Tag Archives: marketing for unpublished writers

Sci-fi and fantasy authors cut their own throats to bring readers a #99c book #bargain. Like Mr Dibbler.

Patty Jensen Promo May16I just wanted to give you the heads up about this because… if you’re thinking of downloading Escape From B-Movie Hell and waiting for me to run a promotion, well … now’s your time. It’s down to 99p or possibly 99c but a lot less than it was, anyway.

Ooo why now MT? I hear you ask. Well, actually because it’s part of a giveaway this month. The giveaway is featuring a whopping 150 other science fiction and fantasy books which are all down to $99c on Amazon over the weekend of 7/8 May. So here’s the link to the promo:

http://pattyjansen.com/promo

Should you prefer to buy your books from sites other than Amazon, I’m really sorry, I buy most of my stuff from Kobo, myself, so I appreciate the frustration you must feel. Therefore, to make up for this giveaway being a bit Amazoncentric I also include links to Escape From B-Movie Hell on the other sites, where it is discounted also. So at least if you want to, you can pick that up for 99c between 4th May – 8th May.

Apple UK
Apple US

Apple AU
Kobo
Nook/Barnes & Noble
Google Play

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Filed under General Wittering, Interesting

Press and publicity. Could I? Should I? M T’s upcoming stall at #BurySt Edmunds Christmas Fayre.

McMini’s latest, as he looked out at the pouring rain and the dark, sub-aqueous sky this morning.

“Mummy, I think the sun has decided not to get up this morning and it is hiding under the covers with its underpants over its head, refusing to come out.”

Very succinctly put. Naturally a long conversation ensued about the specifications of inter galactic underpants as we discussed size, standard of flame retardancy would be required when constructing (make doesn’t reflect the size of the undertaking) underpants for a star.

To be honest, today, I’m feeling a little bit like the sun, myself. I’m doing an event at the end of the week, so I have been having a go at press stuff. I started yesterday – nice and early natch (not). I’ve got something going that reads a bit like this:

“Hello I’m M T McGuire, an author based in Bury St Edmunds and delighted to be taking part in the Fayre this year at Cornhill Walk Shopping Centre (just behind Moyse’s Hall Museum). Come and visit to see the wonderful crafts and gifts made by local artists and while you’re there, why not say hello to me too? You can pet Bob the voiceless Tribble, pick up a free bookmark, and if you want to sign up for my mailing list, your name will be entered a free draw to win a book related mug (no, I’m not talking about the one behind the table).”

It’s very difficult to market a funny book. It’s difficult to market any book actually and as you know I’d kind of decided to give up on the idea. Indeed, my strategy for all marketing has been this:

Marketing? Pfft, easy. Ignore it until it goes away.

Marketing? Pfft, easy. Ignore it and write books.

However, there are people locally who have actually enjoyed my books and with the Fair, sorry Fayre, looming I thought I should at least make a token effort to tell the local folks I would be there.

In this post, I’m going to give you some advice. I’m also going to share a powerful secret: i.e. the many and varied ways I’ve bollocksed it all up so that you don’t have to.

In theory I’m supposed to be good at this. I was a brand manager for a household name company. But when 98% of the population knows who you are you don’t exactly have to try. Everyone is agog to know what your brand’s view on x, y or z is or what it’s doing next. You are, basically, insanely newsworthy AND not only that, but you have half a million quid to throw at making the 2% of the population living under a rock which is unaware of your brand well… aware.

Interestingly, as the brand manager, representative of the corporate heavyweight, I developed various techniques for putting others at their ease, most of which involved humour. In the bus and coach company, they worked. Unfortunately, public passenger transport is not your usual public relations arena. I found that people wanted you to be able to do your job, but if you could be humorous about it at the same time, they considered this a bonus rather than any lack of professionalism. I remember lengthy conversations with a freelance representative from one magazine about a mythical agency we would found together called “we write shite” you get the picture.

Since then, I have learned – possibly to my detriment – that this is not how the rest of the business world works, indeed, it may be that the transport industry doesn’t work like that any more. It’s been 12 years and one child since; a lot of my brain has gone missing and I couldn’t possibly comment. Coupled with my genuine lack of professionalism (cf 12 years: one child: no brain comment) this has not done me any favours.

