Big Splash; Small Pond

Some people take risks; some don’t. For the risk-takers, there’s a chance for both good and bad, and sometimes the consequences are dire. For clarity’s sake, please know I’m not just thinking about redneck stories, all of which seem to feature the line, “Here, hold my beer.” But as stupid as they are, some risks like these actually do offer something in the way of a payoff. Maybe it’s notoriety, as in: “Hey, y’all! Guess who made the biggest bellyflop splash at the Redneck Olympics? Yep. ‘At’s right. Now, who’s got my beer?”

Hopefully, most of my readers will have loftier aspirations. Selling books, for instance. You can’t sell ’em if you haven’t finished writing them, so this message is clearly intended for those who have. If you want to sell your work to anyone outside your family and close circle of friends, you’re going to have to do some promotion. Promotion costs money, and that means taking some risks.

Most recently I concluded two promotional efforts for which I paid about $600. The former involved 37 websites, of which just over half required a payment of some kind. Some of these mentioned my temporarily free book in an email, a blog post, a newsletter, or in or on some form of social media. The second promo involved one website and a modest payment. The deal called for them to send out 72 tweets over three days to half a million followers.

Aside from the number of promotional sites involved, there was another huge difference. The first campaign offered a free book (the first in a series); the second offered a much bigger book, but at a discount, and the price increased a little every day until it returned to normal. Both deals were co-ordinated through Amazon/Kindle. The former was a Kindle Free Book Promotion. The latter was a Kindle Countdown Deal.

The first campaign was quite successful, and it’s still paying dividends. I will more than make my investment back, and it looks as though that payback will continue for quite a while as additional books in the series are selling well. Thankfully, folks seem to like the first one. I’ve even picked up some great new reviews. The second campaign ended yesterday and didn’t yield a single new sale.

Obviously, I need to keep running promotions. But I intend to be more narrowly focused so I can get a better feel for which websites provide the best return. And it could be that the free and lower cost sites do just as good a job as their more expensive brethren.

I’ll test that next and keep you posted.

The upshot for all this is that there will always be winners and losers, but you can’t count yourself as either one if you don’t play the game. If you’ve invested the time to write a book, doesn’t it make sense to invest something to get it into the hands of readers?



About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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4 Responses to Big Splash; Small Pond

  1. MaryCan says:

    Josh, I’ve liked your Writing Naked series best of any writing books I’ve ever read/bought/given away. Not yet thrown away, by the way. Would they sell well in some kind of promotional, maybe built on one of the writer mags?

  2. joshlangston says:

    I’m working on book four in that series. I’m sure I’ll do a promotion on them. Just not sure which one to start with. Got any suggestions?

    • MaryCan says:

      How about using one of the nicer small exercises as a lead-in? Each book has a slew of good exercises, I think. Might use one not included in the free on-line tutorial. And of course the covers are a natural for an illustration. Or how about a free paperback of one of your lesser books for the first response?

      • joshlangston says:

        More than likely, I’ll start with the one that has the most reviews. Maybe I can offer all of them in a bundle. I’m going to have my entire marketing division look into this.

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