For the past few months I’ve been trying just about everything to get people to read and comment on my indie non-fiction. I’m giving it away for free on my website. I sent out massive email campaigns to related bloggers, basically begging them to take a look at get the free copy. Response has been good – but limited. As of right now I’ve got only a handful of amazon comments and the book is ranked well over the 1,000,000 mark on amazon. But I’m still optimistic, even excited, because I’m learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t, and I have a plan. Since the things I’m doing and am going to do to promote and market my book will be helpful to other authors looking to establish themselves, I thought I’d share them.
1) Get reviews. Offering a PDF/review copy doesn’t work that well; you’ll get ignored 9 times out of 10, and that one may never come through with the review. What I’m doing differently: find who you’d like to review your book, find their address, and send them a copy. This will only work if you’ve already paid for an excellent cover design, formatting and proofreading (the book has to look like it hasn’t been self-published – as in high quality and flawless). Chances are when they’ve got it in their hands, they’ll begin to read it, and afterwards will probably review it. Look for online book clubs or groups with a PR3 or more. Mail them a copy. Yes it’s expensive.
2) Kindle! The nice thing about kindle is, once you’ve linked your kindle and amazon page (assuming you have kindle and POD set up), the comments will be linked. My book is 19.95 but the kindle I’ll price between 2.99 and 4.99. Or cheaper. That way loads of people can make an impulse buy and leave a comment, which will appear on the book page. You need lots of comments before the book will start selling on its own. I’ve heard putting an add on kindledaily.com and related sites can drive kindle sales, but again you need a lot of reviews first or the traffic will go to waste.
3) Blog ads + launch. I tried having a book launch. I tried a twitter campaign, giveaways, contests… almost nothing. But I have a better plan now: a lot of those PR 4/5/6 related subject blogs that I’ve been emailing, begging them for a review, offer advertising on their site (or through the blogads.com) for between $30~$100. Ads are a much better idea, because people can see them no matter what article they’re reading (which means you’ll get seen by people who aren’t looking for what you’ve got. That’s good.) The trick is to do all your blog ads at the same time. Don’t do 3 for a month. Do 10 for a week. Choose a week and be EVERYWHERE. Do it hard. They need to bump into you 7 times or so before they take notice and say “damn, that book is all over the place this week. I’d better check it out.” Don’t advertise before your amazon page is already loaded with comments though (which you got by sending out review copies). Otherwise they won’t convert to buyers.
4) Choose a peak time. I’m pretty lucky – my book is about religious symbolism in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part II movie comes out this July. This means tons of people will be searching for things like “Harry Potter” “Deathly Hallows”, etc, in the prior weeks. So rather than pushing hard right now – when nobody is really looking, I’ll maximize my ads by running the campaign just before the movie comes out. I can use blogads.com to get on some premium sites (like mugglenet.com), which will be super busy as fans get excited about the movie. Pretty smart, huh?
Use this to your advantage. Find a link between your book and an event. Make it a story. Put it on blogs that will have the kind of readers you want, at the time they will be there.
The finances. Let’s say for example, I spend $500 on sending out books, and $500 on ads (that’s a lot of money, I know – it’s risky). I’m hoping I can get 1000 sales/kindle downloads during my big push, which will give me back roughly $3000 – and boost my amazon sales rank a bunch. But even if you don’t make your money back immediately, it will be hard to beat that kind of exposure. What do you think, have you had experience using blogads.com or similar sites to advertise your book?