Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Does Facebook Advertising Work For Authors?

October 15th, 2012 No comments

The Epic Journey of $250 and a Grumpy Vampire

Nathaniel is not exactly a tech-savvy vampire. He still fervently listens to his gramophone, staunchly insists that the nineteenth amendment is just a trend, and believes the computer is a portal of damned souls.


Despite his severe anachronistic nature, I’ve decided to launch Nathaniel to the Internet masses in a big way. And by “big way”, I mean a very small and limited-budget sort of way.


At the beginning of this month, I launched the third short story in my The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles series, which stars Nathaniel, his long-suffering housekeeper Deidre, and a host of other amusing characters dead and otherwise.

The series is – in my oh-so-humble opinion – pretty damn good (And Funny!), and I’d like more people to give it try. Not such an easy task as many fellow writers know all too well.

So how to make Nathaniel stand out?

I’ve made sure that he’s always in his best cape for each story, has got his suspenders in place, and that his cravat appropriately fluffed. I’ve even priced each of his stories at just $0.99 so the barrier to entry is as low as Amazon and Barnes & Noble will allow.

As the approach of Halloween grows nigh, I’ve realized the time has come to do something so big, so bold, and so brash with my short story series that even the dead will crack open an eye and take notice.

Unfortunately, my writing marketing budget isn’t exactly ready for big, bold, and brash, so what I’m going to do instead is drag Nathaniel’s coffin over to Facebook and see if anyone will say hello.

I’m writing this blog post publicly detailing my mini-marketing campaign, because I don’t think I’m the only one in this little boat called “Hey, Check Out My Writing. No, Seriously, It’s Good”.

So here’s what I’m going to do:

The Power of Free

The first big step I’m taking in this marketing campaign is to price the first short story in the series, Employment Interview With A Vampire, for FREE.

What’s better than FREE? (Answer: lots of money, but FREE is still pretty awesome)

Employment Interview With A Vampire offers big laughs, not one iota of fright, and a very tragic lesson for Mormons that not every huge, creepy, spider web-infested house is ready to embrace The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . I know that readers are bombarded with choices and that they all already have a big list of favorite authors that they’re loyal to, but I’m hoping FREE is a big enough enticement to get some of them to give Nathaniel a chance to strut his cape and suspenders.

Unfortunately, FREE isn’t as easy as you’d think.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble don’t allow authors to price their works for free unless they sign up for special programs that allows them to price their works for free for a very limited time in exchange for exclusively placing the work with Amazon or Barnes & Noble of a specific length of time (90 days for Amazon).

Since I don’t think it’s a good deal to get five days of FREE in exchange for publishing exclusively on Amazon for 90 days, I’m trying FREE a different way. Specifically, I went to an online publisher which lets its authors price their works however they want, including FREE.

Thanks Smashwords.

So now Employment Interview With A Vampire is FREE, but I still need to find a way to tell readers about it.

Nathaniel Takes On Facebook

In Nathaniel’s time, a dollar could go a pretty freaking long way. Not so much today. Can’t exactly buy a billboard or a national television campaign with a few nickels. Luckily for us non-wealthy persons (aka all writers everywhere), the Internet came along, and advertising became relatively cheap again.

In my case, I’m going to bet $250 on Facebook that I can get Nathaniel and Deidre some publicity. This isn’t chump change for me, so it’ll be interesting to see if I can accomplish two important goals:

  • Increase the following on my Facebook page (which currently stands at a paltry 54)
  • Convince people to visit Smashwords or my website to give my FREE Nathaniel story a try

Facebook gives advertisers a pretty big bang for their buck. Facebook users gleefully tell Facebook every single thing about themselves, including their hobbies, favorite movies, where all their tattoos are, etc…, and then Facebook gleefully takes all that information and hands it right over to advertisers who are pretty dang gleeful about it themselves. All of this data lets advertisers focus their campaigns to an extreme level so that they can advertise to those who have already self-selected themselves as the most likely customers.

For my campaign, I’ve developed three different Facebook ads that I’m going to show to two very specific audiences: readers who like humor, and readers who like vampires.

One of the coolest things about Facebook advertising is that I can get immediate feedback on the campaign every time I log into my account. That means that I can tell what’s working and what’s not and make changes in response to what’s actually happening on the ground.

The Campaign

Employment Interview With A Vampire is already FREE on Smashwords and on my website. The Facebook campaign launched on 10/14 and will run through Oct. 31st. I’m committed to recording the results on this blog so that other authors can learn from my experiment. Sometimes I feel like marketing for authors is one big crapshoot, especially for those of us on a tight budget. It helps when we share our experiences, even those that fail spectacularly.

