Last year, Bantam Dell Publishing Group’s director of Internet marketing Ken Wohlrob was facing an interesting challenge. Could the same new media efforts that had been previously leveraged by independent authors work for an established author? And how would it work when the test was for the print release of the third book in a series?
Ken was no stranger to the methods used by independent authors. In 2007, he released several versions of his collection of short stories, The Love Book, including a “podcast novel” or serialized audiobook format. And yes, it’s available right here on Podiobooks.com. And Ken kept a close watch on other authors in the space, taking notice of how new media success translated into real hard book sales.
His new challenge: use new media to boost the sale of Karen Marie Moning’s Faefever, the third book in her popular Fever series. Instead of podcasting Faefever, Ken had a light-bulb moment: podcast the first book in the series, Darkfever. Ken discusses his logic In an interview with Book Business:
Since we were doing the first book in the series, we didn’t see it having any negative impact on the new book coming out. We had the new mass-market [paperback of “Bloodfever”] coming out at the end of August, followed a few weeks later by the hardcover [of “Faefever”]. Starting in the beginning of August, we started podcasting “Darkfever,” which led into the mass-market [release of “Bloodfever”]. … We thought, “Let’s use this to snowball into the new hardcover [release].”
And snowball it did. Listeners responded to the professionally produced audio. But this was during the heyday of books like Twilight. Would listeners of the free serialized version of the first book take the desired action and purchase the print copy of the third book in the series?
The hardcover [of "Faefever"] debuted at No. 3. That’s the highest this author has gotten on The New York Times Best-seller List. The obvious benefit is that we had 60,000 podcast downloads. You can keep it up as long as you want. We had 155,000 of the excerpts [of “Faefever”] downloaded. That’s something else that is still [online]. We’re still generating fans. That’s the benefits of doing these online promotions. They can take off on their own. We did see a really, really nice climb in book sales. It did exactly what it was supposed to do. We took an author that had been established pretty well, brought in new fans, and increased sales above the previous hardcover [in the series]. … What we saw was that sales were great for the book and still are. …
That’s a pretty compelling piece of evidence in support of the theory. I hope other right-thinking publisher and authors utilize a similar thinking. And I know they’ll see similar fantastic results.