One of the benefits of writing the second book in a trilogy is that with the characters and theme firmly established, you can just crack on with the story. Plus, if you’re a big-name author with thousands of eager fans ready to lap the next instalment of your epic, you’ve got a ready-made audience when your new book lands. But what about indie authors who have hardly set the world alight with their opening salvo? Just in case you were in any doubt, that certainly includes yours truly at this point.
So, when it came to marketing the second book in my “Wardens of the Black Heart” series, Black Hearts Rising, I knew that I had to do something in addition to simply announcing its release on 1st February.
My plan – more of a no-brainer than some cunning gambit – was to give away book #1, Monkey Arkwright, absolutely free. I did this a couple of times last year and managed to shift over 1600 downloads, but looking back now, I can see that there were a couple of issues with this. Firstly, I did not have any follow-up that readers who’d enjoyed their free download could buy. Secondly, I believe that many of these free downloads were due to the result of my book appearing on a “current deals” website. Whilst I was grateful for the exposure – and I did get one review and a nice e-mail from somebody who’d read Monkey Arkwright as a result of a free download – the fact that my book sat alongside electric toothbrushes, deep-fat fryers, and all manner of household appliances meant that in general, it was not necessarily serious readers who were doing the downloading.
To address these pitfalls, I decided to place an advert with ereadernewstoday. Whilst BookBub are the undisputed kings of book marketing, ereadernewstoday are generally considered as being one of three or four companies nestling in the pack just behind. They don’t accept anything – your book must have a number of reviews and have an amazon average of at least 4 stars. I’m pleased to say that whilst I’ve not set the world alight in terms of sales, Monkey Arkwright has some excellent reviews on both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.
I paid $40 for the advert, with the promotion running between 4th and 6th February. I’m quite pleased with the results: 701 downloads in total, with 585 of these coming on the first day of the promotion. I’m hoping that these downloads will kick-start interest in my series. I know that plenty of people will download the book just because it is free and that many may not even open the first page, but let’s say that a quarter of the downloads will get read. That means that 175 readers will actually read the book. Now let’s use a truly conservative estimate that 10% of those readers will enjoy it enough to download book #2 – that’s 17 or so sales for Black Hearts Rising.
I’ve no idea how likely all of this is because to be honest, I’m just plucking figures out of the air. However, I have registered 5 additional sales of Black Hearts Rising during and after the promotion, so it’s a reasonable start. I’m assuming that as some readers will have added my book to their ever-growing to-be-read queue – and if reader’s Goodreads pages are anything to go by, these are big queues – it may be two or three months before I can fully assess the results of the promotion.
If you are an indie author thinking of using a promotion service, hopefully this short article will be of some use. I’ll certainly be using ereadernewstoday for future promotions.