As family and friends (that would be you) know, we do a not-terrific job of promoting our books. We'd be better if it wasn't such a struggle. Bloggers and book reviewers have been burned by so many bad self-published books, they don’t want to see ‘em. The handful of folks focusing on the indie/self-pub world are overwhelmed by submissions begging emails and can barely begin to carve into the humongous pile of offerings placed in front of them.
As writers, we want to trust in Dean Wesley Smith’s philosophy: Don’t spend your time trying to sell your work, just write the next book. Given enough time, every writer will find an audience. The problem with this theory? Some of us have to make a living while the audience dawdles, occupying itself with Fifty Shades of Grey.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
While Fifty Shades was busily collecting tens of thousands of readers, we saw a lovely, talented writer abandon her craft for the world of retail. She’s busy folding sweaters because her four novels and two novellas collected good reviews at minor sites and were rarely purchased. And this writer busted butt to sell her stuff, doing readings and store signings, and knocking on doors both real and virtual. If effort was all that mattered, she’d be golden.
Us? Based on our lackadaisical promotional activities, we’d be scrap iron. It’s not that we don’t want to promote our books…no, wait, that’s exactly it. We don’t want to promote our books. We’d rather keep scribbling while the Magic Promotion Genie comes along and gives our books a big shove. So far, the Magic Promotion Genie is a disappointment. Turns out, the MPG is reading Fifty Shades of Grey, too.
So we thought we’d try something different. When the corporations at B&N/Smashwords/Amazon combined to send us a chunk o’ change in April, we thought we’d use a piece of it to buy a bit of attention for one of our books. We did this even after a fellow writer told us that internet ads for books don’t work. Because what if, just once, things worked out differently?
We contacted a nice man at eReaderIQ and he quoted us a livable ad price (or, at least, less than our April royalties): Fifty smackeroos. We like eReaderIQ, go there at least once a day, and we occasionally notice the ads at the top of the screen. Usually don’t notice ‘em but, y’know, sometimes. Once, we even bought a book from an advertisement. But, you’ll notice, we go there. Daily. We bought a book. Once. If our response is typical, the average advertiser is totally screwed.
What are our odds of success? A writer friend (and one who advertised on eReader ) thinks we’ll struggle to see any results. He suggested we pick our most popular novel; we picked our newest, Aly’s Luck, instead. He told us to price it at free if we wanted to attract readers. We priced it at $2.99. (Hey, we put our heart into this book.) He said we wouldn’t have a good return on our investment. We told him we appreciated his advice. He told us, “You’re doing it all wrong.”
Which actually worked for us. So far, doing it all wrong seems to be our entire life strategy.
If you’d like to see the crash as it happens, the ad runs on Saturday, 06/23/12. Our Amazon 'paid' sales ranking for Aly’s Luck as this post goes on line is 401,844 -- and will likely be tens of thousands higher by the weekend. As you can assume, a smaller sales number = a more successful pitch. A higher sales number = we’re totally screwed.
The betting line in Vegas? Not good.