Let Us Discuss The Nature Of Book Promotion

Given that I am a noisy self-promoter, you already know I have a book out this week.

But, I want to pull back from the self-promotion and talk about the nature of self-promotion.

First, for readers, I want to know: what promo works for you? What gets your attention? Word of mouth is probably the biggest (which means that ultimately a good book is its own best promotion), and certainly social media has inflated our own circle of trust in terms of spreading said word of mouth. But what else does it? What else grabs you by your sensitive nipples and forces your hand to consider buying a book or investigating an author’s work? What hooks you?

For authors, I want to ask: what do you do in terms of self-promotion? How much does your publisher handle? What works? What doesn’t? What inventive stuff have you seen or done?

Trad-pub and self-pub, please chime in.

Talk about… y’know, all of it. Book trailers, book tours, covers, ads, ARGs, anything and everything.

Let’s paint with shotguns. Explode this topic a little (or a lot).

43 responses to “Let Us Discuss The Nature Of Book Promotion”

  1. I’m drawn to books when the word of mouth and the marketing play up the unique parts of the book. If everything I hear is “Oh look at this awesome vampire novel that sounds like every other vampire novel,” I’ll probably pass. A story about vampires fighting zombies, though? I’m so in for that. *grin*

    That said, if enough people I respect tell me a book is good, I’ll probably pick it up. (Memorable covers help in that department.) Also, if I know the author or they’re a known name in my social media circle and they seem nice and funny and relatable, I’m more likely to seek out the book.

  2. Social media and word of mouth are both definitely a big go for me.

    They are the two things that I have most access to. Links to other things (like a book trailer) through social media and word of mouth are good, but I’m not likely to go looking for them myself.

  3. Speaking as an author:
    1. Trailers are fun, but I doubt they do much for sales. Mostly, I think, they convert a certain type of person, who is on the verge of buying anyways, and just wants to be convinced. I’m doubtful of the ROI, but I’ll continue doing them because I like them. They get ME excited about the book, and its release, and even promo, and that’s worth something on its own.
    2. I don’t think ads have done much of anything. I’ve tried ads on sites specific to my genre, the targeted GR ads and reddit. I’ve never had any discernible uptick in sales related to ads. If I do buy ads going forward, it will be for name recognition, which is a good thing for an author with backlist. A very poor ROI, but maybe not horrible if someone has a nicely paying day job and no time for other sorts of promo.
    3. Twitter/facebook: I’m not sure I’ve sold any books to new readers through here, but I think I’ve earned some backlist sales by chatting with readers on twitter.
    4. Blog tours: Good stuff. There is a whole lotta stuff related to this about what works, what doesn’t, and I’m still learning, but anyway, the end result is I saw a definite increase as a result of this, and a trail off as my tour ended, and I will absolutely do them again.
    5. Blog hops: I think they can pollute a blog if you do them too often, but once in a while is fun. The other thing is that I’m running a targeted bloghop (by genre) and I think that will help. I’ve participated in some slightly more generic ones, and while traffic spiked for sure, I wasn’t sure I was reaching the right readers. Plus it tends to be the same readers who participate in these, not necessarily new ones, so hitting one blog hop is a lot like hitting them all.
    6. Giveaways. This is sort of a vague one, because the question is where are you giving them away? I mean, on your own blog is okay, I guess, but you aren’t actually reaching new people. Who is going to buy your book based on a giveaway at your own blog? No one. I’ve still seen people do it on blogs, twitter, etc, but it seems to be more of a thank-you to followers, not a (direct) promotional technique. My most successful promotion was a giveaway I did on a goodreads group. I put up a post saying I’d give it away (ebook, no limit). The point was to get reviews, but I said clearly that no review was required, regardless. Anyways, turns out they had picked my book for the book of the month, for a group read, right then, so I was inundated with requests for the free book. They offered for me to back out, of course, whenever I wanted, but I was happy to do it. And yes, the resulting reviews were lower than average, I think in part because those are not really my target audience (I mean, they were, but also were not, because they had not read the blurb and decided to spend $$ on the book, etc) but the resulting splash launched my book into the Kindle erotica bestseller list. Shortly after that its sequel came out, and I’m sure part of its success is related back to that giveaway. So anyways, the point of a giveaway is 1) reviews and 2) exposure to new readers, so make sure that your giveaway accomplishes those things otherwise there’s no point. I’ve done giveaways in other settings, and have always felt like it’s a positive experience, though none as big as the one I described.

