Book Promotion Sites: Which Are The Best, and Are They Worth It?

Book Promotion Sites: Which Are The Best, and Are They Worth It?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no expert when it comes to book promotion sites.

When I published my first three novels simultaneously on December 10th 2015a day that will live infamy, and yes, I know now that it was a harebrained marketing schemeI knew nothing about book promo sites. In fact, it’s fair to say I was against the idea of paying any service to promote my books. If you publish, they will come. Right?

Well, not exactly.

 

The Few I’ve Tried

Cut to a few years later, and I’ve had experience with several promotional services. My most recent major investment, to promote Whizzers, led to a result that was middling at best. I would not use the service again, but am loathe to name them, for obvious reasons.

However, I’ve also made smaller investments in a few other services, with varying results. Here’s what I’ve experienced thus far:

1) Genius Link – For a very low price point (monthly plans as low as $9), you can get a customized link to your Amazon book page and/or other online retailers. Genius Link has been a mixed bag for me, though overall I’d say I’m satisfied. Certainly it’s garnered a lot of clicks in many places as I’ve promoted it.

The problem? It’s difficult-if-not-impossible to determine whether or not any of those clicks lead to conversions. And while my Amazon link has gotten nearly 7,000 clicks, the link that includes all the other retailers barely ever registered at all. I’m sticking with Genius Link for now, but at some point I think the clock will be ticking on it.

2) Circle of Books – A very different strategy than Genius Link, Circle of Books creates a custom book page for the author. The service I got includes tweets from their account with a link to their page, hashtags, and so on, for a three-month period.

Pros: the page looks all right, and includes share buttons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit & Tumblrthe last two of which I don’t visit at all. Which could give me some great exposure, except…

Cons: in the time I’ve used Circle of Books, there’s no evidence I’ve gotten any book sales from it. Their tweets sometimes get shared by some of my followers after I have shared them, but that’s not what I would ideally want to get. So, they seem like a nice enough service, but not worth reinvesting in again..at least not for me.

3) Bargain Booksy – This last entry is only here because I wanted to announce the campaign today on the blog. I’ve just tried this service, and the Whizzers feature launched yesterday. It seems to have generated a nice spike in sales of the Kindle version, so I’ll see how that translates. Too early to tell, but Bargain Booksywhich is part of the Written Word Media suite of servicesjust might be the winner.

 

Other Options

Of course there are a million of these things, and I’m sure they run the gamut from expensive-but-worth-it promo services to total scams (or just worthless “nice try” opportunities).

I’m always open to checking out things that should work, but very skeptical unless I’ve got real data that I can use to determine whether or not to invest. And just as with other investments, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

What about you? Are you an author who’s tried promo services? Have they worked well? Have they tanked? I’d love to hear from my fellow authors and get their recommendations, or warnings, in the comments below.

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Using IngramSpark and KDP Print For Your Paperbacks

This week’s post is about using two different companies for Print-On-Demand publishingIngramSpark and KDP.

Ever since Amazon began offering services to authors, there’s been a question in the indie author community: should I use them? My answer, initially, was a little bit different.

You see, I published my first three novels a million years ago. Well, not really. It was only four years ago. But a lot can change in four years.

At the time I put those novels out, it didn’t seem to make much sense to use Amazon’s KDP program, then called CreateSpace. Why? Because I’m an independent author who created his own publishing company. Why would I want to be an Amazon author, and therefore under Amazon’s control?

 

But Then Things Got Really Weird

As Amazon’s CreateSpace system became more and more popular, it also bogged downa lot. I felt totally vindicated in my choice. As an author, I had set up my books to be available on Amazon (via IngramSpark’s Print-On-Demand option), along with Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, you name it. I was in the driver’s seat.

But the “bogging down” process meant a lot of other authors were getting royally screwed by Amazon. Not only were they stuck under Amazon’s large, greedy thumb for their e-books, but they were also forced to use Amazon’s POD services for paperbacks. I read about shoddy production, royalty problems…all sorts of problems.

Unfortunately, there was another issue afoot: Amazon’s plan to control the book business didn’t exactly backfireat least, not from a reader standpoint. Many readers buy all their e-books from Amazon, and a fair number of readers get their paperbacks from them, too.

 

So, You Can Do Both?

Enter Amazon’s new version of CreateSpace, confusingly called KDP Print, or KDPP. According to the Alliance of Independent Authors, as of today it’s actually feasible to use both Amazon and IngramSpark for your Print-On-Demand needs.

Why would you do both? Well, it seems that it can now be beneficial to have an Amazon-only version of the paperback, in case someone orders your paperback from Amazon directly. That way, Amazon uses their own service instead of going to IngramSpark.

Of course, there’s still no compelling reason to use Amazon alone. After all, there’s a whole world of non-Amazon distributors out there for books, like the above mentioned B&N, iTunes, etc. When I published Whizzers this past July, I looked into creating a paperback version using the KDPP platform. In the end, though, I decided to stick with my current setup.

What do you think? If you’re a writer, are you satisfied with your Amazon distribution experience? And for my non-writer readers, is Amazon your go-to for buying paperback versions of books? Let me know in the comments below.

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One of the most confusing concepts in publishing is that of the Advance Reader Copy, or ARC. I call it confusing because there appears to be no universal agreement on what those initials actually mean. While some sources refer to an ARC as an Advance Reader Copy, others call it an Advance Reading Copy. Still others reference the term Advance Review Copy when discussing ARCs.

Although the specifics of what ARC stands for remain unclearand maybe we authors should agree to remove the middle word and just call them Advance Copiesthe purpose of ARCs has never been in question. They are meant for reviewers, beta readers, and/or launch teams to read and review in advance of publication.

 

ARC Etiquette 

Just as there’s no universal agreement on whether to call an ARC a Reader, Reading, or Review copy, there aren’t many hard and fast rules of how to prepare one. Suffice to say, it’s best to deliver the most professional presentation possible, and to offer different formats for different readers.

The question of formatting is tricky in itself: while some reviewers require files be emailed in PDF or MOBI, members of one’s launch team may only be able to read a Kindle-ready EPUB file. I’d recommend having at least two, if not three, formats available to send.

 

Judging A Book By Its Cover

As for the cover design, it’s perfectly understandable that authors will sometimes want to send out ARCs so far in advance that there’s no cover illustration yet. My question today is, “Should that be the exception or the rule?”

In assessing my own work and my approach to this, I have to say that ARCs should definitely include a cover if at all possible. I compare it to getting a demo tape or album from a band with no cover. Imagine how generic that would seem to the recipient. In much the same way, an ARC that looks and feels like a final version of a bookincluding a beautiful cover designmight engage the reader immediately in ways that a coverless ARC simply can’t.

Of course, in traditional publishing, the author or publishing company may have to send out ARCs far in advance of having a cover design. But for those of us who are indie authors, part of controlling our own destinies can be sending ARCs that look exactly like the final product. And what’s wrong with that?

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