My First Experience with a BookBub Feature Deal & The Last Victim (Nov 5)

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

I wanted to share my latest foray into a major promotion run. I’d heard good things about BookBub, had researched it before, but never submitted a book until last week. This promo option isn’t cheap. It’s a real leap of faith that you’ll sell more than the feature costs. I made sure that I ticked off the boxes I knew about, to make my submission more appealing to the stringent requirements to qualify.

Founded in 2012, BookBub has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, showcasing their huge outreach to avid readers with their daily deal emails to millions of subscribers. This is a free service to readers, vetted by an expert editorial team with handpicked recommendations. It doesn’t sell books directly, but offers books from authors that are available through major ebook retailers and devices. It also focuses your feature to readers interested in YOUR genre.

If you’re a published author, you can claim your books and create a profile to grow your followers on a forum for readers that an author can cultivate directly. I had never “claimed” my author profile and didn’t realize I had followers. Plus not all of my most recent books were listed, so I had to update my profile after they authorize me as the author.

BookBub scrutinizes the books it selects, so I knew I had to adhere to recommendations other authors had shared online about their experiences. HERE is the list of requirements from BookBub, but there are other websites and blog posts with more help, too.

The book I submitted is The Last Victim (published 2015) and here are details on what I had to do.

BookBub Submission – TIPS

I had a professionally designed cover that I knew would be acceptable from my experience. BookBub scrutinizes submissions for a well-formatted book, free of typos and grammatical errors. They also want books that have accumulated enough good reviews without sharing how many that is. This can be intimidating. The Last Victim has 26 reviews for an average of 4.4 out of 5. I really didn’t know if they were looking for 50+ but I went for it. Don’t let one deficiency in a selection criteria force you to back down. If you don’t succeed, keep learning and try again.

I had great cover blurbs/praises to pitch on my book and across my branding platforms (website & social media) from well-known authors, magazines, and critical reviews from professional editorial sources. (Don’t let this tip scare you. I accumulated mine over time. You can too.)

The Last Victim is a full novel that has never been discounted. It normally sells for $3.99, but I submitted it to BookBub for a special, limited offer of $0.99 across all retailer platforms that I listed in my submission.

My novel is widely available on all the retailers BookBub features and then some: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Google, and iBooks. Since it was published by my publishing arm, Cosas Finas Publishing, I had world rights, which I knew would appeal to BookBub.

My BookBub feature will be Nov 5 – 12. They prefer limited offers of free or discounted by at least 50%, rather than books that are perma-free.

HERE are BookBub’s tips.

I also submitted with a flexible promotion date, but when they came back with “Can you do by Nov 5th?” – I found out how much I didn’t have prepared for this type of exposure. This is why I wanted to post my article on the experience. It’s a good problem to have, but very nerve-wracking when I am in the middle of releasing two back-to-back novellas on Oct 31 & Nov 7th. Of course, I had to go for it, even if it only becomes a “what not to do” experience. Below are some of the things I have done to prepare and I’m sure there will be much more as the BookBub feature draws nearer.

MY STRATEGY SCRAMBLE

1.) Since The Last Victim was a 2015 release, I had to update the back material to include my updated Biblio, author bio, and add promo links for my new website mailing list and ads for my upcoming releases, as any traditional publisher would do. I went through my layout formatter to save me time. I use Wizards in Publishing.

2.) I created a spreadsheet of target promotion opportunities, both free and paid for, to expand my reach beyond my mailing list and track costs against estimated revenue. BookBub gives you its estimate for likely sales, but it is up to you to get the word out and set higher goals. I plan to set up my estimates, then compare them to what actually happened afterwards, to create a learning tool that I can refine. Bottom line – It takes a lot of eyeballs for sales to result. I used subscriber numbers, but estimated sales at a fraction of 1% to be conservative. It’s all “pie in the sky” stuff until the dust settles and sales are determined. At that time, I’ll need to do an autopsy to see what clearly worked.

