Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book Promotion: What Works for Me and What Doesn't

Like many of my fellow authors, I’m on an eternal quest for promotional ideas—preferably ones that generate sales. For the first book in my Hazel Rose Book Group series I had a hit-or-miss approach, but I’ve been much more pro-active with #2 in the series. Here’s my assessment of my activity and findings:

In February, I appeared on Virginia This Morning. I was beyond nervous and recount the experience on my blog. But my sales soared that day and I got an invitation to visit a book group.

I used an e-mail service called Ereader News Today (ENT) and also had a huge boost in sales. I’ll be going that route again. My publisher wanted me to use BookBub but I balked at forking over close to $1,000 (ENT is $50).

I’ve joined four tweet groups on Facebook. My Australian friend Christina Larmer invited me to the first one, which is “secret.” All I can say is that it’s for cozy authors.

Next I tried T4US, a group that anyone can join. It has many members and they tweet everything from books to skin care to jewelry.

A member of the aforementioned secret cozy group sponsored me for Authors Social Media Support Group (ASMSG). This is a multi-function group with a newsletter, several tweet groups, forums, etc. I haven’t tapped into ten percent of what ASMSG has to offer, but I share tweets with the group daily.

My most recent tweet group is part of the Mystery Authors International Facebook group. I've been a member for less than a week but already love the enthusiasm and support. We can all use a hefty dose of that. 

There are lots of tweet groups and you can find the right one for you. It’s a great way to get retweets. Everyone who posts on a given day is expected to retweet all the other posts for that day. 

I’ve created what amounts to a portfolio of memes to accompany my tweets. This is the fun part for me. Here's an example:

What else? I’ve been interviewed for radio and podcasts. As for blogs, I continue to post here on NovelSpaces, on my own blog at, and on Lethal Ladies Write. Aside from the requisite Facebook and Tweet accounts, YouTube, Instagram, Google Plus, and LinkedIn complete my platform. I have all but abandoned Pinterest.
But how does all of this activity impact sales? Aside from the obvious sales boosts from my TV appearance and ENT promo, it’s hard to measure, especially when I’m using several promotional tools on any given day. But it all helps. Before joining these tweet groups, I’d been a half-hearted tweeter, always feeling like I was shooting at a moving target. But some of these tweeters have thousands and thousands of followers—so with that many retweets hurling around in cyberspace, someone must be taking notice. 

As for Facebook groups, there are hundreds of them and I belong to many—but, aside from a few, I’m not sure if my posts make any impact. And these days I feel much the same about my Facebook author page.

Here’s an idea I haven’t tried yet. Amy Vansant has a service called Authors Cross Promotion and one of the options is a Series Spotlight Newsletter Feature. Here is more info. If anyone has used Amy’s services, please share your experience. 

Of course, engagement is key on social media, not promotion per se. But my purpose in writing this post is to consider promotional tools. And the best tool of all: my next book. I hear that time and again from seasoned authors. So excuse me while I get back to writing mine!

Please weigh in with your thoughts and suggestions. What works for you? What doesn’t?       


Marilyn Levinson said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with tweet groups, etc. We talked about a few of the groups. The one I contacted never responded so I didn't pursue it.

Recently I took part in a Facebook party and enjoyed communicating with cozy readers. I also post on Facebook groups. I often hand out bookmarks that feature my books to people I meet— in a doctor's office, over lunch with a group on a bus trip. Honestly, I've no idea what sells books, but I think the more we get out name and our titles out there, the more sales we'll have.

Sheila Lowe said...

Regarding your comment about BookBub costing $1000, that's only if you post your book for .99. If you offer it free, the cost is $512. When I did that with my standalone, WHAT SHE SAW, I had over 100,000 downloads, which led to sales of my back list and a royalty payment of $6000, certainly worth the $500 investment. For writers who don't yet have a back list, it's not going to pay off as well, but the benefit is, it gets people downloading your book and if they like it, coming back for more.

I've done three BookBub ads now, and the results have been really excellent. It's the only way I know of to get one's name in front of 3 million people, far more than any the other such services. Promotion is certainly the hardest part of writing!

Best of luck with all your endeavors!

Pamela Beason, Author said...

Thanks for the post, Maggie. I've tried so many promotions I can't remember them all, but I have to say that the only things that I KNOW worked for me have been temporary BookBub giveaways of the first books in a series. I enjoy meeting readers in person and sometimes chatting online, but I have to honestly say that I've never noticed much of a bump in sales from those experiences, so I focus mostly on online marketing. I'm currently determined to master Amazon ads.

Maggie King said...

Marilyn and Sheila, thanks for your comments. It's absolutely all about getting our name in lights! I know BookBub is the premiere promotion service and you're right that a backlist would yield the best results. And pretty impressive results, Sheila.

Maggie King said...

Pamela, I haven't tackled Amazon ads yet. Let me know how they work out for you. I didn't include Facebook ads in my post, but I wasn't impressed with the results. Maybe I didn't spend enough money or do it long enough?

Joyce Ann Brown said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, Maggie. Promotion takes so much of my time that my writing time has suffered. Another platform to use is The Fussy Librarian. I've had some success from there, and it's very inexpensive.

Patrick Tylee said...


