How I Sold My First 1000 Books: The Marketing
How I Sold My First 1000 Books: The Marketing

How I Sold My First 1000 Books: The Marketing

Following on from my introductory post that details I have just reached a mini-milestone of 1000 book sales for my self-published novel, The Other Times of Caroline Tangent, this second post explains the marketing I did to achieve that.

Book Reviews: They’ve Gotta Help!

First off, book reiews. Although ultimately, my marketing is about generating sales, book reviews help so much – both in terms of volume and positive reviews. As of today, I have got 70 reviews/ratings on Amazon UK with a 4.5 score, 44 ratings on Amazon.com (USA) with a 4.7 score, and 74 ratings on GoodReads with a 4.43 average. Which I am very happy about! Readers have said so many lovely things. I read every single review and I’ve been blown away by the kinds words people have written about the novel. I quite seriously never expected to get such wonderful feedback. Of course, I do have a few 1 and 2 star ratings too, which Mark Dawson’s blog assures me provides gravitas to the book – I hope he’s right!

How did I get the reviews? I did do an initial Blog Tour (see below) and I approached a few specific book bloggers who I’ve built an online relationship with, but the vast majority have been organic with readers posting reviews of their own accord – which is of course the best!

Once or twice, when one of my Facebook Ads has received some nice comments from people who have already read the book, I have added a comment myself inviting people to add a review if they would like to do so. And I do post occasional tweets reminding people how beneficial reviews are for indie authors. When I do that, I have noticed a few reviews more than I might otherwise expect, so although I don’t know for sure if those SM posts help, I hope they do!

(For any of my readers reading this blog: if you are one of the fantastic people who have written a review of my novel – thank you! So much. And if you have read my book but you haven’t posted a review yet, well… 😉)

Ratings So Far

My Core Marketing

  • Pre-Orders: For four weeks prior to my formal launch date, I did sell my novel on Amazon for a reduced price of £1.99/$1.99, and I promoted the reduced price on my Facebook Ads and Twitter (see below). I got over 150 sales which, personally, I was very happy about.
  • Blog Tour: The first paid marketing I did was organise a blog tour with Anne Cater. She was marvellous and recruited 24 bloggers to write reviews of my novel. That was a brilliant way to get some initial reviews.
  • Facebook Ads: The core of my paid marketing has been done through Facebook Ads. I’ve done that consistently since the launch, with different ads for the UK and the US, trying different images and videos, different audiences and so on. On average, I’ve spent between £4 and £8 a day. As my average sales per day are 6.5 – but increasing at the moment – then the revenues from those sales generally mean I have broken even! This is pretty much what I hoped for – I would have loved to have sold many more books, of course, but as long as I’m not spending more than I’m receiving, I think that’s a decent enough approach for now. All that said, the most frustrating thing is that you can’t definitely tell that a clickthrough has generated a sale – there are lots of blog posts about that online – so I’ve had to assume (dangerously?!) that these Facebook ads are helping. One thing I can say is that when I have stopped advertising for a few days, my sales have gone down.
  • A 99p/99c promotion, partly through RobinReads. A few weeks ago, I discounted my ebooks to 99p/99c for 4 days over a weekend, and I used RobinReads‘ author services to promote it to their email newsletter list. I also promoted the price through my Twitter and Facebook pages. It was certainly successful in so much that for 4 days, my sales shot up and spiked on the day that the RobinReads newsletter was sent out. I didn’t recuperate the outlay for that service but for a 99p/99c book that would mean alot of sales to do so. I treated it more as a promotion and awareness campaign and to get more sales and hopefully more reviews. Interestingly, since that promotion, my average sales per day have stayed consistently higher than they were before the promotion.
  • Twitter: I do like Twitter and I do a fair amount of tweeting (although nothing compared to some people!) I can’t say whether it has led directly to sales, but I can track the links clicked from my tweets and profile (using Booklinker, Geniuslink, bit.ly etc) and there has been plenty of traffic to my target pages from those links. So, I do think it’s well worth my time. I know that when some other authors were kind enough to retweet my launch announcement and 99p promotion that did generate some sales. (Thanks in particular to Keith Pearson, Mark Stay and Khurrum Rahman).

Other Things I’ve Tried

  • An interview on Radio Kent: Linden Kemkaran and Dominic King were kind enough to invite me onto the Dominic King Book Club to discuss my novel with me. I did already have an “in” with Linden because I had contacted her prevoiusly when I published my first novel, The Kosher Delhi. They interviewed me during the pre-sales period of my launch which I’m sure generated a few sales and some interest!
  • Amazon Ads and BookBub Ads: I have run a few campaigns on Amazon and BookBub. Amazon has generated me a few sales (but very low numbers compared to my clickthroughs), and I can literally count on one hand the number of clickthroughs from my BookBub ads! For Amazon, I think this is primarily because my book cover, as much as I love it, isn’t obviously a time travel genre, plus it’s only now that I am getting higher numbers of reviews and ratings which might attract more sales; I will try that again. With BookBub, I clearly haven’t produced the necessary imagery to capture readers’ imagination – must try harder!
  • LoveReading: LoveReading is the only book recommendation website I used the services of. It is one of the most popular sites of that ilk. But although I received an “Indie Books We Love” sticker/review from them, I have no idea if it has generated much in the way of sales. My gut instinct is that it hasn’t, and I didn’t get included in any of their email newsletters. I was rather disappointed by this.
  • Other Social Media: I post a few things on Instagram and I have my author Facebook page, and whilst both might help add something to my online author presence, I don’t think they’ve generated many sales per se. I did also add a single post on my LinkedIn page on the day of publication and that got plenty of likes and comments from business contacts, and several sales. Every little helps!
  • Other stuff I’ve tried: I’ve sent press releases to newspapers, magazines and websites but with very little response. One exception was Music-News.com who ran a competition which offered 3 copies of my novel as a giveaway. I’ve also emailed celebrities and influencers, but so far Tom Robinson (Radio 6 presenter and still a recording artist!) has been the only such person kind enough to have responded to my email and downloaded a copy – thanks, Tom! (I use BookFunnel to distribute free ecopies).

An Unfortunate Omission…

Finally, you may notice a glaring omission from the above lists: an email list. I know all authors are supposed to collate an email list of readers so they can market their books to them but sadly, I didn’t have one, and even now, my list is tiny. It’s just something I’ve never managed to make work. I’ve promoted it, added a reader magnate of a short story, encouraged sign-ups, but in general to no avail. Clearly I am not doing something right! But it is on my list to improve from now on…

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