If you were to ask 100 authors to name the hardest part of their job, 99 of them will tell you, “Marketing and promotion.”
The other one is a liar.
Personally, I don’t mind the marketing because I’m a walkin’ talkin’ rootin’ tootin’ Becky Show all day, every day. Yes, thank you for asking, it IS exhausting.
I don’t mind talking about my books or myself, or being interviewed, doing podcasts, writing guest blogs, goofing around on social media, speaking on panels or presenting workshops, sitting at a book signing table with my fancy pen poised …. or any of the myriad other things we must do to sell books.
What I hate, though, is not knowing what works, always wondering, “Which of these endeavors is worth taking time away from my writing?”
It’s a moving target from week to week, platform to platform, book to book. And there’s almost always a learning curve, often steep, with a series of several terrifying hairpin turns, some of which cost obscene amounts of money.
Here’s my most recent example. I’m trying to train my subscribers to open and read my “So Seldom It’s Shameful” newsletter, mostly by bribing them with freebies … books from me or my author pals, and my handmade purses made out of recycled books.
Readers have risen to the challenge, and my stats have been pretty good. My February issue had a 43.4% open rate. (The average open rate in the publishing industry is 15.11%, according to MailChimp.) My March issue had a slightly lower open rate than February, but more than twice the clicks to the links I had inside. (Go figure.)
I heard about Gleam.io, a company that runs contests and giveaways. They have a platform where I set up a list of ways people can enter my contest. Some tasks are easy and get people one chance at the prize …. like join my mailing list, follow me on BookBub, answer a question. Some tasks are a bit harder, but can earn a whopping ten chances for completing … like write a blog post about my books, post a photo with my books. And some tasks you can do every day to earn points.
The harder people work to help me create buzz for my books, the better they’re rewarded. (It takes a village to raise me, people!)
I have a grand prize package of a purse like in the photo above plus EIGHT books written and signed by some of my fabulous fellow cozy mystery writers from my Colorado chapter of Sisters in Crime …. many of whom you’ve met here at Chicks on the Case, including our own marvelous Cynthia Kuhn.
I’m hopeful my giveaway will make a big splash because every book lives and dies by its sales. It’s a business with razor-thin margins so even if a book has won numerous awards, if it doesn’t have the sales numbers, the publisher won’t continue the series.
Problem is, we authors never know what that number is or how close we are to meeting it.
In the first few hours my contest was live, 17 people performed 88 of my requested actions. A couple of days later, 64 people had performed 378 actions.
Not bad, eh? But like Oliver Twist, I wanted more.
People emailed me like mad to tell me how much they loved the purse, so I increased my offer. I posted on Facebook that if I got 50 people to share my giveaway, I’d add a second random winner who would just win one of the purses. And if I got 100 people to share, I’d add a third random person to win a purse.
This giveaway has been fun so far (after I dealt with the steep learning curve and all the hairpin turns, that is), and that’s really my benchmark. I’ll keep doing what I find enjoyable and what my readers like, all while trying to balance writing time with promotion time.
Readers … what kind of contests or giveaways do you like? Writers … what kind of marketing do you love to do and what do you find more challenging?
Oh, and if you want to enter my contest, here’s the link to Becky’s Big Bodacious Box O’Books and Purse Giveaway. And be sure to share for extra chances for you and your friends!