Becoming A Bestseller

Bestselling historical mystery thriller

Hello and thank you for your congratulations on my thriller, The Grotto’s Secret becoming a bestseller. And for your interest in finding out how I did this.

Even though I have a business book following, as a newbie to fiction book marketing I had to learn on the hoof. And although I joined an expensive book marketing course, I was disappointed as they focused on strategies for authors with lots of books. Such as having a ‘Reader Magnet’ free book which I don’t have because so far I only have 1 novel.

So I dipped my toes into various places and found the three most valuable things for my own book marketing were getting reviews, cross promotions with other authors and swapping newsletter slots and email marketing.

Luckily I have experience in this area and have built up two businesses with large mailing lists and, as such, I was asked to write my two business books for new business owners. One of them, Pimp My Site, has a large chunk of email marketing so I am half way through writing a book on ‘eMail Marketing For Authors’.

Here’s the steps I took for my novel, The Grotto's Secret, to become a bestseller.


1. Paid Advertising

With all the fuss around about Facebook Ads I dived in, but quickly realised this was going to cost an arm and a leg because:
A ~ my click rate was too high and
B ~ every penny I spent was only advertitising one book

Whereas if I had a few books I would get back list sales from each advert. So I decided it would be best to hold off until I have more books then I’ll get more value for my money because readers will have 2 or 3 books to buy from each FB Ad rather than 1.

So I quit! Instead I looked around for cheaper ways to market my book and how to find free effective routes to marketing my book.

Next, I tried paid advertising sites. Here’s the results:
* Fussy Librarian only delivered 6 sales in the historical fiction category, none in thriller and 3 in suspense.
* Choosy Bookworm cost me $20 but only resulted in 17 sales
* eReader Today cost $40 with 31 sales
* Reading Deals was $25 with 15 sales
* Bargain Booksy cost me $50 with 54 sales so I did it again and it cost $75.00 with 114 sales

Clearly Bargain Booksy was the best, but at this stage I was getting more results from cross promotions and newsletter swaps at no cost to me, so I gave up on the paid advertising sites.

Also, by this stage I had decided on a pricing strategy (see below) and priced my book at 99c for a trial period. Getting sales of only just under what I paid for the advert gave me a rate of about a dollar a book sale (most were more than a dollar) and with my book at 99c meant the ROI was in minus because I was only on 35% royalty.


2. Book Giveaways

The best thing in my book marketing up to this stage was when I started running Book Bundle Competitions. My first was a thriller giveaway which produced 1200 new readers. Of those subscribers about 980 are still with me and have not unsubscribed.

I decided to try multi-genre promotions which gave me a few thousand leads.
July Book Bundle resulted in 1700 readers
October Book Bundle resulted in 2000 readers
Christmas Reading Hamper = launches on the 1 Dec

Although some authors don’t step outside their genre, I’ve found my sales have grown despite having readers on my list that read other genres. Lots of readers do cross genres so for me, at a time when I needed to grow my list, I was willing to try. You may want to join some of our 2017 cross promotions for authors keen to boost their book marketing campaigns.

Granted some readers don’t cross genres and they are probably amongst the ones who have since unsubscribed from my lists. I just felt that with a load of good reviews they may try my book, which leads me onto …


3. Reviews

I really, really needed reviews so I asked my new subscribers (and Book Hub’s subscribers) who would like to review my book.

I was staggered by 171 requests!

From those, 145 downloaded my book and I quickly had more than 100 reviews, most of which were 5 stars. Some of these readers are now devoted fans and keep asking for more books! This is where I requested reviews for my book.

You can’t win them all, as they say, but the ones who did reviews boosted my book in Amazon’s eyes. They started showing my book in the section called ‘People who bought/viewed this book also viewed these books’ and my book was showing up.

They also started to include my book in their emails. Amazon’s ‘marketing’ of my book, along with my email marketing to my new subscribers from the cross promotions boosted my daily figures of 5 to 10 sales.

UPDATE: Another activity that was manually painstaking, but worth a small boost in my sales was to post my reviews as images into Facebook reader groups and review groups. This is when I initially started seeing my book sales at around 5 a day. Every time a reader shared the post I thanked them. Every time someone commented, I replied. Lots of 'elbow grease' for this task, but it helped boost the sales up another notch.

Here's an example of some of the images I posted.

   
   

When I saw the regular sales floating just above the 5 a day mark, I started putting more work into my email marketing to increase those sales. Here's how I increased my 5 a day with emailing my lists.

4. My Monthly Newsletters

After my initial book launch email I haven’t pushed my book to my subscribers. As I’m writing a book on eMail Marketing for Authors I have subscribed to many author lists. I’m surprised at how many authors just promote their own books in every newsletter without any sharing of other books they’ve read or recommending any new books being launched.

Instead of following them, I opened my list up for authors to advertise their books to my growing reader lists (including Book Hub’s list) and then included my book in the newsletters in different ways.

For example, when I advertise other authors’ free or 99c books, I add mine (http://bookhub.online/for-authors#book-offers-mailer).