Yes people, even if you are marketing a humour book, for God’s sake, don’t try to be funny: not until the interview, anyway, then you can be as funny as you like because you’re talking to your audience. I think, if you are able, it’s worth waiting until there’s some point in the press talking to you, too. Until there’s something in it for them. As a very small time affair, I feel quite arrogant and jumped up approaching them now.

Press coverage will not necessarily win you fans but it will put your name in front of a lot of people. However, if you can win yourself enough fans, it might bring you some press coverage anyway. A lot of fans is reason enough for the press to write about you. And if you have a following, your hopeless ditzyness melds magically from unprofessional conduct to cute eccentricity.

If, like I am this week, you find yourself called upon to abandon your concentrate-on-the-writing-and-wait-until-you’re-established-enough-for-them-to-seek-you press policy, here are a few handy hints.

  1. Make the information as interesting and up beat as possible.
  2. Target it. Use a press guide like Willings (or Pimms Media Guide if it’s still going). You should be able to find one at your library. Obvious suggestions are to try your local press, if you think they will be interested as well as magazines or new sheets aimed at fans of your genre(s). It might also be worth looking into press dealing with any other area in which you have a hook. In my case, magazines for mothers or families might be the way forward because I’m a stay at home mum. If you’ve written a thriller set in the world of competitive hang gliding, then magazines aimed at people who enjoy hang gliding or are fans of hang gliding might be a place to start.
  3. Check it. Make sure all the dates, times etc are correct. If you have discalculia, take extra special care to avoid doing what I did and telling everyone that your event on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th November is on Friday the 29th and Saturday 30th. That doesn’t look cool. However, if you have done that. Accept you’ve stuffed up and move on.
  4. Send it to them. Yes, very obvious this one but you have to be in it to win it. Even if you are pretty sure, in your heart of hearts, that nobody is likely to tell their audience about your event, send in the info because you never know. Let’s face it all they can say is ‘no’… or nothing. But if the information isn’t with them, they can’t magically know about it. Try to imagine ways you can make it useful to them as well as yourself. If they can see an obvious benefit from using it they may be more interested. Avoid doing what I did, though which was suggesting topics I could talk about for a radio interview. I was unsure at the time, because it’s kind of teaching Grandmother to suck eggs, but a day on I am cringing so I reckon it was a bad move. Er hem, there are reasons my publicity for this event hasn’t gone too well and the biggest one, so far is me. Perhaps that could be Thing Five.
  5. Avoid being the thing that holds it back. Ask nicely: be as courteous, cheerful, pleasant and polite about approaching as you can and try not to do anything dumb.
  6. Give them time – I have failed miserably on that score too – remember they plan their stuff in advance and so a couple of weeks’ notice rather then ‘oh tomorrow I am…’ is always going to be more effective.
  7. Be patient. Sure you can follow up (once, possibly twice if they sound interested) but don’t hound them. They’re busy and you are not the centre of their world; they have a lot of other stuff to do, deadlines to meet etc.
  8. Accept their verdict. They know what their audience wants. If they think that news of your stall/book/appearance/existence is unlikely to be of interest, you’re just going to have to suck it up and accept it. They probably have a much better idea of what their audience wants to hear about than you do.
  9. If they do give you some coverage, thank them.

So to sum up:  firstly, if you have an event on, then, obviously, you must tell the local press and anyone else who you think will be interested. After all, all you can do is ask. However, if you’re an obscure nobody, such as myself, accept that your information may not be used.

Secondly, I believe, more and more, is that for obscure and little known writers, our efforts are best put into writing books, good books that people will love. I’m sure there is a tipping point, I’m sure there is a critical mass at which sales suddenly skyrocket and members of the press start calling us. I’m sure that some people hit that tipping point with their first or second book; through luck, hard work, judgement or all three.

However, I’m equally sure that for most of us, that stuff is years in the making. So you and I, how do we go about it? We just keep going. We do stuff, we courteously advise the press it’s happening, we follow up and we carry on. The best products sell themselves, grashopper, but it takes time. And for all the events, appearances, signings and publicity that you do, the place you’ll sell the most copies of your next book is between the pages of your previous one.

