It’s becoming evident that newsletters are a valuable tool for authors to have. Shawn Inmon recently discussed the importance of newsletters, and one of the things he said was, “The reason why is simple: You control how and when you access a mailing list, as opposed to investing everything into working the Amazon or social media algorithms.” That really resonated with me, so I decided it was time for me to take his advice seriously.
I’d read in multiple places that having a giveaway is a nice way to encourage people to sign up for a newsletter, so after some discussion, I bought a Kindle Fire. I decided to advertise for one month, and at the end of that month, I’ll mail the Fire to whichever randomly chosen subscriber wins. (As an aside, Mail Chimp has all sorts of tools to help you build your subscriber list and design your newsletter. See more in Gordon Long’s article about Mailchimp here. )
Once that was decided, I bought social media ads, Tweeted, Facebooked, added sign-up links to the backs of eBooks, and nagged friends and fellow authors to help me spread the word.
At the end of two weeks, I had thirteen subscribers.
I’ve never been convinced that social media, with or without the ads, is effective. Effective for me, I should clarify. It seems to work well for some people. I just don’t happen to be one of them. So I decided to get creative.
The first thing I did was to create a video. (I teach you how to make a trailer in PowerPoint here, but if you don’t have PowerPoint, we have plenty of other how-to video trailer articles here.) It clocked in at 29 seconds, and invited people to sign up for my newsletter and enter to win a chance at a free Kindle Fire. I took it a step further and inserted a direct, clickable link to the sign-up form on my website at the end of the video. RJ Crayton tells us how to do this here. I uploaded the video to Youtube and, of course, posted links. I think I got five views. Three of them may have been mine.
Clearly, I needed a better way to reach people. What if I have a giveaway to help people see my giveaway?
The next morning I went to the Amazon product page for the paperback version of my novel, Appalachian Justice. I scrolled to the bottom of the page, where over on the left, I came across this:
Clicking that took me to the screen below. I decided I wanted a “lucky number” to win, so I checked that box (red arrow below). I decided I would give one paperback away to the 200th entrant (blue arrow below). See where it says “Grow your audience by requiring entrants to”? I decided to require entrants to view my Youtube video before they could enter my paperback giveaway (green arrow below). I clicked the blue “validate” link, and the name of my video popped up.
Further down the page, you can set the number of days you want the giveaway to last. I set it for seven. Amazon let me know that the ad would end up costing me the price of my paperback, plus shipping and handling, which all together was right at $19.00 (see purple arrow below). When I was finished, I clicked to the next screen and Amazon told me it would take a few hours to approve the ad, and they would send me an email when it went live.
About three hours later, I received the email and clicked the link to see how my ad looked. This is a screen shot I didn’t think to grab until the contest was over (see photo below). When it was running, there was a line of text above my video telling entrants to watch the video before entering. There was an “enter” button at the bottom of the screen that was grayed out until the video stopped running.
So how did I do? In just over an hour I received an email from Amazon telling me the lucky winner (#200) had been chosen and would receive my paperback. So much for seven days! During that hour, I doubled the number of subscribers I had to my newsletter.
People went so they could enter to win my paperback. They had to view my video first. Some of them actually clicked the link in the video to go to my website and subscribe to the newsletter and enter to win a Kindle Fire.
The numbers still aren’t anything to brag about, but in one hour I achieved what had previously taken two weeks to accomplish – and for a lot less money.
I’ll definitely be doing that again.
27 thoughts on “YouTube and Amazon: Gain Exposure by Using Both”
So much to learn. Thanks, Melinda. I obviously need to try some of this.
It’s a never-ending process, I think, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for commenting, Yvonne!
You might have broken the code. We had no idea who creates these codes we have to break in order to accomplish things that otherwise seem simple. But the give-away on Amazon plus the random give-away for subscribing ought to be huge incentives. It helps, of course, if the book in the give-away is one that has a lot of positive reviews because people go out and take a look and see that they have a chance at a free copy of a well-liked book. Of course, the rules might change tomorrow and there will be some new code to break.
I sometimes think as writers we spend more time trying to figure out the code than we do actually writing. 🙂
And to whoever won the free copy of Appalachian Justice, you are in for a treat!
