Using Affliate Marketing

September 28, 2012 1 comment

Here’s a tip I’ve known about for over 10 years but could never make work for me until just recently.  It’s called affiliate marketing, and it goes like this:

You sign up as an affiliate (let’s say on Amazon).  You list Amazon products (books, treadmills, telescopes, whatever) on your site.  Anyone who clicks through and buys that product, you get 4% of that sale.

Amazon now gives you the opportunity to create your own “aStore” in which you list products and encourage people to buy them.  If they do (or if they buy anything on Amazon after that initial click-through), you get 4% of the sale.  So now you can sell other people’s books and ebooks and make money on every sale YOU make.

This does not affect the royalty the author gets.  It is classified as advertising costs by Amazon.

Even better, you can set up an aStore (or just do simple affiliate links) and sell your own books–and make 4% commission on every sale!

To employ this strategy, go to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/  Join for free.

Then create links to your own work by clicking on the little Twitter icon in the upper “ribbon” that appears at the top of every Amazon page.  Copy just the URL from the Twitter post it generates.  Then paste that into Hootsuite to shrink it and use THAT URL in all of your direct-to-Amazon postings on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

You can also see on the ribbon at the top how to create an aStore, link to the page for your website or blog, create widgets for your website or blog, etc.  Lots of possibilities with this one, and you can do far more than just your own books as well.

I now have several aStores.

One for my work:  http://astore.amazon.com/stacistallings-20

One for Grace & Faith:  http://astore.amazon.com/gracenfaith-20

One for my publishing company, Spirit Light:  http://astore.amazon.com/spiritlightbooks-20

One for my new site Christian Kndle (not a typo, that’s the name of it, Christian Kindle was already taken!):  http://astore.amazon.com/christiankndle-20

I promote and cross promote from my blog/websites to these and through these to earn more commissions on everything I sell.

Barnes and Noble has an affiliate program as well, and I believe it pays 6%.  I just haven’t had time to look into that, but believe me, I WILL…🙂

Ad Campaigns

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Believe me when I say the LAST thing I ever thought I’d be writing about was Ad Campaigns.  Alas, Karen Baney, the instigator of Grace & Faith, led the way for me in this area too.

A couple weeks ago, Karen and her husband Jim, opened a new site for authors–Christian Ebook Today.  http://www.christianebookstoday.com/  They were offering advertising on their site and in special packages.  I decided to try it to help them out and just to put a toe in the water.  Wow!

I was amazed what that little toe did in boosting sales.  Now it wasn’t BIG MEGA bucks.  But it certainly was enough to do two things #1 Convince me to do it again #2 Show me that sales really DO come from buying targeted spots on quality sites.

So I’m now exploring other options at sites like The Kindle Book Review, WorldLiteracyCafe, and Digital Book Today as well as Karen’s site.  I’m still not convinced that I can swing with the Kindle Nation advertising crowd, but maybe that will change.

I do have to say, it helps immensely to have a great cover, at least 10 really good reviews, a great description, a good price, etc.  Just putting up advertising isn’t going to pull sales in without those things in place, but it might be a good way to boost sales of titles that DO have all of those in place.

Go slow.  Use your ad campaigns to increase your reach on “waves” you’re building.  Integrate the ads into what you’re already planning.  Don’t just go buy a bunch of ads and think that will make your sales go through the roof.  It probably won’t.  But it might boost them enough to make you, like me think, “Hmmm… I think I want to try a little more of that.”

Further, since my foray into buying advertising, we’ve started selling advertising for both the Grace & Faith blog and Christian Kndle.  So check them both out and see if any of them fit your needs!

Records, Sales, and Counting

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the things you will want to do from the first time you publish a book is to track your sales.  Now if you’re a traditionally published author, this can be quite difficult as you won’t see sales in real time.  You will get a quarterly statement, and that will make this lesson very difficult to implement.

For those who are indies, however, I highly recommend putting in place a counting, record-keeping system, however simple, so that you can track sales as you go.

(Side note:  I am adding this lesson in after the series is finished because over the last 9 months I’ve learned the value of doing this.  Thankfully I started from the beginning of my Kindle/Nook career because it’s given valuable insights over time.)