Thanks for sharing your experiences, and the image of the meme. I've used those myself, though Facebook can be a bit testy when including too many words on an ad 'image'. However, I've been told that the <20% text rule doesn't apply to videos. So, I post 5-second videos of the book cover or meme creeping across the page.

Regarding the performance of Twitter, I am so dissatisfied with that platform. I've just never been able to build a decent organic following, and what I do see is a jillion small businesses (like authors) all vying for each other's dollar. When I visit a 'successful' author's Twitter page, and scroll down through their feed, I don't see any real fan interaction, just the author's constant BUY MY BOOK tweets. Unless our posts are being seen by potential readers in our genre, then we're wasting time and creative energy. I get the most out of Twitter when I post about my dog's new chewy. Fifteen authors like it or comment about their dog.

During a recent Kindle Scout Campaign, I posted on Twitter daily, along with many other sites to drum up votes. The KSP dashboard gives the author terrific access to results and activity reports. In the end, my campaign page had over 1200 views (better than average but not huge) and exactly ONE came from a Twitter link. One out of 1200. Compared to Reddit, which brought a dozen views. The best performance was from direct replies to email from me to my base, and second place was from outlinks from Facebook ads.

I understand that it's all about rising above the noise. If we do what everyone else is doing, aren't we just contributing to the din?

If only there was a local bookstore event every week. I'd be set. I can sell out at those things. And I get to shake hands with real people, and ask to see a photo of their dog.

Maggie King said...

Joyce, I can relate. ENT is too "busy" to do my promo now, so I'll check out Fussy.

Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

Great post, Maggie! Very informative. I've tried several of the things you mentioned and now I have more to look into. Thank you!

Maggie King said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I agree about the noise, the frustration, and the yearning for bookstores with live people. With all the social media resources we have at our disposal, few are very satisfactory. It seems that authors do best on the email promos like BookBub. I don’t think many readers use Twitter, or at least it’s hard to know who is a reader. On Facebook, I get much more interaction when I post about my cats, or something personal.

By the way, I mostly use my memes on Twitter for the tweet groups—rarely on Facebook. I wouldn’t mind Facebook having rules&regs, but it’s hard to know what they are at any given time.

When it comes right down to it, we’re living in the wild, wild west.

Maggie King said...

Patricia, let us know what you find that works for you.

Liane Spicer said...

Maggie, many thanks for sharing your promo info. I've used most of these (except the tweet group) but I can never really tell what works and what doesn't: those times when my sales spiked I could not trace the increases to any particular action that I took. A good example is Apple's iBooks. In January two of my books suddenly began to sell well on that platform, with sales there remaining consistent to date. My iBooks sales now outstrip all the other channels put together. Why? Don't have a clue.

I've heard some authors praise Facebook ads, and others say it's a waste of money. I've never done those. I doubt I'd buy a book based on a FB ad so I assume no one else would either.

Your point about FB author pages struck a note with me. You're right. I find that page all but useless. Maybe that's because I don't remember it's there half the time. I'm much more active (which isn't saying much) on my regular page.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this Maggie. I agree with Sheila, promotion is the hardest part of writing. I am going to try a book tour with my second book. I'll try to keep you posted on how that works. Has anyone else any experience of these?. Good luck with your sales. x

Maggie King said...

Mollie, what kind of book tour? Online or physical?

Maggie King said...

Liane, I get occasional tweets from people who say they've just purchased my book(s). That's only happened since I started with the tweet groups.

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Hi Maggie, Thanks for sharing all this wonderful advice...I've bookmarked the post for future reference. I've also had luck with EReader News...sales skyrocketed that day. I'll look into the twitter groups. :)

Maggie King said...

Joanne, I tried to do another ENT promo for Aug. 1 and they said they were full up!

Charles Gramlich said...

I recently left facebook, having not found it to be very helpful for me.

Liane Spicer said...

Wow, Charles. You've done what I've often threatened to do. I'll miss your quirky, funny posts and the raccoons but good for you. FB is fun sometimes but it's also a colossal waste of time.

Maggie King said...

Agree about Facebook and its time-sucking qualities. But what's the alternative for growing that tribe?

Amy M. Reade said...

I'm a few days late, but better late than never as they say, and especially so with a post like this. I have also bookmarked it for future use. I've done great with Bookbub ads, but I must note that my publisher paid for them and set them up for me. I have thought about doing my own Bookbub promotion, but I am reluctant to spend that much money. I have just recently heard of ENT, and I plan to look into that. Sounds like it might be promising. I have heard of people having mixed results with the Fussy Librarian. I have also done FB ads, but I'm undecided about the results of those.

SJ Francis said...

Wow! Lots of feedback and interaction here and lots of ideas. I have to agree with some and not with others. I did FB and didn't notice any change in sales. Twitter-ho-hum. I found my best sales came from promo sites - The Fussy Librarian and the like. ENT didn't work for me either. BookBub is great, I hear, but you need 50 book reviews for the book, 1000 followers and more than one book in your belt. And yes, at I believe around $600 for a free promo is a bit pricey. That is if you get accepted. Nice to hear from an author here that was accepted to BookBub since so many aren't. I, myself applied twice and was rejected, but looking at their requirements afterwards which I learned from another author because they don't tell you why they rejected you, tells me why. They're very picky.