Best Practices in Online Selling
As the founder of Internet service provider Juno, Charles Ardai knows a thing or two about making a big splash on the Web. When Ardai sold his company in 2001, the entrepreneur and writer, then all of 32 years old, decided to pursue his dream of reviving the pulp-fiction genre by starting his own publishing company, Hard Case Crime. He knew from the beginning that success would require good online-selling tools.
“It’s a pretty popular genre,” Ardai notes, “but it is a genre, and there is a certain fan base that loves this stuff. If you can find one of those fans, the goal is to hook that person, to get them coming back month after month.”
The Hard Case Web site (HardCaseCrime.com) is all about dangling that hook—from prominently displayed cover art to snappy descriptions and reviews. The publisher also posts one chapter from each book in its online catalog for free.
“It’s the drug-dealer model,” Ardai jokes. “Give them a taste for free and then they have to see how the story ends.”
Once readers are drawn in, the site seeks to make it as easy as possible for them to buy a book—or two, or a bunch.
“What we did was create a variety of different avenues into the online ordering and fulfillment system,” Ardai says. Hard Case books are published in collaboration with Dorchester Publishing, whose Web site handles all online purchases. “On our home page, we have several different links that go to the Dorchester back end,” he says, “[such as] the book club, a ‘find out about’ link, [and] a link on the home page to invite people to fill in their name and e-mail, where the lure is [that] we’ll enter you in a free drawing for books each month.”