Monday, March 30, 2015

10 Steps For A Free Book Promotion


I am no book marketing expert, though I have picked up a few things over the years. Just recently, I've decided to really market my books in earnest and to not let anything discourage me. These basic techniques are what I've learned recently, and I hope they will make the beginning stages of marketing a little easier for others.

The Steps

Currently, I'm working on my latest novel, Bodacious Creed: A Steampunk Zombie Western. I ran a successful Kickstarter to not only get the book's publication funded, but to get readers involved, and now I'm about half-way through the first draft.

I decided it made sense to also re-publish my first two novels, Tamshi's Imp and Children of Rhatlan. These are the steps I've taken so far, and are what I suggest for other writers.

1. Create a cover that looks great as a thumbnail. I worked at B.Dalton Bookseller in the early 1990s. Back then, most genre covers were elaborate paintings, especially in the fantasy genre. That worked fine when people had to look at full-sized covers in book stores, but today, when we see a book cover for the first time, it's usually as a thumbnail on Amazon. Create a more simple cover that is striking as a thumbnail and can entice potential readers to click. Here are the covers for mine. As you can see, not only are a they relatively simple, they're also artistic, and they are also similar in style. I did this to create a brand image. The cover of Bodacious Creed will be in the same general style.

2. Publish the print versions of your books on CreateSpace. I used to recommend Lulu, but then CreateSpace came along, and boy are there advantages to publishing there. First is what you can offer them for while still making a nice royalty. When I had these books published through Lulu, I had to sell them for $15.95 apiece to make a royalty on them. I was able to price the CreateSpace editions at $9.95 each, $6.00 less than the Lulu editions! (I also discontinued the Lulu editions for this very reason.) Also, my price-per-copy as author is about 1/3 what I had to pay when ordering copies through Lulu! In addition, since CreateSpace is connected to Amazon, with a few clicks, you can have your books converted to Kindle format. Finally, with Kindle MatchBook, if someone buys a print edition of your book, you can allow them to get the Kindle edition for a discount. (This option for Kindle, and other Kindle suggestions following, are possible through the Kindle Direct Publishing site.)

3. Enroll your book in Kindle Unlimited. This allows Kindle Unlimited members on Amazon to read your book for free. However, if a person reads more than 10%, you receive a royalty, anyway!

4. Join lots of Facebook book share groups. Visit the group List of ALL Book and Author Promotion Groups. Look at the list, which is pinned to the top of the page. Right click on each group title that corresponds at all with the type of book you're selling, and open it in a new tab. Then, go through and join all these groups!

5. Run a free five-day kindle promotion. On the Kindle Direct Publishing site, you can choose from two kinds of promotions. One is the Kindle Countdown Deal, which allows you to start by by putting your Kindle book on sale for one low price, and slowly raising that price daily until it hits the actual retail price. The other is the Free Book Promotion, which you can run for up to five days per book. Shortly after your Kindle book comes out, this is a fantastic way to get the word out and to gain a lot more readers! When looking at your list of published books on KDP, clkck on the "Promote and Advertise" link for the book you want to make free, then select the Free Book Promotion. You can start the promotion at any time starting from the next day.

6. Create bit links for Kindle edition on Bit.Ly. This accomplishes two things: It will give you a shorter URL to paste along with your promo (outlined in step 7), and at any time during or after your promo you can go to Bit.Ly to see how many clicks your links have received. Oh, for this last part, you need to sign up for a free Bit.Ly account.

7. Share your free promotion on facebook and twitter. Remember all those groups you joined in step 4? If you've given yourself a day or two in step 5, you should be a member of most of those groups by now. Write a short promo for your book (or books... I promoted two at once), say that it will be free from its start date until its end date, include the link to the Kindle edition, and post it! I recommend posting between noon and 7:00 pm Pacific Time, as this can take quite awhile, and those hours are when more people will be online to see the posts come through. Here's what I wrote for my first day of promotion: 

From today through Sunday, get "Children of Rhatlan" and "Tamshi's Imp" FREE for Kindle!
"Tamshi's Imp is ... an adventure not to be missed!" -- James Rollins
"There were enough twists and turns to keep me riveted until the last lines. 'Children of Rhatlan' is a winner!" -- Jonathan Lambert
Rather than using the automatic image link Facebook pasted in going to just one of my books, I deleted that image and uploaded a picture of each book cover instead. However, if you are advertising just one book, there's no need to make such a change.
Clearly, your tweet will be much shorter. Craft it well!
8. Post every day of the promotion. However, don't post to every single page every day. Many of the groups are big, larger than 1,000 members. If you return to such a group the next day and you don't see your advertisement by scrolling down, you're probably safe to post an update. In fact, some groups say that it's Okay to post once per day, but not more. If you see your post on the first page as you school though, you probably shouldn't post the link again until a day or two later.
9. Check your giveaway. On your Kindle Direct Publishing reports page, you will see a chart of your sales. It includes verified sales, Kindle Unlimited downloads, and free copies. If all goes well, you should start seeing some pretty good numbers! In my five days of promoting Children of Rhatlan and Tamshi's Imp, folks downloaded 665 copies.
10. Brag, but not in an arrogant way. The day after your promotion ends, make one more post to all the large, 1,000 member and up groups. This is your chance to do a bit of bragging and to hopefully get some downloads and sales started! In this post, say how many free copies Kindle readers got. Then say that the book is free, and will always be free, on Kindle Unlimited. Point out the regular Kindle price. Also point out the price of the print edition, and the lower price of the Kindle edition for anyone who buys the print book.

Additional Suggestions

1. Have a Facebook author page and share it. Some of the group pages are not for advertising books, but are for sharing your Facebook pages. So, have a Facebook author page! In these groups, post the link to your Facebook author page. It will post not only your link, but your page banner, and will allow people to like the page directly from the post. Then, go through the list of other people's pages and like those that interest you. (I do not recommend simply liking someone's page because they liked yours. This system should work by bringing attention to pages you may not be aware of, not to force you to like something you wouldn't otherwise. Doing so can also mess up your Facebook feed.) My two pages, Jonathan Fesmire: Author, and Bodacious Creed: A Steampunk Zombie Western, each gained over 100 new fans over the weekend.
2. Create an about post for your Facebook author page. This is easy enough. Create a basic post that says what your author page is about. Here, you can have a link to your website and blog, and say something about yourself and your writing. Pin this to the top of the page so that people can always read this first.
3. Join the discussion. This kind of promotion takes a lot of time! Some recommend using a bot to post these, and I believe that can be done ethically. I will certainly be looking into it after these five busy days! However, once you're promotion has run, start engaging with writers and readers on these groups. People who know you are more likely to buy your books, or so I'm told, and you can make new friends and connections.

And Now...

That's what I have for now! As I learn more about book marketing and try other things, I will try to keep readers informed of what works and what does not.
Meanwhile, I highly recommend the page 71 Ways to Promote and Market Your Book by Kimberly Grabas. There are many great suggestions here I have yet to try, but I look forward to going through them.
Also, if you agree with or disagree with any of my marketing strategies, please let me know why!

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