Note: this post is being added to the On Writing Library via this post…
We’re in a new day, and that means many of the classic approaches no longer work. Writers now must write good, strong quality stories and continue to be creative in letting readers know those books are available.
For the past two years, a big buzz word in writing and publishing circles has been discoverability. We have this terrific product—when you elect to sell a book you’ve written, that’s what you’ve got: a product—but how can we best go about letting potential readers know it’s available?
Most authors don’t have quarter of a million dollar promotion and marketing budgets, which means they have to think outside the proverbial box. We’ve seen lots of methods to connect readers and books tried by publishers and authors, and we’re seeing new creative attempts made frequently. Some methods work, some don’t, and the only way to know if a method will work for you and your book—this specific book at this specific time—is to try it. So on these connection attempts authors must be bold and risk-takers. Playing it safe is no longer any more an option than is hiding out in a mountain cabin or a beach cottage and simply writing a book. Active engagement and effort is required.
Writers engage in multiple ways. Blogging, social media, ads, interviews, and virtual or physical tours, lectures, and personal appearances are common ways. But because they are common, some are successful and some of these connection attempts are ignored. So authors are getting creative. Let me share an example.
There’s a small group of multi-published authors called the Independent Ladies. I belong to this group of seven authors. We all have been writing for a long time and we’ve been published in multiple genres for a good while. I mention those facts because some are under the misconception that those two factors insulate writers from whatever challenge is currently occurring in the market. They do not. So the Independent Ladies got creative to shake things up for two reasons: 1) to thank our existing readers for being existing readers and 2) to help readers new to us discover our books.
Note that we write different types of books, but all are compatible in that they contain suspense, thriller, mystery and romance elements. Some are spicy and graphic, some are sweet and gentle, but all contain those same four elements. (Combining disparate projects creates targeting challenges.) So we stepped outside the box and created a collection of five novels and two novellas or short stories and boxed them under a single title—Dangerous Desires—which fit each of the stories in a fashion. Now, we’re cross-marketing them.
All of my readers aren’t familiar with C.J. Lyons, Debra Webb, Peggy Webb, Kathy Carmichael, V.R. Marks or Regan Black. And all of their readers are not familiar with Vicki Hinze books. So by grouping these works together in a single collection, we’re hoping to introduce our works to the other author’s readers (this is where the books all containing those same four elements becomes significant) and to give our own existing readers a whale of a deal for trying authors who might be new to them. That requires incentive.
Our incentive is tied to pricing. The collection is $7.99, but we’ve adopted an introductory sale—99 cents. All of the authors involved are award-winning, bestselling authors, so obviously selling five novels and two stories for 99 cents and dividing proceeds seven ways isn’t about the authors making a ton of money on this project. It’s about gratitude to our existing readers and about discoverability. Introducing our work to more readers. Sure, we’d love to earn—writers too like to eat every day—but this project carries a bigger picture, multi-purpose objective. As mentioned, it’s a thank you to our existing readers, for whom we are all grateful, and an attempt to attract new readers with low-cost, strong stories. If we can also earn, great. We’ll all be thrilled, and we’ve done what we can to maximize the potential for a win/win situation for readers and the authors.
So we’re cross-promoting. Each of us is doing something different to contribute to awareness that the collection exists. My contribution is the following flyer that can be used on blogs, social media sites and the like:
We’re also doing newsletters, blog posts, and a variety of ads in publications. Again, each of authors has specific tasks so that contributions and efforts on the work front are equal.
Now, cross-promotion isn’t new and others have done boxed sets of books. The promotional price and the plan we’ve put together (and the group that we’ve assembled) makes this project unique. Teaming is always a risky venture, but this team (due to the factors discussed above) is less risky for each of the authors and a sure-thing, good deal for existing and new readers.
What isn’t known at this time is what the residual impact of this effort will be. Will each of the authors gain new readers? Will this project elevate the visibility of the authors so that new-to-the-author readers can discover them? Will existing readers become aware that a new release by a known author is available?
We hope for all that and more, and since we have strived for a win/win situation and those do have the best odds of working out well, hope is justified.
Long-term exposure in this business has taught me many things about promotion and publicity. One key thing is this: one never knows for fact what will work. And if something works once, that’s no guarantee it will work again, or that the same plan, implemented in the same way will work for two groups simultaneously. Scores of mitigating factors impact promotional plans every single time—and those factors are always different and seldom predictable.
But exposure has also taught me that those who don’t take risks, who aren’t flexible and fear trying new things, are likely to be left in the dust. Those who take risks, are flexible and try new things could be buried in dust anyway, but it won’t be due to inaction.
So the advice today is this: Get creative. Think outside the proverbial box. Do what you can do to minimize risks. Give readers a strong incentive to give your books a try. Then take the leap of faith and pray a lot.
I’ll report back in a future article how this adventure works out. I have incredible faith in this group of authors; they’re a talented bunch. That, a win/win situation and a strong plan give me confidence that Dangerous Desires will be successful. We’ve done what we can do. Wish us luck!
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Christmas Countdown (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website:Facebook. Books. Twitter. www.vickihinze.com. Newsletter. Notice New Releases.