Writer Wednesday—What Works, What Doesn’t

When it comes to sales, authors are always trying new things; sometimes there is success, sometimes not. Often, you can do the same thing and it works once, but not again.

Let me explain: a year or so ago, several times, I’ve had “free” book offers on Amazon Kindle. I know people who have had tens of thousands of downloads, but my personal best is just over 1100 or so. Now, we all know that some readers, or non-readers, will grab anything marked “free;” it doesn’t mean they’ll ever read that book.

The idea here is to get people to read your book, talk about your book, and then, hopefully soon, some of those people will actually BUY the book.

Does this work?

The first few times I did this, with different titles in the Reduced Series, I got squat. Maybe one or two sales after 1000 free downloads. Whoopee.

This last time, REDUCED was free on Kindle for five straight days (just to be clear, I’ve done one-day, two-day, three-day, AND five-day prior to this). Since then, December 1-5, I’ve sold 18 books in the series and had 18 “borrows.” I also scored a five-star review, but not on the free book—on Recycled.

So I count this promo a success. At least, more successful than the rest . . .

Now, this does, perhaps, work better if you have a series, although I’ve had the series out now for 17 months—not like any of the books were just released. And I have dropped hints of the fourth book, REPEAT, coming in March 2015.

Something else I started, the first of November, was hiring a publicist. They aren’t cheap, but I had a little extra cash at this point, so it was a “now or never” deal. Did this make the difference in the free downloads/sold copies?

It’s possible, yes. I know the company has RT’d some things, I had two interviews/spotlights, and last week I did a radio interview—which, by the way, was super-short and I can’t imagine anyone even heard it, let alone followed the conversation.

Yesterday, I had a radio interview via California. It was awesome, the host was excited about my books (she’s reading the series) and asked a lot of questions—for thirty minutes!

I have another one scheduled on Thursday, out of Virginia.

I know, too, that the publicist has sent out copies of my books, but to my knowledge, it hasn’t garnered any more reviews. I’m in this for the long haul, and making connections, so yes, it’s all valuable—even if there are no immediate sales.

Should you trade books with other authors? Well, of course you can—but I’d make sure that it was a book I was interested in actually reading, because otherwise it’s likely to sit around and collect dust instead of being read and reviewed. And even if that other author IS interested in reading your book, he may still not have the time. Besides, what if you read his and you hate it? What if it’s horrible? Do you tell him? Or just leave a bad review? What if he sees that and then leaves YOU a bad one? Do you see how this is going?

Flip through the book, make sure it’s well done, and that the genre and story are something you’d enjoy; talk to the other author and make sure it’s mutual—books cost money, as you know . . . You want bang for your buck.

What about online events? It depends. I’ve been invited to many, but never hosted one. I simply don’t have the time to hang out on FB for a couple hours—then again, I do that for other things, so maybe I’ll give it a whirl one of these days. Authors I know who have done this typically gain a few sales. Again, you have to weigh the cost and the outcome.

Personal appearances can often result in additional sales—both in person at the event and later, when people may remember you and download an E-version. You have to consider downloads too, particularly a few days or even a week beyond the event. It could be someone you met, or someone who told another reader about your book.

Sometimes, too, it’s all about a connection, especially if you’re speaking. Not long ago, ONE thing I said resonated with an attendee, and immediately afterwards she introduced herself and bought REDUCED. And then, within a week, she bought the other two books.

Mostly, book sales are about cumulative numbers—you sell one, you sell another, then two or three. My co-interviewee yesterday said that, as an SP author, she’s sold about 100 books a year—and that’s four or five titles. So yes, the more titles you have, the more books you will sell. Especially if you can tie them together somehow.

It’s brand building, name recognition. Keep that in mind when deciding which WIP to pursue next. I really think it’s a big factor. If you write a romance, and then move on to a children’s book, and next, you publish science fiction, it’s going to take longer to build those things.

And that will affect your sales numbers too.







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