Friday, November 21, 2014

Another (potential) Marketing Resource

This month's column is a few days late because ... Well, insert excuse of your choosing here. Though I'm known for having the organizational habits of a magpie, I hit deadlines – present example excluded – reliably enough to find constant work in the media tie-in and write for hire industries. I'll do a column about time management, deadlines and the hitting thereof in the near future. Right now I want to cue off the second half of that third sentence; the part about writing for hire and media tie-in.

Writing media tie-in, which I usually liken to being one musician in an orchestra, is a specialized field that requires an attitude and skillset quite different from writing original fiction. It also does not require – or teach – skills essential to the career of most writers. Among those neglected skills are self-promotion and marketing; skills I am slowly and awkwardly learning by working with Kevin J. Anderson, his wife Reecca Moesta, and their WordFire Press as they publish – and promote – the novels of my uncle, Allen Drury. (And yes, I know marketing and promotion has more to do with October's theme here at Novel Spaces and that this is November.)

Case in point is Story Bundle, a company that works with indie writers and small publishers to get great books into the hands (okay, e-readers) of people who might not otherwise see them. Rather than sell individual books, Story Bundle, as their name implies, creates "bundles" of novels based around a central theme – whodunit, intrigue, period romance, etc. – that include novels from several authors. Thus followers of one author can discover other writers of similar novels, or someone new to a field can sample a variety of novels and writers for a low price, and in that way broaden both their own reading and the indie writers' market. Pricing is the key, because while each bundle has a "bonus threshold" no bundle has a set price. Readers pay what they think the books are worth and how much they want to encourage and support small publishers and indie writers. They can also designate a charity to receive ten percent of their payment. Pay more than the "bonus threshold" and receive additional books at no extra charge.

I'm a former teacher who worked in community services for decades before becoming a full-time writer, so it's a given that I don't understand how marketing works. I would not expect a business model that depended on the customers' perception of value and sense of fair play to flourish, but Story Bundle seems to be working. At no cost to the writer – other than its percentage of sales that probably would not have been made otherwise – which is important.

I was introduced to Story Bundle by KJA and WordFire when Uncle Al's Advise and Consent was chosen as the political thriller for their 8 Ways to Thrill bundle, but it's a connection I'm going to keep open as I develop my own original and indie writing career. Just as I'm going to be on the lookout for other innovative marketing and promotional opportunities – because none of us knows what might open the doors we want to go through.

(Wait! I forgot the self-promotion bit. Um. "Click on the link above and go buy the bundle with my uncle's book!" How's that? Needs work? Okay. Practice, practice, practice.)


Steven Arellano Rose Jr. said...

Why I'm so glad I went the indie route in publishing! You learn more skills of other disciplines (marketing, self-promotion) that you wouldn't if you were to go only the traditional publishing route.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yeah, I just don't seem to get the key to marketing.

Liane Spicer said...

Another one for whom marketing is an issue here.

This sounds a lot like the bundling I'm seeing in the romance genre where 5-10 authors contribute a title to the set. Over the summer these bundles were topping the Amazon rankings (haven't looked lately) and some of them were going for as little as $0.99. I'm a little leery of the part where the customer pays whatever s/he likes, but it's definitely something to look into.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I like the idea, but I kind of agree with Liane. I'm not sure about the part where customers pay what they feel the book is worth. It has internal rankings that may not be in the author or the book's best interest.