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Latest Thoughts on all things Agatha

21 May 2024

Learning from an Unfortunate Book Marketing Surprise

Author Observations

Learning from an Unfortunate Book Marketing Surprise

While writing and publishing a book is hard, marketing that book is a whole ‘nother kind of hard. Here is my most recent tale of woe:

Like most authors, I’ve done a ton of research on how to market my books. The amount of information available, including blog posts, videos, seminars, books, and classes, is overwhelming. And frankly, a not small portion of that information is from people more interested in making a buck than in giving actionable advice.

One major obstacle in marketing Agatha Annotated is that it’s a non-fiction book written for cozy mystery readers, making it tricky to get in front of the very readers who would enjoy it. Finding bloggers willing to review Agatha Annotated and share it with their cozy mystery audience has been challenging.

Certainly, I am trying all the free and inexpensive marketing options, but I am well aware that there is just too much noise out there these days. Paid advertising is necessary to rise above, but it’s economically unfeasible to spend more than the book makes.  

We’ve played with advertising on Facebook (or Meta, if you prefer) before, but with Agatha Annotated, we decided to get serious about it. Our first foray was during the Christmas season and our ads were aimed at people who needed a gift idea. “Buying for an Agatha Christie fan? Here’s a book they don’t yet have.”

Those ads worked great and were relatively inexpensive. I am pleased to report that we made much more than we spent!

As Mothering Sunday in the U.K. approached, we ran similar ads for giving Agatha Annotated to your Christie-loving Mum, starting in February. As we expected, sales weren’t as great as at Christmas time, but the ad cost was also much less, and we again made more than we spent. Another success!

We reworked the Mothering Sunday ads for Mother’s Day in the U.S. and started running them in April. Again, the ad cost was much lower than at Christmas and click-throughs were even higher than the U.K. ad campaign. We looked forward to some decent sales numbers.

But it didn’t happen.

Sure, there were some sales, but not enough to cover the ad cost. We were totally perplexed why this ad, which worked well just a month ago, failed so miserably. Looking around online, we soon found that we weren’t the only ones experiencing issues. In fact, Meta has been refunding some advertisers for April’s glitch and Mathew Holmes, who has a very successful Meta Ads history, has stopped all Meta advertising.

So what’s next? There isn’t a big gift-giving holiday coming up in the near future, so we’ll have to think of a new message. Research says that video ads are getting better traction than static images and we should figure out how to do that right. We will also explore some other advertising options such as Reddit or maybe even TikTok, although I know absolutely nothing about that at this moment.

I’m listening to what other authors are doing in various groups, but if you have thoughts, please share them here as I would love to hear more opinions. Writing is not a competition since people read way faster than we can write, so helping each other can only be good for us all!

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What is Agatha Annotated?

This website is the home of the Agatha Christie database as annotated by Kate Gingold, hence the name Agatha Annotated.

It's a rich glossary of

  • nearly 1900 terms
  • over 200 illustrations
  • 347 French phrases

Kate found them while reading Agatha Christie novels, and wrote them, along with definitions curated from years of research, into this database.

Currently the first 11 Christie books, those she wrote in the 1920s, are annotated here. 

Anybody can be a member and gain access to this rich glossary. Visit the Community page to learn the details.

We took the 1920s terms and published a book, Agatha Annotated: Investigating the Books of the 1920s, now available on Amazon in Paperback or Kindle format.

Kate will be adding to the database and members get the new terms and definitions first before the second volume is printed, plus members can comment and ask questions about the terms and Kate and other members can reply.

We hope you enjoy. Click around the pages to learn more.

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Agatha Annotated: Glossary of Terms

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Annotator Kate Gingold

Kate Gingold

... has been a huge fan of the works of Agatha Christie her entire adult life. Christie's vivid descriptions of picturesque English life in the early-to-mid twentieth century fascinated Kate, but many of the people and places were unfamiliar to her. A writer herself, as well as a researcher and historian with several local history books to her credit, Kate began a list of these strange words and set out to define them. Now, Christie fans like you and all those who come after will be able to fully enjoy the richness of Agatha Christie novels with their own copy of Agatha Annotated.

Learn more about Kate