How to use Squidoo to promote your ebook

When it comes to marketing, I’m a firm believer of promoting in as many places as possible. The internet makes this quite easy as you can sign up to article websites and PR providers all over the place, helping to spread your author name and novel titles. Increased exposure helps to build both branding and awareness, and so getting as many mentions across the Internet is a GOOD thing.

I should say before I continue, that Squidoo is no quick fix or easy way to promote your ebook. Like most other platforms, it requires time and patience, and if you’re looking to only invest a couple of hours on squidoo and reap huge benefits, then you’re probably wasting your time. It’s probably not the best way to market a book, and I’m also fairly new to the website so I’m not a pro either. It’s a huge time sap too, and I’ve been spending hours on there over the past few days when I could have been doing better things. However, I like to take a time out between writing books to formulate plans, and squidoo has been quite fun to use, hence this post. In addition, recent reports listed by the site showed that it was the 64th most visited website in the US, and gained 2 million hits in just one day this year, so there is big potential to attract readers.

BUT, what exactly is Squidoo?

Simply put, squidoo is a website where you create articles (called lenses) about specific topics using the platform’s ready built webpages and modules. Think Ezine Articles, About.com etc. Anyone can join, anyone can build, and the best feature is that anyone can earn money from their Amazon modules. Amazon modules that can point directly to your books.

HOW can it help me promote?

The best way Squidoo can help you promote your books is by building an online encyclopaedia of your work. You can create lenses for your books, link these to lens of your characters, or places, or book themes. Think Wikipedia, but a wiki for your work created by you.

So far I’ve created an Inside Evil lens, The Tower of Souls lens and several others. I’ve linked them together. I’ve added Amazon links, a poll of favourite characters, a simple cast list and a ‘Did you know?‘ section.

 

The more ‘likes’, comments, tweets etc that you get for a page, the higher it’s visibility becomes. And, of course, in the same way that you should be commenting on blogs, responding to tweets, and pasting FB marketing material to promote your book every day, a few updates on your lenses can work wonders. Once you’ve spent the time creating, you can simply check in every day, update, respond to comments and factor the time into your marketing schedule.

EARN points and level up

Whilst Squidoo isn’t a game as such, you do start at level one and earn points as you go. These points are equal to expertise, and each time you level up, you unlock new features for your lenses and additional ways to climb up the community ladder. It’s a fun side to squidoo, and you’ll keep wanting to earn points like mad just to see what’s waiting. You can breathe a sigh of relief when you reach level 85 as that’s the top, but as I’m currently only 22, there’s a fair way to go.

BEWARE,  it’s a time suck

Like many social platforms, Squidoo is a total time suck and isn’t for everyone. You need to enjoy the experience of making lenses and taking part in the community if you’re to benefit at all. Looking at it only as a promotional tool probably won’t work. In addition, you’ll probably need to create more lenses than just your book ones, and this means that you need to actually enjoy using the website. I’ve created lenses in Pets,  Entertainment and How To as a way to draw traffic to my profile and build my squidoo presence.

I’m not advocating that squidoo is about to be a ground-breaking new promotional too, but I’ve enjoyed using it over the past couple of days. If it proves successful, I’ll drive traffic towards my books whilst earning commission on their sales (and any other items I add to my Amazon modules). If you have some spare time, then take a look. You can find my profile HERE, and start exploring this world of virtual squids.

Increasing Smashwords success

When I first came into self-publishing, I didn’t even know about KDP Select. I find myself feeling fortunate about this because whilst many authors noted a lot of success at the beginning of Amazon’s exclusive deal, I’ve read quite a lot of material lately that has suggested that the perks of the arrangement are beginning to wane. Instead, I uploaded to KDP and Smashwords, got into the latter’s premium catalogue and pushed Inside Evil onto the shelves of distributors like Apple, Sony and Barnes & Noble.

There are a number advantages of going with Smashwords, including that they issue payment when you have a minimum of $10 through Paypal, rather than waiting for a minimum $100 cheque balance for foreign publishers (or aliens as America likes to call us) that Amazon requires. Likewise, because I’m based outside the US, I can’t access B&N’s own PubIt, so have to utilise Smashwords to get on their shelves. I don’t own a Mac, so directly uploaded to Apple’s iBooks is impossible, and though Kobo have just released their own publishing tool, I’m yet to use it.

