Guest Post by Megan Lisa Jones, Author of “Captive”
My alternate title to this post was How to build a global audience in days, and the story begins with over 400,000 downloads in the first twelve days of the promotion.
Captive was the first book chosen in BitTorrent’s new artist program.
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol with an active user base of over 100 million people in which, essentially, the more people downloading a file the faster it downloads. The company has promoted films, shows and bands prior to Captive being in the spotlight. The last band they chose, Sick of Sarah, had 1.5 million downloads in about six weeks.
Captive is a thriller in which George, a psychologist and interrogator, must get critical information from Khalil, a hardened Algerian terrorist. Meanwhile, a young Saudi chemistry student is building a related string of bombs when not attending his classes at UCLA. The book is more pertinent today than when I started writing due to the unrest throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East.
I’m a new writer with a first-time book and can’t afford the type of marketing campaign more established thriller authors have (plus, they already have large built-in audiences). Despite BitTorrent’s success distributing other media, I was uncertain with respect to potential audience size for a novel since it was limited to those who read English. Being the first novel promoted, I couldn’t evaluate expected audience based on historical results.
I wanted to reach an audience that would be interested in and enjoy Captive. I also wanted to do it quickly. Being from the tech world by birth and profession, I know and understand the business models tech and Internet start-ups are using to build their businesses and scale online. And it’s more than just “social media marketing”. Also, I know that model better than I understand the media windows and ins and outs of publishing (which seem so expensive). But ─ let’s also not ignore that ─ traditional media businesses are struggling while Internet-based social networkers and gamers are scaling. Media is dependent on scale and writing books is a business like any other.
Then I lucked into the experts. The people at BitTorrent blow my mind. The traffic from their promotion soared at announcement and thus far hasn’t let up. I can’t fully grasp how they reached “my” audience so quickly. The initial press release somehow lit a fire. There is a little Twitter, some Facebook and soaring traffic to my site and blogs. News articles and blogs covering the promotion also helped. But not over 340,000 worth of audience.
And that’s where the peer-to-peer concept matters. Sure, some of my audience wants (and does…thanks for the emails and other messages, by the way) to connect with me. But I’m guessing they would rather discuss the book with each other. That’s what I do when I read a book I really like or find a great offer.
I’ve had global traffic from most regions of the world including South Africa, to Moscow, to Pakistan, Iraq and Thailand. I’ve reached Chile, most of the US and Europe and large swaths of Asia. Australia and New Zealand. BitTorrent has helped me reach countries (China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt) where a book that addresses terrorism wouldn’t be published.
BitTorrent promotion has allowed Captive to be real media…something with a message that is being shared by all people regardless of where they reside. And, in this case, the sharing literally was person to person. No book sitting on a shelf is doing as much.
One other note, I’ve written about the monetization aspect (or lack thereof) of the promotion on both my blogs so won’t belabor the discussion here. But I will say that I’m getting contacted by numerous readers about the release date of the sequel (2012 unless I start writing faster). Will they pay for it? Some will. Some won’t. For example, I just told someone about the ending deadline for the promotion. They told me they’d rather order a hard copy from Amazon.
Moreover, I do trust the streets…they have, do, and will pay for content when the price is fair and the content what they value. But first, before I can worry about money, I need to find my audience so I can keep reaching and satisfying them in the future. Doesn’t any value proposition ultimately rely on giving your customer or audience what they want and making them happy?