Friday, September 5, 2014

Toe dipping – test the water first

Michael W. Davis

Being a “take charge and haul butt” kind of guy, my strategy in past endeavors has always been to set out a plan then execute to its full potential. Always worked, given my gut insights sounded true in most areas. Early in my writing career I learned that this “full speed ahead” tactic was a disaster. Why? Because my gut sense no longer held true in this new to me world of book promotion. I’ll provide two examples.

One of the first marketing avenues I adopted was advertisement. I mean, it’s always been out there, haunting our every move. Gotta work, right? Big mistake. After spending four grand I learned, least for me, ads suck in terms of providing any return on your investment. For every dollar I spent, I got a nickel back.

Here’s another example. I heard about using videos to market your books so, given my nature, I jumped in with both feet and spent days preparing four trailers, loaded then on a dozen video posting outlets then monitored my web site hits to evaluate the effect. Again, the return was negligible. Oh sure, if someone visited my site and happened to watch one on my videos, their tendency to buy was much higher than if they did not view the trailer, but that was not my original purpose. Plus, given the VERY few that passed through my video page, it really wasn’t worth the effort.

My point is, I’ve now learned that with any new hearsay promotion avenue dealing with pushing my books, I dip my toe in the water, sample if it actually works first before committing major resources. Unfortunately, many of the promotion activities we think will provide significant return never pan out. In fact of the two dozen plus methods I’ve experimented with, those that result in reasonable return number about the same as the digits on my left hand. In the future, I’ll share one that definitely has worked for me, festivals, but only when you prepare and execute properly. I plan to take photos of two this fall and I’ll discuss what I’ve learned as the key to success. Till then, have a good one.


Liz Fountain said...

Good advice - and your generosity in sharing what you've learned has helped me a great deal, BM. Thank you!


Big Mike said...

No problem Liz. Plan to take photos at the big festival next week and write up what I've learned across three years of doing these shows.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Victoria Roder said...

Like many authors, I hope to find the right combinations of promo to get my book in the hands of readers. Most days it feels like I need a little more luck.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

The theory that you "have to spend money to make money" is not very accurate. It goes right along with "a fool and his money are soon parted."

I didn't fall for the ads, but I fell for a vanity press that made me poor enough to think twice.

Gabriella Austen said...

With my first full length YA book coming out in August, I decided to put my money into hiring a publicist for three months. The cost isn't too bad and I'll let you know if it works. Thank you Mike for testing the publicity water for us.