So, here's the thing. If you thought that the hard work was behind you when you landed a publisher, think again. The hard work is just getting started because now you have to get readers to buy your book, and let me tell you something, with thousands of 99 cent and free books available all over the internet, you're fighting an uphill battle.
But, hey, I like a challenge, so last week I settled in and started scouring websites for promotion potential. I started by boosting my Amazon page, which reached 57,518 people and resulted in 637 link clicks. Sounds good, right? Nope. Because there is no evidence that any of those link clicks translated into sales. Then I joined a bunch of Facebook romance readers groups, which allowed me to post promotional material for free. I was as happy as a pig in slop for an entire afternoon as I joined one group after another, willy nilly, until it dawned on me to take a look at what else was being advertised on those web sites, and once I did, that was the end of that. I'm no literary snob by any means, but my little double-heart book cover was no match for bare-chested men with killer abs, nor appropriate company for the other material being advertised on some of the sites. Plus, it appeared to me that a lot of the groups' members were not so much readers as they were writers just like me, trying to hawk their book.
I found two other sites which looked promising, AWESOME GANG and BOOKS BUTTERFLY. I paid AWESOME GANG 10 bucks and BOOKS BUTTERFLY 70 bucks to run promotions, which I think paid off because when they had run their course Dear Heart's best seller ranking on Amazon went from a 'kill-me-now' 719,235 to an OMG 106,337 for the kindle version, the result of at least a dozen books having been sold.
Through that process, I learned two things: if I want to track the effectiveness of a promotion, I have to stop running ads concurrently, and I have to keep track of Dear Heart's statistics on Amazon. Thus, I spent one afternoon creating a spreadsheet and figuring out how to convert my best seller ranking to number of books sold, which was pretty discouraging, but, hey, it's a marathon not a sprint.
I reached out to my fellow Solstice authors for advice and CEO Melissa Miller gave me two good leads: KINDLE NATION DAILY, which is surprisingly affordable, and BOOKBUB, which focuses on promoting free and discounted books -- great if you have ten books published and want to try to interest an audience in you as an author by offering one of your books for free, but, obviously, I'm not there yet. As for KINDLE NATION DAILY, I'm going to have to hold off on advertising there for at least a month, because the launch party has sucked up most of my book budget, and then some. So, for now, I'll have to continue the hunt for free or extremely cheap promo opportunities, and hope that I can tap into at least one a week.
Melissa Miller also set me straight about another thing. Almost from the beginning, I was advised to post personal information on my Facebook Author Page (https://www.facebook.com/LindaLingleBooks), but I couldn't wrap my head around why that was important. Stupidly, I thought an author page should be all about the book, the writer, and the process. Then, in response to someone else's question, Melissa pointed out that in order to build a fan base, you have to appeal to fans, who most likely want to know what you are up to so they can relate to you as a person. If all they get from you is book, book, book, they'll soon get bored and seek out other writers who have the same challenges and interests as they do. That made sense to me because when I take the time to visit an author Facebook page or website, I don't want to be bombarded with ads, explicit or implied, for their latest book, I want to know what they're like, who they read, and whether or not they actually mow their own lawns. Thus, starting this week, you'll be reading less about all things Dear Heart, and more about my long-suffering husband, Arthur, my intrepid dog, Sam, and those of my closest friends who are not opposed to seeing their names in print.
Meanwhile, I'm doing this all without the life-sustaining comfort of potato chips. As soon as I landed the contract I knew I had to go on a diet if I wanted to look more like a sleek and svelte up and coming writer, and less than a pudgy wanna be who had seen better days. But I kept putting it off. Then all of a sudden I had less than a month to lose 40 pounds and figured I'd better get serious. I don't know what's harder, giving up Lay's Original Potato Chips, which I routinely eat instead of a meal, or giving up cigarettes, which is simply unthinkable. I swear to God I feel like I'm going through potato chip withdrawal right now, and I twice almost threw a coat over my nightgown so I could drive up to Giant for a big bag of chips, which I planned to open even before I checked out. Only the memory of my morning weigh-in kept me at home, but God only knows how long I can remain strong. I'll tell you one thing, though, as soon as the last guest departs the launch party, I'm heading off to Giant so I can bring potato chips back into my house. Until that happy day, I guess it's skinless turkey breasts, chicken, and an occasional bowl of strawberries for me -- all of which I am already sick of.