Promoting your book? Read this first.

iStock_000008515543XSmallWe’ve written plenty about the moving parts that need to fall into place when you launch your book. If you think that’s a challenge, wait until you plan a promotion, especially a major one with multiple books or an event that involves multiple authors. Here are some things you’ll want to check out before you promote your book.

  1. Don’t forget to lower your price. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it happens. We get busy with life and stuff and…bam. Once I pleaded for an open slot in a special promo on a major eBook advertiser’s website and then completely spaced taking my price down to 99 cents like I’d promised. Ouch. I wasted thirty bucks and some goodwill with the advertiser, so that’s one mistake I’ll try hard not to make again. If your books are distributed through Smashwords, Draft2Digital, or individual online retailers, you’ll need to do this manually. If you’re on KDP Select, Amazon makes price changes a little easier. Just go to your info on the dashboard and select your free days or countdown dates. You still have to remember to do it, however.
  1. Make sure your book’s page hasn’t gone wonky. Check your book’s online page before your promotion starts — at least a week in advance, preferably two. Make sure you’re still in the categories you’re supposed to be in. I had a few nasty surprises over the years. I once found my “humor” in “horror” and a very not-YA book in YA. I’m still not sure how that happened. Check Author Central against your KDP dashboard to make sure nothing’s gone sideways. If you’ve republished an eBook through KDP, your product description sometimes reverts to whatever you’ve used as a description in the KDP dashboard (despite having changed it at Author Central). Also, check your book’s CreateSpace page: changes made in KDP or Author Central don’t transfer over there.
  1. Make sure your book is up to date. Have you updated your back matter to include new publications? Have you added a polite request for reviews? Is there a link to pre-order your next book? It’s a good time to do that. And double-check the formatting before you publish. It’s also worth asking a friend with an eReader to check the new version. Just to make sure the thousands of people who are about to download your book don’t get a surprise — like an old version or wonky formatting.
  1. Keep track of where you’ve submitted. With so many promotional websites employing online forms, it’s easy to lose track of where you submitted…and sometimes, submitted again. I like to keep a spreadsheet of where I’ve applied, and I update it as I hear back from each advertiser. Not only does this give me a running tally of the dollars I’ve committed to, it gives me a reference for my next sale: sites that picked me up, sites that took a pass, which ones to possibly skip next time or try with a different title.
  1. Put the sale dates on your calendar. Yes, it sounds dumb. But I’ve heard from plenty of authors who forgot about their scheduled freebies and had to scramble around getting eyeballs on them. You don’t need the stress or the lost opportunities. It’s also handy to use that calendar to keep of track of which promotional site will be featuring you when. Some advertisers will send you a heads-up email when you’re about to run, but most don’t. Calendar. It’s a good thing.
  1. Put the calendar somewhere you can see it. Must I explain?
  1. Know the rules if you’re doing a Kindle Countdown. They can be tricky.
  1. Have all the information you need at your fingertips. I hate wasting time looking for things. You probably do, too. And you need so many bits and pieces before and during a promotion: links to books and social media, covers, descriptions of various lengths, tag lines, snippets from reviews, tweets you’ve drafted in advance (if you use Twitter and you haven’t loaded them into a scheduling program like Hootsuite.) Here’s how Kathy Rowe keeps her book details together. I like to keep mine in a Word document on my desktop. And in my Dropbox folder.
  1. Make sure you’ll have computer access during your promotion. Sounds like another “no kidding” item, but life happens. I had to travel during one promotion and made a pest of myself in various WiFi-enabled locations to do some social-media sharing and check my progress. This is another good reason to put your info into your Dropbox folder, so you can access it from anywhere.
  1. Calendar. Have one.

Anything else you’d recommend?

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

27 thoughts on “Promoting your book? Read this first.”

  1. The keeping track of submissions was my hard lesson. I used to be able to remember everything without writing it down. Now? Not so much. I now keep a spreadsheet of every submission, price, date of promo, when it is accepted (or rejected) and then I overlay it with results if those are available.

