Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Business of Writing: Paid Email Marketing for Authors #MFRWOrg #ASMSG

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If you have been following my Marketing for Authors 101 series of posts under the umbrella of The Business of Writing, you know that so far I have written about…
Today I'm here to discuss paid email marketing options, and I have to admit I've been kicking this particular can down the virtual road for more than six months.


Because until now I wasn't entirely convinced that paid options were worth it.

I'm here to tell you that they are.

Since April 2015, I have been experimenting with paid advertising—Twitter, Facebook, and web site promos in addition to email lists—for most of my books, even my perma-free and limited free offerings. General findings:
  • Twitter-only packages are not worth it. Period. It's like dropping leaflets about your book from 100,000 feet above the planet and hoping they will land where readers will find them and act upon them. In reality, most of the leaflets will land in the ocean. And we all know what sorts of readers fish are. :D

  • Same with Facebook-only and website-only packages. Maybe not quite as bad as broadcasting to the Twitterverse, but close. These two options do carry the advantage of having a bit more permanence than Twitter, where your tweets get flushed off users' screens within mere nanoseconds. Though the feed-flushing happens with Facebook too, you do have the option of curating posts to preserve them on your author page.

This left paid email advertising, and for the six months of my experiment (April–October, 2015), I was beginning to believe those weren't worth it either.

In those days, I had yet to realize that marketing is not about landing sales. Marketing is about increasing public awareness about you and your product so that, eventually, customers will gain the confidence to make those purchases.

There are a bunch of paid email services out there, but the ones I've had the best experiences with are:

  • Book Barbarian. Science Fiction and Fantasy genres only; this includes paranormal romance, fantasy romance, and so forth. It's primarily an email advertising service, but pricing ($15-$30, depending on book's price) includes a permanent link on their web site, and promotions via Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Their email subscriber list is only 15K, but they are dedicated science fiction and fantasy readers, so the clickthrough rate is much higher. They will waive their "first book of a series only" rule if you want to pay extra to promote the first two books, but in general I have found that paying to promote subsequent books in a series is not worth it. Your best advertising is always the first book itself.

  • Books Butterfly. Paid advertising for permafree, limited free, and $1 or less titles only. Pricing is based around "guaranteed" download numbers, which seems a bit iffy since it's tough to guarantee book sales/downloads. However, this is a great option to use in combination with ENT or BookBub promos because of the link they provide for rank tracking and other statistics. Rank-tracking link for Dawnflight is HERE. Note that the tracking did not start until the day after Dawnflight's BookBub promotion; the novel got as high as #286 of all paid Kindle books on the morning of 3/4/2016. Next time I'll schedule the Books Butterfly promo to run at the same time as the BookBub promo to capture the ranking highwater mark.

  • eBook Soda. Flat fee of $15 regardless of genre or sale price, making it a good value, especially when used in conjunction with other promotions. Limitations: minimum length restrictions (20K for novellas, 50K for novels), rated at least 3.5 with at least 8 reviews unless the book is a new release.

  • Ereader News Today. This site used to be the be-all, end-all of ebook marketing until BookBub dethroned it, but it still packs quite a wallop. IF you can get your book selected for promotion; submissions are juried. Cost varies by genre and book's promotional pricing ($30-$135). Main restrictions are that the book must be at least 125 pages, listed on Amazon, and not promoted on ENT in the past 90 days. More information is given here.

  • Genre Pulse. Your book must be 99 cents or free. The full promo is $40, and they now have genre-specific ($16-$19) promo options. They give coupons to repeat advertisers that are good for the full promo option. The biggest thing I like about Genre Pulse is the campaign link they give you, which allows you to see your clickthrough stats.

  • The Fussy Librarian. Another site where the cost varies by genre ($10-$16 as of this writing), but they don't charge you more if your promo price is higher than 99 cents. They offer a rerun discount coupon, good for 25% off, which is nice if you are running your promotion for a long time. They encourage you to add on genres at half off the regular advertising rate, but I've found that to be not worth it even with the discount. Your book must have at least 10 reviews on Amazon with an average 4.0 rating, unless it's a new release and you have at least one other book in your backlist that has the minimum 10 reviews/4.0 rating. It must be priced at $5.99 or less, and there are no length restrictions.

Paid email services I may try again at some point:
  • Betty BookFreak. This used to be a free site; they now charge $12-$15 for placement depending on what type of listing you want (Daily Pick, New Release, or Daily Underdog), rather than by genre. They also have an interesting option I have not seen with any other paid email service: $30 will get you placement on their welcome newsletter to new subscribers for 30 days. You may capitalize on this if your book is free, and if you are willing to commit your title to that long of a promotion period.

  • BookGorilla. It still costs only $50 to feature one 99-cent novel, regardless of its length or genre, which is not bad for an email list that's now more than 350K subscribers. Click HERE to view their spreadsheet of % reach for their subscriber list broken down by genre and subgenre. "Starred" title promotion (first page of their daily email) is a $100 add-on charge, and that's not worth it unless you are promoting a genuine bestseller (87% subscriber reach) or your book falls into one of the most popular genres among subscribers (mysteries enjoy 55% subscriber reach; most romance subgenres are in the mid-30-percent range). A distinct drawback is that their lead time for scheduling promotions is too far out (minimum 6 weeks) to coordinate with a BookBub deal.

  • BookSends, but only if they ever reactivate their partnership with advertising on Pixel of Ink, which is currently still closed to author-submitted advertising. BookSends charges different rates by genre and book's price. Unless you enjoy flushing your money down the crapper, DO NOT pay them an extra $35 to put your Amazon affiliate tag on a free book!! I would not pay an extra $10 for Facebook, or $10-$30 extra for EReaderIQ promotion, either.
If you have a favorite site for paid (or free, for that matter) email advertising of books, please leave a comment and the link so we can all check it out. :)

Happy promoting, whatever options you choose!


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  1. Thanks, Kim. I've been considering paid advertisements (I have use some but not in an organised effort) but I'm not very convinced about Facebook and Twitter. This road appeals more to me. Thanks for the information.

    1. You're welcome, Olga. Good luck, and thanks for visiting today!


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