3.) What are the best ways (& sites) to pay for promotion? Good question. Since I needed boosted sales across several retailers, I chose to look at ads at Kobo, Amazon, and the other retailers. These aren’t cheap so I had to make decisions. The bargain books websites that are popular and most effective aren’t cheap either, because they can add up. They also don’t take just any ad that you pay for. Some sites require you to submit your book for their consideration & it could take up to 7 days to hear back. (I won’t know about some until my feature is about to start or has started.) These promo sites’ loyalty is first to their subscribers, so that means you have to allow enough lead time or make due with what you can get.

4.) I submitted to EreaderNewsToday and needed approval. BargainBooksy, KindleNationDaily (& their multiple platforms), EBookLister, and AwesomeGang didn’t require approval and charged only a minimal amount. There are countless sites where they will list your book for free. Some allow you to post once and they will cross post, but since I don’t know how effective this would be for my limited time, I chose certain sites for maximum exposure.

5.) I created an Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) Ad Campaign (access I already had as a vendor through my publishing company) to run during the time of the feature and will up the cost per click but limit the dollar daily total to gain the likelihood the ad will be competitive for placement and exposure. Since this ad will run for a specific time (to parallel my BookBub Feature Deal), I could get aggressive on my budget.

6.) I haven’t considered a Facebook Ad because I don’t know how effective they are in relation to real sales. AMS give you direct access to analytics on clicks and traffic compared to actual sales. If I’m going to spend money, I prefer Amazon where the most of my sales would come from and can be traced and translated into sales.

7.) What could I do to promo without cost? I had access as a contributing author to several fan groups under various Amazon Kindle Worlds. To the credit of the authors who created these groups, they generously allow their authors to promo other books, and we try to give exclusive giveaways back to their readers in return. So the groups that I had cultivated by writing for these Kindle Worlds, I have access to for a post and the reader fans are so much fun and generous with their support. That has value.

8.) I have my mailing list and had just updated my website to WordPress format. This allows me to update quickly and post when I need to. Updating came at a very good time. Even though it was time consuming to transfer content, it was well-worth the effort.

As of this post, I’ll still be prepping for the feature and up to my eyeballs in two releases – Valentine: Steel Heart (Available Now) and Fiona’s Salvation (Nov 7). This BookBub feature for The Last Victim is from Nov 5-12, so the overlap is stressful, but it can help with exposure. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Other Resources

I found these additional links that could be helpful. Here is a link to “Reasons Why Books are Rejected as BookBub Feature Deals.” I don’t normally like to focus on negatives, but there are good points made in this article that could help you succeed.

This link compares BookBub against two other promo sites: Book Gorilla & Fussy Librarian. The costs vary, but so does the exposure and the requirements may not fit your book or your goals.

For Discussion

1.) Has anyone had experience with BookBub? What worked and didn’t work for you? I’d love to hear your experiences.

2.) Besides BookBub, are there other ways to feature your discounted sales that you’ve found to be effective?

Valentine: Steel Heart (Novella 1 of 2)

Love made him vulnerable…once.

After a tragic killing on an Amtrak train, the Phoenix Agency use a mysterious covert operative, Braxton Valentine, as bait to lure a deadly cartel boss from hiding, but grief-stricken Valentine becomes their worst nightmare—a rogue operator with a death wish.

(Valentine: In the Cross Hairs – Book 2 of 2 coming Feb 2018)

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Publishing Trends to Watch in 2017

Jordan Dane

@JordanDane

Jordan Dane purchased image from Shutterstock

I’ve been involved in many “experiments” lately, like Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Kindle Worlds. I plan to get more familiar with Kindle Unlimited with my upcoming release in Feb – Mr. January. Retaining my copyrights and self-publishing this book, I can explore more marketing tools to see how effective I can be. So I thought I would list some of these things to watch in 2017 as I see them. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on trends you see as important in 2017 or marketing efforts you have had success with. Join in the discussion in your comments.

