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2.16.2015

Facebook, Twitter, Blog Promotion Services for eBooks Rounded Up for Your Convenience

I’m Robert Stanek, a pro author since 1994 and an indie since 2001. Today, I have a special report in a continuing series of articles on book promotion services. Book promotion services are marketing services that help authors promote their books for a fee. As these services often charge a pretty penny for such work, the participating authors and I decided to research the low-cost book promotion services available at Fiverr. After all, we thought for $5 what did we have to lose? 

Our findings may shock you – they certainly shocked us.

For this study, 24 authors participated, using the services to promote 39 books from 8 different genres, including:

Mystery
Thriller
Romance
Scifi
Fantasy
Horror
Literary Fiction
Nonfiction

At least 12 of the 24 participants used each service discussed one or more times, as well as 44 similar services for a total of 53 services. What follows is a summary of results gathered between June 2014 and February 2015. In the interest of full disclosure, I gave each participant $20 of fun money to start them off.

Book promotion services at Fiverr are largely the kind that say:

“I’ll promote your book to 2,000,000 on social media!”
“I’ll tweet your book to 50,000 followers!”
“I’ll promote your book to 200,000 on Facebook!”
“I’ll promote your book to the Top 50 Facebook kindle groups!”
“I’ll pin your book, tweet your book, post your book on Facebook to thousands!”

That alone should have been our first clue that we might be wasting our time and money, but what the heck we thought because it’s only $5. Or is it?

Although the name of the website is Fiverr, you typically end up paying much more than $5 for each gig, and a gig is simply an offering from a seller in Fiverr vernacular. For example, Facebookprogig (https://www.fiverr.com/facebookprogig) offers a gig that says “I Will Promote Your Amazon Kindle Ebook to the Top 60 Groups, Twitter, Pinterest for $5” but the gig has up to $30 worth of extras you can add on.

The extras are where the sellers make their real money. Many of the participants fell for the extras big time, figuring if the gig costs $5 I must be getting some extreme value from this $10 or $20 add on. They were wrong. Wrong, as anyone could ever be.

The problem is the buyer really isn’t getting much—if any— additional value from each extra, even though the extras may cost $10, $20, $40, $50, or more each. As an example, with the gig from Facebookprogig mentioned earlier choosing $20 of extras was no more effective than simply choosing the $5 gig itself. 

But was the gig effective in the first place? From the hundreds of reviews, you’d think absolutely that it must be the bees knees of gigs—yes, a 60’s term to hint at our collective gullibility.

The problem we discovered quickly with gigs at Fiverr is that most have a tremendous flood of high praise, along with 100% positives, 98% positives, etc. However, there’s no way of knowing if any of it is legitimately earned or deserved.

Many of those with promotion services at Fiverr hail from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Russia or some other distant shore. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. However, their profile photos then typically show themselves as a beautiful blond woman, a fair-skinned brunette or something equally out of place.

Blog Promotion

Blog promotion is one several categories of book promotion services. (Our categorization, not Fiverr's) With blog promotion, the seller will post an article on his or her blog about your book.

Lincolnrocks (https://www.fiverr.com/lincolnrocks) promised to promote a book on a Kindle Book Club blog and also tweet about it. Now that seemed like a great idea. Why not have a book on a popular blog? The extras though added up quickly. $20 for extra fast service. $20 to post about your book on Facebook. $50 for side bar advertising on the blog. $10 for an Author Success guide. Meaning, you could quickly be out $105 and not $5. If you want a blog post about your book, spend the $5 and not a penny more, but you’ll be writing your own post.

DreamTheAnswer (https://www.fiverr.com/dreamtheanswer) offers to promote your book on two blogs for $5. You write the articles and they are posted (but quickly drowned in the sea of others following you).

The participants tried many other blog promotion services as well.

Results: The results of using blog promotions of this type from Fiverr were a mixed bag. We’re not sure of the actual value—or if there’s any value at all. Sometimes the articles didn’t even show up in search results.

Our advice: Lots of authors have used blog tours to help find success. Join a blog tour or start your own! The cost then is not $5 or $25, but nothing—and you’ll have a lot more fun.

