Sunday, June 9, 2013

Promotions, Promotions, Promotions

Lately, I’ve been reading and writing a lot about book promotions.  Most lines of evidence lead me to two conclusions: more books = more exposure; and free promotions = more exposure.

Several weeks ago I did a particularly disastrous promotion for my new eBook, The Mummies of Blogspace9.  I could barely give away a few hundred copies, and I wasn’t sure why.  Now I think I know why.

There appears to be a giant correlation between the number of good reviews and the number of people who will read your book.  And it makes sense when you think about it.  There have never been more books out there, and there have never been more free books out there.  

I download free books regularly, as well as books I buy.  But like most people, I have no interest in cluttering up my life or Kindle with titles I don’t intend to read.  So I'm choosy.  I don’t care whether I’m paying for the books or not - I have a limited amount of time to read, so I’m going to be looking for a great cover, a great blurb, and some great reviews.

And perhaps because of the relationship between reviews and readers, most of the free book sites won’t even touch your listing unless you have 18-20 great reviews.  And I didn’t yet have that for The Mummies of Blogspace9 (which in fact, you can help remedy by reading and reviewing this fine tome).

But I did have 18 great reviews for my first novel - Grave Passage.

Grave Passage explores crime on the high seas, and introduces a valiant and original protagonist. Henry Grave is an investigator for the Association of Cruising Vessel Operators. A former P.O.W., Henry is as cunning as he is charming, and at 84 years of age, he fits right in with his fellow passengers.

When retired FBI profiler Robert Samson is murdered onboard the cruise liner Contessa Voyager, Henry Grave is sent to investigate. Samson was giving a series of lectures on cold case crimes he felt he could crack. But he got cracked first. Henry has just five days before Voyager reaches Miami. There, the FBI will question the passengers, but the case will have grown cold and the killer will walk free unless Henry can find him first. With the help of a television actress, a cosmonaut, and a Venezuelan general fighting extradition, Henry draws on skills honed in a Nazi prison camp to track down a couple of passengers who might have their own reasons for taking this particular cruise, reasons unrelated to the sumptuous meals, delightful shipboard activities, and exciting ports of call.

12 million people take a cruise each year.
Most have fun.
Some die.
Henry Grave investigates.

So I decided to try another giveaway.  I started planning two weeks in advance, and I planted listings on twenty-six free book sites and five Facebook sites.  I didn’t pay a dime.  My promo would run from June 7-9, offering a free download.

And I know what you’re thinking - it’s hard to make money when you’ve giving something away for free.  Initially I hoped I would make up for that in volume, but I can see now that this was just folly.  On the other hand, I have six titles on Kindle, eleven total on Amazon, and I have sold more copies for actual money in the last two days than I have in the last month.

I’m writing this on the morning of June 8, nearly a day and a half into my promo, and so far, I’ve given away over 9,000 copies of Grave Passage.

If even some of those lucky readers leave a review, and maybe pick up one of my other titles, I’ll figure this has been a great success.  And even if they don’t, it has nonetheless been an interesting learning experience.


Charles Gramlich said...

I seem to have sold modest numbers of my titles that I've made free at one point, and have definitely gotten a few reviews. I don't have 18 reviews on anything, though, sad to say. 15 is the best I've done so far, and that was on a free giveaway.

William Doonan said...

I hear you, Charles. I think we're still in the infancy of the review culture. Most readers don't even think about leaving one.

Patricia Gligor said...

I don't want to clutter up my bookshelves or Kindle with books that I'm not planning to read either. So, like you, I'm selective.
You talked about the fact that having a large number of "good" reviews helps to sell books. Today on my blog, I'm talking about "Book Bashers" and the negative effect their reviews can have. Hope you'll stop by. :)

William Doonan said...

I hear you, Patricia. I'll be over at your site.

And if anyone is interested, here's the link I used to find free promo sites -

Lesley Diehl said...

I have many friends who have read and liked my books, but they refuse to write reviews for Amazon. They feel it's "tacky". Many view my writing books to sell them as too commercial, not real literature. I can live with being commercial instead of artistic-just write the durn review!

Thanks for the link, Bill. Now can I get my free ticket to ride? I prefer the merry-go-round cuz I'm a wimp.

marja said...

I've already got your book, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. Sorry.

And thank you for the link. I'll check it out.

Marja McGraw

jrlindermuth said...

Good point about the reviews, Bill. I have an early title currently on sale at 99 cents and have been thinking about doing a freebie before hiking the price. Unfortunately, the number of current reviews is low, low, low.

Jewel Amethyst said...

William is there a possibility that the title of the book is making the difference in sales? The name "Grave Passage" sounds a lot less Sci-Fi-tech-nerdy than "Mummies of Blogspace 9".

William Doonan said...

I hear you, Jewel. I think it's a genre thing too -- there are a lot more people interested in mysteries than in genre-bending sci-fi, horror, humor.

John, it might still be worth doing a promo - freebies often equal reviews!

Liane Spicer said...

I downloaded Grave Passage. I read it. I loved it--as I suspected I would. The humour gets me every time! I also left you your 23rd review. :D