Publishing Trends to Watch in 2017

Marketing Power of Digital – Print books are expected to continue a comeback in 2017, but for anyone publishing fiction, e-books drive sales and are easier to promote since social media and reader websites offer more economical ways to promote. Digital is the gift that keeps giving in that each book is on a forever shelf. Any author can recreate interest in a back list novel by repackaging the work with a new cover or new content or bundling as part of a box set. (See more on this below in “Over-crowded Digital Book Shelves.”) It’s easier for an author or publisher to focus marketing efforts in the digital arena since it’s cost effective and the exposure can be much greater, but with all the e-book competition, marketing strategies will be more important in 2017.

Small Presses & Savvy Self-Publishers are Growing – The larger traditional publishers market shares are dropping each year. Over 50% of the market share is comprised of self-publishing authors, small boutique publishers, and Amazon imprints. The challenge comes when trying to navigate this new sea of 50-percenters. Simply discounting an ebook or offering it for free won’t cut it. That makes marketing and visibility more strategic in 2017. Amazon is offering their Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to smaller houses and indie authors. With sales stats to track the effectiveness of this AMS marketing tool, it is an easy way for authors to try it and see how it results in sales vs cost to promote.

Amazon Imprints Are Dominating – In 2016, 7 out of 10 Kindle bestsellers were from Amazon Imprints. Is there an advantage to selling a book to Amazon in 2017 when it comes to their sales ranking algorithms? I don’t know, but if anyone knows how to maximize visibility and preferential marketing spots on Amazon, it would be their own imprints, don’t you think? When traditional houses offer bare minimum of support to most mid-list authors, selling to Amazon feels like an author has a leg up on marketing and promotion when the buyer is an Amazon imprint. An Amazon imprint could give any author an edge in marketing strategy in 2017.

Kindle Unlimited Expanding – More readers in 2017 will be finding benefits to the Kindle Unlimited program and Amazon markets their program effectively. This growth trend will undoubtedly affect e-book sales and I’m sure Amazon will find more incentives for authors to try their program. I see this program expanding in 2017 to keep Amazon dominating.

Kindle KDP Select Enhancements Provide Better Outreach – If you are part of the Kindle KDP Select Program, where you publish only through Amazon for a given period of time, you are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited AND the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) and will earn different enhanced royalties as incentive. The KDP Select program also provides for better royalties globally (70%) in countries like Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico. Plus authors can expand their outreach through Kindle Unlimited in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, India, Japan, and Australia. (My reader fans have complained that Kindle Worlds books aren’t available for distribution yet into their countries, but until that happens, any books I have through KDP Select is available to many of my readers.)

Over-crowded Digital Book Shelves – New e-books have to compete with the over-crowded digital shelves of digital books in 2017 that never go out of inventory. The good news is that there is endless space for digital books forever. The bad news is that authors must compete with a growing mass of books competing for readership. Don’t forget your back list, authors. Redesign your covers, obtain new praise blurbs or write new book jacket copy, get new reviews, and spend marketing dollars toward generating new interest in your tried-and-true back list. The bigger your inventory for a reader to “discover,” the more visibility you can achieve and your promo dollars can go a longer way.

Audiobook Market Is Growing – I haven’t focused on this enough, but with indie authors able to use ACX to create an indie audio book, it’s worth a shot to make your own audio book in 2017 (if you haven’t sold your audio sub-rights). It’s always a good thing to make your book available in as many formats as you can – plus you get to retain your sub-rights in audio.

Marketing Strategy Will Be More Important Than Ever – This is a tough one for me and my biggest challenge. I try new things all the time to stay effective. I’ve seen good and track-able success in Amazon Marketing Services, but there are other marketing tools, such as BookBub, Freebooksy, and Bargain Booksy. In 2017, continue to expand your marketing strategies and evaluate what is working and drop what isn’t.

Facebook Ads Declining – I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. Their ads might not seem too costly, but unless you have a good metric to establish whether these ads are truly effective and result in actual sales, it doesn’t matter how much they cost. Some authors have used FB ads to increase their mailing lists, but for actual book sales, I haven’t seen anyone who can analyze this. With Amazon Marketing Services being a better option, with sales data tied to the promo, it is a much better option.

