Two months ago my debut thriller “BRAINRUSH, a Thriller” was sitting in a drawer. A few weeks later it was ranked #315 overall on Amazon and #18 on the Action/Adventure bestseller list. Without the Kindle, Nook, and other eReaders that would have been impossible.
So how did it happen? Let me start with some background.
I finished Book-1 of the series 18-months ago. It wasn’t ready to publish yet—I needed advance reader feedback first. So I uploaded it to Authonomy.com (a Harper Collins site) and received hundreds of comments that helped strengthen the manuscript. The book garnered a lot attention and in a few months it climbed to the #1 slot on the site (out of 9,000 books). I also entered it into the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest. BRAINRUSH made the semi-finals and as an award the book received a formal review by Publishers Weekly. The review was outstanding. I was thrilled. I landed an agent, signed a film option and started work on Book-2.
But traditional publishers still weren’t pounding on the door. Weeks rolled into months and the 2011 entry period for the ABNA opened up. I entered again, made the semi-finals and was awarded a second review by Publishers Weekly. This time they called it “a terrifically entertaining thriller.” Wow! My agent and I agreed it was time to get the book in the hands of the public, even if it meant going it alone. We figured that within the 12-15 months that a traditional publisher would require to publish Book-1, we could release the first three books in the series.
Of course “going it alone” meant a lot more than simply uploading a book. It meant coming up with a campaign to support the launch. After all, not advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark; you know what you’re doing, but nobody else does…
I believed in BRAINRUSH. So figured if I could just make it “discoverable” then readers would spread the word. A lot of folks recommend offering the book for free. But I struggled with that approach. I felt as though it might diminish the value of the book in the long run. So instead of dropping the price to zero I decided it would be better to give gifts to anyone who paid the $2.99 cover price. I checked around. Nobody had ever done anything like that before. Good—it was an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. As far as the gift choice—from a reader’s POV what could be better than a selection from the bestseller list? So I got permission from three top bestselling authors—CJ Lyons, Michael Prescott, and Rick Murcer—and started gifting their books under a special promotion called “FEEL THE RUSH! Buy-1 Get-2 Free”. (The promotion has since been expanded to include over a dozen top-rated books—several of them at the top of the NYT Bestseller list.) Readers loved it. BRAINRUSH sales jumped and people started talking about it. Best of all, hundreds of them emailed me after reading the book—and the response was positive. In fact, as of October 5th the book has received 63 (out of 77) 5-Star reviews, making it the #7“Top Rated” Mystery & Thriller on Amazon. Many readers said they couldn’t put it down—including celebrity singer/songwriter David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash, who wrote to tell me he finished it in two sittings and that he “loved, love, LOVED it”. And he wasn’t kidding; he even gave a shout-out at the MUSE benefit concert at the Shoreline Pavilion in San Francisco last month, with the likes of Jackson Brown, Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz and a bunch of others on the scene. Now that’s a brain-rush!
To be honest I’m totally blown away by the enthusiasm from readers. Sure, I talk a good game about “believing” in my book, but a hidden part of me is astounded every time someone is moved by Jake’s story. What an incredible feeling for this new author.
About the Author: As a young pilot in the Air Force, Richard Bard learned he had only months to live. Thirty six years later he’s still going strong. In BRAINRUSH he adds drama and adventure to his personal experiences in what Publishers Weekly describes as “an inventive and compelling hybrid of science fiction, adventure and political thriller that is terrifically entertaining.” Book-2 of the series will be released in December.