    Oh, oh, I think that’s all I have in me for the night. Hope this helps some author out there in the void. *muah*

  4. Self-promotion:


    There are still some “old” media that work, especially in local markets. I found that any time a review appears in print (newspaper/magazine) for one of my books, sales spike. Interviews on radio, particularly morning radio, generate bookshop sales and online orders that afternoon. Zillions of people still listen to the radio during breakfast and especially on their drive to work. And radio programs are, more often than not, on a daily scramble for interesting guests (though they’ll deny this). Try to get on morning radio in any town you visit.

    What makes me buy books:

    Ironically, I don’t trust reviews. I’ve learned from hard experience that the most histrionically enthusiastic reviews are for books which almost always underwhelm me.

    Word of mouth, recommendations from trusted friends, published excerpts, and browsing are my main methods for selecting authors I don’t know. A sexy girl on the cover never hurts.

  5. Three things – recommendation from a trusted source, a new book by an author whose books I like, and an intriguing premise. I bought Dean Koontz’s The Good Guy because of the set up: a man in a bar is mistaken for an assassin, and given an envelope of cash and a photograph, and then the assassin comes in and mistakes him for the customer.

    I wish I’d thought of that…

  6. For reading:

    The first thing that catches my visual attention is a good cover. For reading, it has to be the blurb or a short excerpt, something that makes me want to snag the book and turn the page. Lastly, I like brief reviews from honest readers who don’t spend all their spare time leaving reviews – I want to know what they liked and what they hated so I can decide if that’s interesting enough to entice my interest. Word of mouth seldom works for me because it seems I never like the same work.

    For authors:

    Get your networks buzzing – all of them. Ask for hype, throw free copies to people who will read and share (for good or ill), inform readers its available (yes this is tricky but how else do we find one book in a zillion), make the book accessible in popular formats, avoid the promotional blitz (this shouldn’t be evil but getting hammered daily is bad form in both books and booze).

    I’m out of ideas and it’s really late. Congrats on another excellent release.

  7. A couple of self-pub folks I know have had really good luck with the GoodReads adds, at least in terms of people adding the book to the “to be read” shelf. Whether or not they actually get around to it is another thing entirely, but they are being noticed.

    I’ve actually ended up purchasing several from the “if you liked *&^%, you’ll like *&^%” on Amazon and other websites as well. Sometimes I do like and sometimes I don’t, but either way, I’ve spent the $ on it.

    Cover used to be a much bigger deal to me when live shopping, which I don’t so much do any more, though I have foregone some potentially decent reads if hey have the twisty female protagonist on the cover or if the cover looks too much like a romance novel (against which I have nothing, just not so much my personal bag).

    As you said, though, friends of friends of friends etc, which these days means FB, Twitter, and again, Goodreads. The million emails a day from Goodreads annoys me, but I generally do take a look at them.

  8. As a former librarian, I’m a little jaded about the usual promotional methods. I’ve seen word of mouth played too much to jump on bandwagons when Facebook or twitter blow up. Cover art tends to be misleading, though eye-catching is handy once I own the thing. I constantly used to recommend Dean Koontz’s Intensity because I could pull it from the shelf with the lights off.
    What works for me when I’m dealing with an unfamiliar author is a good summary and cover copy. Accurate with a minimum of genre boilerplate usually hooks me. Since I’m generally onthe lookout for new things to read, I tend to seek out good reviews. The best reviews I’ve found are from other authors that I dig… though a positive blurb from a mega-author doesn’t move me as much since they often come off as less sincere. The thing that will get me devouring an author’s entire backlist is a personal connection. If I enjoy a book by an author who is also a pretty cool cat, I’ll stand in line for hardcovers and offer to babysit their kids.

  9. “A story about vampires fighting zombies, though? I’m so in for that. *grin*”

    How about vampires fighting zombies, werewolves, and mad scientists…in space?

