Book Promotion: It’s Still a Mystery

It has now been one year and seven months since I took the plunge into self-publishing and became an indie author. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and one of the biggest lessons I have learned is already stated in the title of this post: book promotion is still a mystery.

What does a successful book promotion look like? I don’t know.

What do unsuccessful book promotions look like? I don’t know that either.

And I don’t believe this is a oxymoron. It’s simply a statement that acknowledges a lack of understanding about the ins and outs of book promotion. As they say, it’s much more trial and error rather prescribed pedagogy.

Okay, lets look at the term unsuccessful book promotion first. How does one determine if a book promotion is unsuccessful? Well, I suppose the first and easiest answer is whether or not it led to books being sold. After all that’s the goal of book promotion, isn’t it? Actually, it probably isn’t, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Lackluster sales after a big promotion simply may mean that you have lackluster sales after a big promotion. But did the promotion introduce your name or book cover into a reader’s subconsciousness? How can we track at what point a person decides to take the plunge and read a book from an unknown author? How many times do they need to see a book cover or how many reviews will they have to read and trust before pulling the trigger? The answer to all of that is an unequivocal “I don’t know.”

What does a successful promotion look like? Is success determined by covering the cost of a promotional purchase? Do you have to make a profit in order for it to be successful?

I’ve tried a lot of different promotional approaches since I published my first book:

Kindle Free Day – Kindle Countdown Deal – Smashwords Pre-Release Coupon – Goodreads Giveaways – Goodreads Advertising – Blog Advertising – Facebook Advertising – Book Posts – Book Giveaways – Free Books for Review, etc …

What works?

I have never had a bump in sales equal to that  of a Kindle Free Day promotion – especially if some of the larger promotional sites decide to pick up your offering for a day. Hands down, for an unknown indie author, I know of nothing more effective to get your books into the hands of thousands of readers other than offering it free on Kindle.

But the effect of these days are limited. While extremely worthwhile, it’s just the beginning.

What’s next?

Take your pick. I’ve tried most approaches, and I’m considering trying a few others which I haven’t tried yet.

Reviews help, but they are not the silver bullet.

Ads seems to be the least effective, but again, who can measure the worth of exposure, especially in a long term sense.

This summer I have the privilege of doing two author events at libraries. I have no idea what will come from that, but it should be fun.

I do recommend using the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. It has been helpful in exposing my books to thousands of interested readers all for the price of about one paperback book.

I have also seen some positive results using Facebook’s targeted posts.

The point of all of this, I have concluded, is that it is best to say “yes” to everything.

Build a broad base to reach as many readers as possible. Spread yourself thin, in a good sense, and through trial and error find your way through the marketing maze.

And most importantly, never give up.

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