Saturday, July 5, 2014

Marketing, I fumbled but I learned something

For my first book my marketing plan was to throw it up for free a few times and that was about it. I had no plan and damn did it show. It was another genre completely and although I was on Facebook and my 'friends' were extremely popular in their field they didn't seem to be doing anything other than writing and posting freebies too. I didn't see any other clear path to take so I stood there and my book stood there and we both got lost in the sea of other books.

This time around I did my homework and I knew I couldn't get away from Facebook, my comfort level with Facebook is at a negative 10. But I sucked it up and looked at what those who were selling were doing and I saw that it was a great tool, I still haven't figured it out yet but I'm hoping to eventually. At the least it showed me about blog hopping or spotlights whichever they are called on any given day. I started following blogs not just on Facebook but Twitter and I just sat back and kind of watched who did what and how. I took notes, yes I'm a nerd. Then when I was ready to run a giveaway and get my books out in front of readers, I reached out to blogs. A few ignored me entirely-ouch, a few had so many rules I felt like it was like dealing with a government agency-next. 

My first experience with Tracy at I Love Lady Porn was painless and it got me what I was looking for, exposure to a specific audience (people looking for 'sweet' romance do not follow a blog with the word porn in it) it also joy of joys got me sales. The second was even better Give me Books, it was so smooth and easy I could hardly believe it. They had both sweet romances and erotica readers but I came away with plenty of sales and it was great. 

I had always planned to do 3 giveaways per month after I released but personal stuff interrupted me looking for that third blogger (I really wish people I know and loved would stop dying it fucks with my head and messes with my timetable.) and so by the time I was ready the bloggers I went to were booked up. Then I see a company that promises at least 10 blog spots, there's a fee involved though. Did I mention there weren't any fees with the other two I ran? None of the bloggers I have looked into charge you to spotlight or post a review or your giveaway on their site. Then I think, well they are saving me time by being the one to get me bloggers who actually respond or have an opening, maybe that's worth the fee. I'm looking at the calendar and I'm looking at this long list of bloggers they work with. Then I start to run the bloggers through google and I don't know who half of them are and most don't have more than a handful of followers. I own up that at that point I should have stopped, but I thought even with such anemic numbers on followers one of the good things about giveaways is people who have no interest in the author will look just to see if they can win something. I look up the company and there wasn't anything bad on them, but there was nothing good either. It was a shortcut that I thought I needed to stay on track, remember that saying, 'there are no shortcuts'? The plan, stick to the plan I'm thinking, the fee isn't too large, stick to the timetable. I hit buy and the minute I did it, I wanted to take it back, my gut was clenching. 

It just ended and I can tell you right now do not go with a company that promises blog hops, just don't. Take the time, look at the bloggers out there, and there are many and find the ones that fit your book and contact them directly. Will everyone respond, maybe not this time but I noticed that one of the bloggers that didn’t respond before I had done the two blog giveaways not only responded but seemed disappointed she was booked three weeks out from the time I wanted. The time 'saved' was wasted in a giveaway that they encouraged to go with the spotlight. I don't have a problem with a giveaway and had planned on it but it was a pathetic response for what I was willing to give away. Some people do giveaways and it’s copies of their books and there aren’t many entries, I’m doing gift cards that most people will enter without even knowing who the author is. Had it not been for the lovely Setta Jay allowing me to post in her giveaway event on Facebook, I wouldn't have gotten anything out of it. (It also once again highlighted how badly I need to figure out how to better use Facebook.) There was one person who actually got my name out there and I thank her profusely but it was a waste of money. I should have waited for one of the bloggers I knew of and followed and said fuck it to the timetable. 

Two of the bloggers didn't post on the days listed on the schedule and I contacted the tour people and because I'm me and a bit of a bitch I voiced my disappointment with my 'tour' I was offered a partial refund of the fee and an excuse that giveaways are touch and go. Bullshit was my response, I gave her the numbers I had with the other giveaways dealing with just one blog site versus the eight at that point with hers. I haven't had a response and I did say I would appreciate whatever refund she was willing to give because it was a waste of money. Less than five minutes after I sent the email I magically get four new followers on Twitter-that have to be fake as the last few entries into giveaways match exactly and more entries in the giveaway, hmm coincidence? 

Know this, if she doesn't refund me at least half, I will be tweeting their name and that they suck three times a day for the next week. I have no problem burning bridges. But I did learn something from it so maybe I can say there is value in that.

Are there other companies out there that are reputable and work with bloggers who have more than 20 followers? Maybe, maybe not. Still, here's the thing to remember, you are responsible for your success, you need to be responsible for what bloggers post your books and readers are exposed to your books. Remember to give your readers what they want, don't have a blogger who posts sweet romance posting your book, which is what you could wind up with a tour company, you have no say over who picks up your spotlight or giveaway and that's bullshit. You are the one who should be making sure you get the maximum exposure for everything you do whether you are giving out free books or gift cards.

As far as I'm concerned this was a fumble but I learned something from it. Go with your gut, do the research and don't pay for something that you can get for free. 

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