This sale runs all through the weekend of 12/15/2017. Remember, it’s the holidays and books make great gifts!
To say thank you to my readers, all my available works are free over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s right–free! If you’ve been waiting to pick up volume #2 of the Atlantis: TVC series, or to try one of my other stories, now is the time! Want something to curl up with while you snack on leftovers? This deal is for you!
Have a friend you think may be interested in one of the stories listed above? Feel free to share this promotion! It’s for ALL my readers–current and future.
Thank you all for your support. I am truly thankful for each and every one of you.
[Links to the listed e-books can be found on the Shop page in the header, or by clicking on the image above.]
That’s right! Volumes #1 and #2 are on sale this weekend! You can pick up Volume #1 — The Visionary Continent for FREE, and Volume #2 — Awakening is only 99¢. Grab them before summer is over! [They’re great for reading by the pool, or so I’m told…]
If you’re looking for a shorter read, my novelette Simple Words is free this weekend as well!
If you ask about promotion or marketing as a new self-publisher, people usually say something vague like: “As a self-pubbed author, you need to wear many hats!” as they direct you toward social media, or paid book promotion services, and… well, that’s it. “Here’s a link to Twitter, and another one to Goodreads. Now go forth–and don’t forget to wear your marketing hat! Even traditionally published authors have to do this now.” Others will recommend that you have a nice cover and tell you to try to utilize word of mouth. Barring that, you’ll get told to pay someone else to do it. No one is wrong, but no one is telling the full story, either. To market successfully, you need to use everything available to your advantage. Things like:
A Finished Book
- Eye-catching cover that instantly conveys your book’s genre
- An edited, polished manuscript beneath that cover
- Intriguing back cover blurb that introduces the main character and asks more questions than it answers
The actual book is half the battle, but it’s the most important thing you can work on. This is the end product. Everything you do after you write it will be designed to lead readers to it, and when they leave, they should feel at best satisfied–and at worst, neutral. They should not feel tricked or offended by taking time from other tasks to look at your work.
These are the readers you had in mind when you wrote your book, and the ones you will need to keep in mind as you build your campaign. Who do you think would like your story? Ask yourself questions like:
- What type of stories do they normally read?
- What element of your story would pique their interest?
- What other authors would they read?
The more questions you ask, the closer you will come to seeing your ideal reader. Once you have your ideal reader pinned down they are who you want to aim for as you plan your ad campaign. Any marketing you do should target them, and anyone else you may catch will ripple out from that center.
A Social Media Presence
- A blog branded with your name or pen name*
- A Facebook Page
- A Twitter Page
*= If possible you should start this before you finish your book
This is the bare minimum for social networking. I highly recommend buying your author name as a domain and having it direct to your blog if you do not open a website. I also advise you to join a third social media of your choice, this one visual. Pinterest or Instagram are great choices, though I have personally found great success with Instagram–especially since it cross-links so easily with Facebook.
That’s another thing–if you are more comfortable on one type of social media than another, there are resources that allow you to make a single post on your preferred platform and send it to others, maximizing your exposure. [This is a great article detailing the most popular options available to you.]
Speaking of exposure, there are several different ways to achieve this. Simply putting yourself on the web will not sell books! You would be surprised at how many authors stop here and wonder why they couldn’t sell to people other than friends and family. The web is a vast, busy place. You have to make yourself visible. You have to make yourself and your book stand out. There are several ways to do this:
People are visual creatures. First impressions are important–some readers won’t even read your back cover copy [or your back blurb, as it is sometimes called] if they hate your cover! With split-second decisions like that being made, you’ll need to have cover art that can work double time for you in advertisements. If you are going to market your book, you’ll need a few visual aids:
- A high-resolution copy of your cover art
- A high-resolution copy of your final book cover
- A photo of yourself that is not a selfie [Author’s Headshot]
These should all be at least 2000 px in height, and 600 dpi; preferably saved in a lossless format, like PNG or TIFF. The cover art is what you are going to use whenever an ad requires a picture, and the image of the cover whenever you want to display an image of your book. [Such as in banner ads] Your author picture will be used when you create an official profile for yourself. You should have one on any website you sign up for, and display it on any “About” pages you have the chance to fill out.
