April 12, 2012

Guest Post: Stacy Juba

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 8:54 am

Dark Before Dawn

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!

Stacy Juba

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!

Although Stacy Juba specializes in writing adult novels, she has also authored books for children and young adults – she pursues whatever story ideas won’t leave her alone. Stacy’s titles include the mystery novels Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim, the mystery short story Laundry Day, the children’s picture books The Flag Keeper, Victoria Rose and the Big Bad Noise, and the Teddy Bear Town Children’s E-Book Bundle (Three Complete Picture Books), and the young adult novels Face-Off and Dark Before Dawn. She is a former journalist with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit and is currently working on a contemporary fiction/romantic comedy novel, as well as a new mystery novel. Many of her titles have appeared as #1 on various Amazon Kindle Top 100 lists.


  1. I don’t know the source of Stacy’s energy, but I’d like to tap that source for myself. Thanks for featuring her, Jenny. She’s an inspiration to think creatively.
    Wish all of us luck with our Free Kindle books

    Comment by Gerrie Ferris Finger — April 12, 2012 @ 9:29 am

  2. My romance novel, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” is in the Friady the 13th promotions, and a children’s book, “The Worldwide Dessert Contest: Enhanced Multimedia Edition” is in the 4/19 giveaway. Stacy’s dedication, energy, and creativity has been boundless. I’m in awe!

    Comment by Alina Adams — April 12, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  3. Thanks, Jenny for providing this space for our promotion. But mostly for giving me two more minutes with Stacy. As you know she is an imagination and organization dynamo. The 13/13/13 will be a successful event because of her leadership and inspiration to her 12 disciples.

    Comment by Mike Bove — April 12, 2012 @ 9:59 am

  4. Working with Stacy’s mystery writer group has significantly expanded my knowledge of promotional websites for my series. She managed to assemble a well-informed and cooperative group, and did a terrific job of facilitating and motivating everyone. I’m sure this experience will prove very valuable for both short-term sales and when launching my next novel.

    Comment by RJ McDonnell — April 12, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  5. Great post. It’s always great to see authors supporting one another. Stacy thanks for allowing me to post your promotion in my readers newsletter. We had a blast designing it and I hope your sales and downloads fly through the roof. I have my calender marked.

    Cora Blu

    Comment by Cora Blu — April 12, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  6. Very interesting idea and a good way to get people to be motivated to read and read authors that normally they wouldn’t have tried before. Thanks for putting it out there.

    Comment by Kellie — April 12, 2012 @ 10:47 am

  7. I’m one of the 13 mystery authors doing the special event tomorrow, and I am so grateful for Stacy including me. Like, Mike, I am in awe of her ability to organize such an event. I did not know about the other one right away, and was doubly in awe when I saw she was organizing two at the same time.

    I think these types of events can be very successful if done about once a year. I think Stacy is right that this is not something you would want to do more often.

    Comment by Maryann Miller — April 12, 2012 @ 11:18 am

  8. I’m also participating in Stacy’s Friday the 13th event. She has been an amazing organizer and has already taught me a ton about networking and promotion. It’s been great fun to be included in this event and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    Comment by Keri Knutson — April 12, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  9. Stacy, you da man — no, wait, is that sexist? What I’m trying to say is Stacy da bomb — wait, that’s outmoded. No wonder I can’t finish my current book. Anyway, without Stacy, no one would have been invited to this party, much less had a chance to participate. You go, girl! No, wait, that’s OBNOXIOUSLY outdated. Ummmmm . . ..

    Comment by Timothy Hallinan — April 12, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  10. I second the comments about your boundless energy, Stacy. I’m glad you put your energy into this, because it made me stop and look up several of these books that I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of and checked out. I hope the promotion works out well for all the authors!

    Comment by Gigi Pandian — April 12, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

  11. Thanks so much, Jenny, for featuring the behind-the-scenes story of how these promotions came about! I know you have a warm and welcoming site frequented by writers and readers alike. I hope writers will find the campaigns interesting to watch, to determine whether something like this might be worth pursuing in the future, and I hope non-writers will find it interesting also as I know many of them have been wondering why on earth are there so many authors and publishers giving away their books for free on Amazon?

    For people who prefer print books and never intend to get an e-reader, one way that free Kindle books can benefit them is that they can download the Kindle app. onto their computer and then skim through the freebies they download to see which ones they might enjoy the most. Many titles are also available in print and can either be ordered through online retailers, or by brick and mortar bookstores, so it’s a nice way to sample new titles and authors before buying.

    Thanks so much to everyone for all the nice words, I’m blushing! I’m energetic about things that interest me – as my husband can attest, my energy conveniently departs when there are household tasks to be done such as laundry or cleaning up clutter, LOL. It’s the participating authors who are running with the idea and making these campaigns much grander than I could ever done on my own. I’ve learned about so many new resources from these authors, and while I’m hoping for a huge success for everyone involved, whatever happens, it was well worth the time as we’ve all picked up new strategies and resources.

    Comment by Stacy Juba — April 12, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  12. Ambitious project. I hope it is a wonderful success. I just joined KDP – so these were some ideas for me to try.

    Comment by Victoria Adams — April 12, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  13. I’m one of the authors, and I’m so thrilled to be a part of something like this, especially with Stacy in charge. :-) The self-pubbing landscape is changing so rapidly, I feel like I’m a cowgirl in the Wild West.

    Comment by Dalya — April 12, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  14. Super interesting Stacy. Great post! Thanks Jenny.

    Comment by Pamela DuMond — April 12, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  15. All I can say is that Stacy Juba is a marketing genius. I feel lucky to be included in her new experiment! Huzzahs to Stacy and thanks to Jenny for giving us all a push on her blog. Jenny deserves a crown, too, for helping other writers.

    Comment by Nancy Means Wright — April 12, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

  16. Campaign is going well so far! One thing we have discovered though, which we didn’t realize before, is that Amazon does not let Listmania lists be used for promotion, so we are directing people to our blog posts about the event.

    So I would recommend using a blog as a home base for future promotions. It’s going well though, even in the UK!

    Comment by Stacy Juba — April 13, 2012 @ 11:27 am

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