Nancy: It hit me that I could do a countdown to my book launch and post a different pink dress every day for fifty days on Facebook. I wrote a couple of sentences about each dress and why it was iconic, but I always included info about my book, too—usually providing a link to a bookseller.
Within the first two weeks, the campaign went viral. I started out with 600 "likes" on my author page, and by the end of the fifty days, I had over half a million people looking at my pink dresses—and seeing info about my coming book. My publisher jumped on the bandwagon and bought some FB ads, and we were careful to steer viewers to booksellers where they could pre-order books. Before the book was published, the publisher knew they needed to print more copies, and we also knew how many ebooks had been pre-ordered. My local bookstore received many orders for autographed copies.
It all meant that No Way to Kill a Lady came out of the gate a Bookscan mystery bestseller (and stayed there for six weeks) and the sales of hardcovers and ebooks were better than I—or my publisher—anticipated. The main lesson I learned? My readers enjoyed the pink dresses. By using FB analytics, I could see who my readers are—their ages, where they lived—and I was making them happy with pink dresses.
Writing rule: Know who your reader is. Be as specific as you can, because if you can narrow down your audience, you stand a better chance of reaching them.But that was last year. The FB rules have since changed. Now I must pay a "sponsorship" fee to reach the "likes" I've already built. This is okay with me—FB has to make money somehow. We're all in the business of sales. But constantly changing business models mean we must all be nimble.
Writing rule: Stay informed about the business.Kathryn: Tell our readers how you reinvented the campaign for Little Black Book of Murder? I've loved the results! The title is great—now that you've really settled into the branding, has it affected the way you conceive the books?
|Nora Blackbird paper doll|
in navy velvet Givenchy
In May I worked with an enthusiastic graphic designer to create the dolls—we went back and forth for several weeks about what each of the Blackbird sisters should look like—and she took care of ordering the die-cut dolls. (Which also function as bookmarks, by the way, with all the info about my series printed on the backs of each sister.) Yes, the dolls turned out to be adorable!
You may love the results, but they were not nearly as successful as the Fifty Shades of Pink campaign.
First: The expense of hiring a designer, printing the dolls and postage was high. And the labor of sending the dolls to readers who requested them was very time-consuming for me during the weeks when I was trying to finish the next book in my series. (It always happens this way. If you're scheduling yourself right, you are launching a book a year and finishing a book a year---usually at the same time.)
Another writing rule: Don't let promotion interfere with the writing.Also: I'm not sure I paid close enough attention to my demographics. My readers are primarily women between the ages of 40 and 65. Women who are too busy to jump through a lot of hoops. The process of participating in the campaign was too complicated.
My previous campaign required nothing of anybody--except clicking to buy my book. But to get the paper dolls, readers had to go to my website, send me their address, and I had to package up the dolls and make many post office runs. Then the reader had to create the clothes, snap photos and post their photos on my Facebook page, etc. It was all too complicated. My readers have busy lives with no time for all this back-and-forthing.
Would I do the paper doll thing again? No. But it was fun while it lasted. We will know in another week if our efforts were successful.
Please leave questions for Nancy! Just don't ask her how her campaigns have impacted sales—you'll have to check tomorrow's final installment for that one.
|Winner of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement award for mystery writing from Romantic Times magazine, Nancy Martin announces the release of the ninth book in her Blackbird Sisters Mystery Series, Little Black Book of Murder. The author of nearly fifty pop fiction novels in mystery, suspense, historical and romance genres, Nancy created The Blackbird Sisters in 2002—mysteries about three impoverished Main Line heiresses who adventure in couture and crime—as if “Agatha Christie had wandered onto the set of Sex and The City.” Nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Mystery of 2002, How to Murder a Millionaire won the RT award for Best First Mystery and was a finalist for the Daphne DuMaurier Award. No Way to Kill a Lady was a 2012 Bookscan mystery bestseller. Nancy lives in Pittsburgh, has served on the board of Sisters in Crime and is a founding member of Pennwriters. Find Nancy on Facebook.|