Marketing Your Kindle Scout Campaign: A Review, Part I

This is Part I, featuring recommended and maybe recommended marketing techniques for Kindle Scout.  Read Part II about what’s not recommended and a final overview of Kindle Scout.

Before I even launched my Kindle Scout campaign, I was getting baited by marketing companies to try and buy their promotions.  Being pretty new at this marketing thing, I was looking for cheap, effective ways to promote, and I quickly learned that sometimes you get what you paid for and you better be a smart shopper.

If you undergo a venture like Kindle Scout as a new author with little experience in marketing, I encourage you to really double check what you’re actually getting.  An ad of “reach 100k+ people on Twitter” sounds too good to be true because it is.  Sure, there might be 100k people following said Twitter account, but when you only pay for one post when they post over 30 times a day, you’re post is likely to never be seen.

I have outlined some very specific methods that I implemented in my Kindle Scout campaign and if I recommend them.  I apologize for the lengthiness; I know I wished I had had a comprehensive guide when I was doing my Kindle Scout campaign, so for those that want all the information you can get, here it is.  I just wish I had more recommended methods for you. 

Recommended:

Blogging – I’m serious, do it.  They look.  I’ve got proof in my Kindle Scout editorial feedback.  I suspected that Kindle Scout was just a traditional publisher in disguise, and that they would care about an author’s social standing as much as they’d care about the book.  So I wrote a blog post Dear Amazon directly aimed at trying to convince Amazon that I was worth it.  That they weren’t just signing up for my novel but they were signing up for me, too, and that I was going to be a good investment.  When I got back my editorial feedback, they mentioned my blog twice and even directly quoted some things I had said.  “…We’re impressed by the positive and pragmatic attitude you express on your blog about the business aspects of pursuing a long-term literary career…We see from your blog that you study books about writing (particularly Stephen King’s On Writing, which is probably the best single book on writing ever), and we think this is fantastic.”  Seriously, do it.  Don’t just sell your book – sell yourself.  In the very least, get a website up, and get all of the social media accounts and post something on them throughout your campaign.  Give them something to look at.  Show them how you shine.
TIP:  I use Blogger, which you can set up as a blog or website, but I chose to format mine as a blog because I wanted blogging to be a big part of it.  However, I still want it to be an information hub, so I put additional pages of need-to-know information hyperlinked on the menu.  It’s super easy to use and customize, in my opinion, and I like it better than Wordpress (which I had previously used).  I stopped using Wordpress because they want you to pay to be able to use a custom domain, but Blogger lets you do it for free.  I got my domain from Google Domains, and only have to pay $12 a year for it. 

Fiverr, Abavar -  I was recommended this Fiverr marketer by a former Kindle Scout campaigner and during the campaign I found out several other campaigners hired him too.  He said that this had been the only person that yielded him results and got him to a “hot” status within a couple hours.  So I gave him a try.  Aba was very fast and polite and provided additional suggestions for marketing at no cost, such as how to promote effectively on Goodreads.  I did his basic $5 “Get 20 guaranteed or more nominations” to see if it worked.  It did.  I was hot within a couple hours when he messaged me back and said I had gotten 31 nominations for his efforts, but said that that probably wouldn’t keep me hot for more than a day.  Toward the end of my campaign when I was doing poorly, I went back to Aba and purchased the $15 gig for 75+ noms and ended up with 87, then bought another $5 gig and got another 25 when my hot hours dropped slightly to help carry me hot all the way to the last few days.  If you want to get hot fast, I’d recommend Aba.  But I’ll caution that being hot is probably not the only thing you should worry about with Kindle Scout, and Aba doesn’t say what his marketing strategy is other than he has an audience that will vote for what he tells them to, or provide proof of these nominations aside from the fact he did get you hot fast.  But he definitely had results.

Fiverr, MarvelousMaven – After Aba, I looked around for other Kindle Scout-specific marketers on Fiverr and found this lady.  One of her marketing strategies is to appeal to her 29k+ LinkedIn contacts.  I got her basic $5 one-time promotion and also got the additional $10 gig to promote 10 more times.  At this point I was realizing that one time promos were useless and I needed to keep the promos coming.  She responded quickly that she would immediately start working on the promotion.  Later that evening she got back with me with a schedule of what times she promoted that day and what times she’d promote for the next few days, as well as a screenshot showing one of the posts.  As an added free bonus, she put in a few extra times as well, to total 14, I think.  About three days into her marketing, I showed interest in her other marketing strategy to pin my book on her “wildly popular” Pinterest, and inquired more about it and she offered at no charge to pin it.  Later, I went back to Marvel to purchase the same gig again but had some questions about it first, and Marvel offered more promotions at no charge for the rest of my campaign.  I was also quite pleased with how encouraging and motivating she was by complimenting my efforts and the way I was providing feedback and analyzing how her marketing strategy of appealing to “do a random act of kindness” method was different than the “get free stuff” method I had been using.  She continued to change up her phrasing throughout the campaign to keep the promos sounding fresh.

