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Sunday 7 February 2021

Writing Experiences of an Ex-Pat by Jill Amadio

 Marketing  Mysteries American Style

Marketing our mysteries is probably one of the least preferred tasks on our to-do list but it is crucial if we wish for success and sales. I truly dislike having to hawk my books, and with more different avenues than ever from which to choose the effort becomes onerous. But with writers conferences and other in-person book signings and talks shut down, I decided it was an ideal time to learn about how to increase my book sales from home.

In greater isolation than usual I decided to buckle down and educate myself further about book promotion, buying five guides to add to the two how-to books I already own, The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard Johnson, Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny Sansevieri.  I must confess I barely cracked open either of them in the past but have added them to five new books recently purchased and perused:  The Tao Of Book Publicity by Paula Margulies, How I Sold 80,000 Books by Alinka  Rutkowska, Marketing Books On Amazon by Rob Eagar,  Book Marketing…Reinvented by Bryan Heathman, and another by Penny updated in 2019, titled 5-Minute Book Marketing For Authors. Naturally there are plenty of overlaps in all of these guides, some of them explained well with detail and others just glossed over.

The 5-Minute book naturally intrigued me the most because of its promised shortcuts. Five minutes? That’s just 30 minutes spread over a six-day week. Surely we can all handle that. Packed not only with advice on how to promote our fiction, author Samsevieri includes a generous selection of web sites to contact after each point she makes on the page. For example, to promote eBooks Penny offers dozens of free sites where you can list your books, as well as sites on Twitter worth adding your titles. She also  has several advice sections on how to use amazon’s Author Page, book page, reviews, how best to demystify amazon’s categories, key words, etc. if you self-publish with them. Her book offers the main benefits of Instagram, Pinterest, BookBub, Goodreads, Facebook, Google Alerts, blogs, and other social media, as well as advice on creating your own newsletter for visibility.

While on the subject of amazon, Bob Eagar’s how-to guide focuses entirely on making the best use of the online global bookseller. He tells us how to find and understand their bestseller rankings, how to estimate your book sales, and why the rankings aid marketing efforts. Eagar debunks a few myths about those rankings as they change every hour of every day but at least they give an idea of your sales, unlike traditional publishing houses. If there’s a spike upwards does it mean that your recent marketing campaign was effective? Or vice versa?  Your non-amazon publisher probably buys ads on the amazon site which means you can check your rankings without self-publishing with them. Is amazon advertising your book? You can find out from the site he cites in his book.

Moving on, I was eager to know how to sell 80,000 books. The author’s name alone fascinated me and I wondered who Rutkowska is. Turns out she is a bestselling USA Today and Wall Street Journal author and founder of Library Bub that connects indie authors with 10,000 libraries although you can find this list yourself online now.

A third of her book sets out interesting interviews with bestselling authors as to their promotional strategies, and Alinka shares how she sold those 80,000 books and more not only on amazon but also through online sites, bulk sales, foreign rights (there’s a service site for this), networking, and clubs. Happily, most of us are already skilled as panelists and speakers. She tells us something I never knew – that Apple is the second-largest book market  layer after amazon and also publishes books, she says. Something also new to me, that Kobo is the second largest eBook retailer in Japan and has 3% of the market in the U.S. Is your YA plot linked to the ocean? If so, Alinka says we should contact the retail departments of the cruise lines when the ships start sailing again. They ordered hundreds of copies of her children’s books for their gift shops.

Heathman’s informal and friendly book includes branding and marketing formulae and understands the angst authors feel about the work that is necessary. He gets down quickly to the nitty-gritty of selling the sizzle and like the other guides talks about the various avenues available except that he adds how fortunate we are these days to have so many ways to promote our work. He reveals exactly how you approach Barnes and Noble through their CRM author signing schedule. I like his emphasis on reading local print media so you know what they are looking for regarding author interviews, and especially regarding radio. Don’t leave it up to organizations and clubs to publicize your event, get to work! However, his advice to create a daily series of social media posts sounds a bit daunting. I do, however, like Heathman’s idea for acquiring quality book endorsements for your back cover, press releases, and to post on your website and blog. Particularly useful is his 15-Week Book Marketing Checklist chart.

The how-to book promotion guide I have taken a special liking to is The Tao of Publicity. Margulies directs it to beginners trying to figure out how to publicize one’s books but even those skilled at promotion can learn something from her pages. Similar to the other guides mentioned above, except for Penny’s lengthier tomes, the Tao is around 145 pages but is crammed with tips, ideas, website content advice, timing your launch, Q and A questions for the media to ask, the pros and cons of a blog tour, why limiting social media sites can be a better way initially to build relationships with readers, and many other issues.  Ever heard of dashboards Hootsuite, Threadsy, and Tweetdeck to post information about your books?

After reading all seven guides I found many of the advice and suggestions in each one were individual enough to make a note of, writing down the page numbers. However, I am now too exhausted to figure them out.

Jill Amadio hails from Cornwall, U.K, like the character in her crime series, Jill was a reporter in Spain,  Colombia, Thailand, and the U.S. She is a true crime author, ghosted a thriller, writes a column for Mystery People ezine, and freelances for My Cornwall magazine.  She lives in Southern California. Her most recent book is  Digging up the Dead.

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