Try Expanding Your Foreign Sales in 2017 – Part of anyone’s sub-rights are foreign sales. If you have an agent, they could be marketing this for you “a la carte” or your publisher might have gotten your foreign rights when you sold to them. These foreign sub-rights have value and a potential for growth. And if you’re lucky enough to get your back list rights returned to you, try marketing to international markets. Many international buyers love American authors. If you’re an indie author on Amazon, you would notice the foreign markets they list when you set up your book, but there are other international markets. An agent or broker might be able to enhance your sales by tapping into this resource. Some may take English language “as is” or they may require language translation, but they pay an advance for the rights. It could be worth exploring in 2017 to expand beyond US and UK readers.

Authors Find Safety in Numbers – In 2017, expect to see more authors banding together in projects where marketing and promo can be shared. Co-writing books and creating box sets can generate buzz. Authors have always been generous with other authors and it warms my heart to see this, but it also makes good sense. The best part of the Amazon Kindle Worlds books comes from the cross promotion of all the launch authors banding their efforts together. We share our readerships with all the other authors, but get a lot in return. The concept of the Kindle Worlds launches and cross-promotions is a real benefit for all authors involved.

Discussion:
1.) What trends have you noticed that you’d like to share with your TKZ family?

2.) What marketing tools have you tried and had success with? Please share.

Mr. JanuaryMercer’s War Book 1 coming Feb 2017 in print and ebook

Zoey Meager risks her life to search for her best friend Kaity in a burning warehouse, only to cross paths in the inferno with Mr. January, a mysterious man with a large black dog, completely devoted to its shadowy master.

 

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Value of Listserves

I just learned this tip from one of my listserves: Bowker is running a 20% off discount in honor of family history month. The code is Family20 that you apply at checkout. I don’t know how long this discount lasts, so I jumped on it. It’s Sunday morning. I saved $59.00. While on site, I also saw you could buy 10 ISBNs and get a deal to purchase another 10 with it for 50% off the second batch.

This tip came from the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Romance loop that I belong to with my RWA membership. I’m not too active there now since I am working only on my Bad Hair Day mysteries at this time, but gems like this one make it worthwhile to keep my membership.

A post on the FRW (Florida Romance Writers) listserve is how I learned about TweetJukebox (http://www.tweetjukebox.com/ ). This site has saved me a considerable amount of time.

What is a listserve? (Note: The trademarked term is LISTSERV) It’s a group email list that you join, usually through yahoo groups. You can choose to receive individual emails or a Daily Digest. The latter allows you to scan the topics and jump to the ones that interest you by clicking on a link.

Much of what I’ve learned about self-publishing, promotion, and business of writing tips has come from the listserves where I belong. I mine them for jewels of information. When I see something relevant, even if it’s not info I need immediately, I copy and paste it into a file. Thus when I am ready to venture out—like into audio books through ACX—I have a complete file with tips and instructions I’ve gleaned from various listserves.

Some of these groups require you to be a member to join. Others are available to all writers. In my view, they might be time-consuming emails but they’re worth their weight in gold—or in this case, in dollars saved. It’s writers helping writers. or writers connecting with readers.

book club

So here are the listserves where I belong. I’ve included the link if it’s open to the public. DorothyL is the only one that is not a yahoo group.

Mystery
Cozy Armchair Group (Readers): cozyarmchairgroup@yahoogroups.com
Crime Scene Writer (Research Questions): crimescenewriter@yahoogroups.com
Dorothy L (Readers): Mystery Literature E-conference DOROTHYL@LISTSERV.KENT.EDU
International Thriller Writers (members only)
Murder Must Advertise (Writers on Marketing) MurderMustAdvertise@yahoogroups.com
Mystery Buffs (Writers & Readers) https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/mysterybuffs/info
Mystery Writers of America: (members only): EMWA, MWA-Breakout, MWA-Self-Publishing
Mystery Writers Promo (private group)
Sisters in Crime: (members only)
Sleuthmail: (Florida Chapter MWA members only)

Romance
Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal RWA chapter: (members only)
Florida Romance Writers: (members only)
Marketing for Romance Writers: MarketingForRomanceWriters@yahoogroups.com
Romance Writers of America: (members only) PAN, Tech, Industry, News
Southwest Florida Romance Writers: (members only)

Other
ELoop: Eloop@yahoogroups.com
Lifeboat Team: Private group – Booklover’s Bench writers
Novelists, Inc: (members only)
Self-Publish: selfpublish-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Publishers
Five Star: (FS authors only)
The Wild Rose Press: (WRP authors only)
The Wild Rose Press (readers) TheWildRosePress@yahoogroups.com

Do you have any other recommendations?

