Saturday, March 19, 2016

Getting Noticed by Alicia Dean

As authors, I think we all struggle with this question... How do we get our books noticed? I don't believe there is a specific, magic answer (although, if you have one, by all means, share :)). I think we can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure it out. We have discussed the topic, off and on, in our promo group, Authors Helping Authors, and the discussion was recently revisited. As Leah mentioned, the competition out there is insane. The number of books self-published each day is mind-boggling. Readers have grown accustomed to getting books for very cheap, or even free. I dislike the idea of falling into that cycle by offering books for 99 cents or making them free, but unfortunately, it's difficult not to. You almost have to these days to garner any attention at all. I seldom make my books free, but right now, for a few more days, my 1920's Novella, RUINED, is free on Kindle. My hope is that it will lead to sales for the other three authors in the series. I suppose we'll see how that works. I also have lowered many of my book prices to 99 cents. The profit isn't great, but if I sell more, then I believe it's worth it. (I'm sharing the info for Ruined below, in case you wish to download your free copy).

Two things I feel are important:

1) Putting yourself out there - Authors complain and are reluctant to tweet, Facebook, blog, etc, but if you want to gain name recognition, it's almost a requirement. I have a regular blog each Tuesday (Two-Minute tips, see below for the book based on those tips that is available for only 99 cents :)), and I blog every other Friday about Elvis. I also post random blogs from other authors and feature a monthly post listing free ebooks and one listing 99 cent ebooks. As a result, my blog has quite a few followers. And, you know what I've found? I actually enjoy blogging, whether it's on my own blog, or as a guest on others. My AHA group regularly tweets and Facebooks for one another. While it might not lead to a ton of sales, it increases our following and who knows when one little thing is going to click into place and open the door for huge sales.

2) Keep writing - The more books you put out, the bigger your catalog is, the more likely you are to increase your sales. I say write what you love to write, but it's also not a bad idea to pay attention to trends and maybe try something else, as long as you can quickly put a book out. The problem with writing to trends is that by the time your book is out, the trend could be over. One thing I've noticed is that my gothic mystery romance, Lady in the Mist, sells better than my other books and even though it's been out since 2012, the sales remain pretty consistent. Who knew that would be a popular genre?

What about you? Have you discovered something that has helped your book sales, helped your exposure?

RUINED is free on Amazon Kindle through Monday:

Pre-Order for 99 Cents:


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Great post, Alicia. How to get our names out there is a problem. Most of us hate the promo aspect of writing. Personally, it makes me feel like a used car salesman or one of those salesmen on TV..."But, wait! There's more!" I intermingle my facebook postings with humorous things about me, grandma bragging alerts, promo for other writers and then promo for me. I tweet mainly about my books. My street team helps tremendously. Surprisingly, my best seller has been a Christmas novella HarperImpulse published over two years ago. It sells year round, not oodles, but enough to make me smile. The best thing, like you said, is to keep writing. With every release, sales of my backlist increases.

Jannine Gallant said...

My pub has put the previous books in my series up for sale at 99 cents before a new release. Just for a month, but that has been enough to get the ball rolling. All three are selling okay right now as a result, but I know that will fall off shortly. It's so hard to maintain the momentum. My odd seller is An Uncertain Destiny, my Salem witchcraft trial book. I do nothing to promote it, and it sells 10-15 copies per month. Not huge, obviously, but consistent. People must search it out by very specific tags to find it. I wish I had the answer to sales. BookBub is the only thing that's had significant impact for me.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Putting Lie Catchers on Amazon Encore is the single-most lucrative thing I've done... they (mysteriously) sell my books...and I don't do a thing. I hate and love that at the same time. Wild Rose Press brokered the deal, probably because I had 60 reviews at the time the book went to Amazon Encore. The truth is, Amazon is the power player, and their algorithms continue to puzzle us. Heavy sigh.

Leah St. James said...

I can see the promotional sales -- retailers of all products have been offering special deals forever. For the author/publisher, it's a great way to attract new readers. And for a reader, it is a great way to sample a new author. I go for the sales myself for that reason. I love discovering new authors. I think it's true, though, that the more books you have in "print," the better your odds. Great post, Alicia.

Alicia Dean said...

Thanks, Vonnie. Isn't it strange to learn which of our books sell the best, just shows there's not rhyme or reason.

Yes, Jannine. Bookbub definitely has an impact. I had one book through my publisher on Bookbub and the results were amazing. The problem is, I can't really bring myself to invest that up front and see if I recoup. Funny that you also have that 'one book' that sells consistently yet we can't figure out why. Like you, my Lady in the Mist hasn't topped the best-seller list, but as of right now, I've sold 13 on Amazon this month, and my sales are pretty much consistent. Go figure.

Oh yes, Rolynn, Amazon Encore has been a HUGE boost for sales. I didn't get any of my books on there, but about half a dozen books I edited through TWRP were chosen and the sales have been fantastic.

