Category Archives: Dollars & Sense

Contracts, advances, royalties, writing as a career, keeping your day job, and other logistical and monetary considerations.

Growth Hacker Marketing for Authors by Ryan Holiday

Posted by March 11th, 2015

Growth Hacker Marketing for Authors by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is the author of GROWTH HACKER MARKETING: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising, which is published by Portfolio. Ryan shares how authors can use growth hacking, a technique first developed in Silicon Valley, to launch their books and build long-lasting readerships.

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Right before our eyes, companies like Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, and Dropbox went from tiny startups into massive companies. And they did it with essentially no traditional marketing whatsoever.

They used a Silicon Valley technique known as growth hacking that helps rapidly launch and build a company. If one can understand that launching a book these days is not altogether different than starting a company, it should stand that there is something we can learn from these growth hackers. And it turns out that many of their techniques are already being used by forward thinking authors like Tim Ferriss. I’ve even had success applying it to my books and my author clients.

So what do you need to know about growth hacking your book? Continue reading

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How BookBub Helped My Books Sell by Therese Walsh

Posted by July 9th, 2014

the moon sisters“It’s sort of miraculous,” one of my author friends said late last year of BookBub, a website/newsletter used to promote quality e-books with temporarily (and drastically) slashed prices. She had moved from traditional publishing into the world of hybrid-publishing—still accepting contracts with publishers but self-publishing older books that had gone out of print. When she decided to run a sale on one of her self-published books, decreasing the price from $4.99 to $1.99 for a few weeks, she contacted BookBub and was accepted for inclusion in a one-day email promotion. Sales increased once the price of her book dropped, she said, but truly spiked once BookBub’s e-blast reached its subscribers. The benefits didn’t end there; her numbers remained boosted for months after the end of the sale, and she began to sell more of her other novels as well. “It’s a whole new world,” she said.

I’d heard from other friends about the potential impact of BookBub, too, and so when my publisher decided to put the eBook of my latest novel on sale and utilize BookBub to get the word out to over 500k women’s fiction readers, I took a keen interest in the event. Sales for the eBook of THE MOON SISTERS had never really taken off. Though I didn’t hawk over my numbers, the best ranking I’d noticed on Amazon was in the range of 10k for the e-book. Nook numbers were similarly meh at Barnes and Noble. If the $10.99 price point—standard for an eBook when the bookshelf-book is a hard cover—repelled the e-book audience, would the $1.99 sale make a difference, and if so, how much of a difference?

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May rolled around, and the two-week sale of the e-version of THE MOON SISTERS began. Though the BookBub announcement wouldn’t release until midway through the sale, word-of-mouth (and Facebook and Twitter) did a lot, and numbers quickly improved on the sales front. The day before the BookBub, numbers for the eBook of THE MOON SISTERS on Barnes and Noble were in the 900 range, and were in the 2k range on Amazon; a huge improvement.

I woke early the morning of the BookBub promotion and turned on my computer, full of anticipation. But nothing significant had changed. “Hang in there,” a friend coached. “My BookBub email hasn’t even arrived yet, and it’ll take a while for sales numbers to be reflected online, too.” Her reassurances made perfect sense, but I did spend a few hours wondering if I’d become the anomaly.

And then, boom. Continue reading

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End the Year by Publishing Your Book

Posted by December 30th, 2013

If your writing goal in 2013 was to publish your book, there’s still time. Book Country is running two publishing promotions… but they end when the ball drops tomorrow night.

Continue reading

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Book Country and Kickstarter

Posted by November 13th, 2013

I’m happy to announce that Book Country created a curated page on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is the world’s largest crowdfunding program. There have been more than five million backers to fund over 50,000 creative projects.

We wanted to give more exposure to Book Country members who have also created Kickstarter projects so you can reach your fundraising goals. For us, Kickstarter is a natural fit. You’re starting your books here and working with other writers on Book Country to shape them into the best books possible. Then, when you’re ready, a Kickstarter project can help you cover the costs of getting those books into the hands of readers.

You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Thinking about creating your own Kickstarter project? Let us know. We’d love to help you by featuring it.

