Book Marketing Techniques That Don’t Work Anymore

Book Marketing
Pic via Pixabay

Over the past 10 years, publishing has evolved into a very profitable business with the 5 biggest publishers reporting a profit margin of 10%.  And according to Author Earnings, in 2015, self-published authors had taken 33% of the ebook market.  However the tables were turned in 2016, when self-published authors lost a little bit of their grip on the ebook market not to mention several major publishing companies actually reporting losses.  So now it’s more important than ever that we indie authors spend our time and money where it matters most.

Things will only continue to change as the market ebbs and flows and we indie authors need to be able to adapt no matter the disruptions to the market.  What worked in 2007, won’t necessarily fly in 2017, so I compiled a list of just a few of the things that used to be marketing truths but are now myths.

Post An Eye-Catching Photo With Social Media Posts

The old advice on social media was to post a nice text quote along with a photo and it worked pretty well.  Now the advice is to write your quote directly on the image itself because when you share a post sometimes the original text gets lost or relegated to tiny font at the bottom.

For example:

Pinterest

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Facebook

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Banner Ads

Back in the day, banner ads were the way to get your product noticed but now with ad blockers, nobody even sees them anymore.  Today, the click through rate of a banner ad is around 0.1% down from 50% in 2000.  Sadly places like Goodreads, offer banner ads in their expensive marketing package which can cost anywhere between $6,000 and up.  However most indie authors agree that the best places to advertise books are in discount newsletters like; BookBub, Bargain Booksy and Free Kindle Books & Tips.

Perma 99 Cents

A few years ago the advice was to lower your price as much as humanly possible which is what tons of indie authors did.  As you have already guessed, this doesn’t work anymore, the new advice is to try price pulsing.  That’s where you lower your price for a limited time and then set it back to a more reasonable one.  The feelings are mixed, many say you have to promote the lower prices but if you’re selling a book at 99 cents, promotion may not be wise if you’re on a low budget or just low on time.

Black Hat Marketing

This means anything shady like buying reviews or even buying your own book in bulk.  It’s one of the oldest tricks in the marketing business but with technology most people can easily spot a fake.  Not long ago, U.S. President Donald Trump was busted buying his own books during his campaign.  Also, several Christian ministers were found to have contracted a service that promises to help authors get on the bestsellers list by buying large quantities of the author’s book.  They might have gotten away with it too if they hadn’t used money from their own congregation to do it.

Same goes with social media, a few celebrities were busted buying fans a few years back and were exposed by a major media outlet.  To make a long story short, your money is better spent advertising or hiring a good book publicist.

You Need To Be Everywhere on Social Media

It’s old advice that’s still being repeated and it’s just not true and never really was.  Your goal on social media is to build a community which means conversations and engagement.  You can’t do that everywhere because you only have 24 hours in any given day.  So it would be wise to just pick one or a few social media sites where your audience is going to be and set up shop there.  If your book is for young adults try sites like; Snap Chat, Instagram or Tumblr, and if it’s adults you’re targeting, try Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Spamming Works

For those business owners who are too lazy to build their own email lists there are services who are more than willing to sell you email addresses.  Sadly, these people aren’t interested in your book and sending unsolicited emails goes against the CAN-SPAM Act which can result in a fine of $16,000.  Also, it’ll get you banned from email marketing services like Mail Chimp or AWeber.  As if that weren’t bad enough, according to law enforcement and online security firms, the average spam campaign is often a front for organized crime which is why most email filters send these emails straight to the trash bin.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the few books out there that list so called promotional groups on Facebook and Goodreads.  I’ve personally tested them and found them to be a complete  waste of time.  If you look closely at these groups, you’ll discover that they’re nothing but spam pages with author after author dropping links and yelling “Buy my book!”  This is pointless unless, your book is for authors who desperately need to learn about marketing books. 😉

So What Does Work?

Funny enough, it’s common sense that will help you sell a book successfully.  No tricks, just hard work and persistence, oh yeah, and time.

