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An Inspiring Case Study Of Targeted Marketing For Self-Published Books

An Inspiring Case Study of Targeted Marketing for Self-Published Books

YP PhotoBritish indie author Yvonne Payne, who divides her time between Crete and the UK, explains how identifying and focusing on her debut novel’s specific target markets helped her make its launch a great success.

During a recent ALLi meeting in Bristol, I shared my delight with the launch of my novel Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa in the village on the Greek island of Crete where the story is set. When Debbie Young asked what I did beforehand to draw in guests I grinned; imagine her face when my answer was ‘I read your book!’

Around the time that I wrote ‘The End’ on my draft manuscript I asked myself why anyone would buy a book written by an unknown author. My answer was I had a good brand that I could develop prior to publication.

A brand is more than a name or a logo

A brand governs the way you do things, the way you interact with people and what people can expect from you. I’ve used the nickname ‘Kritsa Yvonne’ on Cretan based websites since 1998, and built a reputation based on my personal knowledge of East Crete and willingness to answer reader’s questions.

Having a clear view of my brand helped when I set up my website http://kritsayvonne.com/, as it influenced everything from colour to content, and now guides the way I do/do not interact via blog and Twitter.

I defined my pool of potential readers to focus my marketing activity

Graphic of frogs in a pond

“Cast your pebbles into your pool” advises self-published author Yvonne Payne

My idea was to cast many ‘pebbles’ into my pool to see where the ripples led, then build on the most effective. This has brought unexpected benefits with blog interview invitations from other authors, and I’ve already made some lovely ‘virtual’ friends.

After identifying similar ‘pools’ I contacted three authors to ask questions. One author was particularly helpful and subsequently provided a valuable commendation for use in my book; this provided credibility among her readers and directly led to sales.

Recognising my pool has three significant groups influenced my action:

Group 1. Holidaymakers seeking a souvenir.

Action taken

  • Silverwood Books, who helped me self-publish my book, used their magic to create a cover that is attractive as a souvenir of the area.
  • I identified two bookshops as preferred retailers:
  1. Nikitakis, a gift shop in the centre of Kritsotopoula Street, Kritsa.
  2. Eklektos Bookshop, owned by a British couple in Elounda, a nearby resort.

Outcome:

The owners of Eklektos agreed to stock my book and act as distributor for onward sales to other retailers.

Pre publication I met with the reporter from the local daily Greek newspaper to explain about the book. He published a very favourable piece, and the owner of Nikitakis asked if he could sell my book. What a result!

Group 2. English speaking people living in East Crete, and those with aspirations to buy/rent a property in the area. If these people enjoy the book, they are likely to act as ambassadors for it.

Action taken

  • A local estate agent accepted the opportunity to place a free advert in the back of the book and we now have reciprocal links on our websites.
  • I established a Facebook Group to notify people of cultural events in the area.
  • I sent a press release to the editor of ‘Crete Today’ an English language emailed newsletter.

Outcome:

People in this group were my target attendees for the book launch held in a cafe directly opposite my Kritsa book stockist. I advertised the ‘open to all’ party with local food and traditional music via Facebook, local posters, plus personal invites, and Crete Today ran an editorial a month before the launch.

We catered for fifty people and over eighty came. Luckily, the wine didn’t run out!

My friendly estate agent made a generous contribution towards the party costs and invited potential house buyers in the area at the time. All guests had a free draw ticket and prizes were unique memorabilia of the launch.

I used my blog, Facebook groups/page for follow up reports with party photos, and posted photos of participants on their Facebook page to ensure their friends knew they’d attended the event.

Crete Today and the local Greek paper ran follow up articles.

cover of Yvonne Payne's novel

An alluring cover to win over any Grecophile or tourist to Crete

Group 3. People who actively seek out books and websites set in Greece and often refer to themselves as Grecophiles.

Action taken

  • I set up a WordPress website and blog, http://kritsayvonne.com/ with the tag line ‘Kritsa, at the heart of it all’. I chose to pay for .com and to be advert free.
  • I joined many Facebook groups and participated for 8–12 months prior to publication of Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa.

Outcome:

I’m widening the remit of my website to develop a resource about Kritsa and blogging on a wider range of related subjects resulting in increased search engine referrals.

Since completing the free WordPress #blogging 101 course, I follow more blogs, ‘like’ and comment frequently, and interact with other bloggers. However, I skew anything I do to maintain my brand.

To grow the number of website visitors I hosted a blog party in the lead up to the launch, http://kritsayvonne.com/2015/05/25/blog-party/

My participation in a range of Greek focused Facebook groups gave me legitimate places to advertise the book launch, run book giveaways and make occasional links to my blog. I tried to do similar in groups dedicated to historical fiction but quickly realised that my novel doesn’t meet their readers’ expectations of that genre. Although it was worth trying, I’ll stick with the Grecophiles!

Next steps:

  • Identify more retailers in East Crete to approach once I’ve found a way to reduce the cost of books and transport.
  • Identify potential partners to investigate mutually beneficial ways of promoting each other and/or marketing the book to their customers.
  • Follow up more ideas from Sell Your Books by Debbie Young.
  • Stop procrastinating and get on with my half-written sequel!

