As of maybe six months ago, I’m a fully independent or self-published author, what is sometimes referred to as an “author-publisher“. I like that term, because it conveys the sense that self-publishing is more than just banging out words and then sending them out into the world, all naked and unprepared. There are things one needs to consider, things a publisher usually does. Two of those are editing and book design, and I’ve blogged about those before.
The other thing that a publisher does to a greater or lesser extent (at least, if you’re lucky and they are any good) is advertise your book. In the case of small or independent presses, you may have a small or non-existent presence in bricks-and-mortar stores, so you can’t rely on people stumbling across your work by accident. That’s where advertising comes in.
I’m still feeling my way through the morass, trying to find strategies that work for me and my books. I thought it might be helpful to others (and for my own future reference) to catalogue some of them here.
These are generally organised to try and raise a bit of word-of-mouth attention when a book first comes out; kind bloggers share promotional content. Sometimes they result in a few adds to peoples’ Goodreads shelves, but I haven’t noticed a huge number of sales as a result. Maybe I’m just not doing them right! Certainly, I wouldn’t do a blog tour with customised posts, as I don’t think the time invested would be worth it. But I would do a book blitz for each of my future releases. Every book deserves a birthday party. 😉
Publishers will usually list books on NetGalley, which is a site that allows reviewers to apply for free ebook copies of books in exchange for an honest review. It’s a lot of reviewers’ bread and butter. But it’s expensive to have a NetGalley account, so, for an independent author, it’s generally more cost-efficient to buy in on a co-op such as this one. I had a three-month co-op when Isla’s Inheritance and Isla’s Oath came out (I had each book up for about six weeks), and a one-month co-op for Lucid Dreaming. I got a bump in the number of reviews on sites like Goodreads, but, like a blitz, this is about word of mouth rather than direct sales.
I saw a tweet that described Facebook advertising as being as effective as setting your money on fire. The metaphor probably works better in countries where the money is made of paper, but still, it’s not too far off. I have tested a handful of ads and have seen no return. These days, the only thing I’d pay to advertise on Facebook would be occasional posts on my author page; Facebook throttles visibility of page posts so that not everyone who likes the page will see them. If you pay them money (the extortionists that they are), they will share the post more widely. In terms of impressions, this is quite effective … but I’d reserve it for significant updates, such as book releases.
Free book promotions
This has been my most recent effort, and also my most successful to date. Because it is my most recent, I’m going to go into a bit more detail, with some numbers. (This does feel a tiny bit like airing dirty laundry, but if you promise not to oggle my underthings I think we can all ignore that!)
I made the Isla’s Inheritance ebook permafree (ie I have no plans to set a price for it again), and advertised it via the “Buy a Series Post” option at Freebooksy. They have a significant market reach and people loooove free stuff. When I previously advertised a sale of my erotica novella (*cough*), I had a ton of downloads, so I knew it worked.
In the first two weeks after the promo ran, I had almost 5000 downloads on Amazon and a handful at the other sites. Isla’s Inheritance made it to #2 on Amazon US for free Paranormal & Urban Fantasy (as I write this, it’s sitting at 233).
There haven’t been a huge number of reviews as a result, but there have been consistent sales on books two and three in the series. I didn’t expect that people who downloaded the book would buy the sequels so quickly, but on the first day of the promo I had four sales of Isla’s Oath and one of Melpomene’s Daughter — suggesting that there were at least four people who read it straight away and liked it enough to keep reading. (If you were one of those people: thank you!)
Within the first two weeks, the promotion had paid for itself with sales on the other books. It’s the first time a promotion has done that for me, so I’m pretty pumped.
There are a few caveats, however. The first is that obviously I didn’t make a penny off those 5000 copies of Isla’s Inheritance; this means that, in order for me to even break even on the trilogy, sales on the other two books have to cover not only their own production costs but those of the first books as well. For this reason, I wouldn’t personally make a book permafree that didn’t have sequels available — because, while I don’t expect to be rolling around in piles of money, I’d at least like to imagine I might recoup my expenses at some point. 😉
The other caveat is that there hasn’t been much, if any, cross-pollination to my other book, Lucid Dreaming. I expect that if people finish the trilogy and enjoy it, and they decide that they’d like to see what my adult (rather than young adult) book is like, that might happen … but it will be slower.