  • Write a book people want to read
  • Edit professionally
  • Get a nice (industry standard) book cover
  • Start building your platform.
  • Invest in your education: Take courses and read books on marketing, publishing and editing.
  • Join a network of professional authors, there are Facebook and LinkedIn groups as well as websites like The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) who help educate and support self-published authors.

In Closing…

There will be more changes on the horizon in 2017, that’s inevitable but that doesn’t have to be a scary thing.  Instead of seeing self-publishing as a disadvantage see it for the opportunity that it really is.  As more and more indie success stories become common place, it will light the fire in some of us to go beyond what we’ve ever imagined.  So until next time, here’s to a creative and profitable 2017 to indie authors everywhere!

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By Leland Francisco

Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors Part 4: Advertising

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Image from Pixabay

For the past month, I’ve been talking about affiliate marketing as another stream of income and also about using it as an opportunity to promote your book. Today, I’ll talk about approaching affiliate marketing as an advertiser. Yes, you can pay an influencer to promote your book to their audience. However before you get excited, there are some questions you need to ask yourself.

Why Use An Affiliate?

If your platform is small to nonexistent then you’ll probably need to borrow someone’s audience. I talked about this in my post: “How to Pitch and Approach Influencers” last year. A large platform takes time and hard work to not only build but also to maintain and most authors don’t have the time or know how to do it. This is why it makes sense to seek out influencers to promote your book.

How Much Are You Willing To Pay Them?

This is important because price will matter significantly when it comes to interest in your product. If you’re selling a 99₵ eBook, there will be little interest in it, even if you’re splitting 75% of the profits. However, if you’re selling a print book for $8-$20 and splitting 75% of the profits, that may generate more interest. If you’re selling other products like eCourses, or workshops it will generate even more interest because those usually cost more and more money, means bigger profits for the content creator.

Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

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A meme I created for author Dellani Oakes

As convenient as hiring an influencer is, it doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to promotion. You still have to plan because wishful thinking doesn’t sell books. You need a release date (or rerelease date in some cases), a good price, a social media strategy, blog posts, interviews, etc.  Yes, you still have a responsibility when promoting your own book.

Things To Consider Doing During Your Campaign:

1. Create a script for the content creator: You can be as formal or as informal as you want to be.
2. Create social media posts: If social media is part of the deal make sure to supply them with the info they need like; links, prices, sales dates, etc.
3. Create: Graphics such as memes.
4. Hold a giveaway or contest on your site.
5. When you get those people to your site, make sure you get them to sign up for your newsletter. You do have one right?
If all goes well, you’ll get a few sales and a few new subscribers for future promotions.

The Takeaway

Yes, affiliate marketing can be hard work no matter which side you’re approaching it from. It takes study, planning and not to mention, guts to succeed at this. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you that affiliate marketing isn’t a get rich scheme. Like with most things, it takes time to learn and it takes time to build trust with advertisers and content creators.

Affiliate marketing isn’t just profitable monetarily but also in the sense of platform building. If you want to make a career as an author, your thoughts should be more on the long term rather than on the next sale. But that’s another post for another day…

If you missed the other 3 parts here they are listed below in order:

Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors Part 2: Rules & Expectations

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Pic via Pexels

Last week, I talked about the basics of affiliate marketing and today, I’ll be discussing the steps a indie author can take for a successful and hopefully, a stress free campaign.

When selling someone’s product, it’s obvious you should put as much effort into it as if it were your own product. That means learning the rules and laws concerning selling products, yes, there are rules and if you don’t follow them there could be serious consequences. We’re talking about being banned as well as getting fined by the government in extreme cases.

Also, I discuss why you need not only a large following but an engaged one to sell anything. So let’s get started…

Rule #1: If They Don’t Make Money, You Don’t Make Money!

Affiliate marketing shouldn’t be something taken lightly. If your campaign is a disaster, you could lose long term opportunities. That means future advertisers won’t touch your platform with a 10 foot pole. Your goal should be to make the advertisers some money. That’s why it’s important to be choosey as to which products you’ll endorse. This is a job and not a get rich quick scheme so treat it like you would any professional project.

