“Book 3” – Blog post #2

We had another good brainstorming session on our walk today, but that’s not what I want to talk about. Instead, I’m going to take you behind the scenes of book marketing – “Indie” (independent author) book marketing in particular.

A primary impetus (pun intended) behind writing The Bicycle Waltz was to promote the wonderful activity that is Cued Ballroom Dance (this name is easier to promote than Round Dance, which is why we prefer it).

In fact, promoting our activity has become something of an obsession with us. In the past couple of years, we’ve started the DanceDemos youtube channel, a Zazzle store, and done several promotional videos for ICBDA.

But sales of The Bicycle Waltz (TBW) haven’t been high enough to really get the attention of non-dancers, which undermines the promotional value. So, I spent several months doing a deep dive on book promotion.

One of the things I learned is how to better use Amazon Advertising – basically, paying Amazon to promote your book (“sponsored” ads) while people are searching for, or looking at, other things. We decided to see if we could buy a little love from Amazon by paying for advertising.

I bought some software (KDP Rocket), and used it to generate appropriate keywords. We set up our campaign and, voila… nothing. No matter what I bid (the campaign “bids” for keywords against other advertisers), Amazon just won’t show our book to customers. Catch-22: Amazon doesn’t want to show your book if it isn’t selling well, and it can’t sell well if Amazon doesn’t show it.

So, that’s we why launched a $0.99 “Countdown Deal” for the ebook over the weekend. Note that, at this price, we will almost certainly lose money – the tiny royalty could never cover the cost of the advertising. But, within reason, we’re willing to take some losses to help get the word out (we’re still in the red on At’s Amore and the Zazzle store, but, hey, it’s all in a good cause, right?).

I also paid to have the book promoted on various discounted book lists, blogs, websites, etc.

It’s difficult to tell how well the promotion is working. Amazon Advertising doesn’t seem to be showing our book much, but sales have picked up (presumably through the discounted book lists). In fact, we sold enough to become the #1 Bestseller in the (admittedly small) book category “Ballroom Dance”!

That’s kind of fun. That was something I learned in my research as well. Amazon will automatically pick categories for your book, but you’re better off picking them yourself. Books about Ballroom Dance (which contains both fiction and non-fiction) seemed like an excellent fit. And, it’s a small category, so it’s easier to hit #1!

Notice the new cover, by the way?

It’s an attempt to make the cover more “click friendly” for the advertising campaign. Personally, I’m not a fan of it. But it does rather represent Shelly and Alan, doesn’t it?

Hopefully, the increased sales triggered by this event will at least get Amazon to show our ad. Keep your fingers crossed (and tell your friends how much they’ll love the book)!