I’d like to name off the gorgeous people on twitter who have been supporting my work for some time, but that’s not what this post is about.
This is about paid book promotion . . .
. . . something every indie or small press published author needs but hates taking a chance on.
If you’ve ever been among serious authors talking about the biz, you will hear one of two stories being relayed:
‘I’ve tried a bunch and it’s hard to tell if they did anything.’
‘I went with a big publicist, and while they created the “appearance” of success, the costs to continue were prohibitive.’
Wants vs. Needs
I want a former supermodel with an insatiable oral fixation and a doctorate in marketing who will take me on as a client in return for sexual favours.
I need to be free of book promotion related activities so I can work on the next book.
The first one sounds better.
The twelve of you following this blog are about to be schooled for free.
While I could care less about follower numbers, I care a great deal about reaching book buyers. It’s been proven that less than 1% of your online followers will buy your book. Statistics also indicate even the best crafted email campaign will only net a 10% click-through rate to your book. It’s up to your blurb, and to a lesser degree, the price to close the deal from there.
What I did on my summer vacation.
While I won’t go in to all the sticky details, I will tell you about my days of research into book promotion companies and which ones made my short list and why.
But first. . .
Let’s look at pointless pursuits that were a thing for authors five years ago.
- Facebook, or as I call it: flakebook or fakebook. If you are not paying Zuckerberg, you are invisible. It’s that simple.
- Instagram: If you are not already aware . . . Zuck owns it as well.
- Author takeovers.
- Book launch parties.
- Blogging to cultivate book buyers. If you pay for a custom domain; pay hosting fees; practise good SEO strategy; and build a mailing list, you will still be disappointed in your book sales. I completely forgot I added an email-sign-up widget to my first book’s site. It turns out 1800 people signed up, but I assure you, the vast majority never became buyers.
- Joining author associations and creating profiles on author/book sites is a half-day time-suck which is unlikely to pay off in any meaningful way. To make matters worse, you will feel obligated to peek in on them once in a while—sacrificing more of your valuable time.
Are you here to socialize or are you running a book-selling business?
Speaking of business, here is a new way for some in the erotica genre to make a bag of quatloos.
If you are at least a semi-attractive woman who writes dirty stuff, is willing to get naked on the Internet, and able to do the bidding of Internet douche-bags without laughing at them, then Patreon, or one of its clone Fans Only sites, might be for you.
You may never be taken seriously for your writing, but you’ll earn more than 95% of all the authors out there.
If you’re a dude, you better be an out-of-work Chip N Dale dancer to have any shot. Yes, there is a double standard on the Interweb. Deal with it.
The idea I can only hope to make one dollar for every book sold, while Internet hotties are rolling in dough, irks me. It’s not fair I was born before the Internet.
Now, what was I talking about before pining for my lost youth?
Oh yeah, what is the right book promoter for a non-believing cheapskate like me?
Here is how I weeded out the sketchy ones:
- ‘We tweet your book.’ I can do that.
- ‘We tweet your book to our readers.’ You only have 6000 followers, half of which haven’t bought a book in their life, and there are no likes on your posts.
- ‘We’ll post your book on our website and pimp your book to various social media platforms.’ Where? How many followers? For how long? How many times?
- ‘We’ll post your book on our website, pimp your book, and add you to our email blasts if you offer Kindle e-books.’ Frigging amazonian affiliates.
- ‘We’ll post your book on our website, pimp your book, and add you to our email blasts if your e-book is discounted to 99 cents or free.’ Blow me.
- ‘We’ll make you fill in a massive number of book data fields only to present you with fees at the very end.’ Slime balls.
Basically, avoid all the sites with vague claims who cannot or will not substantiate their pitch.
Most promo sites are geared to e-book publishing alone.
While e-book sales are great, I have a paperback I’m trying to sell.
What’s a book blogger? Where do they come from? What do they do?
Blog tours are the latest thing. Book bloggers love books and so do their followers so this idea must be weighed against other forms of promotion. It is like an author takeover that moves from site to site.
HOWEVER, it requires scheduling and a time commitment which is not what I am looking for. I did find one site which will get your book on these sites (if the book blog is cool with your genre) without the need to make appearances.
Remember, these are my picks for further study—not recommendations. Look for legitimate verifiable endorsements from authors.
BOOKTAMINS seems very inexpensive, but it is hard to say how many bloggers actively participate in their promotions. Expect a lead-time from 4 to 8 weeks prior to your event, and don’t be afraid to contact these sites for more information.
Traditional social media promotion:
A shout out to Reedsy who put a great list together for authors including a link to READERS in the KNOW who posted a nifty customizable list of their own. If you click on those links, you will begin to understand why researching book promotion takes days.
Whizbuzz Books deserves a mention, if for no other reason than they keep your book circulating on multiple social media platforms for an entire year for a low one-time price.
Shout My Book looks as though they cover the most important social media sites while being most active on twitter. This seems very reasonable.
PRETTY-HOT.COM allowed me to list my book and do an author interview for free. They quickly came through with my listing, so I will be more inclined to advertise with them. They also referred me to their sister site, Topless Cowboy for another free listing. I had to be a little more patient on this one.
Discount Book Man allowed me to list my book for free.
WHAT TO READ AFTER 50 SHADES allowed me to list my book for free. Talk about hitting the erotica nail on the proverbial head. This one took some time but they did come through.
Wanton Reads allowed me to list my book and do an author interview for free. After being taught patience by Topless and What To Read, I am still holding out hope.
That’s a pretty short list after reviewing 200 sites!
Remember, I automatically threw out all the free book sites, $0.99 book sites, Kindle only, and e-book only sites.
If you are an author or small press with a marketing budget in the $200.00 to $900.00 & up range, there are a couple of book marketing services companies who appear to have all the needed book promotion channels with published numbers to support their contention they can get your book in front of readers. Sadly, they are too rich for my blood.
Until one of my books actually makes money, I am content to play the hit-and-run book promotion game. I think too many authors forget it only takes one influencer to rave about your book for you to have some success. About half of my modest book marketing budget is allocated to mailing physical books to potential influencers. Some may think this “old school”, but once you have investigated all these sucker-bets online, it’s a comfort to know someone real is reading your work.