Monday, August 15, 2011


What I'm  reading: The Search, by Nora Roberts

I came home from RomCon with lots of swag. I'm sure the authors spent a lot of money on it. But Does It Sell Books? I don't know. I've offered my excess swag to anyone who asks for it. So far, no takers. (Check the Deals & Steals tab)

At the RomCon reader forum, the discussion of book trailers came up. While many of the readers raved about some of the trailers they'd seen, not one said that they'd ever bought a book because of a trailer.

Nowadays, whether you've got a print deal with a traditional publisher, or are publishing yourself, marketing and promotion become part of the drill. Note: if you're a best-selling author, the publishers will probably handle much of this for you, because they're going to want to earn back that huge advance they gave you. But for the rest of us, we've had to become our own promoters.

This not only takes away from writing time, but it can cost money. As they say, it takes money to make money. But, in most cases, it's really tough to know how effective marketing attempts are.

I'll go out on a limb and say there aren't a lot of book sales via the social networking sites. At least I haven't seen any uptick in sales when I've used them to point out sales on my books, or other marketing deals. And if all you use the social media sites for is marketing, you'll probably turn off readers more than you'll increase sales.

Recently, I ran a one-day 'feature' ad at Ereader News Today. When sales for the featured book took an immediate upswing, much more than on a typical day, I felt confident that the ad had driven sales. I've got another one coming up for the Frugal eReader Find of the Day.

There are book giveaways at many sites, such as The Romance Studio. They also do interviews for their featured authors. Becoming a featured author entails a small annual fee. Some sites such as All Romance eBooks and Savvy Readers take ads.

I've offered discounts on books, or buy-one-get-one-free. I've tweeted and had friends retweet my books, but I also tweet about non-writing stuff. I've posted here (how many of you actually look at my sidebar and click the tabs at the top of my blog?) and on Facebook and now there's Google+. The +1 button is showing up, and clicking it helps both the clicker and the clikcee. I haven't totally figure out that forum yet, but if you want to join my circles, or add me to yours, there's a link in the sidebar.

What are some other things an author can do, many of which don't cost anything? One is blog touring. I also give on-line workshops and seminars such as my upcoming chat on Foreshadowing with Savvy Authors on August 25th.

Here are a few other places I've found to get my name out there.

There's a new "service" for lack of a better word (not good for a writer to admit that!), in which you can "autograph" a Kindle book. It's called Kindlegraphing, and I've offered kindlegraphs for one of my books, What's in a Name?

You can send out newsletters, keeping readers updated on your books.
There are sites that list books by genre. Stop, You're Killing Me is one for mystery writers.

There's the Backlist eBooks group, with its website and Facebook page.

Or Mobile Read Forums

There are forums on Amazon, and Kindleboards where you can keep your name visible.

There's a new blog called Spoilerville where readers can discuss books without worrying that they're giving away the plot, because it's designed for discussions after people have read the book.  (My page)

But – the bottom line is, But Does It Sell Books? It's tough to tell, and growth can be slow. Someone might see your book and blurb and download a sample, but it could be weeks, or months, before they get around to reading, and then buying. Some of those cover ads might be lost in a huge sea of others—sometimes the site randomizes them, so it's the luck of the draw as to whether your cover will appear when someone clicks to the site. The issue with ebooks is that the visibility of your books is far less than if they're on the shelves in a brick and mortar bookstore. So, it's less likely someone will notice your book and say, "I've heard of that author…"

I think it's safe to say that the biggest factor in selling books is word of mouth. If people recommend your books, you're more likely to make sales.

As a reader, I like hearing what others are recommending. I look for familiar authors. If it's an author I don't know, I'm more likely to try them if I can see excerpts, And I'm probably going to try them out via the library or as a sample download on my NOOK color before I buy them.

What drives you to buy a book? And authors, what marketing tips can you share?

Tomorrow, my guest is author DeAnna Knippling who's going to talk about getting your hands dirty as a writer. Be sure to come back.

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Deborah said...

A sobering review.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Terry - this is a really tough question. I don't have a book to sell ...yet...but when I do, I'm not sure how I'll get the word out. I think that I agree with what you've said - I'm not encouraged to buy books that I hear about on blogs - not even by people that I obviously enjoy - it just isn't the way I buy them. However, if I hear an author's name several times, in different places (the newspaper, the radio, etc...) I might want to look them up and read their books. I go to readings and that definitely makes me want to buy the books AND I listen to my friends talk about what they're reading. It is a tough world out there. I'm not sure how it is in Romance but it is quite tough, I think, if you write literary novels to even think about how to get the word out. Keep trying and make sure you spend more time writing than anything else - because if you have good books - the word will get out eventually.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

True, what we're doing now is preaching to the choir. Other writers read these comments. However, we need to get our name out to readers. I agree it's a good idea to write articles, short stories, etc. We want readers to recognize our names. I actually do write in a variety of genres myself. As far as publishing, the traditional path is to obtain the services of a first-rate agent who will hopefully sell your novels to one of the big publishers with huge distribution. Easy? Not exactly! Hope springs eternal.


