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Publishing a Set of Works as Marketing

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Zero Angel, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Hi Guys,

    Gave some advice over in "Finding the 'One'" and it was brought up that this would make a good thread on its own. I've adjusted my original advice to make it more standalone.

    To the advice!

    So if there was one thing I would do differently over the course of the last year, it would be to manage the release dates of my first few stories much better. Here is what I wish I would have done back then.

    First, we need to establish which story is going to be our "baby", another way of thinking of this is that it is the "sun" that everything else you do is going to revolve around and support. For me, this is the main series of War of the Ages, manifested presently in Book I – The Throne of Ao.

    If you don't know how to pick your baby, then it's basically the dream story that you want to tell. It's the one that calls to you, that beckons to you, and it's the one that interferes with your everyday life. If you don't have one, then my advice probably won't be as applicable.

    Now that we have the baby, table it.

    You need to do some things:

    (1) Provide some shelter for your baby. That is, create 1-2 prequels, shorts, day-in-the-life, novellas or whatever that are directly related to your baby. These should be created and scheduled for release 1-6 months before your baby.

    (2) Decide what sort of story your baby is going to be. Is it a trilogy? Is it an ongoing series? Are there any unresolved plots? Are there things that can be tied to this baby for readers after they're done? (read: another short, not the sequel).

    (3) Diversify. You do not want to be a one-trick pony. Chances are you have other stories you want to tell, and you want people to be able to come to you from different outlets. Create more shorts and novellas to market yourself to others.

    Now, it's a question of release dates. How long will each take you and when should you release things? I recommend releasing at least one short/novella 1-6 months before your baby, with a follow-up short/novella released within 1-6 months after your baby. This makes your baby not just a standalone, but a living story with other materials associated with it. (Remember that these other stories, although they can involve main characters of your baby, should not be "required reading". They're more like bonuses to both draw in fans and to reward their loyalty).

    After the release of your baby, I recommend 2 or more diverse stories to build up your author platform. This should be done within the first 12 months of your baby's release.

    Note, I was a bit foolish when I first released *my* baby. I had no platform to speak of and have been playing catch up since then. I'm just now getting to the point where I will be releasing the "prequel" assist stories, and have only two diversification options. It's been ~8 months, so I'm two months behind releasing the follow-up "reward" stories to fans.

    Oh, and if it's not clear, the prequel/diversification/reward stories should be cheaper than your baby.

    So to summarize:

    1 to 6 months before baby's release: Release 1-2 "draw-in" short stories that either lead in to the main story or relate to the setting itself. These draw in people to the story you want to tell.

    At baby's release: release your baby

    1 to 6 months after release: Release 1-2 "reward" stories for your fans (whether you have any fans or not).

    Within 1st year: release 1-2 "diversification" stories that draw in people to *you* (as opposed to your baby). ​

    Note: If you can keep the main releases of your baby going yearly, then I would continue to recommend following this type of model where the "reward" stories to the first book of your baby becomes the "draw-in" stories to the second book (although you should take the opportunity to maybe make other draw-ins that can be read independent of the series. If you can't maintain releases of your baby, then consider increasing the number of draw-ins, rewards and/or diversifications to make sure that your fans can continue to think of you and the story you want to tell until you are able to tell it.

    Your non-baby entries should vary between short stories, novellettes and novellas. I recommend against novel-length books at least until you feel that your baby is well-established, and don't pass up the opportunity to release anthologies. Just make sure that you're providing a service to your fans and not scamming them. Make sure that people are aware of the prices.

    I hope this helps! Thanks to WordWalker for the suggestion to make this its own thread. If anyone else has experience establishing themselves or a series or other advice / suggestions, then please feel free to share with us. Comments/Criticisms/Thoughts are welcome on my advice as well.
     
    MG Silverstein and BWFoster78 like this.
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The hardest part of Marketing on the internet is the need to constantly have something new to talk about, and this would certainly give you that. However, you can release all this into the void and still get nowhere. You need to build a support network willing to share your short stories, reward stories and what have you, so that someone, somewhere, will be listening.
     
    Zero Angel likes this.
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Zero,

    How effective is selling short stories/novellas? Do people find them? How do you market them?

    I'm thinking of putting out some stuff like you speak of, but I have my doubts about how to make it stand out. I don't want to put in the same level of effort for a ss that I'm going to for my "baby."

    Thanks. (and thanks as well for sharing your experiences; I find it very helpful)

    Brian
     
  4. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Hi Brian, as Devor said, you definitely need a support market, but I've found some success in what I've been able to do so far (should have significantly more data in the months to come as reality catches up with my plans (or vice verse)).

    In my experience, every fan of my novel that I've spoken to has taken the time to read the free online stories I've put out (no longer available, they're being polished for official release). It seemed to generate goodwill and they've indicated that they are looking forward to more in the series.

