High Level vs Low Level Book Promotion Techniques

| Posted in Book Marketing |


MarketingI’ve been contemplating a post on time management for authors (I know, scintillating summer reading), but I thought I’d define a couple of book-promotion ideas first so I can reference them in the later post. The ideas are high and low level promotion techniques. I made those terms up myself, so no need to head to wikipedia.

I decided on dividing the various marketing methods after reading a couple of forum posts to the extent of, “my sales tanked when I took a week off promoting my books.” To my way of thinking, that shouldn’t happen, not if one is employing high level techniques as well as low, but let me define my concepts before I get too in love with using them.

High Level Book Promotion Techniques

These are marketing techniques where you’re using or creating systems that do promotional work for you whether you’re at the computer or not. While they might not sell books for you indefinitely, they can chug on, working in your favor even if you take a week or two off from being an Internet Presence.


Giving away free ebooks (as I’ve mentioned before, short stories can work fine)

The more work you have out there, easily accessible, the more chances there are for someone to discover you. Don’t stop at putting free work up on your website, which gets an infinitesimal amount of traffic compared to an iTunes or Barnes & Noble. Have a cover made, and use Smashwords or another distributor to get your work into the major ebook stores.

Publishing a podcast/podiobook

This gets your name and your work out there in another medium, one where there’s less competition because there’s more work and a higher learning curved involved with production. If you choose to make the effort, people can continue to stumble across your name for years to come. I recently downloaded a podcast that started and ended in 2008 (It was good too…. They should have stuck with it!).

Starting a blog*

This gets an asterisk because every author starts a blog. Buuuut most of them aren’t anything that’s going to sell books for the author. (They’re the kind of blogs people would only find if they already knew about the author and were specifically looking them up.)

A blog that is informative and/or entertaining is far more likely to grow into something that helps an author create name awareness. Once that happens, you start getting people checking out your books because they’re interested in what you have to say as a blogger. If you want to start this kind of blog, consider learning about keywords and link building, as these practical tactics can increase the likelihood that people will find your old blog entries via the search engines months and even years after you publish them.

Running an advertising campaign*

This one gets an asterisk too because not everybody has a lot of success with this, but, if you can make the math work (my preferred platform is Goodreads though I’ve heard of a few having luck with Facebook and Google Adwords), it’s a fantastic promotional tool because it requires so little of your time. You set it up once, tinker a bit over the first couple of weeks (to tweak ad performance), and then let it run on its own.

Your time is a precious commodity so any marketing method that can work without regular input from you is worth exploring, even if the tradeoff is money (though I don’t believe in trading off more money than you’re earning back, so watch your bottom line carefully).

Low Level Book Promotion Techniques

If you look at my examples of high-level promotion, you’ll see they’re all about doing work today that continues to have a payoff down the line. I believe you can “make it” pursing nothing but two or three of those techniques, but most are the sorts of things that take time to build momentum. If you’re like me, and have the patience of a three year old, you may want to try some low level techniques to help sell books right now.

These methods require less work up front, but generally don’t have a lasting impact. They’re popular because they worked for enough authors early on that everyone holds out hope that they can still have a huge impact and rocket you up the bestseller list. There’s more noise out there today, though, and I’m skeptical that these techniques alone will work for most people.

That said, I certainly use them (usually when I don’t feel like working on something more demanding), and they can sell books in the interim. You may find a combination of techniques from both categories works well.


Posting on Facebook/Twitter

Fairly self-explanatory. Most authors who have success mix up their promotional posts/tweets with entertaining chatter and links to interesting articles, videos, cartoons, etc. Readers don’t join these services to be sold to, so you’ll probably get farther acting like a real person instead of a 24/7 sales pitch (who knew?).

Posting in Forums

While blatant self-promotion will get you “flamed” on a lot of forums, there are many places where you can hang out, chatting about books and e-publishing and the like, while including a “signature” with links to your books and/or author website/blog. If you’re into e-publishing, check out, The NookBoards, and The KindleBoards. You may also try popular forums related to your genre (i.e. for fantasy authors, there are a couple of big steampunk ones out there). Make sure they allow a promotional signature.

Commenting on Blogs

Commenting on popular blogs where your target audience hangs out might get some folks to click on your name, which will lead them back to your website (or whatever link you leave — I’ve seen authors send people to their Amazon author pages).

