25 September 2015

Guest post on ebook marketing by Scott Burtness

I am the author of two self-published novels and a published short story. Currently, my self-published titles are on a single platform: Amazon.
So far, managing a single platform has been a wise decision. It has provided a controlled environment to try different marketing tools. With all marketing and promotion driving traffic to the same platform, it is easier to determine what works well and what doesn’t. When something works, I have downloads. When something doesn’t, I can usually be found in a dark room crying into a pillow and saying, It’s just allergies, there’s just something in the air…

When evaluating marketing and promotion efforts, I measure success by number of downloads, not number of sales. To explain the distinction, here’s a little info about my progress thus far.

I published my first book, Wisconsin Vamp, in January 2014. Between January 2014 and June 2015 (when the sequel was released), I had 246 paid downloads of Wisconsin Vamp, which yielded about $500 in royalties. Not much to crow about, but I also had 6,047 free downloads via Amazon’s KDP Select “Free Book Promotion.” By opting-in to Amazon’s KDP Select program, you agree to offer your ebook exclusively through Amazon for 90 days. During that time, you can make your book free to download for a total of five days. Free downloads don’t pay royalties. However, they do build a fan base and *hopefully* get more reviews for your book. Reviews are important, and I wanted to build demand for the sequel and my future works. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

So. What I feel has worked.

In a word: Convergence. AKA, a number of different things coming together at one point. I’ve tried a number of marketing channels independently: virtual book tours; book email services (eBookSoda, The Fussy Librarian, It’s Write Now, etc.); pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google, Bing, Amazon, and Goodreads; promoting Facebook posts and Tweets; sidebar ads on blogs; tweeting the crap out of my book; Fiverr.com promos where I paid someone else five bucks to tweet the crap out of my book; and posting my book in vampire-themed and book-promotion Facebook groups. I’ve learned that running one or two different marketing campaigns at a time doesn’t do much. However, if I get multiple marketing campaigns firing at the same time, my downloads tick up.


Here’s why I think it works. Please note – the operative word is think. Amazon is surprisingly hard to get real analytics from, so these are working assumptions. :)

Amazon rewards winners. It wants to show customers things that people want. When no one is looking at your book, your "native" search results (when someone searches inside of Amazon) are going to stink. Someone might search for a "vampire book," but the likelihood of Amazon putting your book in the search results are pretty slim. On the other hand, when a lot of people are looking at your book, Amazon will make sure MORE people see your book, and Amazon will be even more aggressive in showing your book as your book gets more good reviews and has more sales. It’s a virtuous cycle. People find your book through multiple channels and go to Amazon. They buy your book, like your book, and review your book. Amazon’s algorithms see that your book is desirable and make your book easier to find with Amazon’s native search, which means more people on Amazon see your book, buy your book, like your book, and review your book, which means it gets shown by the algorithms to more people… and so on.

Convergence has worked for driving genuine sales, but it has worked especially well when I’ve done free promos. When I just made my book free for a day and didn’t do any promotion or marketing, I got a couple hundred downloads. But when I submitted my book to five or six book email services for the day of the free promo, scheduled PPC ads on Amazon, Google, and Bing for the free day, and promoted Tweets and Facebook posts on the day of the promo, I had thousands of downloads.

So in conclusion, advertising or marketing is virtually worthless when it’s a single channel, more beneficial when there are multiple channels going at once, and really effective when you combine multiple channels with a free promotion for your book.

I hope these tips are helpful! May the Amazon Sales Rank be ever in your favor.

Scott lives in the Midwest with his wonderful wife, Liz, and their pit-boxer mix, Frank. He has always enjoyed reading horror, sci-fi, thrillers, and comedic takes on all three genres. For Scott, reading is a fun escape, a chance to live vicariously through someone else's adventures. He decided to start writing with the hope of entertaining readers like himself. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and his Amazon author's page.

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