    My diversification is presently two-fold, although I am expanding. I have a horror short story. This has not done much on its own and I can't speak as to if it brought any readers. I will be extending the release via Smashwords so that it is available on more than just the Kindle and it will be converted into a visual novel this summer. Even though it has done "poorly" compared to my other offerings, having another genre in my author ranking on Kindle boosted me up much higher than if it would have if it was in the same genre.

    The other diversification I have is my series of math sections. I have one out and releasing a second this week. This is doing really well to where I've sold dozens and given away hundreds. Amazingly, even though this is nonfiction and my baby is fiction, I have spoken to fans that read my math book and decided to give my fantasy series and/or my horror short a try.

    Also, this is developing into a "second baby" to the point that each input stream is feeding the other inputs. i.e. those checking out my fantasy series see my math books and check those out and vice verse.

    In terms of marketing, I do not market them much more than announcements, but much in the same way that high school students join extracurriculars in order to make them more attractive to colleges, I feel that short stories, novellas and novelettes serve to establish an author in the market and help eliminate some of the indie author stigma while keeping the benefits of being an indie author.

    As I've mentioned in other threads, people find the math books on their own and the free promotions along with a low-competition Amazon category really help with that. Since my first free promotion on the first section of my math book, it's been in the best-sellers list of its category (that's 4 months). It recently went down ~85, but it's usually in the top 40. The horror story I am going to be upping the ante with in the extended distribution and alternate media.

    I think you've made a great decision with the release of your short, although I really think you should make it available via Smashwords and KDP as well as on your website. (Although you can't offer it for free on KDP, Amazon will price-match it to other markets eventually).

    In terms of effort with short stories. I find that they are both incredibly easy and incredibly difficult. There are different levels of expectation I guess. My short stories usually develop into novellas (which is why I have so many delays!), but I don't think you have to hold them to the same level of perfection as your novels either. They should be technically sound, but you can probably get away with editing them yourself; unless you have the cash or know they are going to generate it, you don't really need a pretty cover; and you do not need to resolve every question of the reader (in fact, endings for shorts seem to have some level of ambiguity over what actually happens next).

    The hardest thing for me is the layout for the math sections. Amazon requires special symbols to be gifs of a specific size, so I have to go in and turn every equation and table into a gif, then re-enter it into the document. For my math anxiety eBook, it wasn't too bad, but for all the future sections (which are basically math study books), there are 100s of equations. This also makes the size of the file larger and requires the price to be higher. I don't think you have to worry about this with fiction so much though.
     
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Zero,

    Good to know.

    I look forward to hearing more about how your marketing is going. I'll do the same with mine. I plan to release Abuse of Power on my website sometime next month and try to use giving it away as a method for getting people to sign up for a newletter.

    We'll see how it works...

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  6. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Something interesting with the bestseller list today. I published the follow-up in my math series today and also got another sale in my first math book. This one sale somehow increased my standing from ~50 to #10! I've been in the top ten before in my category, but from my experience this ONE sale should not have increased my standing THAT much. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it has extra weight due to the follow-up. Just thought I'd share this interesting occurrence.
     
  7. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Update: I am in the middle of my most auccesful free promotion yet. Even though I am giving away math books, I am getting unsoured sales of my novel and short story as well as my other math book. Some of this is I am sure due to me being a little more direct with friends and family on Facebook and explaining the benefit of liking, commenting and sharing. I've broken into the top 100 of the science category, if I can get into the top ten, I have a good chance of snowballing.
     
  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    OK, so my free promotion was my most successful so far (although after reading about how successful they used to be before Amazon nerfed them, I'm a little miffed, but anyway) even though I didn't make it to the top 10 of science (AGAIN!).

    The best thing that happened during this free promotion (and this was of a MATH BOOK, read: no fantasy or even fiction elements at all) was that I actually got several sales of my *entire* catalog of books.

    I am very hopeful for the future!

    I'll keep yins updated. I'm going back and forth between the novella I am releasing this month and fleshing out the second novel of WotA.
     
  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Zero Angel likes this.
  10. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    I appreciate the link, Brian! I generally just announce it to the 5-8 classes I'm teaching whenever I have the free promo so they can benefit from the book. I get between 30-50 of the 300+ students I teach to download it, and then it snowballs to where I get a few hundred downloads during the free promo.

    I'll announce it on my social media sites and tell whatever "free books" twitter accts are following me about it directly as well.

    I have yet to dedicate any time to actually making a free promotion purposefully successful -_- which is a very odd strategy, but well, hopefully I'll have more time in the future to do things like this. Thanks again!

    Edit: You may want to post this in the resources section so everyone can see this list of free book marketers.

    Edit2: It is rubbish about Amazon Affiliates penalizing free downloads, but it makes sense that an Affiliate needs to drive more traffic that pays to Amazon than they cost Amazon.
     
  11. CandaceKroslak

    CandaceKroslak Acolyte

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    Online marketing is in trend in today's world. You can connect million of people on a single click of mouse. But you must know various things related with it such as for internet marketing you constantly need something new to talk about.
     
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