The pros and cons of book marketing — my own experience.
As a new author, the world of book marketing is a daunting experience!! Where does one start? Here are my tips for successful book marketing, but in my experience, this does not necessarily translate into sales. Somehow, I seem to have lost focus on what is important and that is the quality of my product — the book itself. However, book marketing is a necessary evil. So, here is my experience.
On completion of my first novel, Out Of The Dark (Book 1 of The Revenge Series), I felt confident enough to send my synopsis and transcript to agents using the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook (2015) in the United Kingdom (UK). I must have approached in excess of 50+ agents with a response rate of 20%. Actually, some replies were extremely encouraging, but there was always a "but." On reflection, the transcript was not ready even although it had been proofread many times by myself, friends and colleagues at work. I suppose what you need to weigh up is whether to pay for a professional proofreader and copy editor. I did receive an estimate for this — £1,500 (book length — 274 pages). With a zero marketing budget, this was clearly not an option. At this stage, I needed to rely on favours from work colleagues. However, to this day, I still find small mistakes!!
Tips: Proofread, copy edit for structural mistakes, professional service (?), Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.
After a year of editing the text, and no interest from an agent, I decided to self-publish on Amazon. Well... what a journey!! My book was already formatted to my own specification and once I created an account on Amazon Create Space (Print On Demand), I uploaded it with confidence. However, it needs to be formatted in a certain way. It returned with severe formatting issues. What I did find helpful was that Amazon Create Space provide book templates, which I painstakingly cut and paste into the new format, with a professional layout. I now cringe at the format that I sent to the agents!! I also had to use the book template to upload the ebook through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Section breaks are fine for this upload, but page breaks are not! It is a case of trial and error, but with my book marketing underway on Facebook, feedback highlighted the page break issue. You can edit your Kindle version anytime, but the stress of getting it right is a steep learning curve. You also decide on your book cover design, pricing strategies and distribution channels. Once published, Amazon links your ebook and print book together with the option for readers' to review the books (this is daunting, but so far so good!!) You can also provide information on yourself and your books on Author Central and connect and follow other authors.
Tips: Check format and layout, use Amazon book templates, check the upload thoroughly before publishing, create your own pricing strategies and connect to Author Central.
Once completed, I pondered over whether to go exclusive with Amazon or become and independant publisher to make my book available on different selling forums such as Nook/Barnes and Noble, ibooks and so on. Personally, I chose the former as I felt it was just too much to manage and also signed up for KDP Select. This allows you to take advantage of the 5-day book promotions every three months. I must admit, this has helped to generate interest, sales and create shares/likes on my Facebook page. I also underestimated the amount of time and effort it would take to manage all of my social media, so it is a relief for a book promotion to run without any effort whatsoever!
Tips: KDP Select is a viable option.
From the start, I was keen to get my website up and running. It is a gateway for readers to peruse the information and connect to my social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, G+ and blog. This I found exciting, and created my own website from a template provide by www.wix.com. I do not advertise any products, but this is an amazing service for a small fee (£7 per month to maintain). I also have my own domain name (www.marshallhughes.co.uk). I found that I could be very creative with the design and have uploaded all of my book pictures to add to the atmospheric nature of the website which portrays a strong brand identity related to my book theme. The website is best viewed on a computer/laptop. It is meant to be mobile friendly... BUT I will let you decide!!
Tips: Create an exciting website to provide information on books, characters, sample chapters, reviews, author information, Amazon/book link, Facebook link, Twitter link, blog link as well as music/book videos.
You Tube/Book Videos
To promote my book, I decided to make a video on You Tube. With a zero marketing budget, all this takes is time and a lot of patience. Again, I used all of my book pictures to create the video. (I have a lot of my own photographs, but also have permission to use some from my own local connections). Set up your own channel and create the videos via the video creator. If in doubt, Google how to use this. I think it is well worth the effort to learn. So far, this has been [relatively] successful in terms of views (300+ in the space of four months) I also have a short Book Teaser to promote it on Twitter.
Tips — be creative and design your own channel and book videos. Connect to local photographers for book pictures. I also used an amazing photograph by a local artist for the book cover for Out Of The Dark, so I never had to pay for this service AND it is more personal to your book.
I will post Part 2, shortly and tackle issues such as Facebook, Twitter, Predatory Advertising Services, Paid Advertisements, Reviews and Book Signing and don't forget the most important issue of all — the book itself.