The Business Rusch: How To Measure Success (Discoverability Part The Last)

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Business Rusch logo webEven though I posted a business blog on Tuesday, I couldn’t let a Thursday go by without a blog post. Especially since this week marks the fifth anniversary of the Business Rusch (and the business blog that came before it, The Freelancer’s Survival Guide). Yep, I’ve hit every single Thursday for five years, without a miss. Two-hundred-and-sixty posts.

That, my friends, is success.

But, weirdly enough, it’s not the kind of success I want to talk about in today’s blog.

I promised throughout the Discoverability series that I would discuss how you measure success at the end. If you haven’t read the series, then please, before you comment, click on this link and see if I covered the topic you want to bring up. Because chances are that, in the 22 different posts I’ve made in this series since November, I’ve covered what you’re going to say. We may not have agreed or we might have, but do me (and all the regular readers) the courtesy of looking before you type.

So, here’s the promised post on how you measure success for your promotions or your discoverability campaign. Throughout, I’ll state some general suggestions and then show you a specific from my own career in this past year.

Before I give you my list, add an early step. Figure out if you’re going to do any kind of promotion or if you’re going to let word of mouth happen and write the next book. (Most of you know that I recommend if your time is short to write the next book and forget all of this promotion stuff.)

How do you measure the success of that? Slowly. Patience is the watchword for this method.

If you continue to write and publish the next book, followed by the same routine for the next book and the next, eventually—over a period of years (not months), you’ll see a slow and steady increase in readership. Particularly if you have a static website so that your readers know what order the series is in or what other books you have (which is especially important for standalone titles).

Okay, you’ve decided for whatever reason that for your next book, you’re going to do a bit of promotion.

Here’s how you measure success.

1. Decide What You Want Out of Your Promotion Campaign

2. Figure Out How To Measure The Results (if you can)

3. Measure The Results at Various Points During and Post Campaign

4. Determine If the Campaign Is Worth Repeating

5. Make Notes About What You Learned—Good and Bad

Note I do not say anywhere in here that success is increased sales or that it’s in winning awards or anything that specific.

Success (or failure) is always based on your expectations of your campaign and nothing more. So let’s start there.

1. Decide What You Want Out of Your Promotion Campaign

This sounds so simple and so obvious, yet no one in publishing ever does it, not even the Big Boys. The Big Boys throw money at their bestsellers, but as I’ve said in previous posts, that money is spent in a wasteful and unconscious manner.

In fact, at our weekly professional writers lunch this past weekend, we were discussing the various campaigns that all of us had with our traditional publishers, and we realized that the publishers paid for those campaigns out of “advertising dollars.”

In other words, they had a big pool of promotion and advertising dollars, and they bought group promotions with that money.

But they never allocated the money to each individual book title. So, for example, that promotions campaign that I mentioned last week which Sourcebooks did on A Spy To Die For most likely never had the cost of the Kindle promotion charged against Spy. That cost just went into the overhead cost for the book.

(Speaking of which, I just received notification today that Sourcebooks will be doing another promotion soon using two of my books, and the question remains the same as it did last Thursday. Why? Clearly no one has thought of what the company gets from promoting old titles from an author who isn’t writing for them any longer.)

You, however, are running your own business. So you must allocate your advertising dollars per project. That’s how sensible businesses run anyway.

If you’re going to plan your promotions per title, then you do the same with the money you spend and the results you want. You determine everything per title—or, in some cases, per series.

Never ever do you do it as an overall expense, unless you’re promoting everything you’ve ever published. And if you’ve only published one or two things, you’re wasting your time and money; if you’ve published ten or more (as I suggested before you even start the things mentioned in this series), then you’re still wasting your time and money—unless all ten are in the same series (or maybe, just maybe, in the same genre).

Each promotion campaign needs a purpose beyond I want people to buy my book. (Or, the even less conscious: I want to sell millions of copies and die rich. Don’t we all? 🙂 )

Your promotion campaign needs a set purpose. You might want to increase your sales numbers. You might want to introduce your series to a new audience. You might want to enter a new market.