Rule #2: Platform Is Vital

In order to get sales, you’ll need to get a significantly large audience. Marketers know for a fact that a website needs a large number of visitors before someone converts (clicks buy). It’s not unusual for a large company to require bloggers have an audience of at least 10,000 unique visitors per month before they will consider doing business with them. Keep in mind they will require you prove your stats through a service like Google Analytics or Clicky.

With social media it’s worse, you not only need a large following but an engaged one before you can make a conversion. That means conversations where you’re not talking to yourself and lots of likes on your posts.  This is important because your sales will be tracked with a special link. If you don’t make any money, it’s unlikely you’ll get another shot with that advertiser.  So there’s no faking it till you make it here.

Rule #3: Share Those Links

If you are going to promote a product be sure to use those affiliate links everywhere. However just be sure not to spam people and don’t be too salesy. Also, if you’re a traditionally published or indie author, you can make more money promoting your own book so why not share those links on your blog, and social media accounts? Amazon and most retailers make that possible now.

Rule #4: Know the Law

Recently, reality television star Kim Kardashian, got in hot water with the FDA when she promoted an antinausea drug for pregnant women on her Instagram account. Apparently, the drug company she was affiliated with didn’t list the correct warnings by failing to mention the drug was never approved for pregnant women with a severe type of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. Sadly, that fact wasn’t addressed in Kim’s post and because of that, it had to be taken down. Though this wasn’t Ms. Kardashian’s fault, it was still a faux-pas that could have been avoided. If you’re promoting prescription drugs, alcohol, adult products, or cigarettes, you need to know what the laws are concerning those products.

Another important law to remember, if you live in the U.S., is that you need to let others know you’re a paid affiliate if not, you can be fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There is a PDF file you can download if you want to know more.

Rule #5: Know The Rules

As if that wasn’t enough, they are also the rules concerning social media sites like Facebook, who forbid selling anything on personal accounts. You must have a business or a fan page for that. Also keep in mind that Facebook likes to lockdown accounts that post nudity or sexually suggestive images. So if you’re selling erotic books, be careful about the images you’re posting. If in doubt, go to Facebook’s community standards post and to their ad policies.

Every social media site from Pinterest to Youtube has its own rules and it’s your responsibility to find out what those rules are least you find yourself locked out of your own account.

Now if all this has you scared, be assured that most affiliate marketing campaigns go off without a hitch. However you do need to be educated about what’s expected of you.

Rule #6: Know Where To Look For Legit Opportunities

Did you know there are actually two ways to get affiliate deals?  Many entrepreneurs look for companies with large marketing budgets and directly pitch them.  The second way is through an affiliate website which is kind of like a dating service for affiliates and advertisers. However be warned, many sites take a percentage of all sales made through them. This is why pitching direct is the way to go for some business owners.  The percentages vary from site to site so be sure to read any contracts or agreements before signing. Here are the more popular sites used by bloggers and website owners.

  • Social Fabric
  • Tap Influence
  • Flex Offers
  • eJunkie
  • Link Vehicle
  • BlogHer
  • SITS Girls
  • Sponsored Tweets
  • CJ Affiliate
  • Influence Central (accepts small blogs)
  • Weave Made (small blogs)
  • IZEA (small blogs)

These are just some of the sites you should investigate if you are considering affiliate marketing.  There are more targeted ways for indie authors to approach affiliate marketing and that’s  something I’ll address next week in part 3 of this series.   Yes, there’s a part three because as you may have already guessed, this is a complicated subject. o.O

If you missed last week’s post check it out here.

Affiliate Marketing For Indie Authors Part 1: The Basics

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Pic via Pexels

These days it seems as though everyone’s hustling products, from celebrities, athletes, and even politicians.  Usually, they can be found promoting anything from beauty products to prescription meds, often serving as an affiliate of a company or of several companies.  Before I go on, let me explain what an affiliate does: An affiliate is a person or entity chosen to promote services or products on behalf of a business.  Affiliates are usually given a percentage of any sale made through them.

