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Promoting already-published book

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by skip.knox, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    There's tons of advice on how to promote a book, but it's nearly all geared to promoting a new release, and especially the first book of a series.

    I'm looking for resources on how to promote a book that has already been out there for ... I dunno, call it a year. Plenty of time for it to go dead, dead, dead. Yes, that's me, but it's also something I think plenty of people would like advice about.

    Personal success stories would be great. So would references to resources. I've done some light searching but have found not much and even less that looks useful.
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    I don't know if I would call it a success story, but we have a lot of luck going to cons and meeting readers face-to-face. The more books you have on the table, the better your chances of making a sale. We make more sales at cons than pretty much anywhere else.

    I've heard that it's never too late to put out a book trailer, which is good since we have our music but not our visuals, yet. :p

    I've also been told that Amazon ads are better than ads on pretty much any social media these days. We haven't done that, yet, but we're planning to in the future.
    Malik likes this.
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    I believe MalikMalik may have some advice on this. From what I gather, his book didn't take off straight away out the gates, but not until quite a while later.
  4. Malik

    Malik Auror

    Hey, Skip. As Svrtnsse said,my first (published) novel did very little for about six months until it found its readership. It sold a couple of books a week.

    For anyone who hasn't been following along at home, it kinda went like this.

    I do all my characters' stunts. To write the kind of books I write, I had to get the details correct--especially the little details that other authors get wrong--so I spent decades learning how to do this stuff myself. This is the hill I was prepared to die on. Some of it I really enjoyed, and they became hobbies or even careers: I can fence, box, perform stunts on horseback, hunt big game on foot with a handmade bow, skydive, make steel by hand in a backyard forge, speak and write the Elves' conlang from my series, and I spent several years in Special Operations. My wife jokes that you could drop me off naked in the mountains with a Gerber tool and I'll come home ten pounds heavier, fully clothed, and drunk. I talk about this stuff here, on the Research board.

    I'm NOT saying you have to do this to sell books.

    However, once I started going to cons and demonstrating this stuff, I found a massive audience who were ravenous for A.) epic fantasy written at historical fiction levels of detail; and B.) an author who could walk the walk. My first con appearance as an author, six months after releasing my first novel, was insane. I sold every book I'd brought, and online sales from that weekend pushed it up into the Kindle Top 20 in Military Fantasy, where it stayed for IIRC the next 18 months and went on to sell over 10,000 copies with the help of BookBub and some killer mainstream reviews and plugs: Publishers Weekly, Rising Shadow (a Finnish fantasy site, but a HUGE one as it turns out), drivetime radio interviews, Barnes & Noble appearances.

    This last bit--the mainstream critical acclaim--is something you can only get with time behind the keys. You know this, Skip, but I'm saying it for readers who may not: your first book that you ever write is not going to get there. My "debut" was my 9th or 10th finished novel; I'd been going through the trad-pub meat grinder the whole time I'd been learning Elvish and BASE jumping. There's a whole other story as to how the book came about, but once I had it, I finally decided to publish it myself.

    My best sales spikes happen at cons, so I go to pretty much every con I can get into. However, unlike A.E. Lowan, I don't have the temperament to staff a booth; it doesn't work for me. Some authors have great success that way but I'm just not wired for it. So, I do demos as often as I can, and that's how I reach my readership. Con-goers see me throw axes, speak fluent Elvish, and explain how to use celestial navigation on an alien planet, and they want to buy my books and talk to me.

    Improvised weapons.gif
    We have fun.

    So the TL;DR is that I knew that I was writing a new kind of novel--if you haven't read my stuff, I write fantasy technothrillers; think The Hunt for Red October but for knights in armor instead of submarines--and I knew there was a readership for it, and AFAIK, nobody else was doing it. I'd checked. So, I had that in my corner. At that first con, I lucked out and ended up pretty much stumbling backwards into my core readership. I hate to Aw, Shucks it all, but I couldn't have planned it better had I tried.

    To recap: you need to figure out what sets your work apart, and then figure out who'd like it and why, and then get word to those people. There's no other way. The signal to noise ratio on Amazon is impossible to navigate without a massive ad budget. Just putting a book up on Kindle and hoping someone sees it is a one-in-a-several-million shot. You have to make your own luck.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
    Ned Marcus and A. E. Lowan like this.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    It’s been over a year and Eve of Snows keeps on moving books, and I’ve been lazy on the promo side as I’m work on finishing the series. My brain can only handle so much at a time.. I haven’t hit any cons, despite my best intentions. There are lulls and there are spikes, read through from the Bookbub and whatever else keeps moving on. I’ve pretty much decided not to con much until the series hits its end... then, see what I can do. Part of this comes from my belief that the ending will crush it, LOL. There are other avenues of promotion... now a quarterfinalist in the EFFy’s readers choice awards... but the end game there is up to a few readers and out of the author’s control. Find everything that is free, you just never know when 1 sale will lead to a dozen. One random goodreads reader from the Bookbub reviews on GR and then recommends it to their group, and after chatting that person up, he’s helped move at least a dozen copies for my three minutes of saying hi, thanks for the review.

    What Malik is really talking about is making a connection to readers, and of course to do that, you have to get their attention and keep it. EoS has hard core fans around the world now... the type who put the book in the category with their favorite epic series. Most of those connections occurred through paid advertising, I’m afraid to say, and then brought to fruition via Facebook correspondence. These turn into reviews, recommendations, and fre advertising on other facebook pages and blogs.