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The Magic of Book Cover Design with Larry Rostant

Posted by October 23rd, 2013

When I saw the cover reveal for Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s WAKEWORLD (which comes out from Ace in January), it literally took my breath away.

WAKEWORLD book cover design

The WAKEWORLD cover is just one of many iconic book jackets designed by UK cover designer Larry Rostant, whose work also includes the well-known covers for George R.R. Martin’s books, used by Martin’s publishers around the world. He’s designed covers for every kind of book, from Romance to Literary Fiction to Science Fiction. Larry says, “My job is to get the reader to choose that book and to lift it off the shelf.” Continue reading

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The Economics of the Advance Reading Copy

Posted by March 2nd, 2011

The lowdown on galleys and ARCs!

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 Most new books will have a galley (or Advanced Reader Copy) created. Not all books are treated equally, however. The number of galleys will depend upon the distribution of said galleys, how much the publisher is willing to pony up for said galleys, and – ultimately – how much the publisher initially ponied up for your book.

For example, lets say that the sales department wants 450 galleys to mail to independent booksellers, and another 650 to go to a Barnes & Noble Managers meeting. The publicity department would like 250 to send to reviewers, bloggers and long-lead media. The marketing department would like 300 to send to a special book club mailing. The author wants 50 to send to friends for quotes and blurbs and just in general to show off and say “Lookee here, I iz a published author!” An SF/F or romance convention may request 100 to use as door prizes, giveaways or auction items. The agent is going to ask for 20 copies as well. And then a copy of the galley goes to every bleeding person associated with the book, from the publisher to the production manager, which comes to another 50 galleys or so. (By the way, these last 50 copies are the ones that most often end up on the giveaway cart or in the garbage. Sad but true.)

So, right there, you’ve already got 1420 galleys needed, and that’s not even a large galley run. (A large galley run is when you have the great good fortune to have your book picked for distribution at Book Expo; a galley run could then run into as many as 6,000 copies.)

Now let’s do the math:

A galley costs roughly $6.75 to $8.00 to create, depending upon page count. For the sake of this post, lets split the difference and say that this galley costs $7.25 to produce. So, 1420 x $7.25 = $10,295 just for galleys. This number is run by the marketing director or associate publisher; he or she balks and cuts are made. Why does the author need so many? You copies are cut in half. Why do the indies need so many? Send to the top 150 stores, not the top 450. Why does publicity need so many? Cut to 125, send only to long lead periodicals and then use finished books for a later mailing to reviewers and bloggers. (FYI, a finished book costs about one-third the price of a galley, so using finished books is a hell of a lot cheaper than using galleys to promote.) Why does the agent need ANY? Cut to zero. Agent throws temper tantrum, raise back to 10 copies.

You see where I’m going with this. It always comes down to the bottom line.

Keep in mind also that more and more traditional publishers are now turning to electronic galley distribution services like NetGalley, which significantly cuts down on the actual number of physical galleys a publisher needs to produce.

When does a book not get a galley?

—> When the manuscript comes in too late (this happens quite frequently and is invariably the author’s fault – authors, pay attention to editorial deadlines!)
—> When the book is a mass market original: not all publishers produce galleys for MM originals. As a writer, however, you are welcome to request one; sometimes the publisher will oblige you.
—> When a book is a trade paper or mass market reprint.

What do you do if your publisher hasn’t produced a galley for your mass market original?

—> Ask your publicist (nicely!) to – at the very least – send bound manuscripts to the trades and genre-specific reviews (Publishers WeeklyLibrary Journal,Kirkus Reviews, Romantic Times, Locus, etc.). They’ll usually review from bound manuscripts as long as the pertinent publication information is included (title, author, publisher, ISBN, pub date, price, contact info of publicist, page count, format, and one paragraph summary).

My publisher will only give me fifteen copies of my galley and I need more for my friends and family!

—> Dude? NO. You really don’t. Galleys serve a very specific purpose in promoting your book and they are extremely expensive to produce, so for that reason alone, authors and agents are limited to only what is absolutely necessary. If for some reason you feel you’ll need more than a couple dozen galleys, you’ll need to let your editor know well in advance of your publication date and then you should be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for the extra print run.

I think that about covers it. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section and I’ll be happy to try to address them!

[Photo by Svilen Milev; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported]

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