Friday, February 20, 2015

Marketing 101

Okay, not really.  I probably know less about book marketing than most of my published friends.  Still, I'd like to tell you a little bit about what I'm doing.  The jury's still out on whether any of this will work for me.

I ordered some really awesome postcards from Vistaprint.  Awesome rates, awesome turnaround time, and an awesome end product - with one little flaw that is entirely my fault.  When you look at the front and then turn it over to look at the back the way one naturally would, the back looks upside down.  Since this was my first time designing a postcard, it's a live and learn sort of thing.  Next order, I know to put the front image the other way.  I'll be mailing those out to a select few people and then putting them in with the print copies I send out.  50 of those cost about $13.

The print copies... Well, I ordered 10 for this first go 'round.  Five already have designated homes - Mom, MIL, and my three go-to gals.  Another one will get marched down to the local bookstore and given as a gift to the owner, with the idea that if she likes it, she can talk it up if she chooses, and if not, then no harm done.  I might also donate one to the local library, but so few people use it, I'm not sure if it would be a good ROI*.  With the remaining copies, I'll hold a Goodreads contest, and maybe a FB contest. 

I also created bookmarks.  I used my own ancient program - MS Image Composer.  If you've never heard of it, that's because it came pre-packaged with MS Frontpage website design software back in the late 90s.  I like it because I've used it for over a decade and it's easy for me (even if I lost some functionality when I upgraded my Windows - they're no longer compatible.)  Anyway, I created a front and a back, and then loaded them into the company's templates.  They looked good in the preview.  We'll see how they look when they get here.  If they're good, I'll be sending them out and sticking them in books I send out, and leaving them at various places, etc.  25 of those cost me about $17 (after expedited shipping).

Other than that, I've been trying to chat up the book online where I can - and where I won't be perceived as a pushy bitch.  I'm still playing with MailChimp to determine how to make an interesting newsletter readers will actually enjoy signing up for.  Every time I got to the site, though, I get frustrated with myself and walk away.  I'll conquer it eventually.

So, tell me, what types of marketing get you to buy a book?  Does swag really work for you?  If you win a free book, are you more inclined to read it right away and review it, or does it sit on your shelf gathering dust?  And if you're in the position to market books, what seems to work for you?

*ROI = Return on Investment.  For me, it basically means how many books will I have to sell from the marketing idea to cover the costs and make a little profit? 


jblynn said...

I'm in the position to market books and I still have no idea what works or doesn't. I personally dislike swag, so I don't use it much.

Here's hoping you've found the magic formula!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Most swag is neat when you receive it, but then it doesn't get used much. I have writers' t-shirts, magnets, pens, etc. The only thing that really gets used is the pens. (Except for these really unwieldy ones I got a while back. Too thin to write with comfortably and they have a weird doohickey that makes them unbalanced.) It's probably not a good ROI, especially when it's something only the person who already bought the book would use at home.

My thought with the postcards is that when I mail one, it'll pass through a bunch of hands along the way and maybe someone who sees it will be interested in buying the book. :shrug: Probably wishful thinking on my part. The bookmarks are more like a 'here have a bookmark' when I'm out and about.

Silver James said...

I've used little imprinted keychain LED flashlights to good effect. I attached a tag to the keychain part that is the cover with a QR code for a buy link and my website address. I do the postcards and stick them in mailings, especially for series books. A NYT author said the other day that what gets her attention as a reader is the excerpt booklet, with 1 to 3 chapters inside. Not sure about ROI on that as I've never priced the cost but they seem to work well in swag bags at reader/writer conferences. They're also handy to have to pass out to potential readers--more than just the blurb on a postcard and hopefully enough to hook them into buying the whole book. I've been doing this a long time and I'm still lost. *sigh*

Karyn Good said...

Wish I could help but I don't have any magic solutions either. I do bookmarks and postcards. I use the postcards with snippets more for the digital image and for sharing on the web than handing out. I started this with OFF THE GRID because I dislike the cover. One of the members of our writing group does design work and gives us a deal. As a reader I do take note of those type of postcards when they come up in my feed. I enjoy getting a little glimpse into the story. As I've mentioned here I love Kit Rocha and with their series they hand out things like poker chips and drink coasters because a bar plays a large part in the stories. Now I might not keep those items for any length of time but I think it's a neat idea and the visual will stay with me. Kristen Ashley and her Rock Chick references and the way she brands herself is quite effective, no matter what you think of her books. It's about developing a brand. Deciding what you will and won't do. Who your author persona is.

But most of all it's about writing the next book. The best promotion is another great book. And having a backlist.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Keychains lights sound awesome as a marketing thing, Silver. I had thought about disposable lighter, but you can't ship them, and then matches, but those are all minimum print run of like 5000. And pens are so pricey. I'll figure out something to fit in my budget or go without until the budget is bigger.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I don't know if there are any magic solutions, Karyn. Cool that you have a design guru to go to.

I'm working on the next book and the next and building a backlist. =o)

Aldea Aundy said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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