Monday, February 27, 2012

Marketing Quietly

Good Morning. As most of you know I self-published several short stories and two novels to Kindle/Amazon with a third on the way. It's been a truly life changing experience in more ways than one. Yes, I am exceedingly proud of all I've achieved with my writing. I've also learned how to upload, download, fix html codes, and all kinds of other "fun" stuff I never in a zillion years thought I'd ever do. (With the help of some very dear friends, I might add.)

When I first uploaded A WIFE FOR WINSBARREN to Kindle back in October, I had no idea what "ranking" was or "best-seller lists" or any of that. However, as I uploaded more books, I found my ranking was getting higher. Now, one of my dear friends said that being at #63 was an amazing achievement.
I even wrote about it here on my blog.

As of this writing, I'm on three different best-seller lists, with that one book, at #5, #16, and #52 respectively. People are actually buying my books and reading them. (And these rankings change HOURLY so what may have me sitting in astonishment one moment, has me plummeting to the dregs of the earth in another.)

Now there're all kinds of ways to get to the top in a short amount of time. Here are three I've heard about. Put it free, get tons of reviews, do a blog splash. I never did any of those. As a matter of fact, WINSBARREN sat with the same 3 reviews it had, written by dear friends, for the first 4 months it was out. It now has 4. (Two stars I might add.) So reviews don't have anything to do with ranking as far as I can tell.

As of this writing, THE LADY'S FATE has 5 reviews. My other two short stories and novel have none. And quite honestly, I don't care. They're all selling. Quite well I might add. So as far as I'm concerned, word of mouth is selling my books. Either that OR the fact I have so much reading material out there
I did do "free" on one of my other books (A HUSBAND FOR MISS TRENT), but I did that the wrong way, using Smashwords for the "free" instead of Amazon/Kindle, hence, a lesson learned.

As for a blog splash (or marketing blitz) nope, didn't do that either. Not that I couldn't, but quite frankly, I just didn't want to. With so many people complaining (myself included) about people shoving their books in your face on every social media site known to man, I just couldn't do it. As a matter of fact, I hardly did anything -- I believe 2 interviews and a guest post and that was it. Some very nice people wrote some very nice things about my books and posted them on Goodreads, but I didn't ask them to do it. I Tweeted once and only once for each book release. That's it. I posted once for each book release on both of my blogs. That's it.

(The one thing that I haven't done, that I really want to do, is get bookmarks and/or postcards made. I'm waiting on my third novel to go out before I do that.)
As for my actual stats on how many I've sold, well, that's kind of personal, like asking what religion you belong to, or if you ever inhaled. I want to tell you, really I do, but I'm not going to. You know why, because my sales will be different than yours. There are all kinds of reasons why -- different genre, different publication dates, different marketing strategies, hey, even different covers. And we can't compare. ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY CANNOT COMPARE. It wouldn't be fair to you or I, or any of the other writers out there.

Yes, some people have sold 50k in the last year. Some only 100 books. You have to find what works for you to be able to sell. You have to find your own marketing groove and go with it. J.A. Konrath suggests playing with pricing. David Gaughran suggests putting books out for free. K. K. Rusch suggests putting excerpts up on your blog. And all of these are really great ideas. And yes, I've done them. Some worked, and some didn't. But only you can make the decision of what works best for you. Sometimes it's just the difference of changing the cover.

What I do know, however, is that putting out great content, with a pretty decent cover, keeping the typo's and mistakes to a minimum, and keeping that momentum going, will see your sales grow over time. This isn't a race. There's a long tail on this roller-coaster. What sells today, might not sell next year, or even next week. Who knows. Then again, even if you don't sell this year, in five years, you might be the next gazillionaire.

I guess what I'm saying is, you don't have to beat people over the head to buy your books. I didn't and I'm making a nice living now. I keep my nose to the grindstone and write. I guess you could say I "Market Quietly", and just do what I think is best and let the chips fall where they may. But then again, I'm not you and you're not me. We each have our own way of looking at things.

