Fighting Mad was published in December 2015, but my publisher gave it a 2016 copyright date. This small hiccup meant I wasn’t eligible for any of the competitions I would normally have entered.
Since I didn’t have that avenue, I decided that I would take the money that I normally spent on contests and try out advertising. Now that I’ve gotten the sales numbers for the Spring, here’s the results of my experiment.
First, this wasn’t that scientific an experiment. I did all the other promotion I normally do:
review requests to my list of bloggers
3 guests post on St. Patrick’s day
on sale for 99 cents in March
Why would I advertise on top of all this? Well, I knew Fighting Mad would need something extra because I was delayed getting it out for a year and a half after the last book in the series. Even though there was strong interest, I was almost starting over in terms of publicity.
Looking back at early books’ performance, I realized I got my highest author ranking on Amazon when my ghost story, Restless Spirits, went on sale in October 2014. So clearly, a sale around a relevant holiday was one way to go.
Right about the time I realize I was shut out of contests for a year, I got a post about advertising discounts in BTS magazine. I also got an email about a group ad from my publisher. So, determined to leverage that sale, I took the money I would normally spend on contests and bought advertising.
I followed up with promotions sites about the sale. Some are expensive, but others will list for free and some will guarantee a listing in their newsletters, tweets, or website for a $5 to $10 fee. I decided to pay the smaller fees where free wasn’t available while being careful not to let the total add up past those initial contest fees.
I use Author Rank as a very rough indicator of activity. I’m not well known enough to get sales just because. They have to come from some mention, so when the chart spikes, I can assume a blog or review is driving activity. It may or may not be actual sales. Fighting Mad did not spike any higher than it already had with initial reviews, but both earlier books – Feeling Lucky and Restless Spirits – got a substantial boost.
As far as actual sales per my publisher went, usually you can count the number of books I sell on one hand. In March, you would have needed 3 for Fighting Mad. The number of copies for my other books didn’t increase. Interestingly, loans via Kindle Unlimited were nearly double sales at launch in December but decreased by half during the sale month.
Advertising and sales are not the same thing and one doesn’t always lead to the other, so it’s important to measure advertising success by both attention generated and sales. This advertising would seem to be successful, but did it generate as much as the contests might have? Well, no, the contests may have kept interest alive, but my biggest sales still come from that original discount of Restless Spirits. I just need to write another ghost story!