Over the Easter long-weekend, I ran a five-day free promotion for Disappearing in Plain Sight. Before going into chapter and verse about how that promotion went, I want to spend part one of this post setting the stage.
I self-published Disappearing in Plain Sight in the spring of 2013. From then until March 24th of 2016, the book had garnered 135 e-sales across all Amazon venues. I’ve had it in and out of Kobo, Nook and iTunes and those markets added 22 more sales. Most will admit, this rate of return gives a new meaning to slow and steady. Somewhat like this poor little forsythia (pictured below) that I’ve nourished along for years.
Efforts at selling softcover copies of all my books in our local community has resulted in far more sales. It is those sales that have kept my head above water and provided the capital to invest in yet more inventory and pay for the production of subsequent books.
I have dedicated many hours to building a social media network, writing blog posts, searching for interesting articles to share on my Facebook Author page and stripping down tidbits of daily life to 140 character tweets. I’ve enjoyed many of these activities but they’ve been primarily aimed at creating an audience of readers who will get interested enough in me to invest the small amount of money it takes to purchase an e-book.
E-book sales did not justify the time spent. But I didn’t look at it like that. I have always believed that I was creating something that would bear fruit in the future. I had my five-year plan and I was working it. Build the network, enjoy it as I go and write more books.
I did not come to promotion and book marketing with any type of experience or, for that matter, enthusiasm. It’s been very difficult to self-promote. Always feeling like I am blowing my horn while standing on a street corner in a strange outfit is not high on the list of things I love.
Book marketing and promotion are skills that require the climbing of a steep learning curve. I’ve had my share of bumps, bruises and falls from that curve. For some time now, the word everywhere has been that BookBub combined with offering a book for free is the only promotion that really works. I’m sort of stubborn when things like that are touted about. I resisted. It was expensive, it was competitive. Two things I generally try to avoid. I’ve also been in this game long enough to have realized that people can exaggerate the good results of their efforts. Who can blame them? When you’ve invested the kind of cash a BookBub slot costs, you wouldn’t want to say it didn’t work out as well for you as everyone else claimed it did for them.
It was simpler than all that, though. I couldn’t wrap my head around how paying a large sum of money to give books away could possibly make any sense.
So, instead, I continued to invest drips and drabs of money on things that bore zero results when it came to sales – Facebook boosts (this may not have resulted in much because I’m not doing it right), blog tours, entering contests (possibly didn’t amount to anything because I never win), sites that charge nominal fees to promote. All these costs seemed small at the time, but they did add up.
When I caught on to the fact that I had spent a large amount in small bits to achieve nothing, I started to see things differently. At the same time, I received advice from two trusted sources, people who had read my book and had absolutely no reason to lie to me. The advice was clear and to the point: give BookBub a chance in conjunction with Amazon free days. What on earth are you waiting for?
I moved all my books back to Kindle Select – giving Amazon exclusive rights so I would be eligible to run a free promotion. Then I screwed my courage to the sticking post and did my first application to BookBub for Disappearing in Plain Sight. I was turned down – a very common occurrence. I had heard from other authors that this would happen but told to keep on trying. On my second attempt, I didn’t try to break into the huge romance category but opted instead for literary fiction and I didn’t specify an exact date, allowing BookBub to choose where to slot me. I was accepted. I can’t say that the changes I made from the first application to the second resulted in success because I have no idea one way or the other. There is a certain mystery imbued in all such sought-after services.
Tune in for Part 2 of this post wherein I wax eloquent on the popular wisdom about all the things one should do to ensure success with the coveted BookBub slot.