OVER TO YOU
If you’ve got a great case study of targeted marketing to share, please feel free to mention it briefly in the comments box – or if you’re an ALLi author who’d like to write a separate guest post of your case study, please let us know!

Authors - how to home in on the right readers when you launch your books by @KritsaYvonne Click To Tweet

Yvonne Payne

Yvonne Payne is a British author who lives half of the year in Swindon, England and the other half in Crete. Her love of Kritsa, a village in Crete provided the inspiration for her debut historical novel "Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa" about a heroine of Cretan resistance. Find out more about Yvonne at her website, www.kritsayvonne.com.

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  1. Hi Debbie and Virginia,

    We specialize in the targeted marketing approach. We have four clients that we have partnered up with a various national non-profit organizations whose missions match the author’s expertise. The non-profits then support our authors as we set up book events for them in targeted cities.

    A “targeted city” is a city that contains a large demographic of an author’s target readers, which we find by using our software. A specific example is Oakland, CA. When we set up events for our authors there, we know that a large portion of the population is under 18 years old (vs. cities in Arizona that skew alot older). We have had alot of success selling YA Fantasy in these locations and it is NOT by chance.

    Virginia, as for Facebook, we have found through a survey that most authors don’t have much luck selling books that way.

  2. I’ve been aware for some time that my best bet to market my previously published novels that I have republished as ebooks is to single out people who’re interested in horses (they’re both mysteries involving horse racing). I’ve joined some Facebook groups but have wondered about the etiquette of posting marketing announcements to these venues. These aren’t very active groups, so far, so it’s hard to “participate.” Is there an accepted etiquette for authors belonging to groups to post about their work?

  3. An argument made by those who prefer to have, or feel they are not ‘properly published’ if they do not have, a trade publisher, an agent, and a contract, is to liken Indie publishing using any company who provide necessary services to having ‘vanity publishing’ and to object that if the author pays, then the book can’t be up to much. I wonder what is the best way to counter this prejudice – or, as it often looks, this fear that if the writer has paid, they have not really ‘qualified’ as a writer, and refer to ‘proper publishers’ contracts with reverence?

  4. @ Brian Meeks: It took a good number of clicks to finally access the book on Amazon, where the publisher is listed, and then a Google search (hey, I’m a curious person) showed that Silverwood Books is a publishing company offering packages for indie authors. So the book is definitely self-published.

    Yvonne, your book sounds delightful. I’m very impressed with your marketing plan and how it worked for you! Now I’m off to read a sample of yours and check out Debbie Young’s book. Cheers!

  5. Yvonne, thank you so much for this excellent piece. You’ve clarified quite a few points for me. Particularly helpful, ‘your brand governs the way you do things, the way you interact with people and what people can expect from you.’ Best wishes, Kathy

  6. Please take the time to google Silverwood Books before making assumptions and adding comments. Had you done so, you would have learned that the publisher assists self-publishing authors with cover and interior design, formatting and finishing of print and epub, editing, proofing, and marketing. They do assist with wholesale and retail distribution.

    There are a number of publishers that do this for self-publishing authors, but without traditional publishing contracts. They are, in fact, not publishers, but are basically providing editing, design and print services with a small-press imprint.

    1. Thank you very much for clarifying the position, Michelle. I’m amending the post to include a link to SilverWood’s website for convenience. Being self-published doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself, of course, as you say – it’s smart and professional for an indie author to outsource any tasks that he or she doesn’t feel confident of doing to a professional standard without assistance, and it’s a rare self-published author who is also a top quality cover designer, technical wiz, etc though they do exist!

  7. Oh my. This isn’t a “self-published” book – Silverwood Books is her publisher. The article should probably change its title, since it is, unfortunately, a falsehood.

    Better title: “How Authors Can Work with Publishers for a Great Book Launch!”

    1. Hi Dawn, sorry for the confusion, but the article’s title is most definitely not a falsehood! SilverWood Books provides publishing services to indie authors, in return for payment. A visit to their website will make this very clear. I will change the wording in Yvonne’s post, in which she referred to them as “her publisher”, and add a link to their website, to make that clear.

  8. The title is misleading.

    If she was a self-published author she would NOT have had a publisher.

    Self-published means one does the work of both the author and the publisher.

    1. Hi Brian, sorry for the confusion, but Yvonne IS self-published – SilverWood Books is a service provider to indie authors that helps them publish their books in return for payment. I’m adding a link to their website within the body of the blog and rewording it slightly to make it clear. SilverWood is a respected partner member of ALLi as a service provider to self-published authors. As you’re probably aware, many indie authors subcontract aspects of their publishing tasks to third parties – you can still be a self-published author without doing everything yourself!

  9. Hi Yvonne,

    This is exactly the type of targeted marketing we do at our company. Our authors have partnered with non-profits and local businesses in their target markets and sell on average 35% more books using our approach. You can see success stories and testimonials here http://www.authorsmarketingpro.com/success-stories/ and here http://www.authorsmarketingpro.com/testimonials/ .

    The hard part for most authors is knowing what to do when they find their target markets, or even knowing how to find those markets in the first place. We do all of that…I’d be more than happy to show you a demo.

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