This is part of the reason I went ahead and released my epic fantasy novel Talon, after working on it for more than 17 years. I finally felt it was a good time to release it and that I now know how I can have a crack at self-publishing and marketing it successfully. This is not about making money, though it would be nice to cover my costs, it is about finding a readership that enjoys my work.
For Talon, I have so far implemented all of the following:
Marketing Action Planhttp://www.australianebookpublisher.com.au/marketing-stage-1-analyse-option-a-ebook-only-3-books.php
Affect on Sales (ROI): This plan helped me get my head around my target market and informed everything I have done so far and everything I'm planning to do. I update it when I get time, as it is a living document. I have not implemented everything in it yet, due to time and money constraints, but what I have implemented I am pleased with.
Kindle Count Down Deals, Web Advertising Strategy and Promotion Schedule
Affect on Sales (ROI): The single most effective thing I have done, to help get the Amazon sales rank up, the reviews up, and people reading my book in the USA. Learning how to do this is part of marketing stage 1. There are clear spikes during my activities in this strategy.
Affect on Sales (ROI): This is useful to send to reviewers, magazines, booksellers, librarians, teacher-librarians, marketing people, advertisers etc. Also to take to book stores (but I don't have time for that, nor do I think it would be a good use of my time, or theirs). It is imperative for a printed book, and also useful for an ebook-only publication.
Advanced Book Review Managementhttp://www.australianebookpublisher.com.au/the-terrific-triple-review-package.php (package 1)
Affect on Sales (ROI): This is critical for a genre novel IMO - as it gets the book in front of professional reviewers who are actively seeking books to read and review. You not only get useful feedback, but also quotes you can use in marketing. Even better, some of them will load the review they write to Amazon if you ask them to (after the book is released). Can be done before or after launch.
Booklink URL redirecthttp://www.booklink.com.au
Affect on Sales (ROI): I used this to generate a short URL for my book that would be easy for me to remember (booklink.com.au/talon goes to the Australian Amazon page for the ebook). A booklink landing page is very good value for an author who does not want to maintain their own website.
Affect on Sales (ROI): My author website is there, ready for when/if my author platform does become significant, i.e. if any readers or book industry folk decide to check me out. I don't have illusions of grandeur. I have put my best effort forward to ensure it is a good, mobile-friendly, fast-loading website with all the information to entice a reader to enjoy my books. I am at the beginning of my career as an author, and I'm very preoccupied running Australian eBook Publisher, so my author website is here simply as a start. I do not expect ROI for it yet, as it's a step of faith or an investment for the future.
Video Book Trailerhttp://www.australianebookpublisher.com.au/video-promotional-book-trailer.php
You can check it out here: www.astorchronicles.com
Affect on Sales (ROI): I have used it on my website, social media and Youtube, but it's early days to see any impact from the video itself. My video marketing effectiveness would be greatly improved by posting up more interview-style or writing and publishing info. videos. Something I will consider doing in the future.
Affect on Sales (ROI): I have posted ads on social media in the form of posts, but due to limited budget have not taken a lot of visual ad spaces online for Talon yet.
Advertisements (print)Affect on Sales (ROI): I have advertised in Good Reading magazine (Australia) and Locus (US).
Social MediaAffect on Sales (ROI): My social media efforts so far have been minimal and have not generated a lot of sales. There would have been a few, but I haven't really had time to pinpoint my target market on social networks and forums, then "join the conversation" (as opposed to barging in to a conversation and self-promoting). I want to bring value to groups online, before trying to simply sell my book, but I simply do not have time.
In addition to running Australian eBook Publisher full time I have two young children to look after when they're not at school and daycare. My kids are so important to me. This stuff with my writing is not meant to take over my whole life. So even though it's a bit frustrating that I know what to do but don't have the opportunity to do it, I know what I'd rather be doing! Being with my kids. :) These are the choices every writer has to make of course, whatever their situation.
Email NewslettersAffect on Sales (ROI): I've been building an email list for about ten years, and it's still pretty small. So I simply let them know when each of my books is out and leave them in peace.
Pull-up BannerAffect on Sales (ROI): I have my pull-up banner at the Sydney Book Expo in 2015, and will use it again this year at SupaNova. Otherwise, though, I have not had time to anything in person to promote Talon. The strategy has more been about internet marketing on a shoe-string budget (time and money wise!).
SummaryIt is difficult to pin-point sales to any particular things I have done (apart from my Kindle and Web Promotion Strategy). I think selling books is a two steps forward, one step back kind of process, some things work—some don't. You just gotta try, try and try again.
Talon has only been out since April, yet I am already earning quarterly royalties that MAY have a trajectory that will lead to a profitable book. None my customers have ever taken up as many of the marketing services I have used for Talon. The more an author does, the better their sales, unless they have a dud. And you never can tell.
I have not covered my production and marketing costs for Talon yet, but I am sure I will eventually.
Update: 11/09/2017 Talon is a steady seller and lots of readers enjoy it on the Kindle Owner's Lending Library.