Whilst I’ve used Smashwords to offer codes for freebies, I had NO actual sales from the website itself. I thought it was going to take years for me to ever get the $10 minimum, and with no distributor sales either I was beginning to think it was a lost cause. That was until this month, however, when BAM, I had four B&N and three Apple sales. OK, these numbers aren’t high, but I’m in self-publishing infancy, am doing no advertising for those platforms and am not selling huge amounts on Amazon either. In fact, for July, with those seven distributor sales, I actually made more at Smashwords than at Amazon.

Now, I’m finally happy that I’m utilising Smashwords to distribute Inside Evil across its channels, and for the first time, a few sales seem to be appearing. After the first few months of practically selling nothing, sales are actually creeping up each month; a welcome trend. Do you use Smashwords? Have you noted growing sales at distributors?

Increase your July book sales with Smashwords promotion

Promotions can often be key in marketing. Getting people to buy your book is no easy thing, as I’ve discovered myself, and a few freebies and discounts here and there can offer great incentives for readers to download your book, read it, love it and hopefully spread the word.

If you currently sell with Smashwords and received their email this morning, don’t bin it to your delete box before reading because they’ve announced their Summer/Winter sale. This site-wide promotion starts on July 1st and lasts a month, allowing you to discount your books. You can make them free, 75per cent off, half price, or 25per cent off. If you want to enrol, then do so before July 1st for maximum exposure.

As you can see from the form above, it only takes mere seconds to enrol and you might find a jump in sales. I’ve never used the promotion before, but anything to offer readers a little extra incentive to buy your book is a good opportunity to utilise. Inside Evil will be 50% off for the month, and you’ll be able to buy it at the reduced price using the SSW50 code.

How to start a Goodreads book marketing campaign

Up until this point it’s fair to say that I’ve spent minimal money on self publishing. Through the help of a couple of avid readers, I had Inside Evil vetted and proofread for free. Uploading eBooks costs nothing, and I spent $50 on the cover. In addition, I bought this blog domain; so overall I’ve only spent about $65. This, in truth, is nothing when it comes to creating, publishing and advertising a novel.

Those who know me, know that I’m pretty frugal. Some would say I’m tight – I would say I’m financially organised and careful with my spending. It’s the way I was brought up. Just because you might want to buy something, doesn’t mean you should or can buy it. If you really want, you should save – these are the lessons my parents instilled upon me which, in fairness, have been a great help in life. Still, that didn’t stop me blowing my entire student loan in the first year of university on a sound system, hundreds of DVDs and so much booze that I ran out of money in May and had to live of baked beans and scavenged bread for about two months.

Still, I get aside from the point; I don’t like to spend money if I can help it. However, I have finally bitten the bullet and invested into a Goodreads advertising campaign.

The problem with self publishing is that, after that initially flurry of excitement, book sales can slump. I’ve tried to kick start things with a LibraryThing giveaway, but have only had one review, 4 stars, come in. More about that in another post. I know that some indie writers have been successful enough without having to do any advertising, but for the majority of us, some investment will be needed.

Creating a Goodreads campaign is very easy, after all, they want to take your money. However, for those who are worried that it’s going to be difficult to create, fear not. It only takes a few clicks, a couple of lines of copy and you’re off. Goodreads Self Serve advertising took me less than half an hour to fill out and prepare the adverts, and then it took around 12 hours for them to be authorised. Please note, you will need a creditcard so that you can throw some money into the advertising account. However, you can carefully control your Cost Per Click (CPC) rates and set a limit on your daily spend so that money isn’t literally haemorrhaging out of your account.

To prevent huge losses without any actual results, I decided to follow Lindsay Buroker’s advice and go with a targeted market campaign. Whilst you can advertise to everyone, you pay for every click. If these clicks aren’t getting you actual sales, then you’re effectively wasting money and being very inefficient. As it is, I am bidding 30cents for a click. With a royalty rate on Inside Evil of $2.70, it means that if I get one sale for every nine clicks, then I’m breaking even.