For example, here’s how I decided to participate in the Storybundle that just ended. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the Fey series because I’m getting other books in newer series into print. I’ll be getting to the Fey after I complete a few other projects.

So the Fey wasn’t on my radar. Then Kevin J. Anderson asked me to take part in a major fantasy bundle with several bestselling fantasy writers. I had a choice here: I could have said no, because participating in a bundle takes time, and time is definitely something to measure along with cost in every promotion.

This one didn’t cost me any dollars, but I knew it would cost me hours. I decided the hours were only worthwhile if I got more than the income from the bundle out of it.

Being in a bundle with big name fantasy writers after my fantasy career dropped off the reader radar is a great idea. I could have chosen one of several standalone fantasy novels that I published between 1991 and 2001.

Instead, I chose the first book in the Fey series. I wanted readers to move through the series.

I would get four things out of this promotion.

A. I would get exposure for my fantasy writings

B. I would get some money from the bundle itself

C. I would get a halo effect from the readers of the first book who would (if I had done my job as a storyteller) move to the next book and the next.

D. I would get a push from the increased attention that would force me to write the Fey: Place of Power trilogy sooner rather than later.

I saw all four things as a huge positive, definitely worth the hours and work it took to promote the bundle.

Did I achieve all four? The bundle just ended last Wednesday. I got paid (always nice), we made some money for the Challenger Center charity (even better), and I’m starting to see a good halo effect on the other books. So I got two of the four, so far.

As for the other two, I don’t know yet. Did this raise the profile of the series? Maybe. Time will tell. Will the fans nag me to get the next book done? (More than those who were doing so before the bundle?) I don’t know, since most people haven’t made it through all seven novels yet. Again, time will tell.

This is why I say you must measure the result at various points during and after the campaign. But before I could measure, I needed to …

2. Figure Out How To Measure The Results (if you can)

It’s pretty easy to measure sales in indie publishing. You record the sales figures before the promotion, then look at those figures—on all pertinent sites—during and after the promotion. If you’re doing it right, the promotion is the only change you’ve made to that title during that promotion.

In other words, don’t run a BookBub ad campaign at the same time as a Storybundle. You can’t measure the halo effect from the bundle at the same time as the halo effect from the ad campaign.

When I say measure in all the pertinent areas, I mean it. For Storybundle, which is DRM free and on its own site, I knew that I wouldn’t see much of a halo for a couple of weeks. There were some very big names with ongoing fantasy series in that bundle and readers would read them first. Plus, the DRM-free aspect and independent site are important to my analysis as well.

Here’s how:

A lot of less adventurous readers aren’t going to try to download something from a site they’ve never used before. Even  fewer readers will download something that isn’t in their device’s store. (Kindle people often don’t upload a mobi file to their Kindle; they just buy from Amazon.)

In other words, the subset of fans (of all of the writers in that bundle) who buy electronic books, are willing to buy something outside of their device’s usual system, and are willing to buy from a site they’ve never used before, is pretty small.

In past bundles, I’ve seen the biggest halo effect in non-DRM stores. For example, after a bundle last summer with the first book in my Retrieval Artist series, the biggest halo I saw was on Smashwords, which is DRM free. Makes sense, right?

Fascinatingly, to me, the largest percentage increase in sales I’m seeing on this particular bundle right now is through Kobo, from Europe and Asia. This tells me that a wide swatch of the buyers of this bundle were from outside the US, and therefore outside of Amazon’s ecosystem.

As I said, sales are easy to measure. The bundle itself had sales, and the halo effect is starting. But how do I measure the increased exposure? And how do I measure the increased demand?

I could only measure the increased exposure during the bundle by the promotion the other writers were doing. And, with the exception of one writer, everyone in this bundle stepped up and did a lot of promotion. That’s all I can ask for as a participant. That meant that thousands of eyeballs that wouldn’t have seen my Fey series have at least heard of it.

