Once upon a time, musicians used to make their money on the albums that they sold. Now, though, most musicians make their money on concerts. Some make substantial money on “collateral goods” — T-shirts, belt buckles, other physical goods sold at concerts or elsewhere. Some musicians have found it financially wise to give away their music, so that more people attend their concerts and buy their collateral goods.
Okay. Not exactly. While some authors give away books (or sell them at super-discounted prices), we generally do so to introduce readers to our series. We still charge for the other books in the series. For example, the first book in my Diamond Brides series, Perfect Pitch, debuted at $0.99, a $2.00 discount off its standard price. (To date, the price has not reverted.) Catching Hell, the second book, debuted at its full price, $2.99.
And most authors don’t go on tour, like concert musicians. If we’re extraordinary lucky, our publishers might send us on a reading tour. If we’re feeling especially rich, we might finance our own reading tours. But an author’s reading tour is extraordinarily successful if she reads to 100 people at one stop; most readings have a handful of attendees, if that. And the vast majority of those readings are provided for free; attendees don’t pay.
But things are changing. Oh, readers aren’t reading to stadiums full of fans. Rather, services are springing up to bring readers and authors together. Services like Togather and Book the Writer bring authors and readers together in person (charging the readers and/or requiring them to buy a set number of books.)
And authors are selling collateral goods. The grand-daddy of all collateral goods might be the theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Orlando, Florida. But successful books like Fifty Shades of Grey have generated lines of clothing and other, um, accoutrements. A tearoom in California has created a specific blend of teas to celebrate Patrice Greenwood’s cozy mysteries.
When I developed Diamond Brides, I kept collateral goods marketing opportunities in mind. I had my cover designer create a team logo for the Raleigh Rockets:
I worked with Cafe Press to build a store of Diamond Brides goods (T-shirts, mugs, water bottles, and a really cute teddy bear), featuring the full team logo, the rocket design, and the Raleigh “R”. Readers can buy those goods, and I can award them as prizes for contests.
How about you? Do you go to book events at local bookstores? Have you ever invited an author to attend a book group or similar event in your home? Have you ever bought collateral goods? Are there any you’d love to see developed?
You can buy Perfect Pitch here.
You can buy Catching Hell here.
Mindy Klasky learned to read when her parents shoved a book in her hands and told her she could travel anywhere in the world through stories. She never forgot that advice. Mindy’s travels took her through multiple careers – from litigator to librarian to full-time writer. Mindy’s travels have also taken her through various literary genres for readers of all ages – from traditional fantasy to paranormal chick-lit to category romance, from middle-grade to young adult to adult. In her spare time, Mindy knits, quilts, and tries to tame her endless to-be-read shelf. Her husband and cats do their best to fill the left-over minutes.