The first month I published on Kindle and Nook, I sold 63 ebooks.  I kept track of the sales on a simple Excel spreadsheet by tallying how many of each title I sold each week.

The second month I sold 48 because I had outside commitments and couldn’t invest the time in sales.

The third month I sold 68, and at the end of that month, Grace & Faith was born.

The fourth month, I sold 72.  That was my goal–to sell more than I had in month 3.

By the fifth month, I had learned some of what I teach you in this course–specifically Twitter and Facebook, and I sold 168 ebooks–more than doubling the month before.  By now I was seeing patterns in how my books sold–more on the weekends, more when I tweeted about a certain title.

The sixth month, I sold 320 ebooks.  That was in January 2012, right before my life took a dramatic turn!  Amazon came out with KDPSelect and after watching some of my friends do it, I put one of my books up for free Feb. 1 & 2.  It wasn’t long and I had to adjust my record keeping to daily sales, and it has gone bigger and better ever since then.

I have learned some things by being able to look back at my records and by tracking them every day (when the sales got enough to warrant that).  #1 I sell about 1/2 the books I will sell for that day overnight.  #2  Stacking waves works.  Planning them out 3 months or so in advance really helps.  #3 Every day is different.  You will have up days and down days, and there really is no rhyme or reason to a particular day, so look at overall trends rather than pegging your hopes on a single day’s sales.  #4  Amazon will break and lag for no apparent reason.  Don’t panic.  Just record when they put something up.

I have gotten to where now I have each title and the approximate profit from that title multiplied by how many I’ve sold to come up with a subtotal of sales for the month.  Then I have it to where it will add everything up and tell me what I’ve made for that day.  I “close out” the books every night, noting how many books I sold that day and the dollar amount I made.  I’ve learned that a good day on a high-priced title will match or exceed a great day on a lower-priced title.  But a lower priced title may end up selling more copies, thus landing on a Best Seller list and can out-sell over time a higher-priced title.

Admittedly not every author will want to go to this much trouble.  But being able to look back on these records has given me valid insights into my personal sales that I could not have gleaned any other way.

If you are an indie author, you can track your sales at https://kdp.amazon.com/  on the Reports page where you uploaded your book to Kindle on the Bookshelf page.  The Amazon system only gives the total monthly sales for each title–to do daily or weekly, you will have to write down the new total and figure out how many new ones have been sold since you wrote it down last time.

If you’ve published on the Barnes & Noble site, the tracking place is http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/  BN does their tracking differently and you have to check every day because they don’t give you a by-title breakdown after the one they give on the day of the sale.

Bottom line is… figure out a tracking system that works for you and use it.  If you’re serious about growing sales, that’s the yardstick you will need to measure how you’re doing.

Where to go from here…

Well, our time together has been great fun!  It is time now to put all of this knowledge into action (for you and for me!).  But before I go, I want to point you in the direction of other people and places who can help you on your quest to becoming a best selling author…

G&F’s own Karen Baney:

Also Karen’s Site Everything Author:
Melissa Foster’s site:
Be aware that most of Melissa’s stuff is fee based.  There is very little free information available thru her program.
Jeff Bennington often has good marketing info:
Bob Mayer has a lot of publishing / self pub related blog posts:
Michael Hyatt
Rachel Gardner
Good luck & Godspeed!
Staci Stallings

FREE ON KINDLE TODAY!

August 16

Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:

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–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

Available as a free download from Amazon!

Click here to get your Free Kindle Copy TODAY!

Click here to get a free Kindle App to read “To Protect & Serve” on your computer.

KDP Select

August 14, 2012 1 comment

Amazon’s KDP Select program is one that helped propel several of my books (not just the ones that were free) onto Category lists and Popularity lists… i.e. it helped me sell a lot of books.

The idea is that you put your book for free for a couple of days, promote it like crazy to various websites, blogs, on Twitter and on Facebook.  The free downloads propel the book up the Best Seller charts vastly increasing visibility and resulting in sales afterward.

I have an ebook available if you are interested in this type of promotion.  It will walk you through step-by-step exactly what I did that helped my ebook go to #1 on the Free list and then hit #86 on the Paid list.

$4.99

At Amazon!

Amazon Lists

August 9, 2012 2 comments

I must make mention of one of the best things you can do to sell ebooks and books, which will also prove the most frustrating — Amazon’s lists.

