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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I am pretty new to the whole publishing thing. I just released my second book in a series of six. The rest will be released every-other-month through the rest of the year. Sales so far are slow, but see first sentence, it's not exactly a shocker ;D

What I'm having trouble with at this point is figuring out WHEN to start trying to market my books. I didn't want to waste money or momentum on ads and such when I only had one book out and thus no back list for "sell through" purposes. I'm not sure when would be a good, reasonable time to start though. I've done much googling on the subject, but the advice I've found seems kind of contradictory and I'm not sure what to make of it. I've seen everything from "I regret not marketing my books until I had x number out" to "advertising is useless before you have x number out" (and "x number" varies!)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and, perhaps most helpfully from my perspective, why you feel the way you do about it. I have ZERO experience or background in any kind of marketing or sales, so I feel like I am missing some crucial part of this equation that would help me make a good decision. I don't want to jump the gun on this and waste my limited budget. Thank you very much for any help!
 

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If I had my time back, this is what I would have done:

1. Set up my mailing list early. It takes forever to grow, so it's nice starting early. Mine is still quite small, but it always gets me a few sales. And, as it grows, it gets me a few more sales with each release.
2. I would focused on getting more longer works out. I love writing short stories and I don't regret having written any of them. I simply wish I'd rearranged my release schedule a bit to allow for a couple of longer books first.
3. For the 2 books early on that were Book 1 of a series, I wish I'd concentrated more on getting reviews so that, when Book 2s came out, I could have had an easier time promoting Book 1.

So that's what I'd wished I'd done differently.
 

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Welcome, Writerly!


There are some great threads here on what to do when you are starting out- see the pinned thread at the top of the Writer's Cafe.

Some quick notes though, before marketing make sure you are ready to market. Do you have:
  • A Website
  • A Mailing List
  • Social Media, if you plan to have it

Once you have these ways to contact your reader, have you included them in your back matter of your book?

The idea is that you want to capture those who like your book and make them lifelong fans. Two books is plenty to start marketing, IMO
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for the tips and for the welcome!

I love the pinned thread for newbies, there's lots of great info in there! I'm still having trouble figuring out the timing issue, though. I want to make my first book free, for example, but I'm still not sure when I ought to do that, since I've read that will take off best with some promotion, too. (I doubt it would be accepted by anything as lofty as BookBub right now, though. I do have some reviews on it--around 12--but my average hovers around 3.5 :-[ So until I get some more positive feedback on it, I'm not sure how broad my advertising options really are anyway.)

I do have a website (just a simple wordpress site, but still) and a mailing list set up, with the appropriate back matter links. It's encouraging to hear that I got the first steps right :)
 

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It's worth starting now. If you do a promo, either free or 99 cents, on book 1 you can promote book 2 and get mailing list sign ups. There's no reason you can't do promo now and again with each new release in the series. Check through some of the forum threads for places you can do low cost promotions.
 

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I think you should start marketing your books before they are published.  Cover reveals on your website/social media spaces, and sharing sample chapters from the book can get people interested so by the time it's released you have poeple out there who are looking forward to buying the book.

Also, set up a mailing list now. I wish I'd done that when I first started publishing.  ;)
 

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You don't mention whether you're in Select or not, and you don't have your books in your sig, so I can't check. If you are, you get either free days or a countdown promotion for each book per 90 day commitment. It makes sense to make use of that facility. Arranging those, even without any other promotion, will get you some extra sales or downloads. Free, in particular, gets noticed by a bunch of sites who will publicise it for you. If you're not in Select, you can still reduce the price to 99c manually for a while.

I didn't do much with my first book, either, on the grounds that there's no point until you have x out (I settled on x=3). But when I did, very tentatively, try a little promotion, I found it was so much fun! It's amazing to watch your book fly for a while, instead of bumping along the bottom of the sales graph. Just as a morale-booster it's worth the effort.

If you don't have much money, Bknights and ENT are both cost effective and cheap for either 99c or free books. Or there's Booksends or FKBT. I've had good results from GenrePulse. If you have a bit more money, try BargainBooksy or FreeBooksy or OHFB.

