Advertising, Book Promotion, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Social Media, writing

How To Market Your YA Book Part 2

Book Marketing
Image via Pixabay

A few years ago, I wrote about marketing a YA novel and since then lots of things have changed for one, there are more marketing avenues as well as many more pitfalls.  When I wrote that post in 2013, mobile phone usage was on the rise worldwide and tablets were new.  Fast forward 4 years and mobile phones are a necessity, while tablets are now being used by cats and infants.  I kid you not.

In this post I answer the questions, where are the young people and what do they want?  Also, I address some important trends that are revolutionizing the publishing industry.  So let’s get started…

More Media, More Problems

In the past few years, Facebook, has reigned as the undisputed king of social media with over two billion monthly users but it does have competition particularly, when it comes to reaching young people.  However Facebook tried to resolve that issue by purchasing two popular apps Instagram and What’s App.  Despite that, it’s still hard to find teens on Facebook itself, preferring; Instagram, Snapchat, Kik or Periscope, to the overpopulated, Facebook.  These newer platforms have a growing and active user base of 13-34 year olds, which has the attention of online marketers looking to reach Gen Y and Z.

Why do young people favor these sites you ask?  Because most of them have richer forms of content like video and gifs which are ideal for quick scrolling.  You know they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially true for short videos which dominate the feeds of most teens.  That means if you want to reach this demographic, you’ll have to use visuals like video and eye-catching images.

Short Is The New Long

The trends in publishing on both the adult and teen market is shorter, serialized books.   In fact, many online retailers have launched programs like; Kindle Singles, Kobo Exclusive Shorts and Nook Snaps which all feature short books.  Even bestselling author James Patterson, has begun focusing on shorter and cheaper works.  It seems those within the publishing industry have been watching indie authors closely.

Your Advertising Has To Be Different

Indie authors have been told to build a strong brand which is good advice but most teens say they don’t feel connected to any particular brand.  In fact, they say most brands don’t understand them at all and sadly, they’re right.  Gone are the days where you could just yell BOGO (Buy One Get One) and get someone’s attention.  Today, the question is can you contribute to the conversation teens are having or are you just trying to take it over?  The advice that most marketers give today is to make your ads look like native content which basically means that your ads shouldn’t look like ads at all.  Your advertising has to add to the conversation —their conversation.  So if your book can’t mesh with what teens are talking about, then it may not be as marketable as you think.

Young People Don’t Wish For Diversity, They Demand It

We live in a global society and this generation of children has grown accustomed to being exposed to different cultures and customs.  Gone are the days of living in a homogenized bubble, young people want to explore and learn, if you can provide these things, you stand to make a splash.  In 2014, the hashtag: #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks became a movement when a Twitter discussion about the lack of diversity in the children’s genre went viral.  Several major publishers finally heard the cry and began publishing books with diverse worlds and characters.  Since then books like Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai, and The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste, have rose to the top of the bestsellers list.

Social Media Influencers Are The New Celebs

Gone are the days where the radio or television executives chose the next big star today, algorithms and SEO determine who gets an audience and who won’t.  The party is online for teens and young adults, because the internet offers them a plethora of choices that traditional media just cannot.  Many of these choices are DIY Youtube channels and Snaps where regular people entertain, post tutorials and review products.  I talked about this in a previous article called: Booktube for Indie Authors which opened the eyes of a lot of authors who knew nothing about this subculture of book reviewers.  To the shock of many marketers, teens consider Youtubers legitimate celebrities right along the lines of Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner.  This means that to teens, Booktubers are seen in the same league as the New York Times reviewers.

Young People Aren’t Difficult, They’re Different!

This paragraph may anger a few people but I have to tell it like it is.  Many older people fall into the same trap of previous generations who criticized or dismissed their youth and did so at their own peril.  When the World War II Generation ignored the Baby Boomers (think Vietnam), they in turn were ignored and marginalized later on in politics, and pop culture.  If you don’t try to understand this generation then everything they say and do will be foreign or scary.  You will miss out on modern culture and even risk losing an opportunity to make relationships which is the backbone of any marketing strategy.  So don’t run from them, do your best to understand them, who knows maybe they will take the time to listen to you as well?

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Book Promotion, Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing

Lessons Learned in Publishing

facebook_048bae9374
Image via Pixabay

It’s almost 2015, and like most people, I’m wondering where the heck did all the time go? Luckily, I had a pretty productive year, I finished one book and published another. I also made more friends and learned more about the publishing industry.  Yes, after years in the business, I’m still learning new things.

Here are just a few of the bigger lessons I discovered this year in 2014…

Book Marketing Has To Be Taken To Another Level

Last month, an author sent a lamb chop into space to promote his book: Meatspace. He recorded the whole thing on Youtube and so far it’s netted him over 250,000 views. It was the most odd, yet, spectacular marketing ploy I’ve ever seen. So much for creating bookmarks, eh?

Despite what you may have heard, you still have to promote your book to some extent. Whether you decide to do it via blogtours, advertising or social media, you should let someone know your book is available. Many of the most successful authors have marketed their work continuously, because they can’t afford to leave it up to chance.

