Thursday, December 01, 2011

Marketing Recap

What I'm reading: Seal of my Dreams, by too many authors to list here.

And Giveaway #3 is underway, so be sure you enter. Check the Deals & Steals tab for how. Deadline to enter: Monday, Dec. 5th.

I've been working on final edits for my mystery, DEADLY SECRETS, working with the cover artist to finalize the cover (what do you think?), and still trying to follow my own advice from Monday's post and move forward on the WIP.

And then there's the marketing side of writing as well. In keeping with my honest sharing of what's going on with writing, I thought I'd give a short recap of my Thanksgiving weekend sale promotion.

Rather than bruise my ego too badly, I'll chalk up the lower than expected number of requests for the free books to the fact that many people were involved with holiday travel, family, and other real life chores.

Because my sales of my Pine Hills Police books were low, my goal was to lift FINDING SARAH, and hopefully, the rest of the Pine Hills Police books to a more visible spot in the Amazon rankings. To do this, I gave copies of the book to anyone who requested one. This means I paid for the book rather than offer a Smashwords coupon. However, I know there are a lot of people out there who don't own Kindles (myself included), so I DID offer a free coupon on Smashwords. These don't cost me anything, but they don't move the book up in rankings.

Now, the Amazon algorithms have a lot of variable, but a simplified explanation of how things work (which is all I can understand) is that book sales are calculated, compared with others, and it's all about the timing. If 25 people buy the book in a short period of time, rankings jump.

What I learned: the sale of the book doesn't get recorded until the gift recipient buys it. So, even though I bought a number of books in a short period of time, my rankings weren't affected until the recipient downloaded them. Since the downloads trickled in over the duration of the sale, I didn't get the spike I'd hoped for. Yes, the rankings made a very nice upward movement (from about 204,000 to about 15,000) but the book never cracked the top 100 in romantic suspense. And they're going down again, albeit more slowly.

Sales didn't move across the board. As a matter of fact, I had the lowest sales for all my books over that timeframe (again, could have been the holiday, as they're now creeping back to normal).

Some Observations:

People don't read directions. Although I told people to let me know which format they wanted, about 1/3 of them neglected this step, adding an extra step to the process.

People don't understand e-books and downloading, but still want a free book even though they have no clue what to do with it. One tried to change his order to the print version (which wasn't even in the offer) because he didn't have an e-reader. 

People think "Kindle" is the generic term for e-readers. One emailed me to tell me she tried in vain to get her book loaded onto her Sony.

Was it worth it? Yes. True, there's more labor involved in sending out gifts, but I did meet some new readers, and revisited some familiar names. Some offered to write reviews. And I'll be watching sales to see if there's an uptick in sales of the sequel, HIDDEN FIRE, as well as the rest of my books. Because, bottom line, that's what we're marketing. Not a single book, but our name, and ultimately, we hope readers will buy a book because they know what kind of a read they'll be getting. When I was Googling for images, I came across this slogan, and I think it holds true: Selling is Marketing, but Marketing is not Selling.

Tomorrow, for my Friday Field Trip, we'll be on the road to and from Tempe, Arizona.

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Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Ebook marketing somehow makes my head hurt more than print marketing. I think it might be due to the whole making-something-free-somewhere-else so it can go-free-on-Amazon thing...and similar techniques. Seems like there's a lot more thinking involved than in just general platform-building/branding.

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - when you're dealing with e-books, especially the self-published variety, you're doing everything yourself. And, if you're a writer, you probably don't have a whole lot of marketing background. But we trudge forward, reminding ourselves it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Sherry Gloag said...

Terry thanks for your honest blog. The marketing aspect of writing terrifies me because it gets more complicted every day.
I understand Elizabeth's comment. It does my head in, too.
And Terry, thank you especially for that quote. It makes me feel a lot better.:-)
Best wishes with all your books.

Terry Odell said...

Sherry - I see no reason to keep secrets, unless contractual obligations prohibit it. I'm wading through the mire and figure if I can learn something, why not share it.

Karen C said...

Interesting post, Terry. I felt bad that I already had the book so I couldn't take advantage of your generosity! :O)

Terry Odell said...

Karen, no apologies necessary.