Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Patience might be a virtue, especially in marketing

But that doesn't mean I have any. For those of you out there working on writing your first book, there's something else staring you in the face. Something you may not have thought of. PROMOTION AND MARKETING. Basically, they're the same thing. Call it what you will, it's driving me crazy.

Many people are still under the false impression that a publishing company covers all of the costs of marketing. They believe that all they have to do is turn in their book and POOF it magically gets advertised. Um...WRONG.

Even if you're already a big name in the industry, not ALL of your promotional efforts will be paid for or arranged by your publisher.

And if your an indie author you're totally on your own. You are responsible for many things you might not think of as marketing, but it is. Such as the presentation of your book. This includes the layout and text (does it look professional, free from errors and typos, etc.,), the blurb (Is your book description interesting?) and the cover art. People DO judge books by their covers and this part is crucial.

Not only are all those things vitally important, they are just the bare minimum.

What I know I want to know and I'm sure many others are asking is, "What really works?" I really wish I knew. As both a traditionally published and independent author, I'm still struggling to figure this out after 4 1/2 years in the business.

Here's a rundown of my efforts. (based solely on my opinions and observations) I will share what I believe worked and didn't work so far.

Print ads - One of the first things I did when my first book came out was start looking into print advertisement. I researched where (which kinds of magazines) my readers (target audience) were most likely to find me. After all, it wouldn't do much good to place an ad in a magazine romance readers would never see.

I took part in a joint ad with other authors in Realms of Fantasy. (By the way, that magazine is now out of business.) At the time it had a good reach and was distributed in many local bookstores. To me, that was a plus.

The ad cost me $120. It looked nice and I was very proud. However, the first QUARTER of royalties from my first book only earned me around $450.

Being short on cash, I didn't try this again. However, one of my publishers was kind enough to choose another book of mine to place in an ad that they paid for in Romantic Times Magazine the year before last. Sales for the book in question were low, despite the fact that the ad (which I couldn't have afforded) was beautiful.

Print ads are impressive, but in my opinion, they are a total waste of money.

Online ads - There are a wide variety of these available. Some work and some don't. In my experience the cheaper ads pay off more as you don't have much invested. Plus, I'm working on a nonexistent budget.

I've put a $5 ad up at Coffee Time Romance on several occasions and saw an over all jump in sales for the quarter in which the ads appeared. It was a small jump. We're talking about 50 copies above average for the entire quarter. Not big at all, but well worth $5.

The biggest return I ever saw on an ad was in ARe's newsletter. (All Romance Ebooks) I placed a cover ad for $15. I think the price has changed since then. I sold 84 copies of the book in question THAT WEEK. The combined sales for the month on the title I advertised alone was $238 above what they had been the month before. That's for the MONTH and not the quarter. Of course, this book was also with a larger publisher. That could have made a difference as well. However, at the time the title had been out for over a year.

In my opinion, ads in online magazines and forums are well worth the price.

As for social networks - I have no idea if promoting on social networks pays off or not. My thing is, I don't want to spam people. I took part in Triberr for a little over a month and ended up dropping out of a very large tribe. For those not familiar with Triberr, basically it's a way to have lots of people re-tweet your blog posts all over Twitter. Yes, that's really simplified, but it suits the purposes of this post. Many of the people in my tribe didn't post about topics of interest to my twitter followers. Sure, I picked up about 100 followers, but I also lost a lot. They felt like they were being spammed and I must agree. I've stopped following people who's Twitter feeds are nothing but non-stop advertisement.

Maybe a much smaller tribe with a focus on paranormal romance might work. Who knows? On the whole, I found Triberr to be a huge pain in the butt. I'm still in 2 very small tribes about marketing for authors.

Facebook - I have a fan page and a personal page. I've heard many experts say how you should keep your personal page seperate. I think that's bull. I don't post anything on Facebook that I wouldn't say in public. I'm not one of those people. I don't have drunken pictures or lots of F-bombs or photos of my family so that someone can stalk them. LOL I'm there to network. If I happen to find an old friend from school, great.

The idea of seperation might work for those in a different industry, but not for me. In my case, I think it would be counterproductive. I am what I do. I write. I am a writer. What the hell difference would there be in my pages? Not much. I talk more on my personal page than I do on my fan page. The fan page is mostly for updates on books and blog posts.

Sure, I post links where my books can be purchased. But that's not the only thing I post. Does it work? Who knows.

Myspace - This is almost totally pointless as everyone has migrated to Facebook. However, I keep it updated with new statuses through This lovely little service updates all your social networks at once:) I've got mine set to update my Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, and Yahoo accounts all at once.

Goodreads - Many people swear by this. I'm not one of them. I do have an author page at GR and I have rated a few books, but not many. I have my page set up so that the RSS feed from my blog shows up there, giving me a chance to reach a larger audience. The reason I don't go to GR often is simple, I feel unwelcome. Many of the reviews there (and not just for my books) are mean-spirited and just flat rude. It seems to be a hangout for the more venmous to converge. Now if you're on GR and are a nice person, don't be offended. I'm sure there ARE nice people there. I've met one or two. But like I said, not many.

Linkedin - I have an account, but haven't taken the time to get to know how it works. I have too much to do as it is!

Amazon forums - See my opinion about Goodreads. It applies here as well. AUTHORS ARE NOT WELCOME ON AMAZON FORUMS. DO NOT GO THERE.

Yahoo groups - I have one of these too. I'm also a member of many. I chat occasionally and post about my books. Does it work? I have no idea. I visit yahoo groups less and less often as I'm beginning to believe they do nothing at all for sales.

Coffee Time Romance forums - I'm not sure if these boost my sales or not, but I love the people there. I would go just for fun, even if it didn't help me sell more books. Plus, you get to update your signature line with your latest book info. Everyone who sees your signature is another potential customer, right?

Wow. I'm exhausted just LOOKING at this post. LOL I'm certain I've left things out, because I'm constantly marketing.

Oh, I've also got a Website and (you know this because you're reading it) a Blog.

I've done this post to try to help my fellow authors who are out there wondering what works. As I search for the answers to the same question, I'll share my findings with you.

And just in case you're interested, here are the links to where you can find me.

Website -

Facebook -!/pages/Tracey-H-Kitts/73968579374

Twitter -!/traceyhkitts

My Coffee Time Author Area -

I'd like to finish with some words of wisdom. As a very wise editor once told me, the very best promotion is writing another good book. Now that, I can handle:)


MSBjaneB said...

Thank you for the awesome ideas on marketing. As a first time author hoping to be published these are great guidelines.

Gabrielle said...

I so agree with GR. I wanted to like it, but I very quickly felt like it was a place for bashing instead of camaraderie between readers and authors. I feed my blog there, but that's it. I'm with your editor: more books equal more sales and chances for readers to enjoy your stories. :)

Shelley Munro said...

A good rundown, Tracey. I like Coffee Time too. They're a very friendly forum.

It's difficult to know what works. I think each writer has to experiment to get the right balance.

Leah St. James said...

Great observations, Tracey. I've had many of the same experiences and thoughts. It's comforting to know I'm not alone! Best of luck with your career!

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Thank you all for the comments:) I hope some of my experiences can be helpful. Even if it's just to let you know you're not alone. LOL