When is a Book Promotion Not a Book Promotion?

July 19, 2013 in Articles, Book promotions

A book promotion is not something to be taken lightly i.e. you cannot just reduce the price or make your book free without first thinking about what you want to achieve through your book promotion and how you are going to communicate to potential purchasers that you are actually doing a book promotion. Neither should you just choose to advertise your book on any old site that takes your fancy without first checking whether you are likely to get a return on your investment.

Promotion Objectives

Your promotion objectives will very likely be dependent on where you are in the publication process, for example is it a pre-release promotion, a new release promotion or a promotion aimed at boosting flagging sales?

Promoting Books

The billboard didn’t work so I thought I would get more focussed

A Pre-Release – your objective here would be to try and generate a buzz about your impending new book and get people interested in it when it is published. You can use the discussion about the imminent arrival of a new book to add subscribers to a mailing list, your Twitter following, your social media pages, book review sites and blog.  As it is a pre-release then there is no real problem hitting all these channels on the same day, and just letting as many people as possible know in one hit. Doing that is likely to generate the most interest and discussion, you do not want to do this too far in advance of the actual release however as people will cool off after the initial news. The week before is probably a good time frame, especially if you can propose an actual release date.

Each is equally important because each option you can build followers for will give you different channels of communication which can then be used at a later date to advise interested parties of new book releases or special promotions. They are all lists of potential customers that have expressed an interest in your books. Be careful not to spam people however, not only is it illegal to send out unsolicited emails, it is also probably the fastest way to get people to drop you like a stone.

A New Release – your new releases should be done on Amazon first, primarily because once you submit your book for publication you can be fairly confident it will be available in a no more than 24 hours. So normally it is easier to plan the promotion, unless it gets stopped in the review stage for some reason. That can happen and sometimes there is no way you can do anything about it, but it is quite rare.

Another reason for using Amazon first is because this then gives you the option of enrolling in KDP Select (this requires your book to be exclusive to Amazon and not published elsewhere). There are 2 benefits to KDP select, first your books become available in the Prime lending library and secondly, you can run Free promotions on fixed days for up to 5 days. The latter could be a strategy you employ after an initial period when the first pass of sales seems to have waned. Once enrolled in KDP select you are tied in for 90 days, so be sure this is a strategy you want to employ before committing.

The other thing to remember when you are promoting a new release is to adopt a slow burn promotion, this should mean you build your sales rank slowly over time and not experience a sudden spike that falls as quickly as it rose. What is a slow burn, well basically it means not using all your communication channels on the same day. Use your mailing list, then your blog & social media pages over a few days, then maybe add the book to the review sites, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari and so on. For some this will happen naturally because as a one man band and dealing with the technology at the same time as holding down a job, it is likely to mean you can’t do everything in one day anyway. But that is no bad thing especially as you consider you want most of your sales to come after you have actually gained a sales rank, the pre-requisite for which of course is that you have made at least one sale.

Post Release Promotion

Book PromotionsA post release promotion is a little trickier, because you will have already used all your communication channels to promote the book at the release stage. So what you may need to consider is whether it is time to change your chosen categories, especially if sales are flagging, perhaps you can find a less competitive category or perhaps less competitive keywords. This means you may be in a category seen by fewer people, but at least there is a chance you will be seen by some.

The reverse is true also, if you are having reasonable success, you may want to put your book into a more competitive category, where more people are looking but only if you think you are high enough up the ranking to compete, otherwise there is no point.

Other than that, the post release promotion should follow the principles of the new release, unless there is a good reason to just go for it e.g. your selling a gardening book which is seasonal in nature and you need to get it noticed by all the gardeners looking to get started at the beginning of the gardening season. Perhaps that is the nature of the beast, you know you will get good sales at certain times of the year so you save your promotion tools until the period is about to start and then you hit it hard. There are probably better examples than gardening, but you should get my drift.

Another option for a post release book if you have managed to gather some reviews, is to use promotion sites, perhaps even paid ads. The problem is, as anyone that has already tried will know, that the best ones will not accept books without a reasonable number of reviews to a high level and normally only from  Amazon.com as well. That can be difficult if you sell most of  your books on the other Amazon sites, unless you have strong powers of persuasion.

Finally, another option is a free promotion, this is easier to do if you are enrolled in KDP select, where you get 5 free promotion days per 90 day enrollment. I have to say I am not a big fan of this approach, firstly because I don’t like the exclusivity constraint and secondly because you are appealing to a different audience. One that has no intention of buying books. So what can you gain from this approach?

Potentially it may lead to more reviews and even a review from a free download registers as an Amazon verified purchase, which carries more weight than non-verified reviews. Also if you can give away enough free books you may get a little higher up some of the available lists. For one of my books I got listed as a hot new release because I did the promotion just after initial release. But there are other lists, like the popularity lists that you can influence. My experience was that the uplift was relatively short lived, I did get sales from the promotion but not as many as I would have liked and certainly not as many as I have gained outside Amazon now I have left KDP select behind on that particular book. Which may be of interest actually as it is all about Web Marketing using the search engines, I know a pretty competitive arena.

That said it does work for some people and in some genres has proved to be a very successful strategy, or so I am told.

So now I need to answer my own question, When is a Book Promotion Not a Book Promotion? The answer is pretty clear, when it is not properly planned, implemented and communicated correctly.

Communication Channels Available to Independent Publishers & Authors

  • Personal Blogs
  • Social Media Pages
  • Social Media Sites
  • Review Sites 
  • Book Blogs and Bloggers
  • Author Central
  • WEB 2.0 Services

You can find more information on how to utilise the Communication Channels open to you via this link http://ebookissues.com/marketing-promoting-a-book/

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