One thing about exposure—it’s not measured in results. It can only be measured in repetition from various sources. So, of the ten authors who participated and all of the fans who promoted the bundle, other people besides those who bought the bundle did hear about my Fey series. I have a hunch—although I can’t prove—that the handful of increased sales I received on The Sacrifice in March and most of the sales of the paper books came because of the exposure, to people who would never buy from the Storybundle site.

However, unlike the halo effect that’s readily visible, I can’t see this result and measure it. I can only guess or perhaps hope.

The same with Point D, increased nagging from fans. Most people who bought the bundle haven’t read through the entire bundle yet. Of those people who bought the bundle, only a small subset will make it through all 7 books of my Fey series.

I won’t see any results from Point D for months. Which is why…

3. Measure The Results at Various Points During and Post Campaign

Some of my goals for that bundle won’t happen for months after the bundle. I won’t see the full halo effect for six months at least. So measuring it takes a long-term effort.

When you measure results over time, you can see how some promotions are not as successful as they initially seem.

For example, I just saw some figures from a heavily promoted New York Times bestselling writer. The writer’s highly discounted first novel sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The writer’s second and third novels sold only tens of thousands of copies. The writer’s most recent novel, which hasn’t been discounted at all, has sold less than 10,000 copies.

This tells me that the discounting worked—but not in the way the publisher wanted it to. Discounting encouraged people to try the first novel, but of those who downloaded the book, most either didn’t read it or didn’t like it. (I vote for didn’t read it—yet.)  One third returned for the next novels, probably when those novels were discounted.

This goes back to my blog post on types of readers. When you only promote to those who buy according to price, you’ll get return purchases—only when you have a discounted price.

You can see this in Amazon algorithms. Amazon has this nifty algorithm that shows up under this heading: Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought….  When you look at writers who sell a book or a bundle at $2 or less, you’ll see under that heading more books at $2 or less. Often, you’ll see a mix of authors in that list.

However, when you go to the pages for books of writers whose books aren’t on permanent discount, you’ll see that the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…. shows more of that author’s work. Or if the author doesn’t have a lot of books published yet, you’ll see similar books in the same genre.

To me, and only to me, that kind of permanent discount is a failure as a promotion strategy. The writer is selling books, yes, but isn’t building brand loyalty to her name. It’s as if she’s selling cheap cookies that might taste like Fig Newtons. When Fig Newtons are discounted, the buyers with less money buy the Fig Newtons. When Fig Newtons aren’t discounted, the buyers with less money buy the cheap version of the Fig Newton.

Other writers might see those continual sales as a success. Other writers might be willing to take the risk that only one-third or one-tenth of their initial buyers will return to buy more books from that writer.

Be honest with yourself when you analyze the success or failure of your promotion. You might not get the result you wanted. You might get a better result, one you hadn’t thought of.

Or you might be successful in the sales you received, but failed at what you really wanted which was, say,  brand loyalty.

Only you can determine if those results are worthwhile to you. But look at all of the numbers and measures you can, and do so over time.

If you do a price promotion, and the sales figures don’t increase when the price raises to its original point, then was the promotion a failure?

It depends on when you measured the promotion, and what your goals were.

Since my goals are always long-term, I look at it this way. If the lower-price promotion did not increase the baseline of my sales on similar titles, then I would consider that promotion to be a failure.

But in the short-term, some writers would believe the promotion to be a success.

Most indie writers panic when the sales numbers go back down, and feel that they need to constantly discount to goose sales which is, in my opinion, another mistake. Because you must…

4. Determine If the Campaign Is Worth Repeating

In my opinion, a campaign is only worth repeating if it brings long-term success, not short-term success. At some point, you won’t have the time or money to goose sales. Or, as so many writers discovered when the whole idea of “free” books imploded, what worked once doesn’t work any longer.

Don’t just repeat what other writers have done successfully either. What works for them might not work for you. Be willing to try various things. Be willing to fail at various things.

But remember this: when you determine what’s worth repeating, realize you shouldn’t repeat it for every title. All of the tools in your marketing toolbox should be used sparingly.

