Author adventures in marketing…

The sun is out, the sky is blue, there are a few clouds but they aren’t spoiling the view. As tempting as it is to go out and enjoy the fresh air, here I am in front of my screen trying to get my head around book marketing.

I love writing my stories but it’s another thing altogether spreading the word about them. Writing is fun but hard work, marketing is even harder. I enjoy producing graphics, I know my way around social media (to a point) but when it comes to advertising, it’s a whole new ball game. Suddenly I need to know target audiences. I have to create a budget for spending. I have to measure results and assess what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve watched lots of instructive book marketing videos. I’ve read the experiences of other authors. I’ve listened to podcasts galore. Somehow I still feel a little adrift because everyone has a different experience, what you have to do is weigh up the common denominators that lead to success. Even then, luck comes into it. In truth, writing is like any other business and a book is a product. However, it’s more of a personal kind of product to the author who has to do the promotional work so sensitivities have to be quashed.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to market a product as I’ve always worked in business of some kind but a book, well that’s a bit different. I see a book as an emotional product, it’s much more personal. The stories I write will strike a chord with some and may leave others cold. I have to put this at the back of my mind and decide that everyone will love them. Positivity is the only way forward. Once upon a time I sold books by other authors, that was easy. When you come to sell your own, it’s a very different feeling.

The only way to deal with things you aren’t comfortable with is to make them fun. Quite by chance I came across a site called AllAuthor.com and they provide all kinds of useful tools for promotion. It’s a great site for readers too, well worth a look if you want to find indie authors and the genres you enjoy.

When I wrote The Eight of Swords, I didn’t do much promotion other than through social media. This time I want to stretch my readership far wider. I’m thinking of the future and the next books I will write as much as my existing ones.

My first proper ad via Facebook taught me that it’s not only your book you may get commentary on, it’s the way you plan to sell it. For The Isolation Sex Stories I decided to sell it exclusively via Amazon. This is partly because I wanted to test how that would go and it meant I got a free ISBN (a number which simply put, is a product identifier and almost every book has one). At the time of publication funds were tight and it seemed the best way to go. Also, let’s face it, Amazon is one of the largest book selling sites in the world and Kindle is massively popular. In business terms it was a no brainer to use them.

Amazon has come under fire for alleged tax avoidance in the UK. Tax avoidance isn’t illegal but of course it is emotive. When my ad for The Eight of Swords popped up on one Facebook user’s newsfeed, he decided to plant a gif in my post’s comments concerning Amazon not paying tax. Unfortunately I had to point out that Facebook had been accused of similar and that the person commenting on Amazon’s tax avoidance happened to be using Facebook to promote his work and comment on my post. We may not like what these big companies do but we shouldn’t be bringing one another down over it.

The other thing the commentator pointed out was that he didn’t like unsolicited advertisements popping up in his newsfeed. Well, this is easily fixed, all you have to do is adjust your settings to say that you don’t want to be shown personally targeted advertisements. In truth, I didn’t mind the commentator being grumpy about the advertisements, I get a bit fed up with them at times too. Sadly what he didn’t want to acknowledge was that we are both people trying to show others our work, and yes, obtain sales. If you don’t like what Amazon does business wise, if you find it doesn’t fit with your morals, fine, don’t use it. But if you moan about Amazon while using Facebook, I think that might make you a little hypocritical…

Next time I will publish on a wider variety of platforms. Experimentation is always fun and interesting. I will write more about my experiences as I progress.

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Author: Petra Kidd

Norfolk UK is my home, I live in Norwich by the River Wensum where everyday there is something different to see and learn. I feel a big affinity with the river as I grew up in Cambridge, another great river city. My childhood and teens involved many walks along the Cam where we would watch 'The Bumps,' raft races and as we grew older we enjoyed adventures on our punting pub crawls. Growing up in a multi cultural university city definitely influenced my reading choices, I am a big fan of Japanese fiction, love French literature and enjoy Shakespeare. As a young teen I entertained myself with Jilly Cooper and Dick Francis and then became quite obsessed with Henri Charriere's Papillon. At school all I cared about was English, Art and French, in that exact order. When I finished with school I went to live and work in Greece for a wonderful year before returning to study English Literature and Sociology. At this point I read more classics like the Wyf of Bath, Wuthering Heights and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man plus poets such as Wilfred Owen. My first UK full time job was with Heffer's Paperbacks where I devoured several books at a time, excited by the fact I could borrow what I liked. Bizarrely for me I remember reading The Zurich Axioms, I have no interest in the stock markets but it had me gripped. I can't remember why I picked it up but I have never forgotten it. Heffers introduced me to so many authors, via their books and sometimes in person. It was here I learned about all the genres, it fascinated me that science fiction and horror were so popular, I tried reading it all. Aside from writing letters, it didn't really ever occur to me to write anything myself for many years as I worked my way through a variety of interesting and varied jobs. Then on a visit to the London Aquarium I became struck by an idea so powerful I sat down and wrote my first novel. It went nowhere as really I wrote it because I wanted to. I wrote another novel and again, didn't have the persistance or determination to take it further, I simply enjoyed the process of writing and my characters. Then years later another idea struck me and during a severe bout of Pleurisy where I couldn't do anything physical for months, I wrote the Eight of Swords and The Putsi. This time I published them as ebooks and they became pretty popular. When I fully recovered, I had to concentrate on my business and looking after my mother who has various health issues and the writing went adrift again for many years until 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world. March 2020 I moved to my apartment alongside the Wensum to live alone for the first time ever. During the first lockdown I began to write a diary and then the idea for a new set of short stories came to me and in February 2021 they will be published. The Covid-19 Pandemic is not simply a scary virus, it is a historical time and here we are trying to live through it. To many it will feel like a punishment but to me as a writer, in some ways, it came as a gift. Please stay as safe and as well as you can. I hope to entertain you with my stories as we all try to get through this together, even though we are apart. Petra

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