Happy July. I hope you had a safe Fourth of July.
Last year before the pandemic I made a bold decision. I wasn’t going to do any book signing events. Let me clarify. I wasn’t going to do any signings out of state and very few local events. For me, it was cost prohibitive. It isn’t my attention to sound pretentious, because I’m far from it.
I do signings so I can meet and gain new readers. I discovered I was doing more selling and not getting sales. More specific, I was trying to convince people to buy my books. I know that’s part of the process, but it was a little disconcerting when you see most of the other authors in the room making sales, earning out their fees and you’re going home in the deficit. In some cases, not even getting new additions to my mailing list.
Of course there have been some incredible book signing exceptions. My favorite book signing event and one I hope to participate in again is the LA Times Book Festival. I love the diversity and atmosphere. I’ve met some amazing authors and the readers are fantastic. I met a reader who asked if I’d come to her book club meeting. I told her if she invited me and I was available, I’d attend. Ironically, she invited me to her book club a month before the shelter in place order hit California. I had a good time at the meeting talking about a variety of subjects including my book. Plus the food was amazing. But here’s the icing on the cake. One of the club members was someone I grew up with. We hadn’t seen each other since we were kids. Some of the ladies from this meeting are part of my reader group and mailing list.
Fast forward the pandemic and things changed. There were no signing events. I felt sympathetic to all the authors who had put out money for events that were cancelled or postponed. I saw the occasional virtual signing, but let’s be real most of those events yielded few if any additional readers. I set a goal to increase my mailing list. That was one of the main reasons I did signings. Now because of the pandemic I was forced to stand by my decision.
I searched for paid promotions and found a service I liked. I did pretty good…up a few hundred new readers. But shortly after the promotion the freebie seekers left.
I have worked hard to grow my list. It’s not huge, but respectable…3700+ and an average open rate. I think I’ve lost about twelve percent pre-pandemic.
I started participating in group promotions and that’s when things changed for my mailing list. I started last year with 2379 readers. Hallelujah. However, prior to the pandemic at the list peak it was approximately 3000+/- readers. In a matter of a couple of years, I’d lost about twenty percent of my readers. I was upset, but found solace in knowing that was normal and there’s a good chance they were freebie seekers.
I set a goal to get my list to 3000 and started looking for promotions. I did a couple of paid free giveaways and newsletter swaps. Those events added over 1300 readers to my list. But like any free promotional event, there’s some loss. So far, I’ve lost less than 200 readers, putting me around the 3700+ readers.
The other reason I am a huge fan of the freebie promotion and newsletter swap, is reviews. I have asked my readers to leave reviews and some will. I’m glad they bought the book, but it would be even better to read a review or even post a star rating. After my first newsletter swap, I noticed a few new reviews on the book in the promotion. But I really saw an uptick in reviews the second time I did a newsletter promotion. I talked about this before. I paid a service for reviews which was good. I got forty plus reviews. However, with the newsletter swaps the book I put up has more than tripled in reviews. I’m on my way to my first 100 reviewed book. Did I say that correct?
Another plus to a freebie giveaway promotion or newsletter swap event, backlist sales. I talked about this strategy before. For me, it’s a matter of selecting the right book for the giveaway. Let’s be real none of us wants to give away a book, but if me giving away a book hooks the reader they’ll keep buying until they’ve completed the series. And if I’ve done my job well, they’ll pick up one of my other series. When you look at it that way, heck yeah, I’ll give away a few books.
Heres some numbers. Last year, I gave away 7416+/- books, but I gained 500+ new readers. So far, this year I’ve given away 14276+/- books and gained 400+ new readers. Plus, I earned reviews on all the books in the promotions and backlist at Amazon and Apple Books. The pièce de résistance of this, during those events my books shot up the ranks…top ten in their categories in the Kindle Store, US and a few foreign markets. I think the thing that surprised me the most was hitting the top 100 Free Romance in the Apple Books store US and Germany.
I’m convinced because of the number of downloads and ranking, it effected the Amazon algorithm in my favor helping me sell my back list. This jump in free downloads has increased traffic at Apple Books as well.
If you ever get invited to a newsletter swap giveaway or a paid freebie promotion, do it. The benefits far out weigh the imagined loss in revenue.
Enjoy the rest of the month.
I finally took the plunge with Ingram Sparks. I have been reading a lot of things on blogs and Facebook groups, plus a few YouTube videos about the service.
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