There is serious money to be made these days selling products to your online audience.  And today, an indie author can approach affiliate marketing in two ways first, as an affiliate (also known as a content creator), and as an advertiser.

Now I have to be honest, most indie authors say that the earnings they make from affiliate marketing can barely cover their Netflix subscription.  On the other hand, there are few who are making thousands from affiliate marketing.  It all depends on what you sell and the deal you make.

Popular Things Authors Sell and Promote

  1. Books; digital, audio and print versions.
  2. Writing or editing software.
  3. Learning eCourses.
  4. Subscription services like; Audible or Amazon Prime.
  5. Book related swag like; T-shirts, posters and tote bags.
  6. Book cover design services.
  7. Editing services.
  8. Conference or workshop tickets.

Before You Start

Before you go signing up for all the affiliate programs available, please be careful and realistic as to what you are most comfortable promoting. If you’re a religious person, maybe signing up with Harlequin (a romance publisher) isn’t the best idea. Keep in mind, if you don’t like or understand a product, this affiliate experience will most likely end in a disaster.
Another thing to seriously consider is your audience’s tolerance for promotion. When your readers sign up for your blog or liked your social media page, they are signing up to connect with YOU not your benefactor. It is possible that if you promote too much, your audience may get turned off by it and leave.

You Don’t Have To Sell Your Soul

As a content creator, it is up to you as to who you’ll work with and what products you’ll promote. You can always say no to a deal especially, if the terms are unreasonable or pathetic. As I said before, it’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

What’s Expected

It’s not uncommon for a company to want a content creator to write an article or review about their product. This can mean anything from a Youtube video or a blog post. And as the content creator, you’ll have to act natural as well as keep the dialog organic.

Spaces You Can Rent To An Advertiser

  • Social Media
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters (Check the rules, Amazon doesn’t allow affiliate links in emails while other sites do.)
  • Podcasts

Be warned that some companies might give you a script that you’ll be required to read from or post on your blog.  Usually, these scripts consist of the sales copy, a call to action and links to the product. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are companies who will give you the freedom to sell a product anyway you see fit.

Know Who You’re Selling To

The only way for this affiliate marketing thing to work is to make sure that you’re selling to the right crowd. For example, you can’t sell wheat bread to an audience of Celiacs. I mean you could, but I doubt they would appreciate you for it. So you need to know your audience before you can sell them ANYTHING. Hopefully, you’ve gotten to know your audience through your analytics, the comment section of your blog or through random polls. If you haven’t done this, you had better get started. The most common questions content creators ask their audiences are;

  1. What are you struggling with? (Find a product that can help them with their problems.)
  2. What are your favorite books or products? (Try pitching that publisher/ company for an affiliate opportunity.)
  3. What products do you hate? (Avoid them like the plague.)
  4. What are your goals? (Find a product to help them reach their goals.)

If you can get your audience to answer some of these questions, you’ll have a pretty good idea as to which products to sell and which ones to avoid.

Well there you have it, tune in next week where I’ll discuss the requirements for successful affiliate marketing.

You can check out Part 2 here: Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors Part 2.

5 Things Indies Can Get for Cheap or Free!

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It’s that time of year again and I got software that’s in serious need of an upgrade and several of my friends are looking for cheap book covers.  So I went on a quest to find the best deals on everything from advertising to free college courses.  And since I promised to share everything I learn, I’m passing this info on to you so you can share in the savings and spread the word.

Before I go on, I have to announce I am in no way affiliated with any of the products or services listed.

Word Processing Software

Did you know that your MS Office software has an expiration date? It’s called a lifecycle and when yours ends, the software no longer receives updates thus making your computer vulnerable.  So when the lifecycle on your software ends, you’ll have to upgrade.  Today, Microsoft has subscription based services ranging from $6.99-$9.99  per month or $69-$99 per year.  This sounds cheap but If you compare it to a one time purchase, it’s not.

