Promoting your book on Goodreads with listopia

I’ve not had a huge amount of success on Goodreads. I don’t like the interface, I find the forums troublesome and I really don’t read enough to be actively participating in book discussions. Mostly, I find that you have to use passive promotion on Goodreads; that is, instead of going around saying ‘Here’s my book‘, ‘Read my book‘, ‘Look at my book‘, you have to participate in forums about other subjects and let users find your work by themselves. Of course, a few plugs here and there in the appropriate forum threads never hurt, but overall, Goodreads is a place for readers to discover books, not have them thrust upon them.

A new area of passive promotion which I hadn’t even realised was available until last week is the listopia option. This Goodreads area is a place where people can add their favourite books to current lists, or start their own lists to organise great reads into easily found categories. It also offers an ideal place for you to add your book, utilising lists that you book falls into to spread your novel across as many pages as possible and, therefore, in front of as many eyes as possible.

Listopia is easy to find, and easy to add your book to. One word of warning, it’s probably best not to start adding your books to the ‘Best books Ever written‘ or ‘Best Indie Books‘ categories. In fact, it’s probably best to stay clear of any ‘BEST’ lists because this is for the readers to decide upon, not you. However, you can add your book to any other list that is appropriate. For example, I’ve put Inside Evil into ‘British Fantasy Authors‘, ‘Fantasy Books Set in Two Worlds‘, and ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy Titles for 2012!’ I’m not making assumptions by adding my book to these categories, I’m just telling readers what they can expect to find.

Whether or not this process will help Inside Evil get added to many more shelves I have to find out. But, placing it in as many places as possible surely can’t help gain more exposure.

LibraryThing Giveaway Promotion

As some people will know, early in June I offered a LibraryThing giveaway, providing 50 copies of Inside Evil to people on LibraryThing in return for reviews. I had many hopes, not to increase sales, but to get reviews. Here are the results.

It can safely be said, that the LibraryThing giveaway was a bit of failure. At the very least, it failed to live up to expectations. Of the 50 books that I offered, 39 people downloaded the novel from Smashwords which I would think is a pretty good result. However, over the course of the past month, I’ve only had ONE review and around FOUR Goodreads adds. It’s a little disappointing, as I hoped that a ratio of at least 10% would give me a review, but alas, so far, the one sole review is all I’ve had. Still, this was a 4star one so it’s not a complete loss and I was ecstatic to see that the reader posted on LibraryThing, Amazon and Smashwords.

Of course, when you’re running a LibraryThing giveaway, it’s important to remember that the types of people bidding in these contests are the type of readers who may well have a substantial backlist of books to read. After one month, I’ve had one review. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more to come in the future as individuals finally get around to giving Inside Evil a go.

Would I use LibraryThing’s giveaway again?

At the end of the day, it’s a great giveaway tool and so, yes, I would use it again. I plan to offer 50 copies of Tower of Souls to readers about a month before the release. This should give people the chance to read the book and make a few reviews so that when it goes live on Amazon and Smashwords, there is already some feedback available. Obviously, it’s a sequel, so people winning the book may even buy Inside Evil first so that they’re caught up on the story.

If you’re thinking of using a LibraryThing giveaway, then don’t expect great instant results. Be happy for the reviews that you do get in, and utilise it as a way to get your work read and find a few new fans and followers.

Raising your profile with Authors Den

For many self publishers the battle with obscurity will begin as soon as the ‘publish‘ button is pressed and we realise that readers aren’t going to automatically flock to our books. Through unsolicited reader reviews and emails from people about your books, you can quickly establish that, yes, your book isn’t crap and there are people out there who are loving it. This can help stop the huge disappointment that is likely to ensue when book sales are slow. If you’re getting one and two star ratings, then perhaps your works needs some fine tuning. But, if you’re getting positive reviews from the few readers that you do have, then it’s a shove in the right direction to keep persevering.

Obscurity is a very hard problem to cure, and visit any self publishing forum you’ll to see hundreds of threads about how to get more sales. Reviews will encourage new readers to buy, but how do you get these reviews in the first place? Getting into the Top 100 is likely to get you seen by more people, but how do you get enough sales to reach these desired spots? Around 1,000 Amazon sales and you’re entering the realms of catching the eye of an algorithm or two so that you’ll appear in some of the spotlight lists. After launching your book and noting sales dribbling in, you may wonder whether you’ll ever make that 1,000.

It seems as if the most positive think that you can do is to write. Write more books, add to existing series, put out titles that people will want to read. However, this takes time, and you can be raising your online profile whilst you write. A Goodreads marketing campaign or a LibraryThing giveaway may help readers find your work and spread the word. Joining sites such as Shelfari, Goodreads and LibraryThing will also help, especially if you participate in discussions. A new site that I’ve come across is Authors Den, and with the owners claiming to have a million visitors a month, then surely creating a profile here is a good idea. Making a profile is easy and you can add books, WITH sales links. It may not give you a thousand sales, but in my eyes, anything to get both your name and book titles seen my more people is a bonus.

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 🙂

The first review

Today has been a brilliant day. I found three neglected venus fly trap plants in my local garden centre for 10p each (yes, only TEN PENCE). They’ve got new shoots coming up, and all they need is some sunlight and rain water to start thriving again. Oh. And I got my first Amazon review as well. A five star one.

