An Experiment with Facebook Promotion*

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*Before we begin, I’d like to clarify that this promotion was not by using paid ads through Facebook, but rather by contacting community pages on Facebook for promotion.

I recently ran a five-day free promotion for Oak and Mist, the first book in my Ambeth series. I’d run one before, back in September last year, and had rather good results, with around 4500 copies downloaded, several paperbacks sold, a few good reviews and a large increase in my KENP numbers. I’d supported that promotion with three days of paid advertising, as well as blog posts, which were picked up and shared via many lovely bloggers.

I wasn’t expecting lightning to strike in the same place twice, but, as the third Ambeth book is due to come out soon, I thought I’d give it another go and hopefully attract some new readers to the series. This time I decided to supplement the promotion via Facebook. This was for a couple of reasons – first, my budget wasn’t huge, so searching out free or low-cost options suited me. Second, I kind of stuffed up in terms of booking any paid advertising, so ended up with only the first day of the promotion advertised through Booksends. However, I’d read a recent blog where the author had used Facebook as part of his promotion and had garnered an astonishing number of downloads, so thought it worth trying.

And here’s what happened:

I approached three different pages, Free Kindle Books UK, Free Kindle Books and Free Kindle Books – Community. I sent them each a universal link to Oak and Mist, plus some information about the book and the dates of the promotion, and did so a few days before my promo was due to start.

Free Kindle Books UK were great – they ran a promotion on the first day, which was then picked up and shared. I also had some lovely blogging friends share the promo through their own blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter – thank you all so much for the support. This, coupled with the paid ad through Booksends, meant I had a fairly respectable first day of downloads, about 500 in total.

When I approached Free Kindle Books – Community, their page directed me to their website, Free Kindle Books 4u dot com. I went there and checked their submission requirement, which stated that, due to high demand, they could only guarantee me a spot if I made a ‘donation.’ This donation would, however, make my book a featured title for the duration of my promotion and, as the recommended amount started at $5, it seemed a pretty good deal. The page was updated daily and there were plenty of titles on offer, as well as a ‘Featured’ column where, I presumed, my book would be. So I paid $10, submitted my link and that was that.

However.

On the 23rd of February, halfway through my promotion, I checked their site. My book was not featured, nor had it been posted at all. When I did a title search it did eventually show up, but the listing was from my original promotion in the previous September. I had not submitted my book to them at that time, so I can only presume they pull offers from the web and post them, hoping to entice authors such as myself into making ‘donations’, with the impression that we would get promotion as promised in return. I emailed them to enquire, but to date have had no response. So, definitely not recommended.

And finally, Free Kindle Books. They have about 50,000 followers, so I thought they would be a good bet. Once again I was directed to an external website, where a number of packages were available for advertising there. I messaged them, saying I only wanted a Facebook promotion and could they let me know if it was possible. I didn’t receive a reply until the last day of my promotion – it stated that they would be happy to run a post for me on that day, but could I please do them a favour in return.

Visions of all sorts running through my head, I cautiously messaged back, What sort of favour? It turned out that the favour was to purchase a book for 99c, then leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I messaged back saying I was always happy to support fellow indies, but couldn’t guarantee I would leave a review. I don’t review every book I read, and won’t leave negative reviews for books as I feel it’s unfair to the author – opinions can be very subjective and just because I don’t like something, doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it. Anyway. I also asked her if this was a standard part of promotion for their page.

She replied that it was, and that she understood I may not be able to leave her a review, however, she hoped I would enjoy the books (my 99c bought me a five-book set). In the end we had a very civil exchange of messages, and, as I felt that 99c was cheap to reach a potential 50,000 readers, I went ahead and did notice a small surge in download numbers on the last day.

So there you have it. In the end I gave away about 800 books, not a huge amount compared to my previous promotion, but still not bad. I also sold a few more copies of No Quarter, received some great feedback comments from readers, and my KENP numbers have surged again. I’m not sure whether I’ll offer Oak and Mist free again – perhaps I might consider it when the last book comes out and there is a full set – but feel both promotions have been a success as I’ve definitely increased my readership. As for using the Facebook community for promotion? I’m still of two minds about it.

How about you? Have you used Facebook to promote your books? And did you get positive results? Look forward to hearing your comments.

 

 

 

 

Another Marketing Foray

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The other week, I wrote a post about a free promotion I ran for a limited time on my first book, Oak and Mist. It was a pretty successful promotion, increasing my readership and leading to further sales, so I was happy with the result.

