Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Good Marketing Idea

Some of you may have wondered why I had a widget in my sidebar for the new release of Afraid by Jack Kilborn. This was done in response to the author’s solicitation to try a concept: a free book for thirty days of advertising. If I was willing to post the Afraid link on my blog, then the author would send me a free “signed” book.

As many who follow him already know, Joe Konrath is one of the better marketers for his business. He has written six Jack Daniels mysteries, along with a handful of other free novels, which he currently markets on his own. While the Jack Daniels mystery series has placed him in the spotlight, I suspect that horror has always been one of his great passions. While he has written other horror novels and technothrillers, Afraid is his first horror novel published under the pen name of Jack Kilborn.

Gearing up to the release of Afraid, Joe launched a massive campaign to get the word out. During the month of April, he posted several interviews on his blog, and during the month of May, he hit the road on a book tour across several states. He also asked for any willing participants to post the Afraid link on their website or blog for thirty days. As consideration, he agreed to send the participant a free signed copy of his second Jack Daniels mystery, Bloody Mary.

I jumped at the opportunity, and not because I wanted a free book (a hardback by the way). I also wanted to be a part of something unique.

At the completion of thirty days, I sent Joe an e-mail to check on the progress, telling him that I wanted to share something about the experiment with those who read Powder Burns & Bullets. I wanted to know how many books he actually sent out and whether or not they were able to track the sales. If I could get that information, and knowing the Kindle e-book version of Afraid was selling on Amazon for $5.59 a copy, I had hoped to see how well his experiment paid off.

I really couldn't track any results of this, Joe wrote. My Amazon sales of Afraid have been steady so far, but there are so many people reviewing the book I don't know where exactly the traffic is coming from.

Being the accountant that I am, often focused on the bottom line, Konrath’s response was a little disappointing. I had hoped to share some hard numbers with you.

That said, Joe continued, I had about 30 people post ad widgets for Afraid, and it certainly was worth my time and money to send these folks free books, not only because it most assuredly helped with Afraid sales, but because it's smart to reward your supporters with free stuff. I would do it again, for sure.

Joe Konrath is right. In spite of my desire to find the bottom line, the success of some experiments cannot be measured by dollars and cents. While some ventures may cost you more money than you directly made, the loyalty and relationships that develop will certainly reap much larger dividends over time. Jack Kilborn certainly will.

And while we’re on the subject of Jack Kilborn, if you haven’t already read Serial, a short novella co-written with Blake Crouch, I strongly recommend it. It follows a classic suspense/horror technique: show the reader the potential for mayhem and then let him squirm while the horror finally plays out. You can get your free copy of Serial here. Good Stuff.

One more thing. About that free copy of Bloody Mary, once it came in the mail, I opened it up and read the prologue. It was killer. When I finally get around to reading the entire book, after all of the other books in my To Read pile, I'll be sure to give you the juicy write-up.


  1. Hi, Stephen. I tried reading Serial, but couldn't handle it. I'm just not a horror fan. The writing style was excellent, and I'd gladly read either of those author's work if they branch out into suspense rather than gruesome.

  2. SERIAL scared the bahoeey out of me. BTW, I won a free copy of AFRAID in Robert Swartwood's contest - and cannot wait to read it.

    This is NOT my usual cup o'tea, but I'm learning a lot about writing. Sometimes it's good to stretch out of one's genre. Peace, Linda

  3. Carol: Yes, Serial was intensely gruesome. If you'd like to try some good suspense without all of the gore, you might take a look at Dean Koontz's The Good Guy. High action suspense with a nice ending.

    Linda: I know what you mean about stepping out of one's genre. That is exactly the same reason I decided to read authors like Lauren Weisberger, Jennifer Weiner, and Louis Sachar. The rewards of stepping out can far outweigh the cost (i.e., your time).

  4. You know what the most astonishing thing about your article is?

    A prologue?

    Really, a prologue?

    LOL. I can't count the number of times I've seen "don't do prologues" given as advice and yet...it...is...ALIVE!


    I emailed Joe and tried to convince him to make a side trip to the Outer Banks on his book tour. He is a very generous man with his time and I would have been honored to host him.

  5. Stephen, I've learned so much about marketing from you. You always have a sharp eye out for ideas. Thanks for always sharing what you find.

  6. What a wonderful marketing strategy. It is amazing how authors keep coming up with clever new ways to get their word out. I'm glad you shared this.