Tell me -- What are the most effective ways you've seen writers market? What are some of the most detrimental? What are some of your marketing techniques?


Elliot Grace said...

...what a lovely way to begin the morning, thanks so much Anne ;)

I began with a local book signing, several adds in the papers around the area, and a blog tour. Shortly after, I took the Kindle edition for "South of Charm" down to $2.99, my publisher wouldn't allow it any lower, and have remained relatively quiet ever since.

Like you mentioned, those rankings fluctuate worse than our local weather. I can duck into the top 100, only to drop down to 200,000 by day's end. But then that's just part of the race, for its a long one indeed ;)

Congrats on your success!


Em-Musing said...

I admire you and your marketing. I'm not there yet, but I'm scared that if I go the self pub way, I'll flounder all over the place with my marketing.

Anne Gallagher said...

El -- It's always a pleasure to have you here. As for book signings, as I don't have paperback, (But maybe later in the spring) I think I'd like to do a signing, but not here. Maybe in RI if I go back this summer. At least I know some relatives would show

Em -- In order not to flounder, you need to have a plan, almost like a business proposal. I knew I wasn't going to go crazy so I didn't bother. Besides, a lot of people say not to even bother going crazy with one or two books. Wait until you have three or four and then do a big splash. Maybe in the spring after the paperbacks come out I'll have a big party and give books away and all that. Then again, who knows what will happen by then.

SA Larsenッ said...

This is a very interesting post. I have had friends go all out, marketing their books. It never bothered me, but that could be because I considered them friends. Hmm... You make a good point. I think some of it probably depends on the personality of the writer. What choices he/she is comfortable with.

Major congrats on all your success!! So encouraging!

jbchicoine said...

My debut novel hasn't been released yet, so I haven't done any marketing on UNCHARTED (aside from mentioning it occasionally on my blog or comments like this). I have been watching you and your marketing like a hawk, lol, because marketing makes me shiver and if I can get away with "Marketing Quietly" that's the approach I'd like to take.

As for your rankings, I think being in a popular/loyal-readership genre helps (I don't know that Regency Romance readers are more loyal than others--that's just a gut feeling since the genre has been around for so long). And one factor that can not be minimized is the quality of your stories. They are engaging and well-written! And you have worked your butt off to put out consecutive stories, which we've been told is the best way to sell our work: "Publish more novels!"

I'm just so proud of you, Anne! and thanks for not divulging your sales. Comparisons are evil!

Linda G. said...

I like the way you've done it--I've always responded better to the soft sell than the in-your-face-every-freakin'-second sell. You market with class, and deserve your success. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

SA -- You know, I think it doesn't bother me at all if my friends are blitzing with their marketing. Because they're friends, you know. But everytime I get on Twitter it's just like rush hour traffic -- "buy me buy me buy me". I hate that.

Bridget -- Thanks so much. You make me teary eyed. I think with you being such a "quiet" person in the first place, one wouldn't imagine you to be a marketing maniac. But when your book finally does hit the market, I'm all over it.

Linda -- That's the word I was looking for -- soft sell. I always bought stuff that way, never for the in-your-face. And thanks so much for saying I have class. Did you say it with a Jersey accent? Cuz that would make it so much better.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Three best selling lists? That is awesome!
Outside of my blog tour, I won't do much to promote my books. CassaStar hit the best seller list last fall without me doing a thing! (Other than just blogging and starting the IWSG.) What propels book sales is still a mystery to me.
And you're right about sales figures being personal. That's like asking someone how much they make at their job.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Let's get serious here, the #1 way to sell books is by word of mouth. Someone has to like it enough to tell other people, and so on and so forth. Which means our job is, more or less, just to write damn good books.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Congrats on those best selling lists!

One of these days I'm going to have to get serious about promotion, but right now I'm enjoying just focusing on writing. We writers have to wear a lot of hats!

Johanna Garth said...

My book started out slow and is now selling more rapidly. As far as I can tell there is NO correlation between the social media piece and the book sales. Weird, but true.

For the most part I think it's probably just word of mouth and time.

Patti said...