Aw, thanks, Candace! 🙂
That’s quite amazing. I wish I understood it, then I might have a go too.
By the way, what on earth is an algorithm? I keep hearing about them, and so many people talk about Amazon having them, but the word only makes me think of green, slimy things.
Sorry, I don’t understand much tech stuff and still use a quill and ink for first drafts.
LOL, Ian! For a good explanation of what an algorithm is, someone smarter than I will have to pop in and answer. My very basic understanding is that programmers tell computers what to do and how to do it. The “what” and “how” of it all is the algorithm. At any given time there are numerous conspiracy theories floating through social media speculating that Amazon has changed how ranking works, how searches work, how ads work, etc. In other words, they changed their algorithm. Really smart people chase after them trying to figure out what they changed, and how they changed it, so they can adjust their keywords, book descriptions – whatever it is they think they have control over that will help them adjust to whatever Amazon changed.
Me, I just write and drink coffee.
Clear as mud now?
Think of an algorithm like an equation. For Amazon, your book’s ranking might be “book sales this week + total number of reviews / total sales since the book was listed.” But it might also be “100*book sales this week + total number of 5-star reviews / total sales this quarter.”
No one knows what goes into the algorithms or how much everything is weighted, and Amazon prefers to keep it that way so that people can’t game their system. They also change up their algorithms periodically whenever someone thinks they have it figured out.
An explanation I can actually understand – thank you! 🙂
So cool. Great idea, Melinda!
Thanks, Shawn, and thanks for the final nudge to get my newsletter started. 🙂
I currently have an Amazon giveaway running, but instead of having people watch a video, they have to follow me on Amazon (which means they’ll automatically be notified when I have a new release). After they enter, I direct them to my website where they can get a free ebook if they sign up to my newsletter. So far, I’ve only had about a dozen people do that.
If you’re able to get a bunch of signups with your video, I may have to try that next time instead. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I ended up with 55 subscribers when all was said and done (including my initial 13), so it was well worth the cost of the book. One huge positive: if a person is on the lookout for books through Amazon’s marketing programs, they’re obviously readers, so we know we’re marketing to the right demographic (something we don’t necessarily know with social media ads). I was very pleasantly surprised after my first newsletter went out to see that no one unsubscribed. I had expected some to unsubscribe when the Kindle Fire drawing winners were announced, but no one did, so hopefully they’ll stay with us to continue to receive news about freebies and sales.
Your post reminded me – I also want to try it to gain followers on Amazon. Thank you!
I knew about the giveaways but it looks like Amazon has added more options for the requirements for growing your audience. I’ll definitely have to take a deeper look at this. Thanks for the tips!
Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for the great “how-to post,” Melinda! Saved, pinned, & shared. 🙂
Thanks, Linda. 🙂
I loved your how to post, and it gives me an idea on doing something similar with the give-a-way. But I am wondering, did anyone’s book sales get a bump and go up during or after their giveaway?
Mine didn’t. I’ve never seen a bump after this particular giveaway (I don’t think I’ve seen a new review, either). So while it has multiple uses, I’m not sure an immediate increase in sales is one of them. (At least not for me.)
Thank you very much, it has given me an I idea for a promotion to try for my first book that I am planning for labor day weekend. Now all I need to do is make a quick video.
Thank you very much, and best wishes.
This is one of those AFGEs: Another fricking growth experience. Sorry you had to find out the hard way, but you did bug it out and that’s great. Thanks for sharing and saving the rest of us the pain.
LOL! Thanks, Melissa. 🙂
That’s really interesting. Thanks! (From everything I’ve ever heard, those giveaways can be done in a disconcertingly short time. I wonder if giving the prize to, say, the 10,000th entrant would have made it run a lot longer? But is that even an option?)
I’m not sure how high the numbers go, but I know you can set it to give to the 2,000th entrant, because I did that once. Unfortunately, my time ran out before the 2,000th entrant entered, so no one won the book.
Oh, no! Apparently calibrating these things is pretty danged challenging!
It’s definitely something I need to play around with – next month. This month’s budget has been laid to rest. 🙂
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