OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Today's podcast is a discussion on book launches and how various types of marketing activities impact book sales with paranormal romance author Zoe Winters and religious thriller author Joanna Penn.
Zoe has been on the podcast before when we discussed being an indie author and we had so much fun that I invited her back for another chat.
In the podcast you will learn:
- A bit about Zoe and why she is an independent author of novellas Kept, Claimed and Mated as well as her novel Save My Soul. Being indie is about control and choice and determining everything about your books.
- Zoe recently launched Save My Soul and shares a few things about what she learned. In the past she focused on ranking sales and freaked out to keep the marketing going. She used to write guest posts, tweet etc and it was too stressful. Now she is pulling back a little and focusing on writing. It looks like Amazon has changed their algorithms so it is not just about jumping up the charts in one go anymore. You want sustained sales over time.
- Joanna talks about the Pentecost launch and how tiring it was. One of the biggest efforts was appearing on 32 guest blog posts in one day. In the rest of the podcast, we go into the details of each aspect of a launch.
- On the need for a baseline author platform. The first batch of sales come from a newsletter or your own list, those people who know you are launching. But the biggest thing is when the Amazon recommendation algorithm kicks in and word of mouth moves through reviewers. So you need the best book you can write, you can't survive on marketing alone.
- We talk about Amanda Hocking's amazing indie author success. USA Today reports she has sold 450,000 ebooks . She doesn't have a massive platform but she is a paranormal writer who puts out a new book every 2 months. Is it worth it to have a platform or should you just write?
- It is hard to get initial readers to read your book. Hocking had book bloggers initially and then word of mouth caught on. But you need initial readers and a place to connect with fans. There are a lot of writers who are sitting way down in the Kindle charts and with a platform you stand a better chance of getting the momentum going. As you go along, you can step back from the marketing a little.
- I've been considering this, as in whether I spend too much time blogging. For me the platform is more than a mechanism to sell books. The blog has got me speaking gigs as well as other benefits. It's worth it for me to continue author platform building.
- On book trailers, Zoe talks about why she likes them. They can make people want to read your book, but it can also hype up your current fans. It's more about building your brand than directly impacting sales. Marketing is not a linear thing. It's a bunch of stuff that rolls together and the power of the whole thing. It's very hard to break down what is successful and what isn't. Click here for Zoe's book trailer for Save My Soul.
- I have also found that people did buy Pentecost based on the book trailer. It's a 1 minute promo. Click here for the Pentecost book trailer.
- On guest posting on other blogs. I did 32 other blogs for the launch of Pentecost. It's best to go where the readers will be, not just the blogs for writers. Even if there is no uptick in sales or traffic, it can generally help your brand by raising your profile. I made this mistake but I hadn't built up relationships in that area so focused on my existing network. This is one of the reasons I started Mystery Thriller TV in order to reach readers.
- On spending money for advertising. Kindle Nation Daily didn't work for Zoe but it did work very well for me with Pentecost (priced at $2.99). I think that I could have made #1 by combining the launches instead of doing it over a week. Zoe considers that Amazon algorithms may not like that type of approach anymore. Kindle giveaways can be effective on a small scale but may attract people who wouldn't become fans of the work. Maybe focus prizes on the niche you are in. I offered a choice of a Kindle or my Author 2.0 program to winners. That kept the cost down but still gave great benefit to the winners.
- On the pressure on writing fast and getting books out there as fast as possible. It feels like a gold rush right now on ebooks but calm down, you need to keep putting out quality. Zoe wrote this post on the topic: Slow down, the tortoise won. We don't have to release as fast as Amanda Hocking. I discuss the longevity aspect of being an author. We can write books for the rest of our lives. We need to live in the moment but also we have time to write. One book a year for the next 35 years still gives me a good back-list. Celebrate the moment!
- We talk about the growth of the ebook and ereading devices and how it is really going mainstream. It's also important to consider other platforms than Amazon to publish. Zoe talks about how her sales on Barnes & Noble have been bigger than Amazon.
- On writing series – we mention Holly Lisle's Writing a Series online course (I highly recommend Holly's courses and have done a number of them myself. I'm also an affiliate).
You can buy Pentecost in print or on the Kindle on Amazon sites. I will be doing a longer text post on all the aspects of the Pentecost launch soon.
What aspects have you found to be the most successful for launching books?