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Old 09-13-2009, 05:27 AM   #401
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I've never seen an ad for a book in a magazine or heard one on the radio. I guess I'm reading the wrong magazines and listening to the wrong stations. The local newspaper doesn't pick up the ads, and I'm not buying the NYT just for the book reveiws.
---I'm not talking about advertisements. I'm talking about editorial content (i.e., a magazine article about an author, a review of a book; a radio interview of an author, a discussion of a book on TV). All of these things are very common in major media. The way to get them is to get the people who make decisions on what kinds of stories/articles/features to print or put on the air. Those people are called editors. Think Oprah's Book Club. Think "Fresh Air", the radio program on NPR. The Books section in your local newspaper or magazine, or even the New York Times Book Review.

Again, it's not advertising, which you pay for. This is editorial content, and it's free. The trick is getting the decisionmakers in charge of the content to notice you.
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Old 09-13-2009, 06:51 AM   #402
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Thank you for explaining that.

I still don't think I'll buy the NYT to read the interviews or reviews. And I haven't seen any editorials/interviews with ebook authors in local papers.
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:06 AM   #403
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I've only every bought one book based on a book review - and that was Caleb Carr's The Alienist. Everything else is pretty much recommended by a friend, or an author I've read for years. What's left are books I just pick up on shelves at the bookstore.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:31 PM   #404
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Local papers are more willing to interview local authors, especially when you're just starting out, but it's not exactly massive publicity. Same goes for local radio. You have to know how to pitch the interview to them, though - my local paper probably wouldn't touch an erotica novel, but the author of cosy romances would be right up their street, especially if they're set in the area. It does motivate me to write something cosy set in York (or ghostly - York does love its ghosts), because if I can get people's attention with that, then they might start looking at everything else I write.

Reviews are slightly easier to get, and with eBooks it can be worth taking advantage of review blogs (those with high readership) since there's usually a link to the book in the review. Print reviews for eBooks require the reader to put down their paper or magazine, find a computer, google the book and go from there. Of course, there's always the risk they won't like it!

You can take out ads on relevant websites, promote your own site like mad, offer freebies and run competitions...

(Am I the only one who finds TV ads for books really weird? Radio's not so bad, but the idea of 30 second of images that usually relate neither to the physical book nor its plot sees like an odd way to get people to buy something - a women reading a book with cartoon butterflies around her is nice, but doesn't actualy tell me anything that makes me want to buy it, or even remember what book it was being advertised!)
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Old 09-13-2009, 05:59 PM   #405
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Proof that it's possible, and very effective if you do things right.
I'd like to see this "effectiveness" quantified.

PublishAmerica claims they're effective, too.

So...how many more books did you sell after these interviews? Or perhaps you could just tell us how many copies you sold altogether of the release you were plugging with these interviews?

My CP. who recently had her first release with eRed Sage, did a blog interview on Thursday. It was "effective" too. I'd estimate she sold about 5 more copies of her book that day.

So, was it effective? Sure. Was it "very effective?" Ummmm...not really, no.

I read interviews with authors all the time. I rarely go buy a book because of it. (In fact, I don't think it would be a stretch to say I've never gone to buy a book because of it.)

Interviews and media time does not necssarily translate into direct sales, thus it is very hard to quantify. I'm not saying an author SHOULDN'T do interviews. I do them. PR is PR.

But the way you're spouting off, you make it sound as though you can tell you immediately sold XYZ additional copies. If you can, I would love for you to share that data. And how that data was compiled.

The ability to quantify PR activities would be a huge asset for a writer. (If I place this ad in RT, how many sales will I get from it? Wouldn't it be nice to know at least a ballpark figure? But...it doesn't work that way.)

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Old 09-13-2009, 08:18 PM   #406
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It's fortuitous that this discussion is about media and bookselling, because Ravenous Romance just announced an exclusive marketing deal with HSN, a national TV network with 90 million daily TV viewers. Full details at HSN.com, and the Ravenous Romance blog

I have a post about it, too.
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:32 PM   #407
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I am not sure how a single writer can know how much their promotion affects their sales, not having release the exact same books without promotion in a parallel universe. In my experience authors attribute success and failure) to their promotion, but there is no real way to know how true this is.
Actually whoever runs the website for the publisher--their web developer for instance--can clearly see where the hits on their site are coming in from. If they come in off a Yahoo chat loop for instance you can see exactly which one they came from. Same goes for review sites and the name of any live chat hosting client used.

If the publisher is willing to share this information--or just keeps in in mind when setting up future publisher chats--they can gear their author's promotional efforts to the sites/chats which work.
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:47 PM   #408
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All three of those links go to the same HSN page.

One point in this conversation that I'd like to make is no amount of promotion on your part is going to do any good unless it's easy for readers to buy your books.

