Debut author Jim O’Shea, a computer software salesman, doesn’t market his book like writers often do.
In an interview with Castle Gate Press’ Phyllis Wheeler and SORMAG’s LaShaunda Hoffman, he discussed his outside-the-box marketing strategy.
O’Shea found that much of the blog tour action that authors embark on these days ends up targeting writers, because those are the people connected to our social media circles. But he wanted to target readers, specifically readers who would be interested in his concept: a suspense tale centered on the Shroud of Turin, taking place at least in part in Coptic Egypt.
“Readers are a rare commodity,” he said. How to find them?
O’Shea decided that one way to find people he doesn’t know is through advertising. He set aside an advertising budget for his book promotion. O’Shea considered Goodreads ads, but decided they were more than he wanted to pay. So he focused on Facebook ads promoting his page. (Note: you might consider other places to run inexpensive ads targeted to readers. Is there someone who writes an e-zine for readers in your genre? For an example, look at SORMAG.)
Because Facebook keeps track of the “likes” of many, many people, it’s able to present ads to a very targeted audience. And he found the price to be very affordable (as low as $1 per day with narrow criteria). In his case, he chose ads targeted to Shroud of Turin, Odessa Cloth, Dan Brown (whose book is similar to his), Robert Ludlum (same), prophetic books, Egypt, Christian fiction. He chose ads targeted to English speakers but sought them from Egypt as well as other places. In addition, he targeted a photo ad toward Catholics, and chose a picture of lightning bolt striking the Vatican, plus some text about why a Catholic might want to read his book.
O’Shea’s ads seek a “like” his Facebook author page from those who view the ad, so he’s building quite a tribe on that page. Why not ask those people to sign up for an emailing list? asked Hoffman of SORMAG. If the people sign up for an emailing list, the author has control over the list, removing the precious contact list from the whims of Facebook. Facebook has been known to obliterate pages and profiles if it perceives a possible rule violation, and there is no recourse. Perhaps the Facebook page could make a weekly request for people to sign up for the author’s email list, along the lines of “Please join my community so we can keep in touch,” she said. Or perhaps the Facebook ad could simply direct the signups to the mailing list page rather than to the author’s Facebook page.
O’Shea checks his ad campaign stats every day and tweaks them if they aren’t doing well. He started with thirty-three likes when he began advertising. Within 30 days he had 1800. He targeted Egypt, and the number of likes jumped to 3600 in one week. He’s running occasional 99-cent specials on his ebook and seeing “big upticks.”
His overall results? Unknown at this point, because publication was just a couple of months ago. Next Monday: his other marketing strategy.
Jim O’Shea is a long-time resident of Chesterfield, Missouri, “The City of Sculptures.” He is a graduate of the University of Missouri in Columbia and now spends his time crafting novels of suspense that tackle the complex relationship between science and religion, stories designed to take the reader places he or she may not have previously considered. His debut novel, “The Linen God”, has been called “a wonderfully engaging, page-turning thriller” by Doug Peterson (Award Winning Author of The Puzzle People and The Vanishing Woman). He is currently working on his second novel, “The White King”, due out in 2014.