book promotion, book reviews, publishing

Strategy update

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I’ve been busy. Still am, but starting to see the end of the tunnel as regards my marketing strategy. The first tunnel anyway – there are lots more to come. Here’s what I’ve done so far.

Using Draft2Digital, I’ve made One Green Bottle free on Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. It was up there already but shifting no copies, so it’s not much of a change. Now I need to write to Amazon to ask them to match that price, i.e. have it permafree. They’re under no obligation to do that, so I don’t know how they’ll respond. But they’re well aware that many authors do this as part of their marketing.

I’ve written Making a Murder, six essays about the writing of One Green Bottle, which I’m offering free to anyone who signs up to my newsletter. The offer is at the front and back of One Green Bottle, so anyone downloading it has an incentive to sign up and I get their email address, which obviously I can’t get directly from Amazon. I don’t know if Making a Murder will appeal – it’s not fiction, and the essays are humorous, so it’s a gamble. It would probably be better to stay in the same genre, which is what I intended, but my novella, which was to serve that purpose, needs more work.

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to my mailing list. I had around 700 subscribers after doing a joint promotion and a giveaway (many more from the first than the second) and I then sent different messages according to whether they opened my first email or not. I offered Perfume Island free, prior to its release in November, and removed over 200 subscribers who didn’t open that email. Of those that did, 112 signed up to receive the book.

That’s a lot of giving away of two books that have taken me five years to complete. Not so long ago I’d have thrown up my arms in horror at the very idea. Now? I’m quite relaxed – 112 reading the sequel is 3 or 4 times more than read the first. Not all will like it and of those that do, only a few will write reviews, but I’m still at a stage when I need to reach out to those few.

The worst part of all this work? Converting Making a Murder to epub and mobi formats, which I have to do if I’m sending it out myself. Converting a text is fine – Calibre handles that easily. But getting a text with pictures just right is a challenge. Or a nightmare, depending on your mood.

From time to time, I step out of my marketing bubble and see that the world continues to turn and hurricanes to blow. I’m working on a third book in the series, which I hope to bring out before the Apocalypse.



16 thoughts on “Strategy update

    • I was upfront in my message – this is my marketing strategy and we’ll both be winners in the longer term. Though they might reasonably have doubts about that, they replied saying they’re matching the price. For how long, I don’t know.


  1. mimispeike says:

    Curtis, do you participate in/promote directly to mystery reader/writer groups? I know romance has an enthusiastic following, mystery must also.

    Once you have a series, and a name, you may live forever. Several times a year one or another of our publisher clients reprints a few of Margaret Truman’s mysteries. I should read one, to see what she served up.

    I’m going to print one out tonight, and bring it home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m in a FB mystery group but a sleeping member so far. Need to wake up and show myself perhaps. My suspicion is there are more writers than readers in it. Goodreads is probably a better bet, but it requires a lot of connecting and participation – never any direct promotion.


      • mimispeike says:

        I’m not thinking of Facebook. There are groups, Romance Writers of America, etc. They hold conventions. Competitions. All good publicity. Where I’d go with my cat I couldn’t tell you. But a mystery series, that’s more obvious.

        You’re right. FB seems to have more writers than readers. They all promote there, and I haven’t seen a book put up yet that has piqued my interest.

        I see a lot of romance advertised, and that is certainly not my thing, unless it’s Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, right – there’s the Mystery Writers of America, yes. $115 a year membership fee – not excessive, but not yet a priority for me. Maybe you could start a Cat Fiction group – moderated by Sly, of course.


      • mimispeike says:

        Yes, participation is exhausting. And I believe in taking it to the streets, reaching (trying to) a wider audience. I’ll man my website, ready to talk, but my core strategy is … those bumper stickers. Mailers, flyers. All that old-fashion stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. atthysgage says:

    Curtis. Sorry I’ve been so MIA of late. I’m glad to see you’re actively pursuing a strategy for promotion. It’s more than I can say for me. My experience with Amazon is that once they match your free price point, they just leave it there. It took some nagging to get them to do it, but it’s stuck.

    I think the book of essays is a nice offer. I look forward to reading it. Also, still waiting to write a review of Perfume Island.

    On another note, how do you transform a subscriber list on Word Press into an email list? I have, reportedly, over 1,500 subscribers to my blog and not a clue as to what to do with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No problem, Atthys, I know your time and energy are squeezed a bit thin these days. I’d be delighted to send you the essays. I enjoyed writing them but I wonder a bit about their appropriateness as a reader magnet. As for Perfume Island, my umpteenth – but last – publication postponement is to 15th November. So I’ll be sending out reminders before then, and your review will be greatly valued.
      Re the email list, the only way is to offer them an incentive to sign up, which is why so many authors give a first book away free. WP followers are fickle and irregular, so without their email addresses, we have no real handle on their involvement. I’m treading very carefully with my newsletter subscribers, having a dreadful fear of appearing spammy. A fair few have unsubscribed – a couple after requesting a free copy of Perfume Island – but overall I get the impression I’m gaining followers. Perhaps we could gather a text or two from each of us and put together a free offer?


      • atthysgage says:

        Oh, I have the email address. I suppose technically, that is an email list, but WordPress doesn’t seem to offer a way of doing a mass mailing. I don’t want to appear Spammy either, but I wouldn’t mind eventually reaching out to these people em masse, just to see if a few of them might be interested. Right now, it’s just a huge unwieldy list of usernames and email addresses.

        The idea of a group offer of some sort might be interesting. So far, the few times I’ve tried mailing any of them (and it was a long time ago), I just laboriously dragged names into my email cc box and sent them out. No one responded. That’s probably what would happen this time too, but I was wondering if I was doing something fundamentally wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re right – I’d quite forgotten that we get email addresses in WP notifications. You’re probably not doing anything fundamentally wrong, but it’s true that someone who follows or likes a blog hasn’t actually signed up for a newsletter, so they might consider it a bit spammy to receive an unsolicited email. And since it’s not a newsletter, they can’t unsubscribe so we don’t know whether they’re happy to receive it or not. I would suggest opening up an account with Mailchimp, say, (free up to 2000 subscribers), then sending an email with a free offer, such as a short story, they have to sign up to receive. And they can of course unsubscribe any time.


  3. mimispeike says:

    Curtis, are you perhaps thinking of going to a once a week blot post? I think it is a good idea, considering the level of activity these days.

    But, here’s a bright note: yesterday and today I have had email notifications of likes on two different past posts from two names I don’t remember seeing before. New people are finding their way here. Now we only have to get them to talk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually had some removal to do, so it slipped my mind – sorry! But I think you’re right, a post each Monday would be enough. I think we could also add a resources page with links to other useful sites.


  4. mimispeike says:

    Just checked my email. Three days, three new names:

    edgeprop SG liked ‘On Websites and Social Media

    authorinspirations liked ‘The Wonderful World of Susannah Clarke

    reocochran liked ‘The Yellow Kid Rides Again

    I have seen GD boosting us on Facebook. He does it regularly. Oh, GD. We hope you are not in too bad trouble. I think about you every day.


  5. mimispeike says:

    Hey! Here’s another new name, just popped up in my email:

    mteodora liked ‘Our August Challenge: Trompe L’oeil’ and also liked ‘The Five Stages of Grief’.

    Something’s going on. Our existence is being noted.

    I often post my articles from here on Facebook, but a copy and paste, not a link. As of this morning I announce, directly under the headline: Find this piece and others on

    I think that folks over there are sick to death of book promos (scads and scads of those). And photos of your birthday cake. (Yes, even in the ‘Book Taverna’ or whatever the name of it is.)

    Liked by 1 person

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