Congrats on those numbers. I know who'll I'll be asking for advice if I ever decide to self publish.

Yvonne Osborne said...

That's tremendous, Anne. You're really making progress! You're right about numbers being personal. I've always thought that too. But what a wealth of information you've garnered! I'm part of an anthology just released as a debut publication by Elephant's Bookshelf Press, and I know they're having issues with it being free for Kindle. It's already up for free on Smashwords. I wonder if that's the problem?

Mindy Lee said...

wow this is very interesting post

Mindy Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lydia Kang said...

They key, I think, is writing a damn good book. You can market the heck out of your book, but if it's not exciting to readers or gets word of mouth going, nothing will make it a best seller.

Congrats, Anne! I'm so happy for you!

Francine Howarth: UK said...


You and Me both: do it quiet, head down and get on with the business of writing and getting a list out there. ;)


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I'm still astounded at how quickly you managed to get your books "out there" once you made the decision to go for it. I say, good for you!!! Congratulations on your success so far. You've earned it. And I have to agree with Linda: I'll take a classy soft-sell approach any day over that intense shove-it-down-my-throat crapola. (All that does is initiate the gag reflex.)

Anne Gallagher said...

Alex -- Two of those lists are under self-help>relationships. And I have no idea how they got there. It's anyone's guess.

Sarah -- Absolutely word of mouth is what I believe. And a damn good book.

Stephanie -- Oh the hats are piling on and on. Thanks for stopping by.

Johanna -- Yes, very slow for me too, but now are gaining speed. And as the proof is in the pudding, I think I can safely say it's not because of all the publicity I did.

Patti -- Anytime. You know where I am.

Yvonne -- Everyone is different but I figured I'd pass along my own experience.

Mindy Lee -- Thank you.

Lydia -- Thanks. That's all you really have to do I think is write a good book. And not have typo's if you can help it.

Francine -- You got it. Nose to the grindstone and tons of chocolate.

Susan -- I had two Regencies all ready to go, and I can write short stories very quickly. That's my secret. (And no, I'm sorry, my real name is not Rowena. But it is a cool name.)

Liza said...

Perhaps some day I'll actually be able to answer these questions. Hooray for you Anne! All your hard work is paying off!

ali cross said...

I love, love, love this post. This is exactly where I am at too--it's comforting to know I'm not the only one who feels this way!

Congratulations on your success!

Donna Hosie said...

Loved this post.

I will use your experience as my template. I cannot stand the in your face promotion used by some writers and I am determined to build up a reader base from the bottom.

I release my first ebook in June and I am hoping that word of mouth from people who enjoy it will be my biggest tool. It is how I buy books.

I am so happy that your journey is working so well, Anne.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I don't pay attention to the rankings on Amazon, but I do know that's an awesome achievement Anne. And the higher your ratings, the more people will buy the book (because it must be good if it rated so high), and the higher your ratings climb. It's a wonderful cycle(Yes, I am a genius lol).

DL Hammons said...

Really and truly....GREAT writing sells itself! Yes, marketing can help, but the good books seem to rise to the top by themselves! I'm very happy that your books are doing so well!! :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Liza -- I can wait for your answers. It won't be long now.

Ali -- Thanks. It is truly all about our comfort level. And also, to a degree, what we're actually good at.

Donna -- Thanks so much. Like I said before, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Stina -- I don't really pay attention to them either. I mean they're there in my face so I have to see them. But thanks. It's a huge compliment to me that they're getting read.

Don -- Thanks. I also have to say, my books wouldn't be half as good if it weren't for my beta readers and critique partners. They're actually the ones who deserve half the credit.

Sarah Pearson said...

To me, this illustrates one of the very best aspects of e-publishing. You have all the time in the world. You don't have to worry that by the time the third book is out, the first one has disappeared. Also, great writing helps :-)

Bish Denham said...

You are making a nice living now...that says it all. Congratulations Anne! Someday when I grow up, I want to be just like you.

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- This is so true. They're always there until I take them down.

Bish -- Aww that's so sweet. Thank you.