2014 was a year of trial and error for me. It was my first year of publishing, so I’m okay with the mistakes I’ve made along the way. I found a lot of techniques that worked and a lot that didn’t. No matter the failures or the wasted money, I learned a lot of valuable lessons. And you can’t buy wisdom. Thank God. Cause that would be yet another thing we would have to buy in Indie publishing.
So, I wanted to take a moment and recap what I’ve learned from 2014 and what I’ll be taking into 2015.
- Advertising Websites
Ereader News Today, BookSends, Book Gorilla, OHFB, The Midlist, and a new one called Books Butterfly are some of the best sites I’ve found that are cost effective and get you great downloads or sales. I’ve mostly used them to promote my free book, The Hunted One, but I did use the Midlist for a $0.99 sale. I got mediocre buys, but I believe the problem is with the book’s description/cover/etc and not the advert site.
In 2015, I have a HUGE box set sale happening this weekend. I’m using a combo of Ereader News Today, BookSends, OHFB, and The Midlist to advertise. I believe in the future, I’ll use a combo of advertising to boost a sale. I will probably blog about this sale and my techniques for getting it off the ground. If that’s something you would like to see, leave me a comment below!
- Facebook Boosts
In 2014, I boosted my bigger Facebook posts, like if I had a release or cover reveal or even a sale alert. It worked pretty well for me. I didn’t target an audience or anything like that. I only paid to have the sponsored post showed to “friends of friends.” I’ll likely keep using this feature in 2015, but I’m also going to focus on keeping my “views” up by doing some giveaways and more interactive posts. I know Facebook supposedly made changes to limit Page views on newsfeeds, but I had one of my biggest giveaways ever at the start of this year. And I’ve managed to keep my views up pretty well. Honestly, Facebook is just a beast I know I must feed. It’s my primary interaction with fans and potential readers, so I do what I can but I don’t stress the technical stuff.
In early 2014, I wasted a lot of time and money on Facebook ads (meaning not boosting the individual posts, but paying for a “pay per click” or “pay per view” ad). When I did this, I thought it was a waste because I never really found anything that worked for me. I wasted a lot of money on Facebook ads that I never earned back. However, after further investigation I have realised I was only really scratching the surface. This link explains the benefits of pay per click management – something that could make all the difference and maximise the potential of pay per click. I would say that, unless you outsource some help, if you don’t know how to really target and write great sales copy and even make a great ad image then steer away from this.
- Blog Tours
I’ve paid for blog tours and I’ve had blogs run them for free for me. And I’ve done them myself. I even did a post on how to run one. But I’m coming to the conclusion that blog tours are a thing of the past. They have never worked that great for me. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because I’m a lower author on the totem pole, but many blogs won’t actually post or won’t put their review on Amazon. Now, some blogs I work with actually do this, and I really appreciate it from them. And obviously, life intervenes and things come up that means a blogger can’t get everything done. Totally fine. I’m not talking about that. All I’m saying is that blog tours are a thing of the past in my opinion. I also really don’t think a lot of readers visit actual blog sites anymore (especially since there’s such a boon of Facebook blogger pages that are more interactive). This is just a hypothesis on my end, but I think it holds true.
In 2015, I’ll be focusing mostly on release blitzes, which I also blogged about running. I think if you can target these blitzes to just Facebook (like I said, I don’t think readers frequent blog sites much anymore) then you can see a good response.
- Cover Reveals
I never really got the point of these cover reveals. Potential readers can only be like, “Oh! Pretty!” There’s no other interaction. However in 2015, I plan to coordinate cover reveals with preorders. This way, folks can be like “DANG THAT’S A BANGIN’ COVER. LET ME PREORDER!” I’ve yet to do a preorder for various reasons, but hopefully this will utilize cover reveals a little better.
- Advertising the first book in a series
Okay this was a hard lesson to learn in 2014, but I think I finally got it for 2015. I spent a lot of time and effort and money advertising The Hunted One before I even had The Lost One out. And I think a lot of authors do this. But it’s a wasted effort if you don’t have other books in the series for readers to buy as well. The time and money is better spent on writing the next book. I think this will actually save me a lot of money this year.
I’ve also seen a lot of talk about perma-free books being a thing of the past thanks to Kindle Unlimited. It seems that people don’t scroll through the “free” lists anymore since every book is free. If they’re a subscriber to KU. Maybe this is true. However, I’m waiting to see more data on my books sold before I make any moves.
- PA’s and Book Signings and Street Teams
You don’t need either. This is a good lesson I learned in 2014. If this is your first year of writing, as it was mine, then you don’t need a PA. You’re not that busy. I thought I was. I wasn’t. I thought I needed a PA because everyone had one. I didn’t. If you’re so busy on Facebook and everywhere else then you need to cut back on the Facebook time and just write. Don’t do a free PA. Feelings will get hurt and you’ll lose good friends. Trust me. When you’re a bestselling author and agents/publishers are beating down your door and you have signings in Europe and books coming out every month, then hire someone. Until then…don’t waste the effort.
I also started a street team last year. I had a good amount of wonderful readers who wanted to help me spread the word about my books. They were amazing. The issue with my street team came from my end. It was pretty stressful for me, and I was always worried about drama cropping up. I think street teams are great for more established authors. But I think if you’re new like me, you don’t really need one yet. What you do need…is to write another book.
Also, book signings. I did one last year and it was AMAZING. I had so much fun. Even though I sold a lot of books (which was a surprise) I still spent way too much money. I think new authors only need to schedule one a year. That’s right. Just one. I think it’s easy to give into the temptation and schedule ten or more in a year because you feel like you should or need to. But you don’t.
You need to be writing another book.
Which brings me to the biggest lesson for 2015 I’ve learned…
- WRITE ANOTHER BOOK
Everyone always says the best marketing tactic is just to write the next book. I understand this statement’s truth now. One book isn’t going to make you a bestseller. One book isn’t going to make you rich. The eBook gold rush is over. The only way to be a success now is to just keep writing. This is my biggest tactic for 2015. Write. As. Much. As. Possible.
So these are probably some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in 2014. Obviously, these are totally my own opinions, and everyone’s path is going to be different. I think 2014 was a hard year in Indie publishing because the eBook gold rush is over. Things are settling down, and those authors who are in it for long haul are the ones who are going to make it. In 2014, I tried to push and hustle and do all the little marketing tricks to make a bunch of money on my books. It didn’t work. It didn’t work because that time in publishing is over. So 2015 is all about me writing and writing a lot. I want to have 10k word count days. I want to write a book a month. I want 2015 to be the year I dig my heels in and say, “I’m here to stay.”
4 thoughts on “What Did/Didn’t Work in 2014 for a Newbie Author”
Excellent advice! I love all your work. I’m a newbie and will definitely consider your feedback. Please keep sharing. Thanks!
Thank you, Vivian! I’m glad it’s helpful. Good luck in 2015! 🙂
I love this. I also published my first book in December 2014, and have been navigating the waters of “debut indie author” since then. This is really helpful, and you’re absolutely right–the best way to become successful as an indie author (or regular one, for that matter) is to WRITE MORE BOOKS. Glad I found you on Stuart Whitmore’s Crenel Publishing site! (We share him as a formatter). Thanks for the tips Meg!
I’m so glad this post was helpful. And congrats on publishing. Stuart is an AMAZING formatter!
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