If you have written a book, or several books, you are likely to get quite a few messages offering to promote your book, putting your title and your name in front of several tens of thousands of Twitter followers, likers of Instagram accounts, etc. I get one or two of these each day.
Once in a while I go for the cheapest option on the offerings of these people (typically there are Silver, Gold and Platinum options, sometimes worded differently), and the Twitter feeds appear together with a link.
And the results? Almost nothing. In fact, I ran a week’s worth of these Twitter ads with a link, not to a direct sales outlet, but to my book page here. I can check where clicks to this page come from – and none, repeat none, came from the 300,000 (or whatever the number was) followers of this Twitter account, Instagram or Facebook entity.
So I look at another one which promises to do more – they will actually write reviews, promote a book as “Book of the Month” or even “Book of the Year”. All for a fee, of course, but on the face of it, quite a good deal. So, just for fun, I checked the Amazon sales rankings of a recent Book of the Month. In both the UK and the USA, they were actually lower than On the Other Side of the Sky. The book actually had quite an interesting premise, the cover was a far cry from the topless over-muscled male torso that seems to find its way onto the cover of so many titles now. The Look Inside feature showed me that the style was at the very least competent, if a little wooden and pedestrian (in my opinion, of course; others might like it).
So what had this author got from paying a reasonable sum for a review and the chance to become Book of the Month? Perhaps half a dozen sales? I don’t believe this is untypical of these sites.
Now there are more reputable sites around, BookBub being one of the largest (reviews/ratings very welcome, please), and Reedsy now offering a Discovery programme, in which On the Other Side of the Sky was featured by a reviewer who picked up both the good and the less good points of the story, ending up with four stars (read it here). There’s also Kirkus, where you can pay for a review, but is that really going to get you anywhere?
So… are these smaller autotweeting book promotion sites simply an extension of the vanity press industry? You have to wonder sometimes. But if anyone knows a good cost-effective way of getting your titles noticed by purchasers, I’m very happy to listen to what you have to say.