There’s no doubt that H. M. Ward is an indie writer sensation. She’s sold six million books over the last three years. I previously blogged about H. M. Ward and some other favorite new adult romance books if you’re interested.
One of the first things I noticed about her books was her offer in the front matter: text a number to get new book release notifications. I’ve never seen anyone else do that. (Note: sending a text to that number gets a return text asking for an email address, so she’s not delivering book release notifications by text. Not yet, anyway.)
And I thought it was strange. Seriously? A text message?
But…many of us aren’t phone people. And some people are mostly phone people.
I should have realized something.
H. M. Ward Knows How to Reach Her Fans
Her model is unusual. While traditional publishing often has longer lead times, Holly’s lead time is super short. She finishes the book, it goes through editing, typically the cover has long been designed, and then it goes to beta readers. There are usually only a handful of days between the beta reader call and final release.
Because of that, the traditional pre-order model doesn’t work for her.
Amazon’s terms, for example:
Your final version must be uploaded at least 10 days before the release date you set, with the last day for upload starting at midnight, U.S. Eastern time. For example, if you were releasing a book on September 20, you would need to upload it before midnight Eastern time on September 9.
Recognizing that readers don’t want to wait ten days just so they can pre-order a book, Holly does live launches.
Her books are often uploaded at odd hours, and then take some hours to churn through the review systems at Amazon, iBooks, et al.
And her fans, myself included, we’re rabid when it comes to wanting that next book at the first possible second.
The Results I found Interesting
I would never have guessed that so many of H. M. Ward’s fans would have preferred to be notified by text message. In quite a few cases, fans said they would love to get a text message, but they can’t because they’re outside the United States. (I counted these under email, however.)
As writers (and, really, anyone in marketing), we’re often told that “the money is in the list,” meaning: the e-mail list.
No one ever seems to talk about a text message list.
Yet, clearly, Holly’s strategy shows that maybe we’ve been missing something all along.