For example, you can of course purchase Office Word 2016 for about $109.99, while, Office Home & Student 2016 costs $149.99 and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.  If that’s not enough for you, Office Professional 2016 is $399 and includes Outlook, Access, and Publisher as well as the basics Word, Excel, etc.  According to Microsoft the 2016 software’s extended support date is over in 2025.  So long term, a one time purchase beats the subscription hands down.

Yes, Microsoft does have a free online version of their software, but as you may have already guessed, it’s not complete like the paid version. But if all you need is a very basic version of Word, this is a great thing because now MS Word is 100% free for you!

Check it out for yourself and while you’re doing that, I’ll list all the cheaper and free alternatives below.

Cheap:

  •  Scrivener: For the past few years Scrivener has made a name for itself as THE writer’s software. Everyone from novelists to screen writers sing the praises of this software. Scrivener is great for indie authors because it can convert files to .epub or .kobi making it easy to upload manuscripts to retailers.
    Price: $40 after a 30 day free trial.

 

  •  Word Perfect: MS Word’s twin cousin who is very basic in features. Price: $89 for the student version and $219 for the standard edition. *These are their holiday 2015 sale prices*

 

  •  KingSoftware: Often called the clone of Microsoft Office, KingSoftware is based in Hong Kong and offers both free and paid services. Their paid professional software will cost you around $79.99 and includes spreadsheet, word processor, and presentation software.

 

Free:

  • Google Docs: I have a Google account and shared both documents and spreadsheets on this blog.  It’s also convenient having your Gmail account, Google Drive and Youtube account all in the same place. However, Google Docs are relatively Spartan so I only use them to share documents with others.

 

  • Apache Open Office: I know several authors who use Open Office and sung the praises of this free word processing software. Over the past few years though, it’s fallen out of favor because of numerous bugs and user issues. However, developers have fixed those things and now Open Office is slowly mounting a comeback.

 

  • Libre Office is a spinoff of Open Office’s source code but is different in the sense that it is user friendly and less buggy. It also translates Word documents much better than it used to.

Wi-Fi

If your internet bill or data plan is sky high, then maybe it’s time to get your internet free. I know plenty of authors who use free wi-fi at libraries, cafes, and even airports in order to keep their expenses low.

But if you need to have the internet purchase a plan that is basic and cheap while occasionally going to wi-fi hot spots. This way you can surf all you want at a wi-fi hotspot while not exceeding your data limits. Consider it a 50/50 compromise.

Here are a few apps to help you find free wi-fi hotspots in your area.

Book Advertising

Many indie authors are frightened by the idea of advertising their books because they believe it will cost a fortune. However they couldn’t be more wrong. There are several reader-centric sites that offer cheap or even free advertising. Keep in mind some of these sites are only for books that are free. If you want to actually make a profit then go to my post Cheap Advertising for Indie Authors.
Free:

  • Book Daily Listing on their sales page with free sample chapter.
  • Awesome Gang Basic listing.
  • Digital Book Today: Weekly Featured Reads is temporarily free as of 12/1/15 You have to meet their requirements though 35 reviews of 4+ stars of more etc. P.S. They are looking to fill up their 2016 schedule so space is limited.  Also, their regular listing is available for free here too.

 

Cheap:

  • Bargain Booksy (The cousin of Free Booksy) offers advertising as low as $25.
  • Kboards: $35 to get a feature.
  • Free Kindle Books & Tips: This is for a regular posting and is $25 for books under $1.00 and $50 for books over $1.01.

Book Covers

I hesitated before writing this because of all of poorly made self-published book covers. However there are so many good free photo editing services and even cheap book cover designers I decided why not? Maybe this will be the year indies shake that image the rest of the industry has about our book covers. A girl can dream, right?
Free:

Cheap:

 

If you need more resources, I have a Pinterest board called: Affordable Book Cover Designers you can check out if you’re in the market for a book cover.

