Monday, December 05, 2011

A conversation about category romance and effective promotion

I've done some blogs about category romance and royalties and while I am still very much a middle of the pack Superromance writer, sales as a whole have gone down. It's still a great place to write I adore Wanda Ottewell and deeply respect her eye for story. It's been a great place to write. It's pretty much anything goes over that at Superromance and while I think there are authors who sell better than I do because they might have branded themselves better in terms of the stories they write - or they stick to one kind of subgenre that appeals to the category reader, I have enjoyed writing pretty much whatever I want - probably to my detriment.

So, for those of you focusing on Superromance and for Stephanie whose first Superromance comes out in April - here are some tips for making the most of your career at Superromance (from someone who probably didn't, so take all of this with a grain of salt).

Cowboys and kids sell. And they sell pretty well from what I can gather. So if you can get that cowboy hat and a baby on a cover, chances are you'll see some sales. I've never managed to get this kind of cover - although maybe in July since I have a cowboy and some kids. I'll report back. Without that selling feature, unless your cover is different and really pretty radically different - I think covers are just covers. People aren't impulse buying like they were - they go by name recognition and recommendation - more on that in a second.

Yes, you do have to do social networking. But only do what you like. Readers want giveaways. Who doesn't? Do a little blog tour - there are a lot of websites out there who would LOVE to have guest bloggers. Do the blog. Giveaway some books. Be on Facebook - do some giveaways. Are you going to see sales - can't say. No idea. But giving away books in my opinion is the best promotion there is. Especially if you're proud of the book. I did a Good Reads giveaway, which is free - I do recommend that, they pull from a huge pool and get a lot of rabid readers who might not know your name, or romance.

Paying for advertising - be it on Facebook, Good Reads or Romantic Times - I honestly don't know if it makes a difference. I've stopped doing it for my category books because I just never felt like there was a huge result from it. If I would recommend one I'd say Good Reads - it's concentrated on readers and it's not outrageously expensive. Once again, no idea if it resulted in sales.

I have not done a bookmark or a trading card. I print up business cards for conference - which inevitably I forget to hand out. If I get my act together I think I'll do a trading card for my single titles, but for category...I probably won't do it.

Consistently, the best promotion you can do is write great books that your editor loves. Because your editor is your best sales force.

Now, the real surprise from my royalty statement is the number of ebook sales for my Feb book - HIS WIFE FOR ONE NIGHT. There were over 1,000 sales. The rest of my ebook sales hover between 200-400. Now, perhaps a contributor to this was my Good Reads ad and giveaway. I'd never done that before this book. So again, Good Reads - check it out. Another contributor might be that at Christmas there were a whole lot of new e-readers in stockings.

But the real factor I believe comes down to Internet buzz and the hand-selling of one very important librarian. I got a great review on Dear Author and it was before the book came out, most of my reviews have been long after the fact. So a good review at the right time. And Wendy the SuperLibrarian raved about this book practically door to door. Can not thank her enough.

We all know there are blogs in this business that have some clout. It takes some guts to send your book to Dear Author, Smart Bitches and All About Romance for review - because they might trash it and trash it hard. But if you can get over that - great. Do it. And maybe you don't approve of what they do on their sites - fair enough. But Internet buzz has become - in my opinion - the game changer and no one does Internet buzz like those sites.

That's my takeaway this time around. Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Wow! Molly, great post. I read Dear Author and All About Romance and if they love a book, I'll buy it, because in general, their recommendations are usually spot on.
But not sure the average reader checks those sites out.. but writers can create buzz amongst reader friends and from there it can spread.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I think the average reader is changing - the average Superromance reader probably doesn't read those sites, but the key to reaching NEW readers and the kind of readers that can help create buzz - are these review sites.

I think authors can forward every good review they get on Amazon or from some of the warm and fuzzy review sites - and it does nothing in terms of sales. Probably helps with name recognition, but it doesn't change your sales. Tapping into the rabid book-buying, e-reading audience who read and follow Dear Author et al (you and I among them) is a whole different story.

A thousand books! Seems like nothing I know but it's about context and in my little world that's a huge and significant jump. That was a tenth of my retail sales for that book!

Eileen said...

Really fantastic post, Molly, even for those of us who don't write for Superromance.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Molly. It's about reaching readers you might not have and those sites can definitely do that.
It's taking the risk that they might not love the book.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Thank you Molly - although I will have no cowboys at least for the foreseable future.

But thanks to some great brainstorming I am going to have a secret baby story - which I never thought I would.

And like everyone - I agree totally with creating internet buzz. I didn't necessarily think you could control what Dear Author/AAR read. I thought they just selected what they selected.

But I do agree that if you get a favorable review it will translate into sales.

Molly O'Keefe said...

If you contact the websites and send the books - usually they read them. That's been my experience anyway - you can't always gaurantee that they'll read them and you absolutely can't be sure they'll give you a good review - but it's worth the effort to try.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I will do that then. And I need more than ever to figure out how to make Twitter work for me.

The other day someone tweeted about a book and that it was on sale. I took a look, figured why not, I got from the tweet to amazon and with one click to my Kindle. Very effective impulse buy.

Kristina Mathews said...

I am pretty sure I found you from this blog. I looked it up because Eileen is in my local chapter. I had just started reading Super Romance at the time, and picked up your book because I liked something you wrote in a blog.

I read the Super Authors blog religiously and have based most of my purchasing decisions on what the authors wrote there. That and there are a few authors I have loved from the first book. Yours included. I even picked up a couple of backlist for my Kindle.

I am not sure if I am a typical reader, since I am also a writer, but I thought you might like to know what has worked for me.

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