Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Writing: What Works/Sales

When Night Falls

What works best in marketing books?

It’s all debatable. The topics on the table right now are: Titles, Reviews, Bonus Material, Benefits of Twitter and Facebook, and always Covers.

Right now, I’m dealing with replacing a blah title on book I wrote years ago and am now publishing in eformat. Not a clue why the publishers wanted that title, but blah, blah blah. I’m indy publishing, so I can darn well do what I want with it.

When the book is originally published in traditional or legacy as some term it, it will already have reviews under that same title. That means when the title is republished in eformat that the reviews generally go with it. However, when re-titling the same work, those reviews can be lost.

Reviews. The essential sales piece and correct format is also essential. If epublishing some reviewing site require so many stars on the reviews, 10 at one place. Some require say 4 5-star reviews, and then some require a book blogger review, etc. Getting readers to review means asking them for a slice of time they could use elsewhere. But readers/writers please review?

Which brings us to the Snarky Review. Ah, people. Reviews are Subjective, which means they are taken in and appraised by the very individual and personal preferences of people reading them. Sometimes the story flows with the reader's expectations/values whatever. Or maybe not. Or maybe their having a bad day and nothing is going to hit him/her right. (It's like that with editors, too. :))

But some people delight in ripping apart, putting down, for whatever reason. "It was so awful. Wallbanger quality" is interesting. Because usually, when questioned, the book was so awful that they read it completely through and could remember exact passages. Personally, if I read a book that is really awful, I'm not reading it throughout. So, something held that reader.

In a writer's world, a snarky review can be the unfortunate result of another writer's jealousy. Sorry, but it happens. Some people just delight in that.

Writers pick up a few callouses, or they should, and not take these snarky reviews to heart, so deeply that it disturbs their real life. On the other hand, a good, thoughtful review can be used by the writer as an evaluation of better writing in their next story.

If you have a Kindle, there is a handy application at the end of the books, which you can use to review or to simply give stars. I try always to do this.


But back to Titles. Typically, a book is titled to its market. A women’s fiction book may have a softer title than a mystery. (Personally, I stay away from Death, Kill, etc.) But in ereading, a catchy title may suit that market better.

Which brings us to the different ways a book can be published, but under the same title. Many writers with reverted titles, such as moi, are using Lulu or CreateSpace, and other publishers to create trade paper books. Generally, that title has to fit somewhere on the Cover. Use too many words and you’ve lost impact. Because… the author also has to have their name large enough for repeat buyers. Plus sticking a nice quote from a reviewer on the cover somewhere adds interest.

Too many words in the title is generally troublesome. We want titles to slap into reader’s memory banks, so they’ll remember what to buy. We want reviewers to remember the titles.

The question of Bonus Material came up recently. Bonus Material refers that little extra kiss at the end of the book. Make that kiss too long and you’ll lose some readers. Too short and they’ll feel as if you didn’t deliver. I’m not certain how I feel about Bonus Material. I wonder if it might not be better as a short story, if it is epublished. But in paper, naturally, it would need to be included at the end of the book.

At the end of the book, after The End, ad work is essential, especially in epublishing. That’s where we splash Subscribe To My Enewsletter, my website and blog. Or, in the case of my MacLean trilogy, the titles of all the other books.

Enewsletters are invaluable. Generally this means a consistent reader, who cares enough to stay attached to what you’re doing. I’ve got a contest running right now on my enewsletter, just a simple drawing that ends Dec 30 for an epublished book, The Loving Season (The MacLeans) first of the MacLeans.

Which brings us to the best mode of promotion. It seems like everyone has their own preference. Free books is generally a super promotion, which nudges sales on more books. I don’t have any free books at the moment, other than the drawings I’m having for my ebooks at Twitter, coming up soon.

Twitter is excellent promotion ground and so is Facebook. Goodreads and others.

But exactly how much promotion can a writer do, and still write?

Every day, writers balance promotion and writing and generally life. Everyday, they make choices on the topics above.

I'd love your comments on them.


Velda Brotherton said...

I always find your suggestions helpful, and in trying to increase promotion online, this post was especially enlightening. I'm increasing my work on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, while continuing to get online reviews, interviews and guesting on blogs. Thanks.

Cait said...

Velda, I learn from you! But this year, like you, I am amping up a bit. :)

Angela Drake said...

Though I'm not at the level of either of you, it's wonderful to be part of a sharing group of people. Thank you for the time and effort you veterans put in to testing the waters and sharing your experiences with the rest of us. Many Blessings ~ Angela

Rain said...

Marketing is my big question too and am looking a lot of places for ideas as it's obvious just getting your book onto something like Kindle doesn't get it seen by anyone. In fact as a reader, I find Kindle frustrating also as I keep getting the same few books pushed at me and to get beyond them takes a lot of time. I think it'd help some if Kindle offered a choice of books only available through Kindle whether that is republished like yours or first timers. I would prefer to not wade through all the publishing houses to get to something unique and genre breaking.

Cait London said...

Hi, Angela. To some extent, writing and marketing, etc. is a hand-me-down type craft, in that we all share and help. The thing to remember is to also share and help. Generally most of the writers I meet are super, sharing people and we have continuing relationships. But publishing has changed and many of us veterans are learning from newcomers about a new ball game. :) So it works both ways.

Cait said...

Rain, "spinning"/advertising your books is a full time job; this to get attn for your book. It's best to work on a ground swell/grass roots, blogging, kindleboards, ads, whatever to be seen and developing a newsletter for faithful readers, plus contests. FreshFiction and other communities offer aspects, and you can hire your work done (very $), but generally, as Amanda Hocking did, it's really a lot of promotion time. As a reader, to find books, I'm hunting just like you to find those I love, but not necessarily promoted/pushed collected as heavily.