Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thanks and Ebook Marketing

To all my new friends and readers out there, thank you for downloading my recent noir thriller Chicago Swing. It was, over the last two days during this first free book campaign, downloaded 1860 times—wow. And again, thanks. Here is what one of the first reviews said (see Amazon page):

Detective Tony Alfano works against time to capture an explosives device mastermind. Is revenge being sought against Chicago style politicians; a series of targets with no discernable ties. For self or on the behest of another? The only clues: specialty Player brand cigarette stubs; expertise with dynamite and projectile of their explosions; taxis the delivery Modis Operandi...with their drivers part of the casualties AND then whole buildings! Exciting read, hardcore noire at its best! Highly recommend. First in Series? More Detective Alfano and his determined hardboiled grit. He never bows down to politicians or those who play at politics. One Badass Detective!!
Thanks Mikala!

It is a good bet that almost none of these readers know who I am. They don’t know my books, they don’t read this blog or visit my web page, and most are not on my Facebook friends list (though I think on Friday maybe 40 of you did download a Kindle copy). But then again in the early 1990s no one knew who Michael Connelly was, or Lee Child, or the prolific David Baldacci. Now they dominate the bestseller lists. They were eventually discovered and because they wrote really, really, good stuff they have become who they have become. Sure they had the help of a publisher and great cover art but they were also products of old school of book marketing and publishing. They rode in on the last wave of traditional publishing.

Now the world is upside down. Amazon is the gatekeeper, not your agent (if you have one), not your trad publisher (the thieves); all love flows through the electrons pushed around by Amazon’s massive server fields. And for those who wish to control their lives, the door is wide open to the independent author/publisher. Self-publishing now is an honorable life, and you can spit in the eye of the naysayer.

But discoverability is the word these days. How can you be found amongst the chatter, noise, chaff, and 2.5 million books published yearly? And how much are you willing to spend to find these readers?

During the last few years (the exact timing is difficult to determine) a number of exciting and helpful marketing sites have popped up for writers and readers. Originally set up to allow readers to discover new authors, old authors, and great books that have disappeared, these web sites deal exclusively in marketing ebooks. Set up by genre, these sites email to their subscribers a daily list of books that they have collected from authors and publishers (for a fee). The choice is the sunscriber’s and the reader is directed to the book’s Kindle or Kobo or other ebook site for the purchase. The information is passed on to the reader who makes the purchase at a secured web site. The ebook site makes their money by the fee paid by the author/publisher. Clean and simple.

Most authors post their stories on these sites to tease their customers with free or deeply discounted books from the listed price. All the sites accommodate the author for a price. But the control is still held by the author and his pocketbook. The choice is theirs. But also remember that some of these sites (the most successful with millions of readers) are very picky and have a 20% acceptance rate driven by the Catch 22 problem of reviews: They won’t take you on without hundreds of reviews and you need to get on their sites to get reviews.

Again, the word is discoverability. These sites offer the best way of presenting your work to thousands on potential readers. Their fee structures are all over the place. Most start around $25 to $50, others due to their popularity have now raised the price for one day exposure to $75. The biggest BOOKBUB now lists books for hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a one day post. Most have targeted their higher fees to the more popular genres, romance and thrillers. Most offer a broad range of genres, but a few target a more narrow field of readers. Remember that the daily posting of books is not spam, these posts are sent to those who have subscribed to the site – they are interested readers. Readers, you the writer, wants.

It is also apparent that two critical essentials of publishing come together here: the book’s cover and the book’s blurb. You have five seconds to grab the reader’s attention, if the book looks like everyone else’s it will disappear into the noise—great grabbing covers are critical (and at postage stamp size tough to pull off). And the blurb that catches the reader must read like selling snow to an Eskimo.

New sites are popping up all the time (they do make some good money). Some are excellent with clean graphics, good interface, and author access. Others, not so much. Some may have thousands of subscribers, others have millions. Here are a few to check out (if you are not a subscriber already):
There are more, but you will get my point if you look at these. (If you subscribe to others, send me a comment, and I’ll add them to my list)

I will, over the next few weeks, get into my process for developing a strategy and schedule on placing my books in these sites.

More Later . . . . . . . .