Reviews, Awards, and Other Elusive Critters
This last week has been really somethin'!
Caroline Clemmons and I found out that our duet, Mail-Order Tangle, had received a 5-star review (thank you, Sorrel!) so was in the running for Long and Short Review's Book of the Month. We were already happy as two puppies in a rawhide chewy store because of the great review, so this was just the cherry on top.
Our readers and friends rallied and yes...
Mail-Order Tangle did win!
Needless to say, we've been doing the happy dance since we found out about the win this morning, and we're ever so thankful to the Prairie Roses, Western Fictioneers, members of the Pickle Barrel Bar and Books, Ann Charles' Purple Door Saloon, the Western Historical Romance Book Club, Pioneer Hearts, The Authors' Billboard, and Easychair Bookshop, as well as the beta readers and all readers who've supported us through this entire endeavor. Also, Claudia Stephan of the Books, Readers, Authors, Reviews and Events page posted several times.
So how about winning LASR Book of the Month? Sales rose during the vote trolling, but fell quite a bit after we won the award. That seems a bit wacko to me but that's the way of it. (Disclaimer: I haven't checked the ranking since Thursday.) Yes, we've tweeted and FB'd after the fact as well. So was haranguing our friends worth it? The jury is out. But now Mail-Order Tangle is an award-winning book, and we can use that to butter our way to better advertising. Plus, we get a month of free advertising at LASR. Free advertising is always good.
Authors are always asking about what's worth doing and what's merely a time suck that we think we have to do (I'm looking at you, Twitter). Truth is, you just don't know until you give it a whirl. I've had Much Ado About Miners (Hearts of Owyhee #3) on a blog tour all month. One or two blogs post the book's promo every single day for 28 days. Those blog posts are tweeted, G+'d, Facebooked, Tsu'd... you name it. I'm sure everyone is getting sick of seeing the cover by now. Has it helped sales? No--that book lost ranking this month. The other books are doing better for some reason. Maybe "miners" just doesn't sound romantic. I have no idea.
Also, even though several blog owners said the book would be reviewed, only one has, and that review isn't exactly usable (3.5 whatevers). She obviously skimmed the book really quickly because everything with which she had difficulties is there. Still, 3.5 isn't terrible and it does add to the necessary pile of reviews that we need so badly, and I'm grateful her for taking the time to write it. After all, these book bloggers love books and they do these reviews out of the goodness of their hearts.
About the money: I spent $40 on the blog tour. That's not much and I'm not getting much. It's not the blog tour host, either--she's done a great job. But I've talked to several friends who've bought tours with different companies, and they all report similar results. Many of the blogs cater to readers who simply aren't my audience, for one thing. And for another, blogs are definitely losing their marketing punch.
I've had a lot more response when Claudia's Book Talk selected Much Ado About Mavericks for the February read. That has helped sales. The huge difference is that even though the book group is a smaller audience, they're an extremely targeted audience. Every single one of them loves books every bit as much as we do. We write 'em--they read 'em. (Although there are several authors there, too, including me.)
Paid advertising has helped my books every single time. I haven't had a BookBub ad yet, but Book Gorilla, Ereader News Today, Kindle Nation Daily, and others do help give you a spike in sales. Used in combination with other venues and they're even more effective.
Speaking of other venues, Kathleen Rice Adams and I belong to a group that uses Pinterest boards to hold their sales. I'm really curious as to whether we can build on this, and maybe use it for westerns. There are a lot of horse lovers on Pinterest, that's for sure. That group is also looking to build its newsletter because nearly every successful advertiser (can you spell BookBub?) a huge subscriber base, which translates into sales.
And IMHO, that's what we Roses, and all western writers need--an easy to create newsletter with free and bargain books and a big honkin' subscriber list. I'm talking thousands. Five figures. Six figures. A million! Yes, we can do it.
What do you think? What is the best way to raise the appreciation level for westerns, both traditional and romance? Let's talk!
I'll give a digital copy of Much Ado About Miners to a commenter.
Much Ado About Mustangs