Story Cartel Home Stretch

Story CartelThe 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.

My goal in picking apart the data is to determine what, exactly, an author gets for their $25. Thus far, though we’re far from finished here, my $25 has gotten me:

  • one 4-star review, and possibly a fan (their review says they want to read more of my books)
  • at least 9 but as many as 17 copies of my book in new hands (the other 6 out of 23 are people who could have gotten the book in a free giveaway here, without paying Story Cartel)

There are some vague benefits of exposure I’m not listing because they’re not only completely unquantifiable but possibly nonexistent. My book hasn’t been included in Story Cartel’s weekly email or in any other overt promotion other than my own, so any exposure directly attributable to Story Cartel is unknown.

Broken Stuff

Update: maybe it was me —> Read more

Last week I mentioned that the list of names and email addresses of those who download the book includes no other information: not only does it leave out the date of the download, a simple piece of information to include, it does not include where the visitor came from which is also, in general terms, easy to grab from web browsing data (or, if they chose to, by asking in the download form: “What brings you here? [ ] Author promotion OR [ ] I’m a regular” or whatever.)

Story Cartel does themselves harm by not capturing and providing better data. I suspect they’ve done more good than I’m aware of, but with zero empirical data to say so, who knows?

They’re also not clear enough about the review process. This is how it actually works:

  1. You write a review somewhere else: Amazon, Goodreads, Bob’s Book Reviews and Lawnmower Repair (Story Cartel doesn’t seem to specify what constitutes “writing a review”, another potential hole.)
  2. At Story Cartel, you simply paste a link to your review at Amazon or wherever.

They’re also unclear about why you would do this. There’s a drawing, and you might win something. How many winners? Is it a print copy? Obviously you already have the digital copy. Sure, some of these details are in the fine print, and the review process above is, in fact, explained, but not clearly.

Busy readers and browsers need a big red button to click. They don’t want to read 3 paragraphs explaining what to do and how to do it. Story Cartel fails some fairly basic web usability standards Jakob Nielsen and Jared Spool taught us back in 2003, which is like ancient times in web years.

Contacting the New List

I sent a single email to folks when the free download expired, thanking them, and asking them to please consider leaving a review. Three recipients responded. Two of them are subscribers to the newsletter.

The non-subscriber had not been able to read the book on their computer. Not sure where the disconnect was there, since most folks either have a digital device to read digital books, or already have software on their computer to do so. But I sent that reader a Kindle version (their preferred format) and we’ll see what happens.

One of the newsletter subscribers mentioned they’d never even been able to download the book successfully. I sent them both Kindle and ePub versions.

The other newsletter subscriber just needed help understanding the review process. I get that completely. As mentioned above, it ain’t clear enough.

My email to that list of 23 said that I’d be contacting them 2 more times:

  1. to remind them a day or two before reviews closed at Story Cartel
  2. when it was all wrapped up; this will include all my contact information and an invite to sign up for the newsletter

After that, I’ll archive that list. I’m not adding them to my regular newsletter, and won’t be pestering them again. My feeling is that they shared their email address in exchange for information about that book, not my self-publishing services or anything else. Permission isn’t transferable. It stays where those people believe it belongs. I respect that.

Next week, final numbers for reviews, plus anything else that crops up.

If you missed Sue’s comment last week, here’s a link to the image quotes we’ve been using for this campaign and for general marketing:

13 thoughts on “Story Cartel Home Stretch

  1. Would it had been more effective to give out free copies personally to people who will promise to leave a review on Amazon? It may cost more to print paperbacks, but the reviews are practically guaranteed.
    Thats what I plan to do with my new novel.

  2. I also did that with my previous novel and it worked well! of course I make sure the people who get it WILL leave a review. No, I don’t tell them what to write, but they do agree to leave a review.

    Some websites will place your book for FREE as long as you have at least 5 reviews. Those are the ones we target.

    Here is how the math works: 5 books at my cost of $6 each is $30.00. You give them out get 5 reviews in return for the free book.

  3. Possibly. I could mail 3 copies out for the same $25 Story Cartel charges.

    At this point, I’m weighing all the options. This isn’t an “either/or” situation, because I can do Story Cartel and other marketing. Multiple elements to the marketing.

    I just want to decide whether Story Cartel should be one of the elements or not.

  4. If you hand them out in person, true. I’d be paying about $8 to mail them in the US, or $20 to mail a print copy to one of my biggest fans in Slovenia (well worth it, I suspect) or to folks in Canada.

    All worth considering, though.

  5. Unfortunately, Amazon is the ONLY place that counts for me. I have one glowing review on Tower Books. Yup…Tower Books…like that really matters? One sale in two years on Tower Books, woohoo!!

    Barnes and Nobles? nope, not one sale.

    6,500 on Amazon. So my question is…where do you think I will put my energies? Where do you think I ask my readers to place their reviews?

    But yes you are right…the ocean is made of tiny drops…every sale is like a tiny drop in the ocean. Story Cartel is one option.

    In the long run, FREE advertising is the BEST, Goodreads is a real GOOD place to put your book.

  6. Oh yeah. Only place reviews mean anything to me is Amazon, unless some giant influential blogger wants to write one.

    I’ve learned some great stuff about giveaways at Goodreads recently. I’ll be experimenting there when Story Cartel runs its course.

  7. Can you do a ‘shotgun’ approach instead of one at a a time? Why wait until Cartel runs its course? Just wondering.

  8. For the next book, certainly. Big splash, with a maintained trickle.

    This is an experiment, and in order to for the results to be meaningful I want to avoid introducing too many variables at once.

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