Friday, September 11, 2015

DIY Look-Inside for Picture Books

I Own All the Blue, illustrated by Bess Harding
My publishing project for this year is a short picture book for ages three to seven. As a parent, I’ve bought picture books and chapter books online, and I’ve discovered the frustration of attempting to gauge the content of a short book using the Look-Inside feature that Amazon offers. I say ‘discovered’ because Amazon’s flaw (i.e., the 10% rule means you get to view maybe one or two pages at the most) has given me an idea for promoting my own book.

I decided to offer my own Look-Inside-the-entire-book to the subscribers of my mailing list. I know parents want to vet books before their children read them (I certainly do). Sometimes a book might seem great, only for the last page to go against the message a parent might want their child to learn. I want people who buy the book to do so knowing exactly what they’re going to get.

But this is much more than a mere Look-Inside. It also:
  • Works as pre-launch content
  • Offers an incentive to sign up for my mailing list (thereby, hopefully, building a well-targeted mailing list)
  • Allows me to follow up with people who might have seen the content (or remind those who haven’t checked it out yet)
  • Allows parents/grandparents, etc., to view and vet the entire book
  • Potentially avoids some negative reviews
  • Promotes the sale of physical copies rather than electronic (but may hinder ebook sales)
  • Can be run as an autoresponder following this launch campaign, for new sign-ups
  • Rinse and repeat with the next book
The beauty of using a picture book for this process is that it is quick--both for me to send off, and for the people I’m emailing to look at (which means it’s more likely to be opened and read).

Mileage is likely to vary for longer books, but, with this method over permafree/KDP Select/Look-Inside at Amazon , you still have the benefit of collecting email addresses of interested readers (or parents of keen readers). And that’s gold these days.

Elsa Neal
Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at ElleCarterNeal.com or HearWriteNow.com

14 comments :

  1. What a great idea, Elle. I wondered how that look-inside feature on Amazon would work for picture books and was disappointed the few times I used it. Maybe you could do a follow-up post and let folks know how well this worked.

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    1. Thanks, Maryann. I will do a follow-up. I also wish I could split-test whether it works better to give subscribers access to a few pages at a time, or the whole thing at once.

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  2. This is a brilliant idea, Elle!

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    1. Thanks, Dani. I've been looking for a way to build up my mailing list.

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  3. Sheeesh, Elle ... you folks at BRP are so smart, talented and energetic that it makes me feel like the slacker I am.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Christopher. (If a picture book counts) I've only just caught up to you, though ;-)

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  4. Great idea, Elle. Some authors fear giving content away for free, but this is not a giveaway. Instead it's the perfect preview so parents know what their kids will be getting. No doubt it will boost sales. Wishing you all the best with this book!

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    1. Exactly what I thought, Cara. I didn't do so well with KDP Select last year - lots of free downloads with very few reviews to show for it, and my book ended up on a pirate site. I won't be doing that again - I think I can leverage my content far better on my own site.

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  5. This is a fabulous idea, Elle, for all the reasons you listed. I absolutely want to know what's in any book I purchase for my grandchildren.

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  6. The cover looks darling! And, with your know-how, I'm sure you've done a great job on a children's book.

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    1. Thanks, Morgan. The image is from the first page; I haven't settled on the cover art yet.

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  7. Another thing to consider, aside from Amazon, is a program called Flip PDF that allows you to make a copy of your book that moves the pages like a virtual book. If you can copy and paste, you can create a Flip book. Anyone with Adobe can open and read it. That way you could offer it on your website only and control who has access. Or you could email it to specific people. Then they could go to Amazon if they wanted to buy a hard copy or e-copy without giving it away for free on Amazon.

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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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