Bella Andre is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Sullivans series. Originally a traditionally published author, she has become a self-publishing sensation after selling over 2.5 million copies of her books, and has been hailed as “one of the hottest digital writers in America” by The Washington Post. Her newest title, It Must Be Your Love, came out last week, debuting in the top 20 on Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list.
Bella has worked with BookBub over a half dozen times in the past year, and our subscribers have purchased tens of thousands of copies of her books during those price promotions. The author and expert marketer agreed to answer some of our questions about her latest projects, how she views publishing today, and what her promotion strategy entails.
BB: You come out with an impressive number of new titles each year. Have you found that regularly releasing new content is an effective marketing tool in itself? If so, why?
BA: First, thanks so much for asking me to be a guest on your blog! I’m a huge BookBub fan, as you know.
I’ve always believed the very best thing a writer can do is to keep writing, no matter what, through all the highs and the lows. Even if you’re number one on the charts today, the next book is always the most important thing. And if you’re still growing your career, the next book is how you’re going to build your reader-base — one great book at a time.
I really noticed how volume ramped way up for my contemporary romance series about the Sullivan family once I released the fifth book (If You Were Mine) in the series. I could see not only how the sales shot up across the board, but also how lots of people were suddenly talking about The Sullivans […] on Goodreads and Facebook and Twitter.
Originally, I planned for the series to be eight books long (the San Francisco Sullivans). But by book five it became clear that eight books wasn’t nearly long enough! I released the 11th book in my Sullivan series last week — It Must Be Your Love — and it’s about the Seattle branch of my Sullivan family.
With that said, I always like to add in that my natural writing speed is pretty quick, so this is how quickly I would be releasing books even if it didn’t make great publishing sense. I don’t think anyone should push themselves to write at a speed they’re not comfortable with!
BB: Can you tell us a bit about your writing and production schedule?
BA: I have released four books a year for the past couple of years. I work out a 12 month schedule that includes a timeline for drafting each book, getting it out to my beta readers, revising the book (I’m big on revisions), getting it to my copyeditor and proofreaders and formatters, making the cover, writing the book description, then uploading. In order to stick to that schedule, I have to write between 2,500-5,000 words a day. Again, that’s the daily word count that I’ve found works best for me where I can really sink into the story as I’m telling it and still be able to take care of running my publishing business. I hire a great copyeditor who does two passes through my book and five proofreaders for every book. I’m a big believer in the importance of running all of my books through this production cycle because I always want to fulfill the promise to my readers of giving them great books every single time.
BB: Marketing seems to play an important role in your publishing process. What has been the most challenging part of marketing your own books after leaving traditional publishing?
BA: Honestly, I love every part of running my own publishing business! I love working with the digital retailers on promotions. I love working with companies like BookBub to get the word out about limited-time sales. I love chatting with my readers on Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/email every day. And because I practice what I preach about how the next book is always the most important marketing you can do, I find that my regular release schedule means that there are always books to talk about, always fun contests and giveaways for my “Sullifans,” always new covers to reveal, excerpts to post for my Street Team, etc.
BB: Have you found price promotions to be an effective marketing strategy?
BA: Yes! I think limited-time price promotions (mine are often 24 hours) are a fabulous way to help gain visibility for my books. There are so many new eBook readers downloading books every day that I’m always thinking about great ways to get my books in front of them. Thanks, BookBub, for helping with that!
BB: Would you be willing to share any best practices for price promotions? For example, you often run price promos on books that are part of a series, like The Sullivans. Have you found this to be the most successful way to use discounting?
BA: I do find that running a price promotion on a book that’s a part of a series works best. Simply because it’s natural for people to read the book and think, “Who are all these other people in this family? I want to read their stories, too!” The number one thing I’ll hear from people is that they just discovered my Sullivans and have spent the past week devouring all 10 books in a row. I love that! Especially because I am that reader! If I find a new series I love and realize there are 10 books to read, it’s like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one!
BB: What kind of long term effects have you seen after running a price promotion on a certain title?
BA: Usually, the whole series will get a boost, as people read one book and get hooked and then go get the rest.
BB: Can you tell us about one of your recent BookBub features? How did you plan the promotion and what other marketing did you do around the listing?
BA: My last BookBub feature was in October for Come A Little Bit Closer, which is the seventh book in my Sullivan series. Because all of my Sullivan books can be read as stand-alone novels, I find that featuring any of them will have great results. Usually my BookBub promotional prices are only for 24 hours, but with this one I chose to make the book $0.99 for one week to see how that would go by comparison. It went well, but since I saw the biggest downloads in the first couple of days, for my next promotion I will run the sale for three days instead of seven. As for what other marketing I did during the sale, while I posted links on Twitter and Facebook, what I find is that readers usually find out about the reduced price very quickly and do quite a bit to get the word out via their own social networks.
BB: What other marketing strategies do you use besides price promotions?
BA: I spend a lot of time answering emails from readers and chatting with them on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. I’m considering delving into Pinterest soon, but only once I have a plan together for how to best do that without taking any time away from my writing.
Have you used any of the tools Bella mentioned in your own marketing efforts? What strategies have been most effective? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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