In addition to carefully selecting the groups of people I want my novel targeted at, I’ve included the price, the genre and the fact that Inside Evil is an eBook in the actual ad copy. This should stop people wanting paperbacks or crime thrillers clicking on the link and wasting my hard earned cash.

Currently I’m testing out two ads, both pointing to Amazon, to see which has the better CPC rate. I’ll probably add adverts for B&N and Smashwords over time, but at the moment I’m choosing to focus on Amazon whilst I get to grips with the advertising process.

In regards to money, I’ve only dumped $35 into the account. I’ve set a maximum of $5 per day, which gives me 16 clicks. You may not think this is very high, but CPC rates can be pretty unimpressive, as low as 0.05per cent, meaning that for me to max out I’ll actually need to have 32,000 indents during the space of the day to get those 16 clicks. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m not expecting to see these high numbers. And, of course, you can change your maximums or dump more cash in at any time.

Another note to add is that your advertising fund will cover all of your ads. I initially thought I would put $35 in for each of the two ads, but upon creating the second advert, I discovered that they come under the same umbrella. This is great as it offers you the chance to play around with your CPC bid costs and different advert copies without having to invest an increasingly large sum of money.

So, you can see that creating a Goodreads book marketing campaign is fairly easy. From perusing forums and Kindleboards, it seems that some people have success with this route whilst others don’t.  My adverts have been live less than a day and have had 973 indents and no clicks so far.

I will update over the coming weeks 🙂

A Break from Advertising

When writing a book for the first time, you think that THAT is the hard part. However, when you hit that ‘publish’ button, whether it’s on Smashwords, Amazon or the various other places available for self-publishing, you discover that it’s only then that the hard work begins.

Unfortunately, most books simply don’t sell themselves. There needs to be time and effort into promoting, building a fan base, surfing forums (and by this I mean actively engaging in the community and not simply spamming book links) and getting your book and author name known. It’s a hard process. And, it takes a lot of time.

Having read on many forums and blogs that touting a single novel is often a waste of time because though you’ll get sales on one book, there’s no back catalogue for fans to then purchase, I’ve decided to cut back on advertising. Book sales are slow, but having done no real promoting in two weeks, I’m still getting the odd sale here and there. Meanwhile, the extra time means I can plough myself into writing the next Inside Evil  book which, incidentally, is coming on rather well.

I think taking a break is probably a healthy option, and stops the advertising wheel from taking over your life. And, if I can put my energies into writing and publishing more work, it can only be a good step to take.

A New Page

Self-publishing is hard work and it’s very easy to get immediately disheartened when your novel is not a breakout success and you don’t sell 1,000 copies every day. The more I read on forums, the more I realise that many authors trying to break into the market have long periods without sales. This is especially true if you only have a single novel and no ready-made user base to sell to. Combine that with no reviews or ratings, and your novel is floating, adrift from it’s readers. Some selling on Amazon call it the ‘beige wall of shame’, and you’ll know exactly what I mean if you’ve become a sales junkie and keep hitting that refresh button in your Amazon bookshelf tab.

In attempt to try and dispel some of the myths surrounding self publishing sales, I’ve created a new sales tab which will show you exactly how many sales I’m making on various platforms. OK, this may be seriously embarrassing for me, especially if my sales continue at their current level – NIL. But, it’ll be a nice guide for myself and hopefully other newbies to look at. It is with hope that one day I can look back upon this and see that the whole self publishing business was worthwhile. There’s a fun and refreshing thread over at Kindle Boards where many authors not selling 10,000 a month can celebrate their two sales a week. Always makes nice reading when the paranoid gremlins start taking hold.

On a side note, whilst sales just haven’t really occurred, I’m not yet too bothered. From what I’m reading, March can be a quiet month and many newer writers on Amazon are seeing lagging sales too. Combine that with the fact that Inside Evil is still ‘pending review’ on Smashwords, and I truly haven’t got enough exposure to be selling books yet. Onwards and upwards, and lets hope that my sales data doesn’t continue to be horrendously low.