Tea Tactics: Promotion

Promotional Advice for Newbies from Nicole London 
(Debut author + former EPIC beta reader+ author assistant)

If you ask anyone who knows me, they would tell you that I’m a planner. I function best in a well-organized environment and that definitely translates to my habits as an author 🙂 As a debut author last year, I knew that my best chance for any success for Resentment would come from doing research, learning from other authors’ past mistakes and creating a very detailed promo plan. In another newsletter, I’ll go into more detail regarding my experience writing Resentment and the many times I wanted to quit, but for now, I’ll cover the basics for my promo.**Note: What works for me may or may not work you–i.e. Whitney and I promote our novels completely differently… But I honestly believe that properly planning a release–regardless of what methods you use, is helpful in launching a successful book.

Let’s start with the book cover. I contacted a professional designer (Najla Qamber Designs) and commissioned her company to create the cover for Resentment. Let me say that it’s very important to not only find a designer that fits into your budget, but it’s also important to find a designer that fits the way you like to work. One thing I love that this designer offers is a brain storming session *before* she starts on your cover. This way you can nail down what you’re looking for and when she sends you mock-ups, she usually starts with multiple concepts that may even be different from your original idea.

The second thing I’m going to tell you, especially if you’re new like me, is to “Go for the TROPE! Market the TROPE!” I learned that having a great cover and blurb is great, but as a newbie, it’s even better if you can categorize what your book is about in five or six terms that’ll make it easier for  you to market it. In romance, that means the trope of what your romance will be. (Here’s a link to Tropes for you from author Mindy Klasky)

What was my trope? Enemies to Lovers Romance. 

This even ties into the title, Resentment, so I was off to a good start, and by advertising the trope each time I brought up the book, I garnered more interest. (Readers are more likely to take a chance on a newer work when you can kind of let them know exactly what your book is about.)

Another very essential element of promotion is teaser pictures. They’re a short glimpses into your story and if they’re done correctly, they’ll generate anticipation for your novel. I hired Nicole from Indie Sage Promotions to create 15+ teaser images and 10 countdown pictures for Resentment.

***Note***
All you have to do is provide her with stock images via Shutterstock, Big Stock or any other image site, and the words and she creates amazing teasers. (Find a package in your budget. You do not have to spend a fortune on these.)

And be sure to pick super simple pictures that coincide with one element at a time from your storyline. Not anything extreme or too detailed. Also, be sure not to use too many words. If you can’t read it as a thumbnail, you have way too many words and people will simply scroll right on by without reading.

Once I had teasers, I made sure I posted them on my Facebook page and blog regularly, even if no one was paying attention yet. I also posted pretty stock pictures without graphics on them and revealed short quotes from the novel as well. (This comes into play later. Trust me.)

Once I had a cover and teaser pictures that I loved, I knew it was time to get the news of my upcoming book out into the Indie world.

I hired Give Me Books for a cover reveal and a release blitz. {Spoiler alert #1: They were great!) (Spoiler alert #2: It would have been easy to book this company and sit back and watch who they would get to sign up. But Resentment is ‘my’ novel and no one will ever care about its success more than me. After the links to sign up for the reveals were available, I personally emailed 200+ bloggers myself and asked them to sign up. My efforts, in addition to Give Me Books, resulted in a  cover reveal with 250 blogs and at least 180 of those blogs also agreed to share Resentment on release day and 100 blogs requested an ARC to review.}

Due to me being a debut author, I knew I had a huge disadvantage to other authors: They already had a fan base and a brand that was recognizable. This meant  it was my job to work harder to get readers’ attention and to get them interested in reading my novel. I couldn’t just rely on the promotion company I hired for the reveal or the bloggers who agreed to post and share. Instead, I created a Facebook heavy promo plan and used Facebook Ads as a big tool for my promo.

To get more Facebook likes, I boosted pretty pictures with my pre-order links and let the boosted posts run for two-three weeks. It’s important to mention that it’s better to run multiple ads about the same topic as opposed to putting all of your investment into one ad. {Also, I know most indies wouldn’t suggest a debut author doing a pre-order. And in most cases I would agree, but I knew Resentment not only had a good cover, but it had a great blurb and I wanted readers to be able to *buy it* as soon as the cover was revealed}.

The link for my pre-order went live on October 5th and the pre-orders started to slowly trickle in, so I tried to think of other ways besides teasers and ads to get readers to buy. I decided to post the prologue as a sneak peek via my blog that was directly linked to Goodreads and I also sent it, along with my promotional release day materials, to Give Me Books + posted it on my Facebook page.

Between October 5th and October 29th, Resentment’s release date, I had 1,149 pre-orders. {Honestly, this is almost unheard of from a debut author and in my mind, if no one else except these pre-order people ever bought Resentment, I would’ve been completely over the moon happy. I’d achieved my dream of selling 100 copies already. :-)).

**Full Disclosure Note that must be said: Whitney and I had originally planned to cross promote our books heavily during October: Her release was the highly anticipated Turbulence due for October 22nd (The prologue + first chapter of Resentment were set to be at the back of that book), and my book was due for October 29th. However, she indefinitely pulled back from social media halfway through October and did not release Turbulence, so there was no extra help or push from her leading up to my release day. There wasn’t going to be any push at all for the next 10 months. That was when I really realized that although her advice had helped me immensely, my career was my own. That I was responsible for promoting my own book in the best way I could, in my own way.

Although I was totally happy with my pre-order numbers, if I wanted to continue to see sales after release, I knew it was important to gain readers and reviews. In addition to the 100 blogs that signed up to review an ARC via Give Me Books Release Blitz, I also wanted some readers to review Resentment. I decided to run ARC giveaways via my FB and my blog.

Resentment released on October 29th. In the month of October, with pre-orders and three days of traditional sales, I sold 2,219 books.

On November 1st, I decided to enroll Resentment into Kindle Unlimited, the ultimate game changer for new indies. (We have A LOT to say about this in an upcoming newsletter.)

The reason behind this move: Most, like 99%, of my sales were coming from Amazon, so in my mind, I only had income to gain. In the month of November, my highest earning month to date, I had 1,676,488 pages read and 1618 sales.

(And I’m not technically a “bestselling author” so that means if I can do this, YOU can do this. And you can do it even better 🙂 )

If you take anything away from my promo points and my sales numbers in this first newsletter, I hope you take the notion that if you do your research, market the trope, and plan as much as you can while working as hard as you can, it’s possible to one day make a living off of doing what you love.

I’m currently saving all of my earnings to hopefully one day become a full-time author, but until then…I’m gearing up for my next release and I’ll be sharing exactly what I did this time around, what worked for me and what didn’t.

–Nicole London

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