How I Am Marketing My Self Published Book | Book Marketing & Promotion Plan for Poetry and Fiction
This is a blog post I originally wanted to write as “How am I going to promote my upcoming book “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems“. But I believe it is better to make this post now since the book is already out.
The Paperback was released on Jan 9, 2015. And the eBook was released on Jan 22, 2015. I am also in process of creating an Audio Book for Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.
In this blog, I am not only documenting the steps that you can take as a writer but also listing the things that worked for me and the efforts that did not pay during my own book promotion. I had a decent budget to test out my plan and here I am going to tell you exactly what I did and what I am currently doing to promote “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.”
I am going to outline my entire plan from pre-launch to post-launch of my book.Â This post describes what happened to my plan of action when put into the real test. But, first let me tell you:Â why am I doing this?
There are two major reasons:
a.) I like being transparent and helping people. I am doing this to help fellow writers and poets who often work hard on a very tight financial budget, and
b.) To outline everything that I did for “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” which I can later use for my next book’s marketing and promotion.
Moreover, this blog post also holds me accountable to my own plan-of-action. It’s a nice way to organize a detailed plan into a checklist for anyone’s use. If you find this post helpful and informative, please link directly to my blog (this post) if you would want to share tips from my experience.
I definitely could use your little help to gain some extra momentum to bring the word out about “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems”. I thank you in advance for helping me out.
Alright, without further adieu, let’s begin:
1. Take advantage of your author’s platform
I started early but wish I could have started even earlier working on building my author’s platform. In case, if you are wondering, an author’s platform is where you connect and engage with your readers online. This is great for collecting feedback and to sense the real market demand.
Overall, I am new and my author platform (although not tiny) is not large enough to create a word-of-mouth viral outreach. I need momentum for my book to make a #1 Bestseller. To achieve that, I need DAILY sales and more than than I need global exposure, online presence, and media coverage. So how do I do that? Well, this is what this post is all about. Keep reading.
I used Instagram and Facebook to do A/B testing for my book’s cover. I took my reader’s feedback in designing and approving the final cover of the book. See the results here.
Cover Concept Test on Facebook (I also ran a test on my own, personal Facebook page).
Everywhere the results were the same. Also, a lot of people gave input for my book also later agreed to review the book.)
2. Google Adwords
I used google adwords to send traffic to my website and once my book was out I used adwords to sell my books. In terms of sending traffic, google is awesome but to sell your book, it hardly produces any results. For a person to make a buying decision where someone would need to take their credit card and mane an online transaction for a book from an unknown author… you get a sense, this is highly unlikely.
Google AdWord Spend: $535 (151,348 ad impressions; 3830 clicks to Naked Soul website)
Purpose: My plan was that let the people know that a new erotic poetry collection is out. The book is unique in a sense that it written by a male and it is a single-author collection of erotic poetry. This genre is still new and unique.
I created 2 paid book trailers (each $200 for production, casting, voice-over), 3 self-made book trailers (using my Mac and iMovie) and 3 book promotional trailers (using my phone camera) where I shared updates on how the book is progressing.
Later, I advertised the two paid trailers on YouTube and gained a lots of views but could not translate it into sales. The book trailer is necessary to create an excitement and entertainment but it hardly leads to any direct sales. Even if a sale happens, it is hard to tell if that sale came through Facebook referral or Google ad referral or from any other sources mentioned in this post.
Youtube Ad Spend: $455 (28,210 video views)
Purpose: To plant the video seeds of my books anywhere and everywhere possible. It will not give you book sales but may spread the news about your book far and away.
4. Google+ Page and Communities
I started to connect with people using my Google+ accounts and also created a Google+ page for my book. Unlike Facebook, you can not advertise on Google+ and therefore your growth is very slow.
I got a lot of page views but people won’t connect and follow. To have people follow you, you have to follow a bunch of them at first. I also joined a lot of Google+ communities in hope of marketing my books through them.
But most often, these communities will not appreciate you posting your book on their page and will delete your posts as spam (even when your intentions are not spamming). Those who did not delete my posts did not really produce any noise.
Lesson: Google Page and Communities are “nay” for book promotion. Still, be there just don’t spend too much time on it.
I started a Facebook page (Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems) for the book and initially advertised to gain targeted fans in poetry, reading, books, etc. My initial posts were just the poems that I was publishing on Instagram. Facebook helped me initially to reach out to more people and I would get a lot of shares. That dropped after a while and I was not advertising either.
Once the book came out, I ran $30 promotion (3x i.e. three times) for book launch announcement and it did well in getting a lot of “Likes and few shares” but resulted in few direct sales, if any. Similar to Google AdWords, people won’t buy your book if you are relatively new or a no-name author.
For Facebook marketing to work, you have to develop a rapport with your existing fans first. Facebook page works very similar to how Instagram works. Your core group of fans will support you and buy your book, but for that to happen you need to be posting and maintaining a charming presence on Facebook for a while.
In my case, I have spent too little time on Facebook and my Facebook efforts were okay. But, I hope the effort put into Facebook will pay off in time towards my second book. My most recent next step idea is to create a Facebook group for “Writers of Instagram” and join and participate in other Book Review Groups on Facebook.