—————————————————————————

 

M T McGuire will be at Cornhill Walk Shopping Centre, in Bury St Edmunds, on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th November. That’s the one behind Moyse’s Hall Museum and opposite McDonalds. She will be giving out free book marks and selling copies of books from the K’Barthan Series to anyone who wants to buy them. Should you wish, she can even devalue them by signing them for you. You can also purchase Christmas cards and there’s an alphabet poster on sale. You can pet Bob the voiceless tribble and watch him make a noise like an annoyed lawn mower. If you sign up for the mailing list your name will be entered into a free draw to win a K’Barthan Series mug (not the one who wrote it, obviously, I mean a thing to drink hot bevvies out of).

 

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Filed under Author Updates, General Wittering, Good Advice

Here’s to embracing my inner tortoise. Hello Mr Hare, would you like to try some Mogadon?

Hello and today it’s time for a rant. It’s the end of August. Tomorrow it’s back to zero sales, the brown band of shame will be mocking me from my KDP reports page. I’ve long since abandoned hope of selling a single book anywhere but Amazon – despite my best efforts.

You know, I believe you can make your own luck. Except that I also know that, in reality, the only thing you can control in your life is the way you react to what happens. But I think that if you can delude yourself you are in control, you’ll probably make a better fist of it.

On to my books, or significant lack thereof. One of the many things I’m doing wrong, not writing a book every month. Instead, I’d like to share my frustration, if I may, at my complete inability to do… well… anything. Because if the Not Very Good Club of Great Britain hadn’t become so successful that it was no longer not very good any more and had to shut own, I’d put forward my online bookselling skills as my reason to join.

You see, my books have stopped selling. For the last two months I’ve made one sale. Thank you, whoever you are. Obviously, this is my fault but the more I read around to see what I can do to improve, the more obvious it becomes that the thing you need in self publishing, on top of talent, in abundance, is time. So that’s me fucked. I seldom have 2 hours a day to write, let along to do social media.

Time, for me, is up there with unicorn shit.

So, writing a book takes a long time. Seriously though, I’m particularly short of time at the moment, there’s been no social networking, I’ve not sorted any reviews and the sales free months do point to a correlation between doing those things and er… not. Oh dear, so, interfacing with my readers. Mmm… there’s a box left un-ticked.

While we’re at it. Another piece of frequently given advice. Write what sells. So that’s vampire novels, erotica and thrillers.

Oh bollocks. Double jeapordy – a quote from the Constant Gardener there (check me, I’m highbrow). The fact is I can make more money writing corporate puff so if I want to write something I’m not really fired up to write, I’ll write web copy, thank you very much.

So… what can I learn by picking through the twisted girders and dust that comrpise the Ground Zero of my literary aspirations?

Thing 1: Don’t start with a trilogy, not right off the blocks. Trilogies are really hard to write because basically, what you’re looking at is a 400,000 word book. That’s like telling your cookery teacher, at your first lesson, that you won’t cook jam tarts, you’ll cook that thing with the smoke and the iPod to listen to that Heston Blumental serves.

It’s hard to keep track of who has done what, when and to whom, in a book, especially when it’s 400,000 words long. If you are bringing up a small child at the same time – which, as anyone who has attempted it knows – is the equivalent of having your brains stirred, constantly with a giant wooden spoon, it’s monumentally stupid. The more you have to remember, the longer it takes to get back into it again when you stop. Which I have to. A lot.

The secret then, is to write lots of shorter stories. If I hadn’t published the first one in blind panic, afraid that I’d be last to market, that’s what I’d have done. Ah. Never mind. It’s a good plan. One I fully intend to exploit when I finish this wretched trilogy. So, my own advice, write short things and for the love of God, if you must write a trilogy out of the gate and don’t publish ANY of it until it’s FINISHED. yes, I published my first book in 2010. I should have been publishing it next year.

Write a series if you must, but go for stand alone books. Trust me on this one, Aunty MT has well and truly stuffed this up so that you don’t have to.

