By G.J. Reilly-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
Usually, I’d start a piece on marketing with “So, you’ve got a brand new, shiny book to sell”, or something of that ilk. But today, it really isn’t working.
I could also begin with “Have you ever watched an hour of TV and noticed how many times we get blasted with the same old garbage?” and I’m sure that would probably ring a few bells too.
The truth is, if you’re reading this blog, or have any connection at all to Indie BRAG, you’ve done your research and are already marketing your books in some way. So, there’s little point in my spouting analogies at you, or selling you a marketing solution that only works for a small minority of people.
So you have a brand new, shiny book to sell. If you’re an author who sells through Amazon, then all you have to do is find your listing to see just how many others are doing the same. The question is: why is it that X many books are higher in the chart than yours (even if you’re in the enviable position of only having 2 or 3 above you)?
Okay, here’s a quick list of the excuses I’ve tried to convince myself with:
- The quality of your work – If you’re an Indie BRAG honouree, there’s little question about the quality of your work, so it’s probably not a factor worth too much consideration.
- A lull in the popularity of your genre – Um … frankly, no. With the number of both e-publications and traditional books being bought on the rise, it’s not likely.
- Not as many people know about my work – Now we’re getting somewhere!
I have to confess, I’m no marketing guru and, by now, I’m sure some of you have been off to check where my books are in the chart and thought: “Is this guy for real?”
Realistically, it’s unlikely that I’m ever going to achieve the marketing success of a traditional publisher – I just don’t have the capital to throw at a long-term campaign. But I can tell you that I’ve managed to reach the heady heights of no1 in the charts.
“Free book charts don’t count! And anyway, it was probably only in one sub-genre!” you cry. And my answer to that is simple – any publicity where my covers can be seen is a big bonus! Don’t knock free promotions, they don’t make any money in the short term, but long term, the goal is word of mouth … or if you’re pushing a series, further purchases. The same goes for social media.
Are you a social tortoise or a society hare? Do you stick to what you know?
Myself, I only have two social media accounts that I use regularly. Twitter has certainly helped, but let’s be honest, I haven’t used it to its fullest potential. Then there’s Facebook. Now, I keep my author page and my personal page separate because I find that I can keep track of my interactions more easily. It also means that people interested in my books don’t have to wade through my Saturday nights. And that’s important. Your author page is the professional front for your business. Nobody looking for a good book to read wants to know your opinions on the last reality TV show you watched. Keep them apart.
But BEWARE … you can overdo your social interactions. Peddling your creations twice a day gets old really fast. If like me, you’re really excited about your books, this is the hardest aspect of your marketing campaign to control. Limit yourself to once, maybe twice a week (unless you have an imminent new release). Having polled my friends and followers (fairly) recently, social media users would prefer to discuss interesting current affairs than be sold something via the app. Think about how you use social media day to day. Do you click on advertisements, or do you ignore them and move on?
I’ve found that by limiting my marketing posts to key periods (such as free promotions and pushing my blog posts/interviews), my response rate increases. However, author marketing pages in Facebook (you’ve probably seen them) have little to no value – mainly, as I’ve found, there are so many posts by other users that my posts disappear as quickly as I can write them!
And let’s not forget the importance of Google.
Don’t underestimate the power of the search engines we take for granted. By using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques, you too can own the first page of any search containing your keywords. It’s not something I can go into in any depth here, and if you don’t have a website (why not? It’s essential) it really won’t apply to you. However, I can’t over-emphasize the importance of good keyword choices. If I had to estimate, I’d say that at least 10% of my downloads come from random or mistyped searches. You see, there’s this area of your screen called the ‘Golden Triangle’. It’s the diagonal area from the top right corner of your screen directly to the bottom left and refers to the optimum reading zone … trust me, look it up and make of it what you will. If you can own the first page of a search for your name, you’re on to a winner.
At this point, I invite you to – once you’re done here – open a new tab and type G J Reilly into Google’s search bar and see what comes up. If it’s me, I’ve done it right. If not, please comment so that I can correct it!!
All of these things have worked for me, in that I now have a very valuable base readership. And let’s not forget … this blog and other interviews, kindly offered to me as a result of my success with Indie BRAG, all help my cause.
Hopefully, you can learn something from my experiences. Remember, you may have better results if you pay good money for advertising, but it’s not guaranteed (as I found out when I tried an Amazon marketing campaign and received ZERO clicks from more than 1000 impressions). If you can do it for free and get good results, it’s worth it. There’s no better way to learn than from experience, so please, try some of these for yourself and let me know how you get on.
By day, G. J. Reilly is a teacher of (mostly) ICT and Computing in the South Wales valleys, where he lives with his long-suffering wife and 2.4 cats.
He has an eclectic selection of hobbies, from playing a number of musical instruments with varying degrees of competence to learning the art of contact juggling and teaching sword-based martial arts. Having gained his degree, he spent ten years working in industry, before deciding to change career and head into education.
With an interest in high fantasy, contemporary fantasy and science fiction from a young age, it comes as no surprise that his first work falls into the young adult contemporary fantasy genre.
Check out these other great posts with G.J. Reilly!
A Writer’s Life Part I
Self-Publishing: An Author’s Experience
Excellent post! Thank you for sharing these insights.