Advertising, Book Promotion, Marketing

The Indie’s Guide to Researching Potential Book Promoters

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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.


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.

Business, Publishing, Writing Business

Getting Sponsorship for Your Self-Published Book

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This article was written in 2012, if you want the updated version please go to:  Old School vs New School Crowdfunding: Which One Should Authors Consider and  Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors to get more info on how to get money for publishing.

Getting a Sponsor Your Book Part 1

When thinking of sponsorships we immediately think of charities, athletes, or musicians, but authors can also use sponsors to launch their books.  Several months ago, I talked about how you could get others to pay for your self-publishing expenses through crowd funding and today, I would like to expound a little further.  Launching a book is expensive and most publishing companies won’t lift a finger to help with the expenses.  That’s where a sponsor can save the day or your career!

What You Need

Start with a business plan that is realistic for the launching of your book.  What are your goals both short and long term?  If you’re self-published, how much money did you spend on editing, marketing, printing etc?  How much will you need to sell in order to break even?  Now, how much can you sell realistically?

You can’t skip this step, because your sponsor will want to know what you’ll do to make this a success.  Nobody will put money in a sinking ship!  Besides, if you don’t know the details about your own business, why would they trust you with theirs?

What Can a Sponsor Do for You?

Many authors have used sponsors to get into book festivals, fundraisers, and even start book tours they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.  In cases like this, an author puts information about a company’s product, or service on their signing tables, or by even putting company logos on their book.  In exchange, the author gets free travel and accommodations which isn’t a bad deal.  So, if you always wanted a booth at that giant book fair in New York, this might be your ticket there.

What Can You Really Offer?

Most companies want visibility, they want media coverage, and buzz from this arrangement.  You’ll have to provide eyes and ears for their product or marketing campaign.  Can you realistically do this?

In most cases, a sponsor is using you to do a grass roots campaign in a town or community.  Usually, somewhere they haven’t reached.  They don’t expect you to sell zillions of their products, but they do want a serious effort.  That possibly means blogging about them, or doing interviews where you just happen to mention them.  If you can’t provide that, then sponsorship isn’t for you!

The Artistic Hustle

The trick with a sponsorship, is remembering to promote your book while, promoting a product that you may, or may not be passionate about.  Celebrities do it all the time, just ask Snookie, or Lady Gaga.

Even with all her success, Lady Gaga’s record company is not going to pitch in a dime for her concert tours which is how she makes her money.  Why?  Because the record company won’t get a big enough cut to validate the risk.  People get sick, bad weather happens, controversy arises and they can easily get left in the cold.  The record AND publishing industry make their money selling books and music, not by promoting their artists!

This isn’t unusual, in the 17th and 18th centuries, painters often were sponsored by wealthy families and in return, they would paint their portraits for free.  Sound familiar?  Your struggles aren’t unusual, and are actually quite normal.  That starving artist image had to come from somewhere right?

In part 2, I’ll explain how to approach a sponsor.