Sowing the seeds for a blooming Spring launch

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Last weekend, the weather in the UK was decent enough for me to be able to spend some time in the garden, sowing the seeds for a blooming Spring. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an avid gardener. I do enough to keep it looking tidy, and I like to put bedding plants at the start of the Summer. It’s the husband’s job to keep the grass cut, so I think I get the easy part! Every Spring, I look around other people’s gardens and feel envious that they had the foresight to plant bulbs in October so that their gardens would reap the benefits of early Spring blooms. Well, this year, I made the time to plant bulbs! Lots and lots of bulbs, daffodils (in their hundreds), pots with tulips, crocuses, and snowdrops. In all, I planted over 100 bulbs in and around the borders and garden. As I pottered about, apart from the joy of digging my hands into the earth, it brought to mind a book launch.

In March ’23, my third book, When We Deceive, will be published. Although it’s roughly six months away (at the time of writing), I’m already gearing up for launch and planting the seeds ready for the 31st March publication date. I’m working on building my email list (this is where most of my sales will come from), and I’m testing and measuring Amazon Ads to see what works and what doesn’t (as in the copy, the images and the call to action). Same with Facebook. All year I’ve been trying out sites such as Written Word Media that run Freebooksy, Bargain Books promo’s etc, to see where I get the best return on investment. I’m recruiting Advanced Readers, and I’ve increased my reader magnets to encourage more social media follows. I’ve also run a giveaway, again with a focus on building my email subscribers.

It’s a lot, isn’t it? As I’m self-published, I take all this on myself, which is fine, I have a marketing background, and I’m blessed enough to be able to dedicate myself to it full-time.

Let’s break each activity down and explain the point of each.

  1. Email List
    For me, this is the most crucial element of building my readership and connecting with readers of my books. It’s the media that I own that people have willingly signed up to and in whose inbox I appear every two weeks (not something I take lightly or for granted). Sure, I have social media followers and fans but imagine if Twitter changed their algorithm overnight (hello Elon Musk!). Those 2k plus followers that I had accrued wouldn’t see my updates. Or what if Facebook shut my author page down? It has happened, but thankfully I had encouraged followers to sign up for my newsletter so I could a. stay in touch b. rebuild my page relatively quickly.I also know that from the launch of my first two books, most sales will come from my subscribers. I tracked the figures over time, using specific URLs and traced them back. My usual open rate on any newsletter can vary from 49% – 60% open rate, with a click-through rate of around 10% – 15%. I’ve worked hard to get this CTR. I survey my subscribers twice a year to find out if the content I’m providing is of use to them and what they would like to see more (or less) of, and I regularly receive emails back thanking me for pointing out a new author, book or reading resource. I see it very much as a 2-way relationship. There might be thousands on the list, but I am writing to one person, a penfriend I am yet to meet, and I think my readers know and value that.
  2. Amazon / Facebook Ads
    I’ve spent years running ads for other people as I previously owned a digital agency, so I understand cost per impression, segmenting audiences and building target profiles and re-marketing, but I am still amazed by how quickly user experiences change. Once upon a time, no one would click an advert that played a video – the handheld technology wasn’t there, or they wouldn’t play anything with sound (NSFW!). You don’t need me to tell you how that has changed! Even static images can’t be predicted. I recently saw a very well-known clothing brand advertising how a 50-year-old woman should dress, basically in a frumpy, granny way, and the brand was absolutely annihilated on social media. They swiftly had to move in managing their reputation simply because no one had thought to check in with the marketplace first!Running ads for books is hard! How do you make your book stand out from the plethora of highly promoted, big publishing house books that are out there? Truth is, you don’t. Even trying to compare my books to Ian Rankin, Richard Osman et al. is not only ridiculous but also super expensive. It’s all about the research, and it’s time-consuming and sometimes tedious (unless you’re a bit of a geek like me), but when you see your book climbing the charts, slowly but surely, it’s worth it.
  3. Book Promo Sites
    The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from this is not to use them in isolation. Of course, you’ll see a bump in sales for the 2 – 5 days or 24 hours that they run for but what search engines are looking for is long-lasting, sustainable activity around your book. Think more tortoise, less hare – but more about that in another post!

Of course, by doing all of this, I’m hoping that by next Spring, not only will my garden be a massive explosion of colour but also that I’ll reach the coveted No1 spot on Amazon!

I think that covers most things, and I do hope that as either a reader or fellow writer, you have found it useful and interesting. If you want to learn more, or if I can help you in any way just drop me an email [email protected]

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