Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heather Gray: Marketing on a Skinny, Tiny, Little, Shoestring Budget

Marketing on a Skinny, Tiny, Little, Shoestring Budget
by Heather Gray

Selling a kazillion books.
Happy sigh.  Isn't that what most authors dream about as they slave over that first novel?  By the time novel number two comes along, it's a determined sigh.  With novel number three, it's a gritty sigh.  With novel number four, there's not even a sigh anymore.  Reality has set in.
If writing is fun and editing is work, then what is marketing?  Hard work – painfully hard.  At least, that's what I used to think.
I've known authors who have spent over a thousand marketing dollars to launch their debut novel only to wait six months before earning a paycheck with more than two digits to the left of the decimal.  I've also known authors who have spent little on marketing and who have seen their books take off like wildfire.
Personally, I'm not very good at spending big.  It's part of that whole being-an-adult and putting-my-family-first thing.  I know, I know.  It might sound crazy to some people, but I'm not willing to starve my family's budget in order to feed my writing career.
I'm also not a big gambler, so you won't find me buying tickets and sitting around anxiously waiting for my number to be called in the book-success-lottery.
Work hard with integrity and consistency.  You could say that's my motto when it comes to my writing.  When it comes to marketing?  Work smart, not hard.
I keep a marketing calendar, and I plan my marketing in advance.  Because I'm organized, I end up spending less than an hour each month scheduling all my marketing for the following month.  I also plan my marketing all together in a single 5-7 day time period.  While I pay attention to marketing during that time, I'm not anxious about it because I've already done the work.  The biggest perk to this system as far as I'm concerned is that I get to concentrate on writing for most of each month.  Didn't I say it above?  Writing is fun.   It's important to writers – and to their careers – to make time for writing.
I also incorporate several free promotional sites into my monthly marketing plan.  Some free sites offer fantastic results.  Others – eh.  But even those sites that provide so-so-mediocre sales results still offer links to your book and often to your website on their site and in their social media promotions.  Those links back to you (called backlinks) and your book help increase your chance of discoverability.  In the world of search engine algorithms, having other sites linking to your webpage is an awesome thing.  Those backlinks might not result in immediate sales, but they do feed into your long-term success.
Here are some of the free sites that I use for book promotion (always double-check as prices are subject to change at any time, etc.):

There are a lot of other book promotion sites out there that don't charge.  Sometimes it's because they're new and are still trying to build their following, and sometimes it's because they make all their money from affiliate links with the booksellers.  Just remember, some will pay off with immediate sales, and some won't.  A balanced approach between your short and long-term goals is always a good idea.
By the way – if your budget allows it, and you want to use paid sites, too, go for it!

Whether using paid or free sites, though, keep track.  Know where you've advertised and what the results have been.  Having that knowledge will make planning next month's marketing that much easier.  Seriously.  Plan ahead so you can spend your time writing, not stressing out about marketing.  After all, if you don't make time to write, you won't have anything to market.
Thanks, Heather! 
You will love her historical romances. Here's the blurb from her book Queen:

You can't hide from the past.

Queen's world was shattered, and she was banished to a foreign land. Years pass before she dares to return, but what she finds is of little comfort. Greed and dishonesty have festered and grown in her absence. Embittered and cynical, Queen trusts few people.

Owen pursues a clandestine investigation and finds himself working side-by-side with a veritable ghost, an agent few have seen, a master of disguise known simply as Queen. He craves her trust…but then uncovers a secret from his family's past that could destroy her.

Queen once sought refuge in America and now seeks it in disguise. Owen has always found his refuge in God, but will his faith be strong enough for the challenges ahead? Can he convince her to stop hiding, or is he doomed to become her most hated enemy?

Heather Gray can be found at her website, blog, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Queen can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook outlets.


  1. Great ideas and a good approach to marketing. Thanks!!

  2. Great ideas and a good approach to marketing. Thanks!!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing these links, Heather! I'm bookmarking them to use soon.

    1. Thank you for having me on your blog Patricia - it's always an honor!

  4. Thanks for the info, Heather! Very helpful!

    1. So glad you could make it Lisa! I hope you got some benefit from the post. :)