This is the second in a new series I am writing called Craft & Marketing Talk. I’m starting off by talking about book release strategies, you can check out part one of this particular topic by clicking here. In part one, I cover some basics including my thoughts on Kindle Unlimited and exclusivity and why I believe that numbers really matter.
Before I go any further, let me just say again that although I’m discussing the craft and marketing side of being an Indie author, I’m by no means an expert in either subject. But I have had some success in the sense that I’ve won awards and been a best selling author multiple times.
As per my first blog post, I want to caveat that the strategies I will discuss work for me personally that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. I strongly advise people to take their own path. After all, that’s what I did. I read thousands of blog posts and have listened to countless hours of podcasts in order to gain my own knowledge. Some things I heard worked, some didn’t. Sometimes I recognised a strategy that would work for a mainstream author, but not for myself in the F/F romance market. My main piece of advice for anyone is to try and test every strategy yourself. Some things will work, some won’t. A successful strategy is created by analysing what you know, not what you have been told or think you know, but what you can substantiate through facts and figures… or a solid gut feeling!
I’ll try to include as much data and detail as possible to explain why I do what I do, and hopefully, that will give you enough data to make your own decisions on whether or not my way will work for you. If you have a topic you would like me to address in a future blog, please leave a comment in the comments section below. Or pop into my Facebook author group and let me know there!
Releasing Your Book
So, in the last post I talked about how I firmly believe in using KU, and how I feel that exclusivity to Amazon can actually be a positive rather than a negative. I also explained how preorders can ruin a good launch day, and how you only get one chance at a good launch day. Now I’m going to move on to my actual marketing strategy for when I release a new book, I’ll be focusing on my release of The Road Ahead which, at the time of writing, has achieved well over a million page reads through Kindle Unlimited in the ten weeks since its release as well as selling over 2,000 copies, all at full price.
Slow and Steady
A book takes a long time to be ready for sale. There’s the planning, the writing, the cover, the editing, the proofing, the layout… its a lot of work and a long time. So, when it’s finally ready, there’s a strong temptation to scream from the rooftops as loud as you can to let everyone know that your book is available right then.
If I could give you only one piece of advice… don’t do that.
As with preorders, algorithm systems (like the one behind the Amazon chart) don’t like sudden spikes and drops. They like steady sales figures that either remains the same or increases over a number of days or even weeks. If your aim is to get into the charts—and it should be—you are killing all your chances by doing a burst of marketing activity on one day.
Resist the urge to tell everyone immediately when your book is ready for sale.
Burst vs Drip
One of the first things I learnt about marketing was the concept of burst marketing versus drip marketing. Burst marketing is when you are suddenly surrounded by marketing messages about something. Brands like Coca-Cola are very good at burst marketing, suddenly you will see a ton of marketing messages everywhere about their latest flavour. It might go on for a month and then… it will vanish as quickly as it began. It was a burst of marketing activity.
On the other side of the coin is drip marketing, where information is slowly drip-fed to you over a longer period of time. A great example of this is one us Doctor Who fans will be familiar with; the BBC will show a ten second clip, giving us almost no information. No date of release. No plot points. Nothing. Just a hint of a trailer. They’ll do this over weeks and months, and one day they will suddenly mention that the new series is dropping in two weeks.
Both strategies have their place. But when you are releasing a book in a small genre and with little budget… you need to go down the drip feed route.
The best way to spread out your marketing messaging is to segment your audience touchpoints. Write a list of all the different places where you connect with your audience, it might look something like this:
- Facebook Author Group
- Facebook Reading Groups
- Email Marketing List
Each of these is a segment of your audience. Of course, there will be some crossover as some people will follow you on Twitter and be on your mailing list but that’s fine. I’d encourage you to segment further than this if you can. For example, list the different relevant Facebook groups you are a member of separately. Also, consider segmenting your email marketing list—possibly into a group of highly active users who always open your emails and another group who don’t always do so.
As a consultant, I have often used the phrase “we’ll need to draw up a marketing plan” and been met with looks of fear or loathing. There’s a mental barrier, as there is with maths, when people even consider drawing up a marketing plan. I think people have a belief that it’s very technical and complicated.
Let’s put that rumour to rest.
Grab a piece of paper. Or the back of an old envelope, no need to get fancy.
Write the date of your book release, and the next five to seven days, in a list going down the edge of the paper. Now, you need to slot your marketing segments into a space on each day—sometimes you’ll have two a day, that’s fine. Done. You just wrote a marketing plan. Easy, right?
So, if I were to release my book on a Monday, my own marketing plan might look like this:
Monday: Release book | Email Core Marketing List
Tuesday: Post in Facebook Author Group
Wednesday: Post on Twitter
Thursday: Post in other Facebook Groups
Friday: Email remaining marketing list
By doing this, you are doing two things. Firstly, you’re not annoying people online by splashing information about your book release in every single group, all in the space of ten minutes. Secondly, you are spreading out your marketing messages to different areas of your existing audience and hopefully, that means that people will spread out purchases and buy over a number of dates, rather than all at the same time.
The Road Ahead
My marketing plan for The Road Ahead was a little more in-depth as I included some advertising, and my email marketing list is very segmented. Here’s how my own launch schedule went:
Day one: Facebook Group Message | Amazon Ads (High bids on top 20 chart positions for two days)
Day two: Email Instafreebie and Competition List (fairly unengaged, unlikely to buy)
Day three: Facebook Page Message | Email ARC list members who were not selected to review this time
Day four: Twitter posts | BookBub Ads, high budget for three days | New Amazon Ads campaign, lower bid but more keywords
Day five: Email main list who rarely open my emails
Day six: Tumblr and Instagram posts
Day seven: One day of Facebook ads | Email main list, most engaged
Now, some of these things worked and some didn’t. Some I’ll be using again in my next release, some I won’t be bothering with. This is just an example of how I segmented my own audience and drip fed my other marketing tools over a number of days.
A Different Kind of Launch
If you’re used to looking at sales figures often, and you have used preorder in the past… it can be hard to stick with this method. When I released Bring Holly Home earlier this year, I had well over 400 preorders and the day of the launch looked pretty nice on my sales and income report.
A slow and steady launch will not have the same boost. But it can be much more successful.
Bring Holly Home, while very successful, didn’t chart for very long, it suffered from having a big spike and then a huge drop. Even though it sold around 600 copies in the first two days, the third day it plummeted to just under one hundred sales. Now, normally one hundred sales a day would be something to jump for joy about. But the algorithms that calculate rank don’t see it like that, they see it as selling much less than what you had been selling the previous day. And your rank will drop like a rock.
On the other hand, The Road Ahead, sold 60 copies on the day of release… a substantial come down from 600. But it then sold around a hundred copies a day for the next few days and it shot up the charts.
Hold Your Nerve
If you’re used to watching your sales figures, it can be tempting to scrap your marketing plan and start emailing and posting everywhere that your book is for sale. But, before you do this, remember that charts take a while to calculate the days sales and make changes to rankings. Slow and steady works. Simply because a large burst of activity and then nothing looks bad to algorithms.
You just need to make a plan, and stick to it.
I hope you found this blog post interesting, let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or if you have any topics for future Craft and Marketing blog posts!
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