Now that the sales bump from the Freebooksy promotion has more or less worn off, I’ve decided my next experiment will be with Goodreads advertising. I read a really interesting blog post by Lindsay Buroker on how she made it work for her, and I’m keen to give it a try. Goodreads has a big advantage over Facebook in that at least we know the people on there are readers to start with.
Wish me luck!
If you’re an author-publisher, have you tried different forms of advertising? What has worked for you? What hasn’t? I’d love to hear about it!
Do you also like free things?
The Isla’s Inheritance ebook is available free from the following retailers:
My name is Cassandra Page and I’m an online bookstore addict. As a result, I’m no stranger to friendly little packages showing up, sometimes (in the case of preorders) months after I ordered them. Such packages always make me smile …
… but not as much as receiving a giant parcel full of copies of my own book does! In some ways that’s counter-intuitive. I mean, I’ve read my book, right? But there’s nothing quite like being able to
pat fondle hold a copy of a book you’ve worked really hard to produce.
Today both my son and I are home because we’ve got colds, so I was fortunate enough to be here when the delivery bloke with his doof doof music arrived to drop off this lovely parcel.
This particular delivery is even more exciting for me, since paperbacks of Isla’s Oath and Melpomene’s Daughter were never produced by their previous publisher. Naturally I squealed, and my son (who is six) made disgruntled noises about non-picture books. Since I can’t share my joy with him … or with anyone else, given it’d be antisocial of me to take my germs out of the house right now … I thought pester you with it. Thanks for being ace, internet! 🙂
Here is the trilogy, all sitting side by side. Note the amazing work Kim did to get them looking beautiful together? I especially love the little symbols at the top: an arrow, a snowflake and a seashell, chosen to represent each of the stories they represent.
And here is a photo I’ve been keen to take for a while now: all my preciouses sitting side-by-side on my bookshelf. I have two copies of the original Isla’s Inheritance there (since it is no longer available), and two of Lucid Dreaming (one is the paperback proof; I used the online proof function for the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy).
And this is me. Only I’m a brunette with curly, shoulder-length hair and glasses, obv.
If after seeing the lusciousness that is all three books together you’re keen to have copies of your own to fondle, they are available online. Alternatively, for Australians (who may find it cheaper) or those who are mad keen for a signed copy, they are also available from me. Email me at cassandrapage01_at_gmail.com (replacing the _at_ with a @)!
Isla’s Inheritance is my first book baby (well, book triplets, really, given it’s a trilogy), so I’m giddy with delight to be able to share the new covers with you. These were made by Kim Last from KILA Designs — the same wonder who made the Lucid Dreaming cover — so it should be no surprise to you that they are breathtaking.
Feast your eyes! Feast them!
Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own.
Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact her mother’s spirit. But the séance receives a chilling reply.
SHE IS NOT DEAD.
Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.
Australia is a long way from the Old World and its fae denizens … but not far enough.
Isla is determined to understand her heritage and control her new abilities, but concealing them from those close to her proves difficult. Convincing the local fae that she isn’t a threat despite her mixed blood is harder still. When the dazzling Everest arrives with a retinue of servants, Isla gets her first glimpse of why her mother’s people are hated … and feared.
But Isla isn’t the only one with something to hide. Someone she trusts is concealing a dangerous secret. She must seek the truth and stop Everest from killing to get what he wants: Isla’s oath.
Isla struggles to embrace her fae nature while preserving her humanity in the final, exciting instalment of the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy.
Isla has spent months persuading the Canberra fae that she isn’t a tyrant like her mother, trying to prove that—despite her mixed blood—she’s human, not a monster. That she’s one of them, not one of the high fae who enslaved them.
But a vision of a fresh-dug grave warns that someone is going to die.
When the Old World fae once again move against her family, seeking revenge for old wrongs, Isla will stop at nothing to keep those she loves safe. She just wants to be left alone. But to win that right for herself, her family and all Australian fae, she must cross the oceans and take the fight to the country of her birth.
