I came home from RomCon with lots of swag. I'm sure the authors spent a lot of money on it. But Does It Sell Books? I don't know. I've offered my excess swag to anyone who asks for it. So far, no takers.
At the RomCon reader forum, the discussion of book trailers came up. While many of the readers raved about some of the trailers they'd seen, not one said that they'd ever bought a book because of a trailer.
Nowadays, whether you've got a print deal with a traditional publisher, or are publishing yourself, marketing and promotion become part of the drill. Note: if you're a best-selling author, the publishers will probably handle much of this for you, because they're going to want to earn back that huge advance they gave you. But for the rest of us, we've had to become our own promoters.
This not only takes away from writing time, but it can cost money. As they say, it takes money to make money. But, in most cases, it's really tough to know how effective marketing attempts are.
I'll go out on a limb and say there aren't a lot of book sales via the social networking sites. At least I haven't seen any uptick in sales when I've used them to point out sales on my books, or other marketing deals. And if all you use the social media sites for is marketing, you'll probably turn off readers more than you'll increase sales.
Recently, I ran a one-day 'feature' ad at Ereader News Today. When sales for the featured book took an immediate upswing, much more than on a typical day, I felt confident that the ad had driven sales. I've got another one coming up for the Frugal eReader Find of the Day.
There are book giveaways at many sites, such as The Romance Studio. They also do interviews for their featured authors. Becoming a featured author entails a small annual fee. Some sites such as All Romance eBooks and Savvy Readers take ads.
I've offered discounts on books, or buy-one-get-one-free. I've tweeted and had friends retweet my books, but I also tweet about non-writing stuff. I've posted here (how many of you actually look at my sidebar and click the tabs at the top of my blog?) and on Facebook and now there's Google+. The +1 button is showing up, and clicking it helps both the clicker and the clikcee. I haven't totally figure out that forum yet, but if you want to join my circles, or add me to yours, there's a link in the sidebar.
What are some other things an author can do, many of which don't cost anything? One is blog touring. I also give on-line workshops and seminars such as my upcoming chat on Foreshadowing with Savvy Authors on August 25th.
Here are a few other places I've found to get my name out there.
There's a new "service" for lack of a better word (not good for a writer to admit that!), in which you can "autograph" a Kindle book. It's called Kindlegraphing, and I've offered kindlegraphs for one of my books, What's in a Name?
You can send out newsletters, keeping readers updated on your books.
There are sites that list books by genre. Stop, You're Killing Me is one for mystery writers.
There are forums on Amazon, and Kindleboards where you can keep your name visible.
There's a new blog called Spoilerville where readers can discuss books without worrying that they're giving away the plot, because it's designed for discussions after people have read the book. (My page)
But – the bottom line is, But Does It Sell Books? It's tough to tell, and growth can be slow. Someone might see your book and blurb and download a sample, but it could be weeks, or months, before they get around to reading, and then buying. Some of those cover ads might be lost in a huge sea of others—sometimes the site randomizes them, so it's the luck of the draw as to whether your cover will appear when someone clicks to the site. The issue with ebooks is that the visibility of your books is far less than if they're on the shelves in a brick and mortar bookstore. So, it's less likely someone will notice your book and say, "I've heard of that author…"
I think it's safe to say that the biggest factor in selling books is word of mouth. If people recommend your books, you're more likely to make sales.
As a reader, I like hearing what others are recommending. I look for familiar authors. If it's an author I don't know, I'm more likely to try them if I can see excerpts, And I'm probably going to try them out via the library or as a sample download on my NOOK color before I buy them.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society