The miracle of marketing

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The free period for Global Domination has now finished, and the results are fascinating. If you are a self-published author, you need to read this. Trust me. You do.

I am no marketing expert. I am making this stuff up as I go. So when I gave the book away for free for five days, I didn’t do much by way of publicity.

I posted that the book was free on a few forums – Goodreads, Absolute Write, Chessgames.com and a couple of forums I found which were dedicated to James Bond. I wrote a blog about it. And that was about it.  Let’s call it ten forum posts and one blog.

It wasn’t what you might call a comprehensive marketing strategy. What can I say? I’m naturally shy and not very good at this sort of thing. I could come up with all sorts of other excuses too. I’m busy with the day job.

And the initial results were … okayish. Meh. Not bad, but not great.

We made the book free on Thursday, and the first three days went like this:

Thursday: 44 free copies “sold”

Friday: 38

Saturday: 21

I think we can see which way this trend is going, can’t we? An initial mild interest is tailing off. Most people who want to buy the book have bought it. I finished Saturday night staring glumly at the sales results page and wondering if Sunday would get out of single figures.

I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, but I will admit to downing a slightly melancholy glass of scotch at this point.

There were some high points. A few friends kindly agreed to tweet and blog about the book to their contacts. I found some new readers who said they had started the book and were enjoying it. I made a couple of new friends.

Then this happened:

Sunday: 77

Monday: 64

Tuesday (just a few hours): 3

And that was a puzzle. Instead of going down, the number of books given away was going up. Where had all these extra customers come from? I hadn’t done anything from Saturday to Sunday. To be perfectly honest, I had run out of ideas for ways to publicise the book.

So I put on my best deerstalker hat (the metaphorical one), and did some research. And that’s when I discovered that a surprising number of my sales had come from Amazon.de. If you are not familiar with the different flavours of Amazon, that is the German version of the website.

This is how many copies I gave away in Germany:

Thursday: 1

Friday: 2

Saturday: 3

Sunday: 57

Monday: 42

Tuesday: 1

That is a total of 105 copies given away in Germany out of a total of 247 in the whole world.

That deepened the mystery. I didn’t know anyone who lived in Germany and who wanted a copy of my book in English. And while there might be a friend of a friend who was German, surely there wouldn’t be 105 of them?

I put my deerstalker on again, and did some more research. I googled the name of my book plus ‘Amazon.de’. And that is when I found this German website:

This is a website that I have never heard of before today. It specialises in publicising free or reduced price books in English. Somehow (I don’t know how) my book got onto this website on Sunday 7 June – and as a direct result of that publicity I gained more than 100 sales.

There is still a mystery here. I do not know how my book got onto this website. It seems that this website charges a fee for advertising a book. I haven’t paid them. I didn’t even know they existed. So either some kind soul out there has volunteered my book or the website decided to advertise it for free. I would love to know who I have to thank for this kindness.

But one thing is clear. This one piece of advertising gave me more than 40% of my sales, despite only being available for two out of the five days.

And that certainly is an eye opener for me. I went into this in a fairly amateurish way. Ten forum posts and a blog. And more than 40% of my sales comes from a single advert that didn’t come out until half way through the free period. How many more sales would I have got if I had advertised it on this website from the first day? And advertised it on other similar websites?

The lesson, I think, is that we have to be professional about our books. We already know that we have to be professional in the writing, with editing to a high standard. The covers have to be of a high enough quality to look right in a high street book store.

And it seems that we have to be professional about how we market our books too. If I had realised that I could get 105 sales from just two days on a website like this, I would have prepared for this free period far more carefully.

By the way, I am not giving a plug to this website or others like it. I know nothing about the website other than the fact that it carried my book for two days and nearly doubled the number I gave away.

I suppose the bottom line is that if we are going to be successful as self-published authors we do need to invest time and effort into marketing. That was a lesson I learned today.

I’ll close with something that made my chuckle. On one of the James Bond websites I’ve struck up a conversation with someone who goes by the handle of Property of a Lady. That is one of the things I love about this business – finding new friends. And he or she has produced this:

leda maggie

If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then you do need to read “Global Domination for Beginners”. And please don’t tell me that you passed up on the chance to get it for free!

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4 thoughts on “The miracle of marketing

  1. david staniforth

    Book one of my fantasy trilogy has been permanently free for over a year now, Will. It averages around 8 downloads per day, unless I list it on one of the many sites out there. On those occasions it might jump to a couple of hundred downloads. One day quite out of the blue it had 1248 downloads in one day. It obviously got listed somewhere I hadn’t organised, but for the life of me, I still haven’t a clue where. Wish I did, I’d go there again.

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    • You’re a few steps ahead of me. I need to write some more books so that I can have some of them on perma free. I think it is a good way to go.

      There may be a way to find that website. If you google the name of your book plus the precise date when you got the spike you might get a hit to that website. Google can be quite good at finding all sorts of obscure information if you feed it the right search terms.

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  2. david staniforth

    Just tried it, Will, and drew a blank.

    Perma free has worked well for me, brings traffic for books 2 & 3 of the trilogy.

    Like

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