Publishing is an adventure, whether we are talking about traditional (through avenues such as New York) or independent. It’s more than just writing a damn good story and releasing it to the world. It’s about marketing and covers, social media and contests, reviews and interviews.

And it’s a whole lot of testing to find out what works.

My day job is working for a financial newsletter company and while I might run the editorial department, I’m not free of the machine that is our marketing department. They are constantly testing things such as headlines, pictures, blurbs, and a variety of offer prices to see what readers best respond to.

I do the same kind of testing with topics, headlines, subject lines, and images. Because if I can increase our email open rate by just one percentage point, that’s several thousand new readers that I’m reaching every day.

I’ve brought that same kind of mentality to Drake & Elliott Publishing.

While writing great stories is our passion, it’s also a business. Rinda and I spend half our time worrying about how we can torture our characters and the other half of the time trying to figure out how we can reach more readers. (We’d love to spend all our time with our characters, but the business world just doesn’t work like that.)

Since we launched Unbreakable Bonds independently, Rinda and I have conducted several tests.

Test #1 – Newsletter

I’ve never been big on newsletters. I get too many emails already. However, I know that a lot of readers like to use newsletters as a way to keep up with new releases, new books in the works, special giveaways, and other fun things.

Over the past year, we’ve grown our newsletter list and readers have responded well to it, so we will be using this more with exclusive contests and special surprises.

If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter yet, click here. We only send it out when we’ve got a new release.

Test #2 – Unbreakable Bonds in Kindle Unlimited

This was a terrifying test to conduct. By putting an ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, you are agreeing that it won’t be available for any other outlet (such as B&N Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and others). That’s giving Amazon a lot of power, which is always scary. I’ve always been taught not to put all your eggs in one basket.

On the other hand, there are a lot of readers who use Kindle Unlimited and it expands our exposure to those readers we haven’t been able to touch yet.

Unbreakable Bonds has been a successful test within KU over the past three months so we are going to keep it in there for a little longer as new readers continue to discover our books.

The New Test – Ward Security in Kindle Unlimited

With the success of the Unbreakable Bonds test within KU, we are going to expand it to include the Ward Security Series for a limited time.

We are going to start by placing Psycho Romeo in Kindle Unlimited starting on Friday, January 19. If you prefer to read your books using something other than Kindle, you will need to pick up your copy before Friday.

If you use KU and haven’t read Psycho Romeo yet, this is great news! You’ll be able to add it to your library on Friday.

In addition, we are aiming to release Dantès Unglued, Ward Security book 2, on Friday, January 26. There is no pre-order and it will be released directly into Kindle Unlimited. It will also be for sale at Amazon. (Those who don’t buy mobi, can still buy them at Amazon, then convert them in something easy like Calibre.) This does mean that Dantès Unglued won’t be immediately available outside of Amazon. However, we may remove it from KU at a later date so that we can release it on Kobo, Nook, and iBooks.

This also doesn’t necessarily mean that the third book in the series, Deadly Dorian, will follow Dantès Unglued into KU when it is released this spring. We are deciding each book on a case by case basis.

Future Test — Audiobooks

Yes, we are still looking into audiobooks. They are a significant upfront cost and we are willing to test it. However, we need some good test material.

The concern is that if we use a book from a series as a test for an audiobook, then readers assume that you’re going to do the rest of the series regardless of the fact that you suffered a major financial loss on the endeavor.

It’s easier to test a stand-alone book. Unfortunately Rinda and I haven’t written a stand-alone book yet.

Audiobooks are still in the brainstorming phase.

In the meantime, we’ve got more snippets and goodness coming out around the release of Dantès Unglued.