The absolute best use of your money to market your book

I’ve gotten this question a lot lately: If I only had X amount of dollars to spend on book marketing, what’s the ONE THING I should do?

I’m going to reveal the answer. Are you ready?

The #1 most valuable thing to spend money on during book marketing is…

Building your email list

(Don’t worry, keep reading and I’ll tell you HOW to do it).

And this is why: normally I’d say, make sure you hit #1 in your category, in both paid and free, during your launch week. Because you want visibility. Because visibility leads to more sales.

But here’s the thing – most people are going to screw that up. They aren’t going to post their free or 99 cent campaign everywhere. They aren’t going to use targeted Facebook ads well. They aren’t going to have an amazing book cover and at least 10 reviews before they do it.

They aren’t going to have a winning email optin in the front and back of the book that drives email signups.

If they blow their wad on their book launch, they’ll increase their rankings and maybe get a few thousand downloads, but they aren’t really engaging their readers.

If they did do all of that, totally perfectly, then maybe they could skip this next step – but the next step is critical so I’m doing it anyway.

The next step is…

Doing a promotion or giveaway that people share and sign up to win.

Why is this so powerful? Because everybody likes free stuff. And rafflecopter and other giveaway tools rewards them with more entries each time they share the contest, which extends your reach.

Plus people are much more comfortable sharing a fun giveaway or opportunity, than sharing your book launch, which can feel spammy – and they have no incentive for, unless they’ve already read and loved your book (which they haven’t, because this is a book launch).

Recently I’ve been collecting an enormous list of possible reviewers and supporters. It wasn’t hard to do, I just looked at all the reviews on books similar to mine on Amazon, and pulled out the contact info (usually a blog or website). Now I have hundreds of people who may be interested in reviewing my similar book.

I also have a huge list of paranormal romance/YA lit blogs and websites – you can find those on this blog. But when I’m done with my book and ready to email them, I need a juicy offer, something they will feel like sharing because it adds value to their platform.

“Hey my book is free today, can you share and review it?” is a shitty offer. Thousands of authors are already doing that. Instead, my emails will go something like this:

Hi, just wanted you to know I added your site to my marketing resource, 100 places to market your …..”.  I have a background in publishing and book design, but I just finished my first novel. I’m building some more resources to help indie authors market their YA/paranormal/fantasy book and have a couple giveaways going on you might want to share with your readers.

  1. $3000 Book design package giveaway for YA/indie/paranormal authors
  2. $500 book and Kindle giveaway for YA readers.

Please share if you think your followers may be interested.

Finally, for my book launch I’m donating $1000 to the ocean conservatory to save manatee (real mermaids). If you think that’s a worthy cause, please share, here’s the link.

PS) If you would be interested in reviewing the book, I’d love to send you a review copy, an ebook or paperback.

A breakdown of the approach

Firstly, the email stands out because I’m not just asking, I’m giving and sharing. I don’t just want people to share my book, I want to build powerful marketing platforms that are good for all YA / paranormal romance authors. My giveaway will just include some cover design, website makeover, and author platform critique (stuff I already have the skillset, that doesn’t really cost me anything other than time, but authors desperately need). I’ll also throw in some fun stuff that appeals to authors. The point will be to offer other authors some extra marketing opportunities: they will participate which will be good for their book marketing; in return for my help, they will be glad to share my book as well.

The second part is building a list of readers. The tricky thing is offering a prize that appeals to them (but not to everybody). So if I just offered a kindle and an amazon card, it would be too broad. I need to limit it to just the right audience, be setting a prize that only they would enjoy.

I’m hoping to get about a thousand people on each list; that will happen as long as at least 25% of the blogs and websites I email are willing to share one or the other.

Finally, I have my actual book launch, which is a public goal – 100K downloads during launch week – with a $1000 donation to save mermaids if I’m successful. Public goals are something other people can get involved in. By making it a real donation, rather than, say, “I’ll give 10% of earnings to a charity,” it’s more real.

And it’s something kind of fun and interesting, with the added benefit that those people who are into oceanic conversation, and have related causes, will likely share the book even though it’s not really my target market.

The results

I’ll post the exact numbers and results later, once everything is done, but here is what I’m proposing:

1. Rather than pay for advertising once and drive book sales or downloads, I’ll be paying to get people on my list.

2. Once their on my list, I can reach the same people directly, by email, anytime, rather than needing to pay for advertising everytime.

If you only have one book and don’t have other things to sell later, this strategy won’t make sense for you. I’m planning on being a career author and publishing at least 100 books. This is my first novel, so even if I lose money on this one but build a large and powerful network of YA readers and authors (two different networks, each will be used in a different way) I’ll make it back in the long run.

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