Recently I had the honor of attending my first Novelists, Inc. conference. It is a “must-attend” annually for me from here out. My head is spinning with ideas and information that will change strategy and tactics for me, in big and small ways.

One thing I’m wrestling with is the insight David Gaughran shared about promoting a series, and how strategy differs based on whether the series is part of KDP Select versus wide distribution. (He did not promote one strategy over the other, although he is in the process of moving his books out of KDP Select). I blogged recently about how far my Amazon income has fallen, and the impact that has on my overall income. I definitely learned I am not alone in this boat from other authors, but I feel now I have new strategies I can pursue.

In a nutshell, David advises that for wide distribution, first in series still works well on non-Amazon sites, and that the primary strategies for promotion are:

  1. BookBub or the few other online promotions that really work, any time you can get one, especially for first in series, and pursuing opportunities for promotion by Kobo and Apple.
  2. Mailing list, mailing list, mailing list (and all the strategy inherent in how you obtain subscribers, keep them, and get them to open, and act, which is the topic of future blogs). He also recommended newsletter “swaps” with other successful authors for them to announce your new release and you theirs. He talked about the importance of reader magnet content to keep readers engaged with the newsletters (maps, alternative endings, short stories: all = exclusives).
  3. Facebook ads (again, the topic of future blogs, as he is a proponent of push-pull marketing to very, very targeted audiences and had some specific suggestions in a different session at the conference). He suggests micro campaigns targeted to your ideal reader by geography and retailer, like $5 a day, and tweaking but never turning them off.

He calls this the “many streams make a mighty river” approach, and likened visibility/promotion to drip, drip, drip. 🙂 I also attended sessions by Kobo and about Apple, that led me to conclude there are ways to increase presence and sales on those sites. Topics for future blogs 🙂 I did not attend the Pronoun or Draft2Digital sessions, but I’m waiting on the follow-up notes for those and the newsletter session, so I can possibly implement some new strategy about how to go even wider on distribution, and combat the pricing vagaries of Google Play, so stay tuned.

For KDP Select series, he recommended a regular promotional blast, done once a month, doing it all at the same time, aggressive with pricing, and the rest of month coasting on that rank.

Example (done all at the same time):

Book 1: 5 days of promoting is as free with best promotions you can book

Book 2: Kindle Countdown, 5 days of promoting it

Book 3: New release in a mailing list blast (mentioning other promotions) split over multiple days.

He talked about enhancing these efforts with Facebook static image and carousel ads and BookBub ads, if you’re really “all in”. To him, the key is to sacrifice money today (leave prices down for at least a week) for visibility tomorrow, keeping price DOWN, and going for Amazon-generated recommendations and page reads ongoing.

Personally, I have not mastered Facebook ads yet, so I am going to start experimenting with them again. I am wide distribution. I’ll report back on how that goes when I blog on more of the FB ad ideas shared at the conference, and much more. These blogs will have to take David’s drip, drip, drip approach 🙂

Until then,


Pamela Fagan Hutchins, winner of the 2017 Silver Falchion award for Best Mystery (Fighting for Anna), writes overly long e-mails, hilarious nonfiction (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?), and series mysteries, like What Doesn’t Kill You, which includes the bestselling Saving Grace (e-book free everywhere) and the 2015 and 2016 WINNERS of the USA Best Book Award for Cross Genre Fiction, Heaven to Betsy and Hell to Pay. You can snag her newest release, Bombshell, if you’ve already run the rest of the table. She teaches writing, publishing, and promotion at the SkipJack Publishing Online School (where you can take How to Sell a Ton of Books, FREE) and writes about it here on the SkipJack Publishing blog.

Pamela resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes and trails with her hunky husband, giant horses, and pack of rescue dogs, horses, donkeys, goats and whoever else wants to tag along, traveling in the Bookmobile, and experimenting with her Keurig. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).

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4 Responses to Promoting a Series: What I Learned from David Gaughran

  1. Marcy McKay says:

    This. I’ve been waiting to hear about what you learned at Novelists, Inc. For me, I’m done with KDP Select. There’s just not enough upside for that exclusivity. Plus, other retailers Kobo, Apple, etc. are so EAGER to work with indies. Thanks for sharing what you learned. I look forward to hearing more…m3

    • Pamela says:

      I’ll dole it out slowly, only because it’s too complicated to lay out in one blog post. So micro-topics. And you can always ask any questions you come up with. I’ve been busy redoing a lot of strategy, pricing, placement, and working on a plan for bobble and me to follow.

  2. Thanks!!I am working on my 3rd book of my series, and yes, they are all indie,( it’s scary, I’m chicken!) I NEVER had any success with facebook ads, I think I lost $$ doing it, too. If it is a good investment, then great but I don’t have a clue. So, just to reiterate, select boost on your facebook page and indicate that you don’t want to spend any more than $5 per day for the first week?

    • Pamela says:

      I’ll blog on this in more detail in the next few weeks. David likes to do a soft push with no call to action, just a post that would be interesting to his ideal reader, then boost it for $5-10 a day, to expand his audience, then a “pull” a week later with ads: carefully targeted audience (geography, ideal reader profile, those that clicked like on the previous week’s post, followers, and retail site-specific, i.e., apple, kobo, kindle) for about $5 a day, and to let them run for awhile (drip, drip, drip method of visibility), tweaking ads and targeting as necessary. Ad should have CTA, good graphic (static or carousel) or video of your book(s), to that audience and his followers. Most effective ads are for box sets, anecdotally, per attendees, but David doesn’t have a box set and has good results with his FB ads. I am not implementing on FB ads yet because I am trying to learn a little bit more (yes, I’m chicken too). I’ve run them in the past, but I didn’t feel like I was getting the results that made them a success. So hold on, more coming on this soon….