I’ve been running a niche book promotion site for over a year now, and I have some insights to share. It’s called haremgamelitbooks.com.
There are many book promotion services out there, and there are many case studies for their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The problem is that those sites are shotgun promos, as I call them, and this has stopped working for a while now.
This is not my opinion, merely because I’ve barely used those sites myself. I never got a Bookbub, and I never paid for the more affordable promos out there. I tried out a couple of them, even midrange ones that are expensive and the cheap ones like bknights from fiverr for some free days, and I was always underwhelmed by the results.
The problem as I see it is two-fold:
- Your book is just another sale in the shuffle
- The readers are bargain hunters
That doesn’t mean that they aren’t ravenous readers who will enjoy your story. It’s just that they might be hesitant to throw more money at you, waiting for the next sale you’ll put out.
Also, and this is true for the freebies as well as the 99c bargain hunters, their Kindles are stuffed full of unread books. I’m guilty of that too. I have hundreds of freebies and plenty of 99c books I got on a sale that I haven’t read yet. And some of them are boxsets, which means if I do get around to reading them, it will take me weeks to finish.
As an indie author, when you promote book 1 in your series and check back a week later to see the results, you see poor sales in book 2 and get disappointed. That’s understandable, and it feels like wasted money. Some of the best promo sites out there do have good big niches, like romance and sci-fi and urban fantasy. And the ROI might take a long time to show, since you never know how much time it will take that bargain-hunter to go through their reading pile.
What I have tried is a targetted promo site. There’s a big niche right now which is harem gamelit. I’m not going to go into the details, you can google them yourself.
And I keep seeing the same errors from indie authors. Naturally, I can’t give you specific examples as it wouldn’t be professional, but I can talk in general:
- They have very poor covers. Throwing money at a poorly-made book is like spending money to promote a turd. No matter how much money you spend, it will still be a turd, and I’m sorry. First get a reality check, see the readers’ feedback and responsiveness and then start spending.
- They have only one book in their catalogue. Since this is an erotica niche, many authors start a pen name. Which I disagree with, but I understand some of their reasoning. That means that they start from zero, zero social media, zero clout, zero backlist, zero newsletters. Some come out and say to their fans something like, ‘This is my naughty pen name, some of you might enjoy it, here’s the link.’ Others just make a newbie pen name and pump out a generic book and start promoting it. This will not work. Readers are not stupid, they can see it’s a cash grab, and even if it’s not, they just see a ‘Book 1’ and become weary.
- They’re not in the niche. Seriously, some are not even in the ballpark. This is a niche promo site, if your book isn’t inside the haremlit genre then it will not go up there, sorry. I’m lax about the specifics but it needs to fit. Check before you apply, it’s for everyone’s benefit.
- Short and poorly-written descriptions. The book’s description is an ad copy. It sells the book. If you don’t know how to write one, study it, ask for help, or hire someone to do it for you. Having a single line of text where it says, ‘Boner the Barbarian beds a bunch of DD hotties and kills goblins,’ is not a good description, sorry. It’s okay to make it a bit longer, ad copy does that. It’s okay to repeat a few things. It’s okay to spell out exactly what this story is. It’s not okay to just half-ass it and expect promos to make sales for you.
Now, this is a double case study, since I’m going to talk about why I made the promo site.
The first reason is a secret, and I won’t say what it is. Sorry, but I gotta keep something to myself.
The second reason is that I don’t like the shotgun approach to marketing. It’s pointless to promote to everyone, when there’s a bunch of rabid readers aching to get their next fix if only you could dangle it in front of them.
The goal of the laser-targetted promo of haremgamelitbooks.com is to help you do two things:
- Train the algorithm. When you get relevant also-boughts, you help train the algorithm of what your book is about, and it will start suggesting you to the correct readers. It’s very important at Amazon and Goodreads where they do actual big data, but it can also have a serious impact on smaller sites. For a site like Scribd or Kobo, it might take only a couple of relevant sales to make a difference.
- Long-term drip. I aim for proper SEO (Search engine optimization) in the search engines like Google. That means that readers look up books, end up on the site and start browsing. It’s not uncommon for a reader to go 15-30 pages deep, and when they buy, to get 3-10 books in the same cart, all from the same instance. That makes your book have a tracked record of sale with relevant books in the genre, and the algorithm likes that. You also get an avid reader who will probably go through his entire reading pile rather soon, and will give you feedback, good or bad.
- Fewer bargain-hunters. I promote full-price books. We do sales and free days and countdown deals, whatever the indie author likes, but I just inform the reader base of a new release and they pay full price for it. That has value.
Lots of people around the writing and indie fora are talking about how their paid promotions aren’t being effective anymore. Well, this is my response to that, targetted and niche sites that focus on long-term discoverability, SEO and relevant also-boughts to help both readers and writers to find each other.
Is this the future of book promo sites? We’ll see, but it looks good so far.