#Let’sTalk – #MarketingIdeas – #WhatWorksAndWhatDoesn’t

Am I the only one who thinks that marketing is the most difficult, frustrating, and downright annoying part of writing that could possibly exist? (Somehow I doubt I am.) But whether that’s really true or not, marketing still needs to be done, and I’ve sworn for YEARS I was going to get better at it. *sigh* I haven’t. In fact, I’m so awful at it that I woke up today inspired to start a new series of posts where we can all share our thoughts on marketing and lots of other subjects from time to time. I’ve found this writing /blogging community to be among the most generous, supportive, and helpful group of folks I’ve ever met, so I’m hoping many of you will be willing to weigh in on all sorts of topics coming up in the weeks ahead.

With that in mind, here’s what I’m wondering today:

What is your favorite way to market your books?
Which paid forms of marketing have you had the most success with?
Are there any types of marketing writers should be avoiding?

I’ll start by saying I’ve never marketed my books anywhere other thanΒ  through blogging, and local sales. For several years, I sold quite a few books at every wildlife talk I gave and really enjoyed signing them after the talks. Trouble is, many in my audiences now have all of my books, so that market has been “saturated.” I need to branch out. (And to have this brain fog lift enough to enable me to finish my WIP, because I understand new books are a great way to sell OLD ones.)

NOTE: Jan Sikes has been running a series of very detailed posts on Story Empire, going into the pros and cons of various types of marketing.Β  It’s an excellent series, and you can check out the first post HERE. Thanks for reminding me of this series, Jan! LOTS of great info!

Now I’m going to turn the discussion over to you guys. Please feel free to share any marketing or promotional questions, ideas, and worries you might have. And we’d especially love to hear about some things that have worked … or NOT worked … for you.Β 

Thanks for joining the conversation!

LET’S TALK!

56 thoughts on “#Let’sTalk – #MarketingIdeas – #WhatWorksAndWhatDoesn’t

  1. I feel the same way about marketing, Marcia. I tend to do most of my sales with the release, tours and book reviews. Not sure how much social media presence helps, but I keep at it. I am pushing myself to get out and do book signings now. Marketing is not a skill I have.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this, Denise. Social media presence is pretty much all I’m doing, too, but it isn’t helping me expand my market. I expect you’ve experienced that, too. Once all the folks you connect with online know about your book (and hopefully, have bought it), it’s a question of where do you go next to get those new readers, isn’t it? Hopefully, this post will generate some ideas that will give us all a few new choices. Stay tuned! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Like

  2. Marketing really is a sore subject among most writers. I have tried most things with not much success. I’m still looking for the one thing that will succeed, bringing with it the confidence to do it again…
    Looking forward to reading the responses to your post, Marcia…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Ladies! I hope we get some new ideas or at least figure out what we DON’T want to do. I admit, I’m at a loss here, and getting a bit discouraged about it all. (Especially since I’m not feeling 100% these days.) I appreciate your stopping by, and do stay tuned. Here’s hoping we get some input that’s helpful. πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marketing is definitely not my forte. I’ve spent so much time trying this that and the other, all with mediocre results. Just when I’d gotten to grips with Amazon advertising, they changed everything. I have up at that point, lols. Hugs πŸ’•πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for sharing, Harmony. Are there certain things you’d definitely warn us away from as efforts that cost way too much in comparison to the results? Just curious as to which ones to avoid altogether. Some of them must work for some writers, but I have no clue as to what would be worth trying. Do stay tuned, though, as I’m hoping we get a few pointers here and there as folks respond. πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m willing to be somewhat aggressive, but find nothing really works as promoted. Every paid promo I’ve tried loses money. Sure there are a few sales, but not enough to cover the expense of the promo. I do best with blog tours, but struggle to expand beyond my inner circle. I’m not exactly reaching new readers that way. I need to figure something else out.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been brave enough to try various paid promos only to have them lose money. That stinks! And that’s the reason I’m hesitant to try any of them. I’ve never done a real, full on blog tour, but I do see the downside of not really expanding your base readership with that. Still, it’s much less risky than laying out a lot of money, and it creates word of mouth among bloggers, at least. (And often generates reviews.) I will probably try to do a “real” one with my next release, just to get it off to a good start.