    Anyway, I do a lot of stuff. Blogging, Facebook, free giveaways, generally sticking my nose in at multiple places across the Internet (but not always, or even the majority of the time, to self promote. That’s the Kiss of Death). It’s like the old story about the CEO who lamented that half the money he spent on advertising and marketing was wasted…but there was no way to tell which half. Suddenly, things caught fire for me, and I have no real idea why.

  10. I’m still all about the cover. If a cover looks interesting (whether it be in real life or on the internet) I’ll pick up the book. This goes as much for the title as it does the picture resting behind, if something catches my eye, I’m liable to pick it up.
    The back cover blurb does a lot, too. Again, if it piques my interest, I’ll pick up the book. If the first chapter manages to retain my interest, I’ll buy the book.
    Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and GoodReads adverts have done a lot for my book collection as well. Subscribing to different feeds or “following” pages on Facebook that run advertisements for new books have definitely decreased my Kindle shelf space.

  11. What works best for me as a reader is when I hear writers and readers I trust gushing about an advance reading copy they’ve read. That mixes word of mouth with the reptile brain repeating ME WANT ME WANT ME CAN’T HAVE!! ME WANT MORE!!

    Let’s face it, readers know that on release day, every friend of the writer is going to say the book is the best thing since nutella. They’re not stupid. That is why I laugh when writers get worked up over a 3 or 4 star Amazon review from someone they ‘thought was their friend.” They just did you a favor. When I see ALL 5 star reviews, I think of the popular kid winning the school election. It’s not always due to merit.

    As a reader, what I dislike most is not getting what I ordered. For example, Drive. I knew the book, so the movie not being an action thrillfest was not an unpleasant surprise. However. he trailer was so misleading that a woman tried to sue the moviemakers. For fuck’s sake, if your novel is a slow burn… don’t let your publisher sell it as a pageburner. Readers will hold it against you. they may have loved the book… if they expected what was coming.

    The least effective promotion, for me, is self promotion in heavy rotation that uses cliches, or cocky comparisons to established authors. If your hero is Lee Child, that’s awesome. Do not say “X magazine (who is not my circle jerk buddy, I SWEAR) says I am the next Lee Child!” in your own tweets. Let a reader say that. If they never do, well, it was bullshit in the first place.
    At most, say “Fans of Lee Child take note- Bobby Joe Blowzonski is one to watch.”
    Some fans will not like hearing some new guy is gonna whup their favorite author’s ass. There are authors I’ve avoided for decades because of comparisons like that. When I finally gave in, I liked them. But I was not part of their early sales, because of those boasts.
    Another thing I hate is the faux humility and ironic, embarrassed self-promotion “hey look I’m gonna be a self-promotion whore for the next half hour, hyuk hyuk” … um yes, we expect you to ask people to read your book. Do not be embarrassed about it. Be humble about your good reviews, and thank people for them. People can smell anxiety on you like Febreze on your unwashed clothes.

    So, what is there to do after publication, when you can’t generate early buzz anymore? Be patient. Give copies away to people who write reviews regularly. Goodreads giveaways, the Amazon Vines program, etc. Use the reviews you have as part of promotion. From strangers. If a writer used a quote from one of my reviews, I’d be sure to tell all my friends. And it’s free.

    Alafair Burke has had great success in generating pre-orders with little giveaways. Give away signed bookplates. If all else fails, throw your book at Donald Trump’s toupee.

  12. As a reader, book trailers do nothing for me. A book grabs my interest usually via Twitter first, but then I like to check the author’s website to learn about them and the book.

  13. A plug from John Scalzi has reliably lead me to several books I would never have picked up on my own. Even just a guest post on his Big Idea seems to have a large amount of pull. So, other than trying to get John, specifically, to help, it seems to me the quickest way to get that seed of first readers who will then turn around and generate word of mouth for you would be to go through friendly fellow writers who have their own audiences. Maybe not outright pimpage, but a nice little mention in a few different places could help give Blackbirds legs.

