Since I released Mutt in December, the reaction from its gracious and growing readership has been almost uniformly wonderful. However, sales have a bit slower than I had anticipated and much slower than my pipe-dream goals for the year. I completed a first draft of the sequel months ago but can’t afford to publish it as soon as I’d hoped. I’m going to have to recoup the costs of releasing Mutt–getting there!–and raise additional money for the second book (which may be ebook-only at first or may be released simultaneously in print, depending on how well Mutt does between now and then). In short, I’m trying to sell more books. Surprise!
I just finished writing a book of poetry for class, and that took the majority of my focus for the past few months. Today I’m beginning a 90-day period of nonstop promotion, trying as many ideas as I can come up with and seeing what sticks. And I’ll be documenting it here. Hopefully this will prove useful to those of you who are self-publishing as well. Different strategies work for different books and authors, but it will offer very broad set of promotion ideas and one writer’s success with each.
To start with, here’s a recent one I’ve tried that didn’t work so well.
I got a coupon for $100 of free AdWords advertising and put it to immediate, if ineffective, use. I ran text ads linking directly to the Amazon page for Mutt. I figured that since a lot of visitors to my site don’t follow the big shiny banner links to the point-of-sale sites, I’d just send people directly there.
At a final cost of just over $103, the ad generated 175 clicks across 11 days. I’m estimating that about two sales came from this campaign, channeling less than a tenth of the ad cost back to me in royalties. The ad did total nearly 750,000 impressions (the total number of times the ad was displayed), so I’m thinking a big mistake here was my use of text-only ads. If I had run ads with pictures based on the cover art for the book, it would have generated a lot more visibility, even if it didn’t immediately translate to sales. If Google offers another free or discounted campaign, I might try this. In the meantime, paid advertising doesn’t look like the best way to go, based on this early experiment.