Jacqueline Seewald

wlynnchantale said...

You've definitely given me a lot to think about concerning promotion.

Terry Odell said...

Deborah - I try to share both sides, the good and the troublesome.

Jan - I don't think there IS an answer. It's a matter of throwing it against the wall and seeing what sticks, sometimes

Jacqueline - yes, the traditional/legacy route is totally different, and another tough nut to crack

wylnne - knowing what to expect can help.

And hey, all of you. How about helping out by clicking that +1 button if you're saying you like this post. That's a way everyone can help promote! :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Good question. I've bought quite a lot of books written by blog buddies - but I'll only buy a 2nd one if I enjoyed the first. (I think I own all of yours now! :))

Sadly price has a lot to do with buying a book - the budget isn't always there.

Liz said...

so far, all of my sales have come directly from social networking and guest blogging. I try to find blogs that READERS trust (not just authors), and be a useful part of them. I also own a microbrewery and have done incredible things via social networks to fill my Tap Room and sell beer. If you use it wisely, don't be annoying, be an "expert" in your field and establish yourself as such (which takes time and patience) online marketing will work. key words are: persistence (with blog posting), usefulness (of info that you share--i.e. please do not blog about your kid's diaper rash or your latest round of Weight Watchers weigh-ins) which establishes you an expert, and consistency.
if you just post once in a blue moon you'll never (ever) establish a following.
my 2 cents.

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - thanks, and glad you enjoyed my first enough to buy the rest!

Liz - sounds like your marketing background has helped a lot. So many authors (myself included) thought that writing was the hard part!

Vonnie Davis said...

I'm a debut romance author. How can I, a grandma in Virginia, get a lovely lady in Idaho to purchase my book? I ask myself this every day. I blog like a fiend, dabble at facebook--I mean, really, does anyone care what you're having for dinner--and spend 5 minutes on Twitter every day. Mainly I promote other writers and encourage them, for I feel it all boils down to building relationships. I'd rather people knew me as a kind and supportive person than an author hellbent on telling you about her book. Will I sell? I honestly don't know...and it is a quandry...what to do, what to do...

Maryann Miller said...

Vonnie, I cracked up at your comment, "does anyone really care what you're having for dinner?" I don't think so. LOL

But you are doing the best thing by being supportive of other writers and promoting them. Perhaps they won't directly promote you back, but your name is being seen by a lot of folks who might remember it when your first book comes out. And some of those writer's you have been supporting just might support you. (smile)

Susan Oleksiw said...

This is an excellent discussion, with lots of ideas that I haven't come across before (and I confess I'm not very good at marketing), but the big question is always, will this or that tool help? I wish I knew. I do events when I can, and lean on reviews to develop interest, but I just don't know. Thanks for sharing so much information.

Stacy said...

Very interesting post. I'm getting close to querying, and I know if I luck out and eventually get a deal, I'll still have to do most of the marketing myself. I know many experts say that blogging and Twitter are the ways to go, but there has to be more than that. Figuring out what that entails is the tough part for me.

Mary Ricksen said...

I'm sorry I missed it. Not because it will sell books, but for the networking!

Vonnie said...

Yes, Terry - this is the downside of writing in today's world. Frankly, even though I've been writing on and off for about 40 years, lately I've been wondering if it's worth it. Marketing gets right up my nose. But I have a compulsion to write so...

Guest blogging seems to bring a few results, as does belonging to a number of loops. But after that...Let's just say I spent two weeks on Facebook and that was two weeks too many.

To buy books I pore over sites like Amazon and TWRP, Carina, Midnight Ink etc. i.e. I go for the site rather than the author and I suspect most readers do the same unless you are a BIG author.

Terry Odell said...

Vonnie - I know what you mean. Finding an audience is definitely a challenge.

Maryann - funny you mentioned that part of Vonnie's comment. For whatever reason, my food posts on Facebook seem to get the most activity! But it IS all about getting your name in the minds of people.

Susan - if there were a simple answer, we'd all have huge sales.

Stacy - agreed. There's no magic formula.

Mary - networking, I think, ultimately sells books.

Elizabeth C. Main said...

Like some of the others who commented, I read your post hoping that you'd reveal the perfect answer. You didn't do that, unfortunately, but it's reassuring to read that many others have the same questions I do. Word of mouth and good reviews have seemed to do me more good than anything else, but I'm trying new strategies all the time. I'll be sure to let you know if I discover the secret key. Thanks for hitting all the bases in your discussion of the topic.

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - I'd hoped that someone in the comments would have the answer.