The more interesting/relevant your comment, the more likely people will check it out. There’s also a lot to be said for being one of the first few to leave a comment (if you’re on a popular blog that regularly gets dozens of responses to posts), as most folks aren’t going to read through all the comments. On Blogger blogs, you can embed links (ie. to a blog post you wrote) into your message, though the site owner may be less likely to approve comments with self-promotional links.

That’s probably enough for today (congratulations if you’re still reading!). Do you have any thoughts on high vs. low level techniques?

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Comments (11)

Totally agree with everything you said in this post. I think its so important to have both long and short term marketing plans when it comes to publishing. I’m curious which of the the above techniques have you found to be the most effective for your books?

Excellent post. You’ve got everything laid out in a way that makes sense and explained in plain English. I especially like your idea of High Level/Low Level Techniques. It’s that type of creative thinking and logical thought process that makes me appreciate writers like you who know what they’re doing. Thanks for posting this.

Good stuff. The only thing I’d add about the “high level” marketing is that you never know when that’s actually going to start paying off. Sometimes it takes a long while, and I think that therein lies the tendency to grow despondent that your effort isn’t paying off as quickly as you’d like.

As you said, there is a lot of noise out there, and the key is to sustain whatever effort you are making. Six months is a bare minimum, as very few pick up any real momentum before that. Most of the time it really takes about a year to get noticed–or so I’ve heard from others in the game. Only been at it three months myself.

Hi Lindsay,

I actually gave GoodReads advertising a shot after reading about it here on your blog in an earlier post. It didn’t work as well as I had hoped, but I think that had to do with the fact that I was advertising a short story collection rather than something longer. I’m going to give it another try when I’ve got a novel out there.

I used Facebook advertising primarily to build up a fan base rather than sell books, but I’ve been pleased with the results. I give everyone a free story on my Facebook fan page, and I can tell from my wall that many people who enjoyed my story went on to buy one or more of my books.

I’ve still got to look into podiobook versions of my stories. How is that going for you? I know you were working on getting your books converted to podiobooks, but unless I missed it, I haven’t seen an update on that lately.

Thanks for posting so much helpful information!

I neverr thought about using smashwords for my free stories. Great idea.

My brother is revamping my website now and I was going to take the free reads down to make folks email me.

But the Smashwords thing is a great idea. Thanks. 🙂

Glad you enjoyed your trip. Yes, geese are mean.

@Nick: the free ebook (short story) and the Goodreads advertising really helped me in the beginning, and I believe they’re what took me from selling 0-1 book a day to 5-10. I sell a lot more today, but now it’s a matter of people finding them on Amazon because they show up on a lot of other authors’ “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” pages, but, for most of us, it takes a while to get to that point.

My blog has helped all along (I regularly see sales of my books in my affiliates report on Amazon), too, though it might have helped even more if I’d chosen to write to my target audience (fantasy fans), rather than e-publishing authors. 😉

@Todd: Thanks for reading and commenting! Hope you’re having fun with the motorcycle (I peeped at your blog).

@Brondt: Definitely. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul. Even assuming a blog or podcast is well done, it’s probably going to be 6-12 months for things to take off, and it seems to be the same way with ebooks. I’ve seen the sales stats for some of the (now) hugely successful indies, and most had unimpressive sales in the beginning, then reached a tipping point where things took off, with their sales tripling (or more) between one month and the next.

@Scott: I’ve definitely noticed that the novels sell best. Flash Gold (novella) is my fourth highest seller, and then the short story collections fall far behind. You can price novels higher, too, which makes it easier to break even (or make a profit) with Goodreads advertising. As for the podiobook, I actually have several chapters I need to go proof “listen”! Hoping to get started in August. Thanks for asking!

@Mary: Yes, definitely get those short stories out there for folks to find! 🙂

These are great tips! I love the idea of High Level and Low Level. It’s all like a pebble at the top of a mountain that slowly turns into a bigger and bigger snowball. By the time it gets down the mountain, it will be like that giant ball at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ha, how’s that for mixing metaphors 😉

That was fantastic advice! As a new author about to submit her first novel for publication within the next few months I have found your site more informative and forthcoming than many I have encountered.

Your knowledge and structure of materal creates an easy referral guide to those new to the publishing world or those who are more seasoned writers. I truly appreciate what you have done here and let it be noted-this has now been posted on my fridge and at my workspace!

Thanks, Dawn! I always wanted to be fridge material. 😉

Good luck with the submissions process!

Hi, The best way of Book Promotion it’s ofcourse own blog were you link to the book

At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming yet again
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