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Let’s Discuss the Latest on Self-Publishing Resources

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane




Just a short blog post today from me, but I could really use your help. I’m interested in hearing from those who have good resources for self-publishing regarding formatting and sales ops. Since we have a wealth of experienced followers on this blog, I’d like to hear your thoughts to broaden my horizons. Self-publishing is a HUGE topic, but I’d like our chat to be focused on the questions below.


Here are some of the things I’m interested in getting updated on:

Format Questions



1.) Do you have format service companies or individuals you would recommend?
I’d like to find a one-stop company or individual who formats for all the major sales outlets: Amazon, B&N, ITunes, Kobo. Please share your experiences.


2.) What format add-ons do you recommend (as far as website links or features) that have worked for you? (ie website links, mailing list signups, retailer sales links, etc.) In other words, what marketing tools do you add to your formats that you would recommend?


3.) Within your format of text, are there navigational aspects or enhancements (bells & whistles) you would recommend to add to your content? (ie chapter list with links to easily navigate within your book, audio enhancements, etc. Some of these might be costly, but I’d love to hear any new ideas.)


4.) Does anyone have a special format service provider for Lightning Source? I hear the LS set up is expensive and corrected proofs must be reloaded. This could be cumbersome, but I hear the quality is good and LS does hardcovers with different distribution outlets. It’s something I’d like more information on.

Sales Enhancements



5.) Regarding sales outlets, are there any new players worth considering?
If you have a site, please post it and comment as to why you would recommend it. I’m thinking the sites mentioned above encompass the majority of sales, but if you’ve found other sites worth considering, I’d love to hear about them.


6.) Has anyone added sales/purchase capability onto their website where a reader could buy from the author directly? I’ve seen this done via a secured PayPal app, but had concerns on sales tax and shipping. I wondered how this worked (for anyone who has experience).


7.) I know promotion is a big topic, but for the purposes of discussion and brevity, what one promotional activity or service provider do you use without fail and would recommend to anyone?

Editing & Cover Design



I haven’t mentioned editing, because again that is a must have for any author and the cost can have a wide range, depending on services needed from line edits to book doctoring. I also haven’t asked about book cover designers. I work with Croco Designs and love Frauke Spanuth. But feel free to mention any other self-publishing services you’ve found helpful.


I bow to your infinite wisdom, TKZers. Please share your thoughts.

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Author Lifeboat Teams

Nancy J. Cohen

An author lifeboat team is a band of authors who join together to cross-promote their work. I became aware of the concept when I got invited to join one. This particular group was made up of paranormal romance authors, and their rules included sharing each other’s posts on Facebook and being responsible for one post a week.

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I thought that obligation and the specific genre focus might be too restrictive for me, especially since I write in two genres. So while flattered to be asked, I politely declined. The idea brewed in my head, though, so when Terry Odell invited me to join her fledging group, I seriously considered and eventually said yes.

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Why did I like this team? While we were encouraged to support each other with retweets and shares, we weren’t committed to any particular schedule. And the group consisted of multi-published authors in various genres. This interesting mix could attract new readers, and that would benefit our primary goal of increasing our visibility and readership.

It’s been one year since I joined. What have we accomplished in that time? We’ve established our website, Booklover’s Bench.

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Besides each of us having an author page, we have added Behind the Scenes and Excerpt features. We run a monthly contest via Rafflecopter with a $25 Amazon or BN gift card as the main prize and e-books from each of us for runners-up winners.

