Please welcome back to the blog author Stacy Juba, whose Made It Moment appeared here in 2010. Stacy has been a big supporter of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day and writes children’s books herself. She’s also making intense forays into the world of Kindle books and electronic media and today she shares a post that I think will have especial value to indie authors. Stacy is exploring the value of such programs as Kindle Select by gathering together a group of authors and pooling promotions. There are opportunities for readers to discover new books–and for authors to learn how some of these tools really work when put to a test. Here’s to great sales for all!
I recently came up with an ambitious idea – to spearhead two large group Kindle Select promotions. For those who haven’t heard of Kindle Select, it refers to a program in which authors give Amazon a 90-day exclusive for the e-book edition of their title in return for 5 promotion days designed to boost the book’s visibility on Amazon.
What this means for readers is that you’ll have an opportunity to download lots and lots of free Kindle books during our two promotions. And Kindle authors, you can watch our sales rankings to decide whether it might be worth your time to organize an event like this.
Here’s what you want to watch for:
Friday, April 13th
During the Friday the 13th Campaign, 13 mystery authors will be offering a total of 13 Kindle books for free. Readers can bookmark the list of books at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/lm/RXUK7UVMTPUOH and come back on the 13th, when every book will be free, many for the last time.
April 19 – Give Your Child a Free Kindle Book (or 15 of Them!) Day.
If you love children’s or YA books, or have kids in the house, then bookmark this link:
On April 19, all 15 books on the list will be free.
As if that isn’t enough, we’ll also have a free Agatha-award winning bonus book offered by author Nancy Means Wright, The Pea Soup Poisonings, downloadable in the e-book format of your choice from the Belgrave House web site.
I’m very excited about these two events as we have a great group of writers whose publishing history includes MIRA Books, HarperCollins, Simon Pulse, Dell, E.P. Dutton, Millbrook, Lerner, and St. Martin’s Minotaur, to name a few. We have authors who have won or been nominated for the Agatha, been nominated for the Edgar, made NY Times and Amazon bestseller lists, and have had their books named to various lists. Since I’m organizing both campaigns simultaneously, I’ve been asked a lot of questions. I’ll answer the most common ones in case any authors out there are thinking about organizing an endeavor like this themselves.
1. How did these promotions come about?
Over the winter, I used 3 free Kindle Select days during the campaign for my mystery novel Sink or Swim, and had fantastic results, landing around #21 on the Top 100 Free list. When it went back to paid, it sold better than ever before, and an unexpected surprise was that sales really took off in the United Kingdom. I was thrilled with the results. However, once sales tapered down, I had 2 free days left and I wasn’t convinced that I could match the previous results since so many e-book sites had already featured the book last time. I decided it might be worth trying a group promotion for the final days.
It was a different story for my children’s books: the picture book The Teddy Bear Town Children’s E-Book Bundle, my classic YA family hockey novel Face-Off, and my YA paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn. Teddy Bear Town performed well with its initial free campaign, and sales took off, but they were a fraction of what Sink or Swim sales had been despite having held an almost identical spot on the Top 100 Free List. Face-Off has always sold well, and the free days really didn’t have much impact. I think both of those e-books appeal to a niche audience of parents and kids, rather than a general Kindle audience. Dark Before Dawn did well on it previous free days, but considering how hot YA paranormal is right now, I thought it could have done even better. I felt that by banding together with other children’s and YA authors, who are also trying to reach this niche audience, that perhaps our free days would have more of an impact.
2. How did I organize it?
I posted on Murder Must Advertise, the Kindle Boards, and other Yahoo author groups. I asked for a blurb under 400 characters including space (the requirements of an Amazon Listmania list) and gave a deadline to contact me. For the Friday the 13th promotion, I instinctively felt that we should have 13 books and 13 authors, so I had to turn some authors down, which I felt badly about. For the children’s promotion, I used everyone who contacted me before the deadline, but I would have capped it around 15 books anyway as I didn’t want any titles to get buried on the list.
3. What kind of promotional activities have the groups done?
First, I made two email lists: one of my participating adult authors and one of my children’s/YA group. I collected their publishing credits and awards, (there were tons of them!) and crafted a “nut graf” description for each campaign. I also compiled everyone’s blurbs into an Amazon Listmania list, one for each group, topped by the nut graf. I made Word files of blurbs and links, so that we could email them to e-book sites and book bloggers. We also did press releases and have been brainstorming strategies for blogs, ads and social networks. Everyone really pitched in to help. It was amazing to see these groups of people who didn’t know each other that well, if at all, pull together for a common goal.
4. Would I plan more group campaigns for future books?
It depends on the results. If the results are superb, then I would consider it, but definitely not right away. I think this type of campaign loses its effectiveness over time. We’re being supported by some wonderful bloggers and we are incredibly grateful for their help. I wouldn’t want to keep imposing on them. This is more of a ‘once in awhile’ event, and any subsequent event would be smaller scale, perhaps more ad-centered than blog-centered. Once these campaigns are over, my focus for the next couple of months will be on writing my books.
5. Do I have any advice for other writers that would like to plan a similar promotion?
Be organized about it. You can’t conduct something like this over Twitter or Facebook. You need to CC everyone on the emails, and break up the plan into small steps. One week the group works on a couple of tactics. The next week, you shift to a couple more. And you need authors willing to promote, and who ideally have a good social media presence. I’ve been fortunate to have two teams of enthusiastic, hard workers who want to succeed with this as much as I do. I didn’t anticipate how much work would be involved, and if I’d known, I would have warned them more upfront, however the main reason the campaigns have gotten so big is that people kept stepping forward, volunteering to take on different jobs. I found the best teammates that I could have asked for with these projects. If you have authors who signed up, however, and then don’t follow through on the work, then the whole thing is going to fall apart.
5. Who’s participating in these events?
For the Friday the 13th mystery event, in addition to myself, we have Keri Knutson, Jean Henry Mead, Bonnie Hearn Hill, Joanna Campbell Slan, Maryann Miller, RJ McDonnell, William S. Shepard, Debra Lee, Timothy Hallinan, Alina Adams, Mike Bove, and Gerrie Ferris Finger.
For the April 19 Give Your Kids A Free Kindle Book event, I have three books in the campaign, and we also have Dorothy Francis, Renae Rae, Alina Adams on behalf of Dan Elish for the multimedia edition of his book, PJ Sharon, Norah Wilson, N.R. Wick, Mike Hays, Dalya Moon, A.W. Hartoin, Nancy Means Wright, and Xist Publishing with three titles.
If you have a Kindle or Kindle app., please support us by downloading the books, and please pass the word to your friends and social networking followers. If you’d like to see how the campaigns are going, you can click down the Listmania lists to see our rankings during and after the promotions. Once again:
April 13 – Friday the 13th mystery event:
April 19 – Give Your Child a Free Kindle Book (or 15 of Them!) http://www.amazon.com/lm/R1UOP8U7FVOU4P
Wish us luck!