How to sell your book – Part 3 – Cross promoting your work

By Greg Turnquist

Greg L. Turnquist worked on the Spring team for over thirteen years and is a senior staff technical content engineer at Cockroach Labs. He was the lead for Spring Data JPA and Spring Web Services. He wrote Packt's best-selling title, Learning Spring Boot 2.0 2nd Edition, and its 3rd Edition follow-up along many others.

July 26, 2018

In the previous installment of How to Sell Your Book, we discussed building up a collection of fans. In addition to putting your works in front of people on Amazon, etc., you also want to curate a list of people that are super excited about your writing. One of the most effective ways I’ve discovered is through cross promotion.

Solution to a pesky problem

I started a couple years ago building my email list by using what Nick Stephenson calls a reader magnet. I had written a short story prequel to my novel and put it out on Amazon, getting them to make it “permafree”.

It was okay, but it seemed a tad sluggish. In that two year span, I accumulated about 260 people on my mailing list, many based on a technical best seller I released last year. The issue was that not enough people seemed to be finding my free reader magnet hosted on Amazon.

Several months ago, I signed my wife up for an account on Book Funnel so that we could do two things:

  • Send copies of her novels to street team members
  • Send copies to people we were hoping would write a review (a la Book Review Targeter)

When it comes to sending an e-book to someone, Book Funnel kills it. Absolutely kills it. Their platform is built on the ability to send a one-time download link, so no one “share the link” with a Russian piracy website. Additionally, Book Funnel takes on the job of side loading e-books onto people’s devices. Never again do you have to walk someone through the process of moving an Amazon MOBI file onto their Android reader device (or whatever).

Since Sara’s website was already hooked into MailChimp, I didn’t think we needed much in integration, but I went ahead and sprung for the extra $50/year fee to have the option of integrating email subscription with receiving a download link.

A few weeks later, I browsing around Book Funnel’s website, when I spotted “Promotions”. Clicking, I spotted a whole host of campaigns that were underway, split up in genre’s with 10-30 books listed in each. I was amazed at the look and feel, so I quickly pushed Sara’s magnet novella up to Book Funnel and registered here with a clean historical romance promotion.

Then I promptly forgot about it.

A week later (yes, exactly seven days), Sara logged into MailChimp and discovered her email list had grown by 400 members. My eyeballs popped out of my head!

Up until then, her growth rate had been slow. The fastest boost had been some Ryan Zee signups where you get around 500 addresses for $60. Watching her list grow by over 20% in a week told me to look closer.

Promoting others is less slimy than promoting yourself

In the olden days, a cross promotion involved tricky coordination with multiple authors. Imagine your and ten others want to work together. You each have 500 subscribers. By talking about everyone else’s works, you can avoid talking about your own. Which always feels better, ehh?

Everyone then writes a newsletter campaign to their list talking about ALL the books. In this scenario, we’d be talking 5000 people NOT ON YOUR LIST finding out about your work. If 10% of those people spring for your freebie, you’d pick up another 500 subscribers, a 100% growth. This is the beauty of cross promotions.

But the cost was HORRIBLE!

Coordinating such campaigns back then was HARD. You’d have to email cover thumbnails to 10 other authors while receiving 10 covers from them. Then you’d have to upload them to an email campaign. On top of that, you have to paste in the blurb for each title. Lots of duplicated effort.

The alternative would be to grant one person the keys to the kingdom and either give them ALL email addresses, or let them log into ALL systems. The first is probably illegal by now, at least in the EU. And the latter is flat out risky.

Along comes Book Funnel, a platform based on transmitting books. To join a cross promotion, you simply click on the “Promotions” section of the site, scroll through a genre-based list, click on one that appeals to you, a register a link to one of your books. From there, all you must do is broadcast a link to the giveaway (see the screenshot) on your various channels. Book Funnel handles cover thumbnails, subscribing to mailing lists, and side loading the e-books.

It’s super easy and leaves the messy details of coordination to the platform. And because it’s so easy, like me, you can sign up to be a part of several cross promotions. Since I joined Book Funnel four months ago, my list has gone from that measly 260 number up to 900. I know 900 isn’t super glamorous, but it still is a WHOPPING improvement with very little effort. Sara has picked up around 1000 new subscribers in the same time frame.

To top things off, the whole experience of the giveaway is tilted toward the users. They can sift through all these books, pick out what looks nice, snag a copy, and enjoy it. There is nothing sinister. Everyone wins!

And you don’t have to feel slimy about going around and pitching your own stuff. Ever try to sell something and it made you want to take a shower?

BONUS TIP: One last thing. Book Funnel lets you create as many download links as you like for each book. And they gather stats. Thus, you should create a new download link for every single cross promotion you join. That way, you can keep tabs on how many copies of your work are downloaded through what channels.

Get your funnel going!

One last detail I will leave with you is that if you haven’t created a funnel, you’ll want to do so whenever you dive into cross promotions. When Sara picked up that burst of 400 new subscribers, her first action was to write a “welcome to my list” email. Natural thing, right? A week later, she had another 100 subscribers, and was about to do the same thing.

I stopped her and said, “That’s crazy! We can’t keep writing this email over and over. We need to automate that step.” So I set out to essentially borrow they email she had just sent out and turn it into an automated message sent to EVERYONE upon signing up to her list. Now there is one less manual step needed to welcome people into Sara’s group.

With, I leave it to you to visit Book Funnel and decide if this is the way for YOU to supercharge your email list! Stay tuned for the next article in this series. Happy writing!


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