In another effort to cross-promote, we’ve also started offering each other’s books as prizes for personal newsletter contests and sharing the resultant mailing list.

On Twitter, we’ve each created a List for our team members. It’s easy to access the list and retweet everyone’s posts that way.

In terms of results, my newsletter in Sept. 2012 went out to 4542 recipients. In Oct. 2013, I sent it to 5339 folks. That’s an increase of nearly 800 names. Some of these might have come from my own contests, but I’d say the majority of new entries are thanks to BB.

As one of the extra options on our Rafflecopter contests, we’ve put “Like my Facebook Page” as an added choice. My FB Likes have increased quite a bit as a result. So this is another benefit.

We’re also a sounding board for marketing ideas. I learned about doing a Facebook launch party from one of my team mates. If we have an aspect of the biz we need input on or just want someone to listen, we have each other. In the future, maybe we’ll expand and hire a virtual assistant. Our only requirement is to do what we can to support each other, to tweet about the contests, take over the $25 gift card contest prize once every couple of months, and support our efforts any other way we can. We split the cost of the website hosting and manage it ourselves.

Bench

Other ideas for future consideration are a subscribers-only tab on our website for free downloads of bonus materials or short e-reads, a blog hop, a street team, a Fan of the Month selection.

How do we communicate? We’ve held two Skype conference calls so far with a third one coming up to discuss our ideas and goals for next year. Otherwise, we have a private Facebook group page and a yahoo group listserve. Or we can send individual emails.

It’s hard to work alone, especially since most marketing efforts have moved online. Consider gathering together your own author lifeboat team. Again, it’s a group of authors who band together to support each other on social media with the goal of expanding their readership. How your team operates and what you do for each other is your choice. See what other groups do and borrow their ideas that appeal to you. We all learn from each other, and we must support each other, too. Just like we do on this group blog.

As Thanksgiving passes us by, thanks to each one of you for following us and for joining our discussions. We share a wealth of information about writing craft and marketing that contributes to our online community. We’re grateful for all our cyberspace friends.

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Social Media for Authors

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

We’ve blogged a lot about the need for authors to be savvy marketers, as well as great writers, and to use social media wisely and effectively to promote their books. At the Willamette Writers Conference I attended a few weeks ago this was evident in all the presentations provided on publishing and marketing ebooks. 

As someone who has only used social media sporadically in relation to my books, I was interested in how many of the presenters viewed the social media world as a fragmented one – with options such as Facebook and Twitter having, in their view, only limited reach and effectiveness in terms of actual marketing. I have certainly noticed a real uptick in the number of Facebook posts I receive that are little more than either blatant self promotion or thinly disguised marketing (To be honest I’m getting pretty sick of hearing what # on Amazon’s rankings certain author’s books are – does it mean I’m more likely to buy their book because I read a Facebook post on this – short answer, no). Most of the time it doesn’t bother me though – I’m always interested if it’s a post on a one-day sale or some special event/signing etc. – but I remain unconvinced that Facebook is a tool for actual marketing. In my mind it’s more of a tool to connect with people who have already opted to be your ‘friend’ (either on your author page or for you as an individual). I’m not sure it necessarily gains an author new readers.

After digesting what many of the presenters at the Willamette Writers conference said on the use of social media, I thought I’d get some feedback from the TKZ on their views. It will be interesting to get your take on the issues raised. So…here goes… 

  • When mapping out your own marketing plan (or author platform development) how do you view Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, or Tumblr etc. 
  • Do you adopt a different approach and have different expectations in terms of using these? 
  • Do you use all or only some of them? 
  • Are there any you just don’t bother with?
  • Do you replicate content across social media or do you produce discrete, original content/posts for each?

In short, how are you navigating the social media world when it comes to marketing and promoting your books?

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Do You Have Obsessive Promotion Disorder?

James Scott Bell
@jamesscottbell


This past week I began the launch of  BLIND JUSTICE, a legal thriller.  It first came out over a decade ago, and now by the magic of rights reversion and self-publishing, it’s available again in digital form and print.

