Writers’ Toolkit #4: How to Sell Your EBook: Ads, Promo, Marketing—Paid and FREE

The old ways of publicizing books aren't working so well in the E-Age.

In 2011, editor Alan Rinzler famously said, "That $50K space ad in the New York Times? Forget it. It’s only for the author’s mother. The twenty-city bookstore tour with first class airplanes, limousines, and hotel suites? A waste of money. Not even an appearance on the Today Show can guarantee more than a brief spike in sales....The old ways don’t work."

So what does work? Facebook ads? Goodreads giveaways? Getting hundreds of fans to Tweet your book every five minutes?  

Right now, most successful authors will tell you that none of the above methods are working very well either. (Not that we wouldn't welcome a few Tweets.) 

But what really generates buzz for your book these days is e-book bargain newsletters and websites.

This week Ruth Harris gives us a rundown of the best-known sites and newsletters. The biggies are pretty pricey, but some are very reasonably priced, or even FREE....Anne

Writers' Toolkit #4:
How to Move the Merch.
by Ruth Harris

After the book is written, edited, polished and published—that's when ads, promo and marketing matter.

A lot.

There are many sites—with new ones popping up constantly—that will promote your book. Some of them paid, others are FREE.

Each site has different rules and regs—not all of them accept erotica—and it’s important to read the fine print as you make your promotional plans and decide on a budget. As you will see later, some authors have found success with FREE promo, others with paid. There is, as has been pointed out many times, no such thing as one-size-fits-all.

In alphabetic order:

AwesomeGang offers FREE ebook listings in addition to a $10 paid option for more traction. As an extra service to authors, AwesomeGang provides a list of other sites offering FREE promotion.

Bargain Booksy will list your bargain or reduced-price book on their own site and in their daily email to over 50,000 subscribers at a cost of $50. If you are offering a free book, their companion site, free booksy, is the place to go.

BookBlast lists free and sale books discounted 50% from the usual price to over 40,000 readers. Authors can choose genres ranging from YA to thrillers to romance and just about everything in between.

BookBub, is picky and pricey but generally considered highly effective although, as with everything, YMMV and there can be variations between genres. As with most sites, BookBub works on an opt-in system and currently does not accept short stories and novellas or books costing more than $2.99.

Before deciding whether or not to try your luck at BookBub, you will want to do your due diligence. You will find the latest, hot-off-the-press info on BookBub promo results at this Writers’ Cafe thread.

BookDaily “invites [authors] to set up a FREE author account on BookDaily to promote your book to our readers. BookDaily introduces authors to new readers by providing a sample chapter from the author's books.” Recently, BookDaily emailed 43,753 sample chapters to readers.

E-Book Bargains UK (EBUK) is the UK’s version of BookBub and gets your book in front of readers in the UK (duh!) and 13 other English-speaking markets all over the world that are otherwise tricky for American authors to reach. This is the only newsletter that has a truly global audience. They're planning more countries for the next year, plus an all-erotica newsletter. The site is run by the efficient and very-nice-to-work-with Mick.

Note from Anne: I have used the EBUK guys for several books, and they jump-started stalled UK sales and got me on bestseller lists in Germany and France. Definitely worthwhile for me. I've heard from other authors who climbed the Kobo charts after advertising with EBUK. If you want to know more about them and their vision for the global marketplace, check out the guest post they wrote for us, The E-Book Market No Author Should Ignore.

E-Readers News Today aka ENT is a long-running book promo site with an excellent track record. ENT features include listings for a regularly-priced Book Of The Day, Bargain Books for books reduced to $.99 as well as free books. What sets ENT apart is that you pay after your promo runs and ENT bills you for 25% of your sales. Greg and Rachelle are the savvy guiding lights at ENT.

Donna Fasano, bestselling romance author, believes “the combined forces of BookBub and ENT are what propelled Reclaim My Heart onto the USA Today Best Seller List. My book appearing on the list captured the attention of an editor at Montlake who bought the pub rights. The BookBub ad cost $480 and the ENT ad cost approx $50. After the ads ran, Reclaim My Heart hit #9 on the Kindle Top 100, #4 on the Nook List, #20 on the Kobo List, and #9 on the iBooks Romance List.”

Fussy Librarian FREE (at least for now) is a new kid on the block and sends out daily ebook recs. You can choose from 32 genres, and select content preferences such as amount of sex and violence so that readers who want cozy mysteries won’t receive recs for steamy romance. Here’s a WC thread introducing Fussy Librarian.

