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 🙂

Increasing book sales by using a mailing list

I recently read a very interesting blog over at Lindsay Buroker’s excellent website. Lindsay talked about how important it was to cultivate a fan base, a following, a group of happy readers who love your work and can’t wait to devour more of your words. It was suggested that if you can cultivate around 10,000 fans, you can be pretty comfortable whether the market for ebooks crashes or Amazon changes its algorithms to make finding your titles even harder. This is a very obvious concept when it’s clearly pointed out, but I hadn’t given it much thought before. Build a thriving fan base, and you can be pretty much assured that you’ll have ‘X’ number of buyers and readers when any new work comes out.

Lindsay’s post made me realise the importance of creating a mailing list from the word go. It doesn’t mean more workload, and you certainly don’t have to be producing a newsletter every month. However, it does offer you a direct link to those who have read your work and are more than happy to know about milestone news. By milestone news I mean the launch of a new title, a public book reading that you may be doing, or perhaps an exciting competition you’re running. It’s important here not to overdo your contact with fans and bombard people with every new blog post and piece of information that you can possible think off – that’s one sure way of having people un-subscribe.

Creating a mailing list is VERY simple, and even Hotmail offers the ability to create categories of people who you can send mail to. Each time a reader wants to be added to the  mailing list I simply add them under a contact name of ‘Inside Evil Updates’ and add them to the appropriate category. Then, when the time comes, simply send a group notice to subscribers using the BCC mailing address (this avoids you sending out the contact emails of EVERYONE on your mailing list to each other) and hey presto, job done.

But, how do you get subscribers?

  • Put a note in the back of your books. At the end of your books, simply tell readers that if they send you an email at ‘X’ address with ‘Y’ in the subject line, they can be added to a mailing list for important author events.
  • Put a note on your website. If people are visiting your website, then there’s a good chance that they may have read, or be about to read, your books. Offer them an obvious chance to stay in the loop.
  • Flatly and out-rightly ask people. I’ve had a couple of emails from readers already and in my response, have ASKED them if they’d like to be put on the mailing list. NEVER just assume the best and add people, because this could put a black mark next to your name when emails start arriving in their inbox.

It’s now my belief that from the moment you finish your book, you should be looking to create that vital fan base. Nurture them, talk to them, help them grow. Writing is a pleasure, and having readers respond positively to your work is a complete wonder. And, though I’ve only just started out, my mailing list is already growing, offering the promise of readers when my next novel hits the virtual shelves.

May’s increasing sales

May’s been a great month for me. Today, not to blow my own trumpet ‘too’ loudly, it’s my birthday. I’m 31 on the 31st of May…if only I could get 31 sales today too. 😉 Talking of sales, May has, by far, been my best month and I’ve noted a 233% increase in my books rocketing off the shelves. OK, ‘rocketing‘ may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve increased from THREE sales last month, to 10 sales this month. See, I’ve had so many sales that it’s now not grammatically correct to spell out the number!

I know that hitting the lowest possible double digit figure for monthly sales may seem a ridiculous thing to be celebrating, but I’m moving in the right direction and that’s a good thing. I’ve had a unsolicited five star review on Amazon.co.uk, I’ve had an email from a reader asking if I’m writing another book, and I’ve been getting great feedback from a couple of reviewers. I’ve had Inside Evil proofed from tip to toe so as to remove as many errors as possible (there were quite a few, I’ll admit it). And, let’s not forget, I had a new cover created.

When you’re first starting out in the publishing world, it’s little things that thrill you. Any sale is very exciting, a positive review makes your jaw hit the floor, and moving into a Top 100 list offers so much excitement that it’s almost impossible to stop screaming and dancing around the house (yes, I did this). I could never understand the rankings. I was listed as at some stupid seven millionth and something in the Kindle store, yet I didn’t appear in any other category lists. I wanted to know exactly how awfully low I was for specific genres. Then, I sold a few books and suddenly I was #87 in Horror and #93 in Occult in the co.uk listings. I didn’t stay there for very long mind you, but I don’t really care. I, me, Geoff Wakeling was, for the briefest moment, in a top 100 list. Awesome.

With May almost over, I’m already looking forward to June. This lovely summer month should see me feature on a few website reviews. In addition, my LibraryThing promotion finishes on June 5th. I’ll then be sending out 50 copies of Inside Evil to readers for reviews, so I hope that a few more positives may come back from the promotion. Ultimately, I hope this will lead to more sales as news of the book is spread across the web.

In the meantime I’m cracking on with the second book of the Inside Evil series. I’m almost ready to reveal the name, I just need to ponder it a little more before it’s set in stone. I’m also readying for a tiny weeny competition, the winner of which will have their idea featured in Book Two. Details to come.

For now, I must go and celebrate my day with another cup of tea, maybe some cake, and definitely some more writing. 🙂

A new cover

I’ve been pondering about getting a new cover made up for Inside Evil for a while as my efforts weren’t a staggering success. There’s lots of debate on Kindle forums and other communities about whether a good cover increases sells. Whilst the majority of people advocate the need for an awesome cover, I’ve seen quite a lot of books that are selling reasonably well with pretty dire cover art. However, it seems pretty obvious that, for those flicking through Amazon’s ebook lists, an eye catching piece of art work will draw more attention from potential readers.

I want my entire ebook to be the best that it can be, and so I hired the creative genius of Char Adlesperger over at Wicked Cover Designs. I’d heard lots of good things about her, and for $55, an ebook cover was an absolute bargain.

Working with Char was incredible, and not only was it cheap to get a cover done, but fast. I put in my request on Saturday, and by mid afternoon yesterday (less than three days), the title was complete. I’d given her an outline of some features that I’d thought about, and I think Char brought them together amazingly. Adding to that, she even suggested adding a strap-line to bring the entire cover together and entice more readers; something that I hadn’t thought of myself.

I’m overjoyed with the results, and can’t recommend Char enough. Whether it sells more books or not, I certainly think its eye-catching and I’m really happy with the results. Now, I have to get back to writing the next in the series, if only to see what Char can come up with next!

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.