Just when I thought I'd exhausted all avenues of book marketing, I've come across another technique that I've found quite useful. Based on the success of Wool and Susan Kaye Quinn's Mind Jacker Origins short stories, I decided to write a short story or novelette to use as a marketing technique. What follows are the results of my endeavors.
Around December I decided to write a Breeders novella. The whole premise was to release something that I could put out for free, a sample so to speak of the larger product known as The Breeders. I polled my reading audience as to what character I should explore and surprisingly the crowd voted for Dr. Nessa Vandewater, a lead villain in my story. Writing the novella came so easily from there that it was almost scary. In one month the final product was ready to go. So, from start to end, one month is a super fast turn-over rate for a new piece of fiction. The product was around 34 pages, not quite long enough to call a novella, but hopefully long enough to give reader a taste. I order a snazzy cover and used several writer friends as beta readers. The whole thing cost me about $150 to produce (cheap compared to the 2.5K The Breeders cost me). Then I uploaded it and held my breath.
At first I sold it for 99 cents. I had a couple hundred downloads in that first month and a half, enough to pay for most of its production costs. Once sales started to slow, I wanted to drop the price to free. Now, this is not as easy as it seems. Amazon won't just let you give items away for free. However, they do price match, so you must offer the title somewhere else for free. I put it up on Smashwords at the free price point and waited for Amazon to notice. And waited. And waited. Finally, I had a few friends report to Amazon that my book was selling for free. That did the trick. Now Nessa was free. I waited to see what that would do.
In May, over three thousand people downloaded it for free. It has sat in the top ten free sci fi short stories for the entire time it has been listed. I loved seeing it next to Wool on that list. What awesome company to keep. And even though I wasn't making a dime, I knew that having it up was good exposure.
The main question is does the story help sell The Breeders. I can say a resounding yes. Before the short story was released The Breeders sales were slipping. I had days when I dipped down to the 7000s on Amazon rankings. After the short story went free, I have been ranked in the 5000s ever since, some days even 4000s. People note that they found my series first with Nessa and went on to buy The Breeder after.
Here's the breakdown stats of the short story.
Time: One month, start to finish
Outside help: Cover designer, Beta readers
Would I try this again?: Most definitely. I still have not seen the decline of the boost it has given my novel. I will definitely try this strategy with my next series. For the small cost and time output it is a marketing strategy I would recommend.
Book Marketing Part Six - Book Bub