You will also find an informative interview with Jeffrey Bruner who runs Fussy Librarian at Lindsay Buroker’s blog here.

Kindle Books and Tips is another paid promo site that offers readers a daily list of FREE and discounted books. 600,000+ visit the blog daily and 125,000+ people view the blog, FB page and subscribe to their email list.

Kindle Nation Daily is one of the first book promotional sites and, as the title indicates, specializes in featuring your book to Kindle owners and readers. KND offers a choice of genres including erotic which some sites don’t allow and also hosts a daily email blast called BookGorilla.

Pixel of Ink, another well-established and attractive book promo site, lists FREE and bargain books as well as Hot Deals browsable by category.

PeopleReads, a FREE ebook listing site, launched in July of 2013. Presided over by Van, PeopleReads features ebooks priced from $.00 to $3.99 and aims to offer top quality books to its growing list of subscribers.

Elaine Raco Chase ran a Veterans Day weekend sale for her contemporary romance title, Rules Of The Game, at 99 cents down from $2.99. Elaine comments: “On Friday: Pixelscroll + Awesome Gang free ads equalled 20 total sales. Saturday: the People Read ad appeared at 10 a.m (Van does a lot of tweets on his own). The Read Cheaply ad appeared at 11:45 a.m + tweets from other authors. On Sunday morning ROTG totaled 55 books sold over nite (just 1 at Nook).

“Have NOT paid a single penny and am pretty pleased plus sales on 4 other books at full price.”

Pixelscroll presents daily postings of eBooks, as well as Apps, Movies and Television Seasons, MP3s and CDs, Audio Books, and all sorts of electronics. PixelScroll offers both FREE and paid ebook listings and sponsorships.

ReadCheaply is another FREE book promo service offering targeted lists of free and deeply discounted ebooks. A few hoops to jump but an attractive option.

The Kindle Book Review is a multi-purpose site that offers author services like formatting and cover creation along with—as the name indicates—reviews. KBR also offers advertising services at prices ranging from $25 to $45.
  • In addition to these independent sites, the major ebook vendors offer their own promotional opportunities.
  • At iBooks, you can set your book to $.00 and get coupons to give to readers, reviewers and anyone else you wish.
  • KOBO will also let you set your book’s price to $.00 and has a new feature that allows you to specify a sale price for a specified amount of time. You will find this option when you scroll down to the bottom of the pricing screen.
  • Kindle has added a new opportunity, Countdown Deals, allows authors to run limited-time discount promotions while maintaining their usual royalty. Countdown also offers a dedicated website and real-time sales and royalty information.
  • NOOK also allows authors to set a book’s price to $.00 but, as of now, only via Smashwords

Hope this rundown is helpful and, if you know of other promo sites and especially if you have experience with them, please let us know! How about you, scriveners? Have you used any of these? What was your experience?

Opportunity Alerts

The Ladies Home Journal essay contest. Theme: The Best Decision You Ever Made. First Prize is $3,000 and the chance to have your essay published in the Journal. You're free to interpret the topic in whatever way you like. Essays will be judged on their emotional power, originality, and the quality of their prose. They should be no more than 2,000 words. More info and submission form on the website.

Narrative Fall Story Contest Enter your short story, short short, essay, or an excerpt from a longer work of prose up to 15,000 words. Entry fee is a little pricey at $22, but the prize is $2,500 for first prize, $1,000 second-place. The editors will judge. Online submission system. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines. Deadline November 30th.

DRIFTLESS REVIEW ANNUAL FLASH FICTION CONTEST $15 ENTRY FEE for up to three stories. Each short-short story limited to 500 words. $500 prize. Deadline December 31

Dark Continents Publishing's Guns and Romances anthology. They're looking for previously unpublished short fiction from 3500-9000 words. Any genre as long as there's a tough protagonist, weapons, and... at least one reference to music. Sounds interesting. Payment rate is a one-off of $20 per story plus a percentage of the ebook royalties. Publication estimated in late-2014. More info on the website. Closing date for submissions is February 28, 2014.

CRAZYHORSE PRIZES IN FICTION, NONFICTION, POETRY $20 fee (includes subscription). This is a biggie, well worth the fee. This venerable literary magazine has published the likes of John Updike, Raymond Carver and Billy Collins. Winners in each category receive $2,000 and publication. Submit up to 25 pages of prose or three poems. All entries considered for publication. Submissions accepted in the month of January 2014 only.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,