New Releases and Promotions- My Strategy

by Ashlynmathews on May 20, 2017

May is busy, busy, busy. Last month I released my contemporary romance novella, Stay. This month, I released my paranormal romance, Echo. Echo is available at all retailers except for Amazon. Release date for Echo on Amazon is May 23rd. While I’m busy writing the next contemporary romance, Love, Actually, and the next book in my Extinction series (Seeker, a novella), I’m also juggling promotions and sales. How to stay organize? Before I get into organization and expense/income reports, let me just say promoting in 2017 is different from promoting in 2012.

As some of you know I started writing in 2010 after I took my boys to see the Disney movie, Tangled. For some reason the story of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider jump started my muse. I even have characters in my Extinction series named after the hero. Flyn is the main character in Protector. Ryder is the little boy in Luminescence who happens to be the son of a very important princess. Anyways, back to the subject of promotions, lol. In 2011, I sold my first book to a publisher. That same year, I self-published the short story, If Only. Maybe it was the blurb, the cover or the fact that it was FREE soon after it’s release date around Thanksgiving but the release did very well. If Only shot up to #6 on Amazon’s top 100 free books. In a span of about a month, If Only had over 12k downloads on iBooks.

Well, I can say that was then and this is now. Five years later, the competition is fierce. It’s harder to find readers, and easier to self-publish a book. Don’t believe me? Go to Amazon and peruse the book section. Under Romance, there are 812k titles. There’s a gluttony of books out there for FREE and for 99 cents. And don’t forget sites such as Wattpad where readers can read books for FREE. There are days when I do wonder why I write. I definitely don’t sell in the thousands. My book income monthly can buy a round of one cup of 8 oz coffee for a small group of people :). Writing also takes me away from spending time with my family.

On days when I’m close to quitting writing and shutting down, I realize I’m doing a disservice to the characters in my head that are still waiting for their stories to be told. I’m curious as to what kind of life they’ve lived and of what life lesson is waiting for them at the end of “The End.” And when I start a new story, new characters are introduced that want their story told, too. I tell you it’s a never-ending cycle. But I don’t mind. And I also don’t mind that I don’t sell in the thousands. Sure, it’d be great. But I know the stories that I tell aren’t for everybody. My books are a bit melodramatic (yeah, I can admit it), lack an emotional tug (yeah, I know I need to work on that, too. I’m just not a very emotional person), and can be confusing. World building in my head doesn’t always translate well to paper. WRITING IS HARD.

So back to organization, expense/income reports and a strategy for new releases and promotions that I’m trialing this year. After I was published and had self-published a few more titles, I made the mistake of not keeping track of my expenses and income and what book promotion sites worked well for me. Fast forward five years, and I have a better handle of at least my expenses. Every year, I attempt to spend less money and stick to a budget. Most of my expenses is for my website. If I’m spending the money to keep the site alive, I better start blogging, right? I keep an excel spreadsheet, and even if I’m only paid $1 for the month (I’m exaggerating), I put it on my spreadsheet. The strategy I’m trialing this year for new releases and promos is this:

  1. Have a permafree book with excerpts from the next book in the series. This would be my older book, If Only. The first two chapters from the next book in the series, What If, is at the end of If Only.
  2. Price and promote a new release for 99 cents. This would be Stay. In the back matter, I mention If Only is FREE at all retailers, thereby directing readers to a FREE book, a chance to read an older title of mine free of risk. Hopefully if they download If Only, they might continue on and buy What If. I also put excerpts from Near Perfect (another 99 cents book) at the end to entice readers to continue with my contemporary romances.
  3. For the release of Echo, my paranormal romance,  I decided to keep the price at $2.99 but I lowered the price of the third book, Luminescence, to 99 cents. Why? I find that when I do a promotion for Luminescence, readers bought the prior books because of the secondary characters in Luminescence. For Luminescence, I put excerpts at the end for Echo. In Echo, I put excerpts at the end for Luminescence. There are many sites that promote 99 cents books, and in order to reach readers, I believe it’s a good idea to do a big push promotion at least twice a year. Here’s a blog post that lists some really good free and paid sites.
  4. The above is a lot of work but I LOVE IT! I love formatting my own books. I use Jutoh. One of the best books that helps with the step-by-step process of self-publishing is from one of my favorite people, Maggie Lynch.

At the end of the year, I’ll give an update as to how this strategy worked for me. I think the best indicator of a successful promotion is to have organic sales of books WITHOUT promoting. My 2 cents. Okay, back to writing. For my writer friends, what promotion strategy works best for you and what was the least effective? For readers, how do you discover new to you authors? I’d love to hear from you!

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