Christian Fantasy Author Lorilyn Roberts' Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marketing a POD Book in 2009 - Reflections on What Worked and What Didn’t

Reflecting on marketing Children of Dreams this year brings me to some interesting conclusions. The things I thought initially would be the most effective weren’t. Some of the things that cost nothing except my time were. To focus my efforts for my next book and how I will market it, I will share some of my results. Hopefully I can help another person to make wiser choices about where to invest their efforts who, like me, may be a new author without huge sums of money to spend.


First, Children of Dreams was written as a memoir and published POD. If you have published a romance fiction or nonfiction book as an expert in some field, or some other type of book, your results may be different using these same marketing strategies.

Now to the marketing aspect:

Most of the things I spent a significant amount of money on marketing Children of Dreams, I doubt I would do again. The marketing people will say, “We guarantee exposure, not book sales,” and they have that one right. You can easily Google my name and find twenty or more pages where my name pops up. Based on these results, you might believe I am a best-selling author. I am not. What marketing experts guarantee is exposure, not book sales. As far as I am concerned, considering that information now borne out in experience, it makes me much more leery to invest dollars in the future on expensive marketing campaigns.

Some of the methods I used included the following:

1. Email blast. I spent around $250 on an email marketing campaign. I don't know that I sold one book out of it, and for that amount of money and not being able to document its success, I feel like it was a waste of money.

2. Email of my book cover and relevant information to all libraries and independent bookstores in the United States and Canada. This cost around $400, and again, I don't know that I sold a single book out of this campaign. Would I do it again? No.

3. RTIR, or Radio-TV Interview Report: Cost around $400. I was promoted two weeks in a row on radio only, and received two radio interviews. I am not aware of a single book that I sold as a result. One of the radio stations was in Canada and one was in the Boston area, I think. Would I do this again? Yes. I felt like it gave me a great experience and I enjoyed being interviewed. I was also able to take one of the interviews off the radio station's website as an MP-3 audio and posted it on my website. If I had the money, I would have done the TV portion of the promotion, but it is very expensive and I couldn't afford it. Maybe with my next book, instead of wasting money on email campaigns, I will put it into this marketing venture.

4. Other things I did that were free or inexpensive and more effective as far as book sales.

Videos: Make lots of videos. I made five and posted them all over the web, not just on YouTube. There are many other video websites and they get picked up in the search engines as if they were magnets. The interview of me personally wasn’t particularly “exciting,” I suppose, but I think what the viewer can see is who I am; my character, and that I am a real, live, living, breathing human being. Besides, I know the next one will be better because the first one of anything is always the hardest and usually the worst. You are testing the waters, breaking new territory, going where you have never gone before. Experience counts for something.

Book Reviews; I found it very difficult to get friends of mine to post reviews of my book on Amazon.com (or any place else). Most people, unless they are in the writing or marketing field, are intimidated by the thought of having their words on the web. I submitted free books and e-books to several different sites for free book reviews, which met with only limited success. Would I send out free books for reviews again? No. Most of them produced no reviews, and they probably took my free books and advertised them on Amazon.com or EBay. Some of the free eBooks I sent for reviews, however, did produce reviews.

My goal was to get twenty-five reviews on Amazon.com. When I found it so difficult to get book reviews in a timely manner, I paid for a service that was very reasonable and legitimate, in my opinion, and rounded my review total to twenty-five reviews for five stars. Was it worth paying for some of the reviews? Absolutely. They were real people that read my book whom I did not know. I wasn’t paying for five stars. I was paying to have my book read and reviewed, and I don’t mind doing that. I would look at a book that has twenty-five reviews with five stars before a book with only two reviews with five stars. I feel this was money well spent. Also, the inside-the-book program on Amazon is excellent. If I can’t look inside someone’s book and I don’t know the author, I won’t buy the book, plain and simple.

The Masters of Marketing: The elite, the best, I believe, in the U.S. and probably the world is QVC. I close caption it almost on a daily basis, and have watched with interest how it is they can sell so many kinds of products and make millions annually. From hours of captioning, what I have observed goes like this.

The head person of the company actually appears on the network programming (and I mean “the boss”) and they are passionate about their product. They eat it, sleep it, dream it, and whatever else comes to mind. It is their life. I have captioned an hour of a product that I had absolutely no use for, and at the end of the show, have been convinced that I can’t live without that product. That is advertising and marketing as its best. If someone can be passionate about cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaners, I better be passionate about my book. Otherwise, I am in trouble.

To sum up what was only going to be a few comments is this: You must believe in yourself, in what you are writing, and have a passion never to give up or compromise, and finally, to give your book every ounce of tender-loving care that you possibly can. Then it’s your job to be the best writer you can be. That might mean you need to hire an editor to help you. Then you need to do everything you can to be that excellent writer—attend writer’s conferences, enroll in writing classes, read books about writing, search the web for all the information you can find. And there is a lot of good, free information out there. Finally, you must have something in your book that will make a difference in people’s lives. It’s your job to convince everybody they can’t live without your book. I know that’s easier said than done. But with POD, you have that time. Your book never goes out of print.

