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A Perfect Place for Romance
By Pamela Samuels Young
Fifty Shades of Grey shined a spotlight on erotica and brought the genre out of the closet and into the mainstream. Despite its popularity, many book promotion sites are closed to the genre. Some sites that accept erotica, such as BookBub, can be cost prohibitive for new and mid-list authors. Book+Main, an innovative, all-romance book marketing platform, changes that.
Created nearly four years ago, Book+Main (pronounced “Book and Main”) allows romance authors—including those who write erotica—to reach new readers and sell more books.
The site caters exclusively to romance books and seeks to connect readers and authors in a more efficient way. “We believe the current system of choosing a book based on its cover and synopsis is broken,” says Melissa Saneholtz, the platform’s Chief Marketing Officer. “The majority of readers want to choose a book based on its content.”
That’s exactly what Book+Main allows readers to do. Here’s how it works. Visitors to the site can find their next read by searching for an author, a specific romance sub-genre, or a key word. The platform categorizes books in over 350 sub-genres and tropes, such as erotica, cozy, military, love triangles, and roommates-to-lover. Rather than purchasing a book based solely on its cover and a short blurb, readers get to read an excerpt—called a “Bite.” Averaging 500 to 1,000 words, Bites are chosen by the author and give readers a chance to sample an author’s writing style and story-telling ability before deciding whether to buy.
Book+Main’s flame ratings are especially helpful for erotica authors. When posting a Bite, an author must rate the excerpt on a scale of one to five flames (1-no heat, 2-first kiss, 3-heavy petting, 4-getting lucky, and 5-not safe for work.) The flame ratings allow readers to find books as hot or as mild as they can handle.
“We’re not a social platform that bogs you down and takes up all your time,” says Saneholtz. “Book+Main is a marketplace and our goal is to connect you to romance readers so you can sell books. Each time a reader engages, it helps our site get to know them. Think Netflix for romance readers.”
And like Netflix, Book+Main suggests Bites to readers based on their viewing habits.
After reading a Bite, readers are free to like it, comment on it, share it with other readers, or follow the author. They can also purchase the book by clicking a “buy” button that takes them directly to retail sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Applebooks, and even Audible and iTunes.
Book+Main isn’t a platform that requires authors to give away their books for free or to reduce the price. “You don’t have to discount your books to be purchased or downloaded from our site,” Saneholtz points out. “Our readers are buying based on your work and how it fits with their preferences. Hook them with your excerpts, and they’ll gladly pay full price. Any reader study will tell you that content is the preferred method of readers in choosing their next book.”
A free account on Books+Main allows authors to track the number of views a Bite receives, how many readers click on their book, and how many readers click through to the retail site to purchase the book. When an author initially registers, she’s allowed to experience the upgraded Pro account for 30 days. If she chooses not to upgrade to a Pro account ($9 per month or $99 per year) she loses the ability to create new Bites or edit Bites that have already been posted. With a free account an author can still add new books (without any Bites), update their profile, and access viewing and sales stats.
According to Saneholtz, authors who consistently post at least one Bite per week have better stats and sell more books. The more Bites an author posts with particular keywords, the better chance they’ll have of catching the eye of a reader. Pro authors are also selected for additional promotion on Book+Main’s social sites, blog and newsletters. Books are selected for promotion based on random selections, signups posted in the Book+Main author Facebook group, and through authors inquiring about possible promotion.
Once an author builds a profile, she can post an unlimited number of books. An author’s books and Bites have no shelf life and remain on the site for years to come, even with the free account. This allows authors to sell books for months or even years after they were initially posted.
“There will never be algorithms that suppress your bite,” Saneholtz also says. “Tag them with the right keywords and the right readers will find you.”
If you’re wondering about the significance of the name “Book+Main,” Saneholtz calls it a throwback to a prior era. “We wanted to evoke the feeling of the days where we’d meet at our local bookstore to talk about our favorite books. Most of the time that bookstore was on Main Street. So, think corner of Book+Main.”
To find out more about Book+Main, visit www.bookandmainbites.com.
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Author Pamela Samuels Young writes legal thrillers and women’s fiction. She also pens
erotic suspense with a legal twist under the pen name Sassy Sinclair.