If you’ve already tried blog tours and want to give blog promotions a try, send a message to any potential seller and ask them for the link to their blog before you buy. That way you can see what you’re getting yourself into.

Facebook Promotion


No shortage of promotion services promise to promote your book on Facebook pages and in popular Facebook groups. Here, by promote, they mean posting a description and buy link for your book.


BookKitty (https://www.fiverr.com/bookkitty) offers to promote your book on several Facebook pages, with a total following of about 15,000 for $5. Not a good value.

Jazzy7 (https://www.fiverr.com/jazzy7) offers to promote your book to 90,000 Facebook fans for $5. For $10 extra you can get 3 additional posting, for $20 you can pin your website URL to the top of her page, for $40 you can get 25 statuses (whatever that is), for $10 you can get social bookmarks. With 2000 reviews and a 96% positive rating, what could go wrong? Plenty. Not a good value.

Best Graphic 201 (https://www.fiverr.com/best_graphic201) will promote a book to 50 kindle reader groups for $5. Her 300+ reviewers seemed to love the service. But is it a good value? Uncertain.

Merlin George (https://www.fiverr.com/merlingeorge001) said she’d post a book to the Top 60 Kindle readers groups and best 20 ebook promotion groups for $5. Reaching 80 groups for $5 isn’t a bad value, and it could save time if you really wanted to post the same message to these groups.

fanni121 (https://www.fiverr.com/fanni121) promises to promote your business / product / ebook to 4 million Facebook fans and said a refund is guaranteed if unsatisfied. The problem is no one who used this service saw any results. Recently, in a follow up test of the service, we also saw no results and contacted fanni121 after he/she stated the gig was delivered. Our lengthy message explaining our test of the service for our research report, also suggesting ways the service could be improved, and making a request for an order modification was met with a rejection of the modification request and no follow up message whatsoever. We followed up again and stated that the gig was supposed to have a money back guarantee and that we were trying to help them give actual value. The response was a single word: Refund. And, we did get a refund.
However, Fb_dami (https://www.fiverr.com/fb_dami) says he can promote a book to over 5 million Facebook fans for $5 (the gig title says 2.5 million but the gig itself says 5 million). For $10 extra, he’ll add a picture or video. For $20 extra, he’ll promote for 3 days. For $50 extra, he’ll bring people to your website and raise your ranking. For $50 extra, he’ll do a huge promotion for 7 days. For $50 extra, he’ll give daily views for 30 days.
Fb_dami's 900+ reviewers seemed to love this service. While you can get everything including fast delivery for a whopping $180, why in the world would anyone ever spend more than $5, or perhaps $15 if you wanted to display a book cover or video? If the promotion works, you can simply run the promotion again.

But does the Fb_dami promotion work for surely it must if actually reaching 5 million? Do the extras work any better? Some limited results were seen for the $5 gig, but it’s a resounding no on the extras. For $20, $50 or $100 you are not getting 4X, 10X or 20X value or results. You’re getting less extra value than if you simply purchased the original $5 gig again at a different date.

UPDATE: 2/24/15. We tested Fb_dami's service again just recently. He now says if you agree to give him a good rating when you sign up for the gig, he'll throw in some free extras worth $30, including pictures with posts and twitter promotion. What you actually get though seems to be the $10 Silver package or part of it. At any rate, if you mention "ReadIndies" when you get the gig, you are supposed to get the same whether you give him a rating or not.

The participants tried many other facebook promotion services as well.

Results: We saw negligible results from BookKitty, Jazzy7 and similar offerings. With offerings that reached many groups or many Facebook users (through many groups), there were some results, especially click through, if few actual sales.

Our advice: Join any of the hundreds of book-related Facebook groups available, many of which are focused on sharing free and discounted books with readers. Where allowed, share posts about your books. You’ll quickly accomplish a few things. You’ll likely get better results than you would if someone made posts for you, and you’ll also get to meet other authors and readers. 

Post to 10 popular groups and you’ll reach 50,000 to 100,000 all by yourself and without spending anything. You’ll likely sell books too and with no cost at all. Want help reaching your first 25,000 or so? Join the GoIndie and FreeToday groups on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/groups/goindie/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/freetoday/. This'll cost you the grand sum of $0.