Repeat After Me: Amazon Is Not The Savior Of Publishing

Not long ago, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, referred to authors as customers in a meeting with investors. A Bloomsbury executive also referred to authors as customers at the Frankfurt Book Fair this past year. Although, I don’t agree with the customer label, I do believe we are treated more like employees rather than business partners.  Think about it, publishers have been using authors as brand ambassadors to promote their companies for years.  One author in my writer’s group put it like this: “Yes. We’re Amazon’s unpaid marketing department. And all those little ‘Amazon affiliate’ booklists are their marketing funnels. We’re all herding readers into the chute so we can cut our own throats. Maybe it’s time we all woke up and stopped committing professional suicide by supporting a one-platform market?” A strong but very true statement.

Consider All Possible Income Streams

Many of the literary elite like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King have made a lot of money from selling books but they’ve also made lots of money from other things like movie deals, speaking engagements and yes, even merchandise.

And why not? If you don’t take advantage of all the opportunities available to you someone else will. For example, I found a lot Fifty Shades of Grey merchandise online but none of it was official, meaning the author E.L. James, is likely not getting paid for any of it. How do I know? Well, on the author’s website there is no mention of merchandise and ditto for her publisher’s website. However, that hasn’t stopped many of these so called “fan sites” from taking the image of the book (a copyright violation), and slapping it on multiple products.

Don’t ever forget publishing is a business, not an art. It’s sad when bootleggers understand this so much better than the authors they rip off.

Free Books Aren’t Devaluing A Damn Thing!

If you believe that giving away a free book is going to ruin your career, you’re insane. There are lots of bestselling authors who have free books available. They often use free books to get reviews or to build up their email lists just like their indie counterparts.  That’s because free books have been proven to be way more effective at building an author platform than advertising and social media.

We Need To Promote On Social Media But Only In The Right Places

Social media is getting complicated as Facebook and Google limit the reach of their users. Many are finding that even advertising and promoting posts aren’t working so they’re abandoning their pages in droves. I think this is a bad idea. I believe social media can be useful but only if you network properly. We authors need to become a part of a thriving reader community and make the leaders of these communities an offer they can’t refuse. I discussed this in my post: How to Approach and Pitch Social Media Influencers.

We Need To Accept There Is No Such Thing As Luck!

Many authors who’ve succeed at publishing often put years into their careers. They’ve learned their craft, studied the business, and experimented (both artistically and business wise) in order to make a living at publishing. Luck by the way, is often seen as a four letter word to successful people.

Awesome-quote-by-Peter-Dinklage from Thumb Press
From Thumbpress

You’re A Writer After You’ve Actually Written Something

Don’t let others fool you into thinking that you need an agent or contract with one of the NY Big 5 to be considered an official author. No one will ever anoint you with fairy dust and make things happen for you. That’s way too Cinderella! A real author is someone who has published a book and made a connection with their readers.

In Closing

Though I think the industry is stabilizing, I do think things will continue to change, but not at the pace that they have been. In times like these, we have to constantly remind ourselves this is a business and not a calling.  As with most businesses, we’ll face many ups and downs, that’s just life in general.  No one gets a free pass.  Absolutely no one!

 

Advertising, Business, Marketing

Cheap Book Advertising for Indie Authors

 

Final Advertising Pic

Update: 12/6/21015

Several of these advertising sites have changed their policies since the publication of this post.  Please be sure to go to the actual website and read carefully the terms and conditions before signing anything.  ~Rachel Rueben

Recently, we had a discussion on the podcast about marketing and the subject of advertising versus PR (social media) came up.  One of the guests who had a background in marketing said, “Many authors buy Facebook ads and don’t sell anything.”  She went on to explain that PR and marketing were different animals and not many authors know that.  I agreed, though I had to come to that conclusion the hard way.  I too advertised on Facebook, and Goodreads then wondered why I got no return on my investment.  I quickly learned that the best places to advertise are in email newsletters but not all of them are cheap or indie friendly, so I went on a quest to find affordable and effective advertising.

In my search I found lots of sites with poor web traffic charging upwards of $6,000 for an ad.  And when I say poor web traffic, I mean sites with less traffic than my own blog.  Indies have to be careful, there are a lot of people looking to take advantage of a naïve author.  Case in point, a website catering to ebook readers emerged recently and was actively promoting on indie forums.  However, when several authors did a little digging, it was discovered the site had an Alexa rating that was comparable to that of a small blog.  To add to the confusion, they (the site) boasted of a subscriber base of over 100,000 readers which seemed impossible.  Then a theory was purposed that maybe the site had purchased an email list and was most likely spamming people.  I won’t list that one here and I’m warning all authors to do their research before handing over any money for an ad, blog tour or social media blitz.

It wasn’t easy finding 10 sites that are cheap and indie friendly.  I searched in author forums, blogs and even went to social media to find out what authors were saying about their experiences buying ads on these various sites.  Those with bad customer service where automatically left out, while those with no tangible ROI outside of exposure were kicked to the curb.  Some of the places listed are well known in the indie community, while others might be new to you.

