book promotion

Marketing update


A short while ago I announced I was doing a giveaway. It ended on 5th July, so here are the preliminary results. In fact I also participated in a cross-promotion in which 20 mystery and suspense authors made their books available free on Instafreebie, undertaking to promote the offer to their mailing list.

The giveaway was costly – the value of the prize plus promoting the giveaway itself came to over $200. I’d hoped for a minimum of 200 subscribers; I got 97. Conclusion? Not worth it. Especially when compared to the cross-promotion, which cost me nothing (Instafreebie offer a free trial for a month, after which it’s $20 a month if you want to collect the email addresses of those who download your book).

The cross-promotion brought in 576 subscribers, meaning I now have upwards of 700 altogether. In three years of blogging, I laboriously reached 65, so the sudden influx is massive. Is this the way forward? Everyone says so.

Now the challenge is to convert those subscribers into readers, and ultimately readers who’ll want to pay for the next book in the series. I’m approaching this with some trepidation – send out too many emails, be too pushy or adopt the wrong tone, and they’ll unsubscribe. So far, my unsubscribe rate is under 4%, which is healthy. If it goes up to 7%, Mailchimp (free till you get to 2000 subscribers) suspect you of spamming and send you nasty warnings.

A lot of people, of course, don’t even open the emails. Or don’t read the free books. Or if they do, don’t pay for the next one. So only a tiny proportion of subscribers will become your followers or fans. How tiny? Only time will tell. But at least it feels like I’ve got some sort of traction, a sense of control over a process which has hitherto been random and wasteful. If I convert just 5% of subscribers into followers, that’s 35 – not a lot, but still way more in a single month than in three years of effort up to then. So what do I do next? Rinse and repeat.




17 thoughts on “Marketing update

  1. Informative insights, Curtis. Sorry it’s a long, grim slog. Self-promotion sucks, eh? I wish writers were free to concentrate solely on their writing sans marketing concerns. Not sure what else to say at the moment. . . .

    Liked by 3 people

  2. GD Deckard says:

    Excellent report, Curtis! Cold hard facts are exactly what we need to understand book marketing. Thank you.

    ‘Course 🙂 if you had a friend with a video camera, went downtown & mooned passers-by until the gendarmes swarmed you, well, that would go viral on social media. Throw in a book ad & you become a (notorious) best selling author!

    Just sayin’ ….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    Good information and I too will be interested to know if this helps in the longer run.

    I have written before that what works best in our small town Upper Midwest seems to be in-person selling of print books at readings and signings in libraries and bookstores. I have several books by a successful regional author, all purchased at readings. I am on his email list, and while I like his books, I don’t even open his emails.

    One of our sons plays bass in an acoustic rock band. It’s a second job; very few make any real money in music performance. The band travels regionally to perform, has a website page and a facebook page, and youtube recordings. Their revenue? The are sometimes paid for an appearance, sometimes play for tips, and they sell CDs whenever they perform live. The website and facebook page sell almost nothing.

    All that said, web marketing may be a complementary and valuable part of a larger marketing effort, even here in the Upper Midwest. Can we track the online sales or other financial impact of web marketing? If we make even a little money at it, we should keep it going.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Unfortunately we’re swamped by emails. I’ve signed up to a few authors’ mailing lists out of curiosity. There are many different styles. The best seem to be chatty, brief, entertaining, and to offer something of possible interest, such as a link to a short story, or a book recommendation. Since there are so few English speakers where I live, this is pretty much the only route I can go down.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    I get many many emails, and rarely read them. I save them to various folders to read later, and only occasionally get back to them. (And I mean to, I want to, especially those from The Book Designer and Wix Tips.)

    If my track record for reading emails is typical, emails are a lost cause. I would put the We’ll-Promote-You sites into the same bag. I’ll sink my money into bail after I get arrested in Times Square, hopefully while cameras are rolling. And, into bumper stickers and decals, plastered everywhere.

    I will try to amass an email list – all bases covered. But that will be the least part of my promotional effort. My thinking goes as follows: I’ll make such a spectacle of myself that potential contacts, having gotten hold of my email address, will say to themselves, What a goofball! Let’s see what she has to offer.

    This is my version of Perry’s direct contact.

    A batty old lady pushing a batty book about a batty cat. If that doesn’t go anywhere, I give up.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    Why do we (seems to me) concentrate on the tech paths? Is it because they are at our fingertips? You do indeed have the potential of reaching multitudes, but do they respond? I think you make more of an impact connecting in the flesh.

    It won’t be easy for me to pound the pavement in NYC, handing out flyers, maybe wearing a sandwich board, with a cat-painted face, a feathered cap and fancy felt boots. (I took a felt-making class a while back, and I still have all my supplies.)

    How many will take a leaflet, or stop to chat? Will I wear myself out for nothing? I’ll take my own video and post it to YouTube. If I’m arrested for being a public nuisance, all the better.

    We all could take a lesson from P.T. Barnum. Put on a good show.

    In the words of Steve Jobs (or at least of his copywriter): THINK DIFFERENT.

    Easier said than done, I know.

    Liked by 4 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      I think you nailed it, Mimi. We multitudes are overloaded by tech.
      Whenever I check Facebook, I have to swim through hundreds of books to get to information of interest to me. I don’t consider buying them, I don’t even look at them. All those promotions are just background, like water to a fish.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. atthysgage says:

    Well John Grisham ended up making his very unsuccessful first book into a bestseller by going on the road, doing readings anyplace that would have him, selling books out of the back of his car. It sure as hell worked for him. That kind of approach really isn’t an option for me. But I concur with what others have said here. Most of my emails I never open.
    I actually have a fair number of subscribers (?) at my languishing website, but the few times when I’ve actually tried mailing everybody saying “this book is $99!” or even “this book is free!” — the response was zilch. Probably I did everything wrong in terms of marketing, but it’s just damned hard to get anyone’s attention. We are besieged with input around the clock.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Because everyone now can use online methods, it gets harder and harder to stand out. Less than half my subscribers open the emails, so all I can do is look for some way of enticing those that do a little further. I won’t know how (un)successful this is for another year or so.

      Liked by 3 people

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