By Deborah Cooke
One of the challenges faced by every author in this marketplace is visibility and discoverability. When there are so many titles available and so many authors publishing new books, it’s easy for an individual author or title to be lost in the crowd. We all have our fans, but to grow our author platforms, we need to have a steady influx of new readers, who—in an ideal universe—will become fans. One good way of finding those new readers is to do joint promotion with other authors.
Red Door Reads is a group of authors who have worked together on joint promotion for several years. I only joined the group last fall, after a casual discussion about promotion at a conference. I’ve known several of the RDR authors for a long while, and was excited to meet more of them at that conference. By the end of our evening, I was invited to join their group (it must be said that there was wine involved!) and I was delighted to accept. There are a lot of authors and author groups doing joint promotion, but I was glad to join this one for several reasons:
- Their mission statement
I’m a sucker for a good mission statement. Here’s the one from the RDR website:
Red Door Reads is a consortium of multi-published authors who are committed to pursuing profitable writing careers in the indie-publishing arena. We are dedicated to high standards and stellar quality, in all of our writing endeavors. Our highest commitment is to our readers.
Wouldn’t you join?
- We write in the same genre and sub-genres
It only makes sense to joint promote with authors who might share readership with you. Although it’s impossible to know for certain about this, if you write in the same genre or sub-genre as the other authors in the group, there’s a better chance that their readers will try your books. Red Door Reads members all write romance, and pretty much all the sub-genres of romance are covered. I write historical romance as Claire Delacroix, as well as contemporary romance and paranormal romance as Deborah Cooke. There are RDR authors writing in all of these sub-genres. No one else in the group is writing about dragon shapeshifters, but there still can be overlap.
- Not every member participates in every promotion
One of the things I particularly liked about Red Door Reads was that the authors participate in promotions as their schedule permits, as well as based on their goals. As Claudia Dain told me, whoever brings the idea for a promotion to the group runs that promotion for the group, which sounded quite reasonable to me. It means that if I’m in a time crunch to meet a deadline, I can pass on a project with no hard feelings. It also means that we can target promotions to a certain niche—the one you’ll read about later in this post is focused on historical romance, so only those of us with historical romance titles participated.
- Not every member manages every project
Similarly to the above, various authors “take point” on different projects. This division of labor means that no one author is carrying the full weight of RDR on their shoulders. (There are always some people who are more organized and efficient than others!) I’ll talk more about that below.
In a rapidly changing publishing landscape, it’s good to have author friends. We can exchange personal experiences, ask questions, bounce around ideas, drink too much wine and generally share in the challenge and the joy of being writers at work. The RDR writers I know best have similar experience to mine, having come from traditional publishing to being hybrid or all-indie. That’s how I ended up in the group, but other authors have different experiences, which is just as valuable to share. A “hive-mind” of varied history can help in analysis of a changing market and in charting new courses. We have a listserve to share, vent, chat and support each other.
I’m sure you’re convinced now that this is the way to go. Once you’ve formed your author group for joint promotion, how can author groups promote their books together?
Red Door Reads has a number of initiatives, some ongoing and others one-time events.
- The website
Red Door Reads has a website, which highlights all members of the group, as well as including their books—in all formats, including audio. Ava Stone manages the website and keeps it beautiful, although individual authors manage their own links. Ava has sorted books by author and by genre, to help readers find whatever they’re looking for. You can check it out right here.
- Social media
RDR has a Facebook page, where members share news, chat and post memes. It’s a great place to interact with fans. Deb Marlowe is the prime mover on this project, but all members post to the page and share posts. Check out the Facebook page and give it a like right here.
RDR also has a Twitter account, which is an ideal way to follow all of the authors in the group. RDR retweets from member authors, and members retweet from RDR. This increases the exposure of our individual tweets. You can follow us here.
- The newsletter
RDR has a monthly newsletter, which is a compilation of member news. This is a terrific resource for readers, and again, if a member writer doesn’t have any news for a particular month, there’s still enough content to fill the newsletter from other contributors. Claudia Dain compiles the information from us all for the newsletter and Tammy Falkner makes it beautiful. You can subscribe to the RDR newsletter from the RDR website. Look for the big newsletter button.
- Group contests and events
This is where things get interesting. New ideas are tried out and if they work, they continue. For example, each Wednesday, there’s a giveaway hosted on the Red Door Reads Facebook page called Winning Wednesday. We take turns offering a prize and asking a question of our readers so they’re eligible to win. Winning Wednesdays are new but have proven to be a lot of fun. Check the RDR Facebook page on a Wednesday to see!
Right now, RDR has two of these kinds of promotions in the works. The first is a sampler—this digital sampler includes first chapters from the books of many of the authors in Red Door Reads. Some of us who write under more than one author name or in more than one sub-genre have included more than one excerpt. The sampler will be free at all portals. Samplers are good ways for readers to “have a taste” of a book or an author’s work before committing to buying a book.
The second content-based promotion through RDR this year is a round-robin story. Many of us are making a contribution to an original story, which will be published on April 15. The Tax Day story is a RDR tradition, and I’m excited to be participating in it this year. The details will be featured on the Red Door Reads website, as well as touted on the RDR Facebook page and Twitter feed—and, of course, the RDR newsletter.
- Event-based promotion
There have been a number of these events and will be more, but here’s one example: Red Door Reads is hosting an event at the Romantic Times conference this spring, called a Carnival of Romance. This midway of carnival games for readers is hosted by RDR and will feature both RDR member authors and several guest authors.
- Portal-based promotion
A group of authors can often arrange for a promotional opportunity at one of the online portals. This promotion at Kobo is a good example of that—by joining together under the banner of Red Door Reads, we can offer a selection of books for this Kobo Buy More Save More promotion and share the cost of the promotion between us. Doing it together lowers the cost to each of us individually, and also increases the appeal to reader with more books in the offering. This time, we decided to focus on historical romance titles. You can check out the RDR BMSM promotion, right here:
https://store.kobobooks.com/p/reddoorUS – United States
There’s no single way for authors to ensure that their work is discoverable in this busy marketplace, but having more opportunities for readers to find your work is always better. Joint marketing in a group of other authors who write in the same genre or sub-genre as you might be an excellent way to improve visibility for all authors in the group. As a bonus, it’s also a lot of fun!
Bestselling author Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance published under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Since then, she has published over sixty books in a wide variety of romance sub-genres. Her medieval romance, The Beauty by Claire Delacroix, was her first book to land on the New York Times’ list of bestselling books. Currently, she writes medieval romance as Claire Delacroix, as well as paranormal and contemporary romance as Deborah Cooke. Learn more about her books at her website.