Generating Interest

Advertising

Recently, my sales have slowed to a trickle, along with my Amazon ad impressions, so I decided to give Facebook ads a try. The opinions of Facebook ads in the indie-book business group I joined are pretty mixed. Some other authors have had success with Amazon ads and none with Facebook ads, while others experience the opposite. 

I searched through the group’s previous posts and responses on the topic, but there were no conclusive or overwhelming answers or experience in either direction. It is a very mixed bag, even within the same genres. So, I decided to do some research through trial and error.

Dusting off my Canva skills, I created two images (main post image and the one below) and ran with a few different headlines and a link taking folks to the Amazon page where they could buy the book

I Made a Sale!

I still celebrate every sale and preorder, but the conversions are nowhere near enough to cover advertising costs. It means my advertising is not doing its job and I need to make some changes. 

  1. I need dynamic ads…which means researching dynamic ads. This one will have to wait until I send Hidden Sanctuary to my betas.
  2. I need more reviews. The best I can do here is remind and provide easy links whenever possible. If you haven’t left a review yet, log into Amazon now and do so today!
  3. I need to finish the series. I’m working on it!
  4. I may need to change the description or title. 
    • The description part is easy enough. Understanding how to change it to entice readers to buy will be the challenge. I’m also considering going into KU, but more research is required before clicking that button.
    • Title changes are a can of worms. 
      • Sub-titles will be the first thing I work with because those are modifiable on KDP. 
      • Changing full titles means new covers and a complicated mess of publication drama. I do not see myself doing this. My time is most valuable in writing more books. 

Onward!

Eventually, I will get to a reader magnet short story. If you have read Hidden Memory, do you have a favorite character? Is there someone or something about whom you want to know more? Do you have a favorite scene or quote I should feature?

On another topic: Should I do a launch party for Hidden Sanctuary this August? A virtual launch party? 

Let me know answers to these questions here or on my social media accounts. In the meantime, thank you for your support, and don’t forget to leave that review!

ARCs and Promotion

Social Media

I’m about to show how much of a social media novice I am with this next revelation, but here it goes. Do you want to know an important piece of social media exposure? The answer is hashtags. You need to include hashtags in your Twitter and Instagram posts so that more people see them when they look at or search on said hashtags. Most of you presumably already knew this, but I have never been a great social media user. My Space was “the thing” to have when I was in high school, and I never had an account. Self-promotion and sharing are not natural for me, and I am finding out new things every day. 

One (helpful) social media tip I will share from the Facebook author groups I am part of is: be cautious of the people who contact you to promote your work. When I started using hashtags related to my book, I immediately received a handful of messages asking me to follow this and DM to “promote” through them. Someone even reached out with an offer to review my book on their account. 

All of this sounded great. I’m trying to get the word out about my work and get it noticed on social media. All they wanted was $20 here or $40 there. Simple. Right?

The more I look into this, the sketchier it appears. Many of the promotion Instagrammers have followers and likes inflated by bots, and when you ask about their returns and guaranteed clicks, they get dodgy. In some cases, I have heard, they threaten to bomb your book with 1-star reviews if you don’t end up promoting with them. I am now hiding all promote or DM comments on Instagram to try to limit or prevent these.

On the reviewer side, you have to be very careful about not doing paid reviews. There are some editorial reviews where this is allowed, but this can get you banned from Amazon. They frown heavily on paid reviews, so before you pay anyone, make sure that you know exactly what they are offering, and you read all the fine print for Amazon and other distributors and sites you are on. Fortunately, I did not agree to pay anyone. 

ARC Readers

This is a good segway into the concept of ARC readers and how they are different than paid reviews. First, you should never pay ARC readers. That is how it becomes a paid review rather than an honest review. ARC stands for Advanced Review Copy, and is a copy of your book that you provide, for free, in advance of the release date so that reviewers can read and post their reviews in advance of or on the date a book releases. You often “provide the book for free in exchange for an honest review.” 

What this means could be a myriad of different interpretations. I have heard some authors become upset if someone who receives an ARC does not finish the book or post a review. I have done some ARC reads and reviews myself for some of the groups I am on, and I prefer the Readers Favorite approach: 

“We only post 4- and 5-star reviews. If an author receives a poor review, we provide private constructive criticism to the author instead. We were the first book review company to not post negative reviews because we are in the business of helping authors, not hurting them.”

