They Called Him Mad at the Academy, but the Promotion Will Live!

Brian Freeman from Cemetery Dance wants us to know that people called him crazy for giving away the e-book and audiobook of his novella The Painted Darkness before the paper edition is even available. I say that sort of insanity is a great idea. Freeman’s press release bears out his crazy wisdom:

So far we’ve:

* sold out a signed Limited Edition of 750 copies priced at $75 each in less than 24 hours — remember, this is for an unknown author, not a big name, and that was our fastest sell out since our special edition of The Passage by Justin Cronin

* sold more preorders for the $19.99 trade hardcover edition than we’ve sold for any book not written by Stephen King in our 22 years in business

* generated more sub-rights inquires than we’ve ever had for any title, including a New York publisher who wanted to know if they could take over publishing the hardcover (!)

* almost 2,200 people entered for a chance to win an advance review copy through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers, making it one of the most popular books in the history of the program

* has asked to make The Painted Darkness their “Free eBook of the Month” on the front page of their site for October, with a large marketing push to support the promotion

More than 10,000 readers downloaded the book for free during the first two weeks alone, and sales strongly back-up our decision to try this “crazy” idea to promote the book.  The free copies have generated more attention for The Painted Darkness than any traditional method of promoting the book could have — at least on our small press budget!  :)

I’ve cited a gaming company, Evil Hat, in its frequent freebie giveaways, and the stats they posted bear out the success of this sort of promotion.  Adding value to a product on the web is an inexpensive way to promote it. and both offer free downloads to first time subscribers and are doing quite well.  Baen’s e-ARCs are a boost to both sales and as a promotion.

While I do have an reflexive distaste for self-publishing hucksters who bash “traditional publishing”, there’s a lot of room for publishers to experiment, and in the current environment, standing still is not as safe as it once was.  What do you think of this promotion?

7 thoughts on “They Called Him Mad at the Academy, but the Promotion Will Live!

  1. Pingback: Undead ahead: Richelle Mead’s ‘Vampire Academy’ series for young adults is on Hollywood’s radar | Eclipse Twilight

  2. Louis

    I’ll be the first to admit I had never heard of this author before, but suddenly last month I saw his name and his book on every book forum I visit, and I visit a lot! People were discussing The Painted Darkness like it was some big new release from a major New York publisher, so of course I downloaded it, too.

    I’m glad I did. It was a good, solid read with a lot of depth. I would compare Freeman’s work to Stewart O’Nan or Peter Straub.

    All in all, I think this was a very smart move and will pay off big time for the author and the publisher!

  3. Theresa M. Moore

    That’s nonsense. We self-publishers do not bash trad publishers; rather, it’s the other way around. With good reason. There are many worthy authors out there NOT getting published at all, and they are waiting for the opportunity, but it’s the trad publishers that are passing them up. So the choice is to self-publish or remain in obscurity.

    As for his phenomenal success at this series, I’ve been publicizing and giving away freebies for years and it has not netted me any notice in the vampire genre. He must have a lot of friends to make it so for him.

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  5. David

    You seem to suggest that the increase in sales was the result of increased publicity.

    Do you think that there would be the same benefit if everyone was doing it and, therefore, an individual case wouldn’t generate so much attention?

    1. Rose Fox

      Well, if it becomes an accepted and not uncommon part of how a book is marketed, then any book for which it isn’t done would presumably suffer in the marketplace, just as books presently suffer when not advertised on public transit, given prominent placement in bookstores, etc.

  6. Pingback: WOWIO News » The Painted Darkness breaks all-time download record

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