Will tweeting and a Facebook ad increase your book sales? Should you lower the price or offer it as a freebie to attract more readers?
I’m happy to have indie YA author Jillian Dodd with us! Carrie and I met Jillian through a workshop last year. The phenomenal sales of her books, THAT BOY and THAT WEDDING, have rocketed her to Amazon’s Best Seller’s list. She’s here today to share her insights on marketing strategies.
Self-publishing is hot right now. If you’re like me and have either self-published or are considering it, you’re probably reading all sorts of advice about how to be successful. I can honestly say that in all the success stories I have read, no two are alike.
So how will I make it? How will people find out about my book? I really believe you have to find the answer to that from within yourself. The reason so many authors have different paths to success is because we are all individuals. Some of us are great at marketing. Some of us don’t have a clue.
Here are some things that I feel are important to your path for success.
There are the basics. You will write a book that gives readers an enjoyable experience. With an eye-catching cover and proper formatting for e-readers, your book should be free of grammar errors and strategically priced. You will make sure it your book is properly categorized on Amazon, giving it the best chance of ranking in a top 100 category.
If you are like me, you will do all that stuff then sit and wait. And wait. And wait for someone to buy your book.
You start to get impatient, so you offer or consider offering your book for free thinking that you just want someone to read it. You will tweet about it, bug your friends with Facebook notifications, sell 30 books in four months, and just want to give up.
At least that’s what I did.
But then I started treating the marketing of my book as a business. I started taking the emotion out of the business side of it. I knew I needed visibility. I knew I needed an Internet presence, and I knew that I wasn’t going to succeed selling 30 books in four months. I looked at my personal strengths and developed a marketing plan to use them, and I completely stopped talking about my books.
I’m serious. I didn’t talk about my book unless someone asked me.
My strengths: I’m easy to talk to and get super, genuinely excited when someone I don’t know talks to me. I love to read. I have a design background.
My goals: Create a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Try to connect with readers who are my target market. Make my name a brand.
What I did: It’s funny when I tell people what I did because usually people tell me I did it wrong. I didn’t do it wrong. I did what I was comfortable with.
I played to my strengths.
Anywhere you go on the Internet to find a Jillian Dodd profile, they all look almost identical. Same picture of me. Same colors. Same plaid background. Everything is very bright, very pink, match my first book, and is very much me.
Start creating your own brand. Make a logo. Be sure to make it easy for people to find you. Use your author name everywhere. Remember, hopefully you will write more books. Don’t build a brand on the name of your first book, or you will have to rebuild everything for a second.
Another big part of building my brand was and still is my blog. I have so much fun doing my blog. Yeah, I said it. I enjoy blogging. I started out blogging four days a week. It was hell. I was writing the next book and blogging four days a week as well as keeping up with other social media.
I worked and still work mostly twelve hours or more a day. But I was building momentum. Instead of talking about my book on social media, I was talking about blog posts. I was offering people something entertaining. When they came to my blog, they immediately saw advertisements for my books. When they click on the ads, they’re taken straight to the Amazon purchase links.
In addition to building a Twitter and blog following, I got active on Goodreads. I made an author profile, linked my blog, reviewed many of the books I love to read and started making and adding friends. I also did a highly targeted Goodreads ad.
The combination of my blog, Twitter, and Goodreads allowed me to sell 300 books the following month.
This was huge for me because it was the critical mass that helped the Amazon machine work in my favor. I started getting recommendations as other people bought my book. People saw my book on my blog, on Goodreads, and then Amazon began recommending them. The following month, sales tripled, and I broke into the Top 100 charts for my genre.
Sales continued to go up from there. I should mention that during this time, my ebook, THAT BOY, was priced at $9.99. I’ve never done a free day. Never played around with my prices. I did lower THAT BOY to $7.99 when the sequel, THAT WEDDING came out (at $9.99) this past February.
Some social media rules I follow:
* If someone tweets me, messages me, comments on my Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, etc, guess what?? I REPLY! If someone is going to take the time to read my book, then take the time to tell me, comment etc, they deserve a reply. (You would not believe the number of people who tell me that many authors don’t do this!!!)
* Every day I do shoutouts to new Twitter followers. I also thank everyone that has retweeted me or commented on my blog. This is something I have done from the beginning and continue to do. I even go as far as personalizing them to some extent.