Are they available in bookstores (that's still where the vast majority of physical books are sold)? Can they purchase a hard copy or e-book from a site they trust? If you go to a genre convention to promote your book, will it be available in the dealer's room?

Plus, if the publisher has a reputation for poorly-edited books, you're going to be fighting an uphill battle, even if they're working hard to fix that reputation.

(I'm not suggesting any of the above negatives are true for Ravenous; indeed, the HSN deal is a positive.)
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:54 PM   #409
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Actually whoever runs the website for the publisher--their web developer for instance--can clearly see where the hits on their site are coming in from. If they come in off a Yahoo chat loop for instance you can see exactly which one they came from. Same goes for review sites and the name of any live chat hosting client used.
That's true to an extent. It's called a referrer site. But then you're getting into the hits=sales problem. I may open up a site to look at a product referenced, but it doesn't mean I buy. They can say that X people visited from the chat loop, and Y copies of the book were purchased the same day, but that doesn't count the folks waiting for payday or those who decided they wanted the instant gratification of a physical book at the bookstore.
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:56 PM   #410
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Are those HSN books remaindered? Does RR have a remaindering clause in their contracts?

I have always had the impression that everything sold at HSN is remaindered (if you extend "remaindered" to apply to things besides books).
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Old 09-13-2009, 09:08 PM   #411
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No, they are not remaindered. These are first-run books offered exclusively at HSN.

Stuff sold at HSN is not remaindered merchandise at all. In fact they have a lot of exclusive marketing contracts on the stuff they sell.
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Old 09-13-2009, 09:34 PM   #412
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With respect to the HSN deal, all I've got is questions:

1. Is there any evidence that the demographics of HSN viewers overlaps the demographics of erotic romance readers (or readers in general) to any substantial degree? Is this an audience that might also be lured over to the ebook format?

2. Assuming HSN has the right demographics, will this be a one-off sale, or will the readers of these books later look for more such books and purchase from the RR website (or other distributors) in the future? (In a completely different league entirely, I read somewhere that Oprah book club authors have found that they do NOT sell titles other than the one that Oprah specifically endorsed, so while they get good numbers for the one she chooses, they don't get sales of subsequent or past books.)

3. Is the HSN deal for revised versions, which have removed some of the sex? (The blog announcement comments on the sexuality level, but I wasn't clear on the issue.) If so, how will selling expurgated versions of the books translate into future sales for the UNexpurgated books, or how will selling expurgated versions translate into (correct) brand recognition for either the publisher or the author?

4. As an author, it worries me that the books are treated like widgets, completely interchangeable, without an excerpt or even a blurb about the individual stories.

5. Who's paying for the HSN spot -- the authors by way of "net" royalties, or the publisher? I'm guessing that at five bucks apiece, there's not a whole lot of profit (if any) after paying for the HSN spot and the printing of paper books and shipping, and this is primarily intended as PR, not actual income.

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Old 09-13-2009, 09:50 PM   #413
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The metric that would make sense to me is whether the books sells significantly better than average for that press.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:28 PM   #414
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That's true to an extent. It's called a referrer site. But then you're getting into the hits=sales problem. I may open up a site to look at a product referenced, but it doesn't mean I buy. They can say that X people visited from the chat loop, and Y copies of the book were purchased the same day, but that doesn't count the folks waiting for payday or those who decided they wanted the instant gratification of a physical book at the bookstore.
But coupled with the sales tracking you do see where those sales came from that day. I do this all the time for my own company and one of my publishers used to do the same thing for their authors so we could see what was working promo wise and what wasn't.

Also, we see who asks questions at chats and often their screen names match their paypal email addresses so we get a good overview of who our customers are, and where they come from.

As far as physical books, I'm solely epublished by choice, so there are no 'physical books' for me to wonder about.
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:40 PM   #415
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So, Michael_b, how many books on average do the chats sell then? If you can track them so directly, you must have some idea of what numbers we're talking about; it would be great if you could share those. (Just an average, again, I'm not trying to pry, but if you say the chats are that effective I'd love to know the data.)
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:24 AM   #416
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seems silly to me.

I'm going to plunk down $30.00 for six books that I can't even sample, know nothing about the authors OR the publisher?

meanwhile, I can go get fine Harlequin books (say, by Susan!) or those by Ms Kane for much less at my local bookstore. And probably many, many more for that price!

yeah... not interested.

I wonder how they're going to do the television promos... bet they won't be reading them aloud!
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:02 AM   #417
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So, Michael_b, how many books on average do the chats sell then? If you can track them so directly, you must have some idea of what numbers we're talking about; it would be great if you could share those. (Just an average, again, I'm not trying to pry, but if you say the chats are that effective I'd love to know the data.)
We're not talking hundreds of copies because there are never hundreds of readers at a chat, and not everyone who comes will be interested in every single book talked about. (Keep in mind that most of our titles right now are m/m, not because we want it that way, but because we publish the best of the stories we get, and the majority of the good ones have been m/m. That being the case our demographics probably aren't representative of what other publishers/authors would experience.)