Then there’s the working hard thing. The fact is, I am a stay at home Mum and I write… well, actually I write because I can’t not. That’s why I call myself an authorholic; because it’s like a bad crack habit. If I worked at it like a job, 9 – 5 it would probably take me a bout 6 months to write each book, which is lucky because doing the Mum thing I have much less time than that. So to find the ‘six months’ required takes me about 2 years. Not feasible for a publisher then.

Even so, it seems sensible to do something with the crap I spew out, and so I get it professionally edited, get ritzy covers done and then I publish it myself. I hope to succeed, no, scratch that, I hope to write a book that is so good it will succeed on its own merits. Hey, I actually KNOW I’ve written a decent book but heaven knows, though I give it my all, I’m piss poor at selling the bloody thing. Let’s qualify that, I can sell it to random strangers on the street, at social events, signings etc but online? Nah.

Which brings me neatly onto the social networking aspect. OK I have a smart phone now so Twitter is easier but bloody hell. How do these people do it? Write a well conceived, sensibly thought out blog post every day while being a full time carer or a full time parent and publish books on top. Jeez. I’m in awe. I’m floored. Hats off folks you deserve to succeed. I just… I mean… how  is it possible?

There is a way around social networking hell. Skim, drop in the odd post, queue up lots of blog posts when you have the time. Put a timer on it – an hour, morning and evening, say and hey that’s a couple of hours left to write. However, I still find that exploiting social media (sod exploiting it, it exploits me, let’s be realistic, I’m just talking about getting the ruddy stuff to work) takes hours longer than it should. Hours. A commodity I do not have. Me, I’ve done it all wrong. I’ve made friends on line and now I spend my time talking to them. Hmm….

Having had my rant, I have to say, I’m at peace with my choice. But sometimes I feel slightly put upon, as if I am being judged for trying to write and sell my own books and have a life at the same time. But I have family and sometimes there are crises, or people are ill and they need me. Then there’s the annoying fact that I need more than 4 hours sleep a night and just… don’t have the time to pack everything into my day. But I can’t give it up. I know hard work is the answer but not at the expense of the people I love. And I know that, sure as eggs are eggs, while I strive to succeed, I am competing with people who have probably written a better book than I, who have the whole sodding day and… well… let’s say my stuff is less likely to make it big.

I’m an ex marketing manager, I know how to promote stuff and I’d say I’m quite placid and relaxed but, sometimes, even I find it hard to take the realisation that even if I cracked it with a really good novel, the difference between success and failure is, above everything, to do with the time I do not have.

So, let’s cling to the belief that I’ll manage to buck the trend; prove to the world that you can succeed in slow motion. Because lord knows that’s the only possible chance I have. I don’t begrudge anyone their success. I appreciate how hard they must have worked for it, but the fact that I do what I do in a very short day, and everything stops in school holidays, doesn’t make me any less committed, or serious. Although it might make me a bit more frustrated.

The fact is, you can set yourself deadlines but if Real Life gets too hectic you have to re-evaluate; the deadlines have to give.

Here’s to embracing my inner tortoise. Hello Mr Hare, would you like to try a Mogadon?

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More McMini…

It has occurred to me that outside the input from others this blog is officially, not funny any more. So I decided the best way to fix that was to abandon my postings about McMini on facebook and put them here, where everyone can see them. So, here they are.

First up, McMini on… hmm, yes, well, I suppose this is a kind of recycling.

He sits in bed examining the soles of his feet and carefully peeling off a bit of loose skin (have you got the boke yet? I have). He holds it up.
“Look Mummy, I am eating this meat. It is delicious,” he says, puts it into his mouth, chews and swallows.
This morning, things have changed.
“Mummy, I picked a bit of skin off my feet just now but I didn’t eat it because it stinked, so I threw it away somewhere. I don’t know where it is.”
“Great, I’ll look forward to finding that later,” says Mummy.

McMini on hunger; recently, he has been developing hollow legs.

“I’m so hungry I could bravely eat a dinosaur’s tongue! And the horns of a dinosaur.”

Polite rebuttal.

“If you will excuse me Mummy, I am feeling a little tired now so I think I will have a sleep.”
“Night night.”
“Night.”
Mummy gets three quarters of the way down stairs.
“Hey Mummy! Come and look what I’ve found!”

