Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Live Undead - Marketing Draculas

I wrote a horror novel with Blake Crouch, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson called Draculas.

You can buy it for $2.99 on Kindle here.

For the reasons why we decided to release this as a Kindle ebook, you're welcome to read my Huffington Post blog.

If you'd like to know what Draculas is about, visit the website at www.draculasthebook.com.

This blog entry isn't about why we wrote it, how we wrote it, or what kind of story it is. So what am I blogging about?

Marketing.

Draculas went live on Amazon yesterday. Since then we've gotten 120 reviews, and are currently number 76 on the Paid Kindle Bestseller list.

Here's how we did it.

When we'd only written 10k words of the book, back in August, we began to plan our marketing strategy. Based on the Afraid Blog Tour I did in '09, I learned about the power of bloggers and reviewers, and how they could raise an Amazon ranking. So we knew we wanted to get on as many blogs, and get as many reviews, as possible.

We contacted reviewers by approaching those who had reviewed Afraid and Serial in the past, and also by calling out for reviewers on this blog. We also emailed my Goodreads friends and asked if they would do a review in exchange for a free ebook. Here's the letter we used:

If you haven't been on my blog for the last few days, I've got a new ebook experiment going on.

Earlier this year, I asked three fellow writers if they wanted to collaborate on a horror novel. I've worked with each of them before (F. Paul Wilson, Jeff Strand, and Blake Crouch) and they're all consummate professionals.

The result of our efforts, DRACULAS - A Novel of Terror, will be released on Kindle, October 19 (but available to any ereader through Calibre).

Now we're attempting to generate some buzz prior to the launch, by treating this like a traditional release rather than an indie release. That means we're looking for a few good reviewers.

Do you want a free advance reading copy of DRACULAS?

Here’s what you do…

Send an email to draculasthebook@gmail.com and confirm that:

1. You will post a review of DRACULAS by October 18 on Goodreads, your blog or website (if you have one), along with a link to Amazon’s pre-order page (which will be provided to you along with the book and press release.)

2. You will post that same review to Amazon’s DRACULAS page when the book is officially launched on October 19.

3. Make sure to include your name and the web-address of your website or blog (if any), which may be linked to from my blog when the book goes live in the Kindle store.

Your email address will of course be kept confidential, and anyone who writes a review, good or bad, will be thanked in the acknowledgments of a future edition of DRACULAS.

We anticipate having a final manuscript of the book ready to email on or before October 1.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE A BLOG OR WEBSITE...

No problem. We're going to have a dedicated DRACULAS website page. Write a review, email it to draculasthebook@gmail.com , and we'll post it there. Then you can link to your review via Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook, if you use them.

Please make sure to email draculasthebook@gmail.com, under the subject heading “GOODREADS REQUEST.” Do NOT email me directly - we want to make sure your email is read, not lost in my huge stack of unanswered emails.

Thanks in advance for helping us to spread the word!

Many of these folks also got a copy of the PRESS RELEASE FOR DRACULAS.

Two hundred and sixty people requested the ebook. Those that did, got this email:

Dear Friends:

Here are links to the finished manuscript of DRACULAS, including all of its extensive bonus content. Just click on whichever format you need and the download will start automatically:

Here are the download links.

The first link contains the pdf of Draculas. It requires Adobe Reader to read, which most computers have. You can download Reader for free at http://get.adobe.com/reader. Once you click on this link, you must then save the file to your computer using FILE, SAVE PAGE AS, in the upper right hand corner of the document. It can then be read on your screen, or printed.

1. LINK FOR DRACULAS PDF: http://www.jakonrath.com/Draculas.pdf

Second link: If you have a Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, Kobo, or other ereader, you can download the prc file (Kindle) and the epub files here:

2. LINK FOR KINDLE, SONY, NOOK, KOBO OR OTHER: http://www.jakonrath.com/Draculas.zip

This is a zip file, and requires a program to open it, which most computers have. If you can't open it, you can get Freezip for free here:

http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,6383-order,1/description.html

Please link your review to the Draculas Amazon page here:

http://www.amazon.com/DRACULAS-Novel-Terror-ebook/dp/B0042AMD2M

Don't forget to post your review there as well. If you'd like to add the cover art to your review, it is here:

http://www.jakonrath.com/Draculas.jpg

If you don't have a Kindle, remember that you can download the free Kindle application for a variety of devices.

If you have any questions or issues with any of the file attachments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via draculasthebook@gmail.com.

For those of you who have expressed concern that Draculas is only available as a Kindle ebook, remember that it is DRM free. That means, once bought from Amazon, it can be easily transferred to any other ereading device (Nook, Kobo, Sony, etc.) Visit www.DraculastheBook.com for instructions. Draculas will also soon be available in print.

