If you’re an indie or self-published author, you probably ask yourself the question, how do I sell more books? multiple times a day. While it may seem like the obvious solution would be to spend your time and money on ad campaigns that cast a wide net, such as Amazon, Goodreads, or Facebook ads, to try and snag the largest catch of readers possible, you may find yourself disappointed with the results.
The effectiveness of your ads may not have anything to do with the ad copy or imagery you chose for it, but rather the fact that you’re competing against everyone else for space in people’s timelines and consumers are less likely to spend their hard-earned money on a business or artist they’re unfamiliar with.
A such, when I started marketing my debut novel, The Probability of Time, I decided I would spend the majority of my time, money, and effort on areas where my name – my brand – carried more weight and developed a local marketing plan. While looking for what resources I would use to implement this plan, I came across Nextdoor, a hyper-local social media site that focuses solely on the area where people are most likely to know you: your neighborhood.
This site is 100% free. To sign up, you simply need an email address and a physical address. What’s nice about this site, and what separates it from other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, is the only content you’ll see is from people living in your town or a neighboring town – and they’re the only ones who’ll see your posts, too.
The first thing I noticed about Nextdoor is that most the content of the site appears to be genuine, meaning neighbors asking neighbors questions or recommending products or events and not a whole bunch of paid advertising or spam.
I’d never used this site before launching this campaign, so I was a bit skeptical about how effective it would be. I also live in a fairly rural suburb of Hartford, Connecticut with a low population density, which added to my skepticism. But given the fact it’s free and the content appears to be well received, I gave it a shot.
Posting was simple. I wrote a post about who I am, gave some information about my book, and provided a link to my website where readers have the option to purchase the book from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It went out to about 2,400 people, including in the site’s daily neighborhood email blast.
From that one post, I sold two copies of my book. I know those aren’t Earth-shattering numbers, but I view this little marketing experiment as an absolute win, and here’s why:
I went in cold. As I’ve mentioned before, people only tend to buy from people and businesses they know. Because our neighborhood is well-spaced out and the town doesn’t hold a lot of community events, I don’t know a lot of the people in my area. Add in the fact this was my first post to the site and I hadn’t done anything to built my presence, two sales is actually pretty good, in my opinion. I’m excited to see how else I can leverage the site to boost my sales.
Two more people have my book that may not have before. Local marketing can be difficult, especially given the fact most businesses are closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions. In my other marketing campaigns, which aren’t as hyper-local, these two people may not have seen the advertising or felt compelled to purchase because they didn’t feel the local connection we have.
It was a good introduction. I may have gone into this cold but I’ve already started to make connections. This post may have resulted in two sales but maybe the next post will result in three or four. I have my foot in the door, which is a good start.
This site has a lot to offer other than simply posting links. If you have hard copies of your book, you can list them for sale; you can post events, if you decide to have a book signing or other in-person promotion, and if you provide other writing-related services, such as editing, you can list your business there, too.
At the end of the day, I highly suggest you create a Nextdoor account and give it a try for yourself. It’s a low-risk, no-cost opportunity.
If you do try it out and have some success, I’d love to hear about it. Share your experiences in the comments below!