Readers’ Favorite Website

The groups I am part of are for indie authors like me, and my goal is to be supportive, not hurtful. I will reach out on 3-star reviews to see if the author wants me to post, but for 1- or 2-stars, I generally will not post those when something is below 50 total reviews. It is my philosophy and not something I push on my ARC readers. I give them a free copy for an honest review, so I need to be okay with their choices in this. It’s the “honest review” part; it means I’m not influencing them by payment or intimidation. What a reviewer posts, is what that individual thought of the book. 

Some helpful tips and resources for ACR readers: 

ARCs are important because almost everyone looks at the star rating before they look at the description. You want as many (hopefully good) reviews posted on or around the day of release as possible. The number of reviews also matters. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I think it is below 20 reviews readers dismiss even a good rating, and Amazon does not start promoting books outside of paid advertising until a book has around 50 reviews. So, the next time you enjoy that book you just read, take a minute to rate it for the author to give them some applause for that artistic performance.

Invitation to Action

This week I sent out my first invitation to ARC readers with their copy of Hidden Memory, and I am now going to make an offer to my early blog followers. I know some are friends and family who have already or are planning to buy the book if only to support me. I love and appreciate that support. 

If you would like an ARC copy of Hidden Memory free in exchange for an honest review, I invite you to comment below, sign up via this form, or reach out to me. You will be signed up for the newsletter to receive emails from me, but I can then send that digital copy out to you. You don’t need to follow my philosophy above, but I would ask you to reread the book description to make sure it sounds like something you would enjoy before signing up. 

Whether you sign up or not, I thank you all for your support and engagement throughout this year. Less than four weeks to go!

Author Pages and Reviews

After seven days, I have eleven pre-orders! I know not all of them are friends and family, but they are all because of friends and family who also shared and posted about my book available for pre-order. Thank you to everyone for the support. It has been amazing. 

Now, some of you might be raising an eyebrow and saying, “Really? Eleven? That’s all?”

As you all know, I am currently a complete unknown as a writer. No one is searching for me just yet. People need to see my book first and then think it sounds interesting enough to buy. That is where advertising comes in, but I have decided to wait a little longer. More research is required to spend any money I put toward advertising as wisely as possible. 

Author Pages

Now that I have a book live, I have set up some of my author pages. Check out the links to follow me or see my pages: 

  • Amazon: It was easy to set up at author.amazon.com once I had a book available to claim. For all my pages, I’m using the same photo and bio. I also linked my blog feed to it. I had to look up the RSS feed URL, but Amazon took a standard one with no problem. 
  • Goodreads: My book did not show in any searches, even with the ISBN and pre-order release. I had to set up the book before I could claim it to get an author page. The blog feed was NOT working for me at first on Goodreads. It did not like the standard RSS or ATOM feed URLs. I used Google’s Feedburner to resolve the issue, so the feed is now live.  
  • Bookbub (not a link yet): I have to be honest, I’m not familiar with Bookbub at all, and my author page is still pending review. They said it could take a couple of weeks. From what I have read, this is primarily for audio and ebooks. I have also heard there are some great promo options. I will have to wait to share more once I’m approved.
  • Are there any I’m missing? If you have something you use or refer to all the time for books, please comment to let me know!

Reviews

As a reader, I had no idea how critical good reviews are for newer authors. You generally understand the concept because you look at the star rating and the number of reviews when shopping. As a shopper, you fail to internalize that people who like something are less likely to write about it. An author I follow does a bonus scene on her website when she reaches 100 reviews on a new release as an incentive to review. It is a good idea, but I’m not there yet with the content I have available. 

I’m going to release ARCs to early readers in exchange for honest reviews in mid-November. I’m targeting about 2-3 weeks ahead so that people are finishing it up just before or after the book is released. Amazon does not allow reviews on ebooks ahead of the release date, which is why I’m cutting it closer. I believe that is different for paperbacks. It is also different for Goodreads. One of my beta readers liked the book enough to write a full review and post it! 

Everything is off to a great start, and I hope it continues that way. I think my ultimate goal is to get a total of fifty reviews on Hidden Memory by the time the fourth and final in the series comes out. That gives me a couple of years to drum up more reviews with each release. While daunting, I think it is an achievable goal. I guess we will see how that starts in December! For now, I’m off to research advertising!