I bought Aba and Marvel on the same day, and I was hot for 22 hours that day, 13 the next, and 11 the day after that.  I got about 100 views the first two days.  I honestly was hoping for more views than that, but it sure was a great feeling to log on and see my book on the front page several times.  I’m not sure who contributed the most because I never got any traffic recognized by Kindle Scout from LinkedIn and that first time I only hired Aba for a day and Marvel for a week so it’s hard to say.  I recommend them both.  TIP:  you don’t need to spend the extra cash to get delivery faster; pretty much all Fiverr marketers I encountered got on it that day and had results for me, if not later in the day, the next day.  And hey – if you decide to hire them, tell them Dana sent ya!

Try it, Maybe?:

Author Shout – This company baited me and I took the bait.  And while I feel silly for biting, I don’t entirely regret it.  I think they did me fair.  Author Shout liked a couple of my facebook page posts, which drew my attention to them.  I saw they were posting other Kindle Scout books advertisements on their page, and I was a jealous.  So I looked into doing it – after all, I was only a couple days in and I didn’t want to get left behind.  I jumped on the bandwagon.  I visited their website and, since it was the first paid marketing of my campaign, I thought their $25 Kindle Scout promotion sounded really affordable.  For $25, they make two different banner advertisements with a 3D mockup of your book and make a 20 second video advertising your book as well.  I thought, hey, it saves me making banners (which I hadn’t done yet) and I wasn’t planning on making a video but because my facebook page seemed to think I needed one, why not.  They also promote your book through your whole campaign (roughly once a day, but I did see days where I didn’t get any promos and some days I got multiple), and if you are selected for publishing, they promote you for an additional month at no cost.  No brainer, right?  Good deal, right?  Depends on what you bought them for.  I have utilized the banners, a lot.  They’re pretty decent quality and I was able to tell them to customize it with my website on it.  Video was mediocre and their YouTube channel only has 124 subscribers so it’s not like you’re getting a lot of traffic there.  I was disappointed the first couple days when they promoted my book.  It didn’t seem to get much attention on facebook, like Bookkitty (see Part II), with no likes or comments or shares.  But on Twitter, it’s another story.  I have seen several times where people re-tweeted Author Shout’s ad and liked it on Twitter.  Author Shout followed me on Twitter, and whenever I would post an ad myself, Author Shout re-tweeted it.  I haven’t gotten a lot of direct traffic from Twitter (however it is the second most traffic I got next to facebook), but I’d say try it, if you want, but I’d go with one of their cheaper options and forget the video.  I think they had $10 and $15 options, which is reasonable when just considering the banners when it takes at least $5 to get a 3D mockup on Fiverr alone.

Facebook Ads – Before I even started my campaign, facebook noticed I was about to start promoting myself and they decided to offer me a $30 coupon for advertising.  One of those deals where you just have to give them your credit card in case you run over budget then you get the coupon.  Now, I think facebook is a pretty safe way to advertise.  You can set daily and total budgets so that you don’t over-spend.  You can customize who sees your ads by selecting locations and interests that relate to your ad.  You can track numerous stats about how many people see your ad (whether “organically” or paid) and if they interacted with it.  You can even put the ads on Instagram, too, no additional charge.  Try it, maybe.  I used the ads to try and bring in more likes on my facebook page before the campaign started by advertising a blog post for a few days before my campaign and a few days afterwards.  I ran an ad to vote for my story for about a week into my campaign.  It kind of works.  I doubled my page likes (from like 35 to 66, so not much of a feat, really), and got about 2000 views on my voting ad, and 128 clicks (which isn’t much of a feat, either).  After a week, though, my audience seemed to be dwindling out and my views dropped immensely so that my daily budget of around $3 I was getting close to every day dropped to spending 50 cents a day due to low activity.  I thought facebook was being too slow, and when I found Fiverr, I decided to stop my facebook ads because I’d run out of my coupon, was losing engagement, and wasn’t getting enough results.  But, I did get some results.  It’s just a matter of how long you want to keep trying and if it’s effective in comparison to your other methods.  But I’ve heard a lot of other marketers say facebook ads are a waste of money, and I can see how it can be.  It’s probably one of the “pure” way to advertise, I think, because the clicks are people that stumble upon your ad and are genuinely interested, as opposed to hired or sympathy votes that might not hold as much worth (see Final Note in Part II).  My suggestion would be to run a $20-25 facebook post boost ad no less than $3 a day targeted toward your intended audience during the first week of your campaign on a post that your friends and family are already liking and sharing in order to make the post look more attractive to strangers so they might click on it.  After a week, though, you can probably drop it. 

