Like others have mentioned I long for the day when I can turn to a professional publicist and say, "Fine. You handle it." Of course I also feel the same way about cleaning my house. Turning either of those chores over to a professional isn't happening anytime soon, so like most other e-book/small press authors, I'm forced to handle it myself.
What works? Got me. My sales numbers don't give me much of a handle on that. I've tried ads in the big magazines, blogging, guest blogging, chats, myspace, promo giveaways, contests, you name it. Each time I think I'm onto something big, my sales stay steady. So I'm left shaking my head. Yes, I've had people win a copy of one book and then go buy the others in that series. Yes, I've had people leave comments on blogs and go buy the books. I've had booksignings where I sold three and others where I sold thirty. Honestly? I can't figure out any trend or pattern. And that's using my scientific analysis background. The best I can tell you is that all of it works--sometimes.
In the two years since I made my first sale, I have noticed a couple of things. Chats aren't as well attended as they once were. From an author's point of view, that's a disappointment. Even if hundreds or thousands are reading the excerpts later on digest, it's hard to keep a chat going if you have three readers show up. And if you do run a free download contest, you honestly don't want to give free books to the same reader time after time.
Like many authors, my promotions budget is essentially zero. I can afford to chip in on the occasional big prize or mail out the occasional goodie. I bought magnets for RT and have another hundred or so to pass out. I do not have a software program to produce cool flashy banners or other graphics, and therefore what I do end up investing is time. And every hour I spend promoting is an hour I don't write. I do have my dragon logo. At one point I was told that he was too juvenile for the romance/erotic romance market, so his image has gotten an overhaul (above). He's still Cedric and he still shows up on my emails, but it's now in his grown-up persona.
So what works, what doesn't? Don't ask me. I'm just plugging away at it like everyone else. Of the two publishers I'm with, I will say that the one I do more promo for, I'm one of their lower sellers, while the one where I mostly let the books sell themselves, I'm sitting at #1 on their bestseller list. Go figure.
As the US inches deeper into recession, we're competing harder for what small amount of money is left for luxuries. I know a number of authors are sending promo to the Australian romance conference this winter in hopes of expanding their readership overseas, where the economy is stronger. I will probably do likewise and hope they like dragon magnets too.
Oh, and one cool note? One of our recent Saturday guests here on the grip had an email from her publisher the day of her guest appearance asking what she'd done for promo, and to please keep doing it. Thought that was a very cool testament to the whole blogging thing, and to the Grip in particular.
Anyway, promo is a part of the job description and it's not going away. We do what we can, what we have to, and what we can afford to get the word out. Why? Because there's not much cooler than having someone come up to you and say,. "Oh, I love your books!"
One last thing... Last Saturday, Lisabet Sarai offered a free download of Rough Caress to one lucky commenter. Jeanine if you would please contact Lisabet at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your free copy?