Launching Open Minds: A Conversation with Susan Kaye Quinn

Earlier this month, author Susan Kaye Quinn launched book one of her Mindjack Trilogy. Since it was her first foray into self-publishing (she has previously published a novel with Omnific Publishing), I was curious to know how well her promotional efforts went. She was more than happy to answer a few questions for me.

Overall, how do you think the launch and blog tour went?
I seriously could not have asked for it to go any better. The response on launch day was awesome and wonderful and overwhelming! I’m so glad that I had a chance to share that day with my Virtual Friends (I had an in-person book signing later that week for my Local Friends). I love that people are intrigued by the premise, buying the book, and reading it right away. And leaving reviews! It’s awesome.

The Book Blog Tour has been cool in a different way, reaching out to new readers, people that are not in my circle of friends. And they’re having a great response to the book too. The book bloggers themselves have been gracious and fun to work with. And the reviews have been great! Can’t ask for anything better there as well. (I just had one blogger come back and want to include Open Minds in their year-end Best Books of 2011 list!)

Do you think one works better than the other or are both necessary?
I struggled with how to do this when setting everything up. I’m really pleased with how it worked out, though. The Virtual Launch party was a one-time thing, and mostly with people that I already was friends with (although I made some new friends too!). It gave my friends a chance to celebrate my book with me (which is awesome), without being restricted to a certain schedule or pacing, like a tour. And it was fun!

The Book Blog Tour serves a different purpose, gathering reviews and reaching people who I who don’t know, but that I hope will be intrigued by the book. I’m posting the Book Blog Tour schedule on my blog for my regular blog audience, as we go, but only because they might be interested in some of the guest posts or contests. The Book Blog Tour is really to expand my Reader Audience. As I mentioned on Adam Heine’s blog Monday, I see the two events serving different circles– one is my Blog Audience and one is my Reader Audience. The intersection of those circles are my friends who enjoy reading my work. But the two events were really directed at the two different circles.

That’s an interesting way to look at it. I didn’t realize you would reach different people with the blog tour. So do you think you the blog tour did its job of attracting new readers and/or followers?
Absolutely. I love the support of my friends, and that’s a key part to getting a book started. Hopefully those are the people that will start handing the book to their friends and they will enjoy it too. But pulling in readers with just a blurb/cover and possibly a review is important. People need to love the book first, and the author second, if it’s going to be successful in the wider market.
Speaking of which, how did you do in that wider market? You climbed pretty high on the Amazon charts, didn’t you?
The peak on Amazon US was 7,156 … so close to breaking the top 100 in the Action & Adventure bestseller list for Young Adult e-books (about 6-7k in the Kindle Paid Store)! And while it would have been great to break into the bestseller list right away, I’m really hoping to have the visibility of the book be wide enough to catch some of the after-Christmas Kindle market.

Those are some impressive stats! How’d you do on B&N?
Most of my sales are on Kindle (or paper in the beginning, for friends that want autographed copies), with B&N a much smaller player. There’s all kinds of ways to measure ranking on Amazon. Honestly, I don’t even track rank on B&N.

Okay, so back to the promotion. Were you able to maintain interest over the entire blog tour?
If by “interest” you mean “do your regular blog readers click through”? Probably not (although some clearly are and leaving comments). But, like I mentioned above, the idea of the Blog Tour was not to get my regular blog readers excited/interested in Open Minds – it’s to reach new readers. In that, it’s been very successful, and the sales that I continue to have I attribute directly to the Blog Tour. Some Book Blogs have greater reach (more potential readers) and some have a passionate, but smaller, audience, but both are definitely bringing in sales. Book Bloggers do a great service for both readers and writers. Another benefit is meeting the Book Bloggers themselves. I have several that are already asking to be put on the list to review Closed Hearts (which is key, because most Book Bloggers won’t review the second book in a series if they haven’t reviewed the first).

That’s so cool that you can see sales as a direct result of the blog tour. So, what would you change for the next time around?
I still need to do a serious post-mortem, but a couple things I would change: 1) query more teen book bloggers (in addition to the book bloggers I’ve already queried, who are awesome!), 2) shorten the Book Blog Tour to 1 ½ weeks (as opposed to 2 ½ weeks). Originally I thought there would only be one stop each day, but I had so many book bloggers interested in reading/reviewing that it didn’t work out that way. Now, I think it would be better to have multiple stops per day over a shorter (overall) tour.

And because inquiring minds want to know: how far are you on Closed Hearts?
I just uploaded my 19,308th word to NaNo. 🙂 Which, for you plotting nerds, is almost to the break into Act II. In other words, we’re getting to the good stuff!

Woo-hoo! Can’t wait to read it!
Congratulations, Susan. You’ve given me some great ideas for book promotion and targeting audiences. I keep learning so much from you 🙂
Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

A few places where you can find Susan on the web:
Inkspells (blog)
Mindjack Trilogy website
Life, Liberty and Pursuit website (Susan’s first novel with Omnific Publishing)