Remember too, that a lot of data is a good thing. Today, WMG Publishing is discounting Thunder Mountain, one of Dean Wesley Smith’s books, to measure how well eBookSoda is doing on its promotions. WMG did an early promotion with eBookSoda back when it was brand new, because we knew how well such a promotion had worked with other advertising sites. The promotion was successful enough (for a small company) to warrant a new test, which WMG did not too long ago. Now, WMG is testing a third to see if eBookSoda remains on our go-to advertising list. Thunder Mountain is the beginning of a series of mixed genre romances (time travel and western and romance and science fiction) that Dean is writing right now, so it’s a good book to use as a long-term test.

I’m doing something similar with my novels, but because of serendipity. I was asked to be part of three book bundles this year, and fortunately all three are in different genres. I tried a standalone for one bundle (and it wasn’t that successful). I did the Fey in last month’s bundle, and I’ll have the first book in a Kristine Grayson series in an upcoming romance bundle.

I will use the same test on that as I outline above for the fantasy bundle.

My attitude goes like this: I’m always looking to increase discoverability over time, so if something works in the short term, it better have more than a one-shot effect. Unless that one-shot is exactly what you’re going for.

The Fey promotion in March is currently a one-off that came from the opportunity Kevin presented, rather than any real planned promotion of the Fey. It’s not worth my time or my effort to do a big promotion on the Fey right now, since the new book is on the distant horizon.

However, WMG Publishing and I have just started a major promotion of the Smokey Dalton book series that I’m writing under the name Kris Nelscott.

The goal in the beginning of this promotion, which started as the Storybundle ended, is to inform readers that this series exists. Established readers need to know that a new book is out, and new readers need to know the series is easy to get into.

Smokey Dalton series adFor that reason, WMG and I decided to do a traditional promotion of the new book Street Justice. I finished writing it in spring of 2013, and the book was ready to go (with edits and proofs and a lovely cover) by August. Still, WMG did the ARCs and contacted reviewers, making sure the book went into the traditional system with the idea of letting the series’ supporters—mystery bookstores and librarians—know that the new book exists.

Early numbers show that libraries are ordering this book more than they’ve ordered any other WMG title. Booksellers are picking up the book as well. Reviews have shown up in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, among other places, and they’re getting exactly the attention we want. The books are being ordered.

Just last week, WMG mailed a series of press releases to African-American news outlets, reviewers, and bloggers, letting them know the series exists. St. Martins Press never notified this community that I was writing a series with an African-American detective. Time will tell if this promotion works, but it’s only one prong in a year-long campaign.

Upcoming are promotions on A Dangerous Road, the first book in the series, as well as some book festival promotions, and more media work starting in August.

Already, the sales of the series are better than they were last year at this time. And by next year, they should be higher. When the next book comes out (in 2015, I hope, depending on my writing schedule), then there will be a halo effect from all of this promotion.

It’s a studied campaign—a slow, old-fashioned one, with a focus on booksellers, librarians, and brand-new readers. The new readers are my favorite part of the promotion, because in the past, no one tried to grow the series.

This kind of campaign is hard to measure. It’s tough to see a crossover between something that’s purely informational and immediate sales.

For example, St. Martins advertised one of my Kris Nelscott books in The New Yorker. I saw no increase in sales that week through Amazon which was, by the time the ad hit, one of the few places the book was still available. That book did not sell more copies than any other Kris Nelscott book.

What did happen was that I heard from readers who couldn’t buy the book.

Was I hearing from them because they saw the New Yorker ad? Or would they have looked for the book anyway?

The key thing about informational ads and things done to tell readers something exists is repetition.

The more someone sees the name of a product (be it a book or a new brand of cookies) in the general course of a month, the more likely that someone is to pick up the item when they see it. Not purchase the item. Just pick it up and look at it.

Studies show that once an item is in a customer’s hand, the customer is much more likely to purchase that item. So half the battle is won.

But it’s hard to measure.

And what is information advertising? Straight ads, signs, the book itself on shelves, blog discussions, reviews, newsletters, Facebook posts, and on and on and on.

If you the writer post constantly about the things you’ve just published, people leave. But if people stumble upon mentions elsewhere—a magazine, a blog, an ad—they’ll pay attention.

