Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Cheapskate’s Tips to Marketing #Indie #Books

I am reporting on my marketing efforts in 2016 and will focus on the most successful for me and my books. I write science fiction fantasy adventures and romances. You can see a list of my published stories HERE. My books are not best sellers, however, I have returned a small profit each year. 

My marketing goals are: 1) reach the largest number of potential readers, and 2) sell more books! As an Indie author, I prefer free or inexpensive options to maximize Return on Investment.

Take-home message: Cross-promotion is the clear winner! 
Indie authors are inventive and many are generous in helping other authors. Cross-promotion with other authors outperforms most free or paid commercial sites.
Read to the end of the post for details. 

Various Outreach, Cross-Promotion Efforts and Their Outcomes in 2016

Social Media
Twitter: @AuroraSpringer
My followers have grown slowly from 3000 to about 8000. I am selective about the people I follow. My tweets and RTs are partly automated thanks to valuable advice from Effrosyni Moschoudi at http://effrosyniwrites.com/2015/10/22/twitter-lists-and-roundteam-explained/ Occasionally, someone will tell me they liked my book or even left a review.

Again, my followers and likes have grown slowly to 1200. I use facebook to chat with virtual friends, mostly within groups. Sometimes, readers exchange messages with me.

Pininterest: I set up an account and posted most of my books. It does not seem to be furthering my marketing goals.

I purchased a domain: http://AuroraSpringer.com. I blog about my stories, writing and entertain guest authors at http://AuroraSpringer.blogger.com
One new venture is Niume where I post about my stories, travel and wildlife. This site will pay a small amount for original posts that people visit. https://niume.com/pages/profile/?userID=42051

Multi-author publications

In 2016, I published an anthology of short stories with eight authors: Romancing the Stars. This anthology sold regularly with some promotions.

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade set up Portals: Volumes of beginning chapters of Science fiction romance novels. http://sfrportals.blogspot.com/ More than 60 authors have participated in producing seven volumes. My stories: Grand Master’s Pawn is in Volume Three and The Lady is Blue is in Volume six. This venture did not seem to do much for my books, possibly because the adventure drives the story more than the romance. It may be valuable in the long term. 

Reaching Readers

BookBub: I participated in a giveaway with members of http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/ (cost $60) and gained >400 followers. 
Advantage: BookBub will email my followers about new releases of full-length, previously unpublished novels. Note: You must submit the new book within 7 days of its release.

Amazon: I ran several Amazon book giveaways and gained >1000 followers at little cost (set your book to 99c). 
Advantage: Amazon will email followers about your new releases.
Disadvantage: You cannot check how many followers you have. You have to sum up the new followers for each giveaway.

Newsletter Subscribers

This year, I tried paid and free promotions to grow my subscribers from a few hundred to ~4000.
Advantage: My subscribers like free and 99c ebooks. I hope they will enjoy my books and read my series, although it may take time.
Disadvantage: I have to pay for newsletter service.

FreekindleGiveaways: I paid $50 for a multi-genre giveaway and gained ~1200 subscribers in June. Five months later, I culled the inactive emails and had ~400 active subscribers.

AuthorsXP: Cost $35, but I helped in beta runs. First: giveaway to gain subscribers netted 630 names, but only 500 new people. Second, tested asking a question of readers and gained ~360 names, many new.

Instafreebie giveaways: A successful option. Cost $20 per month to Instafreebie for required signup.
Advantages: Various cross-promotion groups connect with instafreebie to offer readers free books in return for their name and email address. You can integrate with MailChimp.
Disadvantage: You cannot add book in KDP Select. Also, the number of new people decreases over time and I have a limited number of books to give away.

My Top Picks for Cross-Promotion
Cross-promotion with other authors outperforms the majority of paid and free commercial sites for promotion. My conclusions are supported by Jackie Weger’s tests - http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/plotting-your-books-life-in-2017/
All cross-promotions expect participating authors to promote in their newsletters and social media.

Top Pick for Science Fiction & Fantasy: Patty Jansen’s monthly cross-promotion at www.pattyjansen.com/promo
A well-established monthly promotion with 100-150 participating authors. My free books can achieve 1000’s of downloads. Successful in generating sales and some reviews. Sales of books in my series can produce >$30 in 7-10 days. 

Promotions at the following sites have sold 10-40 of my 99c ebooks each time. Caveat: some sites are relatively new and still gaining traction and readers. Others have begun to charge small fees.

Science Fiction Romance Cross-Promotion www.smschmitz.com/promo (SM Schmitz)

The Cross-Promotion Authors’ Collective rozmarshall.co.uk/romance (Rose Dewar) and https://www.facebook.com/groups/xpromocollective/  

Media links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Aurora-Springer/e/B00K2C4NL8


  1. Thanks for taking the time to share; I found the information most useful.

  2. "I paid $50 for a multi-genre giveaway and gained ~1200 subscribers in June. Five months later, I culled the inactive emails and had ~400 active subscribers."

    I had to laugh at that. I experienced pretty much the same. I did one promotion that was beneficial (I gained maybe 300 active subscribers out of 1200 new emails), and then did a couple of others that were a complete wash. I've decided to go the organic route in the future.

    1. Right, I agree - I'm being honest. Also, my instafreebies subscribers are new and I don't know how many will stay active.

  3. Instafreebie continues to deliver for me, but you have to constantly sign up to IF promotions, because left alone, downloads dwindle to 2-3 per day... which is still better for the cost than running Facebook ads for subscribers. The subscribers are more engaged. Seriously, Instafreebie is a win/win.

    As for my promos, they will remain free. I'm also dedicated to not delivering a lot of customer service for them. You enter the links, it's up to you to make sure they work and check when I send out the email that the page is ready. If on the day the links don't work, I ditch the book. I'm not going to fiddle or go into lengthy email discussions about how and where to find the right links and yada yada. No time.

    I'm a writer first, which is why I refuse to charge fellow authors money, because if you charge money, you have to provide customer service and the cross-promo becomes a business.


    1. I am grateful for your help and practical advice. My philosophy is to be generous.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I've tried the Amazon giveaways and Instafreebie. I gained >500 subscribers in the first month with IF and the good news is these people seem to be active. I had much better success with IF than with FB ads. I plan to release a novel later this month. I hope the Amazon giveaway followers bite but it will be impossible to tell where the buys come from them.

  5. Good afternoon, Aurora. I love your post because you tell it exactly how it is with no fluff. That is helpful beyond measure to other indies. About subscribers: It is a given that there are those who enter all giveaways, then fade as a subscriber. The key is to engage and nurture the subscribers who stay with us and not to fill their mailboxes daily. I've started reaching out to authors to share and co-promote. I do not spend money on Facebook ads. I do boost a post for a day or two, but seldom. Thank you for the mentionof my beta test: http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/plotting-your-books-life-in-2017/. I am now setting up to try to duplicate that promo. I was happy with it. It moved books and KENP.

    1. We should learn from each other's successes and mistakes.
      I wish I could do half as well as you!

  6. Aurora, your report gave me lots of ideas--to pursue and to avoid. I'm a big believer that the human race didn't learn fire burns by sticking their hands in the blazing campfire every night. Most of our ancestors learned by listening and by following in others' footsteps. Since I have only 2 hands, that's my goal. Thanks!