So here we have a promotional post about a book launch. If you have a blog, it should obviously figure into your marketing plan. But don’t just make it about the sale. Have your post do “double duty” by offering something else of value.
Like talking about a malady that seems to be striking more and more writers each week: Obsession Promotion Disorder. There is a fine line that runs between healthy marketing and OPD. To be a well-balanced and productive writer, you’ve got to stay on the right side of that line. 
How can you tell if you have OPD?
1. You wake up in the morning and your first thought is about your rankings.
2. You’re constantly disappointed by your rankings.
3. You refresh your Amazon book page every hour.
4. You spend days playing Algorithm Ping Pong (that is, trying to game Amazon’s system with compulsive tinkering, checking, tinkering, checking).
5. You spend more time on social media than you do on your next book.
6. The time you do spend on social media is overweighted with “buy my book” messaging.
7. You believe there is one “golden key” that will make your book go viral, and you look for it constantly (the King Solomon’s Mines Syndrome, or KSMS).
8. You tune out of conversations with your loved ones, who ask you what you’re thinking, and to whom you reply, “Oh, nothing,” when all the time you know what you’re thinking about — promotion.
9. You believe that promotion can override weaknesses in your book (this is a sign of HOPD: Hyper-Obsessive Promotion Disorder).
10. You believe that promotion is the true secret of both instant and long-term success, so you pursue it with a passion that leaves no time for studying the actual craft of writing.
OPD needs to be treated, and it starts by understanding that the best, most thought out, most “gamed” promotional effort in the world only gets you an introduction.
We used to have this gal in L.A. named Angelyne. All of a sudden, all over town, there were huge billboards of this blonde minx in a come-hither pose. There was one word on the boards, Angelyne, and that was it.


Everybody was asking, Who is she? She has to be somebody, because, well, she has billboards!We were all waiting for the big reveal (ahem) of Angelyne and her talent.
Never happened, because Angelyne really didn’t do anything. She apparently had some backer (or a stash of her own money) to pay for the billboards. So what was the point of all the publicity? It got her attention, all right. But nothing ever came of an Angelyne career.
So, writer friends, you can push all the promotional buttons you want, but if the book doesn’t deliver the goods for a large swath of readers, it’s all for naught.
Your time would be better spent early in your career in an intensive, all-out effort to learn and practice your craft. Go to classes, read good books (see this starter page), head to a conference, write a quota of words every week and get feedback on those words via a critique partner or group or a good editorial service, like Writer’s Digest 2nd Draft.
When you finally get something published, spend no more than 20% of your time marketing. Maybe even less after the book is launched. Spend 80% or more of your thinking, training, planning and producing time on writing. (This 80/20 rule applies, BTW, whether you are self-published, traditionally published, or both).
Write this down and post it somewhere: The only sure way to “game” the system is to be a good, solid, dependable and consistent producer of new work.
Yes, of course you need to put a promotional plan in place. You should have a crisp, easy to navigate website which includes a place for email signups for your non-intrusive updates (they are non-intrusive, right?)

You should specialize in one or two social media platforms (and learn how to use them without being a boor). You should know your way around your Amazon author page. You should make an informed decision about using KDP Select or not (and, once the decision is made, quit obsessing about it). And so on.
But make it as much a “turn-key” operation as you can. Adjust it from time to time, but keep it largely on auto-pilot.
Then spend the vast majority of your time becoming and remaining a great writer. That is not a matter of slapping words down, getting a killer cover and then promoting like a madman. It’s a matter of writing with craft and purpose, over and over. It’s about learning how to please readers with the thing they actually spend money on: your books.
What about you? Have you ever showed any signs of OPD? 

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Multiple Book Releases

What happens when you have more than one book to promote at the same time? Do you annoy readers with announcements about the new releases, blog tours, and contests? Which book do you choose to emphasize in your online blasts?

In this digital age, we can publish as fast as we can write. But at what point are we diluting our own sales? And how will our digital releases affect our print books with their higher price point?