    Other than that, personally, I’m a cover guy. Of course that’s hard to work since tastes in covers vary widely across members of the book buying public. For example, I loved the original covers for the first two books of Ken Scholes’s books and hated the third which was different because they’d focus grouped the crap out of what the original covers were and weren’t doing. They were great, realistic fantasy paintings of specific scenes within the book. I found them exceptionally attractive, and they were so good, that I knew when the cover scene had arrived, almost immediately. The cover for the third book was a less realistic, messy looking representation of one character and a wolf against an unidentifiable backdrop. It actually took me a moment to figure out which character it was, even though he should have been the easiest to identify by physical characteristics. Apparently this third cover did a better job out in the market than the first two, but for me, it was just kinda dirty and gross looking. It wouldn’t have been effective in getting me to pick up that book if I wasn’t already invested in the series. It also looks like crap on my shelf next to the other two, even just spine out because they threw out the framing design and typeography as well.

    The Blackbirds cover is okay for me, in the top half of covers at least. I would have given it a second glance at the store. Of course, its going to be better than that for a few people and worse for everyone else. It has a certain feel that really seems like it fits what you’ve been saying about the book (no, I haven’t read it yet), so that’s probably a good thing as we readers tend to start sensing what sort of book its supposed to be by the cover (the cover, at a glance, suggests violence and blood to me, somehow prettied up to be marketing material). Seems like 80% of the time, I can at least judge the “classification” of a book by its cover, and that’s a good thing. If the cover speaks to me as one of my niches that I normally prefer, then I’m going to look at it again. Now the trick is to do that and then get it to some how reach out to the fringes of your niche and even beyond to pull in more readers. Your cover might also give pause to a wide variety of comic book and graphic novel enthusiasts, though likely not the manga crowd (yes, they are very different audiences, though I have toes in both niches). Luckily, if you get any of those sort of folks on the fence with your cover, and they go look up reviews, what the reviews have been saying should sway a good chunk of them to purchase.

  14. At the moment I’m reading books by authors I’ve actually met in life or on-line. If the author is friendly and interesting, chances are I’ll put their book on my to buy list. But if an author is over-zealous online and basically begs me to buy their book it instantly goes on my never read list.
    As an author, I think it’s about striking a delicate balance, especially in the social media circles. Book blog tours have worked great for me. I love Goodreads. It’s author program is amazing.
    I think the key is not to come across as desperate.

  15. I read a lot of word-nerd blogs, and a charming interview or ass-kicking guest post has moved more than one book onto my kindle and/or shelf. Seeing bloggers/other writers I enjoy talk it up in the run-up to its release is usually good for that too.

  16. As much as I love reading, I’m so bloody stubborn when it comes to actually buying books. When you have to buy 20+ novels and books of poetry and history per year for University, I want the books that I buy for my own time to be worth it. Because of this, it normally takes me a loooooong time to decide to buy.
    So for me, if I see the same name or title pop up again and again in different formats and in different places (not just from the author), then it’ll go on my ‘to get’ list.
    So really it’s about prolonged exposure, not just one fantastic advert or a few days of hardcore promotion or a splendid cover (though I am a sucker for a good piece of artwork).
    Though I have to say, I do like what you’ve done with ‘Blackbirds’ on tumblr- sharing pages in installments is such a great idea! So much better than reading an extract typed out on a webpage or post, because you get to visualise actually owning it and wanting to turn the page yourself. The bloodstains etc really add to the atmosphere, and for me, makes me want to own the paperback rather than e-book. It’s what’s making me buy it as a self-congratulations for getting through this years exams!

  17. As far as a reader, other than direct word of mouth positive reviews get my attention. Blogs like SFSignal and Fantasy Book Critic draw my attention, and I read the reviews by other readers on Amazon.

    As a self-published author I have a facebook page, a blog, and a website. I use Google AdWords and Facebook Ads along with key words (science fiction, eBooks, etc.). Whether Google AdWords and Facebook Ads actually works is questionable. I can get 1,000 impressions on Google AdWords, but it doesn’t translate into sales.

    I also use word of mouth. I took the print copy of my book to several local retailers and sold them copies at a discounted price. People started to buy them up quick and a little noise was made. I think in the future I’ll put a bit more money into things like a press release.

    I DID submit my book to Fantasy Book Critic, and I got a lot of reviews and initially a high volume of sales. It petered off after that, though.

