Wednesday, 30 June 2010

I'm baaack!

Got a new charger for my netbook. Finally.

Also got a new job for the summer. Night shift this week.

Next post is marketing strategy, right? Aiming to do that on Friday, then.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

My internet died

My netbook charger has died. I write my novel on my PC which has no internet access, so no massive problem there. (I can still write) but in an hour (when this battery goes) I will be cut off from the net.

I will be back as soon as I can get it fixed, but that may be a while. I'm sure you will all miss me.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Do you know what you are selling - marketing part 2.5

In the last post on marketing, I said there were three ways to market your novel. You could market a title, your name, or your company.

These are the three ways you can market. You have to decide on the best approach for you.

There are pros and cons in each of these ways.

If you are writing a series of Paranormal Romances (for example) you may want to promote the name of your series. The pros of this is that each books marketing will build on the marketing of the book before.  When you get quite far into your series, you will be able to do small amounts of marketing for large results. The con is that this works in polar reverse. At the beginning of your series this form of marketing will require a shit-load of work for negligible returns.

You might decide that you are doing one book under a certain name and you won't be doing anything else under that name, and you'll never write anything like that again. If so, promote the book's name. This is perhaps the easiest way to market and will garner you the best results. The downside is that the amount of work you put into it is relative to the amount of work you take out of it. So if you were to do a whole series this way, you would need to put a lot of effort into publicising each book in the series.

You might have a series of loosely connected adventures all focusing on one character (my upcoming books in my steampunk series will all focus on Lady Matilda Raleigh, Duchess of Leicester) and you may decide to market your character.  This is the Harry Potter approach - but the character can outshine you. Any future book by JK Rowling will have "Author of Harry Potter" on the cover. If she decides to suddenly start writing romance this Harry Potter effect will not be good for sales.

You may decide to market your name. This is a good way to do it; it makes you famous, not your books. So each of Stephen King's standalone novels are marketed under Stephen King's name - they will be written in his style, his authorial voice, will probably share themes, but not characters. The downside to this is that readers will build expectations into your name. It makes changing genre a pain the arse.

I will not cover marketing your company. You are indie publishers, and probably not thinking about growing your company to the point where it might be wise to market it. Curiously enough, I am. Marketing my company forms a large part of my strategy.

Ah, strategy. that's important. You have one of them, right? Strategy will be the subject of my next blog on marketing, I think.  Sorry this one was all text, marketing images are hard to find.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Do you know what you are selling - marketing part 2

So in the last marketing post I covered the difference between marketing and sales.  But now I want to know, do you know the point of your marketing campaign?

A lot of authors don't seem to know the point.

There are 3 ways to market your book.  Pick one of the three and use that as the starting point for your marketing strategy. Because (and here is the important bit) the method you use will depend on your goal. It will utilise different techniques, and it will net you different results.

  • market your title
  • market your name
  • market your publishing company* 
*sorry, pet peeve, a publishing imprint is a sub-division of a larger publishing company  wikipedia. You own a publishing company or small press, not an imprint.


  You can market the title of your novel (or, alternatively, the title of your series). I was on about book 4 or 5 before I realised Kelley Armstrong's series was called Women of the Underworld. There was no indication on the books that the series had a title.

On the other hand, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series  has a very distinctive Series name. In fact, the name has been so well presented that it is practically a brand. Every new novel starts with a blowing wind which is not the beginning because the wheel of time turns, it has no beginnings or endings. Additionally each new book is presented as Wheel of Time whatever number whatever title. And throughout the story characters reference the Wheel of Time.
You can do this with either your books title or your series title. You can market it to the point where everyone knows it. Sometimes viral marketing (word of mouth) will run with a title, and that's what gets marketed whether you want it to or not. (Which is why Dan Brown's novels released before DaVinci Code were reissued with new covers pointing out he was the author of the DaVinci Code).

Of course, on rare occasions you can market a character. At such times it is a good idea to include the characters name in the title. There are a few examples of this (such as Hannibal the Cannibal or Sherlock Holmes). The most recognised example, of course, is:


You can turn your name into a brand. There are a lot of authors who have done this, and you can spot them because the next book is always introduced as "Author's book."

Examples include John Grisham's The Firm or Michael Crighton's Jurassic Park. The most successful author to use this form of branding is, of course, Stephen King

Publishing Company

You can brand your companies name. This is unusual to the point of practically never being heard of. There are only a few occasions when this has been used. It is mostly used when there are a lot of similar books by loads of different authors, and readers want a particular style or genre of book rather than following a certain author's work.

Examples of this would be Harlequin Romance or The Black Library (publishes fiction set in the World of Warhammer).

Okay this feels like its getting long. I have a lot written past this point, I'm going to cut it and use it for a second post which will come online in a few days. It involves the pros and cons of the methods described above.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Killing trees

I just printed off 100 pages of story, started editing and realised it was the wrong damn draft.


Book Marketing and Book Sales Part 1

I've always known I wasn't like other people. I know everybody wants to be "special" and nobody wants to be "same-ish."  That's not what this is.

I don't think like other people do, and I never have. I'm not saying it's a good thing.

Here's an example: I have a lovely wife, a lovely young family, etc. I could buckle down and get a shitty full-time job that paid half decent wages, and take my family on holidays and buy our house etc. It's the dreams of every other guy I know in my personal off-line life. Their biggest ambition is to see their team win the world cup.

That's not an ambition I could ever buy into. We have little (ie no) cash because I'm a student, but money has never been important to me.

Seriously, the most I ever earned in a year is about 10k, so if I can earn that as a writer, I'll be able to support myself writing fulltime at the level I'm used to. If I can make £800 a month (which I reckon is doable once I got about 5 or 6 novels out there. We shall see) then I won't need to work.

Maybe other writers are like me. Maybe they look at people around them and think "How can you be content with such a normal life?" I love my wife, but I warned her when we met to never ask me to choose her or writing. I'd do anything for her, anything except that.

I go to college, and we get set tasks. I do them in completely different ways from everyone else, and quite often get better results. But these things just seem obvious to me.

It's the same with book marketing. I look at the ways other authors market their books (book trailers, blog tours) and I just think... why?

I can see the appeal to a blog tour. You get exposed to a lot of other readers (or at least, you hope you do). But do you?  I recently followed Kait Nolan's blog tour. I think she's a great blogger, informative and witty (I haven't read her book yet, but I'm sure I will at some point). I also read Nathan Bransford's blog. Last year (or earlier  this year, maybe) guest bloggers came on for a week. I didn't bother reading any of them. I give up part of my day to go to Nathan's blog to read things he writes, not things someone else wrote.

Is this me being weird? Probably, but I aint the only weirdo in the world.

And book trailers... how do they work exactly? If someone comes on my blog they can watch my trailer? If someone knows my name or my books title they can look me up on youtube? So I'm not actually attracting people that don't know I exist in the first place?

Yeah, I don't see these as being great strategies. I'm sure they work to a point, some people might read a guess blogger, a smaller amount might follow through to your blog. A much smaller amount might buy your book. And any sales a sale, right?

Here's my point... writers without business backgrounds get confused between marketing and sales. Marketing is all about research, and as writers you should have a handle on research. Marketing will help you set your price on your novel. It will help you pinpoint an audience. It will help you find out where your audience lurks likes to hang around, so you can stalk engage them.

Sales is how you engage them.

So Marketing would be the blogs you decide to go to on your blog tour.
Sales would be what you decide  to write in each post.

This is the first of a multi-part look at how writers can market and sell novels, and the steps I intend to take.  I'll be writing this sporadically over the next few months as I put the last touches to my novel and begin my marketing and sales drive.