Twitter Promotion


With twitter promotions, the seller promises to tweet about your book a certain number of times, usually once or twice for $5.

Indie Book Value (https://www.fiverr.com/indiebookvalue) will tweet your book to his/her 75,000 followers for $5 and says he/she is a #1 bestselling Amazon author in his/her category. For $10 extra, you can get four tweets per day for a month. For $20 extra, you can get 12 tweets a day for a month. For $40 extra, you can get twelve tweets for two months. Not a good value, not even for $5.

Gsmolin (https://www.fiverr.com/gsmolin) says he is a "#1 bestselling Amazon author who will tweet your book to 665,000 ebook lovers and has the only twitter promotion service with proven results". For $10 extra you can get the Gold service -- one tweet a day for 5 days. For $20 extra you can get Platinum service – one tweet a day for 5 days with hash tags, which is the same strategy the author says he "uses to get his books into the Amazon Top 100".

Although George was friendly, very responsive to questions and helpful, his service doesn't have the following suggested. In fact, the tweets from his accounts have little actual following. For example, the account used for .99 books has only 150 or so followers. The 665,000 ebook lovers the tweets are supposed to reach is based on using hash tags in tweets, such as #kindle #ebook, etc.

George did craft great tweets, but were they worth $5 each? Not in our opinion. It's also worth noting that George is the only one who took me up on the second chance offer I discuss later under Disclosure and seemed to be one of the few who actually, genuinely wanted to help authors succeed.

The participants tried many other twitter promotion services as well.

Results: We saw negligible results with Indie Book Value and similar offerings from those with less than 100,000 followers. It was refreshing to find that some gigs in this category had a relatively few reviews as compared to the floods of gushing praise found elsewhere for gigs of highly questionable value or merit.

Our advice: Twitter’s free to use. Tweet with appropriate hash tags when talking about your books and you’ll reach beyond your followers to others who follow those hash tags. A hash tag is simply a keyword, such as book, preceded by the number sign (#), as in #book. Tweet with #GoIndie #ReadIndies or #FreeToday as your hash tags and I may retweet you to 30,000+ followers. My fee since forever for a retweet: $0. That's right, nothing.

Disclosure 

Though I tracked and compiled the results with the participating authors, I myself did not participate. Before writing this report, I tried to give every seller listed a second chance. I posted a private message to each explaining I was researching book promotion services. I explained the research and asked them to give a free test run of their service, the results of which I would also include in the report. There was only one taker, though plenty of complaints, and that should tell you everything you ever needed to know about these services from Fiverr. We will continue this research throughout 2015 hoping against the odds to find services of actual value.

Closing Thoughts

Working on this special report was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. To a one, we came away with a single, overriding thought. That thought was this: 

When you see a gig at Fiverr with hundreds or thousands of rave reviews, get the hell out of there. 

Increasingly, the same is true of Amazon.

Remember also that $5 in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia is an excellent hourly wage and that $50 can represent nearly a week's wages. Average monthly salary after taxes:


Sri Lanka $265
Indonesia $275
India $460

Therefore, it was extremely disappointing to find that nearly every one of these services treat your gig as if it has no value to them, often using automated means to perform the actual work required or simply copying and pasting something over and over -- and always doing as little as possible. Worse, the same remained true even when we bought gigs extras that added up to a lot of money.

The participants and I didn't expect a lot for $5 or even $20. However, we did expect that when we worked with parties in countries where this represents a good wage, we would actually get good, earnest efforts on our behalf -- and that rarely, if ever, happened.


Update


Wanted to update this special report based on feedback from Fiverr sellers. It's important to note that Fiverr takes a 20% commission on all monies received and also holds funds for at least two weeks (18 or more days typically). This lengthy payment process makes some sellers reluctant to give 100% efforts, especially with new members or those they haven't previously worked with. 

When working with international sellers, it's important to keep in mind that $5 can represent a lot of money and your cancellation of an order or request for a refund could cause serious harm. Rather than canceling an order or requesting a refund, try working with the seller to see if you can come to a mutually agreeable resolution.


Thanks for reading,


Robert Stanek

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