First of all, is the summer sales slump a real thing? I hear authors say it’s a myth all the time so I guess it depends on who you talk to. People who don’t need this advice will probably say no. They have great sales all summer. I’ve had a couple of great summers myself. I think this one will be pretty good as well. But I take my own advice in this blog post. I have things set up and ready to go. I plan this stuff well in advance. If you don’t have anything planned for summer, I have some good quick tips you can do right now. If that doesn’t help, well, just read along and do the same thing for the next sales slump.
If you are a new author and only have one book, or just a few books:
TIP: Have a cover reveal for your next book.
It should go without saying that you need the best cover you can afford and/or make. If you’re not a graphic designer or some kind of Photoshop prodigy, do not make your own. Hire the best designer you can afford. If you don’t know where to find a cover just start looking at the front matter of some books in the Top 100 and see if the author includes a link to their cover designer. Some of the better ones will have wait lists, so keep that in mind.
Make sure you have a giveaway with it using some kind of app, like Rafflecopter or App Sumo, whatever you use. I use Rafflecopter myself, just because that’s what readers in my genre are familiar with.
Make sure your giveaway is something cool. I have said this before and I’ll say it again, giving away an eBook isn’t that cool. Signed paperbacks are the best thing. It gets people interested in your book and people pass the giveaway around.
Make sure your cover reveal is a big deal. Like, hire someone to get this set up for you. If you’re in romance or young adult hire the person I do. Giselle over at Xpresso Tours. Or hire Give Me Books. I use them too.
Make sure you have a release date. If you’re pretty sure of this date and it’s within the pre-order timeline for Amazon (90 days or less) then go ahead and set up a pre-order. WARNING: I hit my deadlines no matter what, but it’s especially important to do this with a pre-order because if you mess this up, because Amazon will ban you from pre-orders for a year if you don’t make that deadline.
Do everything you can think of to get people to take notice. A great cover is a first step, but don’t stop there. Give them graphic teasers like this one I made for Mr. Romantic below.
If you’re a more established author and have more than six books, or have a completed series you can do the above plus:
TIP: Have a sale or make a boxed set.
Now this is tricky. If your book is fairly new you probably don’t want to have a sale. If you’re series just completed you probably don’t want to have a box set. Ask yourself this questions before you ever put books on sale or make a boxed set: Do I need this sale and/or boxed set right now?
If you’re happy with your sales, then you do not need a sale or a boxed set.
But if you do decide you need a sale and/or a boxed set, then set that up just like you would a new release. Hire someone to do a blitz for you to get bloggers to pass the sale or boxed set around. Make a media kit for it. This should include all your buy links, some graphic teasers, some excerpts, and of course, a giveaway following all the rules above.
The whole point of a sale is to get readers interested in your book so they read it, like it, and then go on to buy more of your books. If you do not have another book for them to go on to then you should not be worrying about having sales. You should be writing another book.
The point of a boxed set is almost like a re-release of a series you already completed. You should have another series completed too, or at the very least something on its way. Again, the point is to get people interested in your story so they want to buy more. So if you don’t have something else for them to buy, do not put a boxed set together.
Advertising is important and there are websites that specialize in this. Although a couple of them have gone out of business this past week, there’s still a lot out there to use. Find them, go look on Kindle Boards Writer’s Café. There is always someone posting about their promo set up for a sale or a boxed set. Those are really good posts for people who don’t typically get a lot of sales.
If you’re a more established author, try and set up a Bookbub before you announce the sale. It’s a thirty-day thing to get a BB, so plan this out. Don’t waste your sale or boxed set by not having opportunities lined up.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people in Kindle Unlimited who do things like countdowns or free days, but I don’t use KU, so I’m not going to tell you what to do there. I’m just not the right person to give you that advice. But of course, if you are in KU, you should use those promotional opportunities.
TIP: Write a short story for multi-author anthology.
