By Brandilyn Collins
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling author of 27 books. She is best known for her Seatbelt Suspense®--fast-paced, character-driven suspense with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. She also writes insightful contemporary novels, often laced with humor. Her awards include the ACFW Carol (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, the Inspy, Christian Retailer's Best (twice), and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.
One of the many things I’m enjoying as a new indie author is the ability to experiment with marketing. I get to choose what to do, when to do it, and how much money to spend (which usually is very little). And I take notes regarding the return on investment for my next book’s release.
The latest experiment I’ve joined is an ebook box set of suspense novels with seven other authors. The set is titled Thrill Ride. Three authors are from the Christian market: I, Randy Ingermanson, and James Scott Bell. The other five are from the secular market: Joanna Penn (who writes the popular blog The Creative Penn), Boyd Morrison, Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore (co-authors), P.J. Parrish, and Kat Covelle. The forward is written by New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry.
Thrill Ride released a couple weeks ago. It’s selling for $0.99. That’s right. Eight novels for $0.99.
Clearly, with that many authors and so low a price, the incentive to join this set wasn’t making money. We will divvy up the revenues, but I expect very little, especially since some has been used for advertising. I had two reasons for joining. One, the chance of using the promotional force of eight authors to hit national bestselling lists such as the New York Times or USA Today. Two, the incredible opportunity to place my first indie Seatbelt Suspense®, Sidetracked, in the hands ofthousands of suspense readers who've never heard of me.
Currently Thrill Ride’s rank on Amazon is in the 3100s. Good, but certainly not high enough to make a major bestseller’s list. It has been as low as the 400s. We’re still working on raising sales, of course. And we’ve got awhile to do it. The boxed set will be available for about two months, then will be taken off the market.
As for getting Sidetracked into the hands of potential new readers, that is working already. I’m fortunate to have Sidetracked as the first book in the set. Which also means it’s the book readers see when they click to “look inside” on Amazon.
Interestingly, sales of Sidetracked on its own, at its regular price of $4.99, have not dropped during this time. That surprises me. Perhaps they will as more people hear of the set, I don’t know. I will certainly be interested to see what sales do when the boxed set is no longer selling. Will I gain enough new readers that their word of mouth will help sell Sidetracked? And perhaps those new readers will buy some of my other books?
Joanna Penn has helped lead us other authors in the careful planning for promoting Thrill Ride. Rather than have all eight authors start promoting the day of release, we each took turns. And until our day came, we were to say nothing about the release. In this way the promos were spread out over the first eight days, with each author hitting his/her network on the planned day. When my day came I put out a newsletter, plus hit Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and many various author groups, asking them to put out tweets or Facebook updates.
Algorithms in Amazon are such that high spikes in sales, then quick declines, do not help a book stay highly ranked. What you want is that constant build over a number of days. (Actually, this resembles the philosophy of individual indie releases. It’s completely different from a traditionally published launch, in which you want to push hard and everywhere—immediately. But those launches are all about selling books off shelves in a short amount of time—before they’re returned. The shelf life of indie books doesn’t go away.)
After our initial set day for promotion, each author can now continue to promote any way he/she wants.
As for Sidetracked itself, its sales continue to do quite well. This is the fifth month since its release. Its Amazon rankings fluctuate between the 11,000s and 13,000s. It remains in the top 50-70 of its three categories. And most importantly, it’s still #2 on the Top Rated list of its main category, Christian mystery/suspense. (Current reviews put it at 4.8 stars, with 134 five-star reviews.) That placement on the Top Rated list puts the book cover on the upper right side of the category’s page—prominent placement for the eyes of browsers. (Go here to see what I mean.)
By the way, Sidetracked is now also available on audio. And I've sold the sub rights for large print to Thorndike. That version will be coming out around December.
I’ll be able to report more about the sales of Thrill Ride in my next post (the first Wednesday of September).
If you haven’t bought Thrill Ride yet—whatcha waitin’ for? If you already have it, be a big spender and gift it to a friend. You don’t need to tell ’em you spent 12 cents a book.