So straight records are important and so is one other thing…

5. Make Notes About What You Learned—Good and Bad

You need to keep track of what you’ve learned and what you assume from what you learned. What worked in 2011 in ebook publishing promotion isn’t working in 2014, mostly because everyone has jumped on the same bandwagon and the promotions aren’t new and exciting any more.

We don’t know what the hot new promotion will be in 2014, but we do know this: that promotion probably won’t work as well in 2017.

Keep track of what works for you, what didn’t work for you, how much money you spent, if you recouped that money, how much you might have earned, how much time it cost you to earn that and—because you’re a writer (and probably the sole employee of your business)—how many books/short stories you lost because you didn’t have the time to finish them while doing your promotion.

All of that goes into your records.

Be willing to try something that failed in the past, because…what worked in 2011 doesn’t work now, so conversely what works now might be what failed in 2011.

For example, WMG has just moved some of its promotional dollars away from the established reader-focused magazines to established book dealer venues. WMG has learned that the book dealer venues have had a direct financial impact on the books advertised there.

However, WMG wasn’t in the position to advertise in those venues until 2013. The rules to get into those venues are pretty strict, and many small publishers never meet those rules. WMG, which didn’t meet the rules three years ago, does now. So, the money shifts from one venue to another.

I’m sure the company will go through other changes in the year.

I know that my promotional opinions are constantly evolving. But I pay attention to what’s going on in the culture—not just for books, but for other entertainment products as well. I learn as much (or more) from the music and television industries as I do from what’s going on inside book publishing.

The key to success in promotion is pretty simple.

Figure out if you want to do a campaign, what you want from that campaign, and then measure the results as they come in. Then assess, assess, assess.

Best case: the campaign achieved its goal and grew your business over time.

Next best: the campaign achieved its goal

Shrug: the campaign did nothing at all (that you could tell)

Bad: the campaign cost time and money and did nothing at all

Worst case: the campaign cost time, money, and alienated the very people you were trying to attract. (Whenever you think that’s not possible, go on Twitter and watch some poor writer tweet every hour about his 99 cent book.)

When you’re ready to promote that tenth novel of yours, go back through this series, and see if anything jumps out at you. Plan what you’re going to do. And then be honest about your results.

Good luck. Have fun.

And, most importantly, keep writing.

Two blog posts in one week! I’m not going to do that very often (she types, tiredly). But it is the anniversary week, and I did want to wrap up this series.

As is always the case, donations slow down in the last part of any series. So please, if you learned something in these past 22 posts, leave a tip on the way out.


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“The Business Rusch: How To Measure Success” copyright 2014 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

34 thoughts on “The Business Rusch: How To Measure Success (Discoverability Part The Last)

  1. > Clearly no one has thought of what the company gets
    > from promoting old titles from an author who isn’t writing
    > for them any longer.)

    I think you have it upside down, I don’t think they are promoting your books, I think they are using your books to make the bundle more attractive so readers will try the other books in the bundle.
    As a reader I don’t buy bundles unless there are enough “knowns” to cover the cost.

    From past conversations I know others who follow the same strategy.

    1. If it were a bundle, I would agree with you. It’s not a bundle. It’s just a group of disparate novels that are advertised with novels from other companies as part of Kindle’s Daily Deals. You have to buy the books separately. In other words, the company isn’t promoting the books together. It’s buying a package deal of advertising. It’s not even advertising the company. Each book is advertised alone and by itself without tie to anything else. The only thing the promotion does is lower the price and let Kindle readers know the book’s price is lowered. That makes no sense as a marketing strategy for a series/an author the company is no longer building.

      1. Might it be something like airline seat pricing? The airline would get no revenue for that last empty seat if it didn’t discount it, and the publisher is still selling your book and getting revenue.

        Or, with you as a well known and established author the presence of your name makes the rest of the books look better.

        It may not be the best strategy from a long term perspective, given that the publisher is surrendering an opportunity to build someone else, but it may have some short term benefits.

