My book is out there in the world, and I've had a few questions about how I went about my marketing strategy. So I figured it would be a better option to put it all into a blog post!
Disclaimer: This is my experience. I am coming from a place of privilege in that I have a day job and had saved a substantial amount of money to put towards this book. Please do not compare our journeys.
What I Did (in a very high level list):
ARCs (lots of ARCs)
Social media marketing (paid and organic)
Virtual book tours (cover reveal and review tours both)
PR boxes to influencers
Like I said, that was a really high level list, and while each of those items could easily have their own blog post (and probably will), I want to break down each a bit more in this post. So, let's talk about exactly what I did and how it performed related to sales and publicity.
Advance Reader Copies (ARCs)
I am a big fan of ARCs, and if you've been around for a while, you know I get them and talk about them quite a bit here. So, it not only made sense business-wise for me to give out ARCs, but it was also a personal decision!
Curious how to get ARCs in general? Check out this post.
The Syren's Mutiny is my debut, so people don't know me. I knew that going in, and I knew I was going to have to give out more ARCs than most well-known authors "normally" would (there's really not a normal, that's up to you).
My goal is to get my name out there, to build hype up around the book, and to hopefully make this release successful. Could I have done that without ARCs? Probably. Would it have been a LOT harder? Yes. Without a doubt. Readers are wary to take financial risks on new authors, which is one of the reasons KU is so popular.
So, now that we've all made peace with me sending out ARCs, I made a BookFunnel account and signed up for the Mid-Tier plan. BookFunnel is not the only way to send out ARCs but it is my preferred way for a couple reasons:
It's easy and I don't have to send out individual emails to each person with their preferred file format
It will send automatic reminders halfway through the "campaign" and then again on the book's release day reminding people to review
It watermarks the ePub file that readers get so if anyone uploads it to a tricky lil pirate site, I can see that and not give them an ARC ever again
BookFunnel does cost money, but honestly, it paid for itself in how many ARCs I sent out and how much time it saved me.
Now, Jess, how many ARCs did you give out? eBooks... I gave out 324 ebooks to ARC readers through a variety of ways.
Did it help? Yes, absolutely. It got me over 100 reviews on Goodreads by release day, and 50 reviews on Amazon on release day. And those reviews help a TON with getting new readers to take a chance on this new author.
Do you have to send out as many as I did? No, absolutely not. In fact, I only personally sent out about 100, the rest were through book tours, which I'll talk about here in a sec.
Social Media Marketing
If you're here, you probably found me through social media. Likely either Instagram or TikTok. Social media marketing is both the cheapest way to market your book, and the most time consuming. So let's talk about it.
We're going back to the idea that readers don't like taking financial risks on authors they don't know. So the purpose of using social media BEFORE your book releases is to combat that. You want to build a presence, build your brand, and let readers get to know you as a human. Then, they'll relate more to you and (hopefully) buy your book.
But Jess, that sounds so easy, and I know it's not. No, it is absolutely not easy by any stretch of the imagination. It's even harder if you're not a white, cis, neurotypical human.
It can feel like shouting into the void a lot, but I do recommend to keep going. BUT, let's caveat that with only put in effort on the platforms you want to. Pick 1 or 2 and focus on that. You don't have to be on every platform. Every platform is different, and personality types do make a difference.
I'm a visual person, and I'm long winded, so Instagram was my first home. I begrudgingly moved to TikTok with aesthetic videos, and only recently started showing my face. I won't talk now about the nuances of that convo, but just pick some platforms, research their arbitrary algorithms and what they want, and start making content.
The biggest thing I can recommend is consistency. If that's every day, post something every day. If that's twice a week, you better post twice a week on the same days each week. People want to be able to expect when they will hear from you.
Paid ads? I tried them, got a few preorders from them, probably won't try them again until I have more books out. I did notice that "boosting" my Instagram cover reveal got me some more visibility, but it honestly didn't translate into preorders. So that's up to you. (I'm still experimenting with Amazon and Facebook ads, so I'll be back about those once I have enough data to talk intelligently.)
I'm a big believer in smarter not harder, and that if you can outsource it, to chuck it out the window. Thus, investing in virtual book tours was a pretty no-brainer for me. I did some ARCs myself, but I've got a day job, a husband, and I'm still a PA for other authors. Oh and I have to find time to write too.
So for this first book, again, my goal was to get my name in front of as many people as possible. I signed on with 7 virtual book tour companies to host both a cover reveal and a release blast/review tour.
These companies do this all the time, so they have both an existing tour host base and a bit better idea of how to organize it than me. I sent them ARCs (digital and in some cases limited physical ones) and they literally handled everything else. It was great.
Tour Companies I Worked With:
Peachy Keen Author Services
Sapphire Ink PR
Book of Matches Media
RR Book Tours
Hidden Hollow Book Tours
Katie and Brey PA
So, what's the verdict on this marketing tactic? I liked it.
Like I said earlier, this amounted to 200+ ebook ARCs and about 75 physical ARCs. Add to that the cost of the tour management, and the shipping for physical ARCs, it was an expensive adventure (I won't talk price now, but if anyone is interested, Brindi did a post about her experience with some of these same book tour companies, and others!)
These tours got me a toooooon of visibility and again, made new readers willing to take a chance on a new author. People listen to their peers, and by giving out books to people who have a following built on listening to their reviews of books, it gives them an idea of if they will like my book.
Do I recommend doing tours? Yes. Do I recommend doing this many? No definitely not. There was a lot of overlap and I'll probably only do 2-3 going forward.
Oh boy, these were a topic over on my TikTok. So let's just get into it.
I worked with an absolute gem of a human over on TikTok, @shayealexabk, to do some PR boxes. My goal with these was to grow my TikTok presence because I struggle with it.
Shaye and I worked together and curated the box items, and she did all the heavy lifting with finding the TikTok influencers to send them too. We did 25 total.
These custom designed boxes included a signed physical book, custom bath salts, custom Novel Candle Co candles, a little jar of matches, 5 stickers, 4 art prints, a map print, 2 bookmarks, a book info card, and a box info card. We wanted to include notebooks as well, but the shipping time was too long to make that feasible.
I am fully aware this is a lot for a PR box and that typically, authors who do PR boxes do about half of what I did. But go big go home might as well be my middle name, and I am in a privileged enough position to be able to afford it.
Did I love doing these? Yes. Would I recommend them? Yes with an asterisk.
These were fun, but these were not required. The only marketing I'd say is required is social media and maybe limited ARCs, but even that's circumstance dependent.
Overall, my marketing was a lot. And I'd say it was successful! Will I do this much again for book 2? Probably not, because it was exhausting keeping up with all of this.
Again, this is my journey based on my author goals and my career goals and my personal circumstances. You can do this however the hell you want, but I had people asking about my marketing, and I'm much more eloquent in writing than I am talking, so here we are.
I hope this helped, and if there's something you'd like to see me talk more about, please let me know.