If you could publish your review of DRACULAS on October 18th, (and link to and post the same review to the Amazon review page) that would be ideal. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY THE BOOK TO POST A REVIEW ON AMAZON, you just need an Amazon account. Of course, we’re eternally grateful for whenever you’re able to publish your review.

When your review is up, please send an email to draculasthebook@gmail.com, under the heading “REVIEW LINK” and drop us the link to your blog(s)/website review of the book. We’re going to feature a link to all reviews on Konrath’s blog on 10/19, as well as the dedicated DRACULAS website.

We seriously couldn’t do this without you, and your willingness to help us spread the word about DRACULAS means the world to us.

As a show of appreciation, we sent these reviewers an ebook copy of Shaken. If any of them review Shaken, they'll get another free ebook in return. We also thanked them in the Draculas acknowledgments.

The reviews were our main goal. But we wanted to treat this like an official book release, so we did some other standard things prior to the book launch.

Blake's web person built a website, www.draculasthebook.com.

We sent our newsletters to over 20,000 fans on our mailing lists.

We blogged, Tweeted, and mentioned Draculas on Facebook.

We got a few interviews, and I wrote the aforementioned HuffPo article.

We bought ads on Kindleboards and I started a thread in the Book Forum.

We bought adspace on Kindle Nation and offered Stephen Windwalker's readers half the ebook for free.

We worked with Amazon to create a free teaser chapter download page, which got over 1500 downloads.

We worked with Amazon to create a pre-order page, which resulted in over 300 sales prior to the launch date.

So far, total, we're over 800 ebook sales for Draculas. I expect to hit 1000 sales by tomorrow.

Total costs to us, including formatting, cover art, interior art (the Amazon ebook has four original drawings by Carl Graves that weren't in the ARCs), the website, and the ads, is at about $1300. So we're already in the black, and will be in the black for the rest of our lives.

If Draculas sells as well as my other Kilborn ebooks, we can plan on at least 1000 sales per month, which is $24k per year. But I expect it to do better than that.

Not bad for eight weeks of part-time work.

This is a partial list of Draculas links. We've stopped trying to accrue them all, because there are so many.

AUDIO INTERVIEWS:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/diabolicalradio/2010/10/07/the-return

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/author-cj-west/2010/10/18/thriller-30-special-draculas

BLOG INTERVIEWS:

http://carlarene.blogspot.com/2010/10/interview-with-draculas-authors-blake.html

http://jetaylor75.wordpress.com/

http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/2010/10/interview-with-authors-of-draculas.html

http://20thlevelmarketing.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-reviewed.html

http://1to1discovery.com/interview-authors-of-draculas/

http://warlockwriter.blogspot.com/2010/10/interview-draculas-authors.html (8)

ONLINE EXCERPTS

http://killerhobbies.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas.html

http://kindlehomepage.blogspot.com/

REVIEWS, PRESS, ETC.:

http://redadeptreviews.com/?p=3106

http://digitalspotlightfictionreview.blogspot.com/2010/10/advance-review-for-draculas-by-ja.html

http://www.edwardgtalbot.com/drupal64/index.php?q=node/1213

http://confessionsofazombiemom.blogspot.com/2010/10/book-48-draculas-by-ja-konrath-blake.html

http://www.thecleanwhitepage.com/2010/10/review.html

http://jeroentenberge.com/post/1213233296/draculas-a-review

http://www.unrulyguides.com/2010/10/draculas-book-review/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+unrulyguides%2FzBsh+%28Unruly+Guides+e-Publishing+News%29#axzz11tRSKUrS

http://secretofthesands.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-vewe-scary-halloween-read.html

http://gretchenrix.com/draculas

http://www.genrefinity.net/?p=511

http://caninesandcrime.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-book-review.html

http://nikkiswild.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-konrath-crouch-wilson-strand.html?zx=d6fe3b3868e9dc91

http://thegingernutcase.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-by-j-konrath-jeff-strand-f.html

http://readingreadingandlife.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-by-kilborn-wilson-crouch-and.html

http://surroundedbybooksreviews.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-by-blake-crouch-jack-kilborn.html

http://fangplace.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-of-draculas.html

http://20thlevelmarketing.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-reviewed.html

http://pgproofreader.blog131.fc2.com/blog-entry-174.html

http://jeffstrand.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/welcome-to-gleefully-macabre/

www.blakecrouch.com

www.jakonrath.blogspot.com

http://sammygreene.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/book-review-for-halloween-draculas-by-jack-kilborn-blake-crouch-f-paul-wilson-and-jeff-stand/

