What worked and what didn’t work—all the tried, untried, and bizarre marketing tactics I’m using to get my books Alien Pets and hypnoSnatch from zero sales to some sales.
To continue my story from below, after I stopped posting bookmarks and posters all over Seattle, my sales dropped, but I didn’t notice. I was more concerned about the next book I was writing, and I gave myself a deadline of January 2018 to finish it. I thought I would automatically get great sales from that book because I knew it would be better. Obviously, I knew next to nothing about book marketing.
About a week before I was going to publish, I found out about Kindle Scout, and I submitted the new book, hypnoSnatch. While the new book was in KS, I got some sales from the first book. I spent the 30 days trying everything I could think of to promote hypnoSnatch in KS, including paid promotions and promoting it myself on FaceBook and Twitter. I had never worked so hard to promote my first book, and this wasn’t to get sales, it was just to get nominations.
In the end, it may have all been a waste of time and money. The last book KS selected was on February 8, and a few weeks ago, Amazon announced that the program is ending. But I thought that at least I learned a lot about marketing during the process. Now I think I just learned about marketing free books but not paid books. I went back on Twitter and FaceBook to say the book was for sale, but that didn’t work. Maybe all I really got from doing KS was finding a great author’s community, KBoards, and getting into the habit of working on my books and promoting them every single day. If you do something 30 days in a row, that forms a habit, I remember hearing somewhere, and now I’ve noticed that I’m more driven than ever to market my books to the world.
I’m still struggling and trying some different things with mixed results including posting bookmarks in coffee shops again. In my next post, I’ll tell you how that goes.
It began with my first book, Alien Pets. Link. It used to be Pets and Masters in Space: Part 1, the First Journey, and it had a different cover.
I published Pets and Masters on KDP in 2014 for $0.99 and expected some sales. After a year or more, I might have got a few. Then the writers group I belonged to announced an event where authors could sell their books at a table. I signed up and got a time slot. I created bookmarks to hand out. At the last minute, I couldn’t go, but my teenage son said he would go in my place. This was in a small town where I don’t think unusual science fiction was very popular. My son didn’t give away any bookmarks, but he sold one book to another author there. He said she wanted the whole table and told him, “I’ll buy your book if you leave.”
So that was that. I was left with 100 bookmarks. Months later, I moved to the Seattle area. I found a mall that had a community billboard. I put some bookmarks on it. A few sales started happening. Amazing! I got excited and started to look for more billboards. Finding billboards became my mission in life. I started using AMS, and I think that gave me some more sales.
Then I ran out of bookmark. I decided to save money by making them smaller. I changed them from four to a page to nine to a page. A sudden drop in sales. I guessed they were too small to be noticed, but I had 40 pages of them, so I had to use them. I made a big flashy poster to put behind them. I noticed this was soon pulled down from the billboard in the mall, but color printing on heavy paper isn’t cheap, and I wasn’t ready to print bigger bookmarks.
My next great idea—plaster them outside on the streets of Seattle! I looked up Seattle’s rule for posting flyers. It’s allowed as long as you date them and remove in one month. I made 15 half-sheet sized posters with the bookmarks attached and put them up along ten blocks in the U district. I assumed sales were steady because I continued to see a few sales and some KU pages read each week, but this wasn’t exactly true as I found out later. At some point, my book reached #8 in the UK for Childrens, SF,…Aliens and #24 or better in the US for Young Adult….
A month later, it was October, and the weather was dreary–wet and cold in Seattle. I really didn’t want to make the 30 minute drive out there (or more depending on traffic). ‘I bet they’re not even up anymore,’ I thought gloomily. But I had to go check because I didn’t want to get fined. I went around 9:00 on a Sunday to avoid traffic. The streets were dark with not many people on them. It was scary! I started walking the ten blocks. I couldn’t find my poster anywhere. I couldn’t find any posters! ‘Did they take them down the day after I posted?’ I wondered.
I returned to my car in a bad mood, vowing to never do this again. I didn’t think the posters had done anything, and I thought I was getting enough sales from AMS that I didn’t need this. Only recently, I found out I was wrong. I checked my yearly sales record for that book. Sales had started from nothing in spring (when I started posting bookmarks) and rose to their highest the month I had the Seattle posters up. Then they started steadily declining until now, when I started doing some other things.
Check back next week to find out about my plan to deal with that.