I find promotion to be one of the hardest parts of being an author. As you guys know, authors do a bulk of their book promoting on their own. But being that we're not experts in it, it's hard to know what works and what doesn't. Should you host a contest on your launch date? Maybe. Maybe not. I've put together big prize packages in the past and then only got 4 or 5 entries. So it's not always the best idea. If you have a huge following of people it might be worthwhile. Should you give away copies of your book? I think it's a good idea but think about where you're giving them away. If you give it away on your blog you might have 20-50 entries for it. If you give it away on Goodreads you'll likely have 1000+ entries.
I think the first few years of being an author is sort of a feeling around period of time to see what works and what doesn't. Contests didn't work for me so I probably won't do more. At least not big ones unless I'm being hosted on a bigger site. I tried a facebook ad back when The Espressologist came out in paperback (Jan 2011). I put it up for the week of Valentine's Day. It cost, if I remember correctly, about $125. I asked my agent to check my sales for that week to see if the ad had an effect. Nada. I literally had the same sales the week before. So I'm not likely to try that again.
But it's all a learning process, to see what works and what doesn't. My next book, JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS, comes out October 11th. I want to try something different with this book and something enjoyable so this time I'm going to try and reach out to book clubs. The times I've had at in-person and skype visits with book clubs that have read my books have been really fun. So I ordered a ton of postcards and I'm mailing them to libraries all across the country (I'll probably cap this off at 100). To libraries within 10-15 miles of me I'm offering a free visit with their book club if they read one of my books. To the rest I'm offering a free skype visit. I'm not sure how my little experiment will work but I'll let you all know!
Do you want to share any promo ideas you've tried that worked or were a bust?
Kristina, Miss Author in Action