As I mentioned above, Instagram (like Facebook) is a large social network (popular with younger crowd). Instagram users are also very active. Every post that you make on Instagram goes to everyone’s home feed without any filters (unlike Facebook).
For me, Instagram was the number one driver for sales. The reason does not lie in the fact that Instagram is better than other social media platforms for writers but that Instagram allows you more expose than Facebook and that too for free.
There is no paid advertising on Instagram (as of this writing). The only way to succeed here is to showcase your work and build a loyal following. I believe, I have had half of my sales come from Instagram. My current focus is to grow my followers base on Instagram.
You can connect with me on Instagram at @The.Naked.Soul
Since a lot of writers use Twitter, I could not ignore it. I started my own Twitter account and spent $10 before realizing that spending any money on Twitter is a total waste. Twitter works very differently from Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, et al.
Even if you are a big name author or Mr. Somebody, people won’t follow you as they do on Facebook. Twitter’s number 1 rule of the game is follow-for-follow. It took me a few months to figure this out before I started to connect with more people on Twitters.
Currently, I try to spend 15 min each day on Twitter. Mostly, I acknowledge any mentions made to @NakedSoulPoems and direct replies or comments on my tweets.
It is interesting to actually remember that my first encounter with poetry as pictures was not at Instagram but on Pinterest. Positive quotations, words, poetry and everything that you can imagine within the literary domain is on Pinterest.
Moreover, Pinterest platform is still young, growing and active. It is no wonder that if you want your book to be discovered by others, you have to be on Pinterest. Pinterest is so powerful that you cannot ignore that. I started out on Pinterest with my first board “Naked Soul” and started to pin poetry and images that reflected the spirit of my book project.
Over the time, I have created over 60 boards on various themes and actively pin. Initially, I was waiting for people to follow me but within 6 months I figured it out that Pinterest is like Twitter (atleast initially). You have to follow a bunch of people before anyone will follow you back. Once you have established yourself on Pinterest, your audience size will grow on its own.
Remember, it is not a bad thing to have a lot of “followings”. In fact a good balance in following/followers ratio gives you a more human outlook and makes you accessible to your fans.
Pinterest Ads: $120 (570K impressions, 105 repins, 400 clicks)
Purpose: To spread the seeds of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems. Once people start re-pinning your pin (in this case, a book), more and more people will follow that lead and soon enough you will have your book jump up in search results and/or sales ranking.
I created 3 slideshares (pre-launch). None of them performed the way I have planned. The total views form all of them combined is just 800. It is as good as not having created the sildeshares at all.
This is so small a noise (like a coin dropping in a busy market place) that you can’t expect SlideShare to sell any copies. But SlideShare is a good long term strategy and helps in getting a few backlinks to your site which in turn helps your web rank which in turn helps new people discover your blog and books and which in turn might sell you a few copies in the future.
Here are they, take a look:
10. Email Lists
Every social media is different and once you join one, you have to play according to their rules. Being on Facebook or Twitter is like renting a lot from Facebook or Twitter and then showcasing your products. This is not bad to gain visibility (especially since all major social media platforms are free to users).
But, if you want to stay in touch with your customers, fans and followers, your landlord will make it very hard for you to get any information where you can directly communicate with your fans. Social media is great for brand development but to communicate and directly influence your fans, an email list is the best solution. When you email someone, it gets delivered in their inbox. You have direct one-to-one relationship through email.
Also, you do not have to pay any of your landlords to promote your shop or product. Creating an email list is your own property. You are the landlord here. I have about 250+ sign ups to my blog as of today. I am sure, a lot of these signups came from my Google AdWord campaign. Having a large email list is the best way to market your books.
My point: I am going to put more focus here in the coming months.
11. Book Reviews (Send Review Copies)
You need a lot of book reviews (praising or critical) to make your book stand out from the noise. And you need reviews everywhere: on Amazon, on Goodreads, on Barnes & Noble, on every possible medium where you are selling your books.
The most important places to get a lot of good reviews is: 1) Amazon and 2) Goodreads.
A lot of people will discover your book on Goodreads (and therefore Goodreads reviews matters) but they will end up buying on Amazon or B&N. Most people will shop on Amazon Kindle or Amazon.com.
Before, a person can make a wise buying decision, s/he is going to check (and read) some of the reviews. My initial goal was to get atleast 50 reviews on Amazon by Feb 9, 2015 (in first 30 days).
As the time of writing this blog, I have got 21 reviews on Amazon.com and 1 review on Amazon.uk. But as you can see I am not even half way closer to my target goal. Well, getting a lot of reviews is not an easy task. I will have a separate blog post just to discuss the book reviews. I’m writing a separate blog posts just on book reviews. Stay tuned.
I have done one PR through PRWeb so far. The results were not impressive for the $99 that I spent on it. My Press Release total headline impressions was 29,914. About 10% of these impressions were also read (up to 100%). If you google search in quotes “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems by Naked Soul Press”, you will see 60+ online news pickups.
