As an indie author, I’ve relied mostly on word of mouth and social media to sell my books. Why? Limited $$$. Let’s face it: Advertising can be pricey. And time-consuming, unless you’re hiring someone to help you, and then it’s just pricey. However, I think it’s important to try new things, and I’ve experimented with various kinds of low-budget advertising, such as Facebook ads (with limited success).
This week, I’m coming off my first Amazon ad campaign for Baby Bailino, and I’m actually surprised at how dismally the ad performed. Like most indie authors, I think I went into the advertising campaign with thoughts of super high conversion rates dancing through my head. I set a budget of $100, 25 cents per click, just to dip my foot into the ad waters. I mean, in an ideal world, if every click translated into a sale, that could have meant more than a thousand bucks in sales! However, the realist in me believed I’d probably sell a handful of books. Maybe 10, maybe 20, if I were lucky.
The ad ran for 10 days, and…crickets. Not a click. Granted, I didn’t set much of a budget, so I’m not sure how much that hurt me, but by the end of the promotional period, this is what I saw:
The ebooks of Baby Grand and Baby Bailino are now part of Amazon’s KDP Select program.
For those who don’t know about the program, when you sign on to KDP Select, you agree to sell your eBook only in the Kindle format (you can continue selling your paperbacks anywhere you wish). In exchange for this exclusivity, you are given some perks.
When I first published Baby Grand back in May 2012, I joined KDP Select and left after the first three-month period was over. Why did I leave? I thought it was a successful run, but I wasn’t really interested in offering my book for free (a big perk of KDP Select) and I had friends who were diehard Nook readers who wanted access to the book. So I went wide, as they say, and uploaded it to Kobo, iTunes, Nook, and other resellers. (For more details on why I left KDP Select, I blogged about it here.)
Four years later, things are a bit different. How:
- I have a four-year track record with Amazon. And, BY FAR, I have sold more Kindle versions of Baby Grand than I have any other outlet or edition. Amazon SELLS books.
- I have found — despite many opinions to the contrary — Amazon to be good to readers AND authors, offering low pricing and high royalties, respectively. And for such a mega-company, the customer service support is efficient and prompt.
- The introduction of Kindle Unlimited, which offers more than a million titles and thousands of audiobooks to subscribers. Books that are enrolled in KDP Select are also enrolled into Kindle Unlimited. This helps to increase the discoverability of the Baby Grand Series. Very important. After just a few days in the program, nearly 1,000 pages have already been read by subscribers. (Kindle Unlimited is populated mostly with books written by indie authors, like me. I like the idea of all of us getting the chance to find new readers.)
All this was enough to make me reconsider my participation in the program. It seemed like a good deal. And the right time, particularly with the sequel to Baby Grand on its way. So I decided to pull all the ebooks from Smashwords, the Self-e program (I was sad to leave this one), and others. At least for now. In three months’, six months’, nine months’ time, I can look at my sales and reevaluate. If something doesn’t seem to be working, I can always mix it up again.That’s the great thing about being an indie author. The decisions — writing, editing, publishing, marketing — are mine.
When I woke up this morning, a second book trailer was the furthest thing from my mind, but I had some free time and — like the first book trailer — was able to put this together really quickly, in less than a half hour (with a little help from my tech guru, my oldest son). As I often discuss in this blog and in my classes, indie authors need to take advantage of whatever tools they have at their disposal to market their books. A little creativity goes a long way in social media circles. So put on your thinking caps! This video was put together using Microsoft PowerPoint and YouTube and cost me nothing but a few minutes of time. Would love to hear your thoughts!
As you work on self-publishing your book, you may want to consider getting a blurb or two. What are blurbs? Words of praise or reviews from another person that go directly onto your book cover or flap. Their purpose is simply to convince readers to buy your book. People like to read books that are liked by other people, so if a popular author gives a book an endorsement or her stamp of approval, that author’s legions of fans are opt to get on board and buy that book.
Who should write a blurb for you?
Well, there are no rules, but there are three good candidates:
- Well-known author in your genre (fiction)
- Well-respected individual in your field (nonfiction)
How do you go about getting a blurb?
It’s easy. Create a list of potential book blurbers — maybe 7 or 8 — kind of like a list you would make when applying to college. Divide the list into “reach” (blurbers who are probably hard to get, like celebrities), “match” (those for whom you have a good shot a landing a blurb), and “safety” (people very likely to provide you with a blurb). And then simply go down the line and ask each one. The great thing about social media and the internet is that anyone is accessible.
Remember, of course, to always be courteous and to make sure that you’ve spelled the person’s name correctly and that your request carries no typos or grammatical/punctuation errors. (I believe written requests, in the form of emails, are best. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a telephone number for someone famous.) The worst that could happen is that person will say is no, but he or she might surprise you and say yes. At the very least, even if the person declines, he or she will remember your name.
I humbly asked David Baldacci to blurb my new book, Baby Bailino (he declined), but his associate remembered that I had asked four years earlier for Baby Grand (as you can see I tend to never give up). My hope is that the third time will be the charm.
This 15-second video was a cinch to put together. All I needed was my book cover, some type, and some fade-in animation, and the quick PowerPoint was complete. Converting the PowerPoint to video took some time, only because my particular version of PowerPoint didn’t have that easy “Create a Video” button that the newer versions have. Luckily, my college-age son had the most recent edition, so I emailed him the PPT and he created the MP4 in, literally, minutes. Then he zapped it back, and I uploaded the file to YouTube, added the music (free, courtesy of YouTube, which asks that you credit the music authors in your description), and voila! A cute little promo video. Then, using a YouTube Downloader app, I downloaded the video, so I am able to use it in other forms of marketing, like here. :) Such a great time to be an indie author!
I’m so THRILLED to premiere the cover of the sequel to BABY GRAND — BABY BAILINO — coming out this fall! I decided to go with a more literal interpretation for the cover this time around, rather than conceptual, like Baby Grand’s. I’m sooooo happy with it. I think it really captures the flavor of the series. What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts!