Ebook Marketing Plan: Promotion Sites
As an indie author, there are many possible ways of trying to get one’s work in front of the right audience. Unfortunately (depending on your perspective) it’s become a bit of an oversaturated marketplace, crowded with energetic sellers. That brings both blessings and curses, naturally, perhaps evening out the playing field in the long run because there are more efficient ways of getting books in front of people yet also many, many more writers competing for finite readers.
One of the ways that writers can and often do give themselves a little boost is to pay a site to list their book on a homepage or newsletter, Tweet about it or otherwise show it off to the site’s followers. When you’ve got no audience to speak of, paying for a slice of someone else’s can see like a very good idea, but there are a few things to bear in mind.
The first is that if you want your book to be sitting in the top 100,000 or 10,000 or the top 72 – or whatever your personal goal is – your only option is to kick out somebody else. That’s just a simple mathematical certainty. The only way you can take a bigger slice of the pie without depriving another writer is if the pie grows bigger, and to make that happen is generally not possible for an individual author, not unless they’re in the business of producing cultural artifacts weighty enough to actually change widespread behaviour. Harry Potter springs to mind.
What are you going to get out of it? Sales? Reviews? Something intangible?
Because of the vagaries of whole economies and populations (e.g. Amazon and the reading public), popularity tends to come in waves, ebbing and flowing from one property to another and back again. It’s a sort of sloshing motion really, as though everyone were in dingheys on a vast sea of milkshake, which is a comforting thought if you’re trying to avoid conceptualising your own popularity as stealing someone else’s customers.
Whatever, the point is that it’s not actually that hard to give yourself a little spike. Oweing to the oversupply of books, the very great majority are basically selling nothing. As in literally zero copies from one day to the next. If you’re hovering around the 1,000,000 rank, to shift even five copies in a single day would have an apparently astronomic effect. You’d probably jump to 100,000 or 200,000 overnight. But here’s the sticking point: you’ve got to make it stick. It’s easy to spike your rank, but not easy to keep it for the above reason that others are constantly trying to knock you off whatever little perch you have. It’s not malicious, just an essential side effect of having competition, but it can lead to the feeling that is probably familiar to a lot of you, which is of operating a fruit machine. It seems like you have to enlessly put in coins and pull the leaver just to get occasional headway.
This is a problem with your product. Either it doesn’t look right, the description doesn’t sell it right, the reviews don’t convince, or the genre is simply one that most people aren’t bothered about. If this is the case, DON’T throw good money after bad. Fix your product’s problems before you pull that lever again. I know it can be addictive but there are enough well produced books out there to fill every reader’s Kindle several times over.
The point is therefore that you need to have a plan. Know what you want before you spend any money. If you don’t know what works, as far as setting up your product – and I mean really know – treat paid promotions as an experiment. Unless you’ve got a specific theory you want to test and are willing to lose all the money your fronting, don’t do it. Of course, if you have done the numbers from start to finish and you know that X £s paid to promotion sites will generate Y leads, and that that’s worth your investment, go for it! If you’re just starting out then going forward step-by-step, a bit of cash in here, a measured result there, that’s the smart way to go.
And now, for my next trick I’m going to fork out $6 to readfree.ly. I don’t expect the world to tilt on its axis when I do this, but what I do want is a little spike for a novel called Tempus Abbey. It’s currently languishing somewhere way down the list, but I’ve spent some months working on the cover, the description, a couple of reviews (not nearly enough, but better than one and certainly better than none). Will it stick or will it fall straight back down again? Well, that’s the experiment. I’ll let you know.