May 12 2009
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Back during our April Fool festivities when I pretended I was an agent and had stolen Ann Aguirre away from the fabulous Laura Bradford, I posted Ann’s faux deal involving a story featuring weredeer. Courtney Milan joined in the fun and blogged about how wereruminants had already been done by Tessa Dare, author of an upcoming 3 book back to back to back historical series from Bantam.
It was claimed that Dare had written a story for Samhain called Legend of the Werestag. In order to soothe our ruffled feelings over this preposterous claim, Samhain sent Ann and I a gift in the form of a review copy of Legend of the Werestag. It was not, as I thought the title and cover conveyed, a paranormal nor does it feature any shapeshifting ruminants. Instead it is a wonderful historical short story. I devoured it as if I had come out of the wilderness after fasting for forty days and forty nights. I could not wait for a taste of more Dare writing.
According to the presentation by Dave Thompson, Random House, at the Make Information Pay annual conference sponsored by Book Industry Study Group (BISG), the number one reason that people bought books was because of an in store display. This is known as co-op. Coo-op is where publishers pay retailers some amount of money to have their books placed, face out, on a table, an end cap, or some other display. Nearly 80% of all romance fiction purchases, according to the data, are impulse purchases either at the grocery store, at a discounter, or at a bookstore. (I find this to be personally true. I might have one or two must have purchases and the rest are purchases made after browsing cover, title, blurb).
What does this mean for an author? If the publisher won’t do co-op for an author, won’t place those books face out, won’t raise in store awareness, then what should an author do? How best can an author reach people, particularly as a new author? According to Thomspon, it’s the internet. Certainly we’ve all seen ads for Harlequin all over. They’ve become ubiquitous. I’ve spotted them at CNN and Icanhascheeseburger. On Daily Kos and HuffingtonPost. For all I know, they are at RedState (a conservative site that I don’t visit).
Harlequin is pouring a ton of money into online ads because it is raising awareness for the brand. They seeded readers with a giveaway for each line, a 16 book giveaway in total that is still available to readers. We’ve blogged before about how free giveaways can raise awareness. According to John Hilton III, Random House has seen an 11% increase in sales after it gave away several books for free online.
Of course, authors don’t have the breadth of reach of publishers, neither in the store or on the internet. It’s a matter of dollars. What does this mean for Tessa Dare and authors like her? Sometimes they rely on intermediaries like bloggers. And I am okay with that because part of my goal here at Dear Author is to help the readers find great new authors. But for some authors who are fully immersed in the internet romance community, how many free book giveaways are worthwhile? For some authors established in the community, I think there is a certain point of saturation at which free ebook giveaways to a limited crowd has diminishing returns.
Further, I know that there are readers out there who will be turned off by hype. I can be that way too, but more often than not the hype can convince me to read a book I might not have been interested in. Sometimes all I need is the recommendation of a friend to get me over an initial reluctance. Sometimes it is a combination of both. For example, the book The Madness of Lord Ian McKenzie turned me off because I worried I wouldn’t really be able to like a rainman-like hero. After gentle reassurance from Robin (aka Janet), I was convinced that I would read it someday. After the twitter folks started going on and on about the greatness of the story I knew I had to read it, and I did later that evening. My only regret was that I hadn’t read it sooner.
It’s hard to say what moves and motivates consumers. I know for me it can be a free book. I probably wouldn’t have bought Legend of a Werestag. It sounds like a paranormal about, well, a ruminant, and I don’t find those to be terribly sexy creatures. And, in the interest of full confession and disclosure, I don’t know that I would have bought Goddess of the Hunt, at least not at first. The cover looked a bit bland to me but I would have been missing out.
I’m interested in hearing from the readership here as to what they like about author marketing and what they don’t like. I actually have a list of items I think are full of online marketing fail. Will you download a free book? Do guest blog posts and online blog tours make a difference? How about ads? Have you bought even one book, maybe more, through an online ad? Do reviews make a difference? Does it depend on the specific reviewer? What is the single best marketing tecnique you’ve seen? Authors, what have you done or not done that has made a difference? Come back at noon and I’ll have a mini review of Legend of a Werestag. Tessa Dare along with her publishers, Bantam and Samhain, will be giving away 3 copies of Goddess of the Hunt and 10 e-copies of Legend of a Werestag.