If you wish to get creative and make banner ads, or advertisements with text on the images, I highly recommend paying someone with more experience to do it. It works out well to do it by yourself when you’ve spent the last twelve years freelancing as a graphic designer [like I did], but if you are planning on using any kind of template tool or paint program to create your images, you’re probably going to have a bad time. This is the one point in the self-publishing process where I would err on the side of caution and hire someone. If you can’t afford it, do text only ads. It is so difficult to overwrite a bad first impression. It can be done, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Advertising Yourself and Your Work
- Social Media Hashtags
- Word of Mouth
- Getting cataloged by webcrawlers
Don’t underestimate the power of hashtags. Put them on all your social media statuses! Make them relevant to what your book or series is about, but don’t forget about vaguely-associated ones, like the platform you sell from [Smashwords, Amazon, etc.] or the cost of your book–especially if it’s free or on sale! Word of Mouth is another powerful, free tool–especially if friends and family are buzzing about your book! And if all else fails, a webcrawler will eventually catalog your blog or shop page. It could take several weeks or months for that to happen, though.
Social media can work for you despite having a small initial reach or audience.
- Promoted Status Updates
- Promoted Website Links
- Promoted Pages/Profiles
These are done through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can set your own budget per day, and set the number of days the promotion will run. These are most effective when used with a sale or giveaway.
These are low cost options that reach many people, and are great for an author who has just launched their first book, or a seasoned author with a slim advertising budget.
I ran an ad campaign simultaneously with Google and Facebook. You can read about my experience here.
This is for authors trying to break into the big leagues! You are set up with a consultant who will tailor an ad campaign just for you. Unfortunately, these services come with strict qualifications and/or a hefty price tag–some starting at a couple hundred dollars. These services target readers specifically, and if you have a large amount of positive reviews that can drive sales, then using a service like these can catapult your book into a bestseller slot.
Book Promotion Newsletters
These can be a low-cost option for promotion, and can start as low as $10. But they usually have strict guidelines your book must fall within in order to participate.
- The Fussy Librarian
- Bargain Booksy
- Reading Deals
- Many Books
- Hotzippy [Formerly EBookHunter]
Most of these require your book have at least 10 reviews and a 3.5+ rating prior to submission.
Giving away your book free for a limited time is a great motivator to pick it up, especially if it’s new and doesn’t have many reviews. If you are writing a series, your first book is a good candidate to offer for cheap [or even free] whenever you can–this drives people who like it to pick up the remaining books in the series, and is known in marketing terms as a Loss Leader. [But it only works if you have two or more books released for the series.]
The chance to win something is a great motivator! People love free stuff, even if it’s a copy of your book. You can offer a simple lottery-style giveaway, or you can require certain terms for entry. On Facebook a popular strategy is to offer a single chance to win for a “like”, and a double chance if they share the contest status. This spreads your message organically, encouraging others to enter while promoting your book or page. How much that prize costs is up to you–a free e-book doesn’t even cost you shipping! [Note: Make sure you read the rules of the sites you plan on running your contest on so you can make sure it doesn’t accidentally violate one of them!]
These two options are great if you are willing to do some legwork, and are often free! Don’t be too discouraged if people don’t get back to you right away–they often have large backlogs of requests to go though, so a reply time of several weeks isn’t unheard of.
As I said earlier, using all of these will drive sales; but for some self-pubs things like concierge advertising are a pipe dream. That’s okay–there are plenty of free and low-cost options here that will help you out! Mix and match the ones you feel will work best with what you have, and you will still bring readers to your book!
I know–this was a long, serious article. Have a cute kitty for your patience!
I recently ran an ad campaign, because over the holidays my sales slumped. Why were my sales slumping? Well, initial excitement over my second book had tapered off, and people were all wrapped up in holiday stuff. It’s fairly common. If I was smart, I would have set up a sale and ad campaign to run right after Christmas, to catch the eye of all those people getting e-readers for presents! But alas, I was caught up in holiday stuff as well, and didn’t take the opportunity. So I promised myself I would run a campaign for the next holiday, which was Valentine’s Day.
This was dubbed the Valentine’s Heartwarming Sale*, and it recently ran over the weekend of Valentine’s Day, which was very convenient. I ran the promotion for three days in all, and I decided to try out a new ad delivery service, Google Adwords. I’ve run ads on Facebook before, but I’ve avoided Google in the past because I feel like with light novels the covers really help with letting the reader know what they’re purchasing. Google ads are… just words, like it says on the tin. But because there was also a promotion, I figured the sale aspect would generate a few clicks on its own. So I ran one ad on Facebook, and another on Google, just to see how they stacked up.
I have to say, I was totally blown away by the results! Here are my experiences with both sets of ads.
*=Because I like cheeziness, and I found this really cute stock photo of a heart-shaped mug of cocoa in snow that I really liked. Seriously.
I have run an ad campaign on Facebook before, so this was nothing new to me. Or so I thought. My ad ran overnight, but then was pulled for having “Too much text on it”. Turns out, the text on the images of my book covers on the ad counted towards their 20% limit.
