Friday, May 29, 2009
Guest Blogger Stacey Cochran
Today, What Fresh Hell welcomes a longtime friend, Raleigh writer Stacey Cochran. Stacey is a prime example of the type of good and generous folks that make it so much fun to be in this business, a fellow who doesn't consider other writers competition and thus will work his tail off help you put your work out there as well as his own. As just one example, a while back Stacey put together several bookstore events with himself, Yours Truly, and the lovely and fiercely talented Alex Sokoloff on "how to get published." And they packed the house, and we all sold books.
I am not supposed to be a winner. I am an underdog to the underdogs. I am the guy at whom people like to throw tomatoes.
So how in the hell are my books suddenly hitting bestseller lists? I mean check your pulse, people; I think we might have entered a parallel universe or something.
Earlier this week I put two novels on Kindle - CLAWS and The Colorado Sequence - and I set a price point of $1.59 and 80 cents respectively. Next, I started a single post on the Kindle Discussion Board titled “Books Under 2 Bucks” and asked folks to list their favorite Kindle books that cost less than two dollars. I posted links to both my novels.
Within 24 hours, both books came out of nowhere and started hitting bestseller lists in the following categories: Suspense, Action & Adventure, Horror, and Science Fiction. At one point, CLAWS was ranked #357 for all Kindle books (there are nearly 300,000). TCS was ranked #1 overall in the Sci-Fi Adventure category.
So what the heck is going on? How did an unknown author with two self-published pulp novels gain any traction at all?
Five things contributed to this:
1) The price point for both books is competitive. Most major publishers are setting Kindle book prices anywhere from $6 to $15. By listing my books at 80 cents and $1.59, I’ve given myself an edge.
2) The book covers and descriptions look like something you’d see from a major publisher. That is, to the average reader when they see the Kindle pages for my novels, they see a book that looks professional and interesting. Book Marketing 101 here.
3) The Kindle Forums. There is a sentiment on the Kindle forums that publishers are charging too much for Kindle books, and Kindle readers seem eager to help out the little guy who has a good story, good cover, and price point that is fair.
4) Kindle readers want books. They are the most die-hard book fans on the planet, and they’ve just spent nearly 400 dollars for a Kindle. They want to load up their Kindles with good books, and a novel that is priced at 80 cents seems practically free. Worth a mouse click.
5) Viral marketing. If you can maintain a high ranking and stay on several category bestseller lists, you have higher visibility and people start linking to and discussing your book elsewhere. My hunch is that you’ve got to maintain this momentum for at least a month to reap the rewards of viral marketing. Too soon for me to really tell, and it could be that my books will drop as fast as they climbed.
We all know that Amazon rankings fluctuate wildly.
Nonetheless, riffing off of what Konrath mentioned last week and what his publisher (Grand Central) is doing, if you’ve got a couple trunk novels or novellas and can get your publisher to list your book for free on Kindle, it can rocket you to the top of bestseller lists. This, in turn, will lead to readers looking up your other books and a percentage of them will buy.
The idea is to throw out a couple books for free to gain exposure.
It’s really smart. And nearly all of us have a trunk novel or novella that our publishers could toss to Amazon Kindle to sell for free.
I should mention, too, that anyone can upload a book to Amazon DTP (digital text platform), so what a few authors (Konrath and Boyd Morrison, for example) are doing is putting their own trunk novels online and setting a competitive price point. Joe’s doing this simultaneously with Grand Central’s efforts to get one of his novellas online for free (currently ranked #1 overall); the combined effort is making him a nice pile of change.
Keep in mind we’re drawing 35% royalty for the trunk novels we’re uploading ourselves through Amazon DTP.
So what’re you waiting for? Dust off your trunk novels, folks. Use Word to save them as an .html file and upload it to Amazon’s Digital Text Platform. It’ll sure as heck make more money than if it’s sitting in cold storage.
I’d bet a shiny penny on that.