BTS025, Experiments in Book Launching and Book Marketing as a New Author
Experiments in Book Launching and Book Marketing as a New Author
Just to let you know, this behind the scenes podcast diary was recorded on February 17, so this diary episode is primarily me looking back at the week starting from January 27, 2020, to February 2, 2020. In light of that, I have some exciting news. Last week on, Monday, January 27, I published Missing in ebook, paperback, and large print on all online store platforms. And, yes, I’ve changed my mind on going exclusive with Amazon.
So, stay tuned to find out why, and for more details on book marketing and releasing a book.
Podcast House Keeping
I’m going to make another change to the podcast.
So, why another change?
The answer is two-fold.
Firstly, the podcast takes a lot of time to script, record and edit. And, there’s no way I can avoid that scenario because I want to make the final product as good as possible. I have a few personal pet peeves which are ironically sound related, and these dislikes are what drive my decision to script and edit. Now, all of this takes time, and it’s time that I’m not spending writing.
So, here’s my dilemma. I’m an author and I need to write, so that needs to come first, but I also love podcasting.
Secondly, I want to wait until I have a little more experience to talk about writing or how to write.
Bringing Back the Behind the Scenes Podcast Diary
In light of all of that, I’m changing this podcast to an author podcast diary where I share the behind-the-scenes of self-publishing. As you might have guessed, my behind-the-scenes podcast diary is back. Each week, I’m going to dive into my behind the scenes misadventures where I talk to you about how I’m marketing and publishing my books as a brand new fiction author. I’ll share the tools I’m using, the mistakes I’ve made, and what I would do differently the next time around.
And, on the odd occasion, I might interview other authors about how they are marketing and self-publishing their books. However, the majority of these episodes are going to be me discussing my week and what I’ve done, and plan to do. You get it, the podcast is going to move back to my behind-the-scenes diary format.
You probably won’t believe this, but I finished the fourth draft of the book blurb for Missing, on Friday, January 24 in the final hour. Call me boring, but I worked over the weekend of the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth of January on self-publishing tasks. After I wrote and edited the fourth draft, I used a book description generator by Kindlepreneur to produce amazon friendly HTML.
The one thing I will say about the HTML generator is, you need to type in your book description manually. So, that means no copying and pasting. You do have the option to copy and paste your blurb into the generator, but if you do that from a programme like MS word then there’s a chance it will pull HTML from that programme, and that will affect the HTML you copy into Amazon. And that is something you probably don’t want. Towards the end of the week, I completed another draft the blurb where I added a new hook and made more tweaks to the body of the description.
In the final hour, on Sunday evening, I decided to publish my books wide instead of opting into the Kindle Unlimited programme. This decision was made after my husband pointed out that I should publish on all platforms first and see where my novella sell the most because I don’t actually know where my n will sell until I try.
And, I don’t just mean, try it for a month or two.
I’m going to try it for a year because a year will give me a better idea of what it will be like to market my book. Another factor that came into consideration was the number of books I plan to publish this year. Spoiler alert, I plan to publish three other novels in the James Lalonde Crime Thriller series. Books two and three need one more round of revisions and a professional edit, and the fourth story is outlined. Because I’m not publishing one book then taking another year to write book two, I feel that this might be a better decision for me than exclusivity. I hope this helps you to understand why I changed my mind about my publishing options.
Pressing the Publish Button
My first publishing mistake came when I strictly observed the seventy-two hour processing wait time on Amazon. Yes, this new author was a little foolish because I soon learned it was more like a less than a day wait time. On Sunday evening, I pressed publish on my paperback and large print editions, thinking it would take time because they were the first physical books that I’ve ever published. At 11:00 am on Monday, January 27, I opened my KDP dashboard to find that my paperback was live on Amazon.
And, that’s when I thought “oh, crap.”
This prompted me to publish the ebook edition, which was approved in a much shorter time frame than the paperbacks. This change in publishing date led me to upload my ebook on all the other platforms. Interestingly, Google Play Books was the quickest platform to approve and go live, followed by Kobo, KDP, Apple, and Draft2Digital.
