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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No TV, No Regrets

One of the best things I have done in the past year, without a doubt, is to give up having a TV. When I moved to my new apartment just before lockdown no.1 I decided to do without one. I have not looked back or regretted a single minute of it.

Sometimes people go a bit quiet when I tell them this. I admit, there was a time when if someone I knew said they didn’t watch TV I thought they were a bit boring or odd. If they didn’t know about the latest TV shows or watch the news, what did they do with their evenings?

My timing as it happened was excellent. As the UK went into lockdown, I broke free of the daily COVID briefings, the figures, the charts, the daily doom. I’d dip in to see what was happening via the Internet then break free back into my own world again. Instead of worrying and fretting, I read more and began to write again. My head clear of the daily jargon and politics, I could concentrate on things that I could change, not the things I could not. Suddenly I was working more productively and feeling much stronger and happier.

That isn’t to say I didn’t watch anything, I still have Netflix on my Mac and I would watch an episode of whatever took my fancy once or twice a week but I didn’t feel that slave like draw to switch on the TV at the end of the day. It’s an amazing freedom. I honestly thought I’d cave in after six months but here I am, still enjoying the lack of a big black box in my living room. The living room is more aesthetically pleasing without it too.

It has been a year where I’ve been able to produce a book, take more photographs (albeit only very locally), learn how to code (a little), read non-fiction (not usual for me), learned the rudiments of sailing, and I’ve rediscovered a passion for cooking. Plus I’m fitter because I used my bike more. Instead of slumping in front of a TV, I took to two wheels to spin around the city in the evening. I meditate a few times a week and have increased my repertoire of yoga poses (no I’m not going to show you).

Not once did I miss anything or feel ill informed because I don’t have a television. My only regret is that I didn’t give it up years ago.

In other news, a few people have asked if I based my first story – The Clap, in The Isolation Sex Stories on myself just because I live in an apartment now and the main character lives in an apartment. The answer is a definite NO! I did use living in an apartment block as inspiration but that, I can assure you, is as far as it goes. I can sympathise with the character but in addition to all my other new healthy living behaviours, not a drop of alcohol passed my lips for around two months. Having said that, I’m not quite so saintly now…

The Isolation Sex Stories

The Eight of Swords

The Putsi

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