Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Stroke of Marketing Genius!

I know why the Mona Lisa smiles.  She knows the other secret about THE DAVINCI CODE.

And today I'm going to let you in on this little writer's secret and unmask the marketing mastery created by Dan Brown and his publisher, Simon and Schuster, as I'm in awe of the approach they're taking in bringing thousands of new readers to his wildly successful "Robert Langdon" series.

You see, they're now offering up his best seller, THE DAVINCI CODE,  FREE to readers as an e-book for a week leading up to his new release later this spring, INFERNO.

In case you've wondered, yes I have already pre-ordered this book, as I've been missing the symbologist who looks like "Harrison Ford in Harris Tweed".

I personally can't recall a best-selling author taking this approach, but I have to admit it is marketing genius.  DAVINCI was released ten years ago (March 18, 2003) and there's one book released later in the series (THE LOST SYMBOL), which was good, but nowhere near the amazing journey that was THE DAVINCI CODE.  So what's the best way to make people all over the world stand up and take notice of a good writer?  Offer up a previous work that unleashed untold ass-kickery and bring it to readers at a cost of $0.00.

As of this week, in Amazon e-book rankings, it's at number two, but has been bouncing back and forth between #1 and #2, and that's tremendous.  Over eighty million copies of the book were previously sold, and now it's in re-circulation reaching new readers and I guarantee when INFERNO hits the marketplace, it's going to break more records.

Last week I did a little experiment.  I asked a few of my friends if they'd read the book, and a few said yes and another few said no.  I then told the ones who had not read the book that it was available for free, and within 24 hours, two of my friends told me they'd downloaded the book and were reading it.  So you've got a powerful motivator folks.  Word of mouth.  One person downloads the monster best-seller for free and then tells their friends.  It never stops rolling.  It will be interesting to see if THE DAVINCI CODE will still be offered free past this week.  We'll wait and see what happens.

And this brings us to another bonus to the DAVINCI marketing strategy.  It's a great way to generate excitement for the new release and get even the old readers to re-read the decade-old book.  I ought to know....I did it.

I will admit, I loved THE DAVINCI CODE when it came out so long ago, and was one of the millions of Americans who stood in line at a movie theater on opening night hoping that the movie studios would do the book justice (and it was good).  And that nostalgia for a controversial thriller combined with a large dose of adventure is what made me pick up the book and read it again.

We can all learn a wise lesson from this mighty publisher and author whose sword is his pen, and that is to recycle, recycle, recycle.  This is a wonderful idea that's become a notion as of late, where authors will offer their first book free and then charge for the subsequent books in the series, but the same concept can work if you are already a published author.  Can you think of a better way to get your name and your style out there than to offer up one of your older works for free as a lead-up to a new release?

A good book will always be a sought-after treasure for those on a quest for a great read.

As for me, I've completed THE DEATH BROKERS and am now on a quest to also turn my Evil Little Manuscript into a magnificent adventure series, but plan to throw in something different (a paranormal thriller) before completing the second book. Shhh!  Let's keep it on the down-low.

Best wishes to Mr. Brown and I hope INFERNO breaks records, because it will leave readers breathless and eager to find another great adventure laced with controversy.

Now you tell do you feel about  the giving away one of your books for free phenomenon?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Michelle 4 Laughs said...

Interesting to see that big name authors are taking this approach. So is he making the decision on his own or was this the publisher's idea.

SC Author said...

I'm excited for the new book :) And that is genius! Didn't Ruth Cardello use that tactic to great success?

Joey Francisco said...

@Michelle: I don't know, but wish I did know the answer to that. If I were to guess, I'd surmise maybe a decision was made by both parties?

@SC: Yes she did that! And look at the whirlwind success that came about as a result. Plus a few other successful AQC self-published writers have taken the same route (also w/good success): Cali and Jean O.

For newer writers like me, I'd be much more tempted to go the DaVinci route, and publish first book and then when there's a sequel/subsequent book after decent success, then consider offering earlier work at discounted price or perhaps free. It is a tantalizing idea.

T.J. said...

It's what I plan to do with my little novella series :) First one free, subsequent five $0.99 with deals throughout. I've done a lot of research, and if you can, do it. Draw people in with free, hook them on your writing (hopefully - breathe, TJ, breathe!) and sell others.

As for Dan Brown - man...I LOVED DAVINCI CODE. Still do. I'm going to pick up the ebook - since my paperback is still packed under miles of boxes.