The averages I've seen vary from zero--for the newer authors with no established following--to a dozen or so. The sales numbers are greatly dependent on a number of factors. How much reader participation there is--which has admittedly dropped since the economic slump. It also actually depends on what day of the week it is. Monday chats seem to generate lower sales numbers, but there are a lot of Monday only promo groups. Which authors are at the chats also has some bearing on the number of copies that sell. I seem to sell pretty good during live chats for some reason, other authors don't. Some authors sell better on loop chats, or get a upswing in sales after a good review which is typical for a few of our authors. We have a couple of authors who get a burst of sales from posts on LiveJournal and Twitter. I can't verify any sales from MySpace or Facebook as none of our authors use either of those sites. Interviews are a mixed bag. Some gain additional sales for the author, some don't.

Also the genre of a book is a factor. Like I said the majority of our books right now are m/m, and the paranormals and series books seem to be doing the best for us in that genre right now.
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:38 PM   #418
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The HSN deal looks pretty good - it would tempt me as a reader - but is it going to go further than the inital samplers? It's a nice bit of publicity, especially if you've managed to get into more than one sampler, but it does seem dependent on how many HSN viewers and print readers can be tempted back to the RR website afterwards. It does remind me how nice the RR covers are, though.

Sakamonda, you mention on your blog that one of your books, Vital Signs, is a PG13 version (btw, HSN.com have spelt your name as Jamica Lane on that one, but Jamaica Layne for Mercenary Bride); did you edit it to PG 13 yourself, or was it done by someone at RR?
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:41 PM   #419
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I'm aware of the typo on the website; it will be fixed shortly.

I did all the editing/revising of the original racy version of VITAL SIGNS to the "PG13" HSN version myself.

I just watched the first HSN segment this morning. HSN made the "Escape to Romance" the Showstopper product of the morning, and spent a lot of time on it. Several hundred copies of my books were sold within a space of just a few minutes. There will be two more live "Escape to Romance" segments today and tomorrow morning. The books are offered continuously online until the current stock is sold out.

If this current lot sells out, more will likely be offered on HSN in the future after subsequent print runs.
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Old 09-14-2009, 06:06 PM   #420
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Quote:
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I just watched the first HSN segment this morning. HSN made the "Escape to Romance" the Showstopper product of the morning, and spent a lot of time on it. Several hundred copies of my books were sold within a space of just a few minutes. There will be two more live "Escape to Romance" segments today and tomorrow morning. The books are offered continuously online until the current stock is sold out.
Congratulations! The on-air selling appears to be a great success. I will be extremely interested to find out how the books sell at HSN.com, if indeed any are left after the three on-air spots.

HSN knows how to sell to their on-air audience; they've made it a science.
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Old 09-14-2009, 06:20 PM   #421
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Could some of this discussion be transferred to http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...splay.php?f=48 ? It's awkward to look in the publisher-beware-and-background under Ravenous for some seriously good and generally needed advice on marketing and publicity, and the other forum is looking a little cobwebby.

in the PR room, anyone? Virtual donuts (or virtual martinis) have no calories.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:52 PM   #422
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In cased you missed the live "Escape With Romance" segment on HSN this morning, which featured an appearance with Ravenous editor-in-chief Holly Schmidt, HSN has already embedded the video segment onto the Escape With Romance product page, located here.

I'm very impressed with how well HSN presented the books, and also how well and how quickly they sold. Just goes to show that books are still products that have to be "sold," just like anything else in retail.
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Old 09-14-2009, 08:02 PM   #423
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For example...has anyone here ever bought a book because you got a PEN with the author's name on it?

Got some other "cute" token? (And I mean that the token itself made you go buy the book.)

Actually yes. I received a post card, promoting a book by Rachel Caine from an agent, as part of a package of winnings for posting on the Knight Agency blog. I liked the cover and the blurb on the postcard, so I bought the book. =) Good book, by the way.=)
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Old 09-18-2009, 07:30 AM   #424
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Has anyone else experienced payment delays with RR?
As an update: I've now received the payment of the $10 advance for my short story that RR published in July, so it looks like they've got their staffing issues sorted.
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Old 09-18-2009, 07:45 AM   #425
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Originally Posted by Sakamonda View Post
I'm very impressed with how well HSN presented the books, and also how well and how quickly they sold.
RR also noted on their blog that their books sold well and the HSN endeavour was a success. Saka, can you give us an estimate of how many copies were sold? I can't begin to guess whether it means a hundred, a thousand, or a million -- I didn't even know what HSN was until I looked it up via the RR blog, so I've no clue what magnitude of sales they work in.

If the books were de-sexed (heh!) for this audience, and those books proved to be a success, does that mean that RR will in future be looking for novels that are lighter on the erotica spectrum?
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