Daddy's Christmas Angel

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Corner Cafe--A Perfect Place to Meet for a Blog Book Tour

Dani Greer
Dani Greer
I first met Dani Greer when I took her Blog Book Tour Class two summers ago. I met Bodie Parkhurst, a gifted student in her class, during that very intense month of learning. The Corner Cafe is a book of short stories created by some of the students who have taken Dani's BBT classes. It is an experiment in marketing that both Dani and Bodie have had a major part in creating.

I was going to ask Dani Greer (founder of the Blog Book Tour Café) to share a little of the background that resulted in The Corner Café. Unfortunately, Dani lives in Colorado in an area very much impacted by the fires.  Do you know some of that background, Bodie? This book took quite a bit of organizing, I'm sure.

Bodie Parkhurst
I wasn't privy to all of the in's and out's, but here are a couple of the highlights:
Pulling together a project like this was a bit like getting together a group of people who all speak different languages, to produce a book in a language only some of the group speaks. Complexities arose in a couple of areas.
1. Getting everybody's files to "talk" to each other. We're all independent writers, and we work on different platforms, in different programs, and in different ways. Just getting files to open properly was the first hurdle. And then, of course, the files had to be prepared for Kindle. That's not as straightforward as it looks, or sounds. Creating a Kindle file from "scratch" is one thing; taking a file that many someone else's (most of whom are completely new to Kindle requirements) created and converting them for Kindle is something else again. And Dani did it.
2. The second issue was less about technology than it was a simple fact of the writing life--when we saw our stories prepared for Kindle, we saw them with new eyes, and spotted all sorts of things we wanted to change (probably not all of us, but enough of us to make it necessary for Dani to Lay Down The Law about what sorts of edits could be made (typos and grammatical goobers) and what couldn't. I design books for a living, so I wasn't terribly surprised. Part of writing a book is knowing that at some point you have to let it go--and you'll always find things you'll wish you'd done differently. 

Bodie, I've noticed that you've been putting each of your other books on Amazon as free books for a day or two during this Blog Book Tour. Have you seen your sales numbers climb during this period (if you want to share this information)? As a writer, how have you benefitted from publication of The Corner Café?

I'm a comparatively unknown author--I sell less than $1,000 of books a year--so as far as I'm concerned anything that helps me build an audience is a help. As for my sales, they've not increased drastically, but I'm seeing a lot of downloads on my free days, and I suspect part of that's from "The Corner Cafe's" tour--certainly on the days when I get mentioned in the posts I see a jump in the free downloads. I'm also seeing people taking chances on some of my books that have seen virtually no sales to date--one of my noviels, Redeeming Stanley, tends to jog alone at about 2-3 books a week in Kindle sales. Until we started the marketing and I started doing the free download days my other books virtually NEVER sold. I'm seeing them beginning to move, very, very, slowly. I'm sure that "The Corner Cafe" has helped because it's gotten my writing into a lot more people's hands. My job is to make sure that the writing's good enough to earn reader loyalty.
As I mentioned, sales have very slightly increased, but since I've been running "free download" days it's hardly surprising that they're slow. I HAVE been getting some pretty hefty download numbers--there have been over 1,000 downloads of my books so far--Redeeming Stanley's by far the most popular (that one's heading for 800 downloads, and it's climbed in the rankings considerably), with the second most popular being "Good on Paper." "Benchmarks," (the memoir) is hardly moving at all--less than 100 downloads. So I would say that the book tour helps, but it's not a magic bullet.

Do you think some readers have more interest in an anthology featuring a variety of authors than they do in books by individual authors? Do you believe readers like to sample writing, then buy other works later on by that same author?
Interesting question. I tend to steer away from anthologies, myself, and a publisher friend of mine says they tend to be a hard sell in the industry. However, I think that writing for anthologies can be a good sales tool, particularly for unknown writers (like me). It gives us a chance to be sampled, when readers might never pick up one of our books as a stand-alone offering. So I guess my answer's "yes," I think that a Kindle sampler like this can be a great way to dip your toe into a lot of writers' ponds, and see where the water suits.

Bodie, would you recommend a group anthology as a selling tool for writers?
I'd say "yes," as long as the writer realizes that they are participating primarily for exposure and the value of joint marketing. I think that's really the key--a book only sells as well as it's marketed. A project like this that involves a lot of writers, many of whom have active blogs, means that we can all benefit from everybody else's marketing efforts. We expand our marketing reach far beyond what we might otherwise be able to do. Unless there's a coordinated marketing plan in place, though, sales are going to be unpredictable.

If you had the Blog Book Tour to start over again, what, if anything, would you change? What have you learned from this project?
I think I'd try to develop my own marketing more, to dovetail more efficiently with the blog book tour. I followed the tour and commented, and I posted tour stops several times on my blog, and of course I hosted, but I could have maximized the shared exposure better to promote both "The Corner Cafe" and my own books. The challenge, of course, is to post interesting, focused pieces without competing with the main tour. I've participated in a few tours now, and each time I get a little better. 

Thank you, Bodie, for filling us in on background details to help us understand the process that resulted in The Corner Cafe.
Our heartfelt wishes go out to Dani Greer and all the others facing troubling times and great hardship in Colorado.

The Corner Cafe is available now for $.99 from Amazon. All proceeds from this project go to charity.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

All of you worked hard to make the book happen!

Marian Allen said...

Bodie, great post, and even better with its being a fill-in! We're all so proud of Dani for the work she's doing for the evacuees and the threatened.

AND she and Helen Ginger and Bob Sanchez and you did a fantastic job putting the anthology together in record time! Your cover is perfect. :)

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Alex, for visiting. They really were amazing to pull the book together so quickly.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Marian, thanks for commenting. All of you did an amazing job.

Bodie, thank you for making this post happen and for sharing in your own special, magical way!!!

Red Tash said...

It definitely is a challenge deciding what to post and how to tie-in, isn't it? So much going on, and the whole month of June was crammed full of authorly friends doing things.

As far as sales go, every author I know says the Summer Slump is a real thing. We know this from practical experience, we just *know* the end of the year is book-buying season, leading into Christmas, but it's difficult to parse expectations in relation to outcome when you're doing effectively the same amount of lifting to promote a book, on a team, no less, and just not seeing the same results.

But, we SAW results, you're seeing results, so it's better than nothing, right? Learning as we go. And the antho and blog tour are *forever*.

I'm so glad we got to know one another better. All of us, but Bodie's review of Troll Or Derby really was a tremendous gift during my book launch, as it gave me several wonderful quotes to tweet and has been voted "helpful" several times on Amazon.

I enjoy the BBTCafe, but the connections made because of this anthology have been very valuable to me, rooting certain people in my mind for stronger relationships down the road!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thank you, Red Tash, for some very insightful comments. I hadn't thought about the summer slump until recently. I know fall and Christmas are book-buying season.

Maryannwrites said...

I had no idea that dealing with the different files was such a considerable challenge, but then, I always had trouble getting my kids to talk to each other. LOL

Bodie, I am shocked that your memoir has not been read by more people. I downloaded it when it was free and loved it. I plan to write a review as soon as I can get other priority writing projects completed. It is a wonderful book.

silfert said...

This whole experience has been one new thing after another for me, so any results are good, in my opinion. ;) Thank you for the behind-the-scenes peek!