Like many ‘just getting started’ authors, I have a budget for self-promotion and marketing. Even though one of the publishers I’m with is well known and prestigious, they understandably reserve the bulk of their marketing money for their big authors. I am in no way saying they DON’T put money into marketing me, because they do, it’s just the reality of publishing. If you have to decide between dumping tons of money into your bestseller or a newbie, who are you going to pick? Understandably, the one you’re going to make your money back on. I ain’t mad. I ain’t bitter.
If you’re with a small press, it’s a given you will be doing most of your own marketing. Not because they don’t care about you, but because they don’t have the resources bigger publishers do. That being said, smaller presses can be much more responsive and family-like in their interactions with you, so you trade off the glitz and glamour of a bigger publisher for the nurturing environment of a smaller one–and it’s also a good place to learn.
So let’s talk about advertising. Let’s talk about the paid and unpaid advertising I’ve done, and I’ll tell you how it panned out for me.
– Today starts an ad for my novel on EReader News Today. This is a huge site with tons of visitors and tons of subscribers to their newsletter (which also features your ad). Placing an ad here is moderately to hugely expensive, depending on what you get, your genre, and the pricing of your book. It has stringent requirements, including the sale price of your book, your number and quality of reviews, as well as length, editing, and cover requirements. Since this is the first day of the ad I can’t tell you how it’s done for me but I hear a LOT of good things. Go here to check out advertising with them. (Edit: holy heck, by the day after my sales SKYROCKETED–highly recommend this service.)
– I have an ad on The Romance Reviews right now (on the right sidebar). If you’re a romance author, they offer great perks when you register on their site as an author, giving you 15 credits toward running an ad on their site and three free headline ads. I took advantage of this. The link on my ad comes back to my site so I can see how many people clicked on it–so far, very few. But it was a good opportunity and the ad was almost free with my credits, so I gave it a go. Sign up here as an author. (You can also request a review and run a contest as an author.)
– I will have an ad on Long and Short Reviews, as well as participating in their anniversary party. Moderately expensive depending on what you get and I can’t tell you yet how it fared, because my ad and the party haven’t happened yet, but they’re a very popular and well-viewed site. Go here for their advertising options. (Edit: my ad is up now, I haven’t seen anything come back from it yet, though)
– I did a blog tour with Writer Marketing Services. Cheap, fun, and very accomodating–and I seemed to get a lot of traffic back to my site and interaction on the tour stops. Full disclosure, Lucy Felthouse who runs the service is my editor at one of my publishers, I got a discount because of this (through my publisher) but I’m not just pimping her because of that–she’s great! If you write erotica she also offers ads on Erotica For All, which has a huge amount of viewers. This seemed to get the most people talking to/following me.
– I have also had release day and cover reveal blog tours with Pump Up Your Book, but these are organized and paid for by my bigger publisher, so I can’t tell you much about pricing. This service gives you a huge amount of scattergun exposure…lots and lots of sites host you…but I’ve gotten very little kickback from it. However, the customer service and interactions I’ve had with the organizers is top notch.
– Facebook parties. Expensive, but fun. You need to give away prizes, usually gift cards. But you will have fun. Someone wisely told me not to give away too many free copies of my work: give away gift cards instead, so people will buy your books with them. Think about it–if you run a contest and the prize is your book, how many people are gonna go buy it, if they can win it for free?
– Blog hops. I take part in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (which posts the first Wednesday of every month) and I took part in the Blogging From A-Z Challenge (which is hosted in part by the same people). Nothing–NOTHING I’ve done paid-wise has gotten me the kind of exposure these have. They drive insane amounts of traffic to my site and I’ve made so many new friends and connections (and readers) through them. Blog hops are great for exposure, but only if they meet two requirements: 1. They have tons of participants. 2. They’re widely known. It’s fun to participate in blog hops but you get more exposure with the bigger ones.
– Facebook groups. Facebook has tons of groups for whatever your book may fit into: genre, publisher, on sale. You can join these groups and promote your work. You’re shouting in a room full of people who are also shouting about themselves. The response is lackluster.
– Facebook ‘like’ threads. Sometimes people will post threads where you can link to your FB page and everybody can go ‘like’ the people who interest them, or threads where people pimp specific types of books. This seems to get some traction, depending on the popularity of the person posting the thread and their number of followers. I got 20 new likes last week doing this. Friend people on FB, join groups, and look out for chances to talk about yourself.
– Being a blog tour host. I’ve recently signed up to host blog tours with Goddess Fish Promotions. The theory is if you host a popular author, people will come to your site to see them and then they’ll also see your work (also some authors offer opportunities for prizes to the blogs who host them). I’ll let you know how it goes. Keep in mind there are requirements to being a blog tour host, including how many people visit your site, the genres you represent, and your availability.
– Networking. If you can get a prestigious author to give you a shoutout, it’s worth all the advertising on the internet. Be gracious and make friends. You never know.
– Social networking. Keep in mind you’re screaming in a room full of other people screaming. Find a way to stand out, be kind to everyone you talk to, and hope someone important retweets your tweet.
– Write another book/story. Keep your name in front of the masses.
– Blog. People like to read about other people and all their failed attempts at advertising.
So how about you? What methods of advertising have you tired? And also, here’s some free advertising right now–pimp your work in the comments, if you like!