Friday, September 4, 2015

Author Cross-Promotions

This month on the Blood-Red Pencil we’re taking a look at unusual forms of marketing that you might be able to implement to give your sales a boost. Who doesn’t want to see their sales go up, right? Well, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all my years of publishing, it’s that the old adage “Writing is a solitary profession” isn’t as true as it sounds at first. In fact, the biggest boost to my career that I’ve had yet has come from working with friends.

Me and some of my author friends. I swear, they told me not to smile for this picture
Working with and cross-promoting for your fellow authors can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. First and foremost, it’s important to have a network of writers who write in your same genre. Whether you write Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, or Literary Fiction, you need to have a like-minded group that you can go to for help and support, for beta-reading and feedback, and for help with promo.

The easiest way that authors can cross-promote each other is simply to talk about each other in public. This can take the form of sharing Facebook posts and tweets when new releases come out. But even more effective is giving someone a shout-out or highlight in your author newsletter. And if you don’t have a newsletter, you need to get one! But that’s a whole other blog post. These are all simple, direct, easy-to-manage ways of bringing your writer friends to the attention of readers who might enjoy their work. But make sure the relationship is reciprocal and they’re doing the same for you.

Our box set for Wild Western Women...which has done very well!
Another big, popular, and highly effective trend in author cross-promotion these days is the box set. So now that you have a network of writer friends who write the same thing as you, why not put together an anthology of your work and sell it for a low, low price? The thing I love so much about box sets is that they enable writers to share readers. I’m a part of two box sets (with two more in the works) that involve four other historical western friends of mine. We’ve each contributed a mix of previously published material and sometimes new work to our box sets. And without going into numbers, we’ve done very, very well. More importantly, we’ve shared fans as well as sharing the profit.

But the newest trend in author cross-promotion, one I’m both involved in and seeing more and more of, is series with connected characters, settings, and themes, in which each author writes one of the books. I was just part of a trilogy written this way over the summer. The premise was that three Texas billionaire oil baron brothers landed in some trouble, and three heroines ended up helping them out in each book…and making more trouble. We had a simple, overall plot, a few points that needed to be hit in each of our books, but each of us had a lot of freedom within that framework to write whatever story we wanted. The books were very, very successful…but also a lot of fun to write.

Multi-author series are all the rage, and we each included links to our other books in our contribution

I know of a lot of other multi-author series projects in the works out there…some so secret and groundbreaking that they could be industry game-changers. The point is that by banding together with other authors, whether in simple, one-off collaborations or in extensive multi-author projects, you are tapping into a wider readership and making yourself discoverable. Nothing beats being discovered by a reader who loves your genre and has been dying to find someone like you.

Merry Farmer is a history nerd, a hopeless romantic, and an award-winning author of thirteen novels. She is passionate about blogging and knitting, and lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo. Connect with Merry at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.

7 comments :

  1. I've seen multi-book offerings with mystery/thriller writers and romance. I was asked once to participate in a 6-month promo with five or six books that would sell for $.99. I decided against it, feeling the book I would put in would be essentially off the market for that amount of time. I do see the value of your experiment where you wrote the book to fit the promo. Glad it was successful for you.

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    1. I've contributed previously published material to box sets too. You don't have to take them down from individual sale if you include it in a box set. In fact, for some odd reason, I found that I sold more copies of the book I had in the box set during the box set's run than before. Funky math.

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  2. I have seen multiple author sets for sale. Anthologies are making a come back as well as short story collections by multiple authors. There is no question that there is power in numbers. A group sharing information is better than one lone voice. It only works, though, if everyone contributes. The Mystery writing community is a strong example of authors promoting each other. Julie Hyzy spoke at a conference I attended and she handed out bookmarks for multiple cozy authors. Hank Phillippi Ryan and Hallie Ephron have their own group. Besides, most of us hate promotion and having friends along for the ride makes it more enjoyable. I do think it helps if you write in the same genre. It is hard to cross promote a children's book and a hard core erotica tome to the same audience. :)

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    1. Sounds like the mystery writers are doing what the romance writers are doing. ;) I think it works in any subgenre. But you're right, keeping it within the genre is so much more effective than trying to promote cross-genre.

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  3. The support of my writer friends has always been great and much appreciated. I have always liked the idea of helping each other and this more organized approach of banding together is a great idea. I have some stories in anthologies as well as in some podcasts, and I think podcasts are gaining in interest.

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    1. Podcasts are pretty cool. Anything you can do to get more eyeballs on your books is always a good thing.

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  4. Love these ideas, Merry. Not only do such collaborations enhance sales, but they also bolster sagging determinations to keep up the promotions and try new venues. In unity there is strength -- and ingenuity and imagination and a fierce resolve to forge ahead despite the ups and downs.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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