Continued from Before Launch:
After Launch (pocket burning)
18. Soft launch: We built demand for SELLOUT at a gradual pace. Of course, we informed family, friends, and associates in our mailing lists, but we kicked off the soft launch in June 2010 at a book conference in Atlanta. However, the official launch was July, where we then blasted the world via social media with details on how to purchase the book (we pushed for autographed copies). In that month, we sold about 100 books, received a few five and four-star reviews, connected with book clubs, processed orders for autographed copies and snapped pictures of readers holding the book with big ol’ smiles. Once we let the cat out of the bag in July, SELLOUT didn’t start from scratch because it already had a following (a small one, but growing).
First Book Signing!
19. Other book signings/conferences: After the official launch, we pushed forward with more book signings. We went to the hottest book club conferences to target readers in SELLOUT’s genre, mostly in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Like our first book signing, the trips weren’t cheap, considering we paid for hotels, rental cars, flights (from Northern California and New Jersey), food, and conference fees (sometimes, costing more than $200 for a table). Still, we met readers and other authors, took pictures, and of course, sold books. And the expenses were tax deductible!
20. Book trailer: We tried something unique—a live action book trailer. No usual still pictures in this production. Actors brought a scene from the book to life. Expensive as hell, but worth it. We won a Best Book Trailer of the Year award, but it’s hard to gauge sales from book trailers, unless someone says, “I saw the trailer and just had to get the book!” Still, a good trailer can spur interest and sometimes, shares on Facebook. Plus, you’ll find purchase information at the end of the trailer.
21. Google ads / Facebook ads: Not the greatest tool for sales, but it works as advertised for “likes” and simply bringing more people to your social media pages. You can set a daily cost limit, but it adds up.
22. Entering indie book contests: Indie book contests average about $50 to $100 in entry fees. I entered about six of them and placed as a finalist or winner in 4. Now, anyone can argue only a few book awards carry weight (like the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards), but if you win any of them, you can place “award-winning” next to “author,” which is pretty cool. Plus, during an Internet search, a potential reader may land on the website that boasts your award. I also won a Best New Author award, where a book conference organizer presented me with a trophy in a room with other authors. Check me out!
23. Other advertising options: I was never one to just advertise for the sake of advertising, hoping for a few sales. No, I learned about different ad sites from other authors in writer groups. Then I searched for as many testimonials as possible and checked out the site myself. When convinced at the chances of my book benefitting from a particular paid ad, then I would burn a hole in my pocket for the service. BookBub and Ereader News Today are expensive, but they also are the top dawgs for good reason—they work. I sold nearly 600 copies in one day with BookBub alone (bargain price of $0.99). I’ve heard good things about Pixel of Ink, too, but haven’t tried them yet.
24. Gift Certificate Contest. The chances of winning a high-priced prize with no entry fee almost always perks up the human senses. When all entrees automatically receive a free e-book, everybody wins. We started such a campaign, and the top winner received a $200 Amazon gift certificate. This contest also helped with reviews.
Final note: I’ve found a soft launch is a good tactic for introducing new books to a limited audience, especially for accumulating reviews. Those reviews will give you an idea of how the readers are accepting the book, and may even determine whether or not to push back launching the book on a grander scale (hard launch). Book bloggers, book reviewers, and book clubs often post reviews not only on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but also social media and websites, so having them as part of the soft launch arsenal can add fuel to a buzz.
Because advertising can burn holes in your pocket without much return, gauging what works and what doesn’t often comes from other authors. I’d heard enough praise about BookBub and ENT from authors I trust, so I was convinced it wasn’t a fluke or scam. I gave it a shot, sold a lot of books, and made my money back.
Next up: After Launch (free to low cost)