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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TOPIC: Marketing & Promotion - What works?

Unfortunately, the general consensus is a lot of marketing/promo done by an author is unmeasurable.

But, as authors, I think we can make educated guesses on what works, and what doesn't, if we do some research and gather data using the process of trial and error.

Before being published I followed, watched and researched 4-5 of my favorite authors and looked at their websites, blogs, Facebok pages, Twitter posts and so on, and took note of what they were doing, how they did it and what appealed to me in what they did.

I also read a lot of results of reader surveys run by a variety of organisations (like RWAmerica, ARRA and other independent studies).

I came up with a list of things that have helped me shape my promotion & marketing plans (of course, I tweak them as I go as I learn more after each book and time passes).

Here is a small list of points I thought worked well for me (and keep in mind this will vary from author to author):
  • writing the next book is the best form of marketing and promotion ever!
  • other than the above, word of mouth is one of the most powerful selling tool
  • giveaway books ie. a selected number during your blog tours, giveaways at conferences, newsletter prizes to subscribers, Goodreads etc.
The last point feeds word of mouth - how do I know this? I've had readers email me to say they won a giveaway, lent the book to a friend and their friend has liked it enough to want to buy their own copy.

When readers email me I offer to send out signed bookplates for their friend if they'd like one. I used this as a chance to send out a doodad/bookmark/postcard as well (see "doodad" comment below). This may seem small bikkies but I believe every sale counts.

Something else I've noticed that may help:
  • mentioning when your books are significantly discounted or on special at certain places like Amazon, The Book Depository, B&N. I did this on my social media network - FB, Twitter, my newsletter and so on.
Now, while I can't give you 100% proof of sales through doing this, I can only share my observations with you and you can make up your own mind about whether this worked.

I made a point of looking at click-throughs from my newsletter - where subscribers went looking - and tracking things like sales rankings on The Book Depository, Amazon/Author Central, Barnes & Noble etc. I did this on a daily basis for a period of time AFTER I announced these discounts.

What I noticed was this...sales rankings rose. So, I guess one could assume that there may have been some sort of link to advertising discounts and these results.

(As an aside, one thing to be wary of is doing this too often. Bombarding readers with these announcements can be regarded as spammy. It's a very quick way of annoying them and they'll unlike/unfriend/unsubscribe/unfollow you.)
  • Doodads - as a reader I like receiving "stuff", particularly if it's from a favorite author, whether it's postcards, bookmarks, pens, giveaways etc. These "doodads" puts your work/name in front of the reader and anyone else who sees it, every time they use the refrigerator, write or carry something.
One point to consider is that whatever you giveaway should serve a dual purpose. It should advertise your product (the book) and it should be practical. Gauging by emails and comments from readers, things like refrigerator magnets, pens, cups, notepads, tote bags seemed to have worked well for me.

Personally, I quite like calico tote bags you can take them shopping or to work with you (with a book cover & website on the sides). I use them mostly as grocery shopping bags and the number of times I've had people comment and ask about them is amazing. They're (subtle) walking advertisments, small billboards on legs.
  • As a reader I also like free stories for subscribers of newsletters, and snippets of new releases during blog tours (the varied the better as I will follow an author around on their tour getting information about that book), "special extra's" about the book (a bit like the extra's on a DVD, character outlines, bloopers, deleted scenes and so on).
So, as an author, this is what I've tried to incorporate on my website, in my blog tours, on my blog and in my newsletters.

Of course, some of the promotional items require a budget (like the "doodads" & postage) but if you set yourself a strict limit it's doable.

This is my 2c worth on promotion and marketing outside of writing a damn good book! :-)

Does anyone else have an hints or advice they'd like to share on this topic?


  1. Another well-timed post for me Kylie. I have been given a date now 1 march. Yay!
    I have watched and followed many authors also. Still undecided on just what and how. I think writing the next book is sound device. My publisher has a promo budget and a plan, so I will dovetail into hat and learn as I go. Big year ahead.

    1. Congrats on the release date, Jenn!!! Woohoo!!! Good luck with your year ahead plans!

      By all means, if your publisher has a publicist working with you, then take advantage of their expertise!

      I like doing both. :-)

  2. Very appropriate for me too Kylie as i'm in the 'thinking' stages of creating a marketing plan for the new year.


    1. Research is the key, Jane. It's basically how I've done it.

  3. A great post Kylie.

    And very timely. I have been actively marketing for a while now with mixed results.

    I have set my goal of creating a solid marketing plan for the coming year.