      Thanks for your input, Craig, and I hope this post will generate an idea or two that will be helpful for all of us! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am woefully inadequate at marketing and it takes a huge amount of the pleasure out of writing for me. I’ve heard that BookBub’s good if you can afford it, but I can’t at the moment! I’ve tried a while back with Amazon and found the situation incredibly complicated and stressful – I like to think that I’m quite good with language but I’ve found the marketing terminology and algorithms beyond me. I’ve had countless offers from other authors offering their services but most of them have such poor ratings I back off! Looking forward to your responses! πŸ˜€ ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    • I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford BookBub either, Trish. Plus, I’ve heard of some folks paying all that and still not generating a lot of sales. Obviously, it must work for some, though, so I’m not going to rule it out. (IF I ever find enough $$$ to pay for it, which is doubtful now that we are on a fixed income.) I have been considering Amazon ads, but haven’t had the nerve to set one up yet. I’m sorry it was a bad experience for you.

      When you say you’ve had other authors offering their services, how do you mean that? Are you talking about sharing your work on their blogs? That would seem to be fairly risk free, whether they’re big time sellers or not. But maybe I’m just confused.

      I really appreciate your weighing in on this topic, Trish, and I do hope we can learn a bit more about things that might actually work as we talk this over among ourselves. Thanks for stopping by! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • By other authors, I mean there are people who contact me through email or Facebook and profess to be experts at every aspect of writing and marketing and offer to turn me into a bestselling author. When you look at their own credentials they’re sadly lacking. Sometimes they’ll have testimonials from grateful clients but when you look at their sales and reviews it’s clear that they’re doing badly, too. It seems that there are unscrupulous people out there who know how desperate Indie authors are to raise their profiles and offer a success rate that they can’t deliver – even for their own writing. My greatest support has come from the bloggers I’ve come to know through you, Sally and Judith.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Aha! I gotcha now! Thanks for clarifying. Yes, I get emails like that all the time. I just think of them as scammers or spammers rather than authors, though there’s no law that says they can’t be both. And I think you are very wise to avoid ALL of those.

          I agree 100% that my greatest support has come from other bloggers, too. So many wonderful, generous souls in our community, and they make a difference in our lives every day, in SO many ways! I’m very grateful for each and every one of them, YOU included. But, like my Real Life audiences, most of my fellow bloggers who’d enjoy my books have bought them, and I know I need to reach farther afield if I want to continue selling more books. So, it’s time for me to buckle down and choose some new marketing avenues. And maybe, through this post, help my fellow writers who’ve also been hesitant to do this.
          A few good success stories would be wonderful for that, so stay tuned, my friend! πŸ˜€ ❀

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing the link, Jeanne. I think I may have missed this, and I’ll definitely be heading over to check it out shortly. (Hope others will check it out soon!) Hopefully, we’ll generate enough chatter here to give us a few new ideas, or at least some warnings about things NOT to bother with.

      I appreciate your stopping by today and sharing with us! πŸ˜€ ❀

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      • I stopped by and read this post, Jeanne, and I liked it very much. I can see where each tip can directly relate to any business or product, including selling our books, and I’ve saved it for future reference. Thanks for sharing it, and I hope lots of folks will take a look! πŸ˜€ ❀

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  6. Hi, Marcia. I hope that brain fog and fatigue leave you soon!

    I’ve been working hard on learning marketing skills over the last year and a half. Amazon ads worked very well for me last year, but fell off a cliff earlier this year. Facebook ads are working well at the moment. I’m in the red this month, but only by a few dollars, because I’m advertising a sale and my royalties on each sale are low. The good news is that I’m already seeing a bit of read-through.