  18. I have to say what I have found as an author that really does NOT work are contests. They are way more work than they are worth. Giveaways are good. Someone comments or RT’s and you send them an ebook. Readers love that. But contests usually have low turn out and end up costing more money than you make on sales. Otherwise it’s a mix of what everyone has said above. I have yet to find the sweet spot, but that may be because once I hit some momentum that darn thing called Life slams into me and I get sidetracked. Sigh…

  19. Word of mouth will get me to take a second look at a book, especially if it is from another author I like. Covers and titles get my attention and will make me take a second or third look. Seeing the book pop up on those social media sites at least puts it on my radar.

    The thing that pushes me over the edge is being able to read some of the book before I commit money and time to it. If I’m in a store, I either start at the first page and see if it grabs me or flip to somewhere in the middle and do the same. If I’m browsing online somewhere, I’ll look for a preview before purchase or the first couple of chapters on the author’s website (which I prefer). More than a few books have gone from “maybe” to “Oh my gods, I need this book NOW” because I was able to read the first chapter or three.

  20. Oh, penmonkey– how timely you are. This is my struggle.

    In the weeks before release, for release day, and for the two weeks afterward, it was a madhouse. But now, one month out, things are going quiet, and I want a gorram ruckus again. There is no clear roadmap for keeping the buzz about one’s book rolling, and oh, how I wish there was. I’ll be watching this thread with interest.

    Saying that, if anyone likes STEAMPUNK VAMPIRE CIRCUS ROMANCE ADVENTURE with SPINE-CHILLING MURDERBUNNIES… I could help with that.

  21. It’s all a complete mystery to me.
    Getting an interview in the local paper helped, and a signing at my workplace, where we see a lot of members of public was good too.. But the online marketing? Seriously, a complete mystery to me.

    And I made the big mistake of buying THAT book. 🙁
    Didn’t help one bit.

  22. I’m a compulsive link-clicker. If in the course of the day something catches my eye, I check it out. If I haven’t heard of it I ask my friends if they have. If they haven’t I take a couple minutes to feel all hipster about it and then look up more info.

    Thanks to my Nook I can grab an immediate sample. It’s kind of like trawling the market for free tastings of exotic sausages. Samples and back-cover print tend to get my attention more than flashy displays, though.

    If I like it I go for it.

    (Interesting sidenote: Did this with a sample of Irregular Creatures, proceeded to curse like a captain with a salt-filled papercut—never do paperwork on the deck!—and made a detour to an open wi-fi network to get it. I was on the bus at the time. Talk about writing speaking for itself!)

  23. I’m a relative newbie to self-promoting circus. My first two self-published titles languished as I raised a family and struggled with the general head-above-water issues. This time around got onto Kickstart at my son’s urging. Got me some money and some space to plan and now am on Twitter, FB, Goodreads, etc. Got myself an author website. And now am pimping my own ass around the blogosphere as you can see. The best thing for me is seeing all the free advice that’s out here in the virtual world. So that’s what a writing scene is – crowd sourcing. The biggest takeaway for me is the bridge is being bullt anew with every new title and the real important thing is not get stuck in your garrett thinking that hammering away at your craft is going to do the trick. You are the proverbial tree falling undetected in the woods if you are not out there tooting. Personally, I am enjoying the shit out of this, but still feel that in some insidious way it is going to hurt my writing in the long haul if I don’t keep a sense of balance. Prioritize the real. But i’d be an asshole if I didn’t admit this is fun.

  24. Getting your book banned by some group or agency seems to be a big hit with people who love forbidden fruit. When i was a kid, we’d check out the weekly Catholic newspaper to see which movies were condemned by the church. Those were the ones we tried to see.

    I say, get some hardcore local church to come out against your book and then tip off the local news about it. People love controversy.

    Other than that, i’d say photoshop famous people reading it and then spread them around the web.

    Or, let it slip in an interview that clues to a cache of cash stashed somewhere are in your book for the lucky reader to find.

  25. Not having a book of my own to promote yet (though I’m past 90,000 words in my first draft of the novel I’m working on, so hopefully someday…), I can only answer as a reader. The two factors that are most likely to make me want to read a book are:

    1. I’ve read other books by the author and liked them (this is pretty much the best guarantee of me being interested in a book, really).

