Getting your book read is just as important to getting it written. The aim of the game here is discoverability, because after all your friends, family and colleagues (and friends of friends, family and colleagues) have been invited to read your work, you’ve got to get it in front of people you’ve never met who may never have heard of you or your book.
It is a tall order and one most authors really struggle with, particularly on their first publication.
Social media is proving to be one of the most cost effective ways to spread the word today (or is that words?). I’ve seen first-hand just how successful this can be thanks to an extraordinarily successful Facebook campaign by an author I worked with. C.B. Martin, whose debut novel Fur Coat No Knickers was published in August 2014, saw it rise to number one in the Kindle humour category and number 25 in Kindle books overall. At its peak, the book was selling well in excess of 1000 copies a week.
The focus of the promotion was a sponsored Facebook campaign. These are the ‘sponsored links’, or paid for adverts, that appear on your Facebook feed. They are surprisingly easy to set up if you have a PayPal account. Simply write a post about your book and then click on the boost button at the side of the page. You will be offered a choice of fee to reach a certain number of people. Thus, the £18 price band, for example promises to reach up to 12.7k views. Once you’ve paid your fee, there is a countdown of the amount of money left to use, along with a running total of the number of people it reached.
Ms Martin says it made a difference virtually straight away, but has two warnings: it can be a bit addictive and does require a bit of nerve. After starting with an investment of just a few pounds and then quickly recouping her costs in sales, she raised her daily limit. With sales consistently out-numbering her Facebook fees, she frequently upped the ante. At one stage, with her sales tipping into the hundreds per day, she was paying correspondingly substantial fees. She was, however, always sure she was making far more money than she was spending. Best of all, she now has a loyal legion of followers waiting for book two in the trilogy, which is out later this year.
Key to success in this type of promotion is the post itself. The advert for Fur Coat No Knickers was very distinctive. The book cover is an eye-catching bright pink with great typography and a stylish illustration. It looks like what it is: a great piece of chick lit. For her advert, the author put a line up of three books against a clashing, bright yellow, background, along with quotes from three, five-star reviews.
‘Two chapters and I’m hooked already!’ *****
‘I found myself literally laughing out loud. A great read.’ *****
‘Hilarious, touching and raunchy.’ *****
There was everything a prospective reader needed to know in those three comments. This book promised to be funny, sexy and highly addictive.
So, if you go down this route, spend time thinking about your post. A rubbish headline won’t sell books, regardless of whether 100 people or 10,000 people see it. Similarly, I would always recommend that authors start small. It will give you space to experiment and find what works and, when it does, you can take a rational and informed decision on whether to increase the advertising budget. It is very easy to spend a lot of money for very little return. Get it right though and you could have a bunch of new, loyal readers.