One other thing: it's worth experimenting a little now so that you can find out what works for your books/genre and what doesn't. Then, when you have your x books out, you'll know exactly how to market them most effectively.

Good luck, although you sound as if you already have things well planned out.
 

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I kind of rebelled against the usual advice and I promoted my first book hard. Even though I have no back-list, I wanted to get the book in front of as many eyes as I could and hopefully gain some loyal fans. The second book in my series is due to come out in May--almost seven months later. It will be interesting to see if all the promoting paid off or not. Either way, it was a ton of fun! :) I LOVE doing promos.
 

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writerlythoughts said:
So I am pretty new to the whole publishing thing. I just released my second book in a series of six. The rest will be released every-other-month through the rest of the year. Sales so far are slow, but see first sentence, it's not exactly a shocker ;D

What I'm having trouble with at this point is figuring out WHEN to start trying to market my books. I didn't want to waste money or momentum on ads and such when I only had one book out and thus no back list for "sell through" purposes. I'm not sure when would be a good, reasonable time to start though. I've done much googling on the subject, but the advice I've found seems kind of contradictory and I'm not sure what to make of it. I've seen everything from "I regret not marketing my books until I had x number out" to "advertising is useless before you have x number out" (and "x number" varies!)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and, perhaps most helpfully from my perspective, why you feel the way you do about it. I have ZERO experience or background in any kind of marketing or sales, so I feel like I am missing some crucial part of this equation that would help me make a good decision. I don't want to jump the gun on this and waste my limited budget. Thank you very much for any help!
Hi there, and welcome.

Could you let us know the genre and length of your books please, as this will help narrow down how best to market them.

With a series if novels, it's roughly worked like this for me:

Novel 1 - lost money (one book is likely to get you awesome returns, unless you're an overnight success).
Novel 2 - broke even
Novel 3 - start to see a profit

I started marketing as soon as I published my first book. I did a few free runs, and then once interest picked up, switched to countdown 99c promo's (in select) to get visible on the paid bestsellers lists. I stayed in Select for a year and released three novels exclusive to Amazon! KU (kindle Unlimited) came in toward the end of that year, and shook things up a bit. KU (only available if you're in Select) can get new authors fabulous visibility, but it eats into potential profit if you're selling full length novels. There are a lot of threads here on KU, and its success depends on what genre and book length you're writing.

Let us know a bit more about your market and we can help you strategize :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi all, thank you so much for the replies and advice!

To answer some questions:
1) None of my full length books are in Select/KU. I did enroll a (non-series) novella in my genre in KU, though, precisely in hopes of gaining a little visibility, but I'm distributing the other books as widely as possible. (Believe it or not, that novella actually gets a couple of downloads a day! I'm very tickled about that  ;D )
2) My first book is 75k words, the rest in the series are around 90k. Genre is fantasy, the kind with wizards not whips (as I had to clarify for someone I was talking to the other day, which was...awkward.)
 

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Okay, this is what I would do.

You have two books out, and will be releasing a third soon.

Set up a bunch of ads promoting book 1 at .99. Coordinate those ads to hit when Book 3 releases. This will promote book 1 as well as draw attention to your new release. This is what I always do, and works like crazy. For some reason, not many people have caught on to doing this, but it really maximizes your ad efforts. What I also do is add a line to the top of the product description of book 1 and 2, saying that Book 3 has just been released....that is super effective too.

Better yet......see if you can get a BookBub free promo on book 1. If they say no, then do the above plan. If they say yes, get ready for a wild ride. I did a BookBub free promo when I released book 2 in my series and it was insane, over 100k downloads during the promo days across all channels which gave me my best month to date and lifted sales for a solid two months. When I brought the free book back to paid it sold as well as the new release.

But, those elusive BookBub's are getting harder to get, so if they say no......I would just move forward with the .99 promo......or even free if you want to do that.

Another thing to consider, if you are having releases every month, which is awesome, and will help keep you up there too......you may want to consider making that book 1 permafree and just running ads to it around the time you release each new book.

Good luck!
 
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