Review of ‘3 Weird Marketing Secrets of Success For Authors on Amazon’

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If you’re an author, whether you’ve just finished your first book, or, like me, are working on number one hundred, the one unavoidable chore you’ll need to focus on is attracting readers—and getting sales. There are tons of books out there on how to sell books, some of them are useful, but most offer suggestions that frankly aren’t worth the time it takes to read them

That, fortunately, is not the case for 3 Weird Marketing ‘Secrets of Success’ for Authors on Amazon by Shaun Hibbs. I like the way he hooks you into the book by offering to expose the ‘lie’ that most book promoters tell, and then, taking a ‘left at Albuquerque’ as Bugs Bunny used to say in the Saturday morning cartoons, he tells you that he’s NOT going to tell you a fail-safe method for selling tons of books. Now, that got my attention, and made me wonder if reading any further would be worth my time. Because I was intrigued with his rather unorthodox statement, though, I soldiered on, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was the wise thing to do.

Hibbs describes in detail three methods for leveraging your sales on Amazon’s platforms—in fact, the book is more or less a promotion for the giant in the publishing world, something that many of us indie authors already know. Some of the things he suggests, such as finding a genre that is popular, but not overpopulated with writers, I already do with a modicum of success. In my case, I came upon this strategy through several years of trial and error. But, some of his other suggestions were new to me—my trial and error style of marketing my books hadn’t stumbled across them yet, so I thank him profusely for providing them.

As the author says at the start of the book, nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes things work out as planned, at other times, they don’t. But, the race doesn’t necessarily go to the fastest, but to the one who never stops running. That sentiment is indirectly expressed in this book.

A worthwhile addition to your writer’s reference library. I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. So, completely unbiased, mind you, I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Perception’

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When marketing a product, even if YOU are that product, it’s important to offer value; being the best is important. But, in today’s world, it’s not enough to just be the best; you must be perceived to be the best.

Perception: Take Charge of How Others View Your Brand, Become Irresistible, and Make a Bigger Impact by Franziska Iseli and Christo Hall walks you through the steps to create the desired perception of your brand and then how to take that perception to the level of acceptance in the marketplace.

Each chapter of this book starts with a story of an entrepreneur facing a dilemma, and how that dilemma was solved. The story is then followed by no nonsense guidance on the issue at hand. This brief book walks the reader through the task of self-understanding, the first step in creating the desired perception, and then the steps to creating and promoting that perception with the end goal of making yourself, or your product, ‘talkaboutable’ (one of the many made up words the authors use to drive their points home.

Regardless of the nature of your enterprise, this book offers practical advice, in straight forward, out of the box, language that can be applied immediately.

I received a free copy of this book.

This is a five-star book that should be in every small entrepreneur’s reference library.

Review of ‘How I Sold 80,000 Books’

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If you’re a writer, you know how hard it can be to write a book. If you’re a published writer, you’ll also know that marketing that book is harder still. How I Sold 80,000 Books by Alina Rutkowska takes some of the mystery out of book marketing. This is a comprehensive breakdown of how the author uses social media and other methods to get books in front of readers, and get them to buy—again and again. Not all of the author’s methods will work for everyone, but there’s sure to be a nugget or two of pure gold here for you, whether you’re just writing that first book, or you’ve already published one or more.

Included in this book are links to book review and promotion sites, a video on the author’s marketing methods, and interviews with other successful indie authors. This is a useful guide to self-publishing that should be in your reference library.

I give this one four stars.

Review of ‘The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Networking’

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If you’re a solo entrepreneur; writer, photographer, or online marketer, The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Networking  by Karen Banes is a worthwhile read. In order to get your creative output in front of customers, the one thing you need to do, and do well, is network. This short guide is an overview of online and offline networking—not just selling, which is a different kettle of fish—that will jumpstart your efforts. Written in plain, easy to understand language, complete with action lists at the end of each chapter, this book doesn’t get into the how and why of specific platforms; it offers instead, a general overview of how to develop your unique networking campaign. It also offers a list of ‘don’ts’ to keep you from becoming just another annoying presence hawking your works.

