To Pay or Not to Pay

Earlier today I noticed a book promotion site being used by lots of writers via a hashtag on Twitter. It looked interesting, so I went to the website and started to delve into the detail.

The main headline declared that they offered free promotion. Excellent! My publisher is a small independent and a marketing budget is not delegated out to me, which is fine. Free is what I need and I’ve posted on various sites via Facebook, blogs and Twitter. I’m not sure what impact these have had on my sales but it’s free, so there’s no risk either way. The only cost is my time to upload the book details and my bio.

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(Apart from the money you have to pay for it)

The site in question (I’m not going to name it as I’m wary of lawyers and their ilk) looks slick and promises big things. I soon discovered it wasn’t really free. I could post one book for free, out of the five I have written so far. Not only that but to really get the most from the site, I needed to consider a sliding scale of payments. At this point I would normally walk away and look for another route to market that suits my budget – FREE – but there were a few well-known indie authors amongst the clients. Maybe this one was worth paying for?

The main testimonial was by an author I didn’t know but he claimed the site had helped make his book a bestseller. I duly checked his sales ranking on Amazon and discovered he may have been embellishing those credentials. The problem is, if a book hits a niche category on Amazon, it can top that category with very low actual sales. The term bestseller has thus been widely abused.

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Number one in Hindu Yak Milking Manuals!

Not to worry, I thought. I’ll check out a couple of the better known guys – see how their sales are going. Again, not that well.

Another testimonial directed me to a nice, well-meaning lady’s website and Facebook page where she extolled the virtues of paying extra to get sales. In her case, she attributed four sales to this site. It cost her nearly $16 to get those sales and given the margins on offer, I suspect she made little or no money from that deal. However, she was about to up the outlay and pay $30 a month to get some extra promotion.

A further list of testimonials baffled me. Some writers were raving about gaining two, four or six sales via the site. I mean, come on people, that’s not worth paying for! If you’d added hundred to any of those numbers, I might have been tempted. I checked more books but none of them were flying high on Amazon. However, there was one last sting in their tale. This charge was per book! I would have to pay nearly $150 PER MONTH to get all my books listed. I wasn’t tempted. I went elsewhere.

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There are a lot of people out there waiting to take the money of indie or self-published authors, promising great things for them in terms of sales. But, I’ve got bad news for those who decide to spend big on such platforms. Their influence is negligible. These sites are visited, populated and patronised almost exclusively by authors, who only go there to promote their own book. For the vast majority of readers and book buyers, the only player in town is Amazon. If they promote your book and you get a bit of luck (as all the true smash hits have had), you will sell lots of books. If they don’t, you won’t. I truly believe paying for promotion on one of the many thousands of book promotion sites out there is a total waste of money. That’s why I’ll be sticking to the free sites and keeping my fingers crossed that Amazon get behind one or all of my books.

Maybe you can prove me wrong?

Peter Carroll

About Peter

Peter Carroll is a Scotsman, author, musician and wildlife enthusiast.
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