Monday, March 5, 2012

Marketing Oops

"I always thought marketing in general was an interesting kind of thing. I always liked commercials and billboards." - Carrot Top

Everybody knows marketing is more than commercials and billboards.

There are, in fact, a lot of things that everybody knows.  Everybody knows them, clearly, because I know them.  I just wish sometimes that I would actually follow the rules that "everybody" already knows.

In this case--well, hell, I knew better but I did it anyway.

Coupons and sales and stuff are effective when they convince the buyer to GET ONE NOW!!!  HURRY!  GOING FAST!   Super sale, but you gotta CALL RIGHT NOW!  Operators standing by!

What am I talking about?  Well, I tried my grand experiment.  I had made 3,000 bookmarks that also serve as coupons to get a free copy of my ebook.  I had distributed about 900 at SheVaCon in the convention welcome bags.  I actually gave them 1,000, mind you, and I have no idea where the other 100 went--hopefully it was into peoples' hands rather than a garbage bin.  I mean, I paid less than three cents each for the things, but that's still three cents each.

My thoughts were pretty simple, honestly: first, if I can't give a book away, I have no business selling it.  Second, the more people who have enjoyed the first book, the greater my sales will likely be for the second one that's coming soon.

There are all sorts of reasons, of course, for why someone might not have taken me up on the deal.  First, the book may not be in their genre.  They were all sci fi and fantasy fans, of course, but once I got there I noticed that many leaned more toward techno-fantasy and steampunk than mythic fantasy with gods and dragons and--stuff.  Maybe some of them crossed over, but I suspect after being there that I kinda missed my target market on that one.  Second, it was only an ebook, and many people really do prefer physical books.  All of the authors who were there, officially in attendance, had print books to sell.  I didn't, though I do now.

So, okay.  Take 900 and split off the people out of that who would never read a mythic fantasy, and then split off the set of those who aren't really into ebooks.  The result?

Dunno. But I was sure it would be greater than five, which is the number of downloads I have seen.

I mean, there are other factors as well.  For example, there's a strong likelihood that some attendees didn't even really look into the bags, and many of those who did may not have bothered reading what appeared to be a normal bookmark.  But I checked around and didn't see many bookmarks left laying in "trashy" spots, which left me with a generally positive hopeful glowy type of feeling. 

One significant factor I suspect is that I failed to create that sense of urgency.  Nothing on the bookmark mentions a termination date for the offer.  Nor did I intend for there to be one.  By ordering 3000 I saved a lot of money per bookmark (like, more than half of the price, each), but I also committed to using the same one at a couple of conventions, which are necessarily spread out through the year.  Thus, I didn't put an expiration date on the bookmark, and I left the expiration date on the Smashwords coupon quite far in the future.

Silly me.  I know better.

Ah, well--like Konrath says, a large part of this business is experimenting to find out what doesn't work.

Now, off to find things that do work. Like getting a cover built for Book 2.



  1. Well, hey, you know what, at least you tried! You have a finished book that you have prepared and polished and is read to sell and that is a hell of a lot further than most people! And I think the bookmark thing is a good plan! Kudos!

    1. Thank you for the positive words, Nicole! It's comments like this that keep writers going.

  2. I love the conversational voice of this blog. Now, as far as bookmarks go, that's actually a great marketing tool. Not sure why it didn't work. Maybe you DID need an expiration date. Heck, I don't know.
    I've found author interviews with a giveaway are a fantastic way to "get out there."
    Maybe try that route?
    Also, Goodreads, Freedo, Manic readers, Library thing, and sites like those are great to get the word out as well as get reviews.

    1. Thank you, and good idea about interviews. I have one coming up in April (that I've already done). I can't wait to see the result.

      I admit that I'm not using Goodreads right, but I'll try to figure that out and comment on my blog when I do. The other sites I haven't heard of, and so I must thank you greatly for bringing them to my attention.