Let’s start with a quote from Suw Charman-Anderson in a Forbes article published on June 19, 2012.”All this seems to say that success is a matter of luck and is outside of the author’s control. That’s an attractive hypothesis because it takes the onus completely off the author, but it’s not completely true. What does make a difference to sales, especially for first-timers, is getting good reviews in online bookstores, such as Amazon. Your book won’t appear high in search or top 100 lists, and nor will it be picked up by recommendations algorithms without them. Instead, you’ll be stuck in a vicious circle wherein no one sees your book so no one takes a chance on it, which means it gets no reviews and doesn’t rise up in the search results or appear in the recommendations.”The only way to break this cycle is to get reviews, and that means promoting your book. You have to get it in front of friends and family, book bloggers and reviewers, and even random strangers on the internet. Whether you do that via social networks like Twitter or Facebook, or emails to your friends, or giveaways on Goodreads and LibraryThing, you have to do something. There’s just no way round it. Even publishing a second or third book won’t break the cycle, it will just mean you have two or three unknown books that aren’t selling.”Ms. Charman-Anderson makes a very succinct and accurate observation. Four years after this article was published, I think it’s fair to say that most authors are aware of the importance of book marketing, exposure, reviews and rankings. One need only visit a book promotion Facebook group or Twitter page to recognize how many authors are competing to gain visibility through social media, book bloggers and reviewers.Does Book Marketing Pay off?But is any of this actually working? Perhaps, but I imagine the actual number of books that are reaching mainstream readers is very small. To demonstrate this point, I recently visited one of the most prominent book promotion groups on Facebook. At a random date and time, I looked at the first five book listings when I opened the discussion page. Five days later, I checked the rankings for each book on Amazon. I purposely did not include the actual names of the books or authors to avoid embarrassing anyone.This is what I found:Book #1: #3,212,608 in booksBook #2: #238,283 paid in Kindle StoreBook #3: #560,430 in BooksBook #4: #205,932 paid in Kindle StoreBook#5: 1,098,578 Paid in Kindle StoreBook number one and number five are clearly struggling to gain visibility. While the rankings of book number two and number four have some traction, it’s important to keep this in context. In fact, while insight into Amazon’s ranking system is difficult to ascertain, some sources estimate that an Amazon Bestseller ranking above 100,000 indicates that a book is selling less than one copy per day. I imagine these authors are exerting a lot of effort to sell very few books.Book Marketing Without the Sweat EquitySo what does it all mean?Social media, email lists, book signings, book club meetings, writer’s conferences, social gatherings, review solicitations… the path to success for a self-published author can be exhausting. The puzzle of successful book promotion must revolve around the massive potential of a unified self-publishing community. At the Hidden Author, we believe that harnessing the purchasing power of the self-published author’s community, and promoting great books to readers who are unaware of the quality product that is available, is the key to creating the momentum great books need to reach critical mass.After all, wouldn’t you rather write instead of sell?
IntroductionAt the time there were no ‘verified purchase’ labels and no checks so lots of people were buying ads that gave them 2-3 reviews for $5 (just a few pounds sterling). This gave readers the impression that these books were well worth buying. The etablets devices had limited display features so the quality of the book formatting did not matter as much as it does today.People had to download a sample to get a proper look at the book so in the case of a ‘free’ book, it was easier just downloading the whole thing than the possibility of virtually downloading it twice.The e/iBook market has very much changed:- In excess of 70,000 titles a month are being released every month making it far harder to get your book noticed.- Readers are expecting a high standard of formatting. Each listing now has a specific link to complain about formatting- Readers can get a preview of the book without downloading- Major outlets have put restriction on sites that list free sites, so fewer books are being promoted at some of the more well-known ‘free’ listing sites and there is more competition for the places on offer- Review policy seems to be very inconsistent with some major online outlets Some support staff are saying that authors cannot review other author’s books, others say their reviews are welcome.Below are quite a few methods to promote your books on a ‘free’ day and reasons why you should, but you must first understand that for continued success, your book needs to optimised and readers need to be willing to pay for it.You can get yourself lots of publicity but at the end of the day if readers do not like what you are offering or the book does not resonate with them then the book will not sell. To illustrate this, we have all come across books and films that have had huge marketing budgets but ended up a flop because the product just was not right.So How Do You Get Noticed And Are ‘Free’ Days Still Worth It?The best way to set up your Giveaway is through a websites that exist to enable this of which there is an increasing number online.Whether ‘free’ days are still worth it depending to a certain extent upon what you intend to get out of them and what else you have done to promote them.3 Main Reasons To Have A ‘Free’ Day1. Increase your relevancy score (‘customers who bought… etc)2. Gather reviews3. Boost in short-term salesThe first two reasons are the most important. There is a train of thought that major online outlets would far rather you have 100 ‘free’ books downloaded where the readers all buy similar books as opposed to several thousand downloads where the readers have absolutely nothing in