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Does Paid Marketing Work for Authors? #AuthorALLiChat with Orna Ross

Orna posed the question “Does Paid Marketing Work For Authors?” and our Twitter followers didn’t hold back in their responses.

Each month we host a monthly Twitter Chat using #AuthorALLiChat, and discuss different self-publishing topics to help indie authors achieve their goals.

If you weren’t able to participate in this month’s Alliance of Independent Authors Twitter Chat, here’s a recap of what our Indie Authors had to say about their Paid Marketing experiences.

Facebook Ads

  • Facebook Ads #AuthorALLiChat Book Marketing Strategy for ALLi Twitter ChatNo doubt that Facebook ads are the current hot favourite. They work great when you have a clear strategy defined.
  • Use Facebook Ads to build your mailing list rather than to sell books.
  • Setting up the Facebook ads can be quite challenging. But Mark Dawson offers a set of 3 free training videos that shows you how to use MailChimp and Facebook to “explode your mailing list”

Goodreads Giveaway

  • Authors who are members of Goodreads can choose to host giveaways.
  • You can give away up to 10 physical copies of your books, but a popular response on our #AuthorALLiChat was that a 1 book promotion could be just as successful.
  • Below is the Goodreads Slideshare Guide to Giveaways, and here’s the Goodreads link for setting up a new Book giveaway.

Cover Ads on Review Blogs

  • Choose High Traffic Review blogs to feature Cover Ads on.
  • Start your own database of Review Blogs and Advance Readers.

Bookbub

  • BookBub Book Marketing Twitter Chat BookBub is one of the more well-known advertisers for indie authors, and they send out promotional emails for books promotion to their subscribers.
  • Bookbub may be the most expensive options but it tends to have the highest ROI.

Christine Nolfi interviewed Bookbub’s Editorial Ops Director for our Author Advice Centre “How to reach more readers and get your book listed on Bookbub”

And this month’s ALLi Insights features a Q&A with Bookbub hosted by Orna Ross.

  • An author who distributes through BookBaby was warned that his book would be withdrawn from Kobo, Amazon and Gardeners if his book was offered as part of a free promotion.
    • Restrictions like these are why many authors go direct with Amazon, Kobo, Nook and iBooks.
    • An alternative to to Bookbaby is Draft2Digital (who are an ALLi Services of the Year Award Winner)

Some Bookbub alternatives for Paid Promotions are Free Kindle Books and Tips Website and Booksends

Beware the Twitter Packages!

  • A couple of authors had tried these Twitter packages promising thousands of tweets, and here’s some of the responses in our #AuthorALLiChat:
    • “Ugh”
    • “I have tapdanced through a minefield.. and set off every one”
    • “Complete waste of money”
    • “Total waste of $$”
    • “… got no return on any service I tested”
  • The key problem with these Twitter packages is that audiences are not pre-qualified. You only have to look at their follower list to see how ineffective this promotion strategy is.

But don’t get us wrong, Twitter is an effective marketing tool, just avoid those fly-by-night Twitter promos.

Using Twitter for Book Promotion

  • Popular genres do well on Twitter, where the book is well presented, has great reviews, an eye-catching cover and at a competitive price.
  • Writers who expect low appeal books to sell with a few Tweets will be disappointed.

Here’s some featured articles from our Blog and an article from an ALLi Partner member.

Excerpt of Laurence’s Article: There’s a lot of misinformation around about the value of Twitter for writers. Much of it is written by writers who struggle with how to use Twitter effectively. Often it’s assumed that one or two Tweets to your followers is enough and that if that approach fails, it’s because Twitter isn’t effective at selling books. That adage about workmen blaming their tools comes to mind.

One challenge we all face is to work out how to craft compelling Tweets, which inspire people to buy a book. Another is how to be consistent.

