So, as authors, we might find it tough to break into the game and start making sales. Where do we even begin maximizing our author exposure?
You see some of the most successful authors, or even new authors around you, breaking ground and running away with sales, ditching Corporate America, and making a living doing what they do best; writing.
Where do I even begin?
This is a question I asked myself while slaving away in the doldrums of Imperial, Pennsylvania packaging steel for eight to twelve hours a day, five days a week, completely miserable while I hated on my life.
Nothing spoke (or laughed) about defeat more than a blue jumpsuit, a hard hat, and a job where steel could fall on your head in the blink of an eye.
So, I decided to do a bit of soul-searching in July 2019 with one goal in mind: To begin building my email subscription list and get my work in front of other readers in my genre.
It wasn’t until August 2019 did I discover Nick Stephenson’s First10K Readers course, which has taught me more about marketing than any university would at about a fraction of the price.
With it came avenues on where I could find these authors and begin swapping newsletter promos, cross-promoting, joint, promoting, etc.
Where do you find these places?
Read on, and I’ll give you four of them.
I’ve been using Prolific Works for just over a year but I didn’t really do much more than post my Neo Skyehawk novelettes with free Canva covers.
Needless to say my results were modest at best.
It wasn’t until I revamped everything, converting my novelettes into The Skyehawk Chronicles story-in-cycle reader magnet while simultaneously making the first book in my series, Northern Knights, permanently free, which would enhance downloads and find the right readers.
Only then did I truly discover the power of Prolific Works.
First off, you can create your own giveaway, which will allow an unlimited number of readers to download your free books and reader magnets, but this is nothing compared to what Prolific Works can do.
In August 2019, Prolific Works featured Northern Knights, one of fifteen books chosen for its weekly feature, which gave me a good 200 downloads within the span of five days. So, not only can you market your own giveaway, but Prolific Works will potentially help market the work for you.
Finally, you can apply to join group promotions of works in your genre. This allows you to get in front of other authors and readers who may not have otherwise heard of you. And being that you can upload an epub,.mobi, and PDF to Prolific Works, you can reach readers with all devices, from Kindles to Nooks to PDFs.
Prolific Works has three different plans:
Free: Allows for unlimited giveaways.
Plus: $20/month- Which allows for tracking and full customization of giveaways, and integration of your MailChimp or MailerLite mailing providers.
Pro: $50/month- This allows for personalized branding.
I’m liking Story Origin more and more since I started buckling down on it around the first of the month (October 2019). There’s a bit of a learning curve involved initially, but it’s really straightforward and self-explanatory, plus the founder will send you a series of emails to get started. Therefore, the curve isn’t long.
You can do all sorts of things in Story Origin, such as join giveaways that are geared toward specific purposes such as sales, reviews, or simply to build your email list. You can engage in newsletter swaps with other authors and it’s highly recommended you share the giveaways in an email campaign with your email list, as other authors are doing the exact same thing here, so definitely return the favor.
As with Prolific Works, you can integrate a mailing provider with Story Origin, allowing you to pick up subscribers on the platform who can then go straight to your subscription list.
Story Origin is still technically in open beta mode so for the moment, it’s free to use, giving you a nice little bonus that, if anything else, you might want to give the platform a whirl. There’s literally nothing to lose and a lot to gain here.
Book Funnel is one that I had heard of but didn’t bother checking out until the first of the month when I buckled down and learned how to effectively use Story Origin.
Book Funnel is similar to Story Origin in features, allowing you to upload your work and share in other group giveaways. You can also link buy links, so those using Book Funnel can actually download your work straight from platforms like Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo, giving you a surge in the rankings.
I’ve seen some decent results with Northern Knights on my KDP dashboard since using the platform earlier in the month, averaging 10-12 sales per day on Amazon on just ONE group promotion.
Not bad, considering I’m just doing a single promo as a test drive. While it’s not a miracle worker (yet), Book Funnel has shown me its potential.
Like Story Origin, it’s highly recommended you swap newsletters and share the giveaways in your campaigns, you will have a share reputation on the site, so definitely share with your email list. If you don’t have a list, don’t fret, as Book Funnel will give you a good rep if you share to social media platforms and other avenues. Just share the promo and you’ll be fine.
Book Funnel offers four plans:
First-Time: $20/year, allowing for one pen name, 500 downloads per month, and 5 books to be stored.
Mid-List: $10/month, allowing for two pen names, 5,000 downloads per month, unlimited books, the ability to collect email addresses, and secure delivery of Advanced Review Copies (ARCs).
Mid-List with Integration: $10/month, allowing for everything seen above, plus the option to integrate a mailing list.
Bestseller: $25/month, allowing for 3 pen names, unlimited downloads per month, unlimited books stored, collect email addresses, email integration, and priority reader support.
I went ahead and bought the Mid-List plan to start, but I’ll likely upgrade to Bestseller in time. Rest assured you can also pay annually for Book Funnel if you want a cheaper deal.
Dream Team Network
The Dream Team Network is arguably the most essential of all and it’s a steal at $197/year, which equals to a little over $16/month. Not only do you have access to authors who truly want to promote your work via swaps, cross promos, and joint promos, but Nick Stephenson, the DTN’s founder, also provides six modules of training to go with it.
Unlike the other platforms, Nick isolates his Network into a private Facebook group that only paying members are eligible to join. In other words, those who are absolutely committed to promoting will be here.
Unfortunately, I can’t give a full grade on my experience with the DTN because Facebook decided to ban my account as of this writing due to its thinking that I cloned my personal account, so I’m doing all I can to get the issue resolved so I can start posting again. Like many serious authors, I don’t like mixing professional and private, so the second account was a necessity, so hopefully, this gets resolved soon.
However, in viewer-only mode, I love what I’m seeing in terms of how content is laid out, plus interaction between other authors, so I can’t wait to dive in here. It’s highly recommended you network with authors whose readers lists are identical to yours, so you’re guaranteed to double your reach with each swap.
So, as a member of each network, I can honestly say I’ve seen some good initial returns here. If you’re new to the game, I suggest you begin with Prolific Works which will give you the in’s and out’s of joining group giveaways, hosting your own giveaways, and reaching out to other authors.
Story Origin is great if you’re too strapped to invest at the moment since it’s likely to be in beta for a while and there are hundreds of legitimate authors in your genre. Also, once you get the layout down pat, it becomes simple to use; just read the emails from the founder.
Book Funnel might be the most complex of the bunch, but I’ve managed to maintain my Amazon ranking fairly well when I’m not running a promotion. While 10-15 downloads per day is nothing to brag about, it’s between 5 and 7 times more than I’m getting when I’m in between promotions, and it works almost as well as cheap promotions. You can’t really beat this for the price.
I can’t wait to dive into DTN once Facebook realizes I’m the one who created that separate account, as I see absolutely no limits here. Facebook takes their time, so when they DO let me back in, I’ll likely post a full review of DTN. Also, if you’re unsure of how to reach out to other authors, DTN is going to be by far the best investment you’ve made in this category. It’s also high-quality training at a cost-effective price, which is a bonus.