I decided to test out another marketing option by placing an ad on Goodreads. It’s a pay-per-click ad, where you set a price to pay each time someone clicks on your ad (I bid $0.60 per click, a little above the average of $0.50) . There were three things I liked about the set-up:

  1. Control. I wrote the ad, set the price-per-click and the maximum number of clicks I was willing to pay for each day.
  2. Budget. The ad is pre-paid, so will run until my maximum number of clicks is reached, and I won’t be charged any more. There is an option to automatically renew once your credit runs out, but I opted out of that.
  3. Flexibility. You can change the copy or appearance of your ad whenever you choose, or change the cost-per-click or maximum number of clicks per day. When you do this the ad needs to be approved again, but this happens fairly quickly.

So far, I’m going to be honest and say that it hasn’t set the world on fire. I’ve only had a few clicks so far, and garnered a lot more interest when I ran my Goodreads giveaway. However, it’s been a great opportunity to test different taglines for my book and see which ones gather the most attention. Goodreads sends me a daily report listing how often the ad was viewed, how many clicks for that day, whether any one added my book as a result of the ad, plus my remaining credit, so it’s easy to see patterns when you change any aspect of the campaign. This is invaluable information that will be very useful when putting together future campaigns, as I’m essentially testing my ideas on a huge live audience and getting immediate feedback.

When you self-publish, it’s important to choose your promotional avenues wisely, as they are all part of the brand you are building in order to sell your books. There’s also an enormous amount of learning on-the-job, and I’ve been extremely grateful to the many writers out there who share information about their experiences.

And how about you? Has anyone else out there had experience advertising on Goodreads? And how successful was it?

 

 

A Marketing Experiment – Follow-up

Oak And Mist final cover

Last week, I wrote a post about a marketing experiment I was doing, the main objective being to increase my readership and, hopefully, generate some interest in my upcoming new release, No Quarter. I decided to offer Oak and Mist, the first book in the series, free on Amazon for a limited time, hoping to capitalise on some positive reviews.

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I took advantage of the free five day promotion from Amazon, part of being enrolled in KDP Select. You get five days out of every ninety to list your book as free – you can either run the days all together, or break them into separate promotions. I chose to run the five days together, hoping to maximise my exposure. I also ran three paid advertisements during the promotion – one with Booksends, one with E Reader News Today, and one with Robin Reads.

So how did it go?

I ended up having 4415 people download Oak and Mist for free. Even if only twenty per cent of those people actually read the book, I’ve still substantially increased my readership, and potentially will be able to sell subsequent instalments in the series. I also noticed a large increase in my KENP pages, for which I get paid royalties, and sold several paperbacks as well. I received a new 5 star rating on GoodReads, and several more people on GoodReads marked Oak and Mist as ‘currently reading.’

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In terms of the paid advertising, I ran ads on the first, fourth and fifth day of the promotion, and on each of those days my downloads increased dramatically to over a thousand per day, propelling me into the top ten Amazon free books (I reached number 8). The days on which I did not advertise averaged at about three hundred downloads. I supported the promotion with a couple of tweets per day – most of which were picked up and retweeted. I was also fortunate to receive some wonderful support from fellow bloggers (you know who you are, and thank you once again!). Chris The Story Reading Ape was kind enough to post a promotion on his site, which was then reposted by several other bloggers.

In conclusion, this was a successful marketing exercise for me. I’ve increased the audience for my books and, hopefully generated some momentum for No Quarter, the second novel in my Ambeth series. The KENP and paperback royalties I received as a result of the increased exposure have already covered much of my advertising costs, and it was wonderful to get another five-star rating. I believe the complete results of this promotion are yet to be seen, and will be keeping an eye on reviews and reader stats over the coming weeks.

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I write books because I want people to read them. I love Ambeth and the characters who live there, and it gives me great pleasure when other people enjoy the books. I had no problem in offering my work free for a limited time, and will definitely be employing a similar promotional strategy when I release Hills and Valleys, the third book in the series.

I’d love to hear about your own marketing experiences, and whether they were successful or not. I think our blogging community is such a great and generous resource for self-published authors – I know I’ve learnt so much already.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

A Marketing Experiment

Oak And Mist final cover

Tomorrow I’m going to be running a little experiment in marketing.

Oak and Mist, the first book in my Ambeth Chronicles, will be free on Amazon Kindle for five days starting tomorrow. The paperback will still be full price, but the e-book – free.

I realise there are differing schools of thought on whether we should offer our work for free, and I’ve done a bit of reading and thinking before coming to this decision. However, on reflection, there were several reasons it seemed like a good idea:

  1. This is a free promotion that I get from Amazon for being part of their KDP Select programme, so I think it makes sense to take advantage of it at least once.
  2. Oak and Mist is the first book in a series of six, so by offering it free I hope to reach more readers who, hopefully, will enjoy it enough to purchase the next books in the series. Thinking back to my Marketing classes at school, I believe this is called a ‘loss-leader’.
  3. The promotion is for a limited period of time – five days only. I have heard that making the first book in a series free permanently is also a good way to attract readers but, as I’ve not yet published any other books in the series, I’m not ready to do that.
  4. No Quarter, the second book in the Ambeth Chronicles, is very close to being published, so the timing of this promotion will, I hope, generate interest leading to further sales.
  5. I have positive reviews on Amazon UK, US and Australia, as well as Goodreads. Hopefully this promotion will capitalise on the goodwill in those reviews, leading to more people deciding to download my book.
  6. I have far fewer e-book sales than paperback sales, so would be interested to see if I can increase that number.

