Archive for » August, 2009 «

Using Xomba to Promote

Xomba is a website where you can post articles to earn money, much like Hubpages, eHow, Bukisa, Suite101, and others. But Xomba offers a greater advantage to novelists for these reasons:

The articles are easier to write. The word count minimum for a Xombyte (article) is 150 words. The minimum for a Xomblurb (link description) is 50 words.

You can link to your own website. Xomblurbs let you post a link to wherever you want (except your own Xombytes). It works like a less-automated form of sharing on Facebook or linking on Twitter. Where else can you earn money for bragging about your own website?

All forms of writing are permitted. You can post poetry, short stories, and chapters of your novel right alongside your non-fiction articles. Don’t worry, you still keep the rights to all your work.

You can earn money while doing online research. Say you were searching for information on your protagonist’s profession, and found an awesome site on the day-to-day life of a veterinarian. Take five minutes and write a Xomblurb about it. Not only will you have a link and quick description to refer back to later, you may make a little change, too!

Xomba and social media sites feed each other. Don’t want to twitter what you had for dinner for the 10th time this month? Post a link to a recent Xombyte. Looking for something interesting to link to with a Xomblurb? Scan your Twitter feed or friends’ Facebook links for sites others wanted to share.

I am by no means an expert on Xomba – I just joined today! I do think it offers a great opportunity for novelists. I plan to post again with an update on how the site is working for me, however, I’m already earning money! I posted 3 Xomblurbs this morning (taking about 5 minutes each) as I came across interesting sites. After posting the third, I thought I’d check my Adsense account, even though I’d only joined Xomba two and a half hours ago. I’d already made $0.04! That may seem like only a little, but if I never posted anything else and kept earning at that speed, in a year I would make over $100 for 15 minutes of work.

So why not take a chance and try it? Even if you end up hating it, whatever you posted to try it out will keep earning you money for years to come!

(Side note: I felt confident saying years, because this isn’t some flash-in-the-pan startup company. It has already been around for 3 years.)

Pre-Promotion That Works

Novelists usually only have 3 months or less to catch readers’ attention. If your novel doesn’t start selling well in that window, it starts getting passed by. Websites and magazines stop reviewing it. Bookstores send it back to distributors. Publishers focus on next season’s offerings.

Only two things can expand that window. They are:

  • Growing sales momentum
  • Preorders

Growing sales momentum pushes past that three-month window as more and more people find out about your novel and buy it. It would be great to sell 100,000 copies in the first week, but if no one buys it after that, you will become yesterday’s news. Strong and steady sales are better.

Preorders are like backing up for a running start. Word of mouth marketing takes time, so the more people who get excited about your novel before it releases, the better. But how can you get preorder sales?

I came across a Facebook ad today that I believe answers that question. The ad was for a music album that releases in 10 days. For $10 plus shipping and tax, I could get:

  1. Immediate download of the first three songs off the album
  2. Digital download of full album one week before it released
  3. CD mailed to me on release date

It was a no-brainer. I bought the album. And then I wondered why I was willing to fork over $14.83 when in a few months I’d be able to get it from a discount site for $7.35 – less than half the price! Yet, I’m not sorry I bought it at all. How did they do that?

  1. They marketed to a previous customer. I already liked this artist, so I would naturally buy their new album eventually.
  2. They offered something to me immediately. As soon as my order was complete, I downloaded and listened to the 3 songs. If I had to wait, I would have hesitated, thought about it some more, and figured I might as well wait for the price to go down.
  3. They offered something that seemed exclusive. I could get the whole album a week earlier than all the other fans of this artist.
  4. They offered convenience. I wouldn’t have to rip the CD to my computer when it arrived.
  5. They gave me expected value (the CD),  at less than the retail price.

How can we apply this to our own novels?

First, we need a way to connect to readers who want to buy our new novel. If you have previous novels out and readers subscribed to your email newsletter, you already have this handled. If this is your first book or you want to expand your reader base, you’ll need to get creative.

Blogging is one way to connect with readers, and if you have a well-established blog you can post  your preorder offer there. Or you may need to include a free sample of your writing on your sales page. Facebook ads can let you target specific readers who love an author with a similar writing style or genre, but if they don’t know you, you’re going to have to bribe them with some type of freebie. It can’t be a “free with purchase” because they have no incentive to purchase anything if they don’t know you.

Because of this hurdle, I believe this pre-promotion idea will work best for sophomore novels and beyond. But if you can make it work for your debut novel, do so!

Second, offer something right away. It can be a digital copy of the book, or if you can’t manage that, the first three chapters.  This is one aspect that doesn’t translate very well from CD to book. You can enjoy a song on its own, but a chapter? One solution would be to offer a short story, perhaps one that takes place between two novels of a series.

Third, offer something exclusive. It could be as simple as an autographed book, or a neat promo item – a pen, bookmark, etc. Do your best to match the item with what the reader would want. Come up with something unique and inexpensive for you. If you’re able to offer a digital copy of the book before it releases, do so.

Fourth, make your offer convenient. At the minimum, let them pay with PayPal. Give them the download link on your thank you page and in their confirmation email. Make your digital copy compatible with the top ereaders.

Fifth, give them what they’re expecting – a great book! If you can, sell it for less than the retail price including shipping. People expect to be able to get things for less online.

I hope this article helps you promote and pre-sell your novel! If you have any other ideas for making a preorder offer irresistible, leave them in a comment below!


Thanks for stopping by Promote Your Novel, a new site dedicated to finding you the best resources for novel promotion.

It’s no secret freelance writers (including novelists) make less than minimum wage when you compare hours to income. We have to use every resource within our reach to get the word out about our books, and this site is designed to help you do just that!