Again, it is not a measurable payback but perhaps from a long term strategy perspective, this is the best you can do. Some say PR is dead but I disagree. The objective of Press Release is to send out news about your new book. Even if your PR is not picked up by a lot of reporters, you still make a presence on the Internet since most PRs are optimized for SEO.
However, I would not recommend spending a lot of money here. Give it a shot or two. This is also a luck thing besides what else is going on in media during your book launch.
13. Create Cool Merchandise
I am currently brainstorming what cool things can be made using my poetry or quotes and then use them as free giveaways to drive sales or bring awareness towards the book. Some of the things I have thought so far are: t-shirts, cups/mugs, calenders, etc. This is a work in progress. I will first test them on Instagram and Facebook. If successful, I will write a separate blog post covering this step in detail. Stay tuned.
14. Crowdfunding Campaigns
I created an Indiegogo and Pubslush campaign to raise both money and awareness for the book. The book campaigns were not successful in themselves but they helped me show up in the first page of Google search. No money spent here plus it is a good way to test the market demand for your work.
If I have do it again, I’ll create a campaign for a small funding target and will spend some time promoting it. Also, this can be done way ahead of your book launch.
My Point: When you search for a vague term such as “Naked Soul”, the search engine will give you hundreds of thousands of results. For me, creating Indiegogo and Pubslush was lucky.
They helped to show my Facebook page and campaign every time I searched for ‘Naked Soul’ Or ‘Naked Soul Poem’ or ‘Erotic Poetry Book’, etc.
15. Hire VAs to Help You Out
Writing is a book is hard. We all know that. But marketing a book by yourself is even harder. After you have spent a lot of time writing your book, what good it is if you can not showcase your work.
The goal is not to market your book to everybody but to those who already is a fan of your genre. But, here is the problem. How do you reach out to those readers? All the points that I have mentioned in this blog post cannot be done by one single person. You have editing and cover design going on.
You have to respond to people. You are trying to get reviews. You are busy shipping copies. You have a family and a life (hopefully) that you do not want to sacrifice. You might even feel giving up at times. Trust me, we all have been there. So what is the solution? The only solution is to build a team.
You need atleast one another person and if you can afford some extra cash, may be a team of 3 or more people. Let’s call one your team member your virtual Assistant (VA). I took advantage of Zirtual and hired a VA.
My main objective was for my VA to do research on Facebook, Youtube, Google, Amazon, everywhere to find bloggers, youtubers, et al to whom we can pitch “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” for an online coverage.
I also had my VA email the the book reviewers and send them a review copy. Your larger team on the other hand can do simple things such as manage your Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.
In my case, I was spending my energy in building this blog whereas my team was making sure we are growing on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. As a team, we all learned a lot which I could have easily missed if I were to do everything alone.
Lesson: There is no book launch without a team. You need more than “you” or your launch will be a disaster (unless you are already an established author).
16. Goodreads Giveaways and Goodreads Advertisements
I have tried Google and Facebbok PPC (pay per click) ads and got a lot of “Likes” on FB and visits to my website (from Google Search) but hardly any direct sales. Even though, let’s say some of these visits resulted in a direct sale, it is hard for me to track. Whatever is not tracked, you can’t improve.
And if you can’t improve an ad, you are losing money, time, and opportunities. Another thing I learned was whether a visit leads to sales or not is not the right question to ask. The correct approach is to measure your cost of advertisement to your book sales royalty. For example, if I advertise my book for $100 on Facebook and in return got sales of 10 units with $4 author royalty, then in this case I am $60 in net loss.
Same formula can be applied to any PPC ads. I wanted to try Goodreads advertisement. I have created a giveaway that is currently running (so far 65 people wants to win my book). My giveaway is going to gain atleast 200 entries if not high of 500. I also created two ads on Goodreads which is also active as of right now. No clicks and about 700 impressions so far. I have spent $0 on Goodreads so far and my book has been added by over 50 people at the time of this writing. So far the best return on investment.
To do: Create author profiles on Goodreads and Amazon Author Central. Add your picture, bio, link to your twitter and your blog/website, and if you have book trailer videos – upload them. People love videos.
17. Active Blogging/Set up a Website
I am a first time author (although not new to writing). I have been writing for long and now hope to publish one book a year. Moreover, my first book “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” is a poetry book. I personally feel (certainly biased here) that the book is produced in a superior way than many others (if not most) books in the market in erotic poetry (within romance, not erotica) genre.
My book and writing is different and is popular with variety of social audiences and groups as I have noticed so far. I am a firm believer in getting community’s/reader’s feedback. I do absolutely believe in product/market fit theory. Having said and understood it, my challenge is on how to get my book more exposure. The answer is “long-term vision” and a growing web presence. Setting up a blog is a must-to-do for every writer in this era of self-publication.
There is no excuse to this rule now. Since there is so much noise out there on social media, it is easy to get lost in the ocean of posts, profiles, games and what not. I believe the solution to this growing problem is to create an authority in your domain and then dominating it with your thought-leadership.
This has been my current focus. Also, by actively blogging you first give away useful, helpful information to your readers before asking them for their money in return. People will buy your book if they feel connected to your writing. This is the new age of “free-samples” and “too-many-choices”. Also, if people like you, they will willingly support you and buy your book(s).