A few of us here at Indies Unlimited have recently launched their latest books. My next one is due soon as well. So, selfish woman that I am, I asked for a little help with my research. My wonderful friends were generous with their responses. Thank you. In the spirit of the thing, I thought I would share their wisdom with you all. The results can by no means be termed scientifically valid but I hope you can glean something of value from it.
Promotion is one of those parts of Indie writing and publishing that few of us enjoy and most of us find a pain in the … well, you know what. I definitely fall into that category. Bottom line, I want to know what is worth my time and effort and what either isn’t, or simply doesn’t suit my personality. Being an introvert can have its drawbacks.
I would also recommend that you take a look at Kat’s post on sell sheets mentioned by three authors as useful for approaching book stores and libraries.
Here’s the scoop: there is none. What these folks did and how they view their successes are as diverse as the authors themselves and their books are.
The most common event was the Facebook Launch Party. Two respondents put a great deal of planning, time and effort into their Facebook launch. They both agreed that, while it did not necessarily make them rich, they rose significantly on Amazon in the category they had chosen for their book. That means that people did buy the book in numbers high enough to affect their ranking. All in all they were happy with that outcome. The other advantages three respondents mentioned were that the Facebook party gave them an opportunity to engage with readers and fans in a playful way. They had fun. They engaged in some banter, held quizzes, posted snippets of their books, gave away some bling, e-books, and paper books. The cost for each person varied considerably depending on what they gave away as gifts. The bling chosen related to the theme of the book in some way. The questions and quizzes related to the new book, the author’s other books, or the author. Engagement was the key. It was interesting to me to see how closely the theme of the party connected to the genre of the book. Chick lit and humour had more bling and more games. Other genres relied more on quizzes, trivia and comments regarding cover art. Both approaches were considered fun by the authors. The bottom line is that the event did not relate directly to giveaways so much as the ‘fun factor’ of the quizzes, banter and engagement level with potential readers and fans.
Length of the launch parties varied, as well, from one day to two weeks. The general consensus was that short works just as well as long. One author said she will not make the next one as long. It seems that even one day can be very effective. Longer parties can take a lot of energy and you may find yourself exhausted before it is finished. Longer parties might be more fun for the extroverts among us.
A couple of authors also participated in blog fests. This involves the author enlisting other authors or bloggers to feature something about themselves and their book on their respective blogs or websites. This was a lot of work and depended on the members of the group following through with their commitment. There was no consensus as to whether this translated into much more traffic or sales. It is also energy-consuming and can be exhausting.
Both Facebook parties and blog fests can involve giveaways. Prizes, no matter how small, cost money, so that is something you will want to weigh in making your decision. Giving e-books is easy as they can be gifted directly via Kindle or Smashwords, etc. Paper books can be sent directly as well, unless you want to sign them first, in which case you will incur a higher cost of mailing. One author found this to be costly when the winners lived outside the U.S.
All but one of the authors also had a physical local event – a launch at either a bookstore, a hall, or other venue. To advertise these they sent out press releases, contacted local media for announcements, articles and interviews (newspaper, radio), placed posters in the area, distributed bookmarks and business cards wherever they could. I did this for my previous launch with good results and plan to expand that much further for my upcoming one. The onsite event is aimed mostly at paper books, so make sure you have lots on hand. Have not only the current new book available but also copies of previous ones. You’ll be surprised at the results. I was. This is something that takes some planning well ahead of the date. You will need to design the items and find a printer who can do them justice. The cost will vary with the amounts and where you have the printing done. For myself, I found it worthwhile the last time around. Several others also had these made.
At the physical Launch Party it is a good idea to have some beverages and nibbles. Food attracts people. One author actually had champagne. Now that impressed me – but it’s not something I think will pay off for most of us. This author combined her event with visual artists who could display and sell their work at the venue. That event lasted four days and she considered it a success for all involved. But, again, unless your book involves art as a theme (it did) I doubt you will want to go that far. I think I’ll stick to food.
If your launch is at a bookstore you may sell a number of books but the sales will result in little income for the author as they will need to split the revenue with the store – usually a 60/40 split. This was the experience of both myself and one other author. However we both feel it was worth it.
The methods of promoting our new books vary as much as the authors and the books. The bottom line seems to be – have fun and engage in a happy way with your readers, guests and fans. Engagement is the most important factor.
And, as you can see, sales are only one measure of success. So when you launch that next blockbuster remember to have fun. If you are having fun the people you are attracting will, too.