    2. Someone whose tastes I trust recommends it highly. This might be someone I know in person, or another author whose work I like – in practice, I’d say book recommendations I act on are about 40% the former and 60% the latter. Or maybe more like 30/70, these days. With the author recommendations, I’m not talking so much about book jacket blurbs as blog posts. Now that most of my favourite authors seem to be blogging, that’s become a major source of leads on interesting books for me.

    Other factors that carry less weight for me, but still have some impact:

    1. Negative reviews from people whose tastes/views I clearly don’t share. If I’m looking at reviews on Amazon, I often look for the one-star reviews specifically, because seeing who hates a book and why is often more instructive than seeing who likes it. Positive reviews often tend to all sounds the same, but negative ones are more varied. And if the negative reviews say things like “I DIDNT UNDERSTAND IT THAT MEANS ITS STUPID!!11! BOOKS SHOULDNT BE COMPLECATED,” then I know I’ll probably like it.

    2. Interesting titles and/or cover art.

    3. Interesting, non-generic-sounding back cover copy. Conversely, if the description there sounds really formulaic, e.g.”Prince/ss _____ of the _____ people must face (his/her) destiny and (learn magic/find some magic thing/whatever) to save the kingdom from the evil _____ (yawn)”, my eyes will probably glaze over and I’ll move on to something else. Although for me to even get as far as reading the back cover requires my attention to have already been caught by an interesting title or cover, or a familiar author name.

    However, I know that these last factors aren’t altogether reliable – I can think of plenty of good books that have been cursed with bad covers, uninteresting titles, and misleading back-cover blurbs, as well as bad books that looked or sounded more interesting than they ultimately turned out to be. That’s why I tend to rely more heavily on personal recommendations.

  26. A good book cover is good promotion. If I see a book advertised with an awesome cover, I’ll usually click the link.
    Also, I’ve seen some cool book trailers that have led me to buy the book.
    Tweets with a rockin’ hook will get me to click the link.
    Interviews, not so much. Reviews by trusted bloggers–YES. Also, controversy. If the book deals with issues that not everyone agrees on it makes me want to read it.
    And if I see cool tweets and FB status’ by the author, it will make me want to read their book.

  27. I’ve picked up more than a few books after hearing a radio interview with the author. Write ups in newspapers have also convinced me to go to the book store to at least give the book a look.

    Online I’ll generally decide on the type of thing I feel like reading, plunge into the interwebs to ferret out some titles that seem to fit and then read reviews for them. I’m a little wary of reviews on sites like Amazon. Generally I’ll only read those with a middle rating as I find they tend to be more critical and insightful.

    I do read several blogs and will check out recommendations from them but I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on an ad or random link touting a new release.

    Rarely do I come to anything by word of mouth amongst friends and/or coworkers. Many of my friends are not huge readers and of those who are they tend to have very different tastes.

    I’m not on Twitter or Facebook so anything promoted there I miss entirely.

  28. Word of mouth, Goodreads rating (if there are enough reviews to provide a decent sampling size) and 1-star reviews on Amazon (you can learn a lot about a book by seeing who DOESN’T like it and why). Lately I’ve been following The Book Smugglers, because their tastes and mine seem to line up pretty well.

  29. I’m still old school in a lot of ways. Nothing, to me, beats strolling around the bookstore, looking for covers and titles that catch my interest. I fill in the gaps with review blogs and other social media, but browsing is still king.

    Lately I’ve been fascinated by Goodreads; the dichotomy of reviews on any given book there is enthralling. One man’s trash is truly another’s treasure (including my own book). Ya gotta love readers. 🙂

  30. I used to get all my stuff just wandering around Borders. But they’re all non-existanty now. Amazon just doesn’t work well with recommendations. They’re only good if you already know what you want before you turn on your computer.

    Most of the books I’ve been seeking out and enjoying the hell out of have been the ones the other authors I read and follow on the internets like. I couldn’t tell you how many awesome books I’ve picked up because of John Scalzi’s blog alone. I still go to bookstores when I can (I have to drive out of state since Rhode Island is lacking now) but the Other Author Recommendation Path is awesome. It tends to snowball quick thanks to twitter now =P

  31. As an author, I’d suggest Amazon Author Central and Goodreads.com. Not sure how many books they sell, but they get the word out. And you want to get the word out as much as you can.

