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Kevin N. Haw
Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2007 - 10:14 am:   

I have been interested in India and China as emerging SF markets and have posted previously about that topic (see http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/378/8164.html?1191642954). After wondering what sort of potential there was I decided to put my money where my mouth was and start a little experiment, posting the results here.

In November, I registered with Amazon as an affiliate member, which gives me a commission on any business I send there way. This is usually used by author's websites, but I instead tied it to a Google Ad campaign targeted at Google India. I then set up a link to subscribe to F&SF via the proper URLs (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00006KDW3?ie=UTF8&tag=httkevcom-20&linkCode=as 2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00006KDW3 if you want to give me a taste of your resubscription dollar). The premise was that I would set up a small budget and report back the results.

Unless, of course, it was a huge moneymaker. In that case, I'd keep my mouth shut and retire to Tahiti. (*GRIN*)

The ad was simple, created via the Google ad writing wizard to make sure the length would fit: "Fantasy & Science Fiction - Award winning Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - Subscribe today! www.amazon.com" and appears in the right column of the various search terms I set up on http://google.in. (They don't always come up due to the bidding process, but feel free to check it out. Just please don't click! It'll cost me about $0.25!) I was not concerned about language barriers, since the only people who'd buy the English language of F&SF would speak English anyways.

So, without further ado, here are the results of my ad campaign as of this morning, giving the keyword, followed by number of views, number of "click throughs," and cost.

science fiction magazine - 4 1 $1.28
science fiction - 432 4 $0.76
Ray Bradbury - 33 1 $0.20
Isaac Asimov - 313 2 $0.15
Stephen King - 469 0 -
fantasy & science fiction - 7 0 -
science fiction gift - 2 0 -
buy science fiction - 0 0 -
buy science fiction magazine - 0 0 -
fantasy & science fiction gift - 0 0 -
fantasy & science fiction gifts - 0 0 -
magazine of fantasy & science fiction - 0 0 -
science fiction gifts - 0 0 -

Google partner sites - 36,213 views, 87 clicks, $32.43 cost
Total: 37,473 views, 95 clicks, $34.82 cost

While I might have perhaps used some Indian authors as keywords, I figured that unless I saw their name in a recent issue of F&SF I'd take a pass. My criteria for Bradbury/Asimov/King was that they were the biggest names on F&SF's own page.

On the income side, I have not had a single subscription through my Amazon link (although, oddly, I actually had 144 clicks registered instead of the 95 Google reports - perhaps repeat visits or just my own debugging registering). At a 4% commission, that gives us... let's see... 4% of nothing... carry the nothing... Ah! $0.00.

So, as a money making venture, it was a bust. I was hoping that even if there wasn't the margin for a middleman/associate to be in the black, perhaps F&SF itself could take advantage. However, it appears there is no India SF Gold Rush out there.

Nevertheless, I still think that, as an emerging market, the SF community owes it to itself to actively pursue India market share.

If anyone has any fabulous ideas for new search terms or ad copy (and be warned, I mean *fabulous* since it's my money here) I might give them a try. Otherwise, I will shut down the campaign in the next few days. I had a lot of fun while it lasted.

- Kevin
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 09:34 am:   

Thanks for giving it a try, Kevin. I wish I could say I'm surprised at the results.

I do have to share one extra datum with you because you might not know it otherwise: it was great of you to link to the F&SF page on Amazon.com, but those subscriptions are sold through a third party. And that third party, of course, takes a commission. . . .
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Gerry Daumiller
Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 08:40 pm:   

Gordon, I think Kevin is the 3rd party, and his intention was only to generate subscriptions from India, not from anyone who may have read his post here or who would have found the subscription link from anywhere other than http://google.in.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2007 - 06:09 am:   

Yes, I understand that. I just didn't know if he realized that the subs we get through Amazon.com aren't as profitable to us as the subs we receive directly are. Believe me, I'm grateful for his initiative and I'm not complaining.
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Kevin N. Haw
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2007 - 02:25 pm:   

Gordon,

First, just to be absolutely clear, I knew you were not chastising me in any way. From the start of the experiment the idea was to tap into new markets, not poaching on existing subscribers as I've heard some of the seedy subscription services do (yes, I'm thinking about MPS - http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/378/7069.html?1197656519).

From a business standpoint, I understood your intent: it's better for F&SF's bottom line to do subscriptions directly because it cuts out the middlemen of Amazon and myself (which I hinted at in my post). It would be better for *my* bottom line to hand the subscriptions straight to F&SF and cut out Amazon (the "4th person middleman" to my "3rd"). Given that this was an experiment, I was not too concerned on that point, though.

A caveat: had I somehow opened up some kind of insane subscription frenzy in India, I guarantee I'd be setting up my own E-Commerce site to capture as much of that income as I could, abandoning Amazon and handing bundles of subscriptions over to F&SF. I value F&SF but if I have an option between Internet millionaire instead of my day job, Gordon will just have to make due with a smaller piece of the pie. Given that he is no fool, though, Gordon would probably figure out what was up pretty quick. He'd be hot on my heels to cut *me* out of the chain, buying his own ad space on Google.in, stringing cable through the offices, and calling tech support...

...which would, of course, be in India. Odd how these things come full circle, no? (*GRIN*)

- Kevin
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Roy Gray
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2007 - 11:35 am:   

We had similar thoughts about the Indian market at TTA Press and I approached a publisher called Frog Books in Mumbai. We heard of them through an Interzone contact who had his book published by them.

We thought printing in India would be relatively cheap and if we provided all the ready to go files Frog might be interested in publishing our crime fiction anthology 'Crimewave' as a start.
We were hoping they would print and distribute in India and only start to pay us when they accrued enough sales to constitute a profit. So we were asking them to take all the risk.

TTA would be responsible for the editing, graphics and proofing. Frog would have needed to change price, bar/cover codes and verso to suit their market conditions and practices. Assuming they did not need to change dimensions then, essentially, Crimewave would have been print ready which I assumed represented a significant saving.

In the end they wanted us to pay half the printing and the cost was similar to UK print costs for a similar print run.

It seemed somewhat risky for TTA and it all came to nothing though we did send them the files for CW9 and for all we know it could be on sale there now.

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