In the first part of this article, I shared a little of my own limited experience in the world of Indie-publishing and explained how, no matter how good your book may be, like any product, its success (unless you are exceptionally lucky) will depend on how effectively you market and promote it.
With this in mind, two weeks ago I published via twitter, Facebook and a few other on-line forums, the link to a quick anonymous Author Survey. Since then, I have had responses from 33 authors, 26 of whom are self-published.
12 of the 33 respondents have sold over 5000 books, 5 have sold over 10,000, 2 over 50,000 and just 1 over 100,000.
Statisticians among you will no doubt point out that this may not necessarily be a representative sample and of course there are many different ways in which the following data could be interpreted, but I feel it provides some useful insights nonetheless.
It should come as no surprise that almost all of the respondents have published their work in Amazon Kindle format.
Just over half also offer other eBook formats and a whopping 71% have also published in paperback, although this may have been for earlier books – over half of the respondents published their first books over a year ago and 5 of them over 4 years ago.
I then presented a number of marketing channels which are open to authors and asked them to rate the relative effectiveness of each. Now, one thing that’s important to note here is that determining how effective a certain promotion has been is not always straight forward. The 19th / early 20th century american merchant, John Wanamaker, regarded by some as the father of advertising, once famously quipped, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”As some of those who took the survey pointed out, the list of options presented was not exhaustive. A few commented that getting other bloggers to mention or review one’s books (what I would categorise as PR, even though it’s not using the established “press”) can be very effective.
Anyway, the results, when presented in summary above are kind of all over the place. Clearly there was some agreement on PR and KDP Select as effective channels, but there was quite a spread of responses in each of the others. The following charts show the split for each channel.
Drilling down into on-line advertising, I further asked those authors who do advertise to rate the relative effectiveness of the following 3 channels available. I also asked for any other effective ad placements besides these, but the responses given more accurately fall within what I would call general PR – i.e. participating in various communities, getting reviewed and so on, so I omitted this response from the chart below.
The overall result here is that none of the authors surveyed rated advertising as either “effective” or “very effective”, although some effect has been noticed, particularly on 3rd party websites, which is also my experience.
Having spoken to a few very successful authors outside of this survey, I have heard that advertising is most effective when used in conjunction with some promotion such as giving away free books or other gifts with one’s own book.
If any of you have any other insights to share, then please feel free to use the comments section below.