        1. I wish I knew. But we’re just guessing. Honestly, since I’ve worked inside so many big companies, I truly believe they work off a time schedule based on how long it’s been since your book was published. Especially considering this latest promotion is with my established pen name and the second book of a new pen name. So name recognition wasn’t it either…

  2. It’s been an amazing set of posts, Kris. Thank you so much for this. I don’t have enough titles up to make use of most of it, not yet, but better to know what you need before you need it.

  3. First of all, Kris, I wanted to say that your own promotional efforts have not been in vain. I bought Smokey (Street Justice) and the fantasy bundle, and am looking forward to reading both. And I always read your Business Rusch column. So thank you so much.

    If anyone has time to comment on my Terminally Ill campaign:

    1. Decide What You Want Out of Your Promotion Campaign
    Here’s a dumb question. Why does it have to be money taken out of the one book? I have lots of money sitting around from my other books, that I haven’t spent yet, including income from the two previous Hope Sze novels. Why *shouldn’t* they subsidize Terminally Ill, if that’s what I want to do?

    Next, goals. Really, I just want to level up as a mystery writer. Too vague? I’ll modify yours.

    A. I would get exposure for my mystery writing.
    B. I would get some money from the novel itself.
    C. I would get a halo effect from the readers of the third book who would (if I had done my job as a storyteller) move to the first book and the second, and perhaps other Melissa Yi books.
    D. I would get a push from the increased attention that would force me to write the fourth book sooner rather than later.

    2. Figure Out How To Measure The Results (if you can)
    Easy. I’ll look at my sales over time.
    I’m also hoping to establish more of a media presence.
    Kobo director Mark Leslie Lefebvre had mentioned their Top 50 list as the ultimate goal, which I did achieve for two days, but I’ll have to see how that works out for sales long-term.

    3. Measure The Results at Various Points During and Post Campaign
    I think this is key, because now I have to wait for people to actually read my book. I am seeing a little trickle through, and a few speedy super readers contacting me already to tell me that they enjoyed my book.

    4. Determine If the Campaign Is Worth Repeating
    Well, it didn’t cost me much of anything except review copies, promo copies, and my sanity, so I’d have to say yes!

    5. Make Notes About What You Learned—Good and Bad
    Ah. I’ve already decided to turn that into a book. 🙂

    I’d also love to hear anyone else’s promo analysis, if you’re willing to share.

    Thanks, as always,

    1. Melissa, you mentioned a Goodreads giveaway in a comment above. Did you do other promotions for Terminally as well?

      I’ve had between 400 and 900 people sign up for my giveaways, with usually between 200 to 400 of those putting the book on their TBR lists. But I’ve never gotten into the top 50 on Kobo from a giveaway. I’m wondering how you did it?! Good going, by the way! 😀

      1. Hi J.M.,
        I know you from TPV as well as here.

        I wrote about it on my blog, but I’d say the single best thing I did was appear on public radio after I held a group book launch with Mark Leslie Lefebvre at two local libraries, got extensive local newspaper coverage, and did giveaways. I also saturated my poor Facebook friends at the end.

        The Goodreads giveaway–no, I doubt I’d get many/any readers from that. Giveaway entrants like free books, and like winning, but I understand the conversion rate from getting into a TBR pile to making a fan is quite low. Unfortunately. Sounds like you’ve had a good response, though. Good luck!

        1. Ah, yes, that makes sense. Thanks, Melissa!

          …but I understand the conversion rate from getting into a TBR pile to making a fan is quite low./blockquote>

          That is certainly my impression. Many of the readers have thousands of titles on their TBR lists. The chance that they’ll read any one book…slim.

          And even when a winner loves your book – just last night I received a ravingly positive review from my latest giveaway – what then? Presumably good things result, but there’s no way to measure them!

        2. Melissa,

          Interestingly – in the wake of my latest giveaway, with some very positive reviews showing up on Goodreads – I am seeing some sales of the book in question.

          My theory about Goodreads giveaways is that you can’t do just one and expect sales results. Especially if you are an unknown author without a reader base, as I am.