Local News – I emailed my local newspaper to see if they’d be interested in covering a story about a local author trying to publish a book in order to try and get more nominations.  I didn’t have high hopes, but I had some hopes.  And after talking to the guy, who was very, very excited to be covering my story (you’d think he was interviewing Taylor Swift for as excited as he was), I let myself hope a little more.  I was frankly very disappointed.  I tracked only 26 views from their website (the town has 18k+ residents) the day the article came out and didn’t get any more after that date because the article was no longer on the main page after a day, despite the reporter saying humanity stories like mine usually trend longer than normal.  The outcome was worse than my first hopes.  I had been hoping for at least 100 views, maybe 200 – dreamed of 1000, especially because I shared the article numerous times on facebook.  But I can’t really tell if it helped much.  It helped some, yes, but I don’t think it was a lot.  Another local newspaper must have heard about the first article, and they reached out to me to do an article with them too.  I went for it because it was for a bigger town (40k+ pop.) and a bigger newspaper.  I ended up in the Sunday paper but the online article wasn’t hyperlinked so I couldn’t track views from their website at all.  I was running other marketing strategies that day, so I really can’t say for sure there either how much it helped.  It did give me bragging rights to my friends and family, though, that hey, I was in the paper!  Twice!  In small towns it’s basically like being a celebrity for a day. 

Local Facebook Groups - There’s several “Things Happening in [This Town]” groups on facebook where people talk about what’s going on in the area:  why the cops are at Drug House St, where you can take pictures with Santa Claus, specials and sales at local businesses, and sometimes even breaking news.  I was excited to see what reaction I’d get for a local author publishing a book and offering it for free.  Another local author not a month before published a book and everyone was crazy about it, racing to shelves to get a copy and quickly selling out everywhere in town – there’s a big difference between that guy and me, though.  Their book was about the area and a real-life tragedy that happened here in the 70s that’s still a haunting mystery today.  My book is a young adult urban fantasy with no ties to appeal to the history-loving folks in the area.  No one cared about my book or that I was a local author, it seemed.  My first post got 12 likes (the group has 13k+ members) and was quickly shoved down the news feed as people gossiped about which roads were slick and selling AKC registered dogs and what are the sirens about.  I posted again when the second newspaper came out and only got 5 likes, even though I bragged about my 22 hours hot the day before, and again got shoved down the news feed in no time.  Trying to hype up “the last day!” with one final post, only 2 likes.  I posted in a group from my home town and got a little bit more response – about three or four comments and a dozen or so likes.  Appealing to your community is definitely something you should try, but will they listen?  Ehhh.  Probably depends on what you’re trying to sell them and what kind of community it is.  For me, I guess, the bulk of them weren’t my audience.

Local Libraries and Books Stores – The first place you’d think to hang up a flyer about your book would probably be the library, right?  Followed closely by a local book store (if you have one) right?  Target your audience.  Show your book to book lovers.  Well, heh, good luck.  My local library is owned by the city and they were adamant they could not put up a flyer to “sell” my book because it would look like the city is “endorsing” it.  Even though I wasn’t “selling” anything – I was offering my book for free in exchange for votes under the Kindle Scout program conditions.  I complained that they have a rack right as you walk in the door full of pamphlets advertising local businesses and their prices and services, but I couldn’t hang up my single 8”x 11” flyer anywhere.  They gave me more excuses about how that’s different and basically shoved me out the door, it felt like.  The local bookstore was likewise unhelpful.  Of course a tiny local bookstore that had all the lights turned off when I came in to save on operating costs and only turned them on when I started browsing wouldn’t want to distract customers away from their business by supporting a local author who is trying to take their revenue.  So, good luck.  Maybe your libraries and book stores are more lenient and supportive, but mine sure weren’t.  So try.  Just don’t be totally flabbergasted like I was if you’re met with rejection.  I had more luck with having permission to hang flyers in gas stations than anywhere that sells books.  I don’t even really know how effective my time spent going around town putting up flyers was, either, considering how little interest I got from the papers and facebook groups.  But it’s worth a try.

Hashtag Social Media – I started my campaign with brand new Twitter and Instagram accounts.  I learned about some big-time book hashtags like #amwriting and #amreading and tried to generate some buzz.  I posted two or three times a day, trying to swap a few hashtags around here and there to reach a wider audience every time.  I also tried to post off-topic posts as well to try and be more personal and less ad-y to retain those that followed me, but also putting in fine print (if it fit) to nominate my book at the end of the personal post.  I found Instagram got me more likes and followers faster, but Twitter got more shares with Author Shout backing me up.  Worth it?  Eh.  It’s satisfying to think that every time I post something on Instagram and usually get 5 likes on it from people that aren’t following me that it equals 5 more nominations, but since Instagram doesn’t use hyperlinks, I can’t track it.  Twitter was a really good place to talk to fellow authors, though, so I would recommend having these types of accounts, because they are useful even if using them as a promotion platform is kind of slow.

In Part II, I’ll discuss the marketing techniques I DO NOT recommend, as well as a final observation of how Kindle Scout might work and what you can do (or not do) to have a successful campaign.


-Dana Lockhart

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