Aidan J. Reid wrote a few weeks ago about his experiment with “3rd Party” marketing efforts. Marketing is not something many authors like to do — or have time for — but they have to engage in this anyway. As with anything, you can pay someone else to do some of it, and there is a whole cottage industry out there more than happy to help.
In my experiment, I went to Fiverr where anyone can offer on-line services of any type, typically starting at $5. So, of course, I started looking up book promotion offers.
Now, I know the first rule of marketing is to focus on whomever your core audience is. In other words, if you write fantasy, advertise to fantasy readers. I also know that reaching out to the broader reader community isn’t a bad idea, it just shouldn’t be the focus of your efforts. Many marketers invoke the Pareto principle: 20% of your effort should produce 80% of your results. For $5, however, I was willing to break some rules to feel out how these Fiverr offers would play out.
You can see very quickly that some are just offering to advertise your book on their own website. Others do so on book announcement sites (Facebook-based or otherwise). In both cases, I notice that they don’t all say up front what sites they are posting to. Afterwards, they do provide links and screenshots. One that was more specific to the audience I was looking for, did end up on the type of site the seller said it would – albeit an obscure one.
I knew some of this was going to happen, but for only $5, and knowing that posts often persist on the internet for endless ages, I was okay with all of this playing out. Some of the orders did deliver traffic, especially the one to advertise this website. This is the easiest to test effectiveness because of WordPress’ built-in analytics (and the seller, as many do, provided a Google tracking link).
I didn’t roll out all of these efforts at the same time, so I could try to correlate views/buys with a particular marketing purchase. While the sellers delivered as promised, results are never guaranteed. Part of the results I had (or didn’t have) had to do with the sites that were used, but even more specific targeting doesn’t always succeed (at least instantly). Timing is a factor, but marketing results are often latent: You see results come over time as your message persists and combines with multiple efforts.
Remember, follow the basic marketing rule of putting the most effort where it would produce the most results. This should be your focus, even if you choose to do some experimenting on the side as I have. A few days ago, I launched a second round of Fiverr orders all at the same time to coincide with the ending of another one. Will they bring success?
My conclusion is that these types of efforts have value in the long run in a broad sense, and many of the sellers are truly providing a service, but many of these shouldn’t be the core of your efforts. There are some that can be used to these ends, but you may spend a few electronic $5 bills to find which work best.
Good luck with your efforts!