I haven’t been rushing out to find reviews from people, and though I’ve heard that this obviously helps sales, I like the organic process of gaining write-ups. Asking for a review and getting five stars is one thing. Having a random reader buy your book for $2.99 and love it enough to come back to Amazon and leave a FIVE star review,  is quite another.

A few days ago a Goodreads member gave me three stars. I was a little downhearted, especially, as from looking at her ratings, she either reads from the moment she wakes or simply goes through awarding book ratings by their covers and descriptions. I mean, can anyone seriously read four or five books A DAY? She wasn’t just having a sudden blitz either as looking through her history, she seems to do this every day! Still, a three star rating was a great ‘I like this book‘ rating, which in itself is very good. Followed the next day by a five star review. Wowzers. ‘Well written‘, ‘believable characters‘, and ‘great descriptions‘ were all highlighted. I’m in awe. I’m encouraged. I’m certain that this little review was totally worth it.

To think that in the current economy, a reader chose to pay $2.99 by buying a book from an unknown author with only a single title in their catalogue is great. To think that the unknown author was me, that someone liked my book, enough to go onto Amazon, write a review and give me five stars – well, that’s just a feeling that’s quite indescribable.

Library Thing – Giveaway Promotion

There are many resources that you can use when it comes to advertising a book. I like to take the passive marketing approach, joining in with discussions posted on communities and groups such as Kindle Boards (KB) and Goodreads and getting clicks from signatures, rather than aggressively posting about my work. KB really is a must if you’re a self published author, and you’ll find all manner of help in the Writer’s Cafe forum. Meanwhile, I am slowly getting to grips with Goodreads, and after my post the other day, I’ve noted that Inside Evil is now on several people’s ‘to be read’ lists. I haven’t actively advertised at all. I’ve simply engaged with readers and writers in the forum and they’ve decided to add my book.

I’ve been looking for a way to offer a limited number of freebies of late because, of course, getting people to read your book must be your main aim. Having opted out of KDP Select, there’s no way I can offer freebies of my book on Amazon other than changing the actual book price to zero. However, someone on KB talked about Library Thing and the opportunity for no-cost free promotions and so I decided to get involved.

I’d taken a look at Library Thing once before, when I initially published and was looking for advertising options. However, I hadn’t realised that they offered a wonderful give-away option. It’s superbly easy to navigate and as long as you’re not offering your title for free anywhere else, you can sign up a certain number of copies to be offered to members. I’ve set a one month deadline and 50 copies, and on June 5th, Library Thing will email me a list of people who have requested my free book in turn for a review, along with their email address so that I can send out the correct files.

I only set this up a few hours ago, and I already have one request, so it seems like it could be a great way to get a book out there, especially if you’re a new writer. I can only speculate as to whether reviews will come out of this promotion, but I think Library Thing could be a good resource for building fans and spreading the word.

Utilising Goodreads for book promotion

On many of the forums that I participate in, I repeatedly hear that Goodreads is a great place for book promotion. I’ve never really used Goodreads much before, mostly because I’m normally so busy writing that I don’t read many books. I’m a slow reader. I’m intent on reading every word rather than skimming through pages, to the point that if I feel I’ve missed something, I’ll re-read a paragraph. Thus, I don’t get through many books at all and therefore can’t participate in many of the discussion’s within Goodread’s boards.

Many people seem to warn against simply spamming Goodreads with book links, or risk facing a rebellion of readers and a multitude of one star reviews. I completely agree with this. I’d far prefer to not participate at all, than to simply dip in and out, posting book links all over the place. Communities such as forums and Goodreads are about communicating and being part of the group, and so I feel that you should never look to simply advertise. You get far more out of a community by actively engaging with people, than by being the annoyance who self-promotes and gives nothing back.

Herein lies my issue with Goodreads though because, whilst it seems to be highly populated, I HATE its interface. It’s forum interface must be one of the most horrible things I’ve ever come across, and I find it very hard to want to participate in groups. Not only is finding active discussions near impossible, but trying to keep updated with everything that is going on can be quite hard.

In the next month I’m going to persevere with Goodreads and see if I can get to grips with its horrible UI. If this challenge can be overcome, I’m sure I might be able to find some friends, readers, and even sell a few books. I’ll keep you updated on my findings. In the meantime, if anyone has any helpful pointers, I’d be more than happy to hear them.

Free ISBN’s back at Smashwords

Let’s face it, I came into self publishing with a blindfold on. I really didn’t know what to expect, and the question of getting an ISBN hadn’t even crossed my mind. Then, questions emerged…did I need an ISBN for an ebook? Were they even available? Wasn’t it only printed books that required ISBN’s? What was even the point of having one?

I looked on Amazon – no ISBN needed there, just your unique ASIN code which can be used on Goodreads in place of an ISBN. Result. I looked on Smashwords – ISBN needed for Sony, Apple and Kobo. Oh dear.

However, getting an ISBN is not as scary as it sounds, at all. There’s no lengthy paperwork to fill out and, even better, there’s no cost at all. That’s if you use Smashwords. Whilst you may opt to buy an ISBN, Smashwords regularly gets in a new batch of ISBN’s for you to utilise. Simply head to your ISBN Manager, click the ‘Actions’ tab to go to the purchase page and choose the ‘Free ISBN’ option. Click accept and hey presto, ISBN assigned. There’s no legal bearing over assigning a free ISBN from Smashwords and you’ll retain the rights to you work.

They’ve just got in a fresh batch of 50,000, so head there and assign your ISBN now so that you can start shipping ebooks to Apple, Kobo and Sony pronto.