    Because my just-released novel Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery is, as the title suggests, a mystery, I have gotten blurbs from other mystery authors. This builds credibility. I’ve also paired up with another mystery author for a reading.

  32. What makes me reach for my purse:
    1) Elaborate reviews including several text snippets from the book itself.
    2) A blog or author’s website with several text snippets from the book.
    3) Enthusiastic recommendation from a trusted source, followed up by sampling the book itself in a store, checking several text snippets.

    Looks like I’m a fan of text snippets.

  33. I’ve done some YouTube videos for my book. Most are just me reading sections. I doubt these have caused anyone to buy the book, mostly because the number of views are so low. There was also a video that I put together for the launch party. It wasn’t intended as a trailer but as something to intrigue the people who came to the launch and stop them disappearing the instant after buying the book. I stuck it online, but it was nearly ten minutes long with no audio, so it didn’t work particularly well as a trailer.

    I’ve done Facebook ads and know from link tracking that that got me a few clicks but no sales. It did get me a few pence from the Amazon Affiliates program when people clicked on my ad link and then bought something else.

    Facebook did get me sales because various old school and university friends went out and ordered a copy when I announced that I was going to get published. I think most of my sales to cousins came immediately after the Facebook status update.

    Talks and events are what have actually given me sales. It’s not always predicatable. One signing got me 15 sales, one a week later got me 7. The best I’ve ever managed was a weekend at a sci-fi convention where I sold nearly all of the 100 books I took with me. The worst I’ve done was a poorly-promoted library talk to which no one showed up.

    That’s the main reason why I’m not considering going entirely e-book for my next novel, because physical events are what’s driving the majority of my sales to people who don’t know me (Facebook was the winner for sales to people who do know me).

    Having done so many signings I now can’t walk past an author doing a signing without buying something, whether or not I think it’s the sort of thing I’d usually read. Otherwise, recommendations from friends is what drives most of my purchases.

  34. I am so late to this entry. Anyway. As a reader, the things that grab me most are hearing about the book from an author or trusted source, and previews of the work in question. The next most effective is if it’s recommended to me based on something I read and liked highly, but only if that recommendation is accurate.

    I am much more likely to read a book if it’s by someone I’ve already read, or if it has a cover blurb from someone I’ve read.

  35. I just wrote a huge post about something that, as a reader, turns me off. It was pretty ranty and long, so I’ll try to summarize: I hate it when I feel like I’m being *expected* to market someone’s book for them. I totally get that writers need to self-promo, and if I’m following you, I implicitly agree to this relationship; what I hate are posts about what *I* can do to help sustain authors and so forth. I find it to be a bit like rattling the tip jar.

    Someone–an author–replied to my post and said, “Yeah, but only 90% of people who are reading are ONLY BUYING THE BOOK.” ONLY?! I thought buying the book was a pretty important part!

    Other than word-of-mouth, I have to say the biggest thing that I base whether or not I buy a book on really has little to do with anything the author does, other than making it known to me that the book exists. If I come across a book–either on a retailer website, the press’s website, the author’s website, etc–I buy it based on the book itself. Does it sound like a good story that I would enjoy reading? What genre is it? If there’s a writing sample or if I can flip through it, does it grab me? (Writing samples are SO KEY.) How much does it cost? Once I actually get TO the book page or I’m holding it in my hands, whatever’s there makes my decision for me, even if the author continues talking it up.

    Another thing that gets me is if the author does other work that I already enjoy. I bought one of your writing books because your blog content rocks. I’d probably buy one of your novels on the strength of that, if I thought it sounded like a story I would like.

  36. Over the last two years I’ve worked diligently to promote my Tears of Crimson Vampire series without much success. I garnered 11,000 twitter users, used Facebook,goodreads, and linked in without selling more than 50 books a month. My average day of promoting included 4-8 hours of using those social media outlets. The one thing that turned my book around was the Free ParTay. Seven days on this promotion has increased my sales to over 1,000 sales per month.


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