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Promoting yourself and your book, what works and what doesn't?

Got a question/comment about the business of writing or about the publishing industry? Here's your place to post it!
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Misfit
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Promoting yourself and your book, what works and what doesn't?

Post by Misfit » Sat October 8th, 2011, 1:56 pm

I'm toying with an article for The Lit Asylumon promo do's and don'ts (did I spell that right?) and wondering if anyone would like to share what they've seen, and/or what has worked or not worked. How do you get your name out there and get the readers interested? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated and we might even quote you if you let us ;)
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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Divia
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Location: Always Cloudy, Central New York

Post by Divia » Sat October 8th, 2011, 2:06 pm

This reminds me I was suppose to contact your friend. Grrr. I forgot!

In other news...the one thing I hate the most is when I ask "Iwould like a book on the Civil War from a female perspective." and some author jumps in with "While not from a female perspective I wrote a book on the American Revolution."

THAT IS NOT WHAT I ASKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I did not ask for a book about the male perspective on the American Rev.

But Amazon has changed their forums now so you dont see much of that.
Last edited by Divia on Sat October 8th, 2011, 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat October 8th, 2011, 3:51 pm

I'm not spending much time or energy promoting my book. For one thing, the industry is changing so fast, I'm waiting until things settle out before I decide which way to jump. For another, mine is self-pubbed under a pen name, and when I shop it around the big six I prefer not to announce that-- altho the image of the unprepared, conceited, not-ready-for-prime-time vanity author is diluted by a number of big successes. And lastly, I'm busy writing. Promotion takes time, and if I'm going to put in the effort, I'd just as soon promote five books as one.

But the biggest reason is that reader feedback keeps helping me improve, and it costs me a pittance to change the text, so I keep changing it.

I will throw out my numbers for whatever help they may be: according to my files, as of now there are 1,847 copies of my book floating around out there.
342 I have hand-sold, as in ordered in hard-copy myself and sold directly to contacts. Of those, more than half were sold to readers who were buying an additional copy/copies for a friend or family member as part of my Christmas price promotion of $7 a book.

118 were sold through some online seller, likely Amazon, at $14 each, per my receipts from Lightning Source.

25 were produced on my printer on parchment, hand-bound in leather-look covers, and are circulating in the re-enactment community as something readable while in garb at faire. I sell those at around my cost, which is $20, not counting the time. No profit there, but these are probably the source of many sales of the other two formats.

62 were giveaways, either to friends or people who might review it.

the remaining 1,300 were audio format--1000 mp3s, 300 cd sets. That number was easy, as that was what I ordered and I am all out. Of the mp3s, I distributed about half free (they cost me less than a dollar, cover included) and sold the remainder to contacts/ through a local store for $2.99. The CD sets were also sold locally, usually to people who had already read the book and wanted it in that format for themselves or somebody else.

The experience has shown me who my reader is, and what she really loves. I'm a little fuzzier about what she hates, because different readers hate/love different aspects. But I'm always grateful for feedback.

I have discovered that about three times as many people will listen to an audiobook as will read a print book. At least from the email feedback I get. Once the book has been purchased/given, it is hard to know if they read/listened to it, so I have to go by feedback emails. Proportionately, I have more feedback emails for audio formats.

This is typical:
Hi,
I met you at
(name redacted)'s ren get together a few weeks ago. You gave me a copy of your book on CD. I had not had a chance to sit down and listen to it till last Thurs. I had to drive back from San Jose and it was the perfect opportunity to start it, 41/2 hours of driving gave me a enough time to really get into it and not put it down. It is sorta hard to walk around the house with the laptop up to your ear but I did it.

I can tell by your writing and back ground of the story you have great knowledge of issues regarding the Catholic church, Jews, and how they played out in Europe and Spain. Besides being a great story I felt like I was in one of my old college classes studying the History of the Church 101.

I am passing your CD on to my daughter, she will enjoy it. She is constantly writing, has finished a novel, has outlines of other novels.

Thanks you so much, it was truly enjoyable. I hope to see you around faire.

(name redacted)

There are no ebook copies available. It's going through a (hopefully final) revision first, and will not be released until readers can immediately order the sequels. I know I have at least a thousand sales of that when it is finished to my satisfaction, as long as I can get the word to people who liked the first round.

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Margaret
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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Post by Margaret » Sat October 8th, 2011, 6:07 pm

To get reviews from bloggers:


DO politely contact the blogger and ask if you can send a review copy.

DO make a point of looking for and following any instructions for authors that the blogger may have posted (this goes for approaching agents and publishers as well).