* If someone does something nice for me on social media, I try to do something nice back. I’m extremely grateful for the few blogs that were kind enough to review my book when a lot of them wouldn’t. I try to promote them in return. I give them prizes. If I happen to see a review on Goodreads where someone has reviewed it on their blog, I message them and offer them free copies to giveaway to their readers.
* The addition of Pinterest to my social media profiles has been a great thing for my blog and my book. I adore the visual aspects of Pinterest. I consider the combination of Pinterest, my blog, and Twitter, my social media trifecta. The three play off each other.
The moral of the story: Be yourself on social media. Be polite. Have a marketing plan for your work. And of course, keep writing the next book!
The sales: I’m never sure if I should share sales numbers or not, but since Jennifer asked me to write this post and thought people might like to know, I decided to share them. It’s my hope that they give you hope that you can make a living at writing. I’m also amazed at the power of Amazon’s magic algorithms. I am on B&N, iTunes and soon, on Kobo, but I sell 30:1 on average from Amazon compared to all other platforms.
I was fortunate enough to have a book chosen for last month’s Amazon 100 books under $3.99. I know that all the marketing in the world on my part could not compete with Amazon’s recommendation of my book during this past month. Today, I learned that the sequel THAT WEDDING was being promoted in Amazon Internet ads.
I’m sure their goal is to sell the sequel to some of those almost 10,000 people that bought the first book last month. I hope that proves to be the case.
So here are my sales figures. They include all platforms.
- May 2011- August 2011 – 56 sold
- September 2011 – 352 sold– Started to get added to the other boughts on Amazon
- October 2011 – 1196 sold — Hit top 100 in my genre on Amazon
- November 2011 – 1447 sold — Did promo over Thanksgiving weekend, lowered price to $4.99, but needed to sell double to make it worth it. I did 75% of that, so I raised price back to $9.99
- December 2011 – 1767 sold
- January 2012 – 1716 sold — Lowered price to $7.99 getting ready to release sequel.
- February 2012 – 3017 sold — Sequel THAT WEDDING released on February 17th and climbed to #4 on hot new releases. It has remained in the top #100 for genre since release.
- March 2012 – 3195 sold
- April 2012 – 2621 sold — I donate a portion of my proceeds to charity. At this point, I was able to donate just over $10,000.
- May 2012 – 1970 sold
- June 2012 – 13,361 sold –THAT BOY (first book in series) was part of Amazon’s 100 books under $3.99 promo. It was marked down to $2.99 and sold 9620 copies and hit #156 overall.
I’m open to questions, so please ask!
Are you more likely to buy a book from an author you interact with on Facebook and Twitter? Do you use social media to promote your books? What other methods have you used to market your books?
Join us on Wednesday, July 11th when agent Sara Megibow presents: Interpreting the Rejection Letter
Here’s a blurb for Jillian’s first book THAT BOY.
There’s Danny. Danny is a golden boy in every way. He has dreamy blue eyes and blonde hair that always looks perfect, even when it’s windblown or been stuck under a football helmet. He’s the boy every girl crushes on. The boy I get into trouble with, the boy I fight with, the hot quarterback no girl can resist, not even me. Being with Danny is like being on an adventure. He has a bright, contagious smile and abs to die for. He’s pretty much irresistible.
Equally crush worthy is Phillip. Adorable, sweet Phillip, who I have known since birth. Phillip has dark hair, a perfect smile, brown eyes, and the sexiest voice I have ever heard. He’s the boy I talk to every night before I go to sleep. The boy who rescues me, the boy who can read my mind, the boy who is always there for me, the boy who tries to keep me out of trouble, the boy who irritatingly keeps getting hotter, and whose strong arms always seem to find their way around me. And when he gives me that grin, I can never say no.
One boy will give me my very first kiss.
One boy will teach me to make out.
One boy will take me to prom.
And finally, one boy will ask me to marry him.
They will both be my best friends.
But only one of them will be the boy I fall in love with.
Only one of them is That Boy.
Bio: Jillian Dodd grew up in Nebraska, where she developed a love for storytelling, Husker football, and Midwestern boys. She currently resides in Texas with her family. She is the author of THAT BOY and THAT WEDDING. This summer she will introduce a new series called THE KEATYN CHRONICLES. Contact Jillian via her website, blog, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
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