http://jetaylor75.wordpress.com/

http://akhalifablog.blogspot.com/2010/10/round-up37-bumper-edition.html

http://myponytails.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/friday-56-draculas-by-blake-crouch-jack-kilborn-f-paul-wilson-jeff-strand/

http://bellastreetwrites.blogspot.com/2010/10/pedal-to-metal-dracula-action.html

http://stuffmikewrites.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas.html

http://rowenacherry.blogspot.com/2010/10/upping-ante-on-nasty-review-of-draculas.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ja-konrath/ebooks-and-self-publishing_b_764516.html

http://r-o-u-s.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas.html

http://iyamvixenbooks.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-novel-of-terror-f-paul-wilson.html

http://waggingthefox.blogspot.com/2010/10/rabid-reads-draculas-by-blake-crouch.html

http://www.crfmontgomery.com/

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com/2010/10/ebook-review-draculas-by-blake-crouch.html?spref=tw

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2010/10/splatterpunk-and-draculas.html

http://quietfurybooks.com/blog/2010/10/draculas-a-novel-of-terror/

http://paranormalstories.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-review.html

http://thegarrettcook.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-review-previously-posted-on.html

http://ghostplanestory.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-hahahahahorror.html

http://www.lrgiles.com/?p=526

http://www.nurtureyourbooks.com/?p=1362

http://digitaldrivein.crossroadpress.com/2010/10/18/5/

www.marystella.blogspot.com

http://kdjames.com/2010/10/18/things-that-go-bump-and-gush-blood-in-the-night/

http://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-blake-crouch-jack-kilborn-ja.html

http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas.html

http://jetaylor75.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-of-draculas.html

http://grumpydan.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-by-blake-crouch-jack-kilborn.html

http://www.readreactreview.com/2010/10/18/monday-morning-stepback-shopping-at-borders-for-amazon-books/

http://cheriereich.blogspot.com/2010/10/promo-monday_18.html

http://themissy.com/2010/book-review-draculas/

http://warlockwriter.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-draculas.html

http://psalm27-1.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-review.html

http://americareads.blogspot.com/2010/10/pg-69-f-p-wilson-j-strand-j-kilborn-b.html

http://page69test.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas.html

http://bestdamncreativewritingblog.com/2010/10/18/draculas-a-novel-of-terror-and-viral-marketing-experiment/

http://nenadristic.com/2010/10/draculas-review-2/

http://thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-4-co-authored-piece.html

http://varietypages.jamiedebree.com/2010/10/18/book-review-draculas-by-blake-crouch-jack-kilborn-f-paul-wilson--jeff-strand.aspx

http://barbswire-ebooksandmore.blogspot.com/

http://kippoe.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-review-no-sparkles-just-blood.html

http://thrillersrus.blogspot.com/

http://countryreader.blogspot.com/

http://1to1discovery.com/review-draculas/

http://wordheard.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/draculas/

http://www.horrorview.com/book-reviews/draculas

http://thescrapangel.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-my-review.html

http://thescifigenrereview.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-by-crouchkilbornstrandwilson.html

http://www.darylsedore.com/blog/?p=354

http://www.elizabethawhite.com/2010/10/18/draculas-by-crouch-kilborn-strand-and-wilson/

http://antheastrezze.com/blog/2010/10/18/book-review-draculas/

http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com/2010/10/book-review-draculas.html

http://earthwalkr.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/review-of-draculas/

http://www.scoopjackson.net/archives_15.htm#read%20these%20books

http://fictiondame.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-by-ja-konrath.html

http://gelatisscoop.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-blake-crouch-joe-konrath-jeff.html

http://writersshelflife.blogspot.com/2010/10/can-i-honestly-say-i-liked-draculas-and.html

http://kurtmcriscione.macabreink.com/

http://www.dailyebookreviews.com/draculas-by-crouch-kilborn-strand-and-wilson

http://www.thelakethatstolechildren.com/2010/10/18/konrath-and-co-writer-use-draculas-to-drain-blood-from-traditional-publishing/

http://karlykirkpatrick.blogspot.com/2010/10/draculas-by-ja-konrath-jack-kilborn-and.html

http://www.ricktaubold.com/blog2/

http://jennbookreviews.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/draculas-a-novel-of-terror-by-blake-crouch-jack-kilborn-f-paul-wilson-jeff-strand/

http://jlbryanbooks.blogspot.com/

http://eileenandrews.com/?p=727

Link to Amazon DRACULAS reviews

http://www.amazon.com/DRACULAS-Novel-Terror-ebook/dp/B0042AMD2M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1287332295&sr=8-2

