Pub Rants

Category: Marketing & Promotion

If I was looking for evidence of how powerful Amazon has become in the book-selling market, then I don’t need to look much further than the news I received yesterday! Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series hit the New York Times young adult series list. [ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE, CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES, and WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY]

So what you might ask. Agent Kristin always has titles hitting the NYT list (Ha! I wish that were true.) But it happens often enough that I’m guessing folks aren’t surprised to hear the news. So why is last night’s news a big deal?

It’s big because of the timing of the hit.

As a general rule, unless a title is a big perennial seller, titles don’t hit the list except during release week and the immediate weeks following. That’s when any given title is going to have the most number of sales (in a short period of time) to catapult it on to the NYT list.

But in Gail’s case, Waistcoats & Weaponry was the last title to be released and that happened in November 2014. It’s months after the release. So then the question becomes, what caused it?

I’ll tell you. It was the Kindle Daily Deal for Etiquette & Espionage that happened last week. Thousands and thousands of ebook copies sold during a short period of time. As we can now see from yesterday’s news, it was enough to propel the whole Finishing School series onto the NYT list. (FYI – once there are three books or more in a given series, then an individual title can no longer appear on the regular NYT list. It can only hit the NYT on the Series List.)

Hubby and I went out to dinner to celebrate my 35th New York Times bestselling title/appearance. I do tally the first appearance of a series on the NYT list, attributing “the hit” to the last release in terms of my title count. Otherwise I’m not sure quite how to do it.

Regardless, it’s news worth celebrating.

Is HarperCollins Pitting Authors Against Booksellers?

Just this week, HarperCollins announced that they would give authors a royalty incentive (35% of net instead of 25% of net) on any sales of an individual author’s book(s) that are sold via an affiliate link to HarperCollins’ new consumer-facing branded book retail site.

In other words, if the author is directly responsible for the sale, they get a higher royalty percentage. (Note: this only holds true for sales of books by the author. Authors can’t provide HarperCollins links to other author books and get an affiliate commission on the sale.)

To sum up, authors are rewarded if the sale is made directly through their publisher.

So does that pit authors against booksellers?

In my mind, the answer is no. Here’s why. HarperCollins is not mandating that their authors provide and feature ONLY links to the HarperCollins’ branded retail site.

HC is simply asking that the link be included along with all the other retail links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google, Indiebound (the consortium of independent booksellers), etc.

If HarperCollins mandated that authors could only use their links on websites, newsletters, and email blasts, that could create a problem.

But it does raise another interesting thought. If Publishers have online storefronts? Are they in direct competition with booksellers? After all, they are now selling direct-to-consumers.

(By the way, Publishers have always had the ability to sell directly to readers via mail order, phone sales, catalog, and special sales, but it hasn’t been a big revenue avenue in the past, except for some specific titles.)

That answer is probably yes, if a publisher’s retail store starts building real market share.

Last year we participated in World Book Night and gave away THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH and GOOD OMENS.

I’m over the moon that last night, World Book Night announced that Jamie Ford’s Debut  novel HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is a 2014 pick- both the regular and large print version.

To sign up to be a Book Giver and give away Jamie’s book, or if you’d like to choose something else (but really do you want to? Grin.) click here.

When I was at the Writers Digest conference earlier this year, I listened to a panel on how indie self-publishers creatively promote. All the folks in the audience were taking copious notes and invariably they asked, “what works in terms of promotion.” They wanted the magic bullet so if they did that, the work would get noticed.

The panel members answered by giving some examples but they cautioned that no one in the audience could use the same promotional approach because it had been done before; now it’s too late to do it again. It won’t have the same impact. To stand out, folks have to be creative and come out with the next big thing that hasn’t been done before.

Like that’s easy.

But it’s so true. Remember when the book trailer was something crazy new and inventive? Now they are so common, it’s all just noise to readers (although they are super fun and I still like for my clients to have them).

Simone Elkeles ran her own company when she was in her mid-twenties. It forced her to think out of the box and be super creative with all the marketing. And I have to say that when she’s releasing a new series, she brainstorms for what will really go viral.

Now I’m not suggesting that everyone spend the budget Simone does for her promotion but what just-about-to-be-published writers need to do is analyze what they like and what is fun for them to do and see if that can’t be turned into an interesting or unique promo opportunity.

if you have a passion that will show through. And nothing exemplifies this more than the Reality TV Episodes Simone created for her brand new Wild Cards series. You can just tell that Simone loved putting this together. Check it out for yourself!

