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Posted on Mar 10, 2016

Written Word Media: An Awesome Ad Platform for Authors

One of the questions we get most often at Reedsy is: "where can I promote my book". You're probably already familiar with Bookbub, but their exclusivity makes it hard for the emerging author to get a promotion with them. This is where Written Word Media come in: another proven ad platform for authors with several "brands" to make your book visible. Here's our interview with their co-founder Ferol Vernon, who shares some numbers and great nuggets of advice with us.

Hello Ferol! Great to have you on the Reedsy blog! You are the COO of Written Word Media, a series of ebook-focused websites. Can you tell us what the concept is, the story behind the company and how you’ve managed to build a community of about 500,000 readers?

The short version of the story is that we were looking for a place to promote my mother-in-law’s book, and there weren’t any good options at the time. We built our first site to solve her problem, the problem of one author. As we grew, we expanded the number and variety of websites that we run in order to solve the problems of many authors, which helped us build great reader experiences as well. We’ve focused on building great brands that connect with readers, and it’s allowed us grow very rapidly.

Who is your target market? How do you differentiate yourself from Bookbub?

Our target market is anyone who has a book and wants to promote that book. We work with mostly independent authors, but we also work with a lot of small presses, and 3 of ‘big five’ major publishers as well.

The difference between BookBub and us is exclusivity. BookBub’s policies force them to outright reject most authors. Our policies and pricing are designed to be friendly to the emerging author. We tell authors that if you can get into BookBub, great, you should do it, AND you should buy with us. If you don’t get into BookBub, don’t sweat it, know that you can always reach your audience through us.

As an author, what can I expect from being featured in your emails? Can you share data from your previous campaigns? How much does the service cost?

What you can expect depends on things like your genre and the quality of your book. We see a wide variance in how well books perform, but to give you a sense, popular genres like Mystery and Romance can generate 1,000 - 5,000 free downloads on Freebooksy. For paid books, on BargainBooksy in popular genres authors can expect to sell anywhere from 10-50 copies of their books with some authors selling 200-300 copies. It’s highly dependent on the price and quality of the book.

On Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, our ads cost between $40-$200, with the majority of ads being in that $50-$100 range. For our premium brands, NewInBooks and Red Feather Romance prices start at $49 and go up to $499 for our full service packages.

I believe the New in Books brand is the most recent. The concept is slightly different as it is not just for books that get discounted; there is no economic incentive to subscribe. Who is it for? Why do you think readers enjoy it?

NewInBooks is exciting for us. The hook for readers is to alert them about great new books that are coming out, as well as news from the world of books. It’s a way to never miss a new book from your favorite author or in your favorite genre. Readers have reacted well to the service and to the brand.

The two big differences with NewInBooks are that it’s not a discount site, and it’s not restricted to ebooks. This audience pays full price for books, and purchases physical and audiobooks in addition to ebooks. On NewInBooks there is an emphasis on discovery, we have more content around books to read if you like a certain author or a certain subgenre. This type of content doesn’t create the same spike in sales that running a discount day does. However, it creates a consistent stream of sales weeks and months after the content is published as readers discover the content through social media and search.

You have been collecting a lot of data helping about 20,000 authors market their books. What makes an author successful in today’s marketplace?

We just posted a great article with some findings about what successful authors do compared to emerging authors. The two most salient findings were:

  • Write more! We found that successful authors write on average 30+ hours per week, which is a lot. If life gets in the way of writing 30 hours a week, try simply writing more than you did last week.
  • Pay a professional. We found that successful authors pay professionals for things like cover design and editing. These services are generally pretty affordable, and make a big difference in the overall end result of a book.

Your most recent projects have a strong emphasis on design; discovering new books is an entire experience. Websites like Goodreads seem not to care. What’s the rationale behind this choice?

Design has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. My mother is an artist and a designer so I grew up learning about things like color, perspective, spacing, and typography from her. I believe in good design very deeply, and I understand the power that a well-designed product. Our emphasis on branding and design stems from this belief, and both authors and readers respond to it. Website design is a lot like fashion design, trends are important. Sites like Goodreads aren’t necessarily poorly designed, but they are behind the trend. Goodreads is a great service, and I’m hopeful that a design refresh is on the horizon.

What’s the next step for Written Word Media? Building other brands for other segments of the market?

Our strategy is working and we’re going to stay true to it. We believe that each segment of readers is different, and that the best way to connect with a reader segment is to launch a new brand that fits their needs. We believe that books are a force for good in this world, and that supporting the authors who write them is an honor and a privilege. We’ll continue to build great brands for readers and great promotional products for authors.

Follow Written Word Media and Reedsy on Twitter: @WrittenWordM and @ReedsyHQ

Have you tried advertising on one of Written Word Media's brands? Please share your thoughts and experience with us, or ask Ferol any question, in the comments below!