The week before this, I published the paperback on Ingram Spark, because they had a similar five business day approval rate. And, if I’m super honest, I’m not seeing my book anywhere other than Barnes and Noble. I chose a 35% discount and no returns because Ingram Spark charges for returns. And, let’s face it, I’m not Nora Roberts or Lee Child, so a book store isn’t going to mass order any of my books, any time soon with or without a higher discount and returns.
Now that I’m on the other side of pressing publish, I’ve noticed a few interesting mindset issues have crept in, almost overnight, and the first is instant gratification. Instant gratification is nothing new. We all live in a world where we order something on Amazon, and it arrives the next day, we put up an image on Instagram and receive 25 like immediately, depending upon your hashtag game.
Waiting is so 1999.
Book Marketing Goals
I will admit that I’m now obsessed with book report, my KDP dashboard, and looking at my book on Amazon. Yes, I’m super obsessed. But, my more rational brain knows that this is ridiculous, and book sales are not a goal that I’ve set as a part of my book marketing plan. The goals I set were simple and more important than my daily book sales figure.
It’s in single digits, by the way.
So, what were these goals?
Goal #1 – Get readers onto my email list
Goal #2 – Get my first ten book reviews for Missing
In the spirit of full disclosure, I did have a goal of selling two or three books per day but, it was number three on the list, and only if I achieved the first two goals.
Bigger isn’t Better
Now, that I’m aware of my own struggles with instant gratification, I’ve started to notice it in other places within the self-publishing world. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, where they focus on focus on numbers. I’m not saying that these podcasts are responsible for my mindset issues, but instead I’m pointing out that I’m not alone, with this instant gratification thing.
When it comes to sales figure or downloads bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially in the case of free “sales” vs 99 cent sales. Just hear me out for a second. A larger number of free downloads aren’t better than a small amount of 99¢ buyers.
There’s no incentive to read when you download a freebie, a buyer is more likely to read. How do I know this? My computer and Kindle is full of free downloads that I probably won’t read, and I know I’m not the only one.
Writer’s Insecurity is Back
The other bonus mindset issue that I’ve recently acquired post pressing the publish button is a deeper level of insecurity. Last night, I found myself asking my husband if my story was “crappy”, after seeing a four-star review on Kobo.
Yes, you heard that correctly.
Because the review was worded to say that my novella was a great summer read, I found myself questioning whether the reviewer was just being nice. Now that I’m talking about this with you, I’m thinking “WTF!”
I suspect that these insecurities are creeping in now that I know real people are buying my books, in very small droves. All of this insecurity is flying in the face of great editorial feedback, and feedback from people that I know will not lie to me. As I look back over my author journey, I go through phases where I wrestle with the idea that my book might be the worst story ever written. So, maybe this too is just a phase. I’ll keep you posted on this.
First Book Sales
Now, for the fun part of the show. I know this sound super embarrassing, but I made my first few sales for Missing on January 27 and 28.
How many sales, you ask?
Oh, just three. I know, stop the presses. But, I’m still excited because they were three strangers. As a consequence, I spent way too much time staring at my book on the stores.
My second screw-up was a user error on Apple and Google Play. I would love to blame the platforms, but because it happened twice, you can see a pattern. So, I decided to do a ninety-nine cent ebook sale on all platforms. When I changed the pricing on Apple, I sent the pricing in USD, and just assumed it was all good. But that wasn’t the case. Apple had set the price in Europe and the UK, as well as numerous other regions to something equivalent to forty-nine pence or euro cents, instead of ninety-nine pence. It took about an hour to go through and manually change the prices, and I looked up the exchange rates on Google as well.
Yes, it was a nightmare.
More Pricing Dramas
After that, I checked Google play to see if that book was discounted correctly. And it wasn’t. Just talking about this makes me want to crack open a bottle of Rose. Google play had priced my book at seventy-five pence. To have a sale on a book on the google play store, you need to upload a CSV file with the price changes for every region. Once again, this genius typed in ninety-nine cents and selected world as the region. Maybe this is the reasons for the incorrect pricing.
