Joining with others to reach more readers
Updated: Nov 28, 2021
One way to reach more readers is by joining with others to collaborate on a bundle of Kindle books or by contributing to an anthology. You can see a special joint anthology promo at the end of this blog post.
During the past six years, indie authors I know have edited and published anthologies that rank high in Amazon niche categories month after month. This blog post looks at three examples with a glimpse of a fourth collection that is forthcoming. If you're looking for possible anthologies, Poets & Writers has classifieds on its website with calls for 2022 anthology submissions.
Janet Blaser, an ex-pat living in Mexico, edited and self-published a 2019 women’s anthology with true stories from 27 women who moved to Mexico from the USA. Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats has almost 300 ratings and often ranks in the top 20 for paid sales in the Mexico Travel category. It usually ranks in the top 200,000 for paid sales overall.
Carmen Amato of Tennessee, perhaps best known for her best-selling Emilia Cruz detective series set in Acapulco, created and used her author imprint to publish a 2017 travel anthology about Mexico with shorts from 43 other authors. Eventually, she made it permafree.
The Insider’s Guide to the Best of Mexico almost always ranks in the top five free Kindle books in the Mexico Travel category. Usually, it ranks in the top 20,000 overall in free books on Amazon. She’s getting ready to launch a follow-up anthology in December 2021 with longer pieces from 20 fellow authors focusing on celebrations throughout Mexico.
Not all joint collaborations have the continuing success of those two books by Blaser and Amato. Here’s an example. In 2015, I helped edit and publish an anthology of short stories and essays about life in Mexico for both ex-pats and native Mexicans. Again, the objective was to reach readers rather than generate royalties (beyond publishing costs).
Mexico: Sunlight & Shadows received several very positive blurbs and a decent review from Publishers Weekly, all of which are in the editorial reviews of the Amazon book description. Many of the contributions in the book were excerpts from popular books by well-known authors and others were articles by emerging authors.
With aggressive pre-release promotion by the authors, the Kindle version zoomed to #1 in paid sales for new releases in the Mexico Travel category and ranked in the top 20,000 for overall paid sales for a few days. It attracted 18 reviews in the first two weeks after the release date and produced 560 downloads in the first month.
All of that activity helped it rank high enough and long enough in the overall paid sales rankings to stimulate the Amazon algorithms that started promoting it. (Book marketing pro David Gaughran describes this effect in his book Amazon Decoded.) Apparently, the boost from Amazon algorithms paid off because there were 1,525 Kindle downloads during the second month.
In September of 2015, we released a paperback version. By the end of 2015, people had ordered 3,130 combined copies of the Kindle version and the paperback. But after the first six months of success, the downloads began declining. Since January 1 of 2016, the downloads have reached more than 300 per month only three times—all from special freebie promos.
Sales from the Kindle version plus KENP royalties and paperback royalties have covered all costs of publishing and promoting both versions. Historically, my Amazon KDP account shows that 59 percent of royalties have come from sales of the Kindle version, 23 percent from KENP royalties, and 18 percent from paperback sales.
Personal perspectives: Aside from genre and the targeted audience, one of the most important factors in the success of joint promos is the continued promotion by the contributing authors. Over time, many authors drift away from joint promotions for a variety of reasons.
Several of the 22 authors in the anthology I helped publish have published other books since then and have lost interest in the joint promotions. A few are older and have stopped writing. Three contributors have died.
Because that 2015 anthology has lasting literary content, I run a promotion for it during the holiday season each year and alert the contributors so they can promote it to their followers. Some do, but not everybody. Only four of us have regular blogs or newsletters.
This year’s holiday promo is timed to coincide with Black Friday promotions in the USA, and we’re going to rely primarily on Facebook posts. Rather than making it free, I set the promo price at 99-cents to earn some royalties to test Facebook ads next year and also some paid promo sites.
Here’s the text of the 2021 holiday promo, which I mentioned in the opening paragraph:
Grab this 99-cent deal Nov. 24-30 for an award-winning anthology about ex-pat residents and natives living in villages and cities across Mexico. It's one of the best books available about life in modern-day Mexico. https://amzn.to/3C6OolJ