Back in December of last year (when I wasn’t suffering from heat exhaustion), I was working on developing new ideas for marketing pre-orders as my novel, Searching for Gertrude, was on pre-order at the time. I came up with – or perhaps stole is the right word – the idea of giving away my previous historical fiction novel, Buried Appearances, to readers who purchased a pre-order of my new release. (To find out more, read the blog post here.) I promised to let everyone know how the idea worked. It’s taken me a while, but here’s my follow up.
The reason months have passed since the release of Searching for Gertrude and my writing this blog post follow-up is that I simply wasn’t sure what went wrong. Now that I’m busy marketing the pre-order of my new novel, Finders, Not Keepers, I have a much better idea of how I screwed up. Yes, screwed up. The pre-order numbers for Searching for Gertrude were abysmal. I was extremely disappointed as I spent a lot of time researching this novel. I am obnoxiously proud of this book. Personally, I think it’s my best writing. So, what went wrong?
- Different genre: There is a reason marketing gurus urge writers to stick with one genre. Genre hopping is extremely difficult. If you’ve built up any type of readership, readers will expect your novels to be in the same genre. I thought – stupidly, it turns out – that since I wrote mysteries and romantic comedies, this didn’t apply to me. Wrong. Just wrong.
- Fewer reviews: Unfortunately, many of my reviewers were uninterested in reviewing Searching for Gertrude as it wasn’t a mystery novel. This left me with a lot less reviews and everyone knows what that means – less sales.
- Less time to market: If I’m completely honest with myself, I just didn’t have the time to put into marketing the novel. I made the somewhat stupid mistake of agreeing to serve on the board of directors of a non-profit for a year. I thought I could handle it. I thought it wouldn’t be that big of a commitment. I thought the president wouldn’t up and leave mid-term, leaving me to serve as vice-president and president. Turns out I am not superwoman (major bummer) and I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to. Marketing took last place on my to-do list and we all know you never get to the items on the bottom of your to-do list.
As you can see from above, I don’t criticize the actual marketing idea of giving away a novel to get readers to pre-order Searching for Gertrude. That’s because I think it’s obvious that the issues with getting more pre-orders and sales of the novel have little to do with the marketing technique and more to do with the above reasons.
Next week I’ll talk about pre-orders for my upcoming novel Finders, Not Keepers and how successful (or not!) marketing for the pre-order has been with my latest novel.