Click on the image for more information.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reviews and Revenues

Today is Labor Day in the US, our last holiday before Thanksgiving.

Since it's a holiday week, I don't think we'll do regular programming this week. You'll just have to see me blog about whatever strikes my fancy. Scary, huh? :o)

It's always a dangerous situation when I think. And such is the case now. I love great reviews. Who doesn't? But I have to wonder if it does me any good.

Dear, always helpful, Allie Boniface wrote not long ago that her great reviews don't necessarily translate into great sales. I've noticed that myself. People who read Touch Of Fire really like it, but it hasn't meant more sales.

Why do you think that is? Does it take a big venue where thousands of people visit to warrant better sales? Will sales be better next year when it goes to print and someone reviews it on Amazon? (One of you guys will review it on Amazon, won't you?)

Or do I throw money into advertising? Something I've done very little.

Personally, I think word of mouth is the way to go, but that requires momentum. How do you get a book in the hands of strangers and convince them that it really is a great book? What is that magic that gets people talking?

Examining past runaway hits, I've noticed these things:

Controversy works. My book crosses a few religious lines from time to time. But I didn't put them in for shock value. They are an integral part of the world building. Does that make it too subtle to be controversial?

Name value helps. Mickey Mouse is in my book. Not by name, of course, but you can't mistake him by the description I gave. Disney has too many outstanding people working in their stables now. What chance do I have?

Original concepts intrigue. I like to take "accepted" truths and tweak them, forcing people to see them in more than one way. Touch Of Fire is no exception. I reveal an entire future world for you to explore.

Ultimately, I think you need two things. It has to be a great book and it has to elicit an emotional response. You have to care what happens to those characters.

There are other ways to jump-start a rage if you have the capital. Giveaways have limited value in my opinion, but they can work. I know one author who gave away tons of books with a little help from her publisher.

She didn't have a handful of books to give away. She had hundreds.

Saturate the market with enough freebies and you should be able to start a feeding frenzy if the book is good enough. Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury. Any books I give away come out of my pocket and believe me, I don't have the funds to spare--especially now.

But this brings me to some advice my editor gave me. She said the secret to sales was developing a backlist. I can see the wisdom in this, but it won't help me in the immediate since there is only one book right now.

So I rely on great reviews --and you, gentle reader. Read Touch Of Fire and recommend it to your friends.

I got a wonderful review from Jacqueline Ward over at The Romance Studio. The link is here, but this is the part I really liked.

"Ms. Zannini has created a wonderfully vibrant world full or details and robust characters. Readers are given a look into a possible future for our world. The plot is intricately detailed and full of suspense. Touch of Fire has all the elements of a great epic story. There is so much love, loss and sacrifice. This story had me laughing, then crying, sad, then ecstatic. The emotions are pouring off the pages so much that you can’t help but feel them too."

I got an emotional response from this reader! That is the highest compliment anyone can pay me.


Allie Boniface said...

Yes, they do say the backlist helps. We'll see...

Maria Zannini said...

It's a bit of a rollercoaster ride, isn't it? :o)

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone knows how to get a book selling well. If they did, all the publishers would be rich.

Marianne Arkins said...

I've noticed that my backlist never stops selling AND sales jump everytime I have a new release -- which is one reason I try to throw in short stories along with novels. Keeps my name out there with new stuff.

Additionally, each new title sells more right off the bat than the last did, so I'm clearly building a reader base.

Now... my sales are not, yanno, NYTIMES great, but I take heart that they continue to grow.

And, yep, getting your name out is a big deal -- name over book title, IMHO.

I'm certainly no marketing expert (HA!), though, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt (or your fave spice *G*).

Maria Zannini said...

Hey, Daw. You are right. If it were easy everyone would win, huh?

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne, you said something that I think bears serious thought.

I really like what you said about doing short stories in between your novels. Slow and steady wins the race.

Good advice!