Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Amusing Antidotes to Back Up What Smashwords Says

Usually you want the quantoid evidence to back up your anecdotal evidence – but in this case, you get the reverse.

Quantoids, of course, were pretty much blowed up by Smashwords’ 2014 survey showing, among other things, that readers want longer ebooks, ebooks that are part of a series, and aren’t necessarily as enamored with free ebooks as they were in the past.

Now thanks to the retroactive abilities of the Internet, we have some anecdotal information to back up in part what the Smashwords survey says.

Read this posting at the BookBubBulletin (will the Internet’s hatred of spaces never cease?) concerning major publishers giving ebooks away for free (emphasis mine):

Last year, Doubleday Publishing decided to give away Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code, for free for one week. The ebook freebie ran on the 10-year anniversary of The Da Vinci Code, and a few weeks before the release of Brown’s new book, Inferno.

Why did Doubleday give away a national bestselling ebook that usually retails for $9.99? The promotion was very deliberate, with the goal of hooking new readers on Brown’s thrillers and drumming up interest for Inferno. In fact, the ebook included the prologue and first chapter of Inferno.

"The move is part celebration and part marketing experiment," reported The New York Times at the time. “Doubleday is betting that any loss of sales of Da Vinci, which has outlived its golden goose days, will be offset by the fire it will light under the new book.”

In fact, publishers and authors are finding more and more reasons to discount ebooks. In the case of Dan Brown, it was to promote a new release. Others have used flash sales to build a new author’s following or get readers hooked on a series.

“It makes it almost irresistible,” Liz Perl, Simon & Schuster’s senior vice president explained to the The New York Times. “We’re lowering the bar for you to sample somebody new.”

Go back and read the Smashwords survey and you’ll see Doubleday is hitting every hot button the survey revealed.

So what does this tell me as an as-yet unpublished author, one without a following of any sort?
Well, write a series, for one. But barring that, when a new book comes out, offer a discount – or a giveaway – on a previous title to drum up additional interest. People are always on the lookout for new authors, and a bargain. I’ll just file this in my marketing quiver for the future.

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