Happy Tuesday, all! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and that you’re rarin’ to go in 2013.
Today, I want to write about a strategy that worked very well for me over the holiday season: using a short story or novella as a promotional tool to drive sales towards a newly released novel.
Before I get started, I’ll point out the obvious which I’m sure we all know: there are no guarantees. So many factors play into sales success, including time of year, cover, title, blurb… and a little luck. However, the more strategies we have to try, the greater our chances of hitting on something that just might work.
At the begining of last November, I released my Christmas novella, Mistletoe in Manhattan. I’d seen other authors use Christmas-themed short stories the previous year to drive readers towards their new novels, and it looked like it’d been successful. Since I planned to put out my full-length novel, The Pollyanna Plan, at the end of that month, I figured the novella would be a great way to ‘prime the market’ by putting the first chapter of my novel at the back of the book. I priced it cheaply– the number of readers was more important to me than actual revenue, since I looked at the novella mainly as an advertisement. Of course, I worked as hard on it as I would on any other piece of writing, as having readers enjoy my writing was critical to the success of my plan.
Sales of Mistletoe started off relatively slowly, but by December first the novella had entered into the top 100 in the UK and, thanks to shout-outs from E-Reader News Today, had gone into the top 200 on Amazon.com. By the time Mistletoe gained momentum, I’d finally published my new novel, The Pollyanna Plan. Within weeks, it too entered the top 100 on Amazon.co.uk, where Mistletoe sales were strongest, and the top 2000-3000 on Amazon.com, where Mistletoe sales were steady but not as strong.
When Christmas Eve hit, both my novella and novel were in the top 100 on Amazon.co.uk, with combined sales of around 20,000 (10,ooo on Amazon.com). Inevitably, with Christmas over, Mistletoe sales have dropped and so too have sales of my novel. However, it’s still bopping in and out of the top 100 in the UK and going fairly steady on .com. We’ll see how it continues!
What would I have done differently? Well, ideally, I’d have my novel up the same time as my novella, so there wouldn’t be a time lag between the two. I likely lost some sales in those three weeks, as I couldn’t point readers directly to the novel link. Overall, though, I’m very pleased with how the strategy worked this Christmas, and I’ll certainly be trying it again next year!
Fingers crossed it works as well.
Have you tried something like this? How has it worked for you?