DO contact the blogger afterward with a "thank you" for the review, if your book is reviewed.

* * *

DON'T claim your book is something it's not.

DON'T insist your book should be the exception to the blogger's reviewing policies.

DON'T contact the reviewer if you don't like the review to berate the reviewer for not understanding your book or appreciating it as much as your family/friends/history professor did. If your obnoxious response is memorable enough, you will never get a review from the same reviewer for any other book you might write in future. If your memorably obnoxious response is public enough, other bloggers who see it may also decline to review your books. (If you must indicate your unhappiness with a review, use the code sentence, "Thank you for your very thoughtful review." Then stop there.)

DON'T send an unstamped return envelope with the book - few established book bloggers make enough money from their blogs to afford postage to return the large numbers of review books people send them. We blog for other reasons. Sending a return envelope with sufficient postage is less obnoxious - but some bloggers will be annoyed by the expectation that they haul the book to a post office and stand in line. Frankly, with some review books, I'd appreciate getting a stamped return envelope so I can immediately eliminate the book from my pile by returning it. But that's not going to get your book reviewed.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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donroc
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Location: Winter Haven, Florida
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Post by donroc » Sat October 8th, 2011, 7:39 pm

So many blogs, but which have the credibility to generate the most or any sales?
Image

Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6 ... annel_page

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SarahWoodbury
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Post by SarahWoodbury » Sat October 8th, 2011, 8:55 pm

I have no idea what works. In the 9 months since I've indie published, I've sold 20,000 books, so things have worked out okay, but which of the things I did that were 'right'? One thing I would say for sure is that joining communities online and participating as a member of the community, not as someone trying to sell a book, is the way to go. (kindleboards.com; IndieWritersUnite on FB)

G. Alvin Simons
Reader
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Joined: November 2009
Location: Florida

How About

Post by G. Alvin Simons » Sat October 8th, 2011, 9:32 pm

the people who have offered their books at very low prices on Kindle? I understand that several of them have been very successful in getting their names & books noticed.

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sat October 8th, 2011, 10:00 pm

Thanks everyone and keep them coming. I've been out book shopping so I'll head back here later to read fully (Margaret, I just love your comments).
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2440
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Post by Margaret » Sat October 8th, 2011, 10:47 pm

So many blogs, but which have the credibility to generate the most or any sales?
I don't think blogs generate sales in a direct cause-and-effect way. What they do is generate buzz, and the buzz generates sales. When people buy books from Amazon.com or Powell's via my site, the vast majority of the books they buy are not ones that I reviewed. It does happen though, and I notice the mixed reviews actually seem to generate more sales than the rave reviews. Another reason not to get upset about a review that isn't 100% positive - readers are often quite good at sussing out reviews and deciding whether they'd enjoy the book despite the reviewer's negative comments (or vice-versa).

I'm inclined to think that most book blogs have credibility with some readers, even if it's only the blogger's family and friends. What you want is a blog that has more rather than fewer followers - something you can often gauge by the number of comments on the posts. (Mine doesn't have comments enabled. I'm currently getting about 30,000 visitors a month to the website as a whole and about 50 visitors a day to the blog, on average. I wish I had a way to tally up how many unique visitors a month to the blog, but I don't.) The other thing you want in a blog is a focus on books like your own. To be ridiculously obvious, a chick-lit blog with a gigantic following would be of little use in marketing a a sensitive literary novel exploring old-age issues - much better would a literary blog with even a small number of loyal followers in the senior-citizen age-group.

I would recommend exploring a wide variety of blogs so you can narrow your target group down to the bloggers who seem most likely to be interested in the kind of novel you write. Subscribing to the blogs that most appeal to you can't hurt and will help you develop a sense of a particular blogger's review style.
(Margaret, I just love your comments)
Thanks, Misfit. You gave me a great opportunity to air out some pet peeves. I should add that the majority of authors who would never even think of committing any of the "don't's" should give themselves a pat on the back. You are more gracious and potentially successful people than you probably realize!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Thu February 9th, 2012, 6:13 am

[quote=""Margaret""]It does happen though, and I notice the mixed reviews actually seem to generate more sales than the rave reviews. Another reason not to get upset about a review that isn't 100% positive - readers are often quite good at sussing out reviews and deciding whether they'd enjoy the book despite the reviewer's negative comments (or vice-versa).
[/quote]

Yes. I personally tend to read the lower star reviews first, and only look at the five star reviews to confirm my impression. How many books are really and truly what the 5 star rave reviews say they are?

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