Yesterday, K.S. Brooks gave you her take on our creative collaboration in developing our latest book, Triple Dog Dare (available at Amazon US and Amazon UK). A couple of weeks ago, my article focused on the general concepts of creative collaboration. Being able to produce a book as part of a team is a pretty neat thing, but the creating is not necessarily where the collaboration ends. You can (and should) also work together to market the book you co-created.
Marketing is an enigma for most of us. It’s not that there aren’t a lot of opportunities out there, it’s just that we don’t always know the best ways to expend our limited energies and capital. Anecdotal evidence of some author’s success with a particular venue or strategy may be interesting, but your mileage may vary.
Having two people working on marketing doesn’t mean you’ll be any less lost, but at least you’ll have someone with whom to commiserate. Fortunately, I can draw on my experience as a carnival barker, and Brooks has a deep background in strategic thinking from her days as a Mossad assassin. Just kidding. I wasn’t really a carnival barker. That’s just something I say to impress people.
There are several areas of post-publication marketing to consider in collaboration:
In order to develop a strategy for the finished product, I think it is important that you and your collaborators have the same vision of the product. This is one of the things Brooks and I found a little eye-opening. When we finished Triple Dog Dare, we saw it as a light romance with some comic relief. The feedback we got from the beta and ARC readers was quite different. The majority of them thought it was hilarious. Rather than going back and ramping up the romance to balance it out, we decided to go with classifying the book as chick lit/humor. We were on the same page, but it could have been kind of a big deal if we disagreed and one of us wanted a re-write and the other didn’t.
Once you know what you have, you need to figure out what to do to best position it. We want some blogger reviews, we want reviews by some Amazon top 100 reviewers, we want to expend advertising dollars in a way that will yield the best return on our investment. Knowing the genre label that best fits the book will help us decide on where and how to roll it out.
One of the things Brooks and I discussed was participation in the KDP Select program. I have always had reservations about the exclusivity requirement of the program. It was one thing when the free downloads helped boost a book’s ranking in the Amazon search algorhythm. It doesn’t do that anymore. Most authors also report the post-free bounce is significantly diminished or completely gone. In the end, the only real appeal of KDP select as far as I can see, is that you can use your free days to get the book out to people who might review it without having to pay for it yourself. This is one area in which Smashwords is superior to Amazon.
Venue Research and Selection
With more than one person to research potential venues, we have been able to cover ground more quickly to find the right places to promo the book.Thanks to Martin Crosbie, we have access to a list of book promo sites. It is a HUGE help not to have to look for all these yourself. It’s just a matter of checking out each site, looking at their submission guidelines and costs, and deciding which venues are right for your book.
Division of Labor
There is still plenty of promo work to do. Decisions have to be made about how the work is going to be split up. Who will submit to which sites, who will contact which book bloggers, etc. A spreadsheet is helpful for something like this. You can not only track who is doing what, but when and what the results were.
Dividing up the labor doesn’t reduce the amount of promo work. It simply allows more to get done over a shorter period. That’s helpful if you want to try to build some buzz early on.
Sharing of Cost
I suppose there are a lot of ways to share out the costs of promotion. The collaborators can alternate who pays, or one party can front the cost and subtract the other partner’s share of the cost from any royalties. However you decide to do it – keep track.
Collaboration has a lot of advantages when it works. If you are interested in collaborating with another writer, you have to work with someone you trust and whose style and skills are complementary to yours. You have to be open and flexible and adaptable.
I am glad Kat and I have that kind of relationship. It has allowed us both to push our own creative envelopes in ways we would not have otherwise.
If you have the right partner, you develop a real synergy, and it’s fun. If you have the wrong partner or the wrong attitude, it will be a difficult and frustrating process.