    There are a few really good resources out there: the first one I always recommend is David Gaughran. His website is a veritable gold mine of information. It takes hours to get through everything he has to offer, and I haven’t been through it all yet. But here’s the website: https://davidgaughran.com/

    I also took Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ads Challenge (it’s free) and found it useful and even profitable. I believe he runs the challege four times a year, and I think he just finished a session. The next one should be in early fall, I think.

    Today at noon I’m starting the Writing Wives Facebook Ads Challenge. It’s also free and starts at noon Eastern. Here’s the link: https://www.thewritingwives.com/service-page/5-day-challenge

    Just two more to mention and I’ll be done. The first is Joanna Penn. Like David Gaughran, she shares a wealth of information and it will take you weeks to wade through it all. She’s great. Here’s the link: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/

    Finally, beginning August 1st I’ll be selling books direct from my website through Payhip. I’ll be using the free option, which means Payhip will keep 5% from each sale (PayPal also takes 3% plus 30Β’ per transaction off the top), which is better than the big etailers give authors. Here’s the link: https://payhip.com.

    Sorry for being so long-winded, but I hope this helps someone.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, please do NOT apologize for being long-winded when you were doing exactly what I’d hoped someone would do: sharing experiences and knowledge! THANK YOU so much, Amy! I know I will be checking out everything you’ve shared, and I’m sure others who read this post will do so, as well.

      It’s great to know you’ve found some things that really work! I’m a big fan of David Gaughran, too, though I confess, I haven’t been checking out his advice lately. (Brain fog, possibly. I’ve forgotten to do a lot of things I’d normally be doing.)

      Thanks for the reminder, and for all these other links. You have probably helped more folks than you’ll ever know by passing them along! Big Hugs and More Thank-Yous here!!! πŸ€—β€οΈπŸ€—

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s my pleasure. I get David Gaughran’s newsletter and earlier this year he did a series on Facebook ads. I found it extremely helpful. I’m sure the newsletters are on his website somewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ll look for it, Amy. I do suspect FB might want you to be a member, but will check for sure. I closed my account after it got hacked and some bozo was emailing every one of my “friends” pretending to be me, asking for money! ACK!! That was two years ago, and I haven’t been back since. But I’ll see what Gaughran has to say. Might be worth signing up again.

          Thanks for sharing all of the above! πŸ˜€ ❀

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  7. Book marketing is representative of the classic definition of insanity. That is trying the same stuff expecting a different outcome. I believe the only effective marketing plan requires deep pockets. I have not seen anything work except big spending.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know where you’re coming from, John, though I have heard of some smaller investments that have at least ended up earning more than they cost. Nothing major, mind you, but landing on the plus side, and possibly hooking a few new “regular” readers could be worth the effort. Will let you know if I try any of those. Also, Amy Reade’s comments sound intriguing, anyway, if nothing else. Thanks for stopping by and weighing in today. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

        • Well, if I try any of them and have decent results, I’ll be sure to post about it to let you know. And sometimes, I do think timing is everything. What works one week doesn’t always work the next. But once you’ve invested $$ into something and it doesn’t bring good results, it’s not likely something you want to try again. *sigh* No easy answers, I guess. Thanks for the input, John. Still hoping to come up with some ideas for us all. 😊

          Liked by 2 people

  8. The only money I spent on The Hay Bale (my only standalone so far, until November) was on e-book ARC’s for reviewers. It worked out better than I expected. For November’s DOG MEAT release, I’m sending ARC”s to YouTube channels who review horror books. We’ll see how that goes!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for that input, Priscilla. I’m not familiar with e-book ARC, but will be checking it out. Anything I need to know to research this deeper?

