inAuthors: Anne Browning Walker on Knowing the Rules of the Game
September 26, 2012 by Jada.Bradley
An e-mail about Anne Browning Walker‘s debut novel, The Booby Trap, landed in my inbox because I’m in a book club with someone she knows. Although Browning Walker, a writer/researcher and former Legislative Aide Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, lives in DC, I did not know her, but strategically using her online and her in-person connections to promote her book has worked.
I missed the meeting where the book was mentioned, but a friend sent me the e-mail to keep me in the loop. That is how I learned that about Walker, her book, and her online launch during which she asked people to a) buy her book at a certain time to boost its profile on Amazon and b) to tell others about the book through social media. We also used e-mail to correspond about her effort to let people know about her book.
inReads: How did you come up with the strategy for your online launch?
Anne Browning Walker: My publisher (Pixel Entertainment) hired a great PR firm out of Austin, TX, called PR By The Book. They work primarily with authors and publishers, and suggested the Amazon strategy. [In an e-mail to family and friends, Browning Walker mentioned that “having a large group purchase a copy on the same day, within a specified period of time” can do a lot for an author’s Amazon ranking.]
Once I heard about it, I saw other authors using it. In fact, I remember Jimmy Fallon tweeting to his followers not to buy his book until a specific date and time. So I guess I’m in good company.
inReads: What kind of response have you gotten so far online (Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?
ABW: The response for the book has been great! I was so honored by everyone who bought books for the Amazon launch, and the book just keeps on selling. I hear from people via my Facebook page and on Twitter that they’ve read the book and have enjoyed it. Friends have passed it on to other friends. And it’s always nice to see reviews on Amazon or other sites, like Barnes & Noble or Goodreads.
I’ve also gotten some great responses on NetGalley, which is a site that allows publishers to provide electronic advanced review copies (ARCs) to book reviewers and bloggers. My PR firm said it was one of the most requested books they’ve ever put up on NetGalley!
ABW: Certainly. Every time I speak about the book, the title draws people in and I get a little smile. But I think everything matters. I’m pretty happy about the cover, too. Luckily, my publisher allowed me to have a lot of input into that.
And I’ve gotten some great feedback on the cover from book bloggers, former agents, and people who work in bookstores.
inReads: Why did you decide to discount the book during the specific buying window when you suggested that friends/family buy the book?
ABW: First of all, my publisher suggested it as a way to thank buyers and incentivize them to buy during that certain time period. Second, we wanted to get some momentum behind the book, and they thought that this might help give the book an extra push. Certainly, I’m more likely to buy a book by an author I don’t know if it’s a little cheaper.
inReads: Why is it important for authors to know how Amazon works?
ABW: Writing and publishing a book is a difficult business, whether you sign with a big publishing house, a small/independent one (like me), or you self-publish. There are many, many authors out there – even more as self-publishing becomes easier and easier. And there is competition in all genres for readers. I think that authors should use every tool at their disposal (within ethical limits) to help their book get recognized.
Amazon has leveled the playing field for independent publishers like Pixel Entertainment, by making it simpler to get the books in front of a huge audience. And Amazon sells so many that you can’t ignore its power or its rules and quirks. I think both the author and the publisher owe it to themselves to know how the system works. How do they achieve such efficiency? And this advice applies not only to Amazon, but to the other heavy hitters in the bookselling world, like Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores and libraries, too! Trust me, every book sale counts.
About The Author:
Jada Bradley (jadabradley.com) is a Washington DC-based writer and educator who enjoys telling stories in formal and informal ways. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and online. She holds Masters in Spanish Translation and is a great supporter of creative expression in the various forms it takes. She also writes about local cultural events as D.C. Cultural Events Examiner for Examiner.com. Her blog, In Other Words, can be found at inotherwordz.blogspot.com.