Anyway, I have more plans for future promotions and one other promotion coming, so be sure to check my posts for new insights.

Promoting a book – or not (Part 2) Read More »

Promoting a book – or not (Part 1)

Trying out different promotion services for books.

I guess all writers have experienced it: you’ve written a book, you’ve published a book; you think it’s good, a number of other people thinks it’s good (just to make sure you’re not being partial), but that number is small. Or smaller than you’d like. So, the next logical step is marketing and advertising, not for the sake of earning money (not everything is about money – duh; or at least not only about money), but for the sake of getting the story out there, getting the people to know your story and enjoy it (hopefully).

Being in that exciting and, to be honest, frustrating phase right now, I have decided to try out several book promotion services that are out there and promise everything from increasing the sales, getting you those reviews you sorely need, all the way to putting your book on the bestseller list. My budget for this venture is not limitless, to say the least, but I’m ready to put in some money and ready to lose some as I travel the learning curve. Did I mention that I’m patient, too? So, in order to help all others who are doing the same right now and are feeling lost like the most of us, here is what I’ve tried so far and how it worked out. I will add to the list as I collect more information and try new things.

1.) Amazon services:

Since I’ve published both of my books on Amazon, I thought it would be good to try their marketing services. The concept is kind of funny. The Amazon earns not only by taking a percentage from my book sales, but also by me paying for the ads. Amazon does offer free book promotions, of which there are several types, but most are connected to offering your book at a reduced price or for free for several days at a time. So far so good, but during my first book promotion (offering the book at 0.99 € for a week) I did not get a feeling that Amazon tried particularly to indicate that the book is on offer, or that the visibility of the book increased in any way. The boost in sales that I had during this time came from a different source, but I’ll get to that later.

Coming back to the ads – I created a marketing campaign for the US market (I still want to try other, smaller markets), on a small budget, used manual targeting, meaning that I am trying to figure out which search terms work, and which don’t, and which clicks convert to sales. It has been running for a while now, and the results are not impressive, I must admit. Maybe I am not experienced enough, or I am lacking brain power, but when my ad comes up in searches of people that are clearly looking for something else (and I’ve tried to exclude such searches by putting in the negative keywords), then something is not functioning the way it should. Oh, the mystery of Amazon algorithms! Who has ever said that this world is devoid of magic?

So, to conclude, this is a work in progress. I am still not ready to pass my final judgment on this one, but I’ll keep you posted.

2.) Bargain Booksy:

During the one week when my book was on sale on Amazon, I wanted to increase its visibility by informing people about the price reduction and that the book existed at all. So, I came across Bargain Booksy, where you can pay and they send newsletters to thousands of their subscribers, letting them know about your book. They have several categories for books and one can probably find the fitting one, although a bit more diversity could not harm. The least popular ones take 30-40 $ for the promotion, the most popular ones (romance included) take around 80 – 90 $ and more. I should probably switch to writing science fiction self help books for children, or something. Anyway, my book got promoted by them on the first day of price reduction at Amazon, and lo and behold, there was a boost in sales. It did not make me rich, but it did have an effect on my enthusiasm, and just thinking that a couple of dozen people out there is reading my book right now makes my heart warm.

I am planning to promote my second book through them right now, this time at the full price of 2.99 $ per book. Let’s see how this pans out. A word of advice, for romance categories it is good to plan booking the slot in advance, because the dates are usually sold out.

A cynical part of me imagines someone at Bargain Booksy sitting at the computer and using a portion of the promotion fee to buy books from the authors, just to convince them that the promotion really has an effect. But, I will silence it for now.

One other thing – no reviews so far, from this or other sources. To be optimistic, no reviews is better than bad reviews, but the feedback is lacking, so I’ll sit tonight under the summer sky and make my wish on a falling star (or actually, on falling debris of a comet, burning in the Earth’s atmosphere) that someone will give me a five star review.

3.) Justkindlebooks:

For the price of around 40-50 $ this site offers the possibility to promote your kindle book across three sites and two newsletters. Or was it two sites and three newsletters? Whatever… It did not result in increased sales or reads of my book. I sold one book more – and I am glad, but I could have just given dozens of books for free and it would have had more effect. Disclaimer – maybe my book was just not the thing to attract attention, since there was no naked male torso on the cover, or it is simply not an attractive book. Let’s face it, there is that possibility (no matter how minuscule). I have their emblem on my web page, and it’s a cute emblem, so I will keep it, but I will probably not try them again. For that money I might as well try something else, which could result in more… well, result.

Stay tuned – I am trying out some other, affordable ways of promotion right now, and will keep you posted.

Promoting a book – or not (Part 1) Read More »