common.Internal Review Request LinkThis is the most basic promotion tactics that everybody should be doing but unfortunately lots of people are not and they are really missing out because of it. It will also seriously affect one of the reasons for your ‘free’ day.You should always have a link at the back of your book with a link back to your listing requesting that the reader leaves an honest review. The most likely time people are going to leave a review is after they’ve just read your book. The link encourages them to leave a review and makes it as easy as possible for them.Statistics for book downloads in the different categories: In addition to the sheer number of downloads there are online ePublishing services that also give you a great relevance score i.e. high percentage of people who often download books like yours. This leads to you getting recommended in all sorts of ways by major online outlets, e.g. ‘Customers who bought… ‘. If these major online outlets spots a book that is getting lots of downloads from people with similar profiles (e.g. buying lots of similar books to yours) then they will promote heavily after your ‘free’ day promotion.N.B: There is a service elsewhere which offers a minimum of 10,000 downloads and major online outlets did not seem to have any issues with it. However, people are now getting warning letters from major online outlets stating that this particular service is using questionable methodsFree/Low Cost ‘Free’ Day PromotionReviews/Reviews SwapsWhen you have a ‘free’ day there are lots of websites, social media pages plus groups that may/will feature your book.Lots of the social media pages and groups will also allow you to list your book inviting people to review as well as download or allow you to directly ask others to swap reviews.Free Day Listing SitesAlthough individually not as effective as they used to be, there are many sites that will feature your book on a ‘free’. However, they are starting to get a bit choosy with so many books coming out. Some of them have a guaranteed placement but for a small fee. There are lots of these sites to choose from so the cost will be more in terms of time than money.Ads For Social MediaAlthough not always recommend using certain providers to purchase reviews, it can be helpful advertising your book on social media pages that the providers service offer. Some of these gigs will display your ad on pages that supposedly have many thousands of people. If you go down this route then it is suggested that you take note of their reviews and visit any page links they provide.Social Media AdsThe main well known social media social allows you to create your own ads and display them for a fee. The better the response to your ads then the lower the relative cost. Therefore targeting relevant people makes your advertising far cheaper and far more effective. The major social media sites have their own targeting options based on its accumulated data. There can be reservations as to whether it is accurate, relevant and up-to-date. For example, it is not known if somebody who accidentally clicked on a site that was ‘liked’ by a friend five years ago would come up in this targeting.A far more accurate method of targeting which only includes people who are actively taking part in relevant groups. Everybody on major social media sites has a User ID and with some have an Editor facility you can input User ID’s of people you know are interested in your type of book. Using the right tools you could have a list of 1000’s of people.However, as with all books, getting them in front of the right people does not always mean that they are willing to download/buy them.Giveaway PromotionThis can be a bit more expensive than the others depending upon what you want to give away. You can select a whole host of ways they can enter your Giveaway such ‘liking’ or ‘tweeting’ your book/giveaway. You can add in any option you want. At the end of the Giveaway you have all of the entrants e-mail addresses so you can contact them with details such as when your new book or a future books is coming out. You also have people actively promoting your book using social media.There is a whole host of ways to get people to your selected platform. There are many sites whose sole purpose is to tell people of giveaways that are taking place. They readily accept submissions as the more people they can attract to their site the more money they can make through advertising or however else they monetise their site.Some of the entrants will be freebie grabbers who will not be interested in your book but they are not costing you anymore for the prize and they are advertising for you. If you make your prize relevant to your book then you’re likely to get a more targeted list.You could also again setup adds on social media in the same way that you did in the last section to attract people.GiveawayIf you an have account with the main books promotional sites then there are lots of people you can contact enlightening them of the fact that a free e/iBook version is on offer You can be fairly confident that these people are interested in your book otherwise they would not have entered in the first place.Press ReleasesIf you have lots of faith in your book then you could try an online press release. You may be under the impression that press releases are very expensive and difficult to do. You can actually get some press releases sent for free, and get them written very cheaply e.g. $25 (about £20).Video Video TrailerThis may come across as far beyond your capabilities but many video trailers are just PowerPoint slides set to music. You can download royalty-free music for free or buy it very cheaply at sources, add it to your PowerPoint slides then record a slideshow using the PowerPoint software and even share online with sources such as SlideShare.Contact Lists This @rticle provides for the reader lots of ideas to promote your book on a ‘free’ day as well as at other times. For some of the sections mentioned above the Author has collected and compiled the data over a long period of time including lists of contact links to use when you are ready for having a ‘free’ day.For ideas (and to share) please visit the author online who has spreadsheets available to help progress.