Do online promotions work?
As some of you may have noticed, I recently self-published my first novel, Please, as an ebook when it went out of print. Self-pubbing an ebook is a lot like putting out a novel the traditional way — it’s not that hard to publish it, but it is difficult finding ways to get it noticed. In fact, in some ways it’s harder to get noticed with ebooks because there are so many more of them.
I don’t want to be one of those writers who babbles on and on about the business side and doesn’t talk about the craft, but I figure I’ve talked about the content of Please enough, and there are people interested in this self-publishing experiment. So.
I didn’t have any expectations of strong sales for Please when I loaded it onto the Kindle service — I just wanted to make it available to readers again. I was pleased with the initial flurry of sales, which was more than I expected, but they tapered off to three or four a day after the media attention died down. I thought I’d experiment with some online marketing, though, because, well, why not?
Halfway through ebook week, I decided to make my short stories free on Smashwords and drop the price of Please to $1.99. It was a promotion that Smashwords runs, so that’s why I did it there as opposed to Kindle.
Downloads of my short stories skyrocketed, which wasn’t hard, given they weren’t selling much before. Surprisingly, the story “Beat the Geeks,” which I consider the strangest thing I’ve written, was downloaded the most. I’m not really sure why people picked that one. Maybe it’s so strange they didn’t want to take a chance with their 99 cents on it? Or maybe word got out about it during the promo? Who knows.
I was more surprised by the boost in sales to Please, though. I wasn’t really expecting much — I was more interested in getting people reading my stories, which are quite different from the book. I sold about 20 copies of Please during the two days of the promo, and then Monday it dropped down to three. I hate Mondays.
So to get back to the question posed in the title of this post, yes, apparently online promotions do work.
Next up, I’m buying some ads on Goodreads. I don’t really expect them to pay for themselves in the short term, but I’m told you have to think about advertising long term: just keep the book alive in the public consciousness and eventually people will start to notice it and check it out. In short, act like a virus.
I’ll keep you informed about the Please Experiment. I’m not really anticipating any sales records, because it is an older book. It would make more sense to try this sort of thing with a new book to really see how viable e-publishing is for a mildest writer like myself. So I may just do that.