Link to Goodreads DRACULAS reviews

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9378084-draculas

Link to Library Thing DRACULAS reviews

http://www.librarything.com/work/10521929

Link to Shelfari DRACULAS reviews

http://www.shelfari.com/books/17370933/DRACULAS-%28Teaser-Chapters%29-%28Free-Sample-of-the-Upcoming-Novel-Re/readers-reviews

CONCLUSION

I'm pretty sure no one else has self-pubbed an ebook at $2.99 and hit the Top 100 on the first day. This is a nice, solid launch to a title that should sell perennially. Both the writing, and the promo work, was done quickly and efficiently, and even at this early stage I'd call this ebook experiment a success. Not only can four writers put a novel together with eight weeks, but they can also do enough promotion to get it noticed.

Time will tell how Draculas does in the long run. But one thing I'm certain of. Other authors will follow in our footsteps.

Perhaps you'll be one of them.

62 comments:

Joe Konrath said...

In ten minutes I'm doing a live Twitter chat, from 12pm-1pm CST. Follow the hashtag #Draculas.

Joe Konrath said...

To join the Draculas chat with JA Konrath, visit http://tweetchat.com/room/draculas and sign in to your Twitter account

Mary Stella said...

Congratulations. Definitely a success!

Daryl Sedore said...

To the Draculas Team;

Thanks for letting me be a part of this ground-breaking promotion that has paved a way into a new world of e-book hype that cannot be competed with (yet).

It's been great! Awesome read too!

Thanks guys and may the hardcore sales numbers never stop!

CJ West said...

Great effort Joe.

I really enjoyed having Blake and Jeff on the BTR show.

CJ

Talli Roland said...

I read this with interest and excitement, as I'm attempting a similar sort of thing with my debut novel (by an indie publisher). I'm holding a Take On Amazon Web Splash on my release day, asking bloggers, Facebooks and Tweeters to post/ update their status with the link to my e-book and what I'm trying to do: get as high up in the rankings on Dec 1 as I can. I've got 400 bloggers signed up and counting!

I really think e-books are an ideal way for self-published and smaller-press authors to get out there, without all the distribution issues of traditional books.

I am so excited to see this working for you!

Tuppshar Press said...

Congratulations to all of you!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

a-maz-ing. I am so impressed.

Jared Sandman said...

Another fascinating post, as usual. And nice to meet you at the NINC conference.

What would you consider to be the single most effective form of marketing? Print promos? Social networking? Bloggers/reviewers? Cheap prices?

This isn't just a question for Joe, either. I'd be interested to know a range of opinions.

-j.s.

Edie Ramer said...

This is a brilliant promo lan! I'm learning so much from your blogs.

Selena Kitt said...

How did you convince Amazon to give you a pre-order page?

sopris13er said...

Joe (&DRACULAS Stars),
About 8 weeks ago, I had the good fortune to find your blog, and it proved to be a life-changing experience for me in many ways.

I have learned more in 8 weeks of reading your blog, books, links, and associates' work than I did in 27 years of formal education, much of it related to the writing biz.

I was honored to be included in your ground-breaking experiment as a reader/reviewer for DRACULAS, and I plan to stay tuned in! I wouldn't want to miss a thing, especially as the results of your experiments are so enlightening (I've read nearly all of your past blogs. They are my texts now!)

I thank you BIG-TIME for the mention of my fledgling e-editing work on this blog, but I moved sites en medias res, and consequently my link is dead (not your fault!).

Here is the corrected link for anyone looking for the equivalent of the $2.99 indie editor (accurate, affordable, & with a quick turn around: http://crfmontgomery.blogspot.com/

For the joy of being involved, getting free books, receiving meaningful help, and all of the inherent excitement that goes with it, I thank you sincerely and will remain a dedicated reader.

And CONGRATULATIONS! You are #68 and gaining as of now!

bowerbird said...

joe-

well, you certainly are a
hard-working marketer.

to authors who will want
to follow in your footsteps,
let me say that -- in the
long run -- it will _not_ be
necessary to do all of this.

_collaborative_filtering_
will find your fans for you.

amazon already uses a
_very_crude_ version of
collaborative filtering...
it's their "people who
bought this book also
bought these books..."
engine. over time, it'll
get so much better that
marketing will come to be
seen as a "kiss of death"
that only the needy use.

so if you're not feeling
the vibe of doing hype,
_don't_worry._ you won't
need to jump in that pool.

-bowerbird

Admin said...

Congrats, Joe.

