As we approach 2020, many authors will be looking back on their book creation and promotion journey with a mixture of delight and disappointment. It has to be said, that it is the best feeling in the world to write, complete and publish a book but the promotion of and the lack of sales, can leave authors reeling.
If you have, like myself, tried every method of promotion, trending book rescue plans and faced your fears and been to book signings and still have not achieved sales to cover your costs, then you are not alone. Nearly every writing group post I have read, shows me clearly the disillusionment authors suffer after publishing. More annoyingly, there are many people willing to point a finger at you and tell you that your efforts to advertise are not enough or will laugh at your naivety.
The path to promoting a book is constantly changing and so much time can be wasted researching the correct marketing method. The truth is, that not all authors are business minded and we have precious little time to write, let alone tackle the marketing side of things.
For those of you that are traditionally published with a proactive publisher that will contact their reviewers, get your book on the shelves of the big bookshops and arrange, interviews and signings for you, then you have a fighting chance of making sales. For those of us that use smaller publishers or self-publish, then it is up to us to get reviews and to promote our books to readers – no easy matter.
So who is reading and what books do they read?
Just over half of the UK population read a book last year. People are still reading and an increasing number of people are listening to audio books. Book reading is on the increase – hooray! According to Stephanywrites.com, this is how the market is divided in 2019. Many of us will be writing for a niche market so our struggle to succeed will be even more challenging. There is hope though!
After several years of experimenting with book promotion and living with a constant headache about it all, I have come to the conclusion that I must not let myself get too upset about having no or very few sales. I know my books are great, even if I say it myself, and what makes me happiest is writing and releasing my books to the world with the hope that the next book will be the one! Having tried nearly every sales tactic with no sales, I have a simple marketing plan for 2020 – this might work for you too.
My book promotion plan for 2020 for each book you publish
1. Your book’s description - Make sure your book’s description is no more than 250 words long and does not give the plot away. The first line of your description needs to be a ‘shout out’ line that will draw the reader into reading more about a book. For example my paranormal fantasy ‘Chanctonbury’ my shout out line is:
‘Would you like the Devil to grant you your dearest wish? If you could change the past or your future – would you? Six troubled souls meet at the Chanctonbury Ring and are forced to fight their demons!
"Absolutely Remarkable" Amy's Bookshelf Reviews
As you can see I have also included a quote from a reviewer. The reader should click on More… to find out about the book and if they get that far, should buy the book if the reviews are good.
2. Book Catagories - Make sure your books are placed in catagories that are not too general. For example. I write science fiction and my book 3004 is currently listed under First Contact, Colonisation and Metaphysical Science Fiction
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,636 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#15 in First Contact Science Fiction eBooks
#7 in Colonisation Science Fiction eBooks
#13 in Metaphysical Science Fiction eBooks
If 3004 was just in the Science Fiction category , then my book would be lost. Another reason 3004 is doing so well, is because it is FREE. 3004 is one of my readers’ magnet. Around 2000 copies have been downloaded but nobody has left me a review or gone on to buy 3006 despite there being advertisements at the end of the book. I will have to have another look at my last page and make it easier for people to leave reviews.
3. A subscription list - Create or grow a subscription list of raving fans by offering readers a ‘magnet’ which could be a free book, an article about something that would interest a reader or a monthly newsletter. I use Mailchimp to store my subscriber’s email addresses and to send out my freebies. Mailchimp’s basic package is free and quite easy to use.
Find out more here https://mailchimp.com/why-mailchimp.
You can join my subscription list from my website www.nmurray.moonfruit.com but even with enticing magnets, I do find that readers are reluctant to sign up. I have around 300 subscribers and only a handful of them respond to my emails. I obviously need to find a better magnet to grow the list and find a way to keep my fans engaged. The larger the list, the more likely fans will actually buy and review your books. This is something I need to work on in 2020.
4. Amazon reviews – 50+ reviews is what you need to achieve before Amazon will organically expose your book to the viewing public. This is an essential requirement as then you can see if your book is worth promoting. Make sure you have a review request and Amazon link at the end of your book to ask your reader to leave you a review on Amazon.
You cannot ask friends and family to leave a review on Amazon as this is against their rules. You can offer your book for free to reviewers in exchange for an honest Amazon review. There are quite a few lists of reviewers online but you need to look at each one to make sure they review your genre and you need to write an individual email to them asking for a review.
It has to be said, for every 200 emails you send out to reviewers you will probably hear back from about 5 and it can take months to get a review! Exasperating I know!
I have been looking for a service that will find reviewers for you and came across BookSirens where the reviewers will leave an Amazon friendly review. There is a $10 admin fee and if anyone downloads your book $2 is charged. You have a 75% chance of getting a review. I plan to use BookSirens for my first Jack Solar Journal as I have no reviews for this book and am due to publish the next in the series in February. Children’s books are notoriously difficult to get reviews for. Check out this site for yourself https://booksirens.com/authors
I have just created a Facebook group ‘Book Review Genie’ to help authors to get reviews. Initially I was hoping that authors would list their review requests on the page and then pick an unknown author from the review requests left, review a book and leave a review on Amazon. Although this would have been an Amazon friendly way of getting reviews, this format did not sit well with some. I also had a few reviewers ask me if they could join the group so with this in mind, Book Review Genie is open to authors and reviewers. You are welcome to join the group, leave a review request and are under no obligation to review a book yourself. Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2393225134340972/
5. If you are having trouble getting signings in bookshops, then go to book shows/fairs/festivals and sell and sign your books there. It is unlikely that you will cover your costs but there is no better feeling than actually signing and selling a book to a real person. The other benefit of going to a book show is that you meet other authors who are willing to share with you their book promotion journey. You can also organise your own book shows in your local area. If you want to know where you can find where all the book shows are being held, then Kevin Parker sends out a newsletter listing most of the Literary Festivals in the UK. You can sign up for this here: www.literaryfestivals.co.uk
I organise the UK Southern Book Show which is held on the South Coast each year - around 50 authors from across the UK come to the show, give talks, readings and of course sell and sign their books. The next show is on Saturday 4 July 2020 at the Stage by the Sea, Littlehampton, 9:00am-3pm.
I believe that on 4 July, the weather is likely to be warm and it being a Saturday in the summer, lots of coaches come down from London and stop at the end of Banjo Road, bringing large groups of people that will have to walk by the book show, on their way to the sea. The show will also appear in Littlehampton’s ‘What’s on Guide’ so local people will know of the show’s dates and will be visiting the sea as the weather will be glorious anyway. I of course go into a social media frenzy two months before the show and post daily on social media. I cannot guarantee how many people will attend but I think that more people will be interested in visiting an outdoor festival style event rather than going into a building. We shall see.
If you are interested in taking part then find out more and sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/vvjp6qc
6. Once you have your 50+ reviews then it is time to start paying for advertising if your book has an average of 3+ or more stars on Amazon. My plan is to pay for Sponsored Amazon ads, Bookbub ads and possibly Facebook ads.
I just love writing and reading, I find these literary pursuits therapeutic and satisfying. It is a chance to escape the real world, and join or shape a parallel universe. I have read that the best way to be a successful writer is to keep writing and keep publishing. That is my plan.
Eventually, I am sure that your dreams will come true :).
How is your book promotional journey shaping up? Please leave a comment and let everyone know how you are doing and if you found my article of interest.