Education

Many indie authors are determined to perfect their craft and figure out business side of publishing while others are looking to perfect their craft. That’s great because an education hasn’t been this accessible since—  ever.
Free:

  • Open Culture: Courses include; young adult literature, Lord of the Rings #1-3 (I kid you not!), copyright law, journalism and business.
  • Coursera :Advanced writing, historical fiction, grammar and writing for young readers.
  • edX.org: Did you know that Ivy League schools are offering free courses online too?  At edX.org several ivy league schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton are uploading courses like; how to write a novel, English comp, and electronic literature for free!

Cheap

  • Udemy:  Here courses can be anywhere from $199-$299.  Courses include; Marketing, communication and entrepreneurship.
  • Lynda.com: Has a subscription service of $19.99 $29.99 a month as well as yearly services that ranges from $239.88 to $359.88.  Courses range from; Email marketing, freelancing, and writing (look in the business category).   There is a free trial so it doesn’t hurt to try it before committing.

I know I dumped a lot of resources here but it’s the holiday season and I think you’re worth it! ❤

How to Increase Your Book’s Odds at BookBub

HomepageScreenMany indie authors call Bookbub the golden standard of online book advertising and I can’t say I disagree. Over the years their competitors like Pixel of Ink have either stopped accepting submissions or have gone under. Meanwhile Bookbub has only continued to grow with no signs of slowing down.  In fact just two weeks ago, Bookbub announced they’ve secured seven million dollars in funding to take their company global. This is great news for indie authors who want to reach more readers and make more money from advertising.

Facts You Need to Know

  • BookBub has a subscriber base of over 5 million members
  • BookBub subscribers are spenders.
  • BookBub has strict standards accepting only 10-20% of submissions
  • They are not the most expensive place to advertise
  • Most indie authors who use their services get an ROI (Return on investment)
  • Even indie authors who don’t get an ROI, report a small boost in sales

Reviews Are Critical?

Author Brian Cohen, from the Sell More Books Show wanted to get his YA book, Ted Saves the World a Boobkbub ad however, that proved to be more difficult than expected. After several rejections, he wanted to know what the problem was.  Determined to get answers, he studied BookBub and particularly, their YA list then noticed that many of the books in his genre had over 130 reviews, at the time, his book only had 115.  Meanwhile, the bestsellers had anywhere between 200-300 reviews.  He’s not the only author to notice this, many indie authors have also had to secure more reviews before Bookbub gave them the nod. However Bookbub claims  reviews aren’t a deal breaker but I doubt they hurt your odds.

Tip: In February, BookBub held a discussion on the Kboards and answered many questions for indie authors.  It’s very informative for those considering buying an ad.

Blurb

Next to editing, writing a blurb is the most hated of tasks according to most authors. In fact, there are books and online courses devoted solely to helping authors nail this craft. However your blurb is not only important for your book’s Amazon sales page but also to BookBub.  If your book sounds boring, why would they want to promote it? This would hurt their reputation with their subscribers. You have to remember this site is oriented toward readers, not authors. They don’t just take anything that comes in the door.

Your Cover

Many authors believe that they need to like their book cover but that couldn’t be farthest from the truth. This year at IndieRecon, bestselling author H.M. Ward, talked about how she didn’t necessary like all her book covers. In the beginning of her career, when her romance novels weren’t selling, she did some careful investigation and realized none of her book covers matched those on the market. Hers were more artsy and whimsical, while the books that were selling had pictures of attractive people in sexy poses.

It was a harsh lesson in marketing but she learned, romance readers expect a certain type of product.  BookBub is no different, they expect your book to look a certain way whether it’s a sci-fi novel, or an erotic book.  If the cover looks bland or weird, they may just pass it up.  Remember presentation matters in this industry.

Price

Price is a big deal on BookBub, if you read the page written exclusively for their subscribers, you’ll see they promise free and deeply discounted books.  This means you have to compete and either go low, or even free.  For those of you who are concerned about going too low, BookBub claims that 65% of their readers have reported recommending books they got for free on the site. Who knew?