Don’t forget, you need a good website, you need to have a blog, you need to be on social networking sites to connect with people, you need to be willing to get out and speak to the public about your book, and you need to get on as many free e-zines from marketing people as you possibly can. There is more I could write, but this is a start.

Am I discouraged I have only sold about two hundred books so far? Hardly. I have the rest of my life as a POD author. I am working on my next book in connection with my Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and look forward to “meeting” new people on the web, appearing on more radio shows, blogging about things that interest me, and sharing information like I am doing here. I have complete control over my book Children of Dreams, I love marketing, and as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t get much better than that. I truly believe the sales will come because I won’t give up. I am going to continue to write about the things I am passionate about, do what I can to promote good information that people can use, and because we live on a big planet, with the Internet, I know there are others out there that are interested in the same things I am. My job is to find them. It’s intriguing to me when I see people have visited my website from as far away as Japan and Israel.

If you have learned anything here, please let me know. Hopefully my reflections will help you to use your money more wisely in your own marketing campaign. Happy Writing and Marketing in 2010 and beyond.

You can visit my website at http://lorilynroberts.com/.

3 comments:

  1. This is so helpful! I just uploaded my memoir, Fast Break South, onto Amazon as an e-book, and am tackling marketing. Social networking, check. Video, check. I´ve made only one though, a book trailer on YouTube, and find your advice to do more very valuable as I hadn´t thought of it. I´m thinking of PODs next. Can you recommend a service?

    Thank you for your post. Best of luck to you.
    Susan McKinney de Ortega
    you can search my name or title on YouTube. (link doesn´t want to copy presently)
    my blog is. www.susanmckinney.blogspot.com

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  2. This is wonderful, and much like I have experienced. I tended to be far more doubtful of investing a ton of money in marketing. I chose carefully, and some things worked out well. I entered the Best New Books of 2009 and was one of six finalists in the Religion/Christian books category. It was an investment of about $100 and the award (with gold stickers to put on my book) gives me a little extra credibility. My book is The Gate Of Beatufil: Stories, Songs, and Reflections on Christian Life, published by Outskirts Press.

    I thought that churches would be a logical place to do Meet The Author programs, and to perform several of the original gospel songs included in the book. The opportunities have been slow to come, but I continue to send out mailings. The problem is that many churches are struggling financially and even though I haven't charged to do the program, churches don't seem to want to put the energy into a program that isn't going to generate a lot of income for them.

    Libraries have been a much more successful venue for me. I didn't think they would be, as I wasn't expecting them to push a Christian book. Being able to offer to perform songs from the book may make the program more attractive. I have a very high rate of success (four out of four so far.)

    Book reviews were almost non-existent, and I wouldn't send out as many copies as I did on my next book. I got two front page Art section reviews in newspapers, but in one case it was because the Editor was a personal friend, and the other was my hometown newspaper. I don't think either article sold a book. (I had one of my record albums reviewed highly favorably in Cosmopolitan Magazine when it was still a real magazine, and I don't think it sold a record.

    My website should be up this weekend. It may generate some sales. Facebook seemed to generate next to no sales. Having a lot of "friends" didn't translate into sales.

    I've entered my book in a second award competition at the encouragement of Outskirts Press. They only advise 5% of their authors each year to submit a book to the competition, so I felt I might have a chance.

    Thanks for posting this article (which I read on Faithwriters, where I have posted many articles and chapters from my book in the past.)

    I may start a blog, although I notice that the few I visit don't seem to get many followers. I've posted chapters as I've written them on Mudcatcafe.com a folk and blues site, and that has generated some sales.

    I too opted for the Look Inside option on Amazon.com. I don't know that it has generated much in the way of sales. But then, there are a godzillion books on the market.

    My website is jrasmussen.net and should be up by the end of this weekend. You can hear some of my songs on soundclick.com.

    It's a pleasure discovering this blog.

    Jerry Rasmussen

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  3. Oh wow, I'm really loving this informational blog...Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It shows that you're a very kind person willing to help a novice in the writing field.

    I will definitely take some of your advice as I venture into the world of POD. My website is: www.arnoldhenry.com and I believe it is generating many visitors from around the world. I have all my information posted about on my website about my book. Also, all my social networks such as: facebook, myspace, twitter and youtube.

    I believe when it's my turn to market my book, I will have to come up with some spectacular and original ideas. I have a great advantage reaching out to audiences over the internet since I studied Computer Information Systems. I know something about marketing...

    Lorilyn, you have been a true blessing to me. I really wish that you can pick up in sales for your book "Children of Dreams" This is a great story, I believe you haven't reached your audiences...I hope it gets better. Goodluck on your future endeavors..Please let me know if I can help you :)

    Thanks once again for sharing this post! May God be with you

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