We make our own luck!
16 WAYS TO GET LUCKY as an indie or small press author!
A real-world book marketing strategy:
Get ARC s to reviewers three months in advance of your PUBLIC release date. In some cases galleys are required. (Print copies.) This only requires planning, time and organization to send out free e-book review copies. On the other hand, shipping galleys is an expensive proposition at +/- $20.00 each shipped. Send review copies to ONLY A FEW big time literary critics. Most will not give you the time of day, but just one published positive review from these influencers can launch a career. Some reviewers will only look at books that are less than six months old. Keep in mind that at most you have one year to get a mainstream review. Invest no more than $200.00. Limit these to your top ten most influential prospects.
Have a box of author copies in your car at all times to sell to people who are impressed by the fact you are an author. Barflies are particularly easy marks when they say: That’s SO cool. Where are your books available? You immediately reply with: I’ll be right back. When you return with the book, they are trapped. Few will admit they had no intention of ever looking up your book, nor will they admit they haven’t been in a bookstore or read a book in years. Tell them you can save them the trip and a few bucks off the retail price, PLUS as an added bonus, they will have a signed author copy. This is known in sales circles as: A Lay Down Sale, because they just laid down and spread their legs without making you work for it. They always have the twenty bucks on them if you drink in respectable gin joints. Yes, real world marketing will require you to go outside where it’s people-y. You will have to invest about +/-$120.00 but I make twice my usual royalty selling books in this way.
At a minimum, you MUST HAVE these two promotional items printed with your book details, and kept in your car at all times: bookmarks for going to bookstores and libraries, and business cards for impressing women in bars. Please feel free to substitute out my sexual preference for your own. I do not wish to offend or be insensitive, it just comes naturally. This investment will be +/-$100.00.
If you require help with your social media launch event, budget for it. Barter if you can. Free signed hardcovers can often do the trick. +/- $40.00 shipped.
Run a targeted e-mail campaign to introduce the book to influencers: media, bloggers, stores, book clubs etc. via a professional looking press release. At least 1 out of 10 e-mails should generate a sale or you are doing something wrong. Expect to lay out $50.00 to $100.00 for creative plus $2.00 / contact unless you DIY. A total investment of +/-$250.00 should do the trick.
Have a quality website to showcase your book, which also allows you to publish a weekly blog. I recommend WordPress as they have powerful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools, and you can feed all your social media sites directly from there. Budget at least $500.00 for a well designed operational website WITHOUT CONTENT. If you cannot upload your own content without trashing the site, then you should double your website budget.
Your advertising budget is only one part of your overall book marketing budget.
Advertising campaigns are about REACH so we must not spend it all in one place. Plan to spend your ad budget as follows: 30% in the first 30 days after your public release event, 30% in the next 60 days, and the last 40% to be used equally throughout each of the nine remaining months of the year.
Welcome to the low cost and usually low yield world of digital advertising . . . or The CPC Jungle as I like to call it. (Cost Per Click)
CAREFULLY TARGETED facebook boosted posts with VERY SMALL BUDGETS ATTACHED do let us reach our desired audience for a brief time.
Just as with facebook and their endlessly diminishing organic reach, Amazon hates authors too; but for the life of me I don’t know why. We certainly pay them enough. Maybe itz cause we’s smart. Amazon gets extremely weird when you do not publish, distribute, and use their POD (Print On Demand) division EXCLUSIVELY. It’s like they would rather have total control than extra revenues from “outsiders”. If you plan to be an “Amazon author”, I would recommend advertising there for a 30-day period to test the results—again with VERY SMALL BUDGETS ATTACHED. Ideally you will make this move once you have hit their magic number of twenty reviews or when you have climbed atop your CATEGORY; whichever comes first.
Tip: When bidding in an attempt to make your ad more visible, double the CPC bid Amazon suggests.
Evaluate the effectiveness of advertising with them after the 30-day period, or when your CPC budget has disappeared, as to whether or not the ad campaign can become self-sustaining based on your royalties earned.
Do the same on Ingram Spark ONLY IF you can afford it. They want more money than the other two, but they are about getting your paper books seen, and their distribution channels are vastly different than Amazon so your OVERALL REACH will be magnified.
Once you have a good number of stellar reviews, run a second targeted e-mail campaign to influencers: media, bloggers, stores, book clubs, libraries etc. via a professional looking newsletter. Again, your return on investment should be at least 1 in 10. Try and get that from social media. Another +/-$250.00.
Consider a book signing in your favorite local bookstore only if the store’s management and staff are enthusiastic. Some larger stores may have NYT best-selling authors in their store every week, so they may not give a rat’s ass about you—pick your spots. This will require an easel and signage from a print shop. +/-$200.00
Libraries often have book clubs that love a meet-and-greet with any author. They are more easily impressed than the bookstore crowd. If you don’t frack things up too badly, they will often buy your book for the club to read. That’s like a dozen books sold for an enjoyable 15-30 minutes of your time autographing books. The car might need gas. +/-$25.00
Attend local book fairs, and if you think you have earned a vacation and wish to travel, tie your vacation to a major book convention somewhere on the planet. Vegas baby! NO, this does not come out of your marketing budget despite what you tell the taxman.
Bookstores are not the only option, local “artsy” shops, card shops, and the café where that barista works who smiles a little too much, are great places to sell books—no consignment bullshit either. Just walk out with a check and e-mail them the invoice; and don’t forget your date with the barista. +/- $100.00
Goodreads could potentially be a great place to spend some advertising quatloos, and to engage with readers. My e-mail notifications tell me I have a bunch of followers there even though I never visit. In essence, it is an online book club filled with genuine readers. The only downside I can see is, it’s part of the Amazonian takeover of the world, and as a result you will have another CPC to manage. When the day comes when I finally lose it completely on facebook, I will go there. I find myself working on that final post in my head more and more these days.
How to discover what your advertising budget looks like:
We take our total book production budget of $5000.000 and subtract all the known production costs totaling $1825.00 which we will round up to $2000.00. This leaves a total marketing budget of $3000.00 less the previously discussed fixed marketing and promotional costs totalling +/-$2000.00. This leaves a total ad budget of $1000.00 to be allocated as follows to create an advertising schedule which is based on the 30-30-40% allocation of funds discussed earlier.
Month 1: facebook $300.00 = $75.00 / week budget, boosting a single post each Friday at noon EST.
Month 2: amazon $150.00 = $37.50 / week budget, starting each Thursday morning.
Month 3: Goodreads $150.00 = $37.50 / week budget, starting each Friday morning.
Month 4: Ingram Spark: $150.00 max.
Months 5-12: $250.00 / spent where your gut tells you. I sold more books by sponsoring one charity event than all the sales created by three years on social media.
Fundamental Rules of book marketing:
ALL ADVERTISING STOPS when your average book rating dips below four stars. There is no saving it.
Any skipped step in the above plan might have been the one that REACHED a major influencer. Do not close doors leading to opportunities!
In the first four months after release, YOU MUST STICK TO THE PLAN. Just because you had some apparent success last month on one site, does not mean you abandon the strategy.
A great book never stops being great. It only fades from view through a lack of commitment from the author or publisher.