There is no ‘easy’ way to promote….

Easy Row Subway - sign

Easy Row Subway – sign (Photo credit: ell brown)

I was recently asked for tips on how to promote a book based on a recent success. I really wanted to say “There is no easy way,” because, frankly, there isn’t. It requires work, research, and some communication with other writers to discover what works…and what doesn’t. Decisions then have to be made. The first of which is “Do I run my book free?”

There’s definite advantages to free, as long as you view it as unpaid advertising. For new writers just breaking into the Indie/Self-published business, it’s a great way to get your name out there without a lot of out-of-pocket expense. The downside is that you’ll get a lot of downloads, but not necessarily the reviews that you need in order to get noticed. And some of the reviews you do get won’t be positive.

Addendum: If you’re a new writer, as painful as those are, pay attention to those negative reviews. There is a bit of a backlash to being an Indie writer, so you may see one or two knee jerk ‘needs editing’ comments. More than one or two, though, and you might want to take another look at your editing – or hire an editor if you haven’t. Ditto if you’re criticized for your cover art.

And you need those reviews. That’s how many of the other sites determine if your book is worth promoting on their page. Many require a certain number of positive reviews. (Never review your own book, it’s tacky.)

Take advantage of all the free advertising you can. Some sites will give you free advertising in exchange for putting their banner or badge on your page. Don’t forget to include your own page or pages as promotion. Create an author page that’s separate from your personal page. Not all readers will want to know about your relationships or what you had for dinner. This way they can choose, and you can post what you like on your personal page.

Do interviews. Guest on blogs. Find Facebook pages for writers to get advice and assistance, and for your genre for promotion. Read the posts and the comments. Some will do Facebook follows – use your author page – that will help build your name value.

Do NOT post ‘buy my book’ promotion everywhere, all the time. It’s annoying to readers and other writers. Also, try not to ‘step’ on someone’s promotion, give it a little time. Be respectful and considerate at all times. Other people want to help those that are nice to them. Readers like to see writers that are nice. Be nice.

The one drawback to free promotion is the perceived value. Many folks will download anything free, but never read the book. You also make nothing on your book yourself. The other problem is the sheer number of free promotions. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select does much of that for you, but they also put a moratorium on outside free marketing when they found themselves overwhelmed by free offerings. Use those free sites judiciously. Most require up to twenty-one days advance notice, and won’t let you promote again for another ninety days. Plan accordingly.

Once you have at least ten good reviews that’s the time to decide whether to do paid advertising. Ideally you want to spend as little money as possible, so you want to consider the best sites – Pixel of Ink, Ereader News Today and Bookbub among them – and prices will vary. Some will do better with certain genres, too. It’s easy enough to check to see which or who does well. I was lucky and learned about my most recent promotion site from another writer.

Once you’ve decided which site to use, you’ll have to schedule your offering. Don’t get too excited over the numbers for free books – as I said earlier, you’ll give a lot of books away, but yours may not get read. Do some careful crowing (bragging) but don’t get carried away. Paid promotion is another thing. People who are willing to spend even ninety-nine cents are more likely to read what they bought.

The downside of paid – besides the money spent – can be that once spent, you often can’t get a refund if something changes. And no amount of promotion/publicity can make up for a bad book. If you get nothing but negative reviews, you need to make some changes.

Only three things are true in the writing/publishing business

  1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The overnight successes often weren’t overnight.
  2. Nothing sells book one better than book two. Write more books. Especially, write more good books. A badly written book will not sell.
  3. Nothing is easy, just keep writing, keep trying. The only failure is when you stop trying.


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Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. She reads and writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!

Happily married, she’s companion to two dogs, three cats and an African clawed frog named Hopper who delights in tormenting the cats from his tank.

Valerie Douglas is the co-founder and one of the administrators of the 12,000+ member Indie Author Group – supporting writers around the world.
Visit her blog at Valerie Douglas, Author at Large

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