Be Flexible

Some authors have been willing to forgo advertising on major holidays and weekends in order to get their book in BookBub. There is a comment section of the application that allows you to alert them to the fact that you are not particular about dates. P.S. This didn’t work with our friend Brian Cohen. 😦

Study BookBub’s Patterns

In every genre there is a pattern or theme that BookBub is favoring at any given time. Now ask yourself, does your book even come near that? For example, if you’re looking to advertise your romance novel, are they favoring historical romances or contemporary ones? It would be wise to sign up for their newsletter (for readers) and see if you can find patterns.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for their blog as well.

Alternatives

If you’ve done all that you can and BookBub is still not accepting your submission, then try going to their competitor like Ereader News Today, another site that indie authors rave about.  You can also check out a post I wrote last year: Cheap Advertising for Indie Authors for more alternatives.

 

The Indie’s Guide to Researching Potential Book Promoters

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Image via Pixabay

In the age of the indie author it’s pretty cool to have multiple avenues to promote our work. However not all services are created equal and sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s on the up and up when it comes to value and integrity. Today, I hope to show a few techniques that I’ve used to check out services claiming to promote books to the moon.  Whether it’s advertising, newsletters or blogtours, I’ve got you covered.

Newsletters

In my opinion newsletters are the hardest to research because many promotional sites won’t reveal their numbers. Those that do, only reveal the total sum of their subscribers however, that can be problematic if they have multiple newsletters. For example, if a site claims to have 20,000 subscribers but has 10 newsletters, then that 20,000 becomes a very small number when you divide it by 10.  Also, you have to take into consideration that not every subscriber opens every single newsletter, some are likely getting deleted.  In fact, a great deal are being deleted.

So how do you get the stats? You can obviously email the site personally and ask, or Google the name of the site as well as the words; reviews, or complaints. But if that doesn’t turn up anything, I’d type the question: Has anyone used (Insert name) Promotions? Half of the time a conversation on the Kboards or Absolute Write will pop up.  You know we authors just love to dish! 😉

Online Advertising

With advertising it’s a little easier, you can always gauge activity by looking at their rankings on Alexa, Google Analytics or Clicky. But what is a good number? Let’s try to put all of this into perspective, Google usually has an Alexa ranking of 1, while Goodreads has a ranking of 125.  A small blog like mine, has a ranking of  43,000 on a good month and 90,000 on a bad one.

Alexa Stats for Writing By The Seat of My Pants
Alexa stats for June

However, I’ve seen sites with rankings worse than mine charging hundreds of dollars for ads.  This blog gets a few hundred visitors on a good day and half of them don’t click anything.  That’s why I don’t allow advertising on this blog because it won’t work.  And  despite what you may have heard, the numbers do matter because a site needs significant traffic just to get a few clicks.  More importantly, a site needs a loyal following just to get a few conversions (buyers).

Now here’s an interesting fact, Publisher’s Weekly Select, (the indie version of the website) has a ranking of 3,087 and they seem to charge more for advertising than Goodreads. Does that make sense to you?

Social Media Promotional Sites

There are many authors who want nothing to do with social media and prefer to farm out

this aspect of their marketing to a social media promotion site and that’s totally cool. But not all sites are created equal and here’s how you can investigate whether a service is worth your money.

• Investigate their followers by clicking on their profiles and check to see if they’re all authors or spammers.  If so, run away!

• Check out the interaction on their pages, if they have 10,000 fans but there’s no conversation going on then it’s time to move on.

• Look at how their social media pages are arranged, are their header photos professionally done? Do they collect emails? Also, if they’re not actively reaching out through promoted posts and ads then they aren’t the social media superstars they would like you to believe.  In other words, if they’re not promoting their own page why would you trust them to promote your book?

Blog Touring Services

This one is super easy, if you can not find any authors who’ve worked with them previously, don’t do it.  A service like this should have some sort of testimonial to speak of.  Another way to investigate is to check out their previous tours by Googling their name and see what kind of interaction the bloggers had with their fans.  If you see no comments or shares, then this isn’t the place to put your money in.

I hope I gave you something to think about before you pay for that ad or Twitter blast.  Next week, I’ll be talking about how to get featured on Barnes and Noble.