Isla must prove she really is Melpomene’s daughter after all.
I haven’t been blogging as much lately. I’m sure you’ve noticed. It turns out that self-publishing for the first time, combined with prepping to re-release an entire trilogy, all in the lead-up to the silly season, is quite time consuming.
Still, there have been a few exciting things going on. On the Lucid Dreaming front, a beautiful box of paperbacks arrived. I squealed so loudly I may have frightened the dog. I then got to do one of my favourite things: autographing books to fulfil orders for some of my favourite people.
If you’re interested in an autographed copy, they are AU$15 plus postage. (I realise that could get a little XX-y for people that are outside Australia, but the offer is available worldwide regardless.) Send me an email at cassandrapage01(at)gmail.com and we can sort out the details.
Excitingly, if you don’t want me to
deface sign your book, I discovered today that Lucid Dreaming has made it onto The Book Depository. Free shipping worldwide. Whee!
As for Isla’s Inheritance, I had a very exciting moment when a friend posted this picture on Facebook. Yup, that’s my book, sitting next to Indigenous Governance and a little bit of Skulduggery Pleasant. Sweeeeeeet.
For those of you that are waiting for the series re-release (especially for the paperbacks of Isla’s Oath and Melpomene’s Daughter, which TMP never issued), it isn’t far away now. I’ve re-edited all three books and am now proofing the gorgeously designed galley KILA Designs did for Isla’s Inheritance.
And the cover reveal for the entire trilogy is this Saturday. You can still sign up here!
And, of course, I’ve also been decorating Christmas trees, organising presents, and all the other things that happen at this time of year. Once Christmas is done and the Isla trilogy is back on sale, I might just collapse in a heap for a bit…
…who am I kidding? I’ll start writing the sequel to Lucid Dreaming. 😉
As you know, my young adult urban fantasy Isla’s Inheritance trilogy is currently unavailable, due to Turquoise Morning Press closing its doors. I’ve taken the opportunity to give the books a bit of a spring clean — new covers, new interior design, and a bit of a dust and vacuum (so to speak). The first two aspects are being taken care of by KILA Designs; the designer in residence, Kim, is the same very talented woman that designed the Lucid Dreaming cover and interior, so you can bet your boots that I am super-excited about the whole thing!
As I write this, the covers are almost complete, and they will take your breath away — I promise.
Since I’m very impatient, I’ve decided to run an all-in-one cover reveal for the entire trilogy on 5 December … and this is your chance to take part. I’d love to have you! If you’ve got a blog or social media account and you’d like to help me share the new covers, you can sign up here.
I don’t have a release date for the trilogy yet; the first book is with KILA for internal design, and the second is also ready to go. I’m just re-proofing Melpomene’s Daughter. I’d love to have them all back up before Christmas, but that might be pushing my luck, and the friendship with Kim. We’ll see. 😉
To inspire you, here’s a new teaser for the first book, Isla’s Inheritance…
I’ve been sitting on some big news for a few days now, because I wanted to wait till it was official, and to give myself a chance to let it digest. My publisher for the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy, Turquoise Morning Press, is closing its doors this month. That means that the books will soon be temporarily unavailable while I get them ready to re-release.
I admit the timing isn’t great for me, given that Lucid Dreaming comes out next month. (Speaking of which, signups for the book blitz are up now!) But TMP hasn’t gone broke — meaning royalties are getting paid out — and the owner is doing her damnedest to look after the authors. That puts it light years ahead of some small press closures that I’ve heard of. #silverlining
Anyway, all of this means that, if you want to buy the trilogy with its current covers, you need to be quick*! I’ve decided to give the books a fresh look, with covers by KILA Designs, the same cover artist who did the gorgeous Lucid Dreaming cover. I want the books to all have a similar feel, since they’ll all be released by the “publishing house” that is me. (Branding, yada yada yada.)
In other news, I am over at Aussie Owned and Read today, talking about writing your way out of a sad place. The timing is coincidental, I swear!
*If you’re interested in a paperback of Isla’s Inheritance, I have a limited supply available that I am happy to sell for AU$10 plus postage — that’s less than cost! Send me an email at cassandrapage01 (at) gmail.com.
