A lot of authors believe that once you publish, the hard work is over — when in fact, the hard work has really just begun.
I'll admit that I haven't sold a lot of copies of When Stars Burn Out. This is almost exclusively due to a lack of promotional efforts on my part — but I'm hell-bent on doing this the right way once A Dark Sky Opens releases.
Which is why it's a good thing that I saw this article last week, which gives a pretty thorough introductory breakdown of Amazon Ads. I suggest you all check it out! For now, rather than reiterating all of the points the article makes, I shall discuss my personal plan of attack for future marketing and promotional endeavors. (I feel like I've discussed this here before, but consider this an updated version!) The first thing is giving When Stars Burn Out a solid read-through. Horrifyingly, despite all of the people who've read and critiqued the book, there are still an insane amount of typos and errors riddled throughout the manuscript — I'll want to correct all of those before launching a relatively intense promotional campaign. Plus, as I wrap up its sequel, it'll be nice to refresh myself on Eos's story in When Stars Burn Out and make sure there isn't anything big that I've somehow forgotten to address in A Dark Sky Opens.
Once this is ready, I have budgeted to do something that I've wanted to do since the day I published: SEND IT OFF FOR A KIRKUS REVIEW. This will not be cheap. But it will hopefully be worth it. Critical acclaim is something indie authors have been long denied — but no longer! Paying for this review can speak volumes as far as the quality of your written work goes, and I think that every indie author that opts out of this sort of endorsement is doing themselves a grave disservice. Unfortunately, like most things in life, publishing is a PAY to PLAY game, so while this will easily be $350, I'll be investing in it — because not only will I (hopefully) get a positive review out of this, but I'll also have my book featured on Kirkus's website, and that's been known to lead to a big spike in sales and exposure.
After that, I will FINALLY pursue hardcover copies of When Stars Burn Out (with a glowing Kirkus review plastered over the front as a tagline, ideally). I've got everything ready — dust jackets, a design concept, interior formatting — and honestly, the only reason I've held back on pulling the trigger is because I don't want to shell out top dollar for hardcover copies that are *still* riddled with typos, yada-yada. So, once I've got those typos all figured out, and a nice Kirkus review, I can proceed with limited edition copies of When Stars Burn Out.
Now, the purpose of these limited edition copies won't be to make money. Much like in the traditional publishing world, these expensive hardcover editions will be strictly for buzz — or generating a new sense of excitement for the book.
I plan to offer signed hardcover limited edition copies (with swag, ideally) FOR FREE through a newsletter subscriber giveaway. This will hopefully generate new newsletter subscribers — which are, more and more, absolutely essential to book sales. While social media is always in flux and perpetually evolving (and devolving), newsletter subscribers always stay the same in that the newsletter itself remains the BEST way of reaching readers.
The remaining limited edition copies will be sold on my website at what will likely be a pretty hefty financial loss. But it takes money to make money, right? The idea is that I'll advertise a sale on these limited edition copies, which will do two things — first, I'll get something back in terms of financial investment (instead of nothing), and secondly (and more importantly), I'll drive traffic to my website. Odds are high that I'll sell out of these limited edition copies fast, but fear not — I'll have signed paperback copy options available as well, and hopefully those who showed up for limited edition copies will settle for signed paperback copies with swag instead (and I'll actually make money off of those).
For anybody interested in reading the book but unable to afford any version of it, I will offer a new promotional transaction: Free eBook copies in exchange for Goodreads and Amazon reviews, which are hugely important in the selling of future copies. Nothing on Earth can sell a product as well as GLOWING reviews, so I'll be shooting for that!
Lastly, right before A Dark Sky Opens is set to release, I'll collaborate with Kindle Unlimited to offer FREE eBook copies of When Stars Burn Out for a solid week. These copies will have a link to A Dark Sky Opens's pre-order campaign at the very end of the book, making it easy for new readers to find and purchase A Dark Sky Opens. I'll also heavily encourage them to subscribe to my newsletter, which will send them a free copy of A War of Worlds, which is my short story that takes place in the world of When Stars Burn Out prior to Eos's arrival. I'm still toying around with other incentives to subscribe — perhaps by that point I'll have A Dark Sky Opens's limited edition hardcover copy ready (with a Kirkus review as well), and subscribing could offer a 10% discount on the purchase of one of those copies. Or something. If you have any ideas, let me know!
I will, of course, also be following the advice in the linked article regarding Amazon ads very heavily throughout my campaign for When Stars Burn Out. I think I'll do this for a month or so prior to the release of A Dark Sky Opens, so that I don't give the reader too much time between reading the first installment and the second.
Are you on the cusp of releasing a book? If so, what are your marketing strategies?