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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writing and Publisher Chris Meeks Shares Coordinated Advertising Technique

Over the last month, short story writer, novelist, and one of my students in the very first class I taught for UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Christopher Meeks saw his first two collections of short stories hit the top of the Amazon bestseller lists. This comes a few years after their launch. His first collection, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea was in the Top Ten for short stories for half of December, often in the #1 spot. Now his second collection, Months and Seasons, is there. Both were my Noble (Not Nobel!) Prize winners in 2006 and 2008 respectively, and Months and Seasons was a finalist in 2008 for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the single biggest prize in the world for a collection of short stories. That year the €25,000 and award went to Jhumpa Lahiri for Unaccustomed Earth.

I asked Chris what he attributed this success to. I mean, short story collections are not generally known for stellar sales. Here’s what he said.
I used what is perhaps good old-fashioned advertising coordination. Last year I started taking out single-day ads in a variety of places, such as BookBub, BookBlast, Kindle Nation Daily, EReader News Today (ENT), and a couple others. They would cost between $10 a day, often $25, and up to $220. Most places know the kind of sales you will get, so they charge appropriately. If they think you might sell 100 books at 99 cents, they might charge $30, meaning you'll make about $33, minus their $30 fee, leaving you $3. Still, if you come out in the black and your ranking goes up, which brings more sales over the next week, so much the better. Anyway, I started combining ads, bringing ads together on the same day or same couple of days. In that way, I'm not discounting my book often to 99 cents. (If I'm going to take out an ad, I want the most sales possible, and 99 cents draws people if they understand it's only for a day or two.) 

Anyway, for my two short story collections, it worked. There are other factors, too, especially the number of traditional and customer reviews there are and how a book's page looks on Amazon. While everything is aimed at Kindle sales on Amazon, I found " about a quarter of my sales were on Nook for the second collection Months and Seasons.. A few advertisers are now including links to Nook as well as Amazon.

Last, advertisers have gotten picky. Most of the places I've listed require an average customer review of at least 3.8 stars if not four stars (out of five). You also need a dozen or more reviews, which means they won't advertise new books. I can't advertise "Iron City" by David Scott Milton anymore because after we sold about a thousand copies, the resulting customer reviews were mostly three-star, bringing down the average to 3.7 stars. [Note: Meeks is also a publisher of literary works. His imprint is White Whiskers Books.]

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More About Christopher Meeks
Christopher is author of Blood Drama.The novel is available in print and as an eBook on many platforms.
Web site: http://www.chrismeeks.com
Blog: http://www.redroom.com/author/christopher-meeks
Publisher site: http://WhiteWhiskerBooks.com
Media release link: http://www.prlog.org/12273290-christopher-meekss-short-stories-are-bestsellersjust-took-few-years.html
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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