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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Post--Laurie Penner and New Author Marketing

Anne: Our guest blogger today is Laurie Penner, and she's going to share some ideas on marketing with us. Take it away, Laurie!

Laurie: When I published my first e-book, No Escape in Sight, I sold four copies the first month and six copies the second month.

In the third month, I sold three hundred fifty copies. Yes, it was the same book.

So what did I do differently that third month? My initial strategy was to pray for direction. Then I started with what was recommended by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) before branching into other ideas.

Step One: The Cover. KDP’s first recommendation is to “Create a compelling cover.” When I took a second look at how my book appeared online, the cover seemed dull compared to others. I spent hours making it brighter and inviting. Having a bona fide artist as a co-illustrator helped.

Step Two: Get Edited. Since I had been writing and editing both for over 30 years I didn’t realize at first that I needed an editor. But my repeated phrases and bad habits were hiding. I have thanked God many times that He sent me a good editor to help point out all the issues before I published the book. Intelligent readers are not impressed by an Indie book that is full of errors or repeated words. For a first book, first impressions do count.

Step Three: Social networking. A writer’s group on Facebook has been an essential key for me to receive information as well as encouragement. Not social by nature, I get on Facebook every day to see what other writers are saying and to get help with my writing. Networking keeps you informed on the best writing skills and it’s more fun than doing all your own research.

Step Four: Free Promotion. Since I had signed up with Kindle Select, I could do a free promotion. I set it up for July with my new cover, posting the free dates on Facebook and sending out an email to all my contacts. The result was astounding. KDP reports showed numbers in the hundreds on the first promotion day and by the end of five days it showed 2,600 downloads, including several from other countries.

Step Five: Lower the price. This is not KDP advice, it’s my own. While my promotion racked up free downloads, I asked my writer’s group about pricing. After reading the opinions of other authors and praying about it, I realized that a person could make just as much money selling a book at $1.00 as $5.00 if sales were higher volume. A low-price book does not necessarily mean a low-grade book.

The day after the free promotion in July, I started to sell two to three books per day at $0.99, which wasn’t phenomenal but certainly better than previous sales. A few days later my sales suddenly soared to over two hundred, gradually tapering off to five or six per day but holding steady. My book was in the top one hundred for Christian romance on Kindle that weekend and has been a bestseller for teen mysteries at other times. You can imagine the feeling of going from five books sold per month to five books sold per day. I didn’t care how much money I was or wasn’t making—my book was selling!

Step Six: Key Words and Categories. An important marketing strategy is learning how to use key words and book categories. How do you direct attention to your book when it is listed with millions of others? For what I learned about this plus some free editing advice, check out my blogs at:

Progression of cover from left (first) to right (final)

When my book got into print, I again felt that I should work on the cover. Having the book in hand made all the difference in seeing what was needed.

My husband and I have tried marketing before with little success. The steps I’ve mentioned help me sell books, but I don’t feel that I have all the answers. Without God guiding me on what to do and when, I have no doubt I would still be selling only five or six books a month, or less.
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