This is not to make money, just like 99 cents sales do not directly make money. I don’t care how many you sell. I regularly sell 5,000 to 10,000 (or more) books during a sale and I don’t make money off 99 cents. That’s not what it’s about. And most multi-author anthologies are 99 cents and have quite a few members. So the whole point is to get new readers so they will click that link at the end and buy something else from you if they like your story. It should go without saying that this story should not be a bunch of crap. Do your best. Always put out the best work you can.
There is very little you can do that is a quick fix. You need to plan these things far in advance to get any real momentum out of them. Momentum is the cumulative effect of good marketing over a long period of time. There are very few over-night successes in this business. Most of us who are pretty consistent and earn a nice living are this way because we plan things and promote regularly.
TIP: Have a new release
Obviously a new release is the very best way to combat sales slumps, no matter what the season is. If this isn’t obvious then consider my tip a newsflash. The more you release, the more consistent you are, the better your sales will be. In addition to that, you have to plan your releases. Don’t just slap that story up there and hope for the best. What’s that saying, Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first?
Forget luck, forget hope, forget wishing. Your control as an author comes from making it happen. So if you have a new book to release over the summer put a pre-order up, plan that cover reveal, plan that release day blitz, get those teasers ready, find your advertising sites, have a sale on the first book if it’s a series. Have a sale on an older book that is unrelated. Do anything and everything you can to get people talking about you on a consistent basis.
I have a previous Marketing Tip Monday that spelled out my breakthrough year (2013 for me) and exactly what I did, and when, to make that year happen. I know some people will look at that year and call me crazy, but hey, I wanted this so I made it happen. And I did that by planning something for every month of my year.
I still do this. This spring I started a new series and I’m releasing them every two months for the rest of 2016. Every two months is still kind of a tight schedule for me because I travel for book signings all spring and summer, but it’s doable. So I’m doing it. Last year I did a lot of standalones and that was good for me at that point in time. This year I’m back to series writing because once people get hooked on a world or a set of characters, they are invested. It makes them want to click through and read more. Plus, pre-orders. I love pre-orders for series books.
TIP: Practice your marketing
If you don’t have any books or none of this seems doable, there’s still things you can do to get ready for whatever is coming up for you. I did this for all of 2012 when I was writing the first three books in my Junco series. I was holding them so I could release all three at once, but while I was writing the second and third books I set up all my marketing. I started a blog (this blog, plus my book blog called New Adult Addiction) and I posted a lot more back then. I set up my Twitter, and my Facebook page. I got to know people by hanging out in reader groups on Facebook. All this stuff adds up.
I also made a dedicated website for the Junco books. I spent a lot of time on that and I don’t think I got a big return, but it was fun. I like making websites. And that’s when I really started making teaser graphics.
I taught myself how to use Adobe After Effects and started making book trailers. I know, I know, people always say they are a waste of time, but I never believed it. And look, last year was the year of the Facebook video ad. And guess who had fifteen video trailers ready to go to run ads with? This girl. 😉
Learn more about your craft too. I took a class on genre and read a bunch of books, then put that knowledge to use by writing my fingers to the bone.
There is so much you can do to combat seasonal slumps. And don’t discouraged if you can’t do any of these things in time for summer. Because guess what? Thanksgiving and Christmas are also “seasonal slumps”. So prepare for them now and when people start complaining about the holiday slump this November you’ll be ready with this come back… “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Seasonal slumps are a myth.”
I have a new book releasing this week. Book two in the Mister Series Standalones and my pre-order for Mr. Corporate is already live. Check it all out below.
Mr. Romantic: A Mister Standalone
Charm is the key to the world.
Charisma, magnetism, sex appeal—that ‘it’ factor that can’t be described.
Nolan Delany has it is spades.
The infamous Mr. Romantic.
And maybe he is out of my league… But I’m going to give it the old college try anyway. Because I didn’t travel two thousand miles for a job interview at his request just to be put out like trash.
Don’t underestimate me, Mr. Delaney.
I’m really not as innocent as I look.