Low Cost Book Promotion Alternatives

  • Independent Review Sites:
    • If you’re working under a tight marketing budget you can use independent reviewers. One site that popped up in our #AuthorALLiChat was The Indie View.
  • Use KDP Select:
    • When you make your digital book available exclusively through KDP, you can enroll it in their Select programme.

Choose between two great promotional tools: Kindle Countdown Deals, time-bound promotional discounting for your book while earning royalties; or Free Book Promotion where readers worldwide can get your book free for a limited time. Via Amazon KDP Select

Set your Goals

No matter what marketing or promotional activity you engage in, one of the most important elements in the planning process is to identify your goals.

What are you trying to achieve? This is an essential question if you’re spending cold, hard cash for promotional activity. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, you’re really just throwing your money away.

Don’t just assume that your goal is to sell more books. One of the common themes in our #AuthorALLiChat was the value of an your mailing list.

I would rather have a subscriber than a book sale. Orna Ross

When planning your promotional activity, set your goals first and then plan the best route for reaching them.

Multi platform promotion is the best option, combined with great book, cover, description and price.

Most & Least Likely to Succeed

  • We took an informal poll during our #AuthorALLiChat to see what promotional activity was the most likely to succeed, and what was the most likely to be unsuccessful.
  • Facebook Adverts and promoted posts featured as most likely to succeed, and PR promotion and the fly-by-night Twitter Packages didn’t fare so well.

Join our next Twitter chat

  • Twitter Chat #AuthorALLiChat ALLiYou can join in our Twitter Chats by using hashtag: #AuthorALLiChat 
  • Twitter Chat facilitated via: @IndieAuthorALLI
  • Participate directly on Twitter OR join in via Twubs: http://twubs.com/AuthorALLiChat
  • If you haven’t used Twubs before, it’s a lot more user friendly that trying to follow the conversation directly in Twitter, and it allows you to set the speed of the feed according to your preference and you can also hide any retweets.
  • The Twitter Chat schedule is featured in our Calendars on the Author Advice Centre and Alliance of Independent Authors website.

What Paid Marketing has worked well for you? Let us know what promotional activity worked for you, and what strategy your tried with little success.

Our #AuthorALLiChat participants reveal what Promotional Activity works for #IndieAuthors… Click To Tweet

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6 Responses to Does Paid Marketing Work for Authors? #AuthorALLiChat with Orna Ross

  1. Tim Lewis September 16, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    Virginia – marketing in general only has a bad reputation because so many people do it so badly. Many of these e-mail blast sites just work a numbers game. Bookbub has properly segmented lists by genre and everyone knows spends some time curating what it sends out. Even with them I doubt they get that many sales per e-mail blast as a proportion of the mails they send out, they just send out a lot.

    But online marketing can work well, but usually takes time. The best approach is to gradually warm up potential customers, pushing them as slowly as possible from not knowing you from Eve to trusting and liking your work so much they rush out and buy it as soon as you tell them about it.

    There are at least a dozen other marketing possibilities online apart from listed in this article I can think of but the attitude of rushing to a sale can ruin otherwise good tools.

    • Virginia Anderson September 18, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

      Thanks, Tim. I’m still finding a footing in this process. I’m hoping to learn to be strategic; I think you’re right that building relationships with potential readers is going to take time.

  2. Virginia Anderson September 16, 2015 at 1:07 am #

    Here’s my question. I follow a couple of sites that promote books, and to be frank, they seem like they would be bad investments if I wanted to pay for their promotions–because I CAN’T READ ALL THOSE BOOKS. Sorry for shouting, but I end up deleting the “featured title” message every day, without even looking at it. I’m in the middle of two good books with two more in the wings, and much as I love to read, it just seems to me that any book I might want to read gets swamped in the daily flood.

    Am I just an unusual customer? I’ve been thinking instead about how I can present my books to specific people interested in the topic, rather than carpet-bombing everyone’s feeds every day, along with hundreds of other people. Do people really discover the authors they want to read through these promotions?

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