My Misadventures in Marketing

I knew there was a reason why I did not like marketing and nothing that has happened recently has changed my mind on that score. Let me explain, I decided to give another book promotion website a go. I was careful this time, did some reading on a couple of services that other authors had tried. Eventually, I chose www.booksbutterfly.com. I went for their Silver 50 package at $90, which guaranteed me at least 50 sales of whichever book I chose to promote. It stated that my book would be promoted to 250,000 readers and notified to 87,000 email subscribers.

For my part, I had to reduce the book to only $0.99, which was no big deal. I chose my epic fantasy, The Queen of the Mountain Kingdom, as this particular genre seemed very popular. The promotion ran from 1st to the 7th March. I was told to be patient, especially on the first day, as there tends to be a bit of a lag in sales actually appearing on the KDP dashboard, and to wait at least 24 hours after the promotion had ended before assessing how things went. I had my hopes. I mean, 50 sales is not really that big a deal, but it would be nice to see the book moving off the shelves and it might generate a little interest, right?! So, my total sales came in at…6!

That’s right, 6 books sold.

To say that I was underwhelmed is something of an overstatement, I think. It meant that I had spent $15 per book to sell them for $0.99 and increased my ranking on KDP as a result…by 6 book sales.

I contacted Books Butterfly who suggested that the reason for this poor performance might be that my book was not ‘connecting with our readers’! Really! It occurs to me that if my book was connecting with readers then I would not need the services of a book promotion website at all. The whole point of paying for this service was to get my book connecting with the readers that they, as the facilitators, are supposed to be able to connect it to, isn’t it?!

I took a deep breath and mulled over what to do next. I could ask for another book to be run to recoup the remaining 44 guaranteed sales that had not been achieved, they suggested either The Devil Within Us or For Rapture of Ravens. I did not see the point of running the second book in a trilogy, so I went for The Devil Within Us. Partly, this was because thrillers are another genre that Books Butterfly claimed was very popular with their readers.

I reduced the book to $0.99 and arranged for it to run for longer this time, from 30th April to 12th May. The target was 44 sales. At the end of the run I sold 4 books under this promotion. That makes a grand total of 10.

Not so much underwhelmed as totally disenchanted. Also, a deepening disillusionment with marketing. Including the sales for The Queen of the Mountain, that meant my investment had changed to $9 per book sale. Mathematics is my weakest subject, even so, I could see that this was not a great return.

Is it the product? Well, I have been writing in one form or another for most of my life. My written communication skills have always been praised. I published my first novel in 2013 and I have written 6 more since then. I have actually sold several thousand copies of my books to date. All of them have received positive reviews. I know how to write. Yes, there is always a chance, a possibility, that not all of the 250,000 would be readers might choose my book as their next read, but I was not paying for 250,000, only 50.

I decided not to attempt a third promotion to try and capture the remaining 40 sales that had been guaranteed. I admit that I was torn on this decision. One part of me was suggesting ‘third time lucky’ but another was reminding me of the axiom: repeating the same action and expecting a different result to all previous results is a definition of madness. I settled for a refund instead.

Let me be honest for a moment; I wish that I was not writing this blog post! I wish that I was telling anyone interested in reading it that the first promotion that I paid Books Butterfly for had been a roaring success. It was what I wanted after all. In an ever-growing market where the quality of ebooks seems to be on the decline (thanks, 50 Shades of badly written erotica), even having a modicum of quality in your product is no longer sufficient to get your book noticed. It seems authors either need to hire marketing people or become marketeers themselves. I have tried both and neither has led me to anything that could be described as a success.

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