Okay, so I published my book on January first and I have no idea how to decide whether my book is doing well or not. Experienced people, how did you measure how well your book was doing?
My book's facts:
40 ish paid downloads
600 ish free downloads
I've never published before, and I haven't really done any marketing yet outside my blog. I'm trying to gear up for it, but I'm not sure exactly how to start. What do you guys think? Is this a good start for a never heard of book/author?
40 sales in a month is good for not having done any promotion.
A suggestion for the future: if you only have one book, don't give it away for free. You won't generate enough potential new customers at this stage to make up for the 600 you gave away. Giveaways of that kind work better when you have several books, particularly related or in a series. The giveaway then stimulates sales of your other books, especially if you are giving away the first book in a series.
I get some mileage out of social media advertising, with the caution that I created a separate FB account to do it, so my friends aren't deluged by book ads.
The best advertising I've found is targeted email campaign. Basically, you pay a company to advertise your book to subscribers who have expressed an interest in your genre. That targeting is the key. People who just like reading in general may or may not like your genre, and so advertising will be wasted on a lot of them.
I'll say more in the next post. I find if they are too long, they always get modded.
Targeted email companies: bookbub, ereader news today, book blast, book gorilla. I have successfully used the second and fourth.
The problem is that they are picky, bookbub particularly. Of course, that's what gives them value: they vet the books in various ways, so subscribers know the books they advertise are likely to be good.
One of the key vetting mechanisms is reviews, and this is where the situation gets difficult, because new authors aren't likely to have any, and you need at least five good reviews before those companies will look at you.
You may offer a reviewer (like a book blogger who reviews your genre) a free copy to do a review. No other incentive is permitted. (There were big scandals about a year ago over authors paying people to write reviews for them.)
A-zon also frowns on review swaps between authors. When I first started, that idea sounded really attractive to me, and I think there is still a Goodreads group that promotes it, but when you think about, it is hard to be honest about your swap partner's book, especially if you think it's terrible and he or she has already posted a five star review of yours. I'm sure you see what I mean. That's why the practice is now considered unethical.
There are companies you can pay to put your book in front of readers who like your genre. Bookrooster is an example. This practice does not raise the same ethical and practical questions as paying for reviews by paying the reviewer or by swapping reviews. The reviews are not guaranteed to be good, of course--that would raise ethical issues. If, however, you are confident that your book is high quality, probably your reviews will for the most part be good.
Another avenue is the Goodreads giveaway. You pay for the number of copies (paperback, not e-book), that you want to give away, and you have to ship them, so you pay for that also, but it is another good way to book your book in the hands of people who like your genre and who are more prone than average to write reviews. Goodreads encourages, but does not require, winners to review.
Oh, some book contests also provide free reviews as part of the contest. Indie Reader Discovery Awards, Literary Classics Book Awards, and Wishing Shelf Book Awards (though the last posts to Amazon.UK, not .com) are three examples. The first two, though, have fairly hefty entry fees, and the reviews take quite a while to appear, as you might imagine, so that isn't a good mechanism if you want to increase reviews in the near future.
I will have to look into that, thank you. My book already has one review on goodreads and two on amazon. Four stars for amazon, but only three on goodreads. I may go the goodreads route first simply because I already have one review there.
Thank you for the advice. It's helpful. It's just so difficult to have any idea whether or not my book was doing well just based on numbers.
You say your book is the first of 8. If you insist on going free, wait until at least 3 more books are out there. Otherwise, those who grabbed your book of free will have forgotten it by the time the rest of the series is published.
It was 2.99 for the first month, after my free promo went well I dropped it down to .99. Well, that didn't help so I've put it back at it's original 2.99. I'm guessing the attitude of "I want them to read my first book so they'll buy the others" is likely a mistake unless I can get the next in line out for publishing quickly?
There are a lot of people who are very, very anti-free books. and they have their reasons. There are many instances in which a free book is not a helpful marketing technique. I disagree with those who theorize it's a harmful one, but it's definitely not always helpful.
Used carefully as a deliberate part of a long-term marketing plan, free books can be very useful -- and the beginning of a long series is one of those times. If your book is good, and it hooks people in, then having your name and your (hopefully professionally designed and enticing) cover on the screens of 600 Kindles is infinitely better than the few dollars from 1% of those sales (and there's no guarantee you'd get 1% of those numbers in paid sales.)
Free books also help by putting your book on also-bought lists, and (again, if your book is good and draws people in) will potentially draw a couple of reviews and earn you a reader or two who will be ready and waiting for your next book. Some will forget, true -- but it's easier to remind people who you are than it is to find them in the first place. Especially if your book is on their Kindle and they liked it.
Most of those things are useless if you only have one book, or even if you have multiple books with different target audiences -- but if your plan is to have a series, I would suggest finding some people who've had success with the marketing technique to watch and follow vs. asking a wide-ranging group of authors, many of whom hold grudges against freebies.