My first novel, a thriller called "Fifth Avenue," made the Top 100 in 5 days. It's currently #34 and rising. I took the Boyd route and chose a low price, in this case .99 cents. That will change at some point.

I have 20,000 Twitter followers, a popular Web site, a popular Facebook fan page, and I marketed the book purely through these channels. I paid $500 for a great cover. I've done no blog touring or requests for reviews. But the novel continues to take off.

I attribute a lot of my success to your blog and following your advice. And now agents are getting in touch. The NY Post called because one of the editors read the book. A story will come from that. When I choose an agent, it will be for foreign rights, audio and theatrical. If the Big 6 come through as they did with Boyd, great. But the offer better be good because my novel became a best-seller really quickly--and I'm an unknown. The Big 6 will need to pay if they want it.

You can find the book here and see the stats: http://www.amazon.com/Fifth-Avenue-ebook/dp/B0046ZS2G4/ref=pd_ts_kinc_34?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text

Thanks again for all you do. It is absolutely appreciated.

Chris

Selena Kitt said...

Chris - congrats on your success! The real test will be when you up your price beyond the $0.99. Right now, 99 cents is sort of a "what the hell" throwaway for most folks. I just bought your book - so there you go, $0.35 in your pocket! ;) But if it had been $2.99? I would have given it more thought. Definitely would have ordered a "sample" first. If you can maintain your ranking at $2.99 or higher... that will be the real test! ;)

-Selena

Admin said...

Agreed, Selena. It's a first novel--and I need to build a base for the next book, which is nearly finished. Strategy. It's what we all have and if we map out our own plans intelligently, good things should follow.

Chris

Admin said...

Also, if I may, there are thousands of .99 cent books out there that have done squat and have not created a buzz. So, I'm not so sure about the "what the hell" quote because I approached none of this with a "what the hell" attitude. If it was "what the hell" all the time for all books priced the same mine, that's what we'd be seeing on the lists.

I'm thinking long-term strategy. I'm thinking fanbase.

Chris

Carla René said...

Hey Joe,

Congratulations on the success of the book, and thanks for thinking of me to be a part of it.

One teeny question, however.

I'm launching my own book promotion for my novel release on Thanksgiving Day, and want to set up a pre-order page, and offer the first ten chapters for those who pre-order.

In your blog, you said you had contacted Amazon for help with this, so, I called Amazon's illustrious customer service reps yesterday to get help. After 45 minutes (!), they told me they couldn't help, and to contact DTP help.

Today, a DTP rep tells me they neither are set up to do pre-orders, and aren't equipped to offer anything other than the standard 10% sample download.

Could you help me with this, and let me know who you spoke to and how you accomplished this?

Thanks so much,
Carla

KevinMc said...

Carla, I'm going to toss out a wild guess here, and say I think it has something to do with Joe's work being on Amazon Encore, and the four authors' collective background of good sales. It's definitely not something that Amazon offers to the average DTP self-publisher.

They've put in years of work writing and being published to build reputations; I think it's natural that Amazon would see those reps as worth some extra attention, especially since it helps Amazon broadcast to the world that known pro authors are now skipping publishers and going direct to ebook. ;)

Carla René said...

Joe and I go way back--I designed his first web-site and we met in the same online writing group. So I know how hard he's worked for what he has.

It seems to me, you've just answered my argument: if Amazon's all fired up about getting the word out even more with authors clamouring to self-publish, then they're merely shooting themselves in the feet by not helping other authors who wish to follow suit.

Of course, that could simply be bile talking: I've spent three weeks being vomited on by Amazon's ingenious customer service reps in trying to get a problem resolved. I think they train them all to be obliquely obtuse.

Pale Rambler said...

I'm almost halfway through writing my first novel and have been thinking of best practices for generating interest so more than my mother and a few second cousins read it (after purchasing it at full retail price, of course). Your exercise with Draculas confirms some of my suspicions while giving me some excellent new ideas.
Considering your level of success, I thank you for not being a selfish bastard with both your time and expertise.

Tara Maya said...

amazon already uses a
_very_crude_ version of
collaborative filtering...
it's their "people who
bought this book also
bought these books..."
engine. over time, it'll
get so much better that
marketing will come to be
seen as a "kiss of death"
that only the needy use.

so if you're not feeling
the vibe of doing hype,
_don't_worry._ you won't
need to jump in that pool.


bowerbird, I hope you're right, although I suspect that there will always be a reward to the tireless self-promoters. Fair enough; hard work should be rewarded. But I admit that the extent of Joe's promotion has me quavering in my boots.

