marketing

When it rains it pours (and sometimes that’s a good thing!)

smirking clown

(I simply couldn’t resist using this photo)

When it rains it pours. I guess that’s usually a bad thing. Can it pour instead of rain in a good way? Like if you’re living through a drought, maybe? I rather think it can. See, I logged into my email this evening to find that not one, not two, but THREE different websites are interested in reviewing “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell!”

Not only is this a boost for my ongoing promotional efforts. It also validates the quality of the product I’ve put out  — at least where first impressions are concerned. I assume these reviewers took a cursory glance at my cover, sample pages and blurb available on Amazon. If so they found it all compelling enough to say yes to my request. I will post links to all three reviews on this blog (probably Twitter, too) once published, as I did with The Extremis Review’s piece on “Vampire Brides.”

Meanwhile, I’ll recap a couple valuable lessons I’ve learned about indie book story marketing.

Mainstream indie book review sites may not be the best places to take genre fiction — particularly when it comes to a niche like golden age pulp. I’ve had much more success narrowing my focus down to sites and reviewers who limit themselves to speculative fiction, science fiction and/or horror. A marketing guru would probably say, “duh! You ass. Obviously you’re got to get more granular.” But remember I’m learning as I go. And learning as you go has its own rewards.

A more general, but equally difficult, lesson I’ve learned over the last couple months is that platform building will be a long, hard slog. I think my initial expectations were for too much, too soon. I didn’t even come close to meeting my initial sales goal. Probably because only a miniscule number of readers have ever heard of me. With that in mind I am setting a new goal to sell 210 copies of “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell!” by December 31, 2014.

If anyone else has any marketing success stories (or horror stories, for that matter) I would love to hear them in the comments.

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A marketing mistake to laugh at

I couldn’t help but laugh at a mistake I made recently. You see I am still soliciting reviews for “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell.” In doing so I have developed a review request template. I copy, paste and customize it as necessary. Perhaps needless to say, the most important part of the customization process is changing the name at the top.

I sent in a review request the other day. Today I received a curt reply along the lines of “my name is Lisa, not Ted, and no, we’re not interested.”

I mention this for two reasons:

  1. If you’re going to use a review request template, REMEMBER TO CHANGE THE NAME! It could torpedo your chances of getting a review or guest post.
  2. If you DO forget to change the name, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

Indie publishing can be an exhausting, dreadfully serious process. It’s important to keep things in perspective. I write because I love to write. In the end it doesn’t matter if I strike it rich or get famous. I will continue to write fiction whether or not I make  money doing it.

If you’re not enjoying writing you’ve got no business writing in the first place.

My self-publishing marketing plan

Writing a great story is easy. The hard part is selling it. With this in mind I have decided to soft launch “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell.” The difference between a soft launch and a hard launch is simple. A soft launch takes place over a period of 1-2 months and ramps up slowly. It is especially common in the tech industry, where there are often bugs to be worked out in early product releases. A hard launch, by contrast, does everything in one shot and is more common in traditional publishing. There are advantages to the hard launch approach for indie authors, too. Mostly that if you can crack a bestseller list early you will gain massive visibility.

To execute a hard launch properly, however, you need a substantial following. Or at least a substantial professional network. I have neither. Thus, my self-publishing marketing plan hinges on ramping up activity slowly over time, building a network (and hopefully a following) for future projects.

My plan consists of two broad phases:

The Review Phase (Month 1)

The goal of the review phase is simple: get reviews. You could also call this the “quality assurance” phase. I don’t because I hate the phrase “quality assurance.” Makes it sound like I’m manufacturing Tylenol bottles or something. My plan is to work outward from my network:

  • Friends and family
  • Then writers I know
  • Then amateur reviewers
  • Then professional reviewers

My goal is to have five reviews by the end of month one.

The Awareness Phase (Month 2)

Here the goal is to push awareness of the reviewed ebook out to readers through various channels. I am not budgeting any ad spend for this project, so I will be focusing on blogs, websites and social media. While I have a couple ideas I still need to do some more research in this area. An update will follow.

Again, my goals:

  • Secure five reviews by April 10
  • Sell 216 units by June 30