          I went into the Goodreads giveaways with the idea that if I were going to do it at all, I would need to do several in a row to put my name before readers continuously.

          Of course, there are no hard data here. Are these sales due to my giveaway strategy? No knowing for sure.

          But the previous giveaways did not provoke sales. This one – my 5th – seems to be doing so.

          1. Kris, I like that idea! I’d love it if it were true. And maybe it is. I just wonder why readers are discovering it now, as opposed to in January 2013 when it was released. No answer to that question, of course. Thank goodness that in this indie world, a book can be discovered at any time! 🙂

  4. A couple of comments, for your tracking: (1) I’m one of the long-term halo effect purchasers of the story bundle. I’m intending to continue with The Fey… but I’ve never read any Kevin Anderson, and never David Farland, and I want to catch up. I think the reason to continue may vary by person. I’m interested in how SF & F treat religion, and I’ll need to find out if religion is just folk magic in The Fey. (2) I missed the Thunder Mountain promo because Dean’s book was second in line, and thus “under the fold.” However, after reading that the promo existed, I went back to Thursday’s ebook soda mailing and got the promo price. (The only novel of his I own is _Laying the Music to Rest_, and I’ve been wondering how the lad’s career has been going…)

      1. To clarify: The biggest reason I bought the fantasy bundle was because I wanted to sample the Fey novels. So I read Sacrifice first. The second reason was to sample some of the other authors, so I’ll do that before I go on to the second Fey novel. Probably.

        1. Thanks, Dave. I understand. And I think you’re not alone in the order–you read the one from the writer you bought the bundle for, then the ones you meant to try, before moving on to other books.

  5. Hey Kris,

    Thanks for this great blog series. I have learned a lot even though I am no where near using most of the information I still find it valuable. I will also be sending in a tip once I am done spending a fortune moving. 😀

    I also wanted to say don’t look down on the fantasy book bundle as if the reason people bought it was for the other books. I know I saw it as a good way to get YOUR book at a great price and the others were the added extras. Figured someone had to say that. 😀

    Again thanks for the great blog series, I look forward to learning more over the next 5 years.


  6. Taking notes. I wish I could! But measuring the success is difficult too, as *we never take notes* and by the time we see a sale, we have no idea of how long it’s been or whether we actually promoted (speaking from the perspective of an unknown independent author.) Recently, I saw some unexpected sales through Kobo. If I wasn’t promoting, then that had to be the result of passive discoverability. And if I was promoting, in some title or Kobo-specific manner, then that would be the measure of my success: three sales.

    Presently, I’m working on cover images, and then in a logical, step-by-step progression, I’m taking another look at my blurbs, which are not very good in some cases.

    Anyhow, thanks for the information.

    1. Figuring out what gooses sales when it’s not something you’ve done is impossible. A book of mine took off in Australia in 2010. It was the short negotiating part of the Freelancer’s Guide. It sold hundreds of copies per month, starting with a 500 copy week. I have no idea who mentioned it, where or how, and couldn’t find it when I looked. That was only on the iBookstore, by the way, and at the time we were going through Smashwords, so I’m not sure if all the sales were accounted for. (We found, when we went direct to the iBookstore and Kobo, that our sales tripled almost immediately. Either the SW books weren’t being correctly accounted or the metadata was off. [I vote for metadata]) I’ve had similar things happen since, and there’s no way to figure it out. Just enjoy the ride. 🙂

  7. (Most of you know that I recommend if your time is short to write the next book and forget all of this promotion stuff.)

    Really glad you repeated that here!

    I loved reading about your thoughts on and experiences with promotion. It’s been a great series. But seeing all this emphasis on promotion from you…has caused me to question my largely marketing-free strategy.

    Maybe I should be planning promotions! 😀

    So I appreciate the reminder that relying on word of mouth is a valid strategy.

    I have a website, and it’s better organized, thanks to your post on that topic. 😀 I create attractive covers and write blurbs using the the principles I learned in the Pitches & Blurbs workshop. My books are widely available on as many e-tailer sites as I can find. They’re in POD.

