Sunday, December 15, 2013

MARKETING WITH FREE BOOKS & MINI-BOOKS of the quandaries of authors giving away their books is what is the return on the investment? Does giving away books increase book sales? The answer remains unclear. In a recent article HERE, the Huffington Post observed that numerous authors, particularly those who are self-published, offer their books for free or at a low cost. Some authors increased sales of other books and the development of positive relationships with their readers. Other authors, however, have not observed an increase in sales. So what to do?
THE BACKGROUND  Since I can't judge the effectiveness, I decided to offer a free mini-book. My latest book was a scorching hot Christmas M/M, Ely's Epiphany - a story of two ex-Green Beret partners who rescued a wealthy heiress as a toddler, were hired by her grandfather as her security, and later became Lexie's guardians after her grandfather died. The original story, Search & Rescue, is a steamy contemporary military romance in which college coed Lexie meets her future husband - Army Ranger Taylor Jackson. 
THE SHORT STORY The complete story in the mini-book, Reception Interrupted, is a 4,500 word short story that occurs in the restroom of The Oyster's Shell during the wedding reception. Most of the action is between Ely, the ex-Green Beret-turned-bride's guardian, and the Army Ranger husband. Lexie and Todd, Ely's partner, eventually get involved in the action. The bathroom, maybe even the whole restaurant, will never be the same. It's a full stand-alone story that bridges the action between the Search & Rescue and Ely's Epiphany.
THE OTHER COMPONENTS The rest of the mini-book showcases the first chapters of all of my books from all my publishers and includes the blurb from each book in the Table of Contents with the genre and heat rating. Each first chapter includes the cover, copyright info, and buy link. I'm providing two versions of the book. One is the full R-rated version since two of the first chapters are HOT. In the PG version those stories are deleted.
THE LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS. Several legal considerations had to be addressed. Since the short story carries over between characters and books, the original publisher had to approve the story because they had first refusal on it. Then, I obtained written permission from the three publishers to include the first chapters of  the books. Most contracts allow a certain amount of excerpting, but the book went well beyond excerpts. Although books are copyrighted to the author, the cover and set up are copyrighted by the publishers. I included the copyright info and cover credits with each chapter. Basically, always ask permission to avoid trouble later. All of the publishers were supportive of the effort, since the goal is to increase sales.
THE MECHANICS OF PUBLISHING THE MINI-BOOK. First, I designed a simple cover, saved it as a JPEG, and inserted it into the doc. The cover is Section 1. Section 2 begins with the credits page and the page numbers are inserted there, but indicate in the special section that numbers begin there with page one. The book is single spaced with New Times Roman 12 point font, aligned full. After the whole doc is assembled and proofed, rename it (just in case the doc is damaged during the conversion), protect it (in Word, under Review go to Protect to Editing Restrictions and Protect it with a password), then do a Save As, PDF. This PDF cannot be edited.
POSTING  The PDF is posted on my Wordpress webpage/blog. Both the cover and the file must be saved into a webpage. I use the media section of my Wordpress blog for both. The file is attached to the book cover and opens when the cover is clicked. Be sure to mark it to open the link in a new window.  The PDF file can be read online or saved for download.

To check out Reception Interrupted, click the cover above or HERE to go to my Freebie page. I'll watch the stats and report back.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Coming in January, Marketing Your Press Release Locally 

450 allbooksCalibriJ
"Ely's Epiphany" Secret Cravings Publishing, December, 2013
"Finding Eve" Champagne Books, September, 2013
"Nimue's Daughter," Shared Whispers, Champagne Books, September, 2013
"Search & Rescue" Secret Cravings Publishing, July, 2013
"Her Teddy Bare" Carnal Passions, May, 2013
"The Aegis" Champagne Books, April, 2013

"Into the Lyons' Den" Champagne Books, August, 2012
"His Desire" Siren BookStrand, May, 2012
"His Obsession" Siren BookStrand, April, 2012


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Let us know if sales are up for the full-lengthed book.

If I were to read the "cliff noted" book, I'd be less inclined to buy it, however, I'm the one who didn't read the short versions/condensed of the Readers Digest books in defference to the authors.

This will get your name out there. So hope it works.

Rita Bay said...

Oops, I must not have been clear. The free story is a full standalone short story that will never be published. My published stories have a blurb in the Table of Contents and a full first chapter. I agree that an abbreviated published story is not the way to go -- besides being copyright and contract issues. Rita

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Sorry I misundestood. The "See, I can write story" is a good idea.

Gabriella said...

Rita, this is an interesting idea, I hope it works. I look forward to reading the report.