There are several lists to be aware of (and use if you can) on Amazon.

Best Seller’s lists — there is an overall best seller’s list (which you can see how your book or ebook is doing by looking at the “Rank” in the Product Details portion of your book’s buy page).  Sales + sales history will make a book move up or down on this list.  So if you have a spike in sales over a short period, this rank will climb.  But it can be very volatile, and unless you make it onto the Top 100, the only place you can see your book’s rank is on your book’s page.

Category Best Seller’s lists — These are smaller best seller’s lists derived from the categories you put your book in when you upload it to KDP.  So for example, my book went to #86 on the Best Seller’s list (yes, the big one), but at that time it was #1 on four category lists:

Now, one of the uplists (I think it was Religious Fiction) was the fourth list it was #1 on.

Basically when you hit a rank on a category list, your book is ON ever list listed.  So you can back track up the lists to see where it ranks on each list (each uplist gets progressively bigger).

When you make it onto a Best Seller’s Category list, you are a best seller.  Take a screen cap and save it for proof!

Popularity Lists

When people go to Amazon with no set book in mind, they will often search.  The popularity lists can be a very powerful way to get books to people who might otherwise never see your books.  The trick is how to get on them.

Before May 2012, this was relatively easy in that the popularity lists were devised pretty much the same way the Best Seller’s lists were (sales + sales history).  However, in May, Amazon changed the system so now they’ve added the revenue brought in by a title to the ranking order.  So if I sold 11 ebooks at 99 cents and you sold 1 at $11.99, my book would have outranked yours on the popularity lists.  However, now your one sale (because of the higher revenue) would now outrank my 11 sales.

So to get onto the popularity lists, you have to sell a lot of books at a higher price.  Needless to say, that’s a lot tougher to do.

To see this type of list click here.

Off-lists

These are like the popularity lists in how the ranks are determined.  There are many of these on Amazon such as Hot Releases and Top-Rated in each Category. These are fun to watch and can be good landing pages if your book ranks highly.

Tagged lists

Finally, there are lists based on the tags on your book.  Simply click on the tag on your book page (toward the bottom–you should have your books tagged!) and see where your book ranks.  These can be great landing pages especially for those just starting out.

For an example of that kind of list, click here.

Lists will really help you sell.  It’s getting on them that’s the tough part, and staying on them is even tougher.  But being on a list will definitely increase sales so it’s something to understand and work toward.

Cross Promotions & Joint Ventures

August 7, 2012 5 comments

We are now slowly winding our way to the end of marketing course.

After you’ve set up your landing pages, gotten your promo chain going on Twitter (and Facebook, etc.), you are now ready to do some out-of-the-box thinking.

Setting up cross promotions and joint ventures for big marketing pushes takes time but mostly a good group of authors willing to participate–and by participate, I mean doing something other than saying, “I’ll do a guest blog” and then getting it to you the day before.

Ideally for a cross promotion or joint venture you want somewhere upward of ten authors, some newbies but not all.  You will need to map out the strategy and get everyone going in the right direction.  You may need to offer advice on how to use Twitter and FB, etc. (feel free to direct them here for the basics).

The idea is that instead of you promoting your book, you get 10 people promoting the venture.

I’ve seen several of these now, and they can all work if you are willing to put in the time and effort.

** 99 cent sale (or just a sale) ** in which all ten books go on sale at the same time and are promoted for say 3 days or so.

** Book launch ** Several authors get together to promote the launch book while promoting their own work as well.

** Blog Events ** Such as Penny Zeller’s Christmas Memories Event.  Many authors participate and direct traffic to the blog for that time period.

** 30 Days: 30 Books ** This is one I participated in during January.  The blog offered a different book for a giveaway every day for a month.

 

The problem I’ve seen with book giveaways is that it gives no one an incentive to go buy your book.  If you’re looking for increased visibility, this can work.  If you’re looking to increase sales, not so much.

In each of these ventures, the participating authors created landing pages via guest blogs and blogs on their own sites.  They did interviews and tweeted and posted like crazy about the event.  They got their friends involved in helping them cross-promote.

So setting these up and running them can be a very good way to raise your visibility.  Participating in several throughout the year can also help if you get into the right ones.