    With your history background, I think cons would be a natural fit.

    What I really want to do is form an author collective of epic writers under a “Publisher” where ads for one could effectively advertise for all. But, as with all collaborations, it could be tricky finding the right pieces.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  6. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Oh, and not exactly a promotion per se... but, build that ARC team. I neglected that and am now beginning to push it. I’m shooting for 100-200 ARC readers by the time City of Whispers is released this winter. New books promote old books... so...

    Another thing I think Malik will agree with... You hear a lot of talk about 30 and 60 day cliffs (hell, maybe every 30 days!) on Amazon, and I’m here to say they exist as a part of Amazon’s promotional algorithm, but they don’t have to be severe. A year+ and I can still tell the days that EoS is promoted by Amazon with sales spikes. Why? I run a constant low budget ad with Amazon and FB, it drives clicks and people checking out the book. A book that gets looks and sales will keep Amazon’s attention. Also, Amazon’s algo (in all likelihood) pays attention to read through, not just first book sales. Even if it’s a dollar a day, I’d run an Amazon ad. Now, Amazon ads are notorious for not spending all your money... this is something I haven’t had much issue with for a while. I was told that, set a higher budget, and damned if those buggers didn’t spend it, LOL.

    Amazon Ad experiment: Run some ads and have your credit card expire and don’t change it... I did that once and my sales tanked. I’m convinced Amazon stopped promoting while I owed them money, even though they owed me way more than I owed them, heh heh.

    Oh, and my funny news was that a guy I went to high school with is now librarian at our old high school, so my books are now in the school library, LOL. Hadn’t spoken to him in thirty years.
  7. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Skip have you ever thought about making a youtube channel? With your articles and your other online info (a certain crusade website) you already have short, well-formatted scripts. Just need to figure out how to adapt them to a video format and narrate them. Given your professorial background, I'm going to assume you're no slouch in lecturing. If you have some fun with it, you might be able to find an audience there, which you canin turn direct to your books.
    Ned Marcus and Malik like this.
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    skip.knoxskip.knox, you should join the chat more often, maybe we can help you talk through some ideas for putting yourself and your work out there more.
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Thanks, DemesnedenoirDemesnedenoir. I've done a fair amount of looking at AMS, but this is the first time I've heard someone suggest running ads more or less continuously. I'm going to look into that.

    DevorDevor, I'll have to plan for that. Next week or two I'm otherwise engaged but I'll use what little time I have to come up with my idea of a marketing plan, then maybe run that past the Chat Team. Much appreciated.

    It is frustrating. Not discouraging, as I still have stories I want to tell and that creates its own momentum. But I surely do think a few hundred people would buy my books, if only they knew about them.

    BanBan, it's a thought, but I'm not going to pursue it any time soon. I'm still deeply engaged in getting about sixty essays updated (mostly coding changes as a result of moving to a different server) before I even begin to contemplate putting them into video format. FWIW, I do give occasional live presentations, especially of the Virtual Pilgrimage. I'll be putting that one online some time in January or February. It's an account of a pilgrim's journey from southern France to the Holy Land and back in the 15thc. Lots of good pics and plenty of historical background.
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    EDIT: AMS is the ad center where you more or less KNOW people are shopping for books, so, a steady stream of ads makes sense if the ROI is close to paying off.

    AMS is... crazy. And I would play around with low budget stuff (although at the start, you could probably set a budget at $100 and it might spend $0 LOL. Unlike FB, which will spend every cent. Here are the numbers for my current month on AMS, which I hadn’t bother to look at for quite a while because i knew I wasn’t pushing much.

    Ad Spend: $20.56 Sales: $111.89

    Needless to say, that works! That’s a nice ROI on a shoestring budget, and represents just the Amazon ads. However, I just realized that I had my Eve of Snows ads turned off... all of those sales are from ads pointing to later books in the series from people who get to Eve of Snows organically or from other ads. So! I’ll be turning Eve of Snows back on, LOL.

    NOTE: I turned off EoS precisely as this sort of ad experiment and then forgot all about turning it off as life went bat-blinkered crazy. For a long time I didn’t bother pointing EoS at my own books, and then I had a thought... which is historically a dangerous thing to do.

    Ad Gurus always talk about how Amazon is the greatest sales page EVA! But, the issue is it’s the greatest sales page EVA! for Amazon, not you. They’ve got your book’s page littered with advertising for everybody but you! So, my thought was... huh, I’m driving all kinds of clicks to Amazon, and people are heading over and buying other people’s books because the page is covered in ads, so I figured I’d start putting my other books into the high profile ad spots on my own book instead, creating something of a circular advertising system, which also emphasizes that the series is ongoing. Seems to be doing something.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    Ned Marcus, skip.knox and A. E. Lowan like this.
  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Ok, I went back over sales and dates after remembering some details... it’s interesting. I had several days where copies of Eos, Meliu, and Trail of Pyres sold in a group... which I recalled. At the time, I wondered why people bought the first 3 but not Solineus, the latest book... No proof, but, I don’t have any ads pointing to Solineus. Apparently I need to be paying more attention, LOL.

    Another inteesting tidbit... Meliu is a $0.99 novella, and is still at profit on the ads... I’m guessing that’s a distortion caused by paperback sales, where I actually make money on that book. If that was purely digital, I’d be losing money... from my calcs, not a single digital sale of Meliu in that period is connected to this ad, it was all paperback. That’s interesting.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    skip.knox likes this.

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