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One week of hassle – walking the Talk V

One week of hassle – walking the Talk V

Today I am wearing:

Gleaming leather boots, in black
Silk pantaloons in duck-egg blue
A ruffled shirt worn open to mid-chest
A tattoo, only somewhat visible, of a humming-bird in flight
A wide leather belt worn with a pistol and a scabbard shaped for an estoc-style stabbing sword
A black hat so wide of brim that passers-by are frequently startled, as though by an unexpected eclipse.
None of this is relevant, however. I’m talking about marketing.

Specifically (and this is now about number 5 or 6 in my ‘walking the talk’ series of emails), I’m talking about how I’m intending to market The House At The End Of The World.

We should start, I suppose, by clearing up the misconception that selling self-published work involves a huge amount of self-promotion on social media.

I do as it happens have accounts on both Facebook and Twitter (though not Insta and not, yeugh, TikTok.) But I haven’t posted on either place for years and have no intention of breaking that godly habit now.

No. Marketing a book is about four things:

1. A very good book

2. A very clear elevator pitch

3. A set of marketing assets (notably book cover, title and blurb) which honour that pitch, while at the same time recognising their own specific role in things

And then:

4. Getting traffic to the relevant Amazon book page.

That’s it. That’s the whole deal. Everything else is essentially footnotes.

If yelling about myself on Twitter worked, I might have a go at doing that. But it doesn’t. I have a friend who had a tweet go viral – a million plus views – while he had a pinned post beseeching people to buy a very well-reviewed ebook, then on special offer at $0.99.

A million views. A special offer. And …

He sold ‘low single digits’ extra books. Maybe he sold none at all, in fact, as the possible bump in sales was so small it could have been just noise. In short: nonsense on Twitter just doesn’t work.

So, I need to get traffic to Amazon. Social media won’t do that. What will?

Here’s what I’m planning to use:

1. Email. This is still the bedrock of every indie author’s marketing. It’s still by far the most powerful and controllable tool that exists anywhere.

2. Promo sites. There are book promo sites which tell their users (by email) about hot new offers. I’m planning to grab a bit of that loveliness.

3. Facebook ads. These aren’t the highest converting ads in the world (people go to Amazon, not Facebook, if they want to buy a book), but the ads are easy to build and the potential traffic is more or less infinite.

And that’s it.

What’s more, I’m not going to spend much time with this stuff. I mean, yes, there’s some prep needed to get ready, but my actual marketing campaign will last a week, then end. I’ll probably aim to do a Bookbub promo later in the year (across the whole series) but the actual launch campaign will last a total of seven days.

That may sound weirdly short to you, but:

1. The most powerful book-marketing system in the world is Amazon. Your job is not build an alternative to Amazon. Your job, as author-marketer, is to prompt Amazon into doing what it’s best at: marketing books, and yours in particular.

2. Amazon’s marketing bots get going when they see a title achieve sales from outside of Amazon’s system.

3. But those bots don’t love one-off sales spikes. They love steady and (ideally) growing traffic over 4-7 days.

4. If you create that kind of sales curve for Amazon, Amazon will take over and do the rest itself.

Now, it’s true that sales success on Amazon is a fairly short-lived affair, but that short-livedness is deeply embedded in its system. Short of being an EL James, your book just will have a relatively short time in the sun. That doesn’t matter. The secret of successful burst-marketing on Amazon is: Do everything you can to boost sales (in a steady way) in that first week, end up with high visibility all across Amazon’s system, then enjoy the profits as you gently float down the sales rankings.

Indeed, it’s perfectly OK if my first-week marketing loses money. I hope it won’t, but I really won’t mind at all if it does.

That sounds like a bad approach to take, but hear me out.

The traditional way of figuring out whether an ad makes money or not is this:

1. Figure out the cost of 100 people clicking on an ad;

2. Figure out the number of those people who end up buying the book (probably 5 or so);

3. Figure out the revenue you earn from those 5 or so people;

4. Compare those revenues to the cost of achieving them.

That number is quite likely going to show a loss.

But …

Some of the people who buy my latest release will fall in love with the character and the series and dive back through the six previous novels. That’s extra money for me.

And how much visibility I’m getting on Amazon has to do with my overall level of sales. So if I artificially boost those sales via Facebook, my overall visibility will improve, which will bring me a host of organic (no cost) sales that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

And of course, the higher I manage to drive sales during that launch phase, the longer and richer the post-launch sales trajectory will be.

And my books are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s not just sales that will come my way but income from KENP page reads.

All these things will definitely earn me money. So that early burst-marketing can’t sensibly be measured simply by the amount of cash it makes during the week of launch itself. And, look, I should also be clear that if you’re a newbie, your mileage will vary. I already have a good footprint on Amazon and Amazon knows exactly who my readers are. It just takes time – and books – to build that footprint. There are no shortcuts.

And the really glorious thing about this plan of mine?

Burst marketing is intense, but it’s short. I don’t have to worry about finding evergreen ways to make money. I’ll hardly even bother (unless I happen to find a miraculously successful ad.) I’ll just blitz for a week, then let everything drop. If I secure a Bookbub promo later in the year, I’ll run the whole cycle again then. But two weeks of marketing effort in a year? That seems more than acceptable to me. Honestly, it’s harder work being trad published: you’ll spend more time interacting with your publisher than I’ll spend this year on marketing.

If you’re interested, we’ll do a somewhat deeper dive into the art of the Facebook ad in a week or two.


This week, we love our Premium Members so much, they’re going to have Feedback Friday not once but twice

Write with Jericho / Week #9 / Self-Editing

Homework link here (Premium members only.)

And tis with a sob and a sigh and a hi-de-hi that we come to the end of our Write with Jericho course. (The good news: we have fab things starting next week, and we’ll keep going with the goodness all year.)

The challenge here is simple-bimple. We want the first 250 words of your novel, beautifully self-edited, and wearing its best frock.

Specifically, please, I want:


Brief genre

Your elevator pitch: either the one you did before or a polished up version of that

The first 250 words (ish) from your manuscript

Reflections or Questions. I’d love to get any feedback from this course. What worked? What didn’t? What did you get from it? We’re going to run an even bigger and more in-depth course later in the year and we’d love to learn from your experience of this one.

Share yours here as a ‘New Discussion’ and include a sensible title, eg: ‘Title of your WIP, Genre of your WIP’.

Getting Published / Week #1 / Query Letters

This week, please take a look Becca’s Query Letter Workshop (here; Premium Members only) and then post your query letter here for review.

As always, the best feedback comes from you all, so please don’t just post your query letter – be generous in offering others constructive advice. He or she who giveth is also he or she who receiveth. Becca Day (our marketing queen, but also a published author) will be offering her feedback too.

And, since I’ve disclosed what outfit I’m currently wearing, I think I should tell you that Becca is equally glam. She’s wearing a floor-length dress adorned with a mass of faux ostrich feathers in brilliant white. She looks amazing, but we have a major problem with static electricity and are working to unstick her from the ceiling right now.

Til soon.


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