I'm fresh from a new marketing/promotion experience courtesy of publisher David C. Cook who offered my novel, Talking to the Dead, as a free ebook download for two days this November. (If you missed the freebie, it's on sale until Dec 17th for only $2.99 across nearly all ebook platforms). I was happy about the opportunity to reach new readers and I dug in with both hands to help spread the word. Many of you, faithful readers/friends dug in with me for which I'm grateful and awed.
Here are some bits of experience, thoughts, limitations, and demons I rode out over the two day freebie giveaway:
--at one point, after I realized the promo was a "success" in all possible measurable ways, I wrestled with the notion that all it takes to be #1 is to offer full length novels for free. I stared down this monster by reasoning the purpose of the promo was not sales, but exposure. New people being introduced to my work means traction under the new work when it releases (whenever that might be).
--my astonishment at the realization that, after years of "putting myself out there" online, at writer's conferences, and on this blog, I actually can move books--and, simultaneously realizing that it's not me AT ALL moving these books, but it's YOU, my friends, readers, fans, and all around amazing people. All I did was create a couple of picture files and asked friends to share.
--on the Novel Matters Facebook page, I was reading comments on the post promoting the free download and I noticed two women who were obviously talking to each other, but in a language I didn't know. I clicked over to one of their pages and discovered they were from Romania. I copy and pasted one of the comments into Google Translate and translated from Romanian to English. Turns out the two women were discussing my novel, and one of woman said she didn't have Kindle so she couldn't get the book. I typed out a response to them (in English) about how they could still get the book for free and included all the relevant links. I then had Google translate my comment into Romanian, and I posted it in the comments section. I was feeling all kinds of international that day, let me tell ya.
--the thrill of working in partnership with a team of industry professionals who are excited about your work is unparalleled. The marketing team at David C. Cook is an enthusiastic bunch. They love books, they love readers. They know how to connect the two in ways I can't begin to imagine. Disappointed writers will often lament that publishers don't know how to connect with readers and can't promote fiction. That publishers leave everything up to the author. Not true. It's the writer who must find the best ways to partner with the publisher to promote. They are a large system, you are a single, deeply creative soul. Use both to your full advantage.
--back to "sure, I'm #1 in the whole Kindle store because the book is free". Yeah, that one again. I beat it with a shut up stick.
--I was pretty much glued to social media for two days. Yes, I obsessively watched the measurable numbers (which means Amazon, really. None of the other sites bother with sales info on their sites), but that wasn't what took all my time and attention. I made sure that I "liked" and/or commented on everyone's posts or comments that mentioned my work online. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Review Sites, all of them kept me hyper busy. I also did a whole lot of "thank you-ing" throughout the two days. Being Canadian, I'm polite by nature, but I absolutely wanted to connect and thank people who took time out of their busy days to share my news. I felt genuinely honoured by that.
--So, if I'm online all day solid, how on earth am I getting any writing done? Not. Just not. But, it's reasonable to spend two days with a limited time promotion. This has helped me understand the real needs of promo. I don't have to work at it all day, every day, but I do need to dedicate blocks of time for promotion and marketing--around relevant events.
--I have the most loving and devoted group of friends imaginable. I dearly wish I could talk numbers just to let you know how amazing you are, how far you can reach, but I can't (mostly because they aren't all in yet. It takes between 60-90 days after the promotion ends to collect all the numbers--but really, folks, we swept the Amazon Kindle Store. The whole flippin' Kindle Store. That's gotta tell you something, right?). Let me just say even the very, very early numbers floored me. When Cook emailed me (and they were tickled too!) I just stared at the numbers. When I was able to speak again the only things that came out were whispers of "Thank you." and occasionally, "Me?"
--marketing and promotion is an oil and water mix of hope, elation, dejection, yardsticks, and shut up sticks.
Thank you so much for your help, word of mouth, and general good looking-ness.
What about you? Would you want to give your work away? Have you? Is it a good idea? We love to hear from you.