Here’s the post you’ve been waiting for – the one I promised. My take on how the Summer Fire collection made it to the New York Times list.
It’s complicatingly simple. We worked our fannies off !! Maybe not everyone all of the time. But we all kicked in some of the time. And with 20 authors making the effort, it worked. We hit #13 and I’m still a foot off the ground.
This is what you need:
An organizer – who is not only savvy about organising, but someone with a lot of energy and… who is willing to take on the bulk of the work. No matter how much you believe that everyone will pitch in and help, most of the group are only willing to do so much. They want to be led, told what to do, how and when. If you have a vision of how everything should work, you better be willing to either take charge yourself because you have experience or join with someone who has done this before and knows the ropes.
Decisions – should be made by the person in charge as to how many people they want to have as a part of the group. What type of a collection it will be – full-length books versus novellas or even short stories – and which genre. And…another important option is whether all the books should be brand new or already published work.
The choice of authors – made a huge difference. I have no doubt we were chosen because of either being a titled author (USA Today, New York Times or Amazon Best-seller), someone with great sales or a social media buff who had a huge following on Facebook, Twitter and a street team they could bring into play. How did the organizers find these professionals? Most of us were invited by another already recruited. For instance - I was invited by one of the brides who I work with in those collections. And I’m sure the others have a similar story – it’s a bit of who you know!!
The budget – whoever is in charge needs to have a realistic budget planned in advance according to their marketing plan. Make a list of all the promos, marketing and costly ads you want to put into play and then make sure the others are willing to spend their share – both as a payment into the promo pot and the individual expenses expected from them for giveaways, Facebook ads etc.
The cover - was important. It needed to show the readers what they could expect on the inside – the flavor of the books – and Summer Fire’s cover did just that. Most of the stories are explicitly sexual and it was certainly obvious when one looked at the naked chest of the male body on the front and the words “Love when it’s Hot!” printed on the side. If a few of the people in the group can make/organise a couple of covers – it’s best to hold a poll and get it decided quickly. Covers can be a huge argument if it isn’t nipped in the bud with majority rules.
The tittle – again you need to get everyone offering suggestions and then take the best five and do a poll. Otherwise, this type of differing can go on for far too long and create a deluge of unnecessary e-mails – and trust me on this – the authors start zoning out if they get overloaded in this way. What comes first the cover or the title? We did the cover first and then the title (I think?)
Publishing plans – need to be decided on – the release date and whether the book will be self-published by someone in the group, say on a multi venue such as Draft 2 Digital, or will you go with an organiser like Indie Writes who looks after all the formatting and does the publishing for you – and takes 15% off the top. There is a lot of work involved in the formatting area so you want to make an informed decision.
Pre-orders – are now a big deal whereas not too long ago, they didn’t exist for the lowly Indie authors. But because it makes a difference to sales and that’s really what this whole effort is about, it’s best to decide when the book should go out on pre-order, (keeping in mind that Amazon requires you to have the final submission published 10 days before the release).
Social media campaigns – are hugely important and it’s where the bulk of the work comes in for the rest of the authors rather than just the chief. She needs to be able to rely on everyone kicking in at this point. That compelling cover needs to be seen by as many people as possible and multiple times so they finally make the decision to push the buy button. As you all know, there are so many ways to do this and I will cover all the ones we used in a later post. Needless to say, you need worker bees and this is where the chosen authors come into play.
Paid promotions – will make or break your chances of hitting the lists. It’s the area I consider that is the most important to benefit the collection. There are a huge number of places willing to take your money but they need to be set up in such a way as to keep the traction high on the final week. If you have someone who knows the owners of these promotional places and can set up your anthology before it’s even released on pre-order, then you have a shot at the number of sales it will take you to make it big. You cannot wait until you have the live links for the different venues (unless you put the book out on pre-order months in advance and then you may jeopardize the reader making the decision for not wanting to wait so long. Once she/he’s said no to it once, it’s easier for them to do so again.) This is where ‘who’ the authors are comes into play. Well-known names have a lot of fans who would be willing to wait to get a hold of their next book – of course that’s only if it’s never before released.)
Release day hype – is something that needs to be well-planned and worked toward with a kind of frenzy to get the pre-order buyers excited for their new collection and the potential buyers willing to jump on the same band wagon of those who already bought. A lot of giveaways will be made around this time.
Reviews – have been discussed so much it makes my head spin until I contemplate banging it against the nearest wall (except I’d be scared of the wall repair costs LOL). As to whether they’re important – what do you think? Of-freaking-course they’re important. Hugely so! That’s where I learned a big lesson while being a part of this collection. Again, I’ll share in another post. Just know that there are ways that authors can get the reviews where it costs you nothing.
**Okay - that’s it for now! I don’t want you getting keyboard marks on your foreheads when you doze off from reading such a long post. I promise to break down these different sections and give you all the details I can remember.