      And I appreciate your stopping by to share! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

        • Aaahh. See, I’m running a bit slow lately. (Thanks, Brain Fog!) Doh! Do you just choose randomly who you’d like to give copies too, or is there a system where you can offer them? I know Amazon frowns on giving them out in exchange for reviews, though I have no idea how they might “police” that. But I’m assuming you’d simply say something like “If you enjoy the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.” ??? See, I’m a total novice at marketing of ANY kind. I do tell my local buyers that reviews sell books, and that any time they read ANY book they like, a review will help the author get more sales.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I ask first if it’s okay to send an ARC “for a possible review on your blog/channel,” because if they say yes, they’re more likely to actually read and review it. Since they are already readers, they are also likely to leave a review on either Goodreads or Amazon. I don’t ask just any bloggers/YouTubers, only people who regularly review the types of stuff I write.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Sounds like a solid way to work the idea, Priscilla, and I’m definitely taking note. I’ve never done that before, but I might like to give it a try with a few select folks I think enjoy my books so far and might like to have a free copy. Thanks for taking the time to share exactly how you do it, too. I appreciate that! πŸ˜€ ❀

              Liked by 1 person

  9. Marketing is the bane of my existence, Marcia, lol. I haven’t found anything that works. I’ve tried FB, Amazon, and Instagram ads with little to zero success. Blog tours usually bring in a few reviews. I also do a few author events every year and sell some there, but I won’t be retiring on my earnings any time soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, either, Teri! GAH! And now that I haven’t released anything new in some time, sales are really down! *sigh* Gonna have to give something a go soon, or just give up on writing altogether, which I do NOT want to do yet. I do think I’ll at least mount an honest-to-goodness blog tour with my next book. And I have folks here locally asking me all the time about the next Rabbit story, so I reckon that will help some, if I can get it finished. But I’d sure like to find a general marketing strategy that pays off, even if the profit margin isn’t huge. It would at least bring new readers into my series, I’d think.

      Stay tuned, though. We may get some more ideas from folks who’ve had some success. I’m intrigued by some of the things Amy Reade shared above, too. And thanks for stopping by today! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Well, looks like you hit a familiar nerve here Marsh. Looks like none us likes the business part of our creative lives, lol. But I appreciate Amy’s share on what’s working for her. Sigh. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hello Marcia. I find that, as a novelist with 3 mystery novels out there for a number of years, the best way to attract new readers in my genre (the goal of any marketing strategy) is to give away my short stories on a permanent basis. Publishing your short fiction as Kindle Singles on Amazon (free as a price match) gets lots of downloads. At the end of each Kindle short story, I have a promotional pitch for my three novels. This way the FREE short story acts as an advertisement for my novels. Most of my short stories get between 40 and 60 downloads every month (I have 7 free Kindle Singles now). And this often transfers into book sales. This is just one approach and it’s a good one because short stories keep you writing and producing new work, and the free Kindle Singles reach new readers on a daily basis. As a result, my novels, which are over 5 years old now, are still finding readers and sales are fairly decent. If you are a novelist, adding short stories to your writing career is well worth it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much for this input, Paula! I’ve never written a short story, and have only just begun writing novellas. (I’m wordy as heck, I know.) But you’ve certainly given me some food for thought, and I just might have to see what I can come up with.

      I’m so glad your strategy is working for you and that your sales are solid. (And btw, I’m going to check out your freebies today! πŸ˜€ )

      Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion. Your input is really appreciated. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Paula, and I can say that as a reader, I’ve often purchased books after reading an author’s short story. I’ve also purchased when at the end of one going on to read the teaser first chapter of an author’s next book. So it seems like a good strategy…and one I should use. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

        • Good to know, Valerie! For myself, I do like to wrap up the main story line in each of my books, but I also like to use the Epilogue to set up a teaser for what’s coming in the next one. That way, when they open the next one in the series, they have an idea what’s coming, but they aren’t re-reading anything. It’s what I enjoy when I’m reading, so I figured others might, as well.