 

 

Or catch it on Youtube:

Wild Cards – Episode One

You might need a boat given the flooding but pull on your rain coveralls and your galoshes and join Nelson Literary Agency down at the Denver Tattered Cover Colfax tonight (Sept. 12, 2013) at 7:30 p.m.

It’s the launch party for Jamie Ford’s SONGS OF WILLOW FROST!

Laid back reception with pints and Pakistani food to follow at the 3 Lions Pub (three blocks from the book store).

All are welcome. I’ll see you there!

SongsOfWillowFrost

But only for you readers who are smart enough to grab the hardcover of SCORCHED when it hits the shelves on September 2.

Hidden DragonCover

 

 

And, I have a cool pre-order special if you’ve been thinking of doing just that!

In the changing landscape of publishing, it’s all about pre-orders these days. The actual sales racked up before release day can seriously make a difference on whether a book will land on the NYT or USA Today list or not. So publishers are getting creative in tempting readers to buy early. And sourcebooks is going all out for SCORCHED.

A Gift for You, for Pre-Ordering SCORCHED by Mari Mancusi

We have a special offer for U.S. and Canada YA fans for the release of SCORCHED by Mari Mancusi in stores in a little over three weeks! If you pre-order the book, we will send you an exclusive dragon charm—perfect to wear as jewelry or to decorate an accessory. You have until September 2 or until quantities run out.

DragonCharm

Here’s how to get your charm:
1. Pre-order the book (print or eBook) through any retailer (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, your local independent bookseller/Indiebound, Books-A-Million, Hastings, etc.)

2. Email your proof of purchase (receipt or picture of the receipt) to teenfire@sourcebooks.com. Put “Scorched Pre-Order” in the subject line. Don’t forget to include your home address (US & Canada only please) so we can send you the dragon charm! If you’ve already pre-ordered this book—not a problem! Send us your receipt!

3. You will get an email back confirming when the items have been sent out.

4. Enjoy Scorched when it comes out in September!

Optional: take a pic of you and your dragon charm and share it with Mari Mancusi or Sourcebooks Fire on Twitter! You can find Mari @marimancusi and Sourcebooks Fire @sourcebooksfire.

With over half a million ebooks sold, Slate.com and The Wall Street journal dub this originally self-published post-apocalyptic thriller  “the next Hunger Games” mega hit.

And Nelson Literary Agency invites you to a Book Launch Party for Hugh Howey’s WOOL!

FRIDAY, March 15, 2013

7:30 PM

The Tattered Cover

2526 E. Colfax, Denver, CO 80206

Event info

After the signing, hang out with Hugh and the gals of NLA for beer and conversations at

 The Three Lions Pub 

2239 E. Colfax, Denver, CO 80206–a short walk away

Appetizers will be provided. Cash bar.

Please RSVP!  rsvp@nelsonagency.com

UK_WOOL_cover

Last week my author Jana DeLeon, who has been digitally self-publishing her backlist titles, hit the USA Today Bestseller list at #98 for the very first time and for the very first novel she ever published: Rumble On The Bayou (originally published in 2007). And the big question is: How did she do that?

It’s a great question. More and more digitally self-published titles are hitting the lists. I’m certainly not a liberty to reveal all the genius marketing ideas Jana has been pursuing but I can tell you one thing that is public knowledge. She’s not doing it alone.

Over two years ago, Jana and 9 other digitally self-publishing authors formed a marketing co-op where they pool ideas, platforms, and resources. Together this group creates aggressive strategies and they’ve seen remarkable results for every member of the co-op.

It gives a whole new meaning to “it takes a village.” I imagine most authors who are digitally publishing tend to go it alone. I’m seeing the real efficacy of marketing in numbers. And I also don’t think grabbing any old person will do. Each member of the group needs to be equally invested and savvy about what it takes to market digital titles.

On a side note, RUMBLE was originally published by the now defunct Dorchester back in the day. I had quite the battle to arm wrestle the rights back when they stopped paying royalties three years  ago. Obviously that was worth doing!

Rumble-#98_UsaToday-BSL

What Are You Looking For?

STATUS: Doing meetings in New York all week.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? I’M A BELIEVER by The Monkees

Good question. What am I looking for?

Because I’m rewriting content for our new website (and the submission guidelines are an integral part of that), this question is definitely on my mind as of late. Not to mention, when I attend a conference, invariably I get asked this question. By now, you’d think I’d have a good answer ready. To be honest, I don’t.

We also have to answer this question on our new website for our submission guidelines. Since Sara’s answer is different than mine, we are tailoring our “what are you looking for” list for our specific agent pages.