I released my book today too. To, ahem, considerably less fanfare. But I hope you all will forgive me if I put in a quick plug: Congermence, an anthology of science fiction and fanttasy short stories, $2.99.

For those who want something in the $.99 range, I also have published two of the novellas from the anthology separately: Tomorrow We Dance, and The Painted World, Stories.

And, in an attempt at promotion, I also have a contest to win a Kindle. (Also, because I am a total kindle fangirl.) Check out my blog for details.

KevinMc said...

I don't think we'll ever see a day that promotion and marketing are not essential tools to most product success, guys. We will certainly see (are *already* seeing) consumer review systems shoot down well-marketed products that are rotten. But the difference between success and failure of a good product will still remain with the power of the marketing used to bring it to peoples' eyes.

Consider - if Draculas had been horrible, it's likely most of the reviewers would either have not left a review, or put up a poor review. That's both on Amazon and on other sites. If a bad writer tries to copy them, they'll end up with a hundred or so bad reviews, and it probably will hurt their sales rather than help.

But if a good book comes out without an author platform and without a strong marketing position, it most likely will not sell very well, simply because readers won't see it. Many good works will still end up lost without good marketing to support them.

In the longer term, I see this as the role for (small?) publishers to fill: gather the books of good authors who don't want to be their own marketers, and publicize the heck out of them.

Krystian Galaj said...

You surely captured public attention with Draculas. But it was relatively free to capture.
Public attention is a very limited resource - if other authors follow, and in a few months there will be 500 such promotion/advertising campaigns going on at the same time, how big an impact will it have on the sales of each title?

Carla René said...

I understand your comment, Krystian, but I don't think it works like that. If it did, then car companies would've stopped their annoying "Let's comfort people who've already BOUGHT the car" ad campaigns a long time ago.

And as we've already established, apparently Amazon chose to do this especially for this release, because they're obviously refusing to help anyone else set up a pre-order and offer anything over 10% of the book as a free sample. So that part, at least, seems to be a moot point for the moment.

I think the buying public tends to stomach a *lot* of crap in the way of repetitive advertising. And the ad companies know this, or they wouldn't continually capitalise on it by bombarding people with the same ad, sometimes twice in one hour, year after year. It's a matter of hitting your target enough times that your product will remain in their minds until they *finally* have the money from that long-awaited cheque from the hospital for uncle Gertrude's homicide due to a botched sex-change operation. It's worked that way with me. I won't have money on-hand when I see an ad for something I really want, but am thankful the ad continued to annoy me and cause me to seek creative ways to commit suicide with a butter knife and a shoe. Or else I wouldn't have remembered the product. ;)

HL Arledge said...

Once again, Joe, you inspire us.

Thank you!

As my novel's final draft is being cleaned up, these are the things on my mind, so you're timing for me is perfect.

Have you considered throwing Podio Books into the mix as a promotional tool? I've read it worked miracles for Scott Sigler and others.

June Shaw said...

Fantastic job! Thanks for sharing this, and all of your great info.

Joe Konrath said...

How did you convince Amazon to give you a pre-order page?

They did it as a favor to me. Amazon went waaaaay above and beyond anything I expected in helping us out on this project, and we're truly grateful. They're a bunch of smart, savvy, enthusiastic folks, and a pleasure to work with.

They didn't ask for anything in return, but we made Draculas a Kindle exclusive for a year as a way of thanking Amazon.

Whether or not they'll offer pre-order pages to other authors; I dunno. That might be a bit of a logistical nightmare, not to mention the customer service problems that would occur if self-pubbed authors promise an ebook on a certain release date and then miss the date.

That said, if Amazon offered a teaser chapter and pre-order page to authors willing to pay for that space, I'd do it. I'd also love to have the opportunity to buy ad space or banner space on Amazon, or join the "Buy X Get Y" program for ebooks.

Erik Williams said...

First, congrats to all four authors on this BIG success. May it continue to sell well.

Second, thanks for sharing this info, Joe.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Joe's right about the logistical nightmare Amazon would face supportin pre-release pages, etc. I work at Microsoft, and it is definitely no easy task to enable functionality that scales for thousands of users.

But, if they're smart, some PM at Amazon is at least investigating the feasibility of providing some form of this.

KevinMc said...

Well, they already do provide a form of it - for publishers. I think Joe is dead on about the reliability issue. If you put up a preorder page and 300 people preorder the book, but the author does not deliver it on time, it's *Amazon's* name that gets dragged through the mud.

Known publishers are able to do preorder pages because they're known businesses and have a standing business relationship with Amazon. Of course, there's nothing to start anyone here from founding a new publishing company and eventually building that sort of relationship themselves...

