Just had a great phone call with Joe Bunting, one of the founders of Story Cartel.
There was a flaw in my experiment, and it wasn’t until we were chatting that I realized it. Rather than telling you right away, I’ll make it into a long story because that’s what I do.
Last week, Joe emailed his regrets that Story Cartel hadn’t worked out for me, and asked if I’d have time for a phone call to chat about my experiment. As I mentioned in my response, he and Jeff Goins‘ reputations were one reason I opted to try Story Cartel. They’re a couple of guys who genuinely care about other writers and their readers. They’re not about making a quick buck, and that’s driven home by the fact that Joe took the time to ask me some good questions and really listen to the answers.
Still learning little bits from the Story Cartel experiment: two new 5-star reviews — both from people in my own network, not Story Cartel. And their explanation of the “every download is an entry” is that making folks write a review is the legal equivalent of making them buy something to enter a sweepstakes, which isn’t legal in the US. I make no comment. Yet.
You deserve more of this wild entertainment, watching me flail my way through some forms of marketing I’ve never done. After reading a great article by Catherine Ryan Howard, who does not post nearly often enough Cath are you listening? I’ve chose Goodreads as my next skydive.
Best Beloved and I will research what’s involved in doing a Goodreads giveaway (hopefully in more detail than I “researched” Story Cartel’s process) and report what we do and how it works.
What do you know about Goodreads or giveaways? What would youliketo know?
Stop the presses and hold everything. Fellow writer Libi Astaire pointed out a line in the drawing rules I’d missed:
Every reader who downloads a book gets one entry.
They are rewarded for downloading your book, whether or not they have any intent on reading it, any interest whatsoever.
This violates my primary principle of free: it is not a price, it is a strategy.
“Here, download this” is not a strategy.
The founders of Story Cartel are authors. And they may be good at marketing their service. But they have a long way to go to be good at marketing our books for us.
Your genre or network may deliver completely different outcomes, so this isn’t a sweeping condemnation of the tool. It does what it claims to do. My book was exposed to a wider audience, and I got reviews. It just didn’t add enough value to offset the cost.
During the experiment, I got two 4-star reviews from Story Cartel readers. In the same time period I got two 4-star reviewsplus one 5-star reviewfrom my own network.
Some folks responded to my email to the 23 addresses Story Cartel provided. At least a dozen, more than half, didn’t participate in any manner beyond downloading the book. No review, no response to my two emails, nothing.
One old friend tried to download, couldn’t sort it out, and bought a print version instead. There’s a sale which may have been triggered by Story Cartel, but was consummated because he’s been a friend for 20 years. (I offered him a free copy, but he graciously wanted to reward me for my effort.)
The free downloads closed last week, with a total of 23 copies downloaded.
9 of those happened before I even started promoting it. These are clearly Story Cartel regulars who grabbed the book. One of them left a 4-star review of A Long, Hard Look so that’s super.
During the time it was free 14 more people downloaded it. I recognize 6 of the names from my newsletter or other places.
What’s not clear, or even possible to know without asking, is whether the other 8 downloads were the direct result of our promotion, or just more Story Cartel regulars who would have downloaded anyway.
Last week I shared some details about setting up my promotion at Story Cartel. I’d like us all to see what an author gets for a $25 investment (which, if I recall correctly, includes Story Cartel giving copies to the winners of a drawing, meaning the author doesn’t shell out on the back end, only the front end. I’ll confirm this detail for you by the end of this series.)
Today, the details of the promotion itself: the messages we used, how often we used them, and the response we’ve gotten.
Here are the messages we used. Twitter has its 140-character limit, so I wrote 3 short ones to fit that, and when I realized one of them was perfect for longer-format networks as well, only wrote 1 more long one. Twitter benefits from more frequent posting, which is why we created more short messages than long. Continue reading “Story Cartel Promotion Process Details”
Update on my Story Cartel launch. My goal is to share every detail I can so you can see what would work for you.
Last Monday we sent out a special edition of the newsletter, and posted the same content here at the blog. We had launched the download at Story Cartel on Friday so we’d have the page’s URL for the post and newsletter.
By Monday morning, 9 Story Cartel members had already downloaded the book. This was before the newsletter and post went live.
The day of our launch, 9 more people downloaded the book; 6 of them newsletter subscribers. (One of the earlier downloaders is also a fan who follows everything I do closely, but I’m still pleased they discovered my launch on their own.)