Some months ago I blogged about what my plans might be when I was ready to launch my new book. Well everything is ready to go and ‘Bleak – The story of a shape shifter’ is up on Amazon and Smashwords in anticipation of the ‘launch’. Also up there is ‘Bleak – The first mission’ and a collection of short stories, ‘Dancing with the Devil – Ten short stories of the weird and wonderful for those short of time’. But more of the how they fit in later.
With my first two books I launched them on Kindle tweeted, and waited, and waited… and waited. I put them on a few free sites and some not so expensive sites. And, well, the results were disappointing. It’s not so much that I didn’t appreciate that you needed to market them, it’s more that I didn’t know how. So this time I’m trying to be a bit more savy. I have read blogs, books and articles and tried to distil some sort of strategy or campaign. Am I now clear on what I’m doing?, not really. But at least I’m doing something this time. There is so much advice out there and so many people saying they can help (for a fee), it’s difficult to know where to place my limited budget and then to know where to spend my own, also limited, time. Anyway this is where I am:
1) I’ve started with the book covers. The idea to make them tie in with the metadata and the search words that Amazon will use. I looked at Amazon’s top one hundred science fiction books. More and more are using subtitles or single line descriptions on the cover, not only to attract the viewer, but also I suspect to make use of the metadata and search words. I’ve used of the google keywords planner – enter keywords and it’ll tell you how often they are looked for. It will also make suggestions of other possible variants. This costs nothing and refining these for Amazon (and Smashwords) even if it only helps a little, it has to be time well spent.
2) As mentioned above – I have a 10,000 word prequel, Bleak – The first mission, which I had intend to give away from my site. Instead this is now free on Smashwords and although I am not promoting yet (see below) it has already had a good number of downloads. I had hoped Amazon would then also make it free (currently $99) i.e. they drop the price if lower elsewhere. However, when I informed them (adding it was intended to drive sales of the novel) they said ‘We reserve the right to price as we see fit’ and have left it at $99, £0.99. What kind of sense does that make? So if you fancy a free read go to Smashwords.
As for the collection of short stories (also containing the Bleak prequel) I am unsure quite what to do with that. It is available on Amazon (£0.99), but not Smashwords at the moment. I might use this to experiment with, perhaps also giving away free or as a way of increasing my e-mail list. I may also do the same with one of my other books, again perhaps have a free period etc. and then use a promoting service
3) One of the reasons for not promoting yet is I’m trying to be patient. When the promotion starts I want to have the best chance of selling and I know that means having reviews (gold dust for authors). So I have sent copies to ‘early readers’ who have asked for them. The trick is turning those into reviews. I have also enlisted with BooksGoSocial.com who will help me in trying to get those all-important reviews before we start marketing. This brings me to:
4) I have decided to place at least some of my meagre budget with Booksgosocial.com who now boast over 500,000 followers. Why did I choose them out of all those who say they can help (for a fee?)? Because since joining last year I have seen how committed they are through their facebook site. If you’re not a member have a look, there’s a link on this page. I feel I’ve got to know them a little and believe they will do the best they can for me, for what is a modest sum. They also seem to be learning and improving all the time in what they can offer, which gives me confidence. As I’ve said, we’ve agreed that the main marketing thrust will wait until we have obtained those reviews.
Is there more I can do, of course. Do I feel as if I’m swimming in a large ocean with my eyes closed – yes! Are there sharks in those waters, definitely. But I know there are sales out there, people who will enjoy my books. I just have to reach them. In my next blog I’ll cover some of the other things I think I might need to do/might try.
Comments and suggestions are always welcome. And if you know of things that have worked for you, let me, and others, know.