Ages ago I did a word cloud for the first chapter of Isla’s Inheritance. I stumbled across it the other day while digging for something else, and decided I should do one for each of the other two books in the series, lest they get jealous. Also, because it’s fun. And because it gives me an excuse to say I was playing with word clouds in the title of this post, which makes me sound like an awesome superhero librarian!
The app I used for this is Wordle, by the way, if you want to get you some.
They say that new parents always freak out and obsess about their first child’s milestones, whereas with second and subsequent children they tend to be more relaxed. I only have the one actual child so I can’t comment on it, but in some ways, this definitely holds true for books.
Or maybe it’s that I’ve been so busy trying to get all three books ready for the tight release schedule that everything sort of snuck up on me!
Either way, to my surprise, today is the release day for Isla’s Oath. The book blitz will be kicking off on 23 January (at least I remembered to book it a birthday party!), which is very exciting. And, for those of you that haven’t already preordered, the buy links I have so far are here:
As this post goes live, the only one of those that says “buy” instead of “preorder” is the Amazon Australia one, because it isn’t 20 January in the northern hemisphere yet. But throughout the day, the rest of the sites will catch up with us.
(The one place I feel like I’ve really let Isla’s Oath down is that I have to work today, whereas last year I was at home when Isla’s Inheritance launched, so I got to hang out all day on Twitter like a giddy schoolgirl. Still, I know I’ll be checking retailers throughout the day, and squeeing in my office even if I can’t do it on the internet till I get home! Maybe you guys could squee on the internet for me? That’d be awesome!)
If you haven’t read the first book in the series yet and are interested, you can find the relevant purchase links here.
The all-important thank yous
I owe so much to everyone who helped during the process of producing Isla’s Oath, whether it was with a bit of advice, assistance or even just a chance to decompress.
As always, to my alpha reader, Peter — who would provide advice on anything except “the girly bits” — thank you. Luckily Shelby, my fantastic editor, was more than happy to pick up the slack! Thanks also to the rest of my cheer squad: Ali and Craig, Mikey and Karen, the Pageinators, my work colleagues, my sister Kristy, and the Aussie Owned and Read girls — especially Stacey Nash, who was simultaneously on this crazy ride for her own books, and held my hand (virtually) while I hyperventilated over what I was getting into. To the BC09 girls, and my friends on Twitter and Facebook, who’ve also provided a ton of virtual support: I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for putting up with how distracted I get when I’m drafting.
A special mention goes to Sharon, who came up with the name Isla’s Oath back when I was just calling the manuscript Book Two. Your title is so much snappier!
Finally, to Nathaniel, my bright little boy and the light of my life: I love you to the moon and back. No, the sun! No, infinity! I’m sorry the books don’t have pictures. xo
Those who’ve read my debut novel, Isla’s Inheritance, will be aware that one the talents Isla discovers is the ability to read people’s emotions via their auras. Until she gets used to and learns to interpret the colours, this is quite overwhelming for her.
Over time, Isla built a mental list of what the different colours mean. As for me, as her creator, I had a physical list that I often referred to while writing, to make sure that I kept the colours consistent. Building this list meant I often wrote Google searches like “what is the colour of happiness?” It was interesting to see the variety of responses this turned up, and of course everyone is going to attach different moods to different colours, depending on their cultural background and personal associations. (I had happiness as a shade of pink when I wrote the books, but now I’d make it canary yellow.)
A good example is red: in Western countries it tends to be associated with passion; with strong, hot emotions. Because Isla is Australian and has that cultural filter, those are the associations she has with shades of red, whereas if she’d been from an Asian background she would probably have associated red with happiness and prosperity.
Isla’s experience of emotions of colours is almost — but not quite — like synaesthesia. I have a friend who has grapheme-color synaesthesia, meaning that her perception of numbers and letters is shaded by a colour (she doesn’t associate numbers with colours; she sees numbers as having colours). The difference in Isla’s case is that she doesn’t experience every emotion she sees as a colour. She observes it in more of a detached fashion — albeit one that swamps her vision until she gets used to it.
