Category Archives: book promotion

If You Like This You’ll Love…

Whether your book is young adult fiction, a non-fiction self-help book, an historical thriller, or any other genre, associating your book with other, more famous books, is an excellent marketing strategy.

But how, as a first-time author, do you do this? You have to make the connection in the minds of your readers and potential readers. Amazon does this all the time. Check below the description for any Amazon book listing and you’ll see “Customers Who Bought This Book Also Bought,” and a listing of several books. Below that there is the “sponsored content” area where you can pay to be listed next to another author’s book.

Of course, the listing you don’t pay for is always best, but considering a “sponsored content” ad may be a good way to jumpstart a new book. Do this carefully and selectively. You want to make sure that you choose the right author to list your book next to.

But before you pay for an ad—any ad—there are some things you should do first.

Using Your Social Media

Use your social media to develop a relationship in your readers’ mind between your work and that of other authors. When blogging, tweeting, and posting develop a list of six to ten other authors in your field, then talk about their books. At the bottom of your post make sure you add a link to your own book. Use hashtags with the other author’s name, as well as hashtags for you and your book.

Why should you promote someone else’s book? Particularly someone who is already famous? Because people already recognize that name and may share your post. The author you have mentioned may even share your post or tweet! And because it is just good karma.

While you should certainly include a couple of the most famous authors in your field in your list, your should also have a few “midlist” authors (authors who are less well-known but have been out there a while and have a following) and some newer authors, also. You may want to contact some of these authors and consider a joint promotion, trading guest blogs, or other promotional strategies.

Finding Partner Authors

Where will you find these lesser-known authors? Why on the Amazon lists, of course. Start by checking out the “Customers Who Bought This Book”  and “Sponsored Content” lists. Next, type in your own categories and search for similar books. Buy the books and read them, so you can talk about them. Review them on Amazon. Check out their websites and Amazon author pages. Are they active? Do they blog or tweet? You can’t effectively partner with someone who isn’t interested in promoting their work, no matter how good it is.

Pulling it All Together

First, use your social media to talk about the authors. Next, contact some of the authors through their websites and see if you can develop a relationship with them. Third, don’t give up after only a few weeks or even months. These types of strategies take time. You are in this for the long haul. Set up a schedule that includes social media, book promotions, in-person promotions, etc. Put reminders on your calendar and make sure you follow up.

Watch Out for This When Planning Your Amazon Promotions

By Melissa Macfie
Do you ever read the terms of service agreement before clicking “accept” when “signing” an agreement on the internet? Never did I think I would need to know those terms when signing up for a simple Amazon Promotion, but I did.
Somewhere in my upbringing the phrase “don’t sign until you read the fine print” was embedded. This made signing my first mortgage exceedingly tedious for our agent. He was patient, allowed me to read, and answered my questions—some of them repeatedly and using small words—until I was comfortable enough to sign. This penchant for reading the fine print became further rooted by various experiences where I needed to parse a single sentence to ensure a favorable outcome.
When I wrote my first book, the world of publishing was foreign to me. The little I thought I knew about publishing was invalidated almost as soon as I entered. The one thing I knew was that to survive, I had to read the fine print—starting with the publishing contract. The terms of agreement were straightforward and outlined the responsibilities of both parties. It was explained to me with patience all I would be required to do. It was reassuring.
This reassurance coupled with my confidence that I could parse a lengthy Terms of Agreement document, had me signing up for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program with the enthusiasm and glee of a child. Reading terms of service agreements can be daunting, and even though it took me some time to understand the whole document, I had a good bead on what the contract laid out. Never would I have thought that I would have to put it to use.
To explain, the KDP enrollment period is for the span of three months, which renews automatically. During one three-month period, authors are allowed to reduce their pricing once per book. The point of this type of promotion is to make your book more attractive to new readers and quickly increase your Amazon ranking—not to mention your royalties. These .99 cent promotions work best when coupled with paid advertising with a variety of subscriptions newsletters which inform readers of .99 cent and free book promotions. I have scheduled many such reductions successfully in the past, but this time I decided to schedule the promotion on the first day of the new enrollment period.
Not expecting any difficulty, I submitted and paid for my books to be advertised on multiple promotion websites. Once confirmed with the advertisers, I went to schedule the price reduction at KDP.Amazon.com. According to the Amazon terms of agreement, 24 hours’ notice must be given in order for the price to be reduced, and having left a four day margin, I thought I was in the clear.
I was wrong.
Since it was technically in the last days of my previous KDP period, all the system would let me do was schedule up to the last day of that period. It would NOT allow me to schedule a promotion on the first day of the next period. In a panic, because, as I mentioned, I’d already spent money on advertising, I reread the terms of agreement and the FAQ page on the KDP site. In neither location was there any mention of scheduling for upcoming enrollment periods. But there was also NOTHING that said a promotion could not be run on the first day of an enrollment period. Time was running short, so I quickly sent an email to Amazon. It was answered within twelve hours. The response reiterated the end and start dates of my enrollment, that twenty-four hours was needed to schedule a price reduction, and that I would not be able to schedule for the first day of the renewed period.
This was a problem. I could not change the advertising I had already scheduled. It was paid for and it was too late to change things on the half dozen sites on which I had signed up. Looking over those Amazon terms of agreement again, nowhere did it state that I could not begin a promotion on the first day of the enrollment period. I was not going to let this go!
I followed up with another email. This one earned a phone call from an Amazon associate within two hours of my sending it. The phone call was to inform me that they verified my statement that this clause was, in fact, not in their terms, and as such, they would grant my request to schedule the price reduction on the first day of my enrollment period. I was told additionally that this would be the only time they would do so, as if I was the one who did something wrong.
My ire at this situation was substantially eased by the favorable outcome of my promotion the next week, and the knowledge that I was able to do it because of my diligence. However, just to be safe, moving forward, I will not schedule price reductions in the first week of my new enrollment period—and I suggest you do not either.
Now for the statistics: The promotion was a .99 cent promotion for Fate’s Hand, Book 1 in my Celtic Prophecy series, and free for Reliquary’s Choice, Book 2 in the series. The promotion took me to Number 2 in Free Kindle books for Reliquary’s Choice and Number 14 in Magical Realism for Fate’s Hand. Overall there were over 4,000 downloads for Reliquary and I also increased the number of reviews. There were 222 books sold at .99 cents for Fate’s Hand. Although I did give away over 4,000 copies of Reliquary’s Choice free, some of that does translate into money, through readers who use the Kindle Unlimited program which pays authors for “pages read.”
Melissa Macfie, author of Fate’s Hand and Reliquary’s Choice, is currently working on the third book in the Celtic Prophecy series, Oracle’s Curse. She also develops custom e-book marketing plans for other authors. Contact her at melissa.macfie@yahoo.com.