          Thanks for stopping by and joining in the conversation. πŸ˜€ ❀

          Liked by 1 person

  12. I will be saving this post for when I get up the nerve to try to market my books. Besides blog posts, I haven’t really done any marketing. I appreciate the suggestions that were shared here. Thanks for creating the post, Marcia! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Yvette, and the comments that followed. Some of them have proved enlightening to me. I’m with you on not having done any marketing, per se, but I’m ready to give a few new things a try. I’ll definitely share what works and what doesn’t.

      Thanks for stopping by! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. As you know from my Marketing Series on Story Empire, I’ve done a lot of experimenting. So far, my conclusion is an author’s blog is the most powerful marketing tool you can have. Marketing is the hardest part of what we do. Thanks for sharing, Marcia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve read most of your series and enjoyed it hugely, Jan. I think I’ll add links to your posts, or at least to the first one so others who may have missed them can find them now. I haven’t gotten back in the swing of doing a weekly recap for SE yet, though I WILL before long. But there’s no reason not to go ahead and share your relevant series of posts here. Will do so this afternoon. (BTW, I loved how you went into detail on each type of marketing you presented!)

      It does my heart good to know that blogging really is a powerful tool, since it’s pretty much the only one I’ve availed myself of! Thanks for stopping by and reminding me about your series! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Fellow author Kathleen M. Rodgers and I gave a presentation titled “Marketing for Those Who Hate to Market,” which may provide some useful tips. It’s not fancy, but the thoughts are genuine. Please click in the caption of the blog post where it says “here” or in the text where it says “marketing workshop” to see the video. https://valerieormond.com/2020/12/17/marketing-for-those-who-hate-to-market-recording-for-you/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thanks for sharing that, Valerie. I’m very hard of hearing, so videos don’t usually work for me, BUT I know lots of folks will enjoy checking it out. I appreciate your input!! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that would be great, Valerie! Thanks a million. Yeah, I’m hard of hearing even with hearing aids, and talking to people wearing masks has made it obvious to me that I depend on lip reading to help me out, even in person. I’d never realized that before the pandemic started. πŸ˜€

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  15. Marketing is difficult – sometimes harder than writing the book itself. I think it depends how much money you want/are able to spend AND how much time you want to invest. If writing is an actual job, I imagine people might be willing and able to put more resources ($ and time) into it. For those of us who are not necessarily looking to pay our bills by selling our books, we might utilize a different route. So far, I’ve found that giving books away (to get reviews) really doesn’t amount to much. This includes Goodreads give aways (they used to be free – not sure what the policy is now). Doing events (meeting folks in person) is the best way for me. But, if you’re going to do that, you’ve GOT to be invested. I stand (practically) the entire time (which can be long – up to 9 hours during some), and really try to engage people going by. I’ve seen vendors sitting quietly on their phones – and then wonder why people are not buying. When I do events – I’m all in – from the minute I set up to after I tear down. I’ve even made sales WHILE packing up my stuff. Those events are like setting up your own personal store.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry I’m late responding to this, Sue. Lots going on here and I’m running way behind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. And I agree with your comments on doing events. Trouble for me is there are NEVER any going on within reasonable driving distance for me. But, I have always set up a table at my local wildlife talks and for several years, sold LOTS of books after each talk. Yep, you have to be invested, and you need to engage your audience at things like that. If you come across as likable, they are much more apt to stay around afterward and look through your books.

      Trouble for me is that I get a LOT (probably at least 3/4s) of repeat folks in my audiences. They’re always interested in whatever I’m going to talk about next, happily. But that means most of them already have all of my books now. I definitely need to branch out, and would love to do some book shows here and there. I’ll keep watching for any that may be held in our area.

      And while I don’t have to depend on selling my books to support myself (thankfully), I DO want to add to our income, especially now that Mark has retired and it’s FIXED. So I’m hoping I can figure out a marketing plan that might increase my online sales at least somewhat. Will keep exploring everything shared here and anything else I can find on the topic.

      Thanks so much for your input! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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