The other day, an author friend asked my opinion about a site where she wanted to submit her book for a review. As I’d heard of the site before, I said it would be a good idea. Later on, she contacted me again and said that for submitting her book, they expected her to pay $10 as to display the cover along with the review. That’s when I got warning bells. Why did they tell her the review itself was free, but they needed payment to display the cover that’s bound to go with it? Why not depend on their Amazon affiliate links for revenue if the review itself is free or just ask for a donation? It sounded weird and so the warning bells kept ringing. You see, I don’t abide to many rules in general but there’s one among very few that I find absolutely non-negotiable: “Don’t part with your money unless you’re absolutely sure it’s worth every penny.”
So, what I did, is ask my friend if it had occurred to her to check out the popularity of the site before paying them. Turned out, she didn’t know what I was talking about. And then it hit me. How many indie authors don’t know this incredibly handy tip I had to share?
Believe it or not, there are so many sites out there requesting fees that don’t correspond to their popularity, their skills, knowledge, and certainly not their readership.
Now, I don’t think I’ve met an indie author yet with money to spare. I don’t know if you have, but the above incident gave me an idea for this post anyway. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a tip or two on the subject of savvy promotion? So here’s what I have to say, and hope you’ll find it useful!
The first thing you should always do before paying anything for online advertising (as I advised my friend also in this case!) is to check the site’s popularity on the all-singing, all-dancing site called Alexa.
Alexa is an Amazon company and the big guns to turn to if you want to know how popular a site is. It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to check the rank of any given site and Alexa lets you check as many as you want without charge. Obviously, the more popular sites rank with smaller numbers. For example, Google is #1 these days, Facebook is #2 but the humble blog you’re reading right now is #1,076,202.
To give you an idea of how poor a choice the not-to-be-mentioned site was, I’ll say it ranks on Alexa at #1,136,544. So, my friend was asked to pay $10 to be featured on a site that has an even lower popularity than this very blog that’s run by one person (yours truly!) who’s been blogging for less than a year. Speaks volumes for the other site’s professionalism, right? So there you go; save yourself some dough (if not embarrassment) and count on Alexa. Go on; try it here.
You’ll find it’s a BIG eye-opener!
When I first used Alexa to do my bit of ‘spying’, I had quite a shock. Sites that I thought were quite popular ranked amazingly low, even lower than my blog! There was one site in particular that I’d invested hours in, corresponding back and forth for months and submitting articles for publication. Its Alexa rank is over 15 million! How silly did I feel then? Well, you can imagine I’m sure.
On the flipside, by using Alexa you’ll get a lot of pleasant surprises. I know I did when I found out that Fabulosity Reads ranks at 98,173 globally. Wendy Ewurum doesn’t call herself blogger Ninja for nothing, nor is it a surprise now, even more so, that she’s the best blog tour organizer out there. I’m even prouder now to host her tours on this blog.
David Njoku’s Indie Author Land is also another well-known site that ranks very high globally: 434,116. His US rank is much greater: 139,904. I think this incredible number reflects David’s amazing marketing skills and generous spirit of solidarity.
In case this is of use to you, this site is my #1 favorite site to advertise my free promos on. Also, it’s a great place to get an interview as David is said to give authors a lot of Twitter love if you know what I mean! Get your interview here.
If you’re willing to pay for a subscription, Alexa will become your new best friend. For a monthly fee, you’ll get to find out how many people hit your site, how long they stay there, which pages they browse and lots more, depending on the level of your subscription. The stats are very comprehensive so check the site for all details.
To get an idea of the type of information an Alexa subscriber can get, check out this post by Jackie Weger. Incidentally, you may want to keep an eye on Jackie and eNovel Authors At Work. There’s a lot of information and promotion opportunities there if you join the group. As for Jackie herself, other than being a very experienced author, she’s a remarkable lady who takes no crap and writes about it. Plus, she holds a snake gun and is not afraid to use it. You’ll get a wealth of info and a lot of chuckles if you follow her posts.
Back to those sites that may try to double cross you… now you know to use Alexa as to discover the magnitude of their audacity. But if still in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the site that interests you. Ask them bluntly any outstanding questions if you’ve read their pricing info but certain points remain conveniently unsaid. For example, prestigious sites like Bookbub (the best site in this galaxy and the next for advertising promos) will list their ad prices but will also tell you what their readership is in thousands for every genre, plus they’ll give you an estimation of how many downloads you’re likely to get for the money you’ll spend. Check out this link to see what I mean.
Bookbub is fully transparent with its pricing information and that’s what you want to look for. Be suspicious; be very suspicious with sites that don’t tell you what their readership is and even more so, with the ones who will hesitate to tell you even when you ask. Oddly, they are the ones who might even charge more money!
Before I go, I will give you another last, great tip. If you’re looking for a good site to promote you, this is it. Well, chances are you already know this one as it’s so widely known but even if there’s one indie author left who isn’t aware, it’s worth repeating: For book promotion, there’s no better value for money than what you’ll get on AskDavid.
AskDavid is well-known for its amazing Alexa rank: 46,554 !
This means high and guaranteed visibility. The other good thing is that it’s highly affordable. A mere $15 will allow you to promote all your books on the site for a year. Check out all the details here.
It goes without saying that this post, just like any other of mine that contains tips, is simply information I’ve gathered and feel that I should share for other people’s benefit. I assure you I’m not on commission with any site, nor do I receive any fees for the advice I give you. I only hope to help fellow authors fare safely on the perilous waters of cyberspace and only knowledge can ascertain that! So, I hope this helps my fellow indies…
If you have any relevant tips, then do post a comment and let us all benefit!
Many thanks to David (@DavidTFTU), who has added a very useful link on his comment below. The post it points to offers a totally different viewpoint that contradicts the theory of my own post, but is well worth taking into account. I believe the truth always lies somewhere in between so all arguments should be considered. The post in question suggests among other things, that the Alexa rank is not reliable because it’s based solely on the activity of people who use the Alexa toolbar. You can read the whole post here or seek the link in David’s comment below.