Book Marketing: Desperate times require desperate measures

Disclaimer first: this may be a new way to book marketing for me, but I know I’m not the first to try this. When it comes to “Sale” and “Free”, I know I’m usually the last one to hop on the band wagon. Why? I’ve discussed this before, particularly why I feel that the industry’s obsession with 99¢ is so wrong for authors. I still stand by those words.

Yet last week, I’ve both put one of my books on sale, and – even more radical – I’ve included a recent novelette of mine for free in an anthology. So what’s changed? Nothing really.

I can literally hear you all thinking: now wait! If nothing’s changed, and yet you’re selling books at 99¢ and for free, you sound like Indiana Governor Pence on ABC the other day, lying between your teeth…

And who knows, maybe I am as desperate as the good governor, desperately trying to conceal the truth, although, in my defense, I can honestly say that no one is suffering because of my actions, not even I, and readers actually benefit, which is more than can be said than what is true for the LGBT community in Indiana…

Currently at #4 on Amazon's bestseller list of Gay Romance books. We were #1 all weekend.

Currently at #4 on Amazon’s bestseller list of Gay Romance books. We were #1 all weekend.

Because let’s face it, most authors on Amazon don’t sell. Anything. I sell very little, I couldn’t live on it, I could barely pay a coffee a day with my sales, yet in terms of their own author ranking, I have over 700,000 people below me, and “only” 28,000 above me. I think this says a lot!

So I’m desperate, just like the good Hoosier Gov, desperate to save my authorship, as desperate as he’s trying to save his political honor. Desperate times require desperate measures, which prompted me to rethink my approach to book marketing, abandon the high road and try that which – supposedly – has worked for so many others…

One week into the adventure, I shared a #1 spot on one of Amazon’s many top selling lists with my fellow anthology authors. Yes, this is a success. Until now, the only bestselling list I ever topped was that of gay authors on my own island, where I’m the number one and the only one… Now, to climb to the top on a list of free books within a limited scope of books isn’t impossible, but it’s still an accomplishment. A dear friend of mine did it, and after that, sales of her other books took off, too! And to this day, Debbie McGowan is still in the top list, at #11 currently, with her book. Meanwhile, we’ve already dropped to #4… Nothing lasts forever, eh?

The other thing I did this past week was to lower the price on one of my older books to the infamous 99¢, and – low and behold – I sold a few copies on the first day, and few more on the third and fourth, and then it was over.

I’ll grant you, one week to try a novel approach is nothing, and I’m not about to give up. We’re trying a bunch of

Jonathan's Hope by Hans M Hirschi, still on sale for 99c. Question is how long I should keep it there.

Jonathan’s Hope by Hans M Hirschi, still on sale for 99c. Question is how long I should keep it there.

different things, and I’ll keep you posted on these, whether they work for me or not. I’ve seen people give away books for free when you sign up for their e-mail lists, and I see people literally spam friends and others on Facebook with their books. Don’t get me wrong, even I caved in to Amberr and finally got myself a Facebook page (feel free to like! Thanks), and while I find it difficult having to focus on TWO accounts, I don’t believe in spamming. I’ve also seen how some name drop to spread their book, tagging famous authors to spread the word about their own work. I’m way to modest to do this, and I’m not sure if it works or comes across as desperate. I might as well undress and stand in the middle of town square with a sign: “free intercourse if you buy my book”… Just not my cup of tea to do this sort of thing…

For me, the long term approach has always been that “your next book is the best marketing for your previous one”, and clocking at four novels and the fifth one in the pipeline and book six in the works, at least I’m on track in that department. I also focus more on my social media, with the help of a consultant. Again, not expecting quick results, but rather being patient. My PR work is also ongoing as is my focus on specific conventions, to meet readers, hoping to be able to reach new audiences through the one method I believe in above all else: word of mouth. I know I write good books. If you believe that, too, then you should tell your friends… If not, then by all means shut up and give me the feedback. LOL I have enough trolls out there on the web as it is. 😉

Book Marketing still eludes me, and without the funds to invest in major campaigns, indie authors have to rely on new and guerrilla tactics. I don’t really know yet if the free and 99¢ is going to work for me, but at least I can now say I’ve tried, and I’ll be damned if I don’t give it my best, too.

What’s your experience authors? What’s worked and what not? Feel free to at least share the non-working tips… By means of exclusion I’ll eventually get to what works. LOL

As always, I’d be happy if you shared this with others who might enjoy or profit from reading it.

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Have a great week,

Hans M Hirschi

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