The way I could see Amazon doing preorder pages for individual authors is to allow it in cases where the author has already dropped the ebook off to them, and it's already been approved for the store. Then they could give the author the option of doing a preorder page to allow a build up of marketing buzz for the book. I think that could be win-win.

D.D. Scott said...

Fabulous work, Joe & Co!!!

I luuuvvv your Marketing Methods, Joe, and am experimenting 2C if I can do for the Romance Genre what you've done for Thrillers!

Cheers and Happy Hour All-Around --- D. D. Scott

Jude Hardin said...

Congrats, guys. I'm definitely taking notes on the promo efforts.

One thing I don't understand, though, is why anyone would want to pre-order an ebook. Delivery is instantaneous, stock unlimited. So what difference could it possibly make?

Selena Kitt said...

"if they offered a teaser chapter and pre-order page to authors willing to pay for that space, I'd do it. I'd also love to have the opportunity to buy ad space or banner space on Amazon, or join the "Buy X Get Y" program for ebooks."

You ARE giving them these suggestions in a bullet pointed list for us, aren't you? :)

Moses Siregar III said...

Fracking awesome, Joe. I was at least about to retweet some of your announcements :-)

On a different note, here's some news that was very interesting to me. BookScan to Track Ebook Sales by the end of 2010?

Blake Crouch said...

@Jude - that's a good point, and something we found illuminating...only had about 250 pre-orders, over 2 months, although now, 48 hours after launch, we've surpassed the 1000-sold mark. Pre-orders are good and certainly helpful in terms of building early momentum, (and I'd definitley do it again) but I think it's a more effective tool over a longer period of time. Of course we didn't have lots of time in this instance since we started writing the book 2 months before it was published.

bowerbird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bowerbird said...

kevin said:
> the difference between
> success and failure of
> a good product will still
> remain with the power of
> the marketing used to
> bring it to peoples' eyes.

i say that collaborative filtering
will be what brings a product
"to peoples' eyes" in the future.

furthermore, even if you find
some other mechanism that
brings your book to their eyes,
people will check with the
collaborative filtering system
before they _buy_ your book or
spend a chunk of their life to
read it. and if the system says
that they won't enjoy the book,
they will _not_ buy it or read it.

(they might, if they haven't yet
learned to trust the system, but
they'll learn to trust eventually.)

there's another important note.

you say "a good product", as if
we can judge the book's quality
on some kind of objective scale.

collaborative filtering is much
more sophisticated than that...

the magic of this methodology
is that it uses the ratings from
people who are similar to you
to recommend other content...

now of course, people who are
"similar to you" means people
who have given similar ratings
to the books you've both read.

or, to say this in another way,
these people share your taste,
so their opinions are weighted
more heavily in recommending
stuff they like (i.e., rate highly)
which you have not yet seen...

so this is a super-combination
of word-of-mouth coming from
a highly-knowledgeable source,
and adding serendipity squared.

even if the population at large
thinks a book is "good", if the
people who are similar to you
rated it as "bad", you're warned.
it's antidote against blockbusters.

and even if "most people" think
a book was "bad", if the people
who are similar to you rated it
as "good", you'll want to read it.

this is how you get tipped off to
the "smart" books that the masses
do not -- _cannot_ -- appreciate.

this allows the niche to flourish.

it means that authors don't have
to appeal to the lowest common.

as an author, you can be _you_,
secure in knowing that if there is
_anyone_ out there who likes you
as you, the system will find 'em...

this lets you concentrate on art,
instead of marketing. this will be
good for art. it'll be great for art.
and it'll be _great_ for _artists_...

-bowerbird

Carla René said...

Thanks for addressing my question, Joe.

Kevin, when Amazon bought Mobipocket, eBookbase was the primary route to publishing e-books on Amazon. But once Amazon set up DTP, they stopped accepting new accounts on eBookbase. Those already on that system, though, are still able to publish books by that route.

And that was, in essence, what I was told in that very vague letter I received--that publishers already in that system are still allowed to do pre-orders, but even new publishers who want the privilege are being locked out.

Okay, so on to plan two. Doing what I do best: finding a work-around solution.

Again, so proud of you Joe, I could spit.

P-tooey.

Christy Pinheiro said...

Known publishers are able to do preorder pages because they're known businesses and have a standing business relationship with Amazon.

I set up pre-order pages for my books all the time, but by using Amazon Advantage. That's currently for print editions only, but I don't see why Amazon can't use their existing model for e-books, too. I agree with Joe that it can be a logistic nightmare when a book is promised on a certain date and the release is delayed.