If you want to create value in your presence, this guide is a good start on that journey. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Scarcity Marketing Campaigns’

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Scarcity Marketing Campaigns by Steve Mooar is a short guide to creating a sales campaign (for goods or services) based on scarcity. The author takes readers step-by-step through building calls to action by creating a sense of limited supply, whether it’s a widget, book, or service. Emphasis is on use of social media and email to reach out to potential buyers and convert them to customers. The instructions are fairly easy to follow, though some come across as ‘hard-sell,’ which, I suppose, is what’s needed to successfully market anything in today’s world. Useful for beginning entrepreneurs.

I give it three and a half stars.

The Ugly Truth About Book Sales

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The Ugly Truth About Book Sales. Essential advice to anyone who wants to write for the public market.

Marketing Your Book: Like a Trip to the Dentist

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InsecureWritersSupportGroupThis is my second posting for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer Support Group.  This month, I’m addressing an issue that really bothers me sometime, and that I know bedevils other writers, marketing what you’ve written.

Make no mistake about it, writing; serious writing; is hard work. After deciding what to write, you struggle with how to most effectively express it in words, sentences, and paragraphs. When you plotted, planned, and shaped those words, you then have to face the daunting task of re-writing and editing to make sure you’ve expressed yourself in the best possible way.

If you think, after you’ve done all that, the job is done; stop, have a cup of coffee and listen up. The job’s just started. Unless you’re writing merely for your personal amusement, you want to be read, and that means you have to take the next step – and, it’s a big one. You have to get what you’ve written in front of readers, and hopefully keep it there long enough for them to read and enjoy it.

That’s right; I’m talking about the m-word. Like trips to the dentist, marketing your writing is unpleasant and uncomfortable, but ultimately necessary if you’re to succeed in this line of work we call writing. There’s that ‘work’ word again.

There are a number of ways to market your books. Social media, public engagements, ads, are all ways to get your efforts in front of an audience and, hopefully, create a buzz about it that leads to more readers and more sales.

One method that has generated a lot of comment and controversy of late is using give-aways as a means of promoting your writing. Some writers swear by it, while others swear at it, and vehemently avoid it. After all, the second group maintains, if your work is free it will be seen as having no value.

Before enlisting in this group, though, I recommend you think about it for a while. It might seem counter-intuitive, but offering people something for free can be a way to get them to buy. Big stores do it, and successfully. My own experience with this form of marketing offers a look at some of the advantages of this method.

Like many, I was reluctant at first. My thought was; I’ve worked long and hard on this book, why should I just give it away? But, I’m always up for trying something new, so I decided to give it a go.

Most of my books are available on Amazon in Kindle version, and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program enables an author who enrolls a book to offer it free for a designated period, provided it is exclusive to the program during the free period. You can get the details of the program at the KDP link, but here’s how it’s worked for me.

I do two series; a western/historical fiction series about the Buffalo Soldiers, and a mystery series. I dipped my feet in the water by offering a couple of my mysteries free for the five-day period. Each time, there were hundreds of downloads (primarily in the US market, with a few in the UK). There were no big upticks in sales, but I did notice that whenever I offered one book in the series free, there were modest sales of all the other titles. I then decided to try it with the Buffalo Soldier series, which were just beginning to catch on. The first couple of times, sales went up moderately each time for each book in the series, but nothing to write home about.

Then, in May 2013, I released the fifth book in the series, Buffalo Soldier: Renegade. After two weeks of lackluster sales, I decided to try a free promotion. During the five-day promotion, there were nearly 400 downloads, mainly in the US market, but it was the two week period following the promotion that opened my eyes. In addition to another 400 sales of that title, readers purchased 5 to 10 copies per week of each of the other titles. My royalty revenue for that month was over $800, which isn’t a bad return for a loss leader.

That wasn’t the end of it, either. The next book in the series, Buffalo Soldier: Escort Duty was released in September. I waited a week and then offered it free. There were 336 downloads during a short three-day period, and then the week after it ended, sales of that title were approaching the 200 mark, and again, 5 to 10 copies per week of each of the five preceding titles. Revenue thus far is nearing the $500 mark, and it has even generated sales of the paperback versions of each.

Maybe offering free books is not for everyone, but I’m sold on this as an effective marketing tool. It’s not the only one, and if you don’t have a large number of books on your backlist, it might not be worth the effort. But, it certainly shouldn’t be ignored. It hasn’t hurt the value of my books. I continue to get fairly decent reviews on Amazon, and repeat readers who are willing to shell out money to read them, so until I experience a drop in sales I will continue to do what entrepreneurs in other sectors do, and do quite successfully.