This past Sunday I released “The Liberty Box,” the first in my second series, and my fourth novel overall. All four have been self-published. (If you’re curious to know why I went that route, check out my Authors of Passion podcast interview below — I go into it a good bit!)
Here’s what I’ve learned about doing a book launch.
- Facebook ads. So far this has been the #1 most effective marketing strategy for me. So much so that yesterday I took my ads down for “The Liberty Box” for a few HOURS and I immediately fell from being ranked in three categories (one of them in the top 100) to being completely unranked… and even after I put the ads back up, it took almost a full 24 hours to rank again (because the process is self-perpetuating). My ads are pretty simple graphics comparing my book to something well-known (in this case, “The Liberty Box” to “The Hunger Games,” and I’ll probably make another one comparing it to “Divergent”, and linking to the Amazon page). Worked great with my “Piercing the Veil” series, comparing “Intangible” to “Harry Potter” or “Percy Jackson”! Which leads me to…
- Make the first book free in a series. This piggybacks on the Facebook ads, since most of my ads have been advertising the fact that “Intangible” is free. If I can get people to read the first one, they often buy the second and third later. Lower the threshold so people will give you a chance. Also along those lines:
- Kindle Countdown Deals or Free Giveaways. I haven’t actually done a Kindle Countdown deal yet (where the price lowers and gradually raises back up to retail), but I’ll try that next week with “The Liberty Box.” The free giveaways have worked great though, mostly because Amazon promotes me during that period of time. I got thousands of downloads in a few days on “Intangible,” “Invincible,” and “Impossible”, and then when the deal is over, because of the way Amazon algorithms work, the momentum continues for awhile after that. So I’d usually get hundreds of buys shortly after the deal ended.
- Blog tours. I didn’t do this until “Impossible,” the third in my “Piercing the Veil” series, and I hired the amazing Caitlin Bauer of Royal Social Media to run it for me. She reached out to a number of book bloggers whom she already had connections with, as well as any bloggers who had already reviewed the first two books in my series. She coordinated the dates that they would post their reviews leading up to the release of “Impossible,” as well. It didn’t translate directly into a large number of downloads on release day, but it did give me a lot more publicity than I’d had with the other two. I emulated this myself with “The Liberty Box,” contacting reviewers who had participated in the previous release, though I didn’t coordinate it nearly so well. Still, the result was eight reviews on Amazon on release day, and eleven on Goodreads. Not bad. I also asked my reviewers to share about my book on social media sites — and most of them didn’t, but a few did! …In the future, if budget allows, I’ll probably hire someone else to run this for me again.
- Having an Amazon Author page. To my surprise, people who read my other books can follow me on Amazon, apparently! When I released “The Liberty Box,” I got an email from Amazon asking if I’d like to send a message to my followers announcing the release of my new book. Heck yes I did!! And it didn’t cost my any extra work.
- Sumome. This is a slick app that you can install on a WordPress site, which will allow you to collect email addresses for subscribers with a discreet popup box. I haven’t quite figured out how to optimize it yet, but it’s free! And it seems to be working better than its paid counterpart, Leadpages (more on this below).
- Tweeting regularly on Buffer. It seems my target audience is more active on Twitter than on Facebook, because I get way more organic followers on Twitter! Buffer is a new service I started using that will allow me to pre-program my tweets so I don’t have to constantly think about it. I have been remiss and my queue has been empty for awhile, so even then I guess it doesn’t always help.
- NetGalley. NetGalley is a service that anyone can subscribe to, either as an author, a publisher, or a reader. It allows readers to give advance reviews of books, and there are a lot of book bloggers on there. I put this last because I only did it for “Intangible” — it’s really expensive, and almost all of my negative reviews came from NetGalley readers. I think this is because the people who pick up the book aren’t necessarily the ones who are interested in your genre, so they might not be your target audience. Still, the (positive) readers I got from there carried over to all my other books.
What Doesn’t Work
- Creating a book trailer. It didn’t cost me a lot, but it’s done absolutely nothing for me.
- Paperback giveaways. I did this on Rafflecopter, and on Goodreads. It’s a whole lot of money, time, and effort, and most of the time the recipients don’t even leave a review.
- Kindle Unlimited Freebies. I HATE this new Amazon program… I noticed my purchases dropped off steeply as soon as they introduced it, and even though all three books of my trilogy are no longer offered through Kindle Unlimited, I’ve never recovered from the hit. I did put “The Liberty Box” on there just to get more eyes on it, even though I know it won’t translate into sales… I haven’t figured out how to get around this one.
- Posting on Facebook. Fortunately when I post on Buffer I can automatically cross-post on Twitter and Facebook at the same time… but posting on Facebook specifically used to take a lot of time for me. I used to get a lot more engagement than I do now… I don’t know if it’s because Facebook has changed their algorithms so that posts don’t show up on people’s newsfeeds as much, or what. But now almost nothing I post gets much engagement.
- LeadPages. This is an expensive service that probably works great for other types of businesses, or maybe it would work great for me if I knew how to use it better. It’s an email list-building service that allows you to capture email addresses, and gives you the ability to send them something free in exchange. The problem was, I couldn’t figure out what to give away, since I was already giving away my first book on Amazon! I made a LeadPage that offered the same thing. Not surprisingly, almost nobody bit. I got rid of it.
If you’re a self-published author and you’ve found other strategies that work (or that don’t), I’d love to hear about them!