Here is a sample of some of the different colours I used in the trilogy, and the emotional associations that I made with them. I often used adjectives, because as you can see, you can have the same basic “colour” meaning a few different things. (Wikipedia was a fantastic resource for this!) The examples below are all toward the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum:
Sickly yellow – fear
Amber yellow – caution
Vibrant orange – terror (beyond fear)
Soft pink – compassion
Salmon pink – embarrassed, like a blush
Deep pink – happiness
Scarlet – lust
Blood red – angry, aggressive or enraged
Rose red – love
Red shot through with black – when fury has crossed over into mindless, ragey violence
For me as a writer, the most fun part was finding creative ways to describe emotions and colours mingled together. Here are some examples from Isla’s Oath, which comes out on 20 January:
Jack seemed calm—his aura a uniform light blue, like a winter sky—and I resolved to emulate him.
Jealousy and grief clashed in her aura, lime green and silvery grey.
His aura was primarily the deep blue of suspicion, but a slow tendril of sickly yellow fear curled there too.
I’d seen fear before, sickly yellow and pulsating. This boy’s fright was beyond that, a blazing orange that hit me like a punch to the gut, knocking the wind from my lungs.
What emotions do you associate with different colours? Are there any I’ve listed that you disagree with? I’d love to hear from you!
Isla’s Oath comes out in a week. A WEEK! I have no idea where the time went, but that kinda snuck up on me! To celebrate (and to hide my panic), I decided to share a teaser. Because everyone loves to be teased, don’t they?
If you’re interested in preordering, here are some handy links…
Excerpt from Chapter Six
“I’m so sorry, Dad! I overslept.”
He glanced at his watch. “It’s almost eleven. It’s not like you to sleep so late.”
“I know, I know. Late night.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Dominic?” Although his tone was neutral, anxiety clashed in his aura, too bright for first thing in the morning.
Wincing, I glanced around, wondering where my aunt was. “No. Other stuff.” This keeping secrets thing was hard work. “I’ll tell you later. Do you mind waiting while I get ready?”
“Not at all. Your cousin’s out in the shed; I’ll go see what he’s working on.”
The shed was Ryan’s art studio. I didn’t go out there anymore, because there were several shelves of Dad’s ironwork along the back wall. I used to store his dozens of gifts to me out there, having no use for that many candleholders and coat hooks. Since my eighteenth birthday, when my duinesidhe heritage manifested, I had extra incentive. Proximity to that much iron made me lose my lunch.
Dad had offered to take the ironwork back. Sarah told him not to. “It might come in handy. You know, for stuff.”
Probably thinking of the duinesidhe that attacked him, Dad had agreed.
Refreshed after a quick shower and with minty-clean teeth, I went out onto the back porch. “Dad! You ready to go?” There was no answer, and anxiety made me grip the railing in tight hands. Only a couple of months ago I’d found Ryan passed out in the shed. “Dad? Ryan?”
“Here.” He stepped into the shed doorway and beckoned me. “I think you need to see this.”
I shook my head, staying where I was. “See what?”
“Ryan’s latest painting.”
“Can he bring it out?” I asked plaintively.
There was a murmured conversation in the shed. I clenched my jaw with impatience. After a couple of minutes, Dad and Ryan filed out and up onto the porch. They weren’t carrying the painting. “It’s too wet to move,” Ryan explained. He had a smudge of paint on the side of his nose, and his face was pale. “But I took a photo on my phone.”
“Clever.” I smiled.
He didn’t smile back as he handed me the phone.
At first the photo, small as it was, appeared to be an abstract style uncharacteristic of Ryan’s work—his usual preferences were either realism or comic book. The photo was comprised of curving yellow, red and orange lines, with a black shape underlying them. I shaded the phone’s screen from the sun’s glare and zoomed in to get a better look.
My eyes widened. Flames encompassed the entirety of the painting, from edge to edge, licking at the black sticks of trees and rolling across familiar ground.
It was Mount Taylor.
“Do you think this is an aislinge vision painting?” I whispered. A cold ball settled in the pit of my stomach, its tendrils of ice seeping through my body.