Imagine hundreds of pre-orders waiting in Amazon's system, and the book ends up not being available on time. It pisses customers off, so I understand why Amazon has been slow to offer this option to self-published authors.

Carla René said...

I see that as being easy enough to fix. In fact, one of their genius customer service reps told me flat out on the phone, with a supervisor feeding it to her in the background, to simply upload all of my materials and then choose the future release date.

Of course the problem was that she didn't have a clue what she was talking about and I could only select a release date 24-hours ahead of that moment.

If they would allows us to choose future dates, the book would hit live when it was supposed to.

Walter Knight said...

WOW, too bad you are not an agent. I would think many would seek out your agency.

Café Lopez said...

Congrats on your success! You're really trailblazing, and I for one am grateful. Looking forward to joining your ranks sometime soon-

Café Lopez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You guys must be making a fortune. Seventy percent of 2.99 SPLIT FOUR WAYS. Wowzers.

Carla René said...

LOL. Well, yeah--if you take that and multiply it by however many hundreds of copies they sold in the first two days alone, then yes, they're making quite a bit. And none of that went to a publisher.

wannabuy said...

Anon,

Those at the publishers can mock 'midlist' all they want as they shoot for only best sellers. But mock is all they can do with their cost structure as they abandon customers.

Neil

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Joe Konrath said...

You guys must be making a fortune. Seventy percent of 2.99 SPLIT FOUR WAYS. Wowzers.

We each make 50 cents on a Draculas sale. On the ebook version of Afraid, I make 35 cents. On a paperback sale of Whiskey SOur, I make 64 cents.

So, yes, 50 cents per download, forever, is a nice amount, considering the amount of time we each put in.

Blake Crouch said...

Dear Anon: To earn the same amount under a traditional publishing royalty structure, DRACULAS would have to list for $25.52. Considering the length of the work, in realty it would have to sell for a lot more than that to cover production costs.

Selena Kitt said...

I set up pre-order pages for my books all the time, but by using Amazon Advantage.

Amazon MOBI used to allow this as well. Used to be able to set a future release date and it would create a "pre-order" page. DTP doesn't allow it though. (GRR)

KevinMc said...

Question for anyone who can answer it... I've seen anecdotal references that large publishers have the same deal as small under Amazon ebooks now; that is, 70% of cover for $2.99-9.99, and only 35% for above or below that range.

Can anyone confirm or deny this? Are large publishers really putting out $14.99 ebooks and only getting 35% royalties for it? I did a little simple math on this, and...it's pretty obvious that doesn't make sense, financially. Are they getting a special deal? Or are they intentionally charging more for books and earning less?

Tara Maya said...

Kevin MC. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Are large publishers really putting out $14.99 ebooks and only getting 35% royalties for it? I did a little simple math on this, and...it's pretty obvious that doesn't make sense, financially. Are they getting a special deal? Or are they intentionally charging more for books and earning less?

Good question.

bowerbird said...

> Are large publishers really
> putting out $14.99 ebooks and
> only getting 35% royalties for it?

no. that's most certainly not true.

i wrote up a post to explain this,
but it ended up really long, so i'll
just say "no" and leave it at that.

-bowerbird

Rabid Fox said...

That is a metric ton of links.

At any rate, glad to help spread the word on that infectious novel.

Joe Konrath said...

Are large publishers really putting out $14.99 ebooks and only getting 35% royalties for it?

Publishers make 52.5% royalties off the cover price. On a $14.99 ebook, the publisher earns $7.87, Amazon earns $4.50, and the writer gets screwed with $2.62.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> On a $14.99 ebook,
> the publisher earns $7.87,
> Amazon earns $4.50, and the
> writer gets screwed with $2.62.

unless that high price causes the
customer to back out of the buy,
meaning the publisher earns $0,
and amazon earns $0 as well, and
the writer gets screwed with $0.

that's the likely cost of $14.99...

-bowerbird

Michael Henry said...

Joe: Thanks for your Newbie's Guide, the best source for me for practical information and encouragement about e-publishing. Unable to sell my first two novels in spite of having a good agent who placed them with editors at major publishers, I've e-published THREE BAD YEARS and AT RANDOM on Amazon and Smashwords at $2.99. Michael Henry mhenryauthor@gmail.com

Shah Wharton said...

I bought the hardcopy version :) I review books now but didn't then. Damn it :) I will certainly keep this post book marked for reference - I plan on sell-pubbing next yr and there are valuable ideas here. Excellent guys x

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Nancy said...

I like to know about DRACULA, But I didn't read any book of DRACULA. I am only seeing a movie of DRACULA, But after reading your post, I surely read your book and I wish to enjoy more than movies.