Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

E-Book Marketing Success Story

Yesterday the new e-book Draculas was released on Amazon, and the results of the marketing campaign they conducted are in. I interviewed one of the four authors in this post about their marketing efforts, and now we can see the results after one day. It's a smash hit, reaching #76 on the Paid Kindle bestseller list in one day, with over 120 reviews already posted. They've already sold over 800 copies at $2.99, which puts them in the black given their $1300 upfront costs (which includes formatting, cover art, interior art, the website, and some ads on Kindleboards and Kindle Nation). Everything from now on is gravy... and since they never have to worry about printing, the book will stay in print and keep generating revenue.

One of the authors, J.A. Konrath, details the marketing campaign they conducted in this post on his blog. I'd like to add some of my own comments about their marketing efforts.

First off, the level of success they've had does depend to some extent on their previous success as novelists. They have a fan base, or rather four fan bases. By collaborating on this book and on its marketing, they've successfully cross-marketed to all four fan bases, which not only helps the sales of this book but should have a nice boost to each author's e-book sales going forward. Point: Look to ways to expand whatever your current market is by tapping into another existing customer base.

Second Point: They mustered the power of bloggers among their fan base by getting them to post reviews. All they had to pay was a free copy of the e-book; they gave away 260 copies. Now, with a traditional book you'd have the expense of printing those copies and mailing them, and the time delay... with an e-book, costs were next to nothing. Did they lose 260 sales? Perhaps... and they've certainly gained far more than that in the added publicity and exposure for the novel.

Third Point: They didn't add in a cost for their time to do all of this marketing. I think they'd say it really didn't take that much time for them, but let's say it was some opportunity cost (meaning they could have been writing other novels) to them; perhaps as much as $10,000. Still, that should be made up in a few months of sales... and this should keep selling month after month, and the authors expect at least 1,000 units per month. Granted, Amazon takes 30% off the top. But you add together enough of those little revenue streams and you have a pretty nice living.

Fourth Point: The price is $2.99, which is far lower than traditional publishers charge... but it makes it an impulse buy for readers, and since you have no physical costs to cover, you still have a great margin. I think most e-books (particularly fiction) are overpriced; they could generate more revenue by pricing them lower. But there's no way to know for sure unless you try, and most publishers are afraid to try lest they damage sales of the physical books. If you're not a publisher of physical books, why not give it a go? You can always raise the price back up if it doesn't boost sales enough. Finding the sweet spot on digital pricing means finding the pricing that maximizes your profits, whether that's $100 or $1. What should matter is the size of the check you put into the bank, not the price on the product.

All without having to go through a New York publisher.

Ladies and gentlemen, the e-book era has officially arrived. You can make good money off of e-books without ever having to deal with the old infrastructure. I put the first e-book into a retail store, in Acrobat Reader 1.0 format, on a floppy disk about 15 years ago. It's taken a lot longer than I expected, but it's finally arrived as a viable format.

Now I have to get busy and write some books...


  1. You can add the "emotional bludgeoning" you receive as a traditionally published writer who works a year on a book, waits a year to see it in the stores, blinks and watches it disappear. Tillie Olsen wrote a book about it, "Silences." I had five good books published traditionally by big companies like Simon and Schuster, etc. I was silent for a few years and now, happy ending. Thanks to the generosity of J.A.Konrath who tells you all you need to know, I have six books that sell at the Amazon Kindle Store. The first day I uploaded a home formatted copy of my book Daughters, onto Amazon's DTP, I was ebullient. As Truman Capote said when he sold two short stories in one day "dizzy with happiness is no mere phrase." I'm still a newbie but little by little I'm learning to market and in October I sold 20 books, double what I sold in September.

  2. Excellent, Consuelo. Keep on writing, and posting about your writing. The great thing about an e-book is your sales will increase, even on older titles, as you continue to write and develop your audience. Part of Joe's success is just that he's been doing it for quite a while. The more he blogs, the more people find his blog... and as he writes more books, he gains new fans, and they discover his old books and buy them. This will happen with yours, too.