Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Selling my soul might actually be easier.

"Your book is...special."
I have been doing a TON of reading, research and "gathering of best practices" lately, including poring through blogs and absorbing hours upon hours of podcasts. Of particular help are Joanna Penn's podcast (The Creative Penn) and the Sell More Books Show. I've also listed to quite a few Author Hangout episodes and Rocking Self-Publishing. The prevailing wisdom is to start marketing your books (or at least your "brand") long before their release, so in a sense, my marketing efforts should always be "on."

What I haven't been doing a lot of is writing. But there's a good reason--after hearing Shawn Coyne interviewed by Joanna Penn, I picked up his book The Story Grid and thought I might be able to figure out where the missteps are in my WIP. It has changed my thinking--it's really inspired me to go back and re-map out the entire novel (word-count-wise, I'm about 2/3 through, but in reality, I'd say only about 50%). Yes, it's more work, but I will feel so much more confident when it's done. I'm out outliner anyway, so I always like to know "where I'm going," even if my characters pull me off that path now and again.

I'm almost done with The Story Grid, at which point I'll pick up Take Off Your Pants! as I dismantle and reassemble my WIP. Projected release date of Spring 2016 (actual date is a secret, because it's relevant to the book's setting and theme, which will be revealed once designer extraordinaire Mike Sottong finishes my cover)!

Shifting gears, I'm ramping up promotion for my first two humorous suspense books, Ring of Fire and Battle Axe. I gave Ring of Fire a fresh edit, a tweaked cover, lopped out about 5K words, caught a few typos, and entered it into KDP Select so I could do a giveaway. After a 3-day giveaway leading into Labor Day weekend, here were the results:

Day 1: 500
Day 2: 105
Day 3: 61
Total downloads: 666

I think Satan himself downloaded the last copy just to make it work out even.

As far as promotional tools, I didn't do a lot. I've spent entire days before pushing giveaways via Facebook and Twitter, but when I saw that 5k+ downloads didn't result in a single new review, I realized those numbers are not all that they seem. So I limited it to one $1.50 paid listing on Snick's List and then using Book Marketing Tools' very handy Book Submission tool to hit 30+ sites for all of $15.

My main goal here is to boost reviews, and based on more advice (see above sources), I've added links and incentives to the book itself. Once a reader posts a review on Amazon or Goodreads and sends me a screenshot or a link, I'll send a copy of Battle Axe (where the cycle begins anew). I'd like to boost reviews of that book, too, and by the time my WIP is ready early next year, I might have something of a "fanbase" or, God forbid, a mailing list.

So there you have it. In the case of this blog, no news is good news, because no news means I'm working too hard to write about how hard I'm working. I'll try to be better about that.


Mairéad said...

Hi Bill - I love the title of this post, because when it comes to marketing a book or a blog, you never said a truer word. I attended a writer's conference in Louisville this summer, and one agent said a platform is becoming more and more essential for finding an agent or publisher. You've already crossed the publishing hurdle, but marketing falls fair and square on your lap these days. The problem is however that creating and promoting said platform can take up all of your writing time. Wishing you every success in creating the happy balance required to excel at both.
Happy writing,

Bill Cokas said...

Thanks for the response, Mairéad. I've been following your blog for quite a while "in the background," but have decided to start engaging more--all part of the platform, right? Your blog is very extensive and impressive--thanks for the inspiration! I visited Ireland in 2009 and it left quite an impression on me, so much so that I'm setting a good part of my current novel there!