I’ve reached this quandary in April through no planning of my own. Wild Rose Press gave me April 26 as the official release date for Warrior Rogue, #2 in my paranormal Drift Lords series. But then they decided to enter it into the Kindle Select program, meaning the ebook came out in December and my five free days were in February. I did a big push over Valentine’s Day weekend with announcements and contests.

I’d planned another promotional campaign for April 26 to celebrate the print release and the book’s availability for Nook and other formats. I set my newsletter to go out on that date, a Rafflecopter contest to start then, and a blog tour shortly thereafter. (If you want to sign up for my newsletter, visit http://nancyjcohen.com and fill in the form on the left sidebar).

But the best laid plans go awry. Two things happened to impact my campaign. Warrior Rogue showed up in print about two weeks early. And Shear Murder, Bad Hair Day Mystery #10, came out in ebook for $3.19!

I’d been panting with anticipation for the digital release of Shear Murder, but Five Star wouldn’t give me a specific date. This title had only been available as an expensive hardcover for over a year. And finally it shows up in the same month as my promoted new release. What to do?

Since I’d already set up my contest and newsletter and blog tour for Warrior Rogue, I’m going ahead with those plans for April 26. That date seems like a moot point now, since the title is already available in various formats. The irony is that Warrior Rogue, initially $2.99, price jumped to $5.99. So now that ebook costs more than Shear Murder at $3.19.

I don’t want to bombard my fans with notices and confuse them with my two different genres, but I really want to get word out about Shear Murder. It’s easier to keep new releases apart when they aren’t the same month!

And hereafter, I won’t treat release dates as absolute. There’s no point in planning a big hoopla around a certain date when the book shows up weeks earlier. Is this a result of the digital age?

Those of you who are hybrid authors, both traditionally and indie published, can at least space out your own uploads so as not to compete with your publisher’s plans. But if you’re writing two or more books per year for different publishers, how do you alternate your online promotions? And as a reader, how much news from an author is too much?

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The role of the publicist

Today, my guest is Tom Robinson, an independent publicist (as opposed to an in-house publicist at a publisher) based out of Nashville, TN and representing such great authors as Tasha Alexander, CJ Lyons, Laura Caldwell, and JT Ellison. Tom and I not only share a great love of writers and the art of writing, but we share the same hometown: Pensacola, FL. When we’re not chatting about the state of the publishing industry, we’re comparing lists of favorite places to eat along the Gulf Coast. I asked Tom to cover the basic question of the role of a publicist, a question that continually comes up in the discussion of writing and publishing.

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By Tom Robinson
Independent Publicist

tom-robinsonSo what does the independent publicist do for an author?

It’s a question which gets asked up front when I talk with an author for the first time. It should always be the first question.

The objective is to promote the book (assuming I’m approached when the author has a new release on the horizon) and the author’s branding so that the name has recognition beyond the new book. Those are the important goals. I said “assuming” the author has a new release. I’m also seeing authors who want to continue publicity efforts while they are between books to stay in front of readers.

But let me get back to authors with a new book.

In a nutshell: from meeting with the author the publicist develops a plan to work from that will outline the use of press material, the engagement of blogs, interviews, reviews, social media, online advertising all geared to the author’s targeted audience. Social media has opened up the publicity avenues by leaps and bounds. It is an extremely successful messenger when used correctly.

The independent publicist is often extending the efforts of the publishing house. In-house publicists are usually juggling several titles. They are often understaffed and burning up long work weeks.

Beyond the plan implementation, it’s essential for the publicist to make follow up contact with targeted media outlets. That’s where so much effort is spent.

When the project is completed there should be a cross section of media coverage.

My job has seen incredible change since I first worked exclusively with authors seven years ago. I think it will continue to change, just as the publishing industry changes. But the goals will remain the same—promote the new book and the author brand.

Tom Robinson is an independent publicist for authors. Located in Nashville, TN. Robinson, a media veteran of more than three decades, works with authors of mysteries, suspense, and thrillers as well as authors of non-fiction and children’s books. He now also has his first cookbook author which is resulting in an expansion of his culinary attempts. You can find him at www.authorandbookmedia.com

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