Monday, January 17, 2011

Buddy, Can You Spare a CPC?

Since CAPTIVE SPIRIT released in June, I've embarked on a wondrous and wild ride down the yellow brick road known as Book Promotion On The Web.  Since there are quite a few writer types who follow this blog, I wanted to share some of the things I've learned along the way.  Sadly, Glinda the Good Witch hasn't popped out along my journey, waved her magic wand, and made everything sparkly (translation: easy and cheap).  Glinda, where are you when I need you, girlfriend?!

While my publisher, Carina Press, has done its fair share to promote my baby, I've had to do my part too.  It's a brave new publishing world, especially with e-books and e-readers.  Suffice it to say that this isn't your mother's book promotion tour anymore. 

In retrospect, I should have prepared longer before my release date--like at least six months before, probably longer.  Unfortunately, as one of the authors lucky enough to be one of the Carina Press launch authors, publication moved at lightening speed--from acquisition to editing to book covers to release date.  I had three months.  That's like a nanosecond in the Publishing Time Spectrum.

And for the last six months, I've been shuffling through the myriad of promotional options available to authors--and believe me, there are dozens, maybe hundreds.  The trick is trying to find those that will give you the biggest bang for your buck and reach the readers who typically purchase your kind of book.  Facebook, goodreads, e-book clubs, reader web sites, even hiring publicists--the list goes on. And on.  In a word, it's been daunting.  Daunting but certainly not impossible to navigate.

I'm a member of many big reader web sites as I'm not only an author but a voracious reader.  But here's where my eyes glaze over on those reader-friendly web sites, especially when I'm in the position of having to evaluate their author promotional opportunities: Don't give me 6032 options and mix and match them into a Sudoku puzzle.  Give it to me straight, along with a flat price.  When there are that many options, I have to wonder as a reader/consumer of those sites, is it just a lot of noise? Will it translate into book sales?  Are consumers too inundated with too much book promotional stuff?  Ditto for the packages offered by many of the consortiums that host author web sites.

Oddly, and this surprised me, I found it easiest to advertise on Facebook and Goodreads.  Finding reader audiences there has not been a problem.  On both, it was easy to upload ads, create a daily budget, and then watch progress.  And here's where clicks (CPCs) comes in.  With sites like these, you pay for either clicks or impressions.  I've found that paying per click has been the most effective.  With many of the bigger reader web sites, you pay a rate, watch your name and your book cover get plastered in a lot of newsletters, blogs, etc. And then you pray for lots of sales.  Being the control freak that I am, I like to have (and see) more control of the progress like I get on Facebook and Goodreads.  I've also checked out Shelfari and Library Thing but there advertising programs don't seem to be as user-friendly, and I believe their audiences are much smaller.

Of course, there are always things like blog tours and free book giveaways at an author's disposal but that's a given.  But after a while, those reach a saturation point too unless you continue to reinvent your blog tour and keep it interesting.  You'll see that I'll be guest posting more this year but my focus will have changed.

When my next novel RUN FOR YOU LIFE releases this summer, look out.  I will be ready. 

Take that, Glinda!
P.S. Send sparkles and cupcakes next time. Please.

16 comments:

Taryn Kincaid said...

Great post. I cannot believe the major time suck promotion has turned out to be! I didn't and do not have a plan like yours. My day job prevents blog tours and such. As for giveaways, no one who ever got a copy of Sleepy Hollow Dreams through any of the giveaways I participated in ever wrote a review -- or even told me they read it!
I try to keep up a little social network presence, and I might buy an ad, but I think otherwise, the chips are going to fall where they may for my February release.

Liz Fichera said...

Thank you, Taryn. Some of the best stuff I've learned has been from other writers. The trial and error method never fails! Hope these tips may help your future promotions!

Donna Cummings said...

Liz, thanks for sharing your experience. I have not signed up for Goodreads yet, but I plan to investigate it in more depth pretty soon.

What would you have done differently, if you had that additional three months in the beginning? I'm trying to learn as much as possible for when I'm in that position one day. *fingers crossed* :)

Candyland said...

At least you know now what it will take for the next one. There's some things all the web sites in the world can't prepare you for, especially when it comes to promoting your book. I'm sure you'll do great:)

KarenG said...

It all makes me dizzy. Sometimes I feel like I have a handle on it, other times it's such a puzzling muddle. And I always like to hear what other authors are doing. Thanks for the report!

Liz Fichera said...

Donna, Goodreads is great on so many levels. Love it there, as both a reader and writer. I don't know if I would have done anything differently; I just wish I knew then what I know now. Famous last words, yes?!

Candyland, thanks so much for the confidence boost. I appreciate it!

Karen, it is quite dizzying, isn't it?! I spent most of the summer very dizzy. :-)

Angelina Rain said...

Wow, thanks for all the info, Liz.

I love GoodReads. I’ll be promoting my book on there. For “Indecent Encounter,” I don’t plan to do too much promoting, maybe a few review sites, a few giveaways, and a blog tour. There are seven other authors in that book and three of them have already made a name for themselves, so I’m sure they will be promoting it. However, I will have to do a lot of promoting for “Intimate Healing” since that’s my own book and I will not be selling copies because of someone else’s name on it.

A month ago I read a very good article/discussion about book promotion and one of the biggest pieces of advice they offered was as soon as you sign one book, try to sign another one too, so you have another book coming out quickly after the first ones release. You have no idea how lucky I feel since I do have two books coming out (although I have no idea when Intimate Healing will come out, as I still haven’t heard from an editor for it).

Maria Zannini said...

Liz, do you think you've gotten a good return for your investment, or is it too soon to tell?

I've been hesitant to go that route. From the few people I've asked, it seems more profitable for better known authors with a big backlist. But I haven't polled enough authors to make a definitive assessment.

Liz Fichera said...

Angelina, you sound like you already have a great handle on things. Go, you! :-)

Maria, When you start from 0, the only way is up. :-) Traffic is up all the way around. Of course, not every click leads to a sale but there are also intangibles at play too. I'll probably have a better handle on specifics next quarter. So far, I'm not complaining though.

Sondrae Bennett said...

What a great and timely post! I literally just signed up for a goodreads ad this afternoon, so I'm glad it's worked for you! I was debating about facebook but was on the fence. But you had luck with it? And you did the per click not per impression?

Liz Fichera said...

Sondrae, I like Facebook for a couple of reasons: it's fun and let's me connect with family, friends, readers, etc. I prefer to use the ads as my advertising, rather than boring my family and friends with my book news. That said, it's not free so make your ads count. Make them enticing enough so people will click and want to learn more (CPC). Believe me, easier said than done. It's been a lot of trial and error for me. Good luck to you!

DEZMOND said...

wow, your book got published really quickly, I know some writers who closed the deals and their books will be released only in 2012 or something.

Liz Fichera said...

DEZ, that's the beauty of this brave new world of publishing. And, seriously, should it really take a book 2 years to get published?! Craziness.

Elena Solodow said...

I just took a marketing class, and one of the biggest points was that you don't have to spend thousands to spread the word.

Liz Fichera said...

Elena, no truer words were ever spoken!

Shirley Wells said...

I'm finally catching up on blogs...

Wise words, Liz, and I agree about the time needed for promotional stuff. My previous books have all been for the print market and promotional work for those was totally different. I feel a complete newbie at ebook marketing.

I haven't done the paid ads. I keep thinking about it and then something else crops up. I did a (print) book giveaway on Goodreads and that generated an amazing amount of interest.

All food for thought!