Ever since book sales on Amazon dropped by half this summer for many indie authors, I’ve been looking for new methods of reaching readers and new book promotion tools. Submitting my books to advertising sites and even running successful Facebook ads (costing less than 19¢ a click) just weren’t grabbing the traction that they used to.
So what would?
My goal is to reach new readers, which means expanding to new marketing areas. I’ve been trying out and testing a lot of possible alternatives. Some have failed, but not all!
I’ve actually reached many new readers and books sales are up! In fact, I’m starting to find so many new book promotion tools that my original idea to write a piece on each will take too long. Plus, I don’t want you to have to wait.
So here is a roundup of new book promotion tools and tactics to help grow the fan base for your books!
Grow your mailing list
You know that mailing lists are key to having a successful author business, right? Do I need to recap why, because I really, really hope you’ve heard this message before. But just in case you haven’t …
You own your mailing list full of a devoted fan base who eagerly awaits not only your next release, but hearing from you. These will be the core people who will write reviews, buy your next book, and hopefully tell the world how awesome you are. Amazon can’t take that away. Nor Apple. No matter how much the future ebook market changes, that mailing list is yours and it is valuable. THAT is why people (less scrupulous people) sell mailing lists – or steal them. Those are potential customers and fans. Never abuse them and work hard go grow your mailing list.
So how do you grow a mailing list?
I know, they don’t come in a seed packet with planting depth, water, and sunlight requirements conveniently written out. Do you need an email on great things to do with your mailing list once you have one? Tell me in the comments and I’ll put creating a post for you on my ‘to do’ list!
The old way to grow your list is adding links to get a free book for signing up in your permafree title. But that only works if you can give away your permafree (or have enough books to have a permafree and follow up book to offer). And on Amazon even book freebies are growing saturated. Actually, there is a whole market geared toward marketing free books and some of them are expensive (ahem, Bookbub).
So what is a new way to build your mailing list?
You can run your own giveaway or team up with other authors for a bigger impact. I mentioned in my post on the Tactics of Running a Book Giveaway a few other successful methods of reaching new readers too. The best way is not to go it alone. Team up and promote each other! Of course, a few entrepreneurs and clever authors have noticed this and created platforms to make teaming up easy.
In fact, I just had an email soliciting me to join a multi-author giveaway but signing up for an author newsletter was optional. So I could end up with ZERO signups to my email list, though they said the average was 500 per author when I asked. The cost? $60.
Sure, that is about the same as a good book advertisement, but at least with a book promotion I’d get downloads of my book and increase my ranking/visibility. But this is a giveaway with lots of other authors. I doubt entrants would even remember my name if they didn’t win.
And the really funny part? I’d JUST taken part in a multi-author giveaway where the organizer created graphics, shared the html for a blog post, and signing up for my mailing list was mandatory. I added over 800 new sign-ups in one week. The cost? $0
How can you do that too?
Join Instafreebie! Instafreebie is a platform where you create a book giveaway and then share the link. Readers sign-up for newsletters (give you their email address) in exchange for the book file.
There is a free version, but it makes signing up for the author mailing list optional. I don’t recommend it. The cheapest paid version is $20 a month. I baulked at spending that too until I started hearing from authors who were building their lists like mad. So I signed up for the 30 day FREE trial. The results?
Well if you post a book and then tweet about the giveaway, the result is as pathetic as tweeting about any product. Remember I said the power is in networking with other authors. And Instafreebie makes that sooooo easy!
They have a forum right on their page where you can look for other authors running giveaways in your genre or post your own giveaway. And let’s not forget about the, not one but FOUR, Facebook groups dedicated to networking on instafreebie giveaways: Instafreebie Promos, Instafreebie Push, Instafreebie Share Book Free Promotion, Freebie Friday on Instafreebie. Nor should we forget about Instafreebie itself, which will back giveaways on the site and social media outlets if the giveaway meets certain requirements, adding a huge promotional push — and result!
My first 30 days were successful enough, even though I was just finding my way around mostly, that I signed up for the paid version. Since joining, I’ve gained 2000 new sign-ups to my mailing list and most of them have been in the last month. That is a penny a sign-up. And I’ve seen other authors who have really got this down doing better!
But how good are these emails?