If you want to know how it all turns out, come back to this blog for a visit in early November, and I’ll post everything, even if I don’t get a single download for my free short story or a single new Facebook “Like”. Also, feel free to share this and my follow-up post with your writing community and contacts so we can all learn from each other.

Let me know if you have any questions/suggestions about the Facebook campaign, and I’ll try to answer the best that I can. It’s been a bit of a struggle to try and figure out how to do everything. I think I’m starting to understand why Nathaniel is such a big fan of his gramophone and telegraph.

The Free Press Release Experiment Part Two

January 19th, 2012 8 comments

The Exciting Conclusion!

I know that you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for the results of my groundbreaking free press release experiment.

…not the edge?

At least the middle of your seat then…oh…not even that huh?

Mild curiosity?…come on, don’t make me beg.

Alright, so you’ve been mildly curious to learn the results of my free press release experiment.

Last week, I put together a little experiment to test the integrity of the free press release options on the web. Sure, there was a little scientific curiosity in the mix, but mostly this experiment was spurred by my lack of marketing budget for my new ebook Falling – Girl with Broken Wings.

I spent three hours putting together a press release announcing the book’s release and two hours submitting it to five press release websites:

The release went out on 01/11/12. It’s been a full week now, and the results are in. Was my five hours of time worth the investment? Do free press releases provide any type of reach? Am I now a multi-million dollar author who can afford to clone my favorite goldfish so that me and Hans the guppy will never be separated? (Hint: the answer to that last one is no, but I’ll find a way Hans. I swear it!)

They say that the vast majority of scientific experiments end in failure. It’s comforting to know that I’m in good company. Below is a screenshot of a Google search I did using the exact title of my press release.

You’ll see that I got a whopping three results. I’m no math major, but I do understand that, with the exception of the numbers one and two, three is pretty much as flimsy as it gets.

The top result is from the 24-7 Press Release website. The second result got picked up from I-Newswire, and the third result was from the PR Log site. It’s disappointing enough that these three companies provided only a single link each, but what the heck happened to Online PR News and Does their free press release option distribute to an Internet that exists in an alternate reality (and do these alternate reality web suffers even have access to Amazon?)

It’s interesting to note that the press release I posted on this blog (not exactly a search engine powerhouse) made it to the second page of search results. Therefore, I can only conclude that this humble blog is a better PR site than and Online PR News. (Thus, I will soon be rolling out an online press release service called “Shy Writer Diamond Plan – sure, you’ll only get one link but we’re still better than Online PR News and”)

Just for kicks, I searched for the title of my press release on Google News, which brought back zero results. This was not surprising as most PR distribution services require payment to submit to Google News. Googling the full title of my book did not bring up any of the press releases on the first two search results pages. My efforts weren’t a total waste, though. I did learn that there is a song called “Girl With Broken Wings” by Manchester Orchestra.

By the way, I have heard a crazy rumor that other search engines exist that are not called Google. A quick Google search quickly laid these rumors to rest. (This is a joke. Bing and Yahoo! do exist, I think. I’ve never used them.)

Lastly, combing through the Google Analytics for my book’s website, I was not able to find any indication that my press release adventure had resulted in a bump in traffic.

These results point to a non-surprising, non-revolutionary conclusion that will not rock your world in any way, shape, or form (won’t even jostle your world a little bit). Free…sometimes sucks.

If you are looking for a cheap way to market your company, I suggest taping your cat for five hours. You’re bound to catch it doing something that will garner a few hundred hits on YouTube. Adding your company’s website address in the video’s background should result in some decent exposure, certainly more than you’d get by spending five hours putting out a press release through free websites.

Don’t have a cat? Well, then you might need to dole out some bucks. Most of the same press release companies I used in my experiment offer basic distribution packages starting at $22 on Online PR News and $49 on 24-7 Press Release. I-Newswire offers monthly packages, PR Log is a free press release site, and…well, that site just looks ghetto. I’d recommend staying away unless you want to get your car jacked as soon as you look the other way.

In the past, I’ve used the 24-7 Press Release $49 service with decent results. They put together a nice report with over a dozen links to distribution sites, which I appreciate.

I know that there are additional press release sites out there on the net. Some of them may even have free options with a little more push behind them, but I’ve learned my lesson. Free press releases aren’t worth the effort. Plus, I don’t have time at the moment. I’ve got to go walk the fish.