Sunday, July 08, 2007

DeceptiKonrath

Michael Bay's latest blockbuster film, Transformers, is coming soon to a theater near you. I'm predicting it will make a lot of money.

For the three of you who don't remember, Transformers were toys from the 1980s. One of them was a robot that looked like a truck, which, with some clever manipulation, could be transformed into a truck that looked like a robot.

Why will a movie based on a 25 year old toy make a lot of money?

Branding.

We remember Transformers the same way we all remember toys from our youth---with rose colored glasses. This movie has automatic name recognition with the Gen-X crowd. Many have children, who are the same age as they were when Transformers came out. They'll want to bring their kids and relive their own childhood.

Plus, Transformers have taken over our stores. You can't go into a supermarket, fast food chain, or watch TV without being assaulted by new Transformer toys and products.

It all fuels name recognition, which generates interest. Transformers will have a huge opening week.

But it will only be able to sustain ticket sales if the movie is good. If the movie is awful, ticket sales will plummet. Word-of-mouth has killed many big movies. I remember Battlefield Earth toys available at my local Toys R Us for fifty cents each. You can't market a turd.

Selling books (you knew we'd get around to that, right?) is also about name-recognition and branding. But word-of-mouth is essential too. A big marketing push by your publisher will fuel demand, but that demand will only be sustained if people like the book and tell other people about it.

Dirty Martini has been out officially for about a week, and began to trickle into stores two weeks ago.

From what I can interpret watching Amazon.com and calling Ingram, the book is doing better than the previous three.

Coop is part of that. Dirty Martini is on the new release table in the chains and major indies. It is in the public eye. Publicity plays a part. Dirty Martini is a Booksense Pick for August, which should help it sell in the indie stores. There have been some great reviews.

Name-recognition is also key. People who enjoyed my previous novels are buying this one. The time I've spent schmoozing booksellers and acquiring MySpace friends is helping my cause (I had three MySpace Friends show up to signings I had in Italy. MySpace works.)

I haven't begun promoting Dirty Martini yet. Very soon my newsletter will go out to 12k people, and I'll do a big Internet promotion. That should spike my numbers. Especially since I'll be "buying" advertising space with contests and freebies (you'll see what I mean when the newsletter is released.)

I'll also be doing some limited touring, which will help the cause.

But, ultimately, the fate of Dirty Martini, and of the series, comes down to word-of-mouth. If people like it, they'll tell others about it. Much of my promotion has been geared toward booksellers, because they are word-of-mouth megaphones. This time around, I'm going to see how many fans I can reach via the net to get them to spread the word.

Another thing about word-of-mouth; it builds. Now that I have four books out, I've found books are four times easier to sell. If I hook one new fan, they'll buy all four. As more books of mine are printed, they reach more people, which generates more word-of-mouth. As more books of mine are released, they take up more shelf space at libraries on at bookstores, leading to more people discovering them.

There's a snowball effect. Sales build on sales. James Rollins once told me that a hardcover is just an advertisement for the paperback. I believe a hardcover is an advertisement for the whole backlist.

But this cumulative effect only happens as long as books are still available. Which is why I spend so much time promoting, not just the new release, but the backlist as well.

The newsletter is coming soon. If you haven't signed up for it yet, visit www.jakonrath.com.

13 comments:

Lynda Hilburn said...

I just wanted to tell you that your promo worked on me. I've been reading (and appreciating) this blog for a while now, and recently became sufficiently motivated to go out and find your books. For some reason, I didn't get the info about Jack Daniels being a woman. Anyway, I got the first Jack Daniels book and then the next two, and I want to tell you why I loved them: 1) They're funny. 2) They feature a bright, competent, over-40 woman with endearing flaws and psychological baggage. 3) The secondary characters are a hoot. 4) They have just enough realistic serial-killer stuff to be exciting page-turners. I'm looking forward to reading your latest and whatever comes after that. I'll even go get the little stories about Jack. Well done! My book comes out in October and I'll be applying lots of your advice to my promo efforts. Thanks!
Lynda Hilburn

Patrick said...

Hi, Joe...

I was wondering about the release date for Dirty Martini.

I thought I had read somewhere that it was supposed to be out at the end of June or so, but I can't find it in any of the local bookstores or the library.

I asked my local Books-A-Million about the release date. They said "sometime in July." That's as specific as they seemed to be able to get.

So I'll keep trying.

Jude Hardin said...

One of my favorite toys when I was a kid (around 1970) was an astronaut guy named Major Matt Mason. I had him and his buddy and the space station and all the accessories. If I still had all that stuff in good condition, I could probably sell it on ebay for more than the average first-novel advance. Amazing, the power of memories...

Great post, Joe. A good reminder of how important a brand is.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks Lynda!

My books should be available everywhere, Patrick. If BAM doesn't have them, they should.

On another note, Transformers had a huge opening week, as everyone expected.

Mark Terry said...

Well, I stuck your book jacket and Jim Rollins' new book jacket up on my blog saturday and told people to check them out (with links to your sites), so I suppose it's working.

Mark Terry said...

Oh, and although Transformers missed me (except the toys) when I was a kid, I took my kids to see it this weekend. It's a lot of fun, if you're into giant robots fighting and lots of explosions (what's not to like?) And otherwise, I can safely say that Megan Fox is, well, a fox. See, Joe, that's what you're missing. The hot babe angle.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks, Mark!

Maybe I should get implants....

AlphaBetti said...

Hey JA -- I know other people are telling you so, but I wanted to add my voice: Your strategy IS working. I started reading your blog just for the information you give about NYT Bestseller List (I found you on a Google search -- first page by the way). I vaguely remembered you from an article in Writer's Digest. The more I read, the more I found myself enjoying your writing style... so I went to B&N, bought Whiskey Sour and read it. I will probably buy your other books as long as I can make sure that no one sees me sneaking into the closet, flashlight in hand, to read them. Please extend my thanks to your mother for not strangling you at birth.

AlphaBetti said...

P.S. Maybe Jack should get surgically enhanced. Another reason to wear a Kevlar vest...

Sonya said...

I'll also be doing some limited torturing, which will help the cause.

Wow. Really?

You can torture me...

Yeah, so my mind must have been elsewhere when I read that sentence. That's awesome news about Dirty Martini... here's hoping for the NYT list!

You're damned good, Konrath. :D

Allison Brennan said...

Great blog, Joe. And I completely agree (wow, not even a little disagreement!) Each of my books has done better than the last. People have emailed me after reading my newest release telling me they were picking up my other books. I'm not in hardcover yet, but every new release helps the backlist.

Heather said...

Whoops, we've got a spammer around here. Don't click that link, folks.

mcewen said...

My husband was chatting to a chap at work about the film that he took his kiddie winkies to. Sounded much too violent for mine. [but they're already hooked on the marketing]
Cheers