E-Book Sales and Amazon: The Good and the Bad

Amazon: love it or hate, if you’re an author and want to increase e-book sales, you MUST use it.  Whether you’re an author, a publisher, an agent or a book marketer, whether you are publishing an e-book or a paper book, Amazon is necessary. But, while Amazon has allowed independent authors to flourish, its success has also made it more difficult for the new independent author to make a mark in the ever-growing world of book publishing. ISBN registrations jumped 21 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to Bowker, the company that issues these numbers. Recent estimates are that over 2 million titles are published each year.

Amazon and E-Books
While Amazon is often cited having a 65 percent share of all U.S. e-book sales, according to the website AuthorEarnings.com, 74 percent is a more correct approximation, when indie books without ISBN’s are included. (Amazon allows authors to publish e-books using only an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). The majority of that final 26 percent of sales is shared by Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo US bookstore and GooglePlay Books. Also according to AuthorEarnings.com, these four sites “take in 32% of all author income generated by ebook sales.”

Amazon has stacked the deck in its favor by offering the KDP Select program (Kindle Direct Publishing) which increases an author’s percentage of royalties from 30 to 70 percent if the author publishes only on Amazon.com.

According to Mark Coker, founder of e-book distributor Smashwords, who was quoted in The BookLife Report, “Amazon has not made anything easier for indie authors’ bottom lines with KDP Select, which requires participating authors to publish e-books exclusively with Amazon and allows titles to be eligible for Kindle Unlimited—a program that provides unlimited books for readers who pay a monthly subscription fee.” Coker is also critical of Amazon’s shift to paying authors for number of pages ready rather than numbers of books sold.

Working the System
I like to root for the underdog, and Amazon certainly is not the underdog in the publishing world. I also agree that Amazon’s methods of payment are Byzantine and are weighted to pay authors the least amount possible. But reality is that if a reader wants to buy an e-book, almost three quarters of the time she is going to buy it on Amazon. I’m rooting for the true underdog in the publishing world: the author. Right now, an independent author’s best shot at cracking the code and gaining recognition and sales is to use Amazon. That means authors should:
1. Sign up for KDP Select
2. Learn how to use the Amazon categories and ranking systems to increase visibility
3. Take advantage of the many e-newsletters out there promoting e-book deals
4. Keep a close eye on e-book sales trends and changes in Amazon’s program

Right now, KDP Select is still one of the best ways for authors to earn money on e-book sales. But that may not always be the case. To learn more about Amazon and e-book marketing, come to the Fifth Annual Winter Writers’ Weekend, March 3-5 in New Hope, PA. Author Melissa Macfie will hold a workshop on “E-book Promotions: Improve Your Rank and Your Sales.”