Disclaimer: This post was originally posted in May 2020. Some of the information may be dated.
In Indie Author Tips: ARC Groups I discussed how hard it was for me to get people to read my unpublished manuscripts and provide feedback, and how I joined BookFunnel to help get a better response. Today I’m going to discuss what BookFunnel is and how it works in more detail.
I love my friends and family. They mean well. But when I was editing The Lady of Zion I got let down by pretty much everyone. One person actually read the book in the three week time frame I gave them (why three weeks? Because not everyone reads as fast as me and life happens). The book was released in April and I still haven’t heard back from most of the people that got review copies. And I get it, not every is super into reading, and we’ve had COVID and other life stuff happen. And I get that The Lady of Zion will not be for everyone. I shudder to think what would happen if The Westboro Baptist church ever sees it… So like your mom always says “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed”. But these sorts of things just happen. My loved ones didn’t do it to specifically slight me or anything like that, so I used it as a learning curve and adjusted.
I asked one of the author groups I’m a part of for ways to find BETA/ARC readers (for more about what these are check out this article) and quite a number of successful authors suggested BookFunnel. So I checked it out. These authors were suggesting I upload my unpublished babies to the interwebs and send links to readers to download. It was a scary idea but I took a deep breath and did it anyway. I figured I didn’t have much to lose because the way I was doing things wasn’t working. I had to do something!
It was pretty cool. I had to learn to use their suggested book converter because BookFunnel doesn’t send out word documents. It was a little difficult at first but once I figured it out it was pretty easy. You upload your DOCX file to the converter and after a couple of steps it gives you an EPUB file and a MOBI file, files suitable for Kobo and Kindle. BookFunnel recommends uploading to their site in EPUB, MOBI and PDF, and word converts to PDF for you. At that stage using BookFunnel seemed pretty cool because it gave my BETA/ARC readers a choice in file format so they can read on whatever device they want. Some readers had complained they wanted to read it on their Kindle rather than as a word document, and using BookFunnel had the added bonus of looking more professional than the pdf’s I’d been sending out.
But it didn’t seem that great. Why had all these author’s told me I could find readers doing this? All this did was make sending readers copies easier.
And then I discovered what is really cool about BookFunnel. Promotions.
BookFunnel lets you join giveaways, newsletter builders, and sales promotions through their site. An author will start a Promotion, for example this month I’m joining in on three promotions (I’ll put links below but be advised they run out once the promotion is over), one of which Is 99c Urban Fantasy reads. Using the super simple form on BookFunnel you create a landing page for your title and join the promotion. There are rules on each promotion (some don’t let in erotica, or you can’t have suggestive covers etc) but the best thing is it’s included free in your membership! (Sidenote: there are paid membership tiers, I probably should have mentioned that earlier. Sorry). Other author’s just add the promotion they want to do and you can join it. You have to agree to share the promotion on your social media and newsletter, but the other author’s do it too. So for example if I have a mailing list of 1000 and I started a promo that you join (and we’ll say you have a mailing list of 500) then 1500 are potentially going to see your book in the promo.
If you’re struggling with advertising like I am (it’s so hard when you have $0 and no income from a day job) this is a great way to advertise that doesn’t cost a lot (just what ever membership you chose on BookFunnel) that’s really low maintenance. PLUS, it’s targeted to an audience known to be buying books like yours. It hits targeting on so many levels that can be hard to achieve through other strategies. I use MailChimp as my newsletter carrier, and it’s really easy to put links in your newsletter and forget about them. If you send out a weekly newsletter like me you can put the links in your template and then forget about them until the promotion is over. It’ll just be there weekly going out to all your readers. Scheduling posts ahead of time on social media is another way to continue to promote the promo with minimal effort so you can spend more time creating great content/books (because you get ranked on how many times your links are shared or clicked. Some promotions require minimum shares during the advertised period as well).
The one drawback with BookFunnel I’ve found is that I can’t do newsletter builder promotions on the package I’m on. Because I’d never used BookFunnel and I didn’t realise that this was how all those authors are doing their group promos, I signed up for the basic package just to see if I liked it. There’s a significant increase in price going up to the next package but I think as soon as I can afford it, it will be something I seriously consider upgrading to. I’ve discussed previously why newsletters are so important to authors for reaching their fanbase, and BookFunnel lets you give away free books to readers in exchange for signing up to your newsletter.
I’m currently in two promos with a third starting tomorrow (29th May 2020) so I’ll be monitoring my results to see how it goes for me. The Kingston Chronicles are part of all of them! So far I’m not seeing a lot of downloads/conversions to sales from being in these promos, but it IS giving me an idea of what I may be doing wrong in my marketing. For example, my cover is clearly drawing in readers because they’re clicking on it, so one could assume that my blurb/book description is not effectively generating interest, or my pricing is off. Based off these indications I’ve actually changed my blurbs now to shorter, punchier, paragraph long descriptions. Now I need to give it some time to see if it makes a difference.
Sidenote: When Indie-authoring there is a lot of “let’s do this and see how it works”. There are no guarantees with marketing. What works for one author might not work for you. I personally find I make more sales when I’m at markets/fairs with paperback copies of my books and I can have a discussion with readers.
My hope using BookFunnel is that not only will I make some sales, but that when readers have read the book they’ll join my mailing list. Your mailing list is probably the most useful tool to an author, after services like KDP that actually allow us to publish. I’m really excited about this so I hope it helps me make headway where I’m currently stuck. I think BookFunnel will become a major part of my marketing strategy.