It’s so exciting to finish a full-length novel. What an accomplishment, right? Something not many in the general population have done. You deserve a huge pat on the back. But, as impressive as that is, it’s not even half the battle when it comes to publishing. Whether you go traditional or indie, the hardest part is selling that book.
If you choose the traditional route, there are many obstacles in your way. First, you have to score a literary agent, then there are all the editors and committees that agent has to appeal to. Once you land that contract, you hope and pray the publisher will spend time and money marketing your book, but for the most part, that’s out of your control.
But what if you’re indie? To those who self-publish, the gatekeepers are no longer an obstacle. So what is? Well, ignorance, if you’re a rookie, advertising, if you’re not independently wealthy, and time, if you have a day job.
I’ve learned this the hard way. Although my debut novel was traditionally published, I did so with a very small press, and like many start-ups, they struggled to find the money and expertise to market their books until they finally closed to submissions. So where did that leave me? Well, pretty much out in the cold, confused and frustrated. I had none of the perks of being either traditionally published (marketing) or self-published (control), and now have to find a way to get my book in front of potential readers.
With the explosion of ebooks, prices have become highly competitive. Readers have become used to paying very little. At $3.99, my debut romantic thriller, The Mistaken, is pushing the outer boundaries of what many readers will pay, which is why so many indies price their books at 99¢ for extended periods of time, just to get noticed. I don’t really have this ability since my publisher controls that, but I did ask them if they’d reduce the price for a week so I could hold a sale and spend some hard-earned pennies on advertising.
The question then was, where—what venue has the most bang for the buck? There are quite a few resources, both free and paid, where authors can list their titles. Some sites promote those titles on their websites, while others send out email blasts to their subscribers with links to books on sale in the genres they read most. I’ve tried many of these. Some are exceptionally effective while others seem to have little to no effect whatsoever.
I’ve listed some below, but the one I prefer and know from experience has the greatest impact is BookBub. Their genre subscriber list are huge, and they charge accordingly, depending on the size of the list you want to access. They only accept about 20% of applicants, and it’s very expensive, but it works. My book, reduced to 99¢, made into the Top 100 ebooks on all of Amazon, and the climb back up was slow, so I think it was worth it, but there was a lot of strategizing beforehand.
I ran my ad at the tail end of my 7-day sale, so, by the time the blast hit subscriber’s email boxes, my ranking was already pretty low, which made it even more attractive to potential readers. Plus, I still had a lot of traffic a day after it went back to full retail. It was so visible at that point, BookGorilla, who usually charges $50, ran an ad for free. The days leading up to BookBub, I used a few less expensive sites, eReaderNewsToday, The Kindle Book Review and Kindle Books and Tips, to promote and get my ranking low in preparation for the email blast. Since then, I’ve used Read Cheaply, The Fussy Librarian, and eBookSoda to keep my title out there a bit longer. Some work, some don’t. You just have to try it and see.
Here’s a list of a bunch of other sites. Some I’ve used, some I haven’t, but they’re worth checking out.