Author Truths for Beginners. (Part 3: The Luck of the Irish Edition.)

We make our own luck!

16 WAYS TO GET LUCKY as an indie or small press author!

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Fundamental Rules of book marketing:

Rule 1:
ALL ADVERTISING STOPS when your average book rating dips below four stars. There is no saving it.

Rule 2:
Any skipped step in the above plan might have been the one that REACHED a major influencer. Do not close doors leading to opportunities!

Rule 3:
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.

Rule 4:
A great book never stops being great. It only fades from view through a lack of commitment from the author or publisher.

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It’s a BIG book—literally and literarily!

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Librarians, and people considering publishing a paper book, this one is for you!

When I began writing Ms. Creant a number of years ago, I found myself reaching for my reading glasses more and more often as I researched the book. The decision to purchase them was based on my rationalization that due to the ridiculous amount of safety warnings being printed on labels these days, the font sizes were being decreased so much that only a very few people could read them. It had nothing to do with being in my forties.

Denial.

As a single guy in this age group, you cling to your youth amidst a mostly unacknowledged mid-life crisis, which means you wage war on the gray hairs more and more frequently until it is just a part of your unconscious daily routine. You have to attempt to look younger than you actually are in order to have any shot with women still in their child-bearing years—or so you have convinced yourself. Part of maintaining a youthful appearance in public requires that we can read a book without the apparent need of reading glasses; something I can do easily with a twelve-point font size.

Light bulb.

I would produce a book that people over forty can read at the beach without glasses. As it turned out there are both upsides and downsides to this decision for a self-published author.

Big 8” x 10” large print books are expensive to produce.

It seems that by choosing this size—after literally measuring bookshelves in libraries and bookstores—Ms. Creant would fall into Ingram’s “custom” category; something outside of their standard size offerings. I would go on to make the executive decision to proceed with this ideally sized book regardless of the fact that my book would be about five bucks higher in price than so-called “competitive” books coming out of the mainstream traditional publishers. Here is how I rationalized it at the time:

  • I have read enough books in my genre to know I was producing an original work; ergo, I was PEERLESS, and as such did not have to worry about “competitors”.
  • Additionally, my book is a legitimate reference / textbook whose competition is priced in the stratosphere by comparison. Most of those authors have PHDs and have many titles. Does anyone really care?
  • Lastly, I have purchased many large books over the years, sometimes for as much as three times the price that would be assigned to Ms. Creant. I ASS-U-ME-D all book buyers were just like me, in that they buy books based on the VALUE of the content rather than PRICE. It’s the words that count, right?

Yeah . . . turns out I was WRONG about all that stuff.

Always one to look on the bright side, it turns out that libraries actually like big paperbacks vs. the more expensive hardcover option; especially when taking on a book from a relatively unknown first-time author.

So, I have that going for me.

BIG news!

As a thank you for their support and to embrace, however reluctantly, the new wave of e-book options available in libraries, I have dramatically reduced the price of Ms. Creant in all the specialty library e-book platforms available from Smashwords. What more could they want? Oh yeah, reviews.

I have those.

Excerpts from reviews:

“Although, there is plenty of scientific, medical, and technical references laced throughout to draw from, Mr. Barker has managed to write the perfect self-awareness, self-help, self-insight book in a manner that is entertaining, witty, intelligent and informative without being dry and judgmental.” “It isn’t often that I say an author has thoroughly done their research, but in E. A. Barker’s case I can.” “5 stars across the board for writing, research, execution, and editing; a rarity for this reviewer.”

5 STARS – Savannah Morgan – Amazon.com

 

“Well, damn, I loved it. A wonderfully-written foray into the male psyche and too rarely plumbed ‘she done him wrong’ kerfuffle.” “Penned with wisdom, humor and a keen insight into the battle of the sexes and exes, this book kept me laughing, frowning, and on more than one occasion, prompted introspection.” “Brilliant book!”

5 STARS – Shelby Kent-Stewart – Amazon.com

 

“I LOVED this book!!! I LOVED being able to get a sneak peek into the mind of men. This book was both funny and insightful!!” “…I am so glad that I picked it up!!!”

5 STARS – Ebony Arrington – McMillan – Amazon.com

 

“I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from this book. What I got, was humor, insight, and some riveting stories about relationships, good and bad. Each story shone a beacon on flaws in character, strengths of character, and wit.” “I enjoyed meeting the people in the book.” “I gave it five stars because it is truly a manual that both men and women can sink their teeth into.” “Excellently written and surprisingly fun.”

5 STARS – Vicki Goodwin –  Amazon.com

 

“As a woman and a lesbian I was a little unsure about reading this book. Especially with it being from a man’s perspective.” “You will get a better understanding of the dynamics of relationships, of life and the do’s and don’ts. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read. You may learn things about yourself that you never knew before.” “Truly amazing read, you  won’t be sorry!”

5 STARS – Leah Negron –  Amazon.com

 

“ . . . it’s an original work in a sea of similitude.”

Patricia Annette – Massive Book Hog Blog

 

” . . . a fascinating fun read for both sexes.”

Eldon Taylor – Author and host of the Provocative Enlightenment radio show

 

“Yes – it is a great book. It certainly opens up dialog.”

Ravinder Taylor – Co-host on the Provocative Enlightenment radio show

 

“I am a woman in my middle sixties happily married for 45 years with children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.” “This book should be read by men and women in their early stages of adulthood. The author was quite informative but had a good sense humor as well. Read this book with an open mind and I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did. Keep writing E. A. Barker, you are a very gifted author.”

5 STARS – Amazon.com customer

 

“Personally I think that everyone that has ever been in a relationship or will ever be in a relationship should read this book. It is insightful, funny at times and not for children.” “I would give this book a 5 star review out of 5 possible stars. This is one you don’t want to miss. Try something different you won’t be sorry.” “Amazing.”

5 STARS – Roadie Notes Book Blog – Becky Narron

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“As a woman who has spent a lot of time trying to figure out how men see these types of things, this book was a breath of fresh air! Humorous and informative, I will definitely be recommending this book to others!” “Absolutely loved it!”

5 STARS – Amazon.com customer

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“. . . Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! is far from boring, not my typical nonfiction read and not what I was expecting.” “I highly recommend this book for men and women, as well as young adults (teenagers).” “Bravo Mr. E. A. Barker!”

5 STARS – Denise – Amazon.ca

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“I approached this book with an open mind, and had to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it!” “I honestly can’t say if Ms. Creant will change the world, but it certainly altered my perception of it! Totally recommended – read this book, people!”

5 STARS – James Longmore – Amazon.com

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“Wow, I read this book relatively fast, and actually went back to read it again. There is so much information packed into the pages, it definitely warrants more than one read.” “I absolutely LOVE Barker’s writing voice.” “I highly recommend this book to everyone.” “5 Life Altering Stars”

5 STARS – Xtina Marie – Amazon.com & Goodreads

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“If you can read this with an open mind, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did and gain some very useful knowledge. I have a 22 year old son, and I’ll be getting him a copy to read. I hope he heeds the advice given, because I believe he’ll be a better man because of it.” “A definite must read.”

5 STARS  – Ms. D. Breault – Amazon.com & Goodreads

 

To see the full reviews follow these links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Goodreads.com

 

Thanks for reading.

E. A.