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.

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