I’ve also submitted to Robin Reads, E-News Reader Today and Freebooksy, all of whom have accepted Oak and Mist for promotion during my free offer period. I’ll also be promoting the free offer on my Facebook page and Twitter.

So I’ll let you all know how it goes. While this may seem quite a businesslike post, and a departure from my usual scribblings and musings, it is also part of the writing process. As independent authors we should be informed and able to make the right decisions for our book – after all, once we self-publish we are essentially running a business based on our own products. I’ve learnt a great deal from many generous bloggers who have shared information about their own promotions and results. Now I hope to be able to do the same.

xx Helen

 

The Turning of the Year

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It’s the last day of school holidays.

Autumn beckons, though no doubt we’ll have several weeks of warmth and brilliant sunshine once the kids have gone back to school. And I am having the slight wobble I do at this time of year, as the wheel turns and my daughter goes into a new year.

I’ve written about this before, how empty the house feels when she goes back, how much I miss her. Despite all the dancing orangutans and minions and Keep Calm posters showing up on my Facebook feed, extolling various joyous captions about ‘the kids going back to school!’, I don’t really feel that way.

And yet.

There is a delicious sense of freedom that first day back, coming home to a quiet house, the hours stretching before me to work uninterrupted. For I have a lot of work to do. Yesterday my editor sent me the final edit of No Quarter, the next book in my Ambeth series. It’s just sitting in my Writing folder like an unopened gift, waiting for me to delve into the pages and make final adjustments before hitting Publish and sharing it with the world.

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So there is a lot of planning to do, some promotion and finalising the cover, updating Goodreads and Amazon, getting in touch with libraries and reviewers to let them know it’s being published.

The spreadsheet documenting my daughter’s summer social activities* will come down from the study wall, to be replaced with a marketing schedule for my new book, and a list of term dates as we count down to the next precious days we get to spend together.

And I will turn my focus back to work, the balance swinging to the other side of the page.

*yes, I had to do a spreadsheet, after missing an arranged ‘date’ with a friend – it’s the only way I could manage it. The child has a better social life than I do! 🙂

A Monday Update

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Hi everyone!

Hope you all enjoyed a nice weekend 🙂 Just a very quick post today, linking to a guest blog I’ve written for the Bloomsbury Writers & Artists website:

https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/2015/06/social-media-and-the-art-of-promotion#

It’s about different promotions I’ve tried for my book, and the idea of working within a budget (as I am). The W&A site is always worth a visit – they have lots of blogs, events and info for writers, as well as a lively online community. I’ve attended one of their events already and plan to do another later this year – they are always well organised and a great resource for networking.

Happy Monday xx

Be Like Water

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I was reminded of this phrase the other day. It is from a quote by the late great Bruce Lee and, like so much of his philosophy, is an idea that can be applied to life outside martial arts. The fuller version of the quote is as follows:

‘Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own and let it grow, be like water. You must be shapeless, formless, like water. Now you put water in the cup, it becomes the cup.’

Personally, I find this idea a great help as I navigate the waters (completely intended metaphor) of being an independent author. The marketplace is so very vast, the voices so many, that we must each find our own pathway through, just as water finds its way through, around, over and under obstacles in its path. Water is soft, yet can wear away the hardest stone. It can join with others to become a torrent, or stay alone as a trickle, yet still it keeps flowing.

As we promote our work and seek connections, so too should we be clear and transparent, just like water. Share honestly of ourselves and be flexible. Keep flowing and moving forward. Don’t stay in one place or become attached to one idea – to do that is to risk becoming stagnant or drying up completely.

There are many water metaphors – a flow of ideas, a torrent of information, drowning in kisses (I like that one). When creating, words like flow or stream are used to describe how it feels when ideas move through us to emerge as words or images or sounds. This is also a flow we aim for when practicing martial arts – that movements come naturally, without effort or conscious thought. Fighting the flow, or trying to make it something it is not, can cause it to stop, as can consciously aiming for the flow. Instead we must become the cup, letting the idea take shape.

It can be difficult at times to do this, because it requires a certain amount of letting go. It requires trust, openness to new ideas, taking the path less travelled. But when it works, and flow becomes effortless, it is worth it.

Be like water.