Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Brave New World of E Marketing

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Ebook A lot of authors are jumping on the E publishing bandwagon.  Those of us who have our rights back can't afford to see our work sitting on the shelves not earning any income.  Hey, we've got mortgage, car payments, and health care premiums to pay for and except for often paltry advances, we get paid twice a year.  (It's just about impossible to pay the dentist in January when you won't get paid again until April or May.)

Of course, putting our work up on Kindle and Nook means we have to wear hats other than just that of author.  Now we have to think about marketing as well.

The truth is, I'm just not as good as it as I would like.  There's a reason big publishers have whole staffs dedicated to getting the word out on a book.  And they know what sells.  Me?  Not so much.  But in order to compete, I've got to be willing to say, "Hey, this doesn't work.  I'll try something different."

I'm doing that with new covers. Here's the original cover for one of my short stories.  It's a sweet little story about a woman who makes one mistake that snowballs and changes her life forever.  Because the story revolves around a child with a visible birth defect, I called it "Only Skin Deep" (as in "beauty is only skin deep).  There are pink daisies in the story.  I thought pink daisies would help sell this little story that is so dear to my heart.

It didn't.

In fact, it didn't in spades.

So, it was time to call on the big guns.  What actually sells? Sex.

Why not put that in the title?  After all, it was a one-night stand that changed my heroine's life forever.  (The title is supposed to be a take-off on "Love With A Perfect Stranger.)  I haven't changed the book's blurbs, which says:

A one-night stand changes Leslie Turner's life forever when she discovers she's pregnant. Keeping the child means losing her business. Even more devastating, the baby is born with a disfiguring birth defect. Her carefully planned life falls apart . . . until years later when she once again meets her baby's father. Can they ever be a family?

Now, will this cover change actually sell more copies of the story?  I'm hoping it will.  What do you think?

And did I mention the price:  99 cents.  Think of it as 1/3 of a Starbucks coffee.  And, if you like it, you can read it again and again.  (Try that with a cup of coffee.)


By the way, Sex With an Imperfect Stranger is available at these locations. (and remember, you don't need an e reader to download an e book or short stories.  Kindle, B&N and Smashwords all allow you to download to your computer or ipad or ... whatever.)  Maybe you'd like to give "Sex" a try. (P.S. Kindle, Nook and Smashwords all allow you to download samples of the stories/books, too.)

Kindle     Nook      Smashwords

UPDATE:  Thanks to a lively discussion on Facebook, my readers and I (with help from Dru and Heather) found a great picture and new title.  Would THIS version entice you to read the story?


P.S. Backlist Ebooks is sponsoring a Halloween Sale at Smashwords.  44 books by 15 different authors of mystery, romance, and fantasy -- all 25% off.  (And what do you know--some of those books are by my alter ego L.L. Bartlett and our own Deb Baker!)  Check out the links at the Backlist Ebooks web site -- click the SPECIALS tab.


Deb Baker said...

I've also heard that sex sells. Please let us know. The new cover is smoking!

Harbinger said...

I can't say since I bought Only Skin Deep for my Kindle back in September. A lovely story that brought a tear to my eyes.

I don't think anything about the new cover would have made me want to buy it. Other than your name, of course.

Anonymous said...

First, THANK YOU for buying a copy of the story.

Sadly, virtually no one knows my "Lorraine Bartlett" author name. (I was hoping these short stories would help get the name out there.) And that these are more romance in theme, I was hoping it would appeal to romance readers, who often cross over to read cozy mysteries.

I'd love to hear other suggestions, because believe me, I'm willing to change it for a third time if it will sell more copies.

P.S. Since the story has been available (8 months) I've sold exactly 24 copies on Kindle and 3 on Smashwords. Clearly, it needs something to jumpstart sales.

Ann Summerville said...

I stopped by your blog today. Last week-end I attended the Austin Book Festival and comments I heard over and over again was that people buy books that are recommended by friends. Another question to authors was "Why don't more authors write mysteries without sex and graphic violence" [like Agatha Christie). I think as authors we have to just keep trying different avenues until we find our niche.
Cozy In Texas

Linda Cowan - Valparaiso said...

I think that there are different "audiences" for different books, so featuring sex would appeal to a different group, I just don't know what the numbers are. Guess that is the marketer's job.
I prefer not to have all the graphic sex in a book, would like it to be about people - their personalities, struggles, etc. More character, less sex.

Rhys Bowen said...

I think it's all about building the brand, Lorraine. You have to get known for a particular type of book. Maybe some people will pick up the sexy cover, but if they then try another of your (cozier) books, will they be confused?

BTW: I'm blogging on Sex and the Single Sleuth on my group blog, Jungle Red Writers, this monday, so obviously sex is in the air!

Linda Cowan - Valparaiso said...

Also - I think it would be more appealing for the cover to represent something about the story - maybe a profile of a mother embracing a child, since it seems like that is more related to the story.
So now if someone buys the story, the marketers will say it is because of the cover ... just would like to really know what it's about.

Anonymous said...

Linda, there isn't any graphic sex in the story. In fact, it's pretty "sweet." (Tame.) But it does start out with a one-night stand.

I like your idea of a mother holding a child and I'll go look for such pictures. I can keep changing the covers and the title until I get something that I like, readers like, and will SELL!

And so far, though we've had more than 110 readers today, I've made no sales. So clearly Cozy Chick readers aren't interested in the story, with either cover. *Sigh*

Katreader said...

I keep thinking of the Brit Com As Time Goes By, when Lionel was publishing his book,everyone kept saying the cover should say "pick me up and buy me". The problem is that what makes some people pick up the book, turns others away. Although I love gardening, that first cover wouldn't have gotten my attention, the second would have gotten me to pick it up!

Lindy said...

I don't buy a book for its cover (though sometimes I won't buy a book because of its cover). The purpose of the cover art is to get the reader to pick up the book to explore its contents--if the cover is sexy and the reader picks it up because she thinks it's going to be steamy, don't you think she will put it back down it she doesn't find any steam? I haven't checked out any of the on-line short stories, but I would think that if I paid for a story thinking it was going to be steamy and it wasn't I likely would not ever purchase another story from that author.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Lindy. We posted on Facebook about this post and there was a long (all day Saturday) and lively discussion about e covers and together the readers and I (with a little help from Dru and Heather) came up with a new cover and title. It's already up on Amazon, too! Check it out:

Miki Willa said...

I like this new book cover much better. I also like the title. I would be much more apt to purchase this than the other. I am not a prude, but I usually steer away from books with sex in the title.