Marketing... For indie authors, it's sort of a throw it at the wall and hope it sticks kind of thing for the most part. I mean, if we had publishers worth their salt, we'd know what marketing worked and aim at the wall better with stickier stuff. But we don't. It's all on us to figure this stuff out.
So, this year, I've been trying some things to see what works for me and what doesn't. And I'm trying to share that with all of you because we're in the same boat and what the hell, right?
One of the things I've done is tracking. Everything. Sales - in quantity and dollars, ROI (Return On Investment), page reads in relation to marketing... I have spreadsheets and graphs. It's all very pretty.
We already know one of the things I've discovered and talked about ad nauseum. Ads increase sales... err, during promos. (Ads without promotional pricing are pretty much duds.) I paid for ads in February, April, and May. No paid ads in January or March. The graph shows how all that worked out, eh?
Another thing we all pretty much know is promos increase sales quantities. But we also need to remember that they decrease the dollar per book averages. I know, it's sort of a 'well, duh' moment. It's all well and good to move a lot of books at 99c (which during a promo nets an average of 65c per), but if you're not selling books at regular prices, the average tanks. I'm sitting at an avg of $1.02 per book this year and $1.21 per over the past four+ years.
This year, I've also been tracking my book downloads and purchases. I was doing this mainly so I'd know what books I have, what I've read, and what I didn't finish. Also, it helps me keep track of my book buying budget. $31.83 spent this year so far.
But yesterday, I thought it might help with something else.
I was thinking about where to market books next month. Should I go with Robin Reads? Ereader News Today? Book Adrenaline? Where would my money best be placed?
Historical data on ROI points to ENT. Of course. But when I checked, I discovered my own reading habits also point to ENT. Of all the places I've discovered books this year, ENT wins hands down. Then Freebooksy/Bargainbooksy. Then Reading Deals. Book Gorilla and Robin Reads are down near the bottom.
Now, this is just anecdotal evidence. And you have to remember, I'm downloading mostly free books right now. And with a lot of marketing venues, ads for free books cost more than ads for 99c books. I don't know about other authors, but I have a tough time paying for an ad for a book that's not going to make me any money. So I assume there's fewer people who put free books in places like Book Gorilla and Robin Reads, which would lead to a lower download rate from me. Still, it's something to think about.
Then there's the fact that some venues are harder to get advertising with that others. I've been using BargainBooksy a lot lately because they have an easy policy and it's clear what dates are available right when you sign up - and you get to choose your date. No waiting for someone to get back to me with a date or a rejection. Bing bang boom. The problem is I think BargainBooksy is almost tapped out for me this year. I mean, both ads this year paid for themselves, but this recent one paid a lot less than the last. Of course, that was for OUAD. Might still be some readers who haven't seen SCIU yet.
It's all a balancing act. :cue circus music:
Anyway, I hope some of this helps. As always, if you have any questions, let me know. If you have anything to add, feel free. Good luck in your marketing efforts and I hope you sell tons of books!
Update: I guess I wasn't the only one thinking about this stuff today. If you're interested in more info go over to Elizabeth Spann Craig's blog where she talks about Amazon's new KDP Beta reports.