Scientific enquiry…

“You know the little hole on a whale’s head? Well you know the water that comes out of that? Well, it’s old air. I am going to try and blow the old air out of my nose. When the water goes into my mouth it is cold but when it comes out it is warm.”
Science fact number 63. Old breath has water in it.

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Have a look at my box. Phnark

OK, seriously then. There’s a little box to your right labelled, “UK Amazon Kindle Webring”. This is a group of websites from the users of a group on Goodreads called the UK Amazon Kindle Forum – now there’s a surprise.

Anyway, you can find the group here

If you’re a British author I can recommend joining. There are lots of really useful forums on the internet where you can ‘meet’ and ‘speak’ to other authors but many of them are American sites, and while there are lots of lovely people on them, they do tend to be so terribly high-minded and serious. So, if you want a bit of levity as well as excellent book recommenations, information, interaction with readers and other authors etc the UK Kindle Forum is a good place to go.

Plug over then. Apologies, I am blitzed. McMini put olbas oil in his eye on Friday night – nimble fingers and an enquiring mind; a dangerous combination. I rinsed his eye thoroughly but we still ended up in casualty. They were great; saw us very quickly and we were home by 9pm but I’m amazed how knackered an hour or two spent worrying whether your son has irreparably damaged his sight in one eye makes a person.

We have now completed the course of eye cream and in return for his bravery I will now have to purchase him a Spiderman T-shirt. Note to prospective parents, bribery works well on small children.

On the up side the olympic flame went past our house yesterday and I even managed to take a picture. See below.

Olympic Torch: Bury

The Olympic Torch goes past my house.

Marvellous.

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Taking the plunge

Having discovered the lovely Smashwords is going to charge witholding tax I have been feeling, for some time, that my plan to e-publish my book has been a bit well… to put not too fine a point on it, pissed on. Now though, I have a plan.

So, here’s the deal.  I’m going to serialise my e-book for free, starting the last week in July. Anyone who gets bored reading the instalments can buy a copy of the e-book in advance for £2.50 or, if they really want to push the boat out, they can buy a paperback. Incidentally, the free, serialised, e-book will always be available. My aim is to get it printed for a price that will allow me to sell it for £7.99 and send it anywhere in the world for a tenner!

Terrestrially (is that the right word) I’ll try to sell the paperback locally, my local book shops, a signing, publicity in the local papers, radio and if I could swing it, TV, e-mails to friends, family, clubs etc. The angle being stay at home parent with two year old writes and self-publishes book – might add NCT or the like to the list for press releases then.

I’ve thought about Amazon but because they demand you sell it half price I’d have to list it at £15.99 in order to sell it for a reasonable amount and leave room for costs an their cut, let alone actually earn anything from it.  It all seems to be a bit artificial to me.

So there we go, that’s the plan… I took a big breath and sent off for the ISBNs today… one for each format of the serialised e-book, one for each format of the sold e-book and one for the paperback.

And yes, it’s a lot of money all this printing and isbns and gubbins and I could end up looking a real idiot. It’s sort of daunting and yet quite exciting too.

On a lighter note, scion pointed at my Dr Who mug today and, unprompted, shouted “Darlick”.

I did tell him what a Dalek was – when he was about 5 months old at any rate – but I don’t remember mentioning it since. Even so, clearly it went in.

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Filed under e-publishing, General Wittering, self publishing

Blimey!

I’ve had a bit of a pip tonight.

My first freebie short story, Is This Heaven? has had 108 downloads on Smashwords and is linked in two other writer’s profiles. It’s had about 350 hits on Freado/bookbuzr and Scribd but I’m not so sure of the accuracy of their stats… but I digress…

My point is, I put the second short story – Bog Man – onto Smashwords at about 6.00pm last night.  I hoped to get a few hits, I thought that if I did it would mean that the people who’d downloaded Is This Heaven liked it and had been waiting for the second one.  Well, by the end of the evening 75 people had downloaded it, by 6.00pm today, 86 people had downloaded it, even better, two of them were new readers who liked it so much they downloaded Is This Heaven, too… 7 Smashwords authors have linked to Bog Man in the first 24 hours, too.

Mmm (says a very smug M T). Isn’t that a pip?

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Filed under About My Writing, Blimey!, e-publishing, Encouragement