Do yourself a favour and don’t do this. Learn from me and don’t be lazy and type up all of the regional pricing into the spreadsheet. It’s a lot of work, but it will save you a lot of heartache. And, I didn’t change the pricing error, because I didn’t think it would be worth it.
As I’ve been writing and editing my James Lalonde Crime Thriller books, I’ve been slowly creating a list of “comp authors.” I hate labelling other authors as competition, but that’s what it means. So, I’ve fine-tuned my list of comp authors, and as a result, I no longer feel like I’m a unicorn because there are other authors out there who are just like me.
The other task I performed this week was keyword research. I’m including this in the book marketing section because getting this right will affect how my novella is found in the book stores. Throughout the writing and editing phases, and as I created my book marketing plan, I curated a list of keywords to use in the KDP dashboard and everywhere else.
But on Thursday, January 30, I used Publisher Rocket which was formerly known as KDP rocket to curate a list of long-tail keywords. My focus was on showing up in search results as opposed to showing up in other categories. The reason why I chose to focus on search instead of categories is I’m assuming most people will use the search, then narrow the findings down with categories. I have no idea whether the changes are useful because it’s too soon, but I’ll keep you updated.
Marketing on Social Media
This week I also experimented with boosting a post on Facebook. In the spirit of transparency, I’m not seeing a massive number of clicks to the web address and sales. But, pay per click advertising isn’t always about a return on investment. At the moment, I’m focusing on putting my book out there because people need seven touches before buying a product. I just want people to get used to seeing my book.
After listening to the New Author Podcast, where I got a tip from Lindsay Evanoff on inviting people who liked the advert to like my author page. In the past, I’ve been super shy about this, but I’ve been doing it, and I’ve received good results. Eventually, I want to grow my audience on Facebook and start posting videos or stories as a way of connecting with people who are following my page. Hopefully, this will encourage newsletter signups and eventually, book sales.
Book Promotion Sites
As a part of my book marketing strategy, I wanted to use book promotion sites to get my book in front of readers who like crime thrillers. For me, this is more about exposure, then making masses of sales, but I’ve made a few mistakes.
Now that I’ve said that, I paid for a gig on Fiverr that I’m now starting to regret. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered the sites run by the individual don’t have much engagement. What does annoy me about this particular gig, was it came recommended on a trusted site that I’ve already mentioned, and I blindly purchased without doing a bit of digging.
That was a massive oops.
Maybe not massive because the promotion cost twenty pounds. I don’t enjoy throwing away twenty quid, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve done.
During the week, I went a purchased a few last-minute book promotions on the following sites for next week. The sites I chose allowed books by new authors which meant they didn’t have a minimum number of reviews and were reasonably cheap.
Here is a shortlist of the three sites that I’ve used.
Other Email List Promotions
On Thursday, January 30, I also purchased a happy book reviews feature. For those of you who haven’t heard of this company, you pay a fee for the company to email a team of people who like your genre, with a free book, and if they feel like it, they will leave a review. Depending upon the package you choose, they will email a limited number of reviewers and cap the number of permitted downloads using BookFunnel.
On the site, the company states, they can’t guarantee reviews or even positive reviews because that would be unethical. The service is almost like you’re paying to use someone else’s advanced reader team, so the readers on the list know they are getting a free book in exchange for a review, but they don’t have to leave a review. I’m a bit on the fence about this service. Once again, I will keep you posted about the results for this one. But, I may not know until a month or so.
Disclaimer: Just a side note, I’m not recommended any of these services. I’m just letting you know that I’m using these services and will let you know my opinion at a later date.
Writing the Next Book
In other, news, I’ve started the final round of revisions for Silence which is book two in the James Lalonde crime thriller series. The final round of revisions has started off with me reading through the story. I need to defamiliarise myself with it because I need to write four new scenes. Another significant change that needs to be made has to do with the setting. After a trip to Oxford, I decided to change the locations to make the novel a little more interesting. Now that I’ve said that, I want to go on another research trip to Oxford.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of book launching and book marketing. The next diary episode will be released on Saturday, February 22.
So, thank you for listening, happy reading and writing, and I’ll chat with you next time.
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I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the Lawn, and the Candidate. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.