By the way, the launch of our new website is a bit delayed. Our web developer lives in New Jersey. Yep, Hurricane Sandy.  He actually emailed me to apologize for the delay as he didn’t have electricity. Holy cow! No need for an apology there. We can wait a few more weeks.

But back to our website submission wish list. When I sat down to evaluate what I’m looking for, I find that I’m not interested in creating a nice, neat little list.

Right now our site says I’m looking for literary fiction with a commercial bent, commercial mainstream, women’s fiction, romance, science fiction, fantasy, young adult and middle grade.

Sure, that’s accurate and true but you know what? That doesn’t quite capture what I’m looking for. I want an intense, well-told story and the “genre” is incidental.

This summer I sold a literary cross-over novel that had a lot of horror elements – BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman.

Look at the list above? Do you see the word “horror” anywhere?

Not exactly. Yet, that story was perfect for me.

My book club is going to read Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL.

That’s totally up my alley. Do you see “thriller” on that above list? Nope. So what I’m looking for is not clearly defined by a neat little list that I can post on our website.

And today I had lunch with an editor from St. Martin’s and a bubble tea with an editor from Random House. (I think the tapioca is still stuck in my teeth…) Both had great previous experience in working at genre imprints earlier in their careers and now, neither is a genre editor per se but both love a big story that has a genre element to it. That’s what they are looking for.

And that’s what I’m looking for.

I have to find a way to say that on my page that outlines my submission guidelines. Not an easy trick. I do know that I don’t plan to post a handy little list because that doesn’t really capture what I’m looking for.

I want a good story well told. How you tell that story doesn’t need to fit in a neat little category.

New Website Going Live On Nov. 12 or Nov. 19

STATUS: I’ll be a much saner person then. Hey, I’m an optimist!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  YOU by Bonnie Raitt

Thanks for all the comments and feedback on FB versus blogging. Quite frankly, I had been sensing that blogging in general was becoming a bit passé. But it sounds like there is still a lot of interest in educational posts being delivered through the longer blog medium. Well, I hear you. I’m still debating on how practical it will be given my overwhelming workload. It’s much easier to throw up some insightful posts on Facebook. But I also get that a lot of folks aren’t on FB and have no interest in joining. And to be honest, I’m too verbose for twitter. *grin*

When I think of our new redesigned website going live, I start bouncing in my seat. It’s amazing. But it’s also good fodder for a blog entry.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned and some tips to share:

1) If you haven’t updated your website in the last 3 to 5 years, it’s time to take a look at your site and evaluate its effectiveness. I know from our site, it wasn’t highlighting all the different ways folks could learn or follow us via social media. Given how much has changed in the last couple years, our site was looking tired, old, and dated. None of that stuff was linked together. That’s not effective.

As an author, you can’t afford for fans to think the same of your site. They expect more. Is it fair, no, but there you have it.

2) Big question you must answer: who is your audience and what do you want them to learn from the site? The answer might be simple and then evolve into something more complex. For example, a simple answer for our site is this: our audience is writers looking for representation who might be interested in our agency.

So our site has to answer some basic questions – like how to submit to us, etc.  Well, that’s obvious.

But our site shouldn’t stop there. Writers who look at our website might also be enthusiastic readers (or at least I hope so!). So our site should also be a non-obtrusive advertisement for our client books in the sense that visitors to our site might also want to buy the books they stumble upon there.

Of course we “knew” that for our original site but we were not exploring the full potential there. The new site is going to be great for that without us coming across as used car sales people (or at least I hope that’s the case!).

So how does this apply to you as a writer? Well, I see any number of writer sites that don’t really answer this question well. How does it appeal to folks who are already fans of your work and then how might it rope in the possible new fan? I honestly don’t see writers doing a lot for that second question. If you’ve seen some good sites that handle it well, include the links in the comments. We can use those examples as learning tools.

3) For our new site, we are adding a “how they came to us” under each client so aspiring writers can literally see who sent us a query (and we found them that way) versus who was a referral or a current client recommend. I imagine including stories like this will keep visitors engaged in our site and may be motivated to click around more and spend more time with us.

As a writer, what have you got that might create that for your visitors? I see so many writer sites that tend to be a plug for the book or books and not much else. If that’s the case for your website, it’s not doing the right job for you.

4) Clean design – I’m a huge proponent of this. I see so many wordpress websites that have good intentions but as a visitor, I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of links, buttons, images, or what have you. It may just be me but I can actually feel my heart rate speeding up when I’m confronted with too much info on a web page. It’s stressful.

So I can’t wait to show you the new site. And yes, I’m getting back to blogging even though that means more entries to migrate over to the new site. I pity our web designer.