So I stripped all the text off–except for the name of the sale–and resubmitted it. What irked me the most is that I lost out on four to six hours of ad time on the first morning because Facebook never notified me that the ad was pulled. If I had never checked my stats to see how it did overnight, I would have never noticed it wasn’t running!
Their interface is intuitive, though there were a few bugs with the targeting and demographics areas that I managed to work around. Other than the approval mess, it was a smooth process.
- Ads connect to your series page, author page, or directly to your website
- Can use an image
- Ads can also appear on Instagram
- Can set a detailed target audience
- Can set daily price limits or total campaign limits
- Can set custom time period
- Can choose to pay per click, per impression, or per unique view
- You can choose where your ad shows up [mobile devices, the side bar, apps, etc.]
- Easy to read reports
- Does not notify you if your ad is not approved/removed
- Will run your ad despite it being in review status, and make you pay for clicks/views in that time period even if they do not approve it
- Buggy Interface [Image upload and audience targeting, specifically.]
- Ads appear to be served in a set rotation with other ads which keeps the impressions low
- Cannot have different ads to cycle through in the same campaign
- Help center/FAQ is difficult to navigate and did not answer many of the questions I had
I’ll admit, their stark interface had me worried, but it really is a full-featured program. There are many options, one of which is the ability to pause a campaign, which I really liked. I was also impressed that there was phone support available–even if I didn’t need it. [Compared to Facebook’s help center, which was… bad.] And when I poked around the advanced reports, a step-by-step tutorial walked me through building a custom report. [Which gave me a ton of data. Seriously, loads!]
It holds your hand quite a bit, which was comforting to a newbie like me. The hardest part was staying within their character limits! People who do that Twitter thing will feel right at home; for me it took an hour to figure out how to say what I needed to with so few words. Now that the ad has been running for over 7 days, the tools that help fine tune your ads are offering suggestions, and everything they recommend is working. Today–with no sale running–I received 25% more clicks than I did during the peak day of my sale! I went in with no expectations since I’m technically a little fish to Google–but I came away pleasantly surprised.
Note: Today I noticed they had options for image ads and YouTube video ads available now, which is pretty cool! I don’t know if I unlocked those somehow, or if they were available from the beginning. I may experiment with an image ad and see how it performs versus the text-only ad.
- Ads can connect to any web address
- Can set daily price limits
- Can set custom time period
- You only pay for click through, not for views
- You can define a custom bid per click setting
- Ads can show up on any partner network–YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, etc.
- Can create multiple ads within a set that will cycle randomly, or only appear for certain keywords
- Can set ads to only run during certain times
- Has instant tools to help you optimize and tweak your campaign to get the most value
- Has step-by-step tutorials for any non-intuitive feature
- Many ad blockers have them whitelisted because they are unobtrusive
- Give coupon code for $100 worth of free ads for new accounts that spend at least $25 in their first month
- Free Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 8 PM EST phone support
- Tons of data available through advanced reports
- Image and video ads available
- Text ads are limited to a title, and only 2 lines of 36 characters each
- Relies on search keywords to define audience
- Ads can fail to be served if they have a low relevancy rating on any of your keywords
- Ads can fail to be served if your bid per click is lower than competing ads
- Initial reports are straightforward, but detailed reports need to be manually compiled
- The position of your ad is based off relevancy rating and the amount of your bid per click settings
- Ads are unobtrusive, and are sometimes ignored
Total Impressions: ~7,500
Click Throughs: ~20
Total Cost: $15.72
Best Day: Saturday
Best Hours: 12 PM – 6 PM
Peak Hour: 2 PM
Results: Google Adwords
Total Impressions: ~12,500
Click Throughs: ~40
Total Cost: $1.23
Best Day: Saturday
Best Hours: 6 PM – 10 PM
Peak Hour: 10 PM
Overall my sales tripled from the combined ad campaign! For a self-published author writing in a niche medium, that is amazing for less than twenty dollars total!
Though sales have dropped with the end of the promotion, they haven’t leveled off. Why not? Because the Google ad was so cheap, I decided to keep running it! It seems to be pulling me an extra couple of sales/lends per day, and it’s only costing me pennies a day to maintain, so why would I not? I know a 0.32% rate looks dismal, but I’d happily pay $2 for it as opposed to $16 for 0.06% less. That’s just smart shopping. As far as Facebook goes, I’ll stick to boosting posts for $5 if the mood strikes me, or when volume #3 releases.