It is a valid question. People sign-up for a free book and they could unsubscribe in the first email you send them, just like if you run an advertisement for a free book they might not read it until next century. But, I’ve got over a 60% open rate on emails. That is really good. Plus I hear back from people. They are engaged and interested.
Of course, it is all in how you cultivate the list and developing a relationship with someone who came to you via Instafreebie versus from a link in your book is completely different. Which makes me think once again that I should be writing a post on how to use your mailing list effectively… let me know if you want one! 😀
If you can’t tell, I really recommend checking out Instafreebie! However, it isn’t the only game in town. BookFunnel now offers giveaways too, but I have zero experience with them. If you do, let me know how it is working for you! I haven’t heard much buzz about it, certainly not compared to Instafreebie. But Bookfunnel’s giveaways are a lot newer and they start at only $10 a month for plan subscription. Hmmm… I’m already at the $5 per month and I might have to give them a try.
And there is also Authors Cross Promotion.
Remember the email I mentioned soliciting my participation in a $60 giveaway that did not guarantee me a single email address for my mailing list? Well when I found Author Cross Promotion where the email list was mandatory and the cost is almost half ($35), I thought “heck yeah” and signed up.
What gives me some confidence in this group are the tips on the sign-up page. They have great ideas on how to integrate the new emails that will come as part of the giveaway AND make a great point not to use a book that is already free. Who wants to enter a giveaway to win free books? That got me thinking because I was, of course, about to use my permafree titles. But then I realized I’d just found another great use for my newly created bundles. I mean if you are going to offer something up for a giveaway, you should offer up something GREAT!
Disclaimer: I haven’t taken part in a giveaway yet, but I’m hopeful and, even if I only end up with 100 new emails or so, I’ve still only spent the cost of a cheap book advertisement with a reputable marketer and sometimes those only net a 100 or so downloads. So check out Author’s Cross Promotion too as they have some good targeted giveaways, including audio books! I’ll give you an update after my first one!
So what do you do with your growing email list?
Feed them more books, of course! And not just your books, because, let’s face it, that is going to drive up your unsubscribe rate. Help other authors by sharing books in your genre.
How do you find books?
Well you could scroll through Amazon and check twitter for books promos, or you could join a FB group or Google+ community dedicated to cross promotions. THAT is much easier! There are a lot in either place, just a run a search. I’d suggest finding a genre specific group, they are the most successful.
There is also the Facebook group Mega Mailing List Promotions. These are multi-author promotions arranged by author E.B. Brown. All participating authors agree to send the promotion out to their mailing list on the first of the month and E.B. also sends it out to her MEGA mailing list (62K and growing).
What is different between this and an Instafreebie giveaway is that what you use as the book link is entirely up to you. Send readers to Instafreebie, or a landing page to capture email addresses. Miss the great opportunity to grow your mailing list by sending them straight to Amazon to increase your book ranking with free downloads like any promo. Heck, you can send them to a paid book too. This promo is wide open as long as you agree to send out the info and you submit a book.
Plus, E.B. does a great job being fair to everyone involved. In big promos, she rotates the books so everyone ends up near the top. There is also a big prize/giveaway at the bottom of the page. People have to scroll past all the books to enter.
I joined Mega Mailing List Promotions in the spring and was really pleased with the results. I actually forget the number of sign-ups I had (my bad!), but I remember thinking I wanted to use them again after a few months. Which, of course, I didn’t do. But I will ASAP!
Another great way to find books to promote to your mailing list, and request your book be promoted, is the newly created Newsletter Swap. I’ve only been a member a week and already I’m tickled. I have my two listed promo books scheduled for four newsletters this month AND have picked up some great books to send out to my readers. To me, this is a win for readers and for me.
The folks at Newsletter Swap are taking their idea seriously. They have trackable links for all books used in newsletters. This way they can see how well, and if you are posting to, your newsletter does AND how frequently your book is picked up for other newsletters. I really like they are trying to keep everyone accountable and the results are transparent. Best of all, Newsletter Swap is free! I don’t know if they plan on monetizing the site eventually, but I’d recommend jumping in now while it is new and growing, because it is growing FAST.
Hopefully this gets you, and your book promotions, started! I know I’ve seen a difference. If you have other recommendations, or results from one of these promotions, let me know in the comments!