Giving it Away Free
Everyone loves free gifts and readers are no exception. It's not quite Christmas in July, but we're getting there! And if you have a book distributed through Smashwords, then you know that this month is the annual Summer/Winter Sale. It's a site-wide blowout sale where tens of thousands of books are on sale and millions more readers than usual come to the site to find and download them! If yours isn't already entered into the promo, I strongly advise you do that right now.
Go to Smashwords.com and log into your account, then go to https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos to enroll one or more of your titles. Your discount coupons will be generated for you. You can make your book free (100% off) for the rest of the month or just a limited time--that's what I'm doing, the "limited time only!" option.
To change the discount amount, just remove the book from the promo (prior to July 31st) by simply returning to this link and clicking the radio button on the far left for the "regular price" option. Then you can enroll it again at a new discount rate and a new coupon will be generated. Or just leave it at one discount rate for the rest of the month. Since soooo many readers are coming through the site this month, however, I really do advise you to avail yourself of this unmatched opportunity to get your book in front of all those eyeballs. When you give it away "free" with a coupon code during the promo, each such "free" sale is still a sale. My SciFi book has been rising on the "best seller" lists at Smashwords--not just in its SciFi category!--because I've been giving it away as much as I can. Those best seller ratings at Smashwords won't disappear once the book goes off promo (unlike with the KDP Select enrollment). Moving large numbers of books increases your sales rank and that, in turn, makes your book more visible to new paying customers.
Oh, and just in case you wondered, there are still those random users who either don't remember or don't know how to enter the coupon code to zero out the price--they pay money because at that point, they've already decided they want the book and they don't want to go away without it.
The Great American FREE Library System
In case you didn't hear already, Smashwords negotiated a deal a few months ago with Baker & Taylor to distribute eBooks to American libraries. Here's the original news release from Smashwords:
March 2, 2012 - Smashwords today announced a two-part distribution agreement with Baker & Taylor that will expand distribution of Smashwords ebooks to the Blio e-reading app and online store (reaches millions of devices) as well distribution to public libraries via Baker & Taylor's Access360 library platform. The Blio e-reading app comes pre-installed on millions of personal computers from major manufacturers. This is also our first full foray into the public library market. The Access360 platform was launched last year and is now being rolled out to several libraries. More at the Smashwords Blog.
If for some reason you don't want your books distributed to Baker & Taylor, you've got until Monday to opt out. I don't recommend opting out. We always give you at least 48 hours advance notice before activating your books at a new channel. Both Blio and Access360 are relatively new, so I would expect low sales at first. Remember, every incremental sale represents a sale you would not have earned otherwise.
And now, 3 months later, Mark's negotiated us another great library deal, though only available to the top sellers at Smashwords (so give your book away now and get that sales rank to go up!)
June 26, 2012 - Smashwords plans to sign a deal with Califa, a consortium of California libraries, to purchase the top 10,000 best-selling Smashwords ebooks. Califa is establishing their own ebook aggregation service to provide ebooks to participating member libraries. Library Journal caught wind of the planned deal (it was a surprise to see it leaked so soon), and reported it [on June 26th].
In preparation for this and other library initiatives, sometime in the next few weeks we'll add a new pricing option to Dashboard: Settings that will allow Smashwords authors and publishers set special pricing for libraries. In my flash survey last week completed by 150 of you (thanks!!), 24% of you said you'd offer your books for free to any library that wanted them, 32% of you said you'd offer libraries lower pricing than retailers, 29% of you said you'd price higher than retail, and 10% said you'd price the same.
To support your wishes, sometime in the next few weeks we'll create a new pricing option for you that will allow you to control the price at which libraries purchase your books. Once the Califa deal gets further along, I'll share more specifics.
I can hardly wait for all of this to start happening! Sadly, I was not one of the 150 selected to be surveyed (I wish I had been!) but I would have said I'd offer my books for free to libraries. Why not? I'm a big patron of the Great American Library System and use it as a sort of "try before you buy" method for finding good books I want to read again and again (versus those I struggle to finish). I love the no-risk method of borrowing a book from the library.
As an Author, I love that I get paid for that book but lots of people get to read it for free. No one has to steal or pirate it, I don't have to "sell" a bazillion with a coupon code to make it free, and anyone who likes the book is likely to buy their own copy from Smashwords. Well, they will if I put a link in there to do that and foreward-thinker that I am, I've already added links to the back matter of my book!
Work the System
Last but definitely not least is the June 29th announcement Mark shared for romance authors to get reviewed (and possibly selected for purchase) by ALA (American Library Association) members, which is basically all libraries across the USA.
June 29, 2012 - Review opportunity for romance novelists with forthcoming releases. Back in the dark ages of publishing (two or three years ago), most major magazines would not publish reviews of self-published titles. This is now changing with some of the more forward-looking magazines. Library Journal, the bible of book acquisitions for librarians (there are nearly 10,000 public libraries in the US), now considers self-published romance titles for review consideration. The reviews appear online-only in their "Xpress Reviews" section.
At the American Library Association conference in Anaheim last weekend, I met with Bette-Lee Fox, the managing editor in charge of romance reviews. She welcomes review inquiries from Smashwords romance authors, publishers and literary agents. She kindly shared their review criteria, which I will embellish here with my own recommendations I think you can apply to virtually any book review pitch.
Be sure to click through to the Smashwords >> Site Updates page to read the enumerated steps Ms. Fox provided to us. Mark's right, this is a great little checklist for soliciting reviews anywhere! It's also an amazing opportunity of access he's provided us Indie Authors, who otherwise, would have no access to the Great American Library System.
Next Monday will be a new entry in the Branding (for Indie Authors) series. We'll dive into Law 11: Fellowship. Given the Indie Author community is already pretty supportive, this one should be a piece of cake, right? ^)^