A friend asked me about what promo I’ve done online, so I thought, yay, a blog topic!
These are only my observations. Other people are going to be better at different things and have entirely different experiences. Plus there are so many factors involved, like the size of your backlist, your comfort zone with things like Twitter and Facebook, whether you have print books involved, etc.
My number one rule: never spam anybody. That means:
- I never keep the e-mails from my giveaways. I’ve had a few people e-mail me and ask if I had a newsletter, and since I don’t, I promised to let them know when I had new releases. Otherwise, I don’t keep contacting people, never without their permission!
- I never bomb people on Facebook with “become my fan!” or “Join my group!” Honestly, I really don’t use Facebook much (other than connecting my blog to Twitter and Facebook). My oldest monster likes to play FarmTown sometimes, and both she and my husband “manage” the account for me. I’ve given them instructions to ignore causes, pages, fan groups, etc. Sometimes I do pop over to say hello to high school friends, and I do try to respond to people who comment on my status.
My second rule: only do things I enjoy. Big chats intimidate me, so I usually only participate when I know several or most of the participants. I participate on very few reader yahoo groups, mostly because I don’t know which ones to visit. I don’t like to come onto a new list and say “Hello, buy my books!” Argh, I hate that!
I love to write. I hate to sell myself. So if anything, I’m not as aggressive as I maybe should be, but I’d rather my work speak for itself.
At the heart of my promotion efforts (for both e-book and print) is this blog. I’ve been blogging in some form since 2004, although the early years were lost when I moved my domain off yahell. I’ve made some great internet friends through blogging, and I love keeping in touch with them. I do sometimes begin to run out of interesting things to blog about, but I try to be myself all the time, to be honest, and not make it all about “buy my books” because yeah, I already said I hate that, right?
I’m an amiable personality, so I avoid conflict, especially on my blog, so I don’t blog about politics or the latest blogwar. I have small children, so I try to protect them as much as possible online by never using their names or giving away key information. I’m probably the most easy-going person around, so I don’t rant. Gee, why are you people still reading? I’m starting to sound really boring.
But I do appreciate all of you who read my feed or take the time to comment. I do try to respond to commenters as often as possible, but I do get behind. *hangs head in shame* I always respond to e-mail. I always respond to mentions on Twitter unless TweetDeck just flips out and doesn’t notify me.
Using this blog as a foundation, the other things I have found success with:
- Giveaways. I love books and I choose to support my favorite authors like Larissa Ione and Lynn Viehl by giving their books away. Sure, I give away my own sometimes too. I’ve given away e-books and print, mine and others, and sometimes just gift certificates. I made a personal choice to always keep mailings open to the planet, and since I’ve made some great Twitter buddies in Germany and the Netherlands, I’m glad to always include overseas contestants! When the promo funds are running low and I can’t swing the postage costs, then a simple gift certificate to any online retailer is always a nice prize.
- Free reads. Lynn Viehl inspired me to give away short stories, and I’ve been doing it since 2007 or so. I use Scribd and also have pdf downloads on the Free Reads page (note to self: still need to get epub formatted). I have no idea how many have been downloaded over the years–I’ve had to reload some of the older ones on Scribd and my blog analytics aren’t the greatest –but from what I can tell, thousands of downloads have been made, which is stunning. I’ve also given freebies to Samhellion and All Romance E-Books. Talk about free promo–those stories are still there, didn’t cost me a dime, and I’m sure they’re continuing to help readers find me.
Those are the two biggest things. I happily do guest blogs and interviews when asked, but I don’t aggressively go out searching for them (I did say I hate selling myself, right??) I’ve met some incredible book people on Twitter, which I use more than Facebook.
I’ve purchased small ad spots on a few review sites and did get a few clicks, but there’s no way to tell how much those affect sales. It does help with name recognition, but personally, I’d rather give away a book or two than spend $20 for a tiny corner on a site already crammed with ads.
If money is tight, you can always give away an old story. Have one sitting on your harddrive that didn’t work out for an anthology? Run it through a quick edit pass, reformat it (I like to use larger font, 1 1/2 spacing), and let Word save it as pdf for you. Make sure you include a backlist page detailing all your current releases, your website link, and a brief bio. If you have the Photoshop skilz, create a cover for it — I think they do attract more notice on Scribd when the stories have attractive cover art. Alas, my Photoshop ability is laughable.
On Monday, I’ll blog about some of the things I’m doing for print promo, but I’m a newbie in this arena.
Do you have any online promo recommendations that have worked for you, or that you’d love to see authors do more of? Please let us know!