Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's up Sourcebooks Casablanca?

Sourcebooks is a publisher out of the Chicagoland (sounds like a theme park doesn't it?) Area. Not New York, but they're big, respectable and they have a romance line called Casablanca (one of my top three favorite movies by the way).
Today, as I was perusing through the free books I noticed two books up for free by these guys.  One from 2008 and one from 2009.

Having recently read a post by Kristen Lamb (of #MyWana fame) about why FREE isn't always a good idea (read her blog here) I wondered what was going on.
I mean, Sourcebooks Casablanca is a pretty big publisher (I'd die to get published by them) they sell zillions of Romance novels every year. Why are they offering free books? (both of which I downloaded as soon as I could possibly make it to the one-click button)
Click on the book covers to get these books free today (Don't know how long that will last, so click quick)

Lucky in Love50 Ways to Hex Your Lover

I'm ever curious and trying to learn about the publishing industry, so I put on my Sherlock Holmes Deerstalker hat, took up my pipe (not literally, gross, I'm at the library) and started investigating.

My first resource for new and breaking information. Twitter.
I looked up both authors, couldn't find either of them. Unless Linda Wisdom is a street photographer in London and Carolyn Brown is a Partylite candle consultant. They could be. Romance writers have all kinds of interesting day jobs but I just didn't think so.
Neither seemed to have a strong presence there.

Next stop- Facebook.
I found Linda Wisdom and her twitter link. (she's not a street photographer from London). She had a little blurb up about her book being free today on Amazon.  I asked her why.
Her latest release A Demon Does it Better came out on Jan 1, and she's got another one coming out in April.
Is this free book to entice me to download and pre-order those other ones? Is it to keep me entertained and the author at the front of my mind in between releases?  The timing seems off to me.

For Caro Brown I had to go back to Amazon and do a little sleuthing.  Turns out she's got a new release coming out in April (you can pre-order it now). Her last book came out in September. After using my super secret sneaky spy skills I discovered I'd actually met Ms Brown at RWA's Nat'l conference last summer and have signed copies of her books Hell, Yeah and One Fine Cowboy. (She writes cowboys. You know how I feel about them. Yum) Both of which are on sale for $1.99.

So I ask. What's up Sourcebook Casablanca? Do you know something about when to offer your titles for free to promote your authors that I don't? Authors, have you had a publisher do a promotion like this? Did it boost sales?
Gimme a clue here.


  1. Mmm. Sourcebooks has had a bumpy road lately. I wouldn't touch one of their contracts with a ten foot pole. Not at all good for the author.

    1. Ooooh. Interesting. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the info Taryn.

  2. Hi Amy, I'm publisher of Sourcebooks and thought this was an interesting question. And these days it’s not necessarily a short or easy answer.

    We’re pretty regularly tracking the data on this front and I've asked this of our marketing department to get our most recent information. So one of the interesting things is that our data looks different. The numbers we have show that people do download free books and then even after the short free promotion buy more copies at full price than had been selling before. Interestingly, the data suggests that the later purchases number may be waning a bit (more like a scientist than a publisher, we’ve been experimenting and tracking on this for about two years) but today’s data is that later sales are still there to a level we believe makes the “free” promotion valuable to building readership for the authors. By the way, we’ve also been testing lots of other promotions, including various price points, time-lengths, and timings.

    Free books can entice readers to try a series. So we want to make sure the reader has enough time to read the first book before the new release comes out. Both the books we're promoting here are first books in the original series and the promotion is tied to Valentine’s Day. Since the release of Lucky in Love, Carolyn Brown has become a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with Sourcebooks.

    If you want to know more about what's going on at Sourcebooks, we post our latest news on our Next blog. We had an incredible 2011 (I'm being told we're reporting some of the best results in the industry). You can see our results here: http://www.sourcebooks.com/next-news/1931-sourcebooks-2011-results.html. With the questions you’ve asked, our next post will likely be about the value of free books. So thanks for that!

    Taryn, I'm sorry you've heard something negative about our contract. We have bought works from several hundred literary agents, and our contract has evolved as the business has evolved. Our newest contract came out within the past year and we have negotiated boilerplates on it with nearly 100 different agencies. Our authors stay with us and build careers (Carolyn's a great example of that but you can also see dozens--and I mean dozens--of other authors, many of who are bestselling authors). You should have your agent check it out. That's what good agents are for. And you should see what you think then. We're among the most accessible and author-friendly publishing companies in the business. We really work on that.

    Amy, Thanks for the work you did. I found the way you thought about the research you did really interesting and it pointed to some areas for us to think about. It was well timed. We're actually in the process of rethinking our marketing and publicity processes. It's really exciting. You can both see some of that thinking here:


    This is such an amazing time.
    Thank you both for the feedback!

    1. Hey Dominque,
      Wow, I'm kinda impressed my teeny blog made it all the way to the big time publisher's notice. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. This is an amazing time in publishing. Glad I could help Sourcebooks think about things. Hmm... maybe I should write for you guys. Feel free to give me a contract.

    2. Hi Amy,
      We're really not that large (82 people) and we're all very engaged. And I really don't see myself as a "big time publisher". I started Sourcebooks in a spare bedroom. So it's still very much a family-oriented and entrepreneurial publisher. And lest we forget (as you pointed out), we are out of Chicagoland (as in the Midwest. lol).

      So I went and put some data together in answer to your question. Hopefully it makes sense. See what you think:

    3. Hmm, I think... A-frickin'-mazing. Those are some very interesting numbers. Anyone whose publishing a book right now should check look at strategically offering free books as part of their marketing model. Self pub, Big pub (or somewhere in the theme parked Chicagoland)would love to have sales increases like that.