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A Potentially Beneficial New Road Opens in Email Newsletter Advertising
When talking recently with UK-based historical fiction writer Jane Steen, we learned not only that she’s had a good experience with the email newsletter advertising service BookBub (as most indie authors do), but that she’s spotted another venue with some promise.
Before we discuss that new venue, here’s a quick overview of Steen’s experience with BookBub: after she was featured in their newsletter, she says she netted “well over $10,000 … in a month of extra sell-through” for the $410 cost of her advertisement for the first book (which is free) in a series. When we asked BookBub’s Katie Donelan about this kind of response, she said Steen used several particularly savvy approaches, including marketing a series. Donelan says, “94 percent of BookBub authors who discount a book in a series sell more copies of other books in the series during the promotion. And making a first book in series free is one of the most successful strategies they use. First, we see 10 times the downloads on free books that we do on 99-cent books. On top of that, we see five-times-higher sales of other books in a series when the first book is offered—compared to any other book in the series—and we see eight-times-higher sales of other books when the featured book is free.” We’ll write up more insights from Donelan in a future issue.
After the successful BookBub run, Open Road Integrated Media offered to advertise Steen’s books in their newsletters. Open Road is the leading curated backlist house founded by that other Jane Friedman, the former CEO of HarperCollins. Open Road offers ebook editions of more than 10,000 titles from some of the greatest authors and estates in the business.
In the last couple of years, Open Road has found success by creating special-interest, content-driven websites and corresponding newsletters:EarlyBirdBooks.com, The-Line-Up.com, and ThePortalist.com. Open Road just passed the million-subscriber mark on their newsletters, and their sites have more than 1.4 million unique visitors per month.
They now plan to launch three additional websites and email newsletters:
Love So True (for romance readers, of course)
Murder & Mayhem (for mystery and thriller readers)
The Archive (for history and nonfiction consumers)
Open Road is including ads in their newsletters and tells The Hot Sheet that they’re particularly interested in working with self-published material. Here’s a link with information. They do check for a quality level they feel comfortable with, and they write the copy for the ads themselves, ensuring a professional tone consistent with each newsletter’s voice and style.
There are a few restrictions. For example, the free first-in-series book that Steen advertised with BookBub would not have flown with Open Road, which isn’t accepting ads for free books; a book must cost 99 cents or more to be eligible.
Mary McAveney, Open Road’s executive vice president for marketing, says the largest of the newsletters in operation, Early Bird Books (with 750,000 subscribers), typically produces what she describes as “a 1000 percent or more increase over baseline sales” in the days following an ad run. There’s also an increase in sales of an author’s other titles, with associated boosts in sales rankings and reviews on retail sites. Seventy-five percent of Early Bird readers are 45 and older; 80 percent of them are female; they are primarily US-based.
McAveney tells The Hot Sheet, “What it comes down to is that we’re solving our own marketing challenges here. We have to create our own earned media with these newsletters, and it helps our audience even more if we can put more good titles in front of them. Our point is to continue to build this community of readers, who are coming in through their genre preferences and staying with us.”
Bottom line: The price to place an ad in the Early Bird Books newsletter is $180. That sounds like a great rate to us, especially because an ad in an Open Road Integrated Media newsletter puts a title in the company of some of the biggest and best work in the canon. It’s no surprise to us, in fact, that publishers (including Workman and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) are using these newsletters as avenues to reach readers. Contact Open Road at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information.