  2. I live in fear of forgetting to lower my price. I have all the dates written on a dry erase board, on Post-it notes, on the calendar, in a spreadsheet – and I still worry I’ll forget.

  3. I just started a promo on Sunday and lowered my prices two days before, just to be sure. I’d rather do it way ahead of time in case of some KDP problem than wait to the last minute. Any readers who happen to look at those books early just get an unexpected surprise.

  4. This article is a lifesaver! I only have a couple of books to keep track of (one being released any day) right now but they are only the beginning. Your article helped me see that I better gather my stuff before it gets into the wind and I’m chasing everything, everywhere. Thanks for the info.

  5. The only other thing I can think to do is to bookmark this post. 😉 Wonderful reminders, thank you!

  6. Here’s my guilty admission–I didn’t start using a spread sheet until late 2014. Before that I was putting it all on my white board in the office. I still use the white board to post which book to promote when, but I use the spread sheet with all the links and costs and dates to keep track. And I put anticipated dates for discounted or free on my Google digital calendar. Whew!

  7. I just use a large calendar, but then I really only do a true promo once a month…a freebie on Book Bub. I have that charted out for the rest of the year, with the date I need to apply to BB, the book, etc. And then my borderline OCD kicks in on occasion, sending me the KDP in the middle of the night, double checking I’ve scheduled a freebie promo for that book.
    I did have trouble with Kindle Countdown; I learned when you do one you have to schedule the UK separately. Won’t mess that up again.

  8. Great Post, Laurie. I Iove my Google Calendar. Sometimes, it wears me out though. I also keep a hard copy of sites on which a title is submitted and if waiting for a slot or approved and cost. Your best reminder: When setting KCD, don’t forget to set it for the UK. I hear many a lament from authors who fail to do that. It is confusing because when one puts a title FREE inside KDP Select, a title goes FREE globally. Not so with KCD.

  9. I don’t run that many promotions (yet), so I just have a reminder by my desk so I don’t forget to lower the price. On Sunday I published a novella, which I would love to promote, but I can’t find a lot of sites that accept shorter works. Anyone have a suggestion?

    1. Hi, Annette,
      Congrats on the new publication! It can be tough to promote those. I know there’s one site that takes shorter work (although mine was too short even for them at 14K words). I’ll hunt around a little.

  10. My advice based on sad personal experience is to make sure your Kindle Countdown Deal is also set up in the UK. The first time I did that I hadn’t noticed that it was a separate process.

  11. The spreadsheet is a great idea. I have been keeping track of everything on an ever-expanding Word document. I love my spreadsheets. Don’t know why I never thought of using one for this. I’m definitely going to transfer it.

  12. Last 2 times I did a countdown Amzon forgot to change the price, most of my first day marketing got cancelled, it was a disappointing mess. Twice in a row, I can’t tell you the stress of trying to reach Amazon, anyway, not doing that again. But this was very helpful, thanks

  13. Yes, this is very good advice. I find if I make one file for it’s easier. I can keep coming back to that same place for the info. It can get messy so it is good to be organized. You don’t want to come across as a flake because we want to bargain sites to like us. (Yes, please like us!) and we don’t want our readers to get mad that we advertised a book that is on sale and it is not. It will make us look unprofessional and in essence make our books look that way too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom Laurie… and the gang at IU.

  14. Good stuff, Laurie. I’ve gone one further than Shawn and printed this post. I’ve stuck it on the wall in front of my desk with a big red star to attract attention. When that becomes too familiar a view I’ll change the star for a bright green arrow, so as to keep all this in mind! Thanks. 🙂

  15. Laurie, thanks for all these great tips and bits of advice. The one that resonated most with me is about updating your back matter when you publish new material. I think some writers tend to get e-books published and then don’t look back. But if they continue to “live” somewhere where readers or subscribers can get at them, they always, always need to be kept up to date.

    By the way, I see you’re from the Hudson Valley. I’m originally from Orange County across the Hudson River from Beacon. What about yourself? I just followed you on Twitter and would love to chat more about that part of New York. Regards, Joe

Comments are closed.