Thank you, Leah. Exactly, as a reader, I am reluctant to invest 6 to 10 bucks on a book from an unknown author, but with sales and freebies, I'm able to discover new authors and some are actually good! :)

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

One of my best method for sales was participation in a multi-author project. The American Mail-Order Bride series (45 authors writing books set in 50 states) had wide-spread and shared publicity. Authors benefited both from a popular sub-genre and cross promotion with readers from each other's followers. I will continue to look for similar projects.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great post Alicia. It is so hard to figure out where to place my time on promotion. I so far only have 1 book out there and a full time day job to boot. I have yet to find the golden ticket of promotion but must say from everything I've tried I have learnt something new.For me right now with limited time it's my blog that seems to be working best, it seems to drive people through from Twitter and FB especially on a high rated blog piece. I Agee with Leah - the more books you have out there the better. If someone likes your style of writing they're more likely to invest in some of your other works too. Oh better get cracking then!

MJ Schiller said...

Thanks to everybody for sharing their experiences and to Alicia for posting this.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I don't have the magic answer either. As Marketing Associate for Pelican Book Group, owner Nicola and I bemoan the fact that what works wonders for one book hardly does a thing for another...regardless of author's ability to help promote or genre or whatever. One thing we DO know is authors with more titles sell more across the board.

Nature of the beast I guess.

I've been thinking of doing a Book Bub ad but when I do, I want to watch not only sales, but increases in FB Friends, twitter followers, newsletter sign ups, etc.

Since I keep saying Every Sale is a Soul for God I want to be more conscious if I gain additional readers.

JMHO of course.

Great post Alicia and all the comments are interesting & informative too!

Alison Henderson said...

My biggest seller has been my self-pubbed bodyguard book, Unwritten Rules, but after 2 1/2 years, sales have definitely fallen off. I know one of the keys to sales is to write more books--the most effective marketing schemes seem to involve multiple books in a series--but I continue to struggle with productivity. The only consolation is knowing the ball's in my own court.

Darcy Flynn said...

Marketing and promoting are both difficult for me. I usually try anything at least once, and some things many times over. I've found one of the best things for me, as a more recent author, is to get that next book out. That's where my focus is right now. I love your two minute tips and am hoping you'll make it a print book sometime soon! In the meantime, I'm buying the ebook today! :)

Margo Hoornstra said...

It's amazing, but I have one short story that's been a consistent seller for me since 2007. In all venues too. Ally, if anyone can discover the magic sales bullet in the near future, it's you. Great post.

Nightingale said...

I always enjoy your posts...and listen to your advice.

Diane Burton said...

Great post. You are so right about having more books available. I saw a definite upswing on my other books after the 3rd one came out. With each new one, sales go up on the others. I wish I knew the magic formula for promotion.

Alicia Dean said...

Linda: That's very true. Projects like that can be extremely beneficial. Maybe we should come up with one of our own. Thanks for stopping by!

Nicole - Yes, whatever works is the thing to focus on. You don't want to have too many irons in the fire. Good luck with the cracking! :)

You're welcome, M.J. Thanks for stopping by!

Pamela - Thank you! Excellent points, great info. I think you're on the right track. Increased followers is a plus, for sure.

Alison - True, we are all responsible for our own careers and productivity. I also have trouble with that, but I'm working on it. Good luck to us both!

Aw, thank you, Darcy. I actually do plan to make it into a print book, so stay tuned. :) We all seem to agree about productivity. That is one of the keys for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

Margo, isn't it funny we all seem to have these inexplicable sellers? Aw, thanks! If I find the magic bullet, you know I will share. :)

Thank you so much, Linda!

Hi Diane. Thank you! I guess we are all trying to figure that out. Supporting one another is certainly a step in the right direction. If nothing else, it gives me satisfaction. :)

Susan Coryell said...

I have to agree that Amazon Encore has helped sales for my 3-year-old Gothic, A Red, Red Rose. It made #1 in both Ghosts and Gothics categories around Thanksgiving and stayed near the top over a week. It also seems to have improved sales for the sequel, Beneath the Stones. Amazon works in mysterious ways. I enjoy my author colleagues and their blogs, Tweets, Facebook blasts, etc. but am not sure if it actually improves sales. nice post!

Anonymous said...

! have one book done - a historical novel called The War Bride: A Novel of Rhoxane, Alexander the Great's First Wife - and ready to go but was advised to hold off on publication until I had at least one more so readers would have someplace to go, so to speak. Was writing two more in the series when my life went sideways and everything I'd planned to set up my writing career - blog, etc - and promote the trilogy also went sideways. So until the life crisis is resolved, I'm lost. Everyone has made very good points here. I'm subscribed to numerous publishing-related blogs on RSS and what to do about sales and promotion are common themes. The market is overloaded and probably with more bad books than good ones. Readers are spoiled for choice and used to freebies. Wish I knew the answers. Good post, Alicia.

Diane Garner said...

I have a lot to learn about all angles of marketing, but I do feel my efforts have been more effective with my recent release, Hunted, than they were with my first. Since Hunted is a romantic thriller, I joined International Thriller Writers. The exposure as a new release in their online magazine really seemed to have some exposure and sales results. But it's really hard to know what's working and what's not since I don't have immediate access to sales numbers, and judging by Amazon rankings is rather like tea leaf reading.