The Obvious Disclaimer: 

I need to warn you that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to advertising.  Just because one author had success with a particular site doesn’t mean you’ll reap the same benefits.  There are many factors that come into play when it comes to a successful marketing campaign like; popularity of genre, timing, placement, packaging and platform.

10 Cheap Promotional Ads for Your Books

Pixel of Ink
Is free, but your book must be .99 cents or lower to qualify and there’s no guarantee that your book will be picked.  From what I’ve been told, it’s hard to get in.

Ereader News Today aka ENT: Takes 25% of all sales made through their ads and they exclusively use PayPal.  Many indie authors swear by this site.

Masquerade Books: Offers to Tweet your book 200-500 times as well as post a promo ad on their site for $20-$30.

Book Praiser: Advertises your book to 120 sites including social media groups $30

Ebook Booster Advertises your book (which must be priced at 0.99 cents) to over 30 sites for $30.

Kboards: Their ads range from $35 for a featured book 1 day to a 7 day feature book at $195.

BookBub Is the golden standard of advertising that many indies swear by.  Prices here range depending on genre, with the lowest price at $40 for Parenting books, to the highest being $640 for Mysteries.  Be warned they take the price of your book into consideration so the cheaper your book is, the less expensive the ad will be.

Book Send is set up like BookBub where they charge you based on Genre, the lowest price being $10 for YA and $100 for Romance. They claim to have over 60,000 subscribers.

Kindle Nation Daily aka Book Gorilla
Now I know this one is a wee bit expensive but I’m listing KND anyway. Why? Because I used this site myself and it worked for me and many others.  Keep in mind this was 2 years ago and a few authors have complained that KND doesn’t seem to work anymore for them.  Prices starts at $99 for a one day feature and ends at $529 for Thriller of the Week.

Kindle Books and Tips
I just discovered this site via the Kboards.  At $50 this site has done well for both fiction and nonfiction authors.

Freebie, Shmeebie

For those of you doing a giveaway, there are millions of sites on the internet willing to help you promote for free.  Heck, if you do nothing to promote your free book it will probably still do well in most cases.  So I’m not listing freebie promotions, just the sites that offer ads for books on sale.  You know, so we can actually make money for a change.

Now back to you, do you know of any cheap and effective sites to advertise a book?  Spill the tea and keep another indie author from wasting their money.

Business, Marketing, Publishing, Writing Business

My First Goodreads Ad

Book Advertising

Two weeks ago, I decided to dip my toes in the waters of book advertising.  Was it successful?  You be the judge.

The Setup:

I bought a “D.I.Y.” pay-per-click ad on Goodreads for $40 and bid about 50 cents per click which is the lowest you can possibly go.  I set the cap at $20 per day.

Click Through Rates (CTR) 

To make a long story short, I got a .12% click through rate, which is somewhere between the average Goodreads ad of .05%- .50% CTR.  The only problem I had with these stats are, you have no idea what those people who got that .50% rate actually spent?  So how can I make my ad more successful?

All in all, I did get the word out there about my book, but at a $36.00 loss.  I also learned a whole lot about book advertising.

Mistakes

Number #1:  I didn’t do any split testing, meaning, I didn’t use two or more ads and test them side by side to see which one got the best results.

Number #2:  I had no real call to action in my ad.  My ad basically had the title of my book and the copy: “What would you do if your boyfriend had been intimate with another boy?”  It was enough to entice several people but not enough to get conversions/buyers.

Number #3:  Bad pricing, I set my ebook at $4.99 which wasn’t a problem when it came to clicks but when it came to conversion however, there was definitely an issue!  I’m thinking of taking my price down to the “normal” $2.99 for the book tour and then I’ll raise it back to where it belongs.

Analysis

I put the ad up on Thursday and let it run for two weeks.  The most activity I saw was during Thursday through Sunday.  During the early weekdays however, there was a 60% plus drop in clicks and views.

Book Advertising
The chart that Goodreads provides displaying ad views.

Results in plain English:

55,912 views

70 clicks

one sale

9 people put “Hag” on their to read list.

Things You Need to Know

You must have an authors account or be a representative of an author in order to advertise a book on Goodreads.

GR has rules about the content of  ads, when you put links in your ad, you must tell people where they will be going like; Amazon, B&N’s etc.  This is to protect the customer, so you can’t say, “Click here and get my book on Amazon” and take them to a scam or porn site instead.  Goodreads will check the links you provide!

There is absolutely no pornography, or libelous language allowed.

Before you advertise on their site, Goodreads has to approve your ad, which can take anywhere from 24-72 hrs.  The earliest Goodreads approved my ads was 12 hours, the longest they ever took, 3 days!  Keep this in mind when timing your ad campaign.  If you’re going to post on the weekends, submit your ad by Wednesday.

GR has a cool pause feature, where if your ad is approved too early, you can simply pause it until you’re ready.  It’s also great for split testing!

Well that’s it, there will be a part 2 soon, where I’ll discuss my book launch and all the wonderful, as well as all the nightmarish things that went on.

If you got any advertising stories of your own, please share them in the comments section.