Tag Archives: subscription

You Can’t Always Give Away What You Want

They say you can’t take it with you. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that it’s tough giving it away. But I’m not talking about money.

I’m talking about a subscription series. I’m talking about giving away a year’s subscription for free. And talk about a hard sell. Sure.

The subject is hard-boiled detective fiction. Very old school. Very retro detective. And I’m convinced there’s an audience for it. I know there’s a huge audience for it. An immense audience.

So I’ve got this subscription series I’m trying to get off the ground. Seemed to me that the easiest thing in the world would be to give away subscriptions. In a pig’s eye. Finding the audience, reaching the audience, selling the audience. It’s like being a marketing detective. Sure.

But what do I know? I must have misplaced my business doctorate or my marketing degree. I can’t even seem to find my blogging diploma. So I guess I don’t know much.

Hard-boiled fiction on a subscription basis is more than a bit unusual. Maybe that makes me a ground-breaker. On the other hand, maybe it’s not being done for good reason. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

What I can put out there are some dumbed-down metrics. I’m talking simple. Stupid simple. For instance, the number of “likes” on Facebook for three of the all-time big-boys of hard-boiled fiction top 60,000. Yeah, that’s gotta include some overlapping, but still. That’s an awful lot of likes. And that’s just on Facebook.

Then again, on the other hand, do your like Robert Downey Jr? I’m not sure why, but his following is split up on Facebook. He’s got a big-time following on his main page—we’re talking millions. But on his Italian fan page? A mere 17,000.

So what do you with that information? How do you interpret it? How do you boil it down, sift through it and make your calculations?

I don’t. I just sit down at the keyboard and write the next month’s stories. And I wonder how the hell to give it away.

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The Experiment Continued, Part 2

So my hard-boiled subscription series has been running for seven months now. Twenty-one yarns’ worth. I’ve got just a handful of subscribers. But there is some traction, as they say. A little coverage here, a bit of coverage there. Things are heating up. Like luke-warm mud. Sure.

Got a nice blurb from Crime Fiction Lover. And The Thrilling Detective. And a very nice link from “Peggy Ann’s Post.” Then Brazill asked to write up a guest blog. There sure are some gracious folk out there.

And I’ve been writing everyone and their mother with a remotely related blog or site. The media, too. I haven’t heard back from The New York Times, yet, but that’s okay.

In the meantime, I’ve got a couple readings lined up, too. And plenty of queries along those lines.

So I’m keeping my arms up and I’m swinging away. Hour by hour, day by day, week by week. Fighting my own, private, little, good fight. Just like a million other stories in the naked city.

I’ll tell you what gets me, what throws me for a loop, what really leaves me hanging. I’m convinced my audience is out there, plenty of readers ready to drink up my take on old-school, detective fiction. If I can only track them down. If only I can find them.

What I’d really like to do is give away a thousand subscriptions. Maybe a couple thousand. Sure. That would spread the word. And then, of course, each one of those subscribers could be approached for a renewal or a gift subscription.

But even giveaways aren’t easy. Reaching a qualified audience and pitching them ain’t no cinch. But I’m working on it. I’m working on it like a dog works on a fresh bone.

I guess we’re all mad scientists in our own way. Tweaking. Experimenting. Sure.

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