Wait a Minute, Mr Postman by Ruby Barnes

Letters coming through my letterbox here in Kilkenny are a rare thing. Bank statements - electronic these days. Payslips - electronic. I did recently have a cheque for €53.70 arrive from my previous broadband supplier, which was quite exciting.

Unfortunately Alfie the Dog has become unused to snail mail and thrusts his fangs through everything that postie shoves in the door, including hands. So the cheque had two teeth marks in it, and my bank wasn't happy with me. Their processing machines don't appreciate bent, spindled, twisted or chewed financial documents. I ordered a paperback book (remember those things?) for Mrs R recently, after her traumatic run-in with a herd of cows and a bull while collecting river water samples for analysis; Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan, naturally. Zombie cows, a very good read. Alfie the Dog appreciated the beefy taste, biting right through the packaging. Two tooth dents in back and front covers.

Well, one set of mail that my hound can't chew beyond recognition is my email inbox. These days it's mostly full of twitter and facebook notifications, with the odd review request and a whole pile of subscriber updates from mail lists for free, bargain and new release e-books. Here's a picture of a typical day at the receiving end of e-book recommendations:

advertising for free and special offer e-books
My daily selection of e-book offer subscriptions

I've subscribed to all these outfits and they fill my mail account every day. According to my proclaimed marketing strategy I'm supposed to be advertising my books on these websites, in these mailouts, but it's a bit bewildering to be honest. And if I'm getting fatigued by it all then I suspect readers are too. There are also many others that aren't listed but I do interact with them on fiverr.com and suchlike hangouts. The results from advertising? A bit hit and miss, to be honest. Unless your book fits smack bang in the middle of a popular genre, and you've selected a mailer who has a sizable and good quality list segment for that genre (e.g. BookBub thriller freebie yielding 30k+ downloads and follow-on full-priced sales of same book plus sequel), then it can be tricky to break even. The temptation is to go for a scatter-gun approach of every advertiser that will accept your book, but then the efficacy of each advertiser is difficult to judge (unless they provide some kind of tracking link that counts each time a recipient clicks). I'm not going to go into a detailed study of all the advertising possibilities because I'm far too lazy. But here's a chap who has done all the hard work for us - http://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites

Add on top of this promotional complexity the new Amazon author ad campaigns that have an entry-level budget of $100 but don't seem to be able to use up any money because almost no one is clicking the ads. I am well and truly Confused of Kilkenny. There are more questions than answers, and the more I find out ... all together now.


JO said…
I've almost given up - like you I had a list of emails all promoting books - and I just deleted the lot without opening. I've unsubscribed to most of them now - though the persistent ignore that.

It all feels so overwhelming, so I turn the computer off and read. Much more refreshing!
Bill Kirton said…
I've tried a few promotions like this with no discernible benefits coming from them. I may get in touch with that nice man from Nigeria who wants me to share lots of his money. Or maybe have a dalliance with one of those Russian ladies who want me to marry them. Anything rather than try to sell books.
@Ruby_Barnes said…
I just leave a pile of mine outside the front door of an evening and the next morning they're gone. Mind you, it is bin recycling day!
Lydia Bennet said…
Again, I think promotions are at saturation level and the sheer volume of, erm, volumes, is making it almost impossible to get a book noticed. Emails are becoming, apart presumably in offices, obsolete as communication for enjoyment - all I get now are a few promo emails, mainly from amazon and petition sites - I turn off email notifications whenever possible. but they are not interesting on the whole so the chance of people trawling through looking for books is slim. What to do instead? if anyone knows, share!
I signed up to one or two of these as a reader, but never buy any of their suggestions. Which suggests that neither does anyone else. Although I know many people have had a lot of success with Bookbub so somebody must be. I've also started to get emails from legitimate PR companies promoting particular traditionally published books and they routinely get deleted as well. It would be a rare book that got under the wire. I just don't have the time. I do, however, look at the also boughts on Amazon if I'm into a particular kind of fiction or non-fiction or author and have often bought from that kind of recommendation and discovered new authors that way. And also, of course, word of mouth. I wonder if the Amazon author ad campaigns will eventually take off - but I'm not inclined to pay until there's more evidence about what works. A friend with an antique and art gallery has just signed up to a trial initiative with a company providing targeted Facebook marketing to potential customers within a 25 mile radius of her shop. I'm very interested to see if it works for her. This is the second time I've heard of companies providing this kind of promotion. It wouldn't work with books, of course - but maybe some kind of more finely tuned targeting would.
@Ruby_Barnes said…
There are also apps that deliver e-book recommendations to people's kindles, e-readers and smart phones. I've tried advertising with a couple of those with modest results.

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