What Does Flooring Have To Do With Selling Books?

The dear hubby and I went to the hardware store today to look for flooring to replace the old carpet in the dining room and the vinyl in the kitchen. I was hoping he’d agree with my bargain hunting and buy the laminate cherry flooring that was on sale for $0.57/ square feet. Instead, we walked out with the vinyl laminate planks at $2.59/square feet.

You may be scratching your head and asking yourself, “Why is she sharing this story?”

Well, the story relates to writing and the business of indie publishing.

When my debut book was published in September 2012 by a small press publisher, my then editor said some wise words. “Ashlyn, this is a marathon, not a sprint.” Words authors have heard many times, I’m sure.

Home remodeling is a marathon and not a sprint in that the long term picture needs to be taken into account. The hubby and I could’ve gone with the cheaper flooring to save money now. However, we have four boys and a dog. Our family will grow in the coming years as the kids get married and have their own families. Small won’t be in our vocabulary.

We realized we needed to spend the extra money and buy a floor that will last longer and be more resilient for a family of six. Spending the extra money now is an investment in our future. Same is true with writing and the business of publishing. Spending money on promoting the backlist is an investment in the success of future books. Repeat that after me. “Spending money on promoting the backlist is an investment in the success of future books.”

Indie publishing is expensive, and the return in investment (ROI) can take months or years to recuperate depending on the author’s readership and output of books. As an indie author, I have a better understanding of what promotions work and what can be tweaked. Having control over my books and price helps, along with seeing daily sales across the major vendors.

When I had two books published with a traditional publisher, I spent thousands of dollars on tour blogs, ads, items for swags, and travel time without an inkling of the true measure of success or failures of those ventures. Nowadays, some traditionally published authors can have access to their sales page at various vendors set up by their publisher. This access gives them a better idea of how many copies they’re selling. However, they can’t control their own promotions and book prices, and that’s why I’ll always stay an indie author.

I’ve tried the praised method of making the first book in a series free or perma free (price matched to free on Amazon when a book is free at other vendors) and have seen success. I’ve also used Facebook groups geared toward readers looking for book news or bargains, and have seen success their too. Subsequent books in the series are selling, but the sales are trickling in rather than gushing, lol.

The book market is oversaturated. There isn’t a stigma to self-publishing anymore. In fact, there are lots of sites out there very willing to promote indie authors. I think they understand how hard it is for authors who are not backed by the big six publishers to find an audience.

Spending money on promoting the backlist is an investment in the success of future books. With three books releasing in the next two months, I decided I needed to invest in the success of those future books by promoting my backlist. I’ve vetted through several sites that are free to promote or require a fee for a guaranteed spot. Some have requirements that include: numbers of reviews, number of four and five star reviews, and whether the book is free, 99 cents, or a steep discount. I’ve contacted seven sites and spent less than $100. My promotion covers two books, UnMarked (paranormal, full length book) and Near Perfect (contemporary, 28k novella). Each book is 99 cents during a one month promotional period running to May 14th.

For authors who have signed up to get my blogs, I hope to provide useful information on what worked for me. For readers, I hope to point you to sites that offer free or bargain books through a subscription sign-up. I believe these sites are a win-win for the authors and the readers. Sure authors want to make money. Offering books for free or for 99 cents seems counterintuitive. But we’ve all got to start somewhere. That “somewhere” should be a vertical direction toward the skies rather than a horizontal straight and even path leading to a comfortable place.

A comfortable place doesn’t make for a successful business. Look at the businesses that have succeeded and those that have failed. Think Amazon and Apple. Successful businesses adapt, change and find innovative ways to make their businesses stand out. How do they do that? They think outside of the box. Book exposure through paid promotions isn’t new or outside-the-box thinking. For me, it’s the vertical climb versus the straight and even path to comfortable. Yesterday I was at comfortable. Today and tomorrow, I’m gearing up for the vertical climb.

In my next post, I’ll go over the vetting process for which sites I used to promote my books. I’ll also go over the reasoning behind which book I’m promoting and which dates I’ve chosen. For authors, I’ll provide a link to quickly find promotion sites. For readers, I’ll provide you with the wonderful sites I’ve chosen to promote on.

Just like a reader judges a book by its cover, I’ve judged the websites by the beauty of their presentation. I’m a very visual person. When I see a simple but beautiful site with lots of pretty books, well . . . I’m in my happy place for sure.

Thoughts on free books? Bargain books? Promotions for authors? Drop me a comment!