Marketing and Promoting Websites
What exactly do they do, and which ones do I use? So, marketing and promoting can be a very deep rabbit hole. Essentially this can be anything that you do to get your name out there in front of potential readers. Social Media-Check. Book Store Signings-Check. Vendor tables at conventions-Check. Talking to your local librarian-Check. Talking to local readers-Check, and so on and so forth. It will become a full-time job and so automatic that you will start to do it out of habit.
Your biggest impact will most likely come from social media and websites designed to help authors promote their work to as many readers as possible. They do this by allowing authors to collectively join a group promotion that one author creates, usually by genre. Multiple authors can join, based on the guidelines set by the first author. Then each author promotes that group promotion to their readers and fans through social media, newsletters, tweets, etc. Think of it as 25 authors all paying for one giant billboard, with all 25 of their books on it.
Story Origin also helps by enabling each author in a promotion to collect the email addresses of the readers that click on their book that is being offered. This was also detailed in a prior post, so you can refer back to that as well.
Story Origin has just moved to a pricing plan, so the best plan for a new author to get is the $10 a month basic plan or $100 a year. This allows you to use all the features on their site, including email campaign planners, author newsletter swaps, group promotions, word count tracker, and quite a few other features that will help you along the way. The site also has a wide variety of tutorials that will guide any newbie along and through setting up any of their great features.
Book Funnel is very similar to Story Origin in its features and design. They are also a paid platform with a couple of more advanced and useful features than Story Origin. Plans range from $20 a year for beginners, $100 for mid-grade authors, up to $250 a year for more advanced authors. Along with group promotions, they offer ARC delivery to your reviewers, printable download codes to give out or sell at conventions or signings, reader email collection and direct sales fulfillment.
These extra features are well worth the money for the mid-range plan. At this stage, the $100 plan would be perfect for an author at my level for the next 2-3 years, unless I write the next big best-seller! They also have their own blog to help guide new authors, a long list of FAQs to help answer questions, on-line support and many other tools. Each author also gets their own landing page for readers to see and land on when coming to view your book or collect their gifted book.
Promoting & Advertising
How do I know which sites are best for promoting? The short answer is “you don’t.” Trial and error, my friend, trial and error. Just like so many other things, there are options. Generally, they function the same: you pay for a feature spot in a newsletter or some type of featured promotion for your book. The website has readers and/or subscribers that have joined up in order to receive those book promotions. Each site will have its own set of pros and cons and overall, they function just as they claim.
However, the deciding factor comes down to the subscribers on those sites, or rather, which of them opens their email the day your book is being promoted. Sadly, it's the luck of the draw. Add in your choice of free books or bargain books and you could have excellent results with a free book promotion versus sad results with a bargain book promotion.
For example, at the end of April 2021, I ran a Free Book promotion with Freebooksy, and over five days, gained a total of 2880 downloads, along with a dozen sales or so and quite a few KU downloads. This was an awesome result, and my debut novel made it the #1 spot on the Amazon 100 Top Free books for that week. Conversely, I ran a second promotion the first of July 2021, on Bargain Booksy, same site as freebooksy, paid for both of my books to be promoted at.99 and 1.99 respectively and only gained 11 sales. Highly disappointing compared to the success of the free book promotion.
Now, prior to using Booksy, I paid for a couple of features with The Fussy Librarian, with mediocre results. Their subscriber list is comparable to Booksy as are their prices, but with each promotion, I only sold about 20 books each time. This is not to say that my results are typical or average, as there can be many deciding factors. I was a new author. I did not have over 50 reviews on either one of my books yet. Maybe the people that opened the email that day were not looking for a young female lead, or maybe they are not into dark fantasy, or maybe …. I am sure you can see where I am going with this.
The point is, you need to try several out, several times and see which one works best for you. Keep in mind, all of this hinges on YOU.
Who are you?
Can they find you online?
Can they see the book online, being promoted and hyped up by people other than you?
Did you do a blog tour?
Do you have a website about you and your books?
Do you have something free they can read to get to know your style before they buy?
Often, readers stick to who they know and love, especially when extra money is tight. It may only be.99 or 1.99 to us, but what if they only $5 for books that month? How hard did you try to convince them to take a chance on you?
Look at your tools, your advertising, your website, your author pages and profiles. Did you do everything you could do to promote yourself and your writing abilities?
It may sound like a shitty deal, but when you think about it, book buying is one of the more personal things that people do. We pick authors we can relate to, that we can believe in and trust for a good story, for an escape, for something worthy of our money when we really have no other means of escaping our reality.
So, trial and error. See what works best for you and keep trying new sites as they come up. You never really know unless you try it. For full transparency, I still use these sites on a quarterly basis to help promote new books, to re-introduce books that have slow sales, and to gain new readers.
Consistency is the key. I cannot stress that enough. Readers are more apt to buy books from names they become familiar with. These promotions keep your name out there in front of the readers. By consistently promoting new books with fantastic and interesting story lines and striking covers, they start remembering and recognizing your name, and eventually, they will check out your work.
Sites to try:
The Fussy Librarian
Free Booksy/Bargain Booksy
*As always, please check each site for their current pricing plans, offers, and promotions as things are always being updated and changed.
More Helpful Links & Resources
Story Origin's Post on how to gain 1,000 subscribers on your mailing list.
David Gaurgran's Newsletters. David is a wealth of information for authors. Please make sure you are following him or are subscribed to his newsletters. (I read his posts religiously).
Written Word Media. Written Word is an author promotion site that runs the Free Booksy/ Bargain Booksy reader newsletter promotions and so many more. They also have a ton of free author resources on their website. Check them out below: