New Writer Advice – Low Cost Marketing

Genre Fiction Marketing 101

So, you’ve published a book on Amazon. Congratulations! Now what? First, make sure your book is competitive with others in your genre because no amount of money will sell garbage. This is also about selling genre fiction. That means those self-help books, poetry books, children’s books, and non-fiction books need to do other things. This advice won’t help much, if at all.

If you sit back and do nothing, you might get a few sales since Amazon puts your new book on a just released list. But in general, no matter how pretty the cover or awesome the blurb, your book will sink like a stone tossed into the sea if you do nothing.

The first thing you should know about trying to make money from your masterpiece is that more books are better than one. And writing books in a series is better than separate standalones. Why? Because you can toss money on advertising book 1, and people will gravitate to buying more in the series. You typically see about a 50% drop off from book 1 to book 2, but people who finish book 2 will most likely finish your series. You can see the potential. The more books you have, the more money you will make with the least amount of ad investment. Sell book 1, you sell the rest. So how do you sell that first book?

In this article, I’ll discuss AMS ads, Facebook ads, newsletter creation, author swaps, and promotion sites.

For more info on marketing and other author-y things, you want to visit Kboards: https://www.kboards.com/index.php/board,60.0.html

 

AMS ads

AMS ads work fairly well to keep your book from sinking to the bottom of the sea.

Tools I might mention briefly:
https://kindlepreneur.com/kdp-rocket-review/
https://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=251257.0 (Machete for AMS)

For AMS to work, as in earn you more than you spend, you need a sellable book with good ad copy and a decent price. If you are trying to make money on a 99c standalone book, forget it now. Your ad ratios will probably look something like this:

1000 impressions = 1 click
20 clicks = 1 buy

So a book at $4.99 which earns $3.44 royalty can afford a bid per click price of 3.44/20 = .17
If your book is under $4.99, then you’ll need cheaper bids in order to make money. Something like a 99c book is pretty much a money sink. That’s ok if that is the first book in a series, but for a standalone, that’s bad business.

Now, I didn’t really talk about going into Select or not. I think it makes sense for new authors to choose Select since it’s very likely you won’t be spending a lot of effort trying to market your books in other platforms (called going wide). This means that your sales ratios will look worse on AMS because it doesn’t track KU borrows or page reads. Which means in order to determine whether the ad is working, you have to look at overall spend vs income.

I have adopted a philosophy of letting a keyword spend money up until the price of the book before pausing it. Unless it’s a super good keyword that I think is getting a lot of borrows. This is the voodoo part of AMS which kind of sucks.

Choosing keywords is guessing which words people will use in the search engine to find books. I included a link to KDP Rocket, which will generate these for you, but you have to purchase the tool. Otherwise, you can set up something like Google Chrome’s anonymous browser window, go to Amazon, begin entering keywords in the search, and see what they autocomplete to.

Example: Go to the Kindle Store and type ‘fantasy’. The autocomplete will show:
fantasy
fantasy in death jd robb
fantasy romance
fantasy in death
fantasy of frost
fantasy books
fantasy kindle books
fantasyland
fantasyland how America went haywire a 500-year history
fantasy baseball

You can keep doing this with ‘fantasy a’:

Fantasy anthology
free fantasy and science fiction kindle books
grimgar of fantasy and ash
fantasy adventure books
fantasy adventure free books
fantasy and science fiction magazine
fantasy and science fiction ebooks in Russian
fantasy and science fiction
fantasy adventure
fantasy art

Do this for ‘fantasy b’, ‘fantasy c’, etc. until you are through with ‘fantasy z’. You can sort through these to remove the ones you don’t think are likely matches and have a list of over 100 keywords for your ad.

This is used for the Sponsored Product ads where you enter custom keywords. These are probably the easiest to set up because you can give them a daily budget and tweak the bid prices on each keyword separately. The Machete tool I linked to allows you to analyze the usefulness of the keywords and do global edits rather than one at a time. I believe the tool is free to use on the three most recent active ads, assuming you don’t have security concerns. See the article for more info.

There are also Product Display ads that allow you to add things like books and products, which might be related to your book. To populate this list, I went to a few books that I felt were similar to mine and wrote down all the Also Boughts associated with those books. You can also use a tool to see the connections.

http://yasiv.com/

Just enter the ASIN of the book you are interested in, and let it create the connection map. Click on a book and scroll down its info panel to see any associated Also Boughts. The tool isn’t 100% accurate, but it gives you a good idea of how your book is doing. It can also give you more ideas for books to add to your product display ad.

The ultimate goal is to have YOUR book listed on other books’ Also Boughts to give you free advertising. This requires quite a few sales depending on how many total that book gets. This is also why some people market their first book for free, to try and attach themselves to other books.

It’s important to choose keywords and products that are relevant because Amazon’s algorithms give ads with higher relevancy priority in getting slots on the page. An ad with a higher bid but lower relevancy will lose out to an ad with higher relevancy but lower bid. So it’s important to prune and tweak your ads on a regular basis.

Sort your keywords by impressions, clicks, and spend to look for outliers to pause. Sometimes you’ll have to increase the default bid price to increase impressions. If that keyword is still underperforming after a few days, then pause it. You should have plenty of keywords to play around with. Your goal is to find the ones that generate sales.

Total number of impressions received is an indicator of whether your bid price is high enough. If you have 0 impressions, you need to up the bid because it’s not even going out to anyone for them to ignore or click.

A little more detail:

For product display ads, you want around a 100:1 ratio of impressions to clicks.
For sponsored ads, you want around a 1000:1 ratio of impressions to clicks.
It may take up to 20 clicks to get a buy.

Amazon uses relevancy to place your ad in addition to bid price. So if you have a bid for 20c and you are competing with another bid of 10c, you’ll get a higher priority placement IF your ad is just as relevant as the other. However, if your ad is less relevant (not getting enough interest), then the cheaper bid will place before yours because the algorithm wants to maximize the click potential of the ads it puts in a particular spot. Both so readers engage more and Amazon earns more money. This is a love love relationship between Amazon and the reader because readers want to find more books they’ll enjoy, and Amazon wants to help them spend their money. What that means for the author is constant tweaking to ensure the ad is performing well.

So, no impressions = up bid price and wait 3 days.

Impressions but no clicks = bad ad copy or it got in front of the wrong audience. This lowers the ad’s relevancy and will make it less likely to appear.

Great impressions to clicks but no sales = disconnect between ad copy/cover and blurb/Look Inside. Your promise in the ad copy failed to deliver.

 

Facebook Ads

Unfortunately, you can’t use AMS on the UK site. For that, I use Facebook ads. You can set up dollar a day ads if you choose the right ad type. Other types will increase your Facebook site’s visibility, but I’m only going to talk about click to buy ads.

Traffic type ads are focused on generating clicks which translates to sales. You want to charge by impressions. Other options:

  • Optimization – Link Clicks
  • Bid Strategy – Lowest cost
  • When you get charged – Impression
  • Delivery Type – Standard

Also, image size should be around 1200 x 628. You want to pick something eye catching for the image.

Ad copy needs to be short and snappy. Similar to what you used for the AMS ad.

You’ll also need to figure out who to target. People who enjoy reading books, reading your genre, Kindle, and ebooks are a good start. Countries can probably be restricted to English speaking only.

Like AMS, you don’t really know if clicks generate sales. You’ll have to go with the earn more than I spend to decide on keeping the ad or stopping it.

 

Newsletter Creation

This is probably your most important marketing tool and you should have a link in the back matter of your book to a signup form so interested people can get on your mailing list to hear about your new releases. You can also put a signup form on your website and Facebook page. You don’t want to miss out on collecting emails from interested readers.

However, those three people who signed up aren’t going to be enough. What you really want is to cultivate a large list so you can wield that like currency to get involved in group promotions and author swaps.

So how do you collect emails?

First, you want to sign up to Book Cave (Used to call themselves My Book Cave) and add your book(s). This is a free service with a somewhat annoying UI when it comes to generating reader magnets (which I’ll discuss later). You’ll have to evaluate each book you put up there for levels of sex and violence. You can also add samples (important if you only have one book!).

You can also sign up for Instafreebie. They have a free option that doesn’t let you collect emails, but it will allow you to place your enticing sample up and use it in group promotions that don’t require email collection. You can get a 30 day free trial of email collection, then after that it’s like 20 bucks a month. This is the most widely used group promotion site and I recommend using it, even in spurts, to collect emails.

Book Funnel is the other major group promotion site. It also requires a monthly fee.

Ok, but where do these emails go?

You can choose a service like MailChimp or Mailerlite. If you use Mailerlite with Instafreebie, you get a discount when you start getting charged. Which is better? I like Mailerlite’s UI and features better but it starts charging you after 1000 subscribers. MailChimp is free until 2000 subscribers, but they don’t sort out duplicates like Mailerlite does.

Whichever one you chose, you can integrate that with the three main email collections sites listed above.

So your best strategy for a single book is to create a 10% sample and format that in PDF, ePub, and MOBI formats. You can use Calibre to do the conversion. Make sure the end of the sample has the link to your Amazon buy page so readers can one click buy the book if they are interested. You can use a site like BookLinker to create a universal link that points to the right store based on the person’s country. Upload those three formats to each service and start looking for group promotions.

I love Instafreebie because you can easily search for giveaways by genre and join them. Book Cave has a feature called Book Magnet that you create. You need a new one for each group you get involved with and it seems to want a new sample for each one. I usually want to stab Book Cave when doing this. They will send you emails with their group promos and you can use that to find the right promos for you. Also, some Facebook group promos use Book Cave. I haven’t used Book Funnel yet, since monthly fee! However, most authors use that service to hand out their ARC copies because it has a watermark feature the other two services lack.

You should try to involve yourself in 1-2 promotions each month in order to collect emails. It’s up to you how to deal with your subscribers. Just note that they are more interested in FREE books than yours. You have to engage them, offer them other free book promos, while trying to convince them your books are stuff they like and want to read more of. Quite different from those organic signups, but still, their numbers are a tool you can use in author swaps. Speaking of which…

 

Author Swaps

If you can get involved with Facebook groups and other social media where authors congregate, it’s likely you’ll be able to find authors willing to advertise your book in their newsletter for the return favor. This is where having a large mailing list helps.

Search Facebook for groups that have authors in your genre. You’ll also naturally get involved with these after doing some Instafreebie, Book Cave, and Book Funnel group promotions.

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253980.0.html

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,256367.0.html

The goal behind all these group promotions and author swaps is to get your book sample, book, or short story in front of fresh eyes. The more people who look at your book, the greater chance you have of making a sale. The more compelling your book is, the more likely you’ll sell it via this method.

 

Cheap and Free Promotions

I’m just going to link posts from Kboards which have promotions listed. Sometimes context is important to understand whether the promotion will be useful or not, and how to stack them to greater effectiveness.

The master list: https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,236763.0.html

Other relevant links:

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,255402.0.html

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,248239.0.html

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,225495.0.html

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,260822.0.html

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,260155.0.html

 

If you really think your book is hot stuff you can try this strat to hit USA Today Bestseller:

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,260727.0.html

 

Misc Links

My post on the thread about Book Promotion Where to Begin: https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,254605.0.html

AMS ads
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,246899.0.html

Book Funnel vs Instafreebie
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,248699.0.html

Going wide
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,254508.0.html

Launched book 2 here’s what I did (Probably not for us until we get another book or 2)
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,252288.0.html

Kindle scout and other ideas
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,245964.0.html

Groups for FB promotion
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253980.0.html

Pronoun and high price testing
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253350.0.html

Using Bookfunnel
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253647.0.html

Creating your back matter pages to point readers to your other stuff
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253701.0.html

Info on sales without advertising
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253363.0.html

Spending on advertising and optimizing
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253412.0.html

Romance authors using AMS
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253375.0.html

Copyright
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253300.0.html

Strategy for building mailing list
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253286.0.html

UF keywords (might give you ideas on these if you aren’t UF)
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,252372.0.html

Three year plan to sustain income
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,231169.0.html

 

AMS Impresisons

I went into a little more detail about AMS ads and impressions in another post and am putting that response here:

Total number of impressions received is an indicator of whether your bid price is high enough. If you have 0 impressions, you need to up the bid because it’s not even going out to anyone for them to ignore or click.

For product display ads, you want around a 100:1 ratio of impressions to clicks.
For sponsored ads, you want around a 1000:1 ratio of impressions to clicks.
It may take up to 20 clicks to get a buy.

Amazon uses relevancy to place your ad in addition to bid price. So if you have a bid for 20c and you are competing with another bid of 10c, you’ll get a higher priority placement IF your ad is just as relevant as the other. However, if your ad is less relevant (not getting enough interest), then the cheaper bid will place before yours because the algorithm wants to maximize the click potential of the ads it puts in a particular spot. Both so readers engage more and Amazon earns more money. This is a love love relationship between Amazon and the reader because readers want to find more books they’ll enjoy, and Amazon wants to help them spend their money. What that means for the author is constant tweaking to ensure the ad is performing well.

So, no impressions = up bid price and wait 3 days.

Impressions but no clicks = bad ad copy or it got in front of the wrong audience. This lowers the ad’s relevancy and will make it less likely to appear.

Great impressions to clicks but no sales = disconnect between ad copy/cover and blurb/Look Inside. Your promise in the ad copy failed to deliver.

 

Promotions that don’t require an ungodly minimum number of reviews

Please note that all of these sites want professional looking covers and well edited contents.

Promotion Sites that don’t require any reviews:

  • Awesomegang – $0
  • MyBookPlace – $0
  • Pretty Hot – $0
  • Mega Book Deals -$5
  • Booktastik – $10
  • Bargain Booksy – $40
  • NewInBooks – $299-499 (for new books < 180 days)

Promotion Sites that look at reviews to judge quality but don’t have a minimum:

  • Robin Reads – $45
  • Book Raid – uses a CPC system
  • Ereader News Today (ENT) – (Fantasy prices) – $35 for free or 99c, $50 for $1.99, $80 for $2.99

One 5 star review and average of 3.9 or higher on Amazon

  • eBook Discovery $15, $29, $65

Ram’s Promo Stacker Kboards link for more info:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=248239.150

 

Revamping that cover

If you’ve decided your cover is outdated or was never very competitive, changing it to a more snazzy looking version could increase sales. There’s a debate on this elsewhere so I don’t want to get into that. Instead, I’m going to share the Word document I’ve been updating as I find cover artists on Kboards that I like the work of.

This links to my web page but is in no way meant to advertise my books. In fact, this page is outside the WordPress environment, so there are no links to any of my stuff. So hah! No subtle or not so subtle advertising from me! (buy my books!) Anyhow, without further ado:

http://www.thegoldenelm.org/CoversWebVersion.htm