When I advertise ‘First Chapter Spotlight’ where authors can feature free chapters to get subscribers and hopefully sales, I add my free chapters in. The whole point being that if the reader loves the book they will download it quickly when the free chapters’ end so they can find out what happens next. So along with everyone else involved in my newsletters, my book is sneaked in each time, but not in a way that is pushy or salesy.

UPDATE: By now my sales were creeping up to ten a day and beyond.


5. Newsletter Swaps

Each time I ran a cross promotions I asked authors about their genres and mailing list subscriber numbers so I started approaching authors who seemed a good fit and asked for a newsletter slot swap.

For authors who don’t know about this, you do NOT swap subscriber lists. Eeeek, I would NEVER do that! You simply agree with another author to give them a slot in your newsletter if they do the same for you.

The first few started showed spikes in my sales and so I started asking for more and now I do a few swaps in each newsletter. You could try a site called www.newsletterswap.com (free but there’s rumours they may charge in future), but it's clunky and hard to navigate. You can also join my Facebook group where I encourage authors to swap newsletter slots: https://www.facebook.com/groups/authornewsletterswap

Even if the swaps were from small lists any small spike in sales bumped my book up the rankings and kept the sales momentum going.

Newletter Swap Suggestions: As a result of how much newsletter swapping helped me, I have set  up an automated service on Book Hub. Find out more about our Newsletter Swap Suggestions.

UPDATE: With sales now already around the 15 to 20 a day (remember Amazon is helping me by now to market my books due to my reviews), each newsletter swap boosted my sales to well over 30, sometimes even reaching the 50s.


6. Cross Promotions

With the success of my Book Giveaways I started getting involved in more cross promotions. If I couldn’t find one that suited me (try this FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/authorcrosspromotions/) I ran one of my own. I have a Thriller Book Bundle planned for Jan/Feb along with a Historical Fiction Giveaway and a Paranormal Book Competition.

I now have authors asking me to run genre book bundles for them so if you can’t find a promotion in your genre, apply here and I will set one up when I get enough authors joining. If you want to find out about the thriller, HF and Paranormal promotions, you'll find all the details for those 3 cross promotions here.

If you’d like to reserve a copy of my book The Ultimate Guide To Cross Promotion: How to Grow Your Author Mailing List With Cross Promotions and Where To Find Them, which is published in January 2017, sign up here: http://paulawynne.com/the-authors-cross-promotion-guide

UPDATE: I will be asking a whole bunch of authors to read the book in exchange for a 'voluntary' review :)


7. Pricing Strategy

After a few months of seeing very little sales, I decided to drop the price of my book to 99c to attract more readers. I figured that if someone read my book at that price, liked it and gave me a good review it was helping me in the long term.

By having the book at a cost that anyone could afford, even readers on lower or fixed income, the aim was to get lots of sales for a lower priced book and then increase the price later on.

I am yet to do that because I am enjoying having the book in the bestseller list. The way I see it: as a new author without a well-known name, I’d rather get a lower royalty and more sales than less sales and a higher royalty.

Strangely enough, with this strategy I am earning more money from the book sales than when the book was at a ‘normal price’.

In a way, I suppose you could say that my pricing strategy was my ‘Reader Magnet’ because I am attracting new readers not from a free book, but an affordable book. Despite not having a proper 'Reader Magnet, I am going to run a 'Reader Magnet' cross promotion in the new year to see the results from offering my free chapters. It will help me to continue to get subscribers. All authors signing up send details of the 'Free Books' to their mailing lists via their monthly newsletter.That way we all discover new readers from the combined impact of all the authors mailing the promotion details to their mailing lists. An ideal way to capture new leads and grow your mailing list! Find out what kind of results other authors' have had on the link below.

Summary

So it all kind of flowed along like this:

  1. Growing my lists with cross promotions and newsletter swaps
  2. Asking these news subscribers for reviews, which led to Amazon marketing my book
  3. A few spikes in paid sales helped to boost my book into the top 100 paid bestsellers in historical thrillers and historical mystery, but this was along with all the other activities mentioned
  4. Continually showcasing my book in my email marketing to my growing list in the subtle ways mentioned above, and slotted in amongst other books so it doesn’t look like me always pushing my book down their throats, has kept my book floating down the Amazon ranks until it reached #7 after a big mailing I did where I included my business lists (70k) because I am slowly trying to convert the business owners on the list who may be readers.

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Paula Wynne is the founder of Book Hub. She started Book Hub out of a need to market and promote her own fiction. As well as running Book Hub, Paula is an author with several published books.

Paula's Book Marketing for Authors Series features the following books: Book Marketing for Authors: Essential Steps for Before, During and After Your Book Launch; Book Promotion for Authors: How To Grow Your Readers Fan Base With Cross Promotions; Email Marketing For Authors: How To Use Email Marketing To Find New Readers and Book Selling for Authors: 7 Steps to a Bestselling Novel. Find out more about Paula's Book Marketing for Authors Series here.

If you would like to find out how to get your book into the bestselling charts with little money needed, download a free copy of Paula's Book Selling for Authors: 7 Steps to a Bestselling Novel.

Follow Paula on Amazon's Author Central to find out when she publishes more books. Or you can follow Paula on Twitter and Facebook.

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