Maybe someday I’ll get brave and try Twitter ads, but I really don’t care for Twitter. Plus whenever I clicked “Get Started” to explore pricing it just took me back to the analytics page in a constant loop. Not particularly inspiring.
Later, I found an independent site that listed Twitter’s rates as $0.50 – $2.00 per ad click. No thanks, Twitter.
Atlantis: The Visionary Continent is on sale this Valentine’s Day weekend!
From February 12th – 14th, Volume #1 will be available for FREE, while Volume #2 will be on a countdown deal, starting at $0.99 cents on Friday, then ending back at its original price on Monday morning.
Each volume is illustrated and includes bonus content at the end! If you’ve been putting off picking up a copy, then this weekend is the time to curl up with a warm mug of cocoa and start [or continue] your journey to Atlantis!
Note: Promotion end time is 2/15/2016 12: 01 AM PST
I know I touched on this topic a bit back in this entry, but I want to revisit it again now that I’ve had the better part of a year to explore different platforms.
Right before Christmas the fan on my heatsink died, and I couldn’t find a replacement for it. I had to special order a new heatsink, a new fan, and wait two weeks for them to be delivered. Since the screen on my laptop is broken, and my desktop was dead–I was officially computer-less.
So I turned to the last option I had left–my phone. Just the two of us, out there in no computer-land.
Now, browsing the internet on a phone is an okay thing, provided it’s done in small amounts. If you want to write on it, you’re out of luck. Trust me, I tried. I tried several times, but it just didn’t work. And drawing? Well, typically I’d say forget it, but I have a Galaxy Note, and drawing is totally feasible on one… but I wasn’t inspired to draw at all for those two weeks. So, in a fit of… I dunno… curiosity, boredom–maybe both–I decided to set up an Instagram account.
[I’m poking fun at myself, because my first post was of cheese. I like cheese.]
I originally stayed far away from Instagram because of the failure that was my Twitter [More on that in a bit] and because it’s a visual medium. I didn’t think it was a good fit–until the computer died. Then I thought, “Hey, light novels have pictures. I have a lot of images of my characters, actually. Maybe this could work…”
Within fourteen days of starting my account, I have tripled my monthly sales, and all I did was post some pictures–sketches, some previously unseen completed artwork, some pics of stuff from my day-to-day life–a random smattering of things. I don’t even have that many followers. I really regret not utilizing it sooner. Something I was neglecting to take into account is that people are highly visual these days, and they are often browsing social media quickly between tasks. You only have a small window to capture their attention–and as the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words.
Authors–self and traditionally published ones alike–have to do their own promotion nowadays. For new or aspiring writers, this can be a tough task! It is difficult to sell yourself and your work, but having the right platform to do it through can make all the difference. This is what I have gathered from my personal experience with Social Media:
Age of Account: 1 year+
- Large, diverse audience
- Your page can be “suggested” based on other things people have liked [it’s like a free targeted ad]
- Ads are cheap
- You can schedule status updates
- Sometimes smaller pages and posts get lost if you don’t tune your page settings
- Audience tends to be older
- After a certain amount of free “reach”, you have to pay to stay in people’s newsfeeds
- When posting links, preview pics seem to be pulled at random
Age of Account: 1 year+
- Large, diverse audience
- Able to post images
- Difficult to gain followers
- Unless you post often you are lost in the crowd
- Hashtags eat into your character limit
- If your posts don’t fall under “trending” tags, then they are rarely seen
- Pictures use up a portion of your character limit
- Cannot schedule tweets unless you pay
- Character limit
Age of Account: 7 months
- Highly visual
- Younger audience
- Able to categorize posts with hashtags
- User base has infamous reputation
- Hashtags are abused
- People heart and reblog, but don’t really interact with or comment on your stuff
- Difficult to build a following
Age of Account: 2 Weeks
- Extremely visual
- Easy to use app
- Hashtags actually bring people to your work
- Ads work just like on Facebook [same parent company]
- Small image size [keeps image theft down]
- Only able to update through a phone
- Random tags from spammers
- So. Much. Random. Porn.
- Small image size [Hard to show large-scale artwork]
In conclusion, if I was forced to choose only two social media accounts, then I would pick Facebook, followed by Instagram. The others have [sadly] been useless in driving people to my work, or even encouraging people to engage with me. Those two outlets, combined with this blog and the natural mysterious powers of Amazon, have been the driving force behind my sales. For standard authors, I don’t think Instagram would be as useful, but because light novels are visual it works to my advantage. But this is just my opinion/experience. I know of many authors that have gained traction and sales on Twitter, but had poor luck on Facebook. Your mileage may vary.