Wednesday, July 17, 2019

BookFunnel vs StoryOrigin vs BookSprout vs Google Forms: First Impressions

My goal with my mailing list may be different than most. I am not looking to build a readership that buys a massive amount of books on day 1. My goal with my mailing list is to give away free stuff. The hope is that people enjoy that free stuff and leave reviews. These reviews will then influence other people and algorithms to get people to buy the books. In addition, I hope that I can slowly start making some fans of my work. Up until recently, my mailing list has been unfocused. I’ve told people about new books and upcoming books… but that really didn’t lead anywhere. Instead, I am finding giving away review copies to be a strategy that should work well. To do this, I am trying out several services. Here are my first impressions of these services. I hope to also include another post in August on how this effort went. (I won’t fully know until August 5th or so)

The focus of this service is to build a book advanced reader copy (ARC) and give it away to build up the mailing list. Unfortunately, the free option doesn’t allow email capturing. The lease I could get away with is $10/month plan to see if this works. I joined and started setting things up. In truth, I was a little disappointed in the amount of promotions they have available. I had hoped that they would have more, especially since I paid my $10. However, the group I read in Reddit (r/selfpublish) raves about this service, so we’ll see how well it works.

This is just like BookFunnel, but is free as of the time of writing. I feel like this was a bit cleaner than BookFunnel and had more promotions. Not only did it have more promotions, but then you could do direct requests for newsletter swaps. My favorite part on that was that you could connect your newsletter service to StoryOrigin. This allows your newsletter to be verified (amount of subscribers, open rate, click rate). That way, when you are requesting a newsletter swap, you can ping people that are not only relevant, but have a comparable list. I have high hopes for this one, but again, we’ll see in the near future. (I just recently set this up)

This service I feel like I am doing wrong. I put everything in and set it up, but I can’t find a spot to apply for promotions. My guess is that they do all the promotions for you? I’ve tried this in the past, with limited success. However, the service is free, and the last time I tried it I got a review. This feels like a potential “good to do” but not “essential to do” type strategy. I am trying another book to see if that makes a difference. We will see how well this works.

Google Forms
The purpose of this area was to direct my mailing list to request review copies. What I learned from this is that I prefer an Excel output. I also learned that I need to be more careful in what I provide for free. I didn’t think many people would request free Kindle review copies. Instead, I ended up gifting a number of Kindle copies (which cost me money). I do enjoy how clean this method was, but I also noticed that a lot of people who clicked on the link didn’t actually fill out the form. I wonder if there is a better way to present this form to get more people interacting with it. We will get that determined again in the future.

These are my first impression with these services. I hope to gain more information in the future. Many of these services need time to “blossom”, which I hope to give to them over the next few weeks. Right now I am hopefully that one of these will be well worth it. The “plan B” right now is not looking good. I’ve advertised with NoiseTrade in the past, which really did good for me. However, they’ve had some major events recently which seem to have led the company to be in tatters. I’ve asked about marketing to them, but haven’t heard anything yet. We shall see on that as well.


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