    I do occasionally dabble in Goodreads giveaways. I’m participating in a multi-author short story bundle now.

    But, mostly I’m “going to let word of mouth happen and write the next book.”

    Thanks, Kris!

    1. I’m glad the reminder helped, J.M. I certainly didn’t want everyone to think I’d suddenly gone off the deep end and said you have to promote everything! 🙂 Too many others are saying that. Just write the next book. It’s the best strategy. I’m glad the website post and blurbs & stuff helped. 🙂

  8. Ahhh. I feel so rich, getting a second business column from you this week!

    Great suggestions, Kris. Thanks, as usual, for putting so much time and research and ingenuity into your posts. Brilliant!

  9. Thanks for a great and informative series, Kris, and an unexpected bonus. I always turn to The Business Rusch first thing on Thursday morning, but since you’d surprised me on Tuesday, I wasn’t expecting this post today. Thanks for putting in the extra work to keep writers informed and educated.

  10. Interesting post. The only thing I’m doing right now is getting my stuff out there. I have a back list of projects that I wrote so I’m focusing on getting them up. When I finally get these up I will think of what I can do for a promotion. So far Smashwords is the only place where I have had any discoverability. With each new release I get sample down loaded right away but they so far have not turned into sales. I don’t know if they ever will. I think the best thing I can do right now is to keep writing and publishing. When I have a body of work out there I will think of something. Right now I have no sales yet and I don’t want to do any .99 cent sale just yet. I’ll be patient and wait.

  11. Kris, what do you think about giveaways, and particularly Goodreads giveaways? And what do you think in general of Goodreads as a marketing tool for authors? (I’m doing a giveaway right now on Goodreads, but not a very successful one, I have to say.)

    I was figuring Goodreads could help getting reviews, and by getting reviews, it would be possible to be accepted for a Bookbub promo. On that subject, I wonder how many reviews, in your experience, would be enough for a promo to be accepted by Bookbub or ebooksoda?

    1. Quickly, Alan, since I have no time this morning. I’ve been told repeatedly that Goodread is for readers, not for writers to prompte their work. Readers resent writers showing up there. Sorry about that. And both Bookbub and eBookSoda tell you in their guidelines what they want.

      1. I’ve run a couple of Goodreads giveaways. Although I have absolutely nothing by which to gauge their success, I’d say they did okay (given my goal of getting a little exposure for those books).

        The first one was for CANCELED, and about 1,100 people entered to win one of three copies, with several hundred adding it to their “to read” lists. (That one was North America-only). I supported it with a cheap ad on Goodreads.

        The most recent one was for JOSEPH. It also got about 1,100 entrants vying for three copies, but it ran globally. I did not buy an ad that time. (BTW, I recommend against the global giveaway, as my winners ended up being in England, France, and India – expensive shipping.) But…global exposure.

        So, lots of people (my personal definition of “lots”) got exposed to those titles, for a relatively small cost. And it required very little time on my part.

        But probably the best thing to come of it was that during that first giveaway, a book blogger in England contacted me regarding CANCELED and asked for an interview, which I granted, and was posted on her blog, and subsequently tweeted by her, etc. So, it did have a good side effect.

        I have some readers who are “fans” of me on Goodreads, so I would hesitate to say everyone there eschews the “author presence” at that venue. But I do not think it is one of the stronger places to expend marketing effort. Just have a profile, make sure all your books are listed, do a giveaway now and again if it fits your strategy, and write that next book. 🙂

        1. I ran my first Goodreads giveaway last month. I followed all the tips to maximize sign-ups (signed copy, make it worldwide, longer giveaway time, etc.). Got 885 people vying for one copy and 300+ added it to their TBR pile.

          I’m excited to report that the gentleman who won said it wasn’t his usual genre, but posted a good review of _Terminally Ill_ that showed he’d read the book and really thought about the characters.

          I have no idea if it will help me get readers, but every review helps. And hey, now I know I got at least one reader in Bulgaria! And a gentleman in India asked me for a blog interview. So again, that cool international thing.

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