What You Really, Really Want by Ruby Barnes

So, tell me what you want, what you really, really want. As a reader of electric books and the like, what do you really, really want?

Why am I asking? Because me and my little publishing house, we give things away. Why would Marble City Publishing do that? To maximise readership for our authors and to reward readers for staying with us. This is nothing new, of course. Mail lists have been a mainstay of marketing ever since Baldrick started pushing Mrs Miggins' pies through letterboxes (ref. Blackadder for non-cognoscenti). Staying in touch with people is essential for a new book release.

The virtual cafés of the writing world are abuzz with methods to successfully build a mail list. Independent authors with prodigious output are presenting subscribers with such offerings as starter libraries of free novels. Phrases such as Reader Magnets abound. Online courses are being sold for hundreds of bucks to share the secret sauce of building an author's list. In this modern digital free-for-all of e-book marketing, however, Marble City Publishing is faced with a quandary.

Authors who are in a financial position or state-of-mind to give away some of their writing babies are doing something specific - they are building a brand around their author name. Reader finishes book, enjoys book and wants more from same author. That's how it works. Reader doesn't finish book, enjoy book and then want more from same publisher. Reader doesn't care who published the book. The target audience for a publisher's brand is not readers. A publisher's brand audience is the book distribution chain and current or aspiring authors. But that's not the audience that a micro-publisher, such as Marble City, wants to address. We want to reach readers. We could build mail lists for our individual authors but, unless that author is blazing a trail of quarterly or biannual releases as per the new generation of energetic indie authors, they won't have frequent enough new releases to maintain reader / subscriber interest.
So what's the answer? We could give a free book but, unless it's by the reader's preferred author then meh, there are plenty of free books around these days. No, we give away other stuff. So far Marble City has run free draws for a Kindle Paperwhite, a Kindle Fire and (in progress) another Kindle Paperwhite. But is that what a reader wants, really really wants? How about a $100 (or local equivalent currency) Amazon gift card? Or something else altogether? A year's Amazon Prime Membership? A gadget that goes whizzbang? A crate of red wine? A deluxe beer belly pack? A hive of honeybees for an African village? A vacuum cleaner? The samurai sword with which Ruby disposed of his first zombie? Would the nature of the prize determine the type of person who would enter and hope to win? Decisions, decisions. Help, please! What would you, as a reader, like the chance of winning?

In the meantime, here are some zombies.

Zombies versus Ninjas by R.A. Barnes
Ruby's upcoming novel


Wendy H. Jones said…
As a reader in the UK I think the gift card idea is great. So one vote for that
@Ruby_Barnes said…
Thanks Wendy. Vote registered!
Jan Needle said…
dear mr ruby sir, my kindle packed up yesterday. it shows a little brown charging light (has done for twenty four hours) but that's it. i'd like you to pretend i'd won one of yours in a competition - how does that sound? oh, okay then, you meanie. i'll have to buy a new one, but does anyone know if that means i've lost my vast collection already on there?

to be serious, i agree with wendy about the gift cards. sounds good.

and on a point of order, they didn't have letter boxes in mrs miggins's day, did they?
Wine. Mixed case of red and white. Definitely.
Jan Needle said…
i got me kindle working again. i'm a genius! except i don't know how i did it...
@Ruby_Barnes said…
Jan, they did but the letter box (in the door not the post box) wasn't big enough for a pie. Standard size was changed to accommodate a pie after Baldrick mangled a few. They didn't have the same problem in Italy, 'cos pizza is flatter.

Catherine, what a good idea, but I'm not sure it would ever get to the winner!
Mari Biella said…
I'd go for the gift card or Prime membership. A prize like that would make me very happy indeed. But then again, I wouldn't say no to the wine, either...
Lydia Bennet said…
Instead of a draw, you could have a (virtual if you prefer) loyalty card - they get a stamp each time they buy a MCP book, and when they have a particular number of stamps, they can trade them in for a gift card or kindle if they collect more. That way they know for a fact they will gain something from your publishing brand.
Debbie Bennett said…
Loyalty card is a good idea. But otherwise I'd go for the gift card. Why would I enter a competition to win a kindle when I already own a kindle?

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