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I quite often express views in this blog – and share them on Facebook and Twitter – that some may not agree with. So far those views have not reached anyone who felt so strongly they felt the need to be hateful in their response. My professional writer friend, Lucinda Clarke, reaches a much larger audience and that comes with the risk of being subjected to hate mail as she explains below. Such behaviour is inexcusable. Like Lucinda, I wonder when people started to forget their manners when engaging in debate and argument. What happened to free speech?
I’m reblogging this article because I am in a similar state of despair about book marketing. It seems to me that, whatever you do, there is so much ‘noise’ out there, and so many authors promoting their books – or paying marketing websites to promote for them – that your chance of being noticed is zilch. Which explains why a book described by an award winning writer as “a well written, intriguing and topical political mystery.” has failed to reach double figures in the Kindle sales report. And zero sales in North America.
Why is book marketing so hard? There are many reasons why – too many books being published, authors giving away books for free, social media noise, you name it. I won’t go into all of them, but I do want to dissect one:
Again, this could be interpreted in a variety ways – and I would not claim to know what is good and what is bad. Things that have worked for someone with a romance novel may not work for an author of horror. Things change all the time, so for example it’s known fact now that if you give your book away for free and climb to the top of Top 100 Free Bestseller list on Amazon, once you switch to Paid, your rankings will fall dismally, because you have sold exactly zero paid copies during your free promotion days. Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, this…
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There are many small publishing companies offering to assist new authors to bring their work to public notice. A lot of them are run by people who have a genuine desire to promote the work of poets and writers working in niche genres. I am thinking, for example, of the Dublin based Dedalus Press run by Laois native and poet Pat Boran.
I thought I might be on to something similar when I read this mission statement on the website of a UK based independent: “We are keen to open up the world of publishing at a time when many publishers are turning their backs on untried authors, and when the lure of self-publishing seems to provide writers with control, but at an exorbitant cost … We are always looking to take on new authors, recognised or unknown”
To be fair, they were upfront abut the potential catch: “However, as the writer you may be asked to cover part of the cost of publishing the book.”
An enjoyable read
I decided to see if they would offer me any kind of deal. They responded within a couple of weeks to my initial submission of 3 chapters and a synopsis with a request for the full manuscript. A few days ago I received their assessment. First, the good news: “Your work [is] an interesting and enjoyable read … sales … forecast looking optimistic … your work deserves to be published.” These encouraging words are framed within a lot of b-s about meetings with editors and marketing people before offering a “contribution based contract” in which “the amount asked is only a partial sum towards the considerable costs involved.”
In fact, “the amount asked”, when I find it in clause 15 of the contract, is £2300, a sum which seems to me to be in the neighbourhood of the “exorbitant cost” they claim is involved in self-publishing. Bear in mind that they will take “a maximum” of 290 working days to carry out their part of the contract and it will be a further year before I actually see any royalties. I shall neither be signing their contract, nor parting with any money.
So, it’s back to the digital self-publishing route. I am using Kindle Select to take advantage of the extra promotion you get from Amazon in that programme, preceded by 30 days of pre-orders. I can use the pre-order period to preview my book and correct any formatting glitches or typos, as well as pushing the book as hard as I can via social media. I may also take advantage of one or more of the book promotion websites that do not charge “exorbitant” prices for their services.
I intend to use Amazon’s CreateSpace to produce a print version which should be available about the same time (October 1st.) as the Kindle edition. Once the initial 90 days of Kindle Select promotion are past (January 1st. 2016) I will make it available on every other digital platform through Smashwords.
I have designed my own cover using an image I found on-line. The only problem is that I cannot find the owner of the commercial rights to the image. If he or she is reading this I hope they will get in touch so that we can come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Below are links to the book at Amazon.com and .uk.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of attending a writers’ workshop with the Irish poet Pat Boran. It was extremely informative and did a great deal to boost my confidence as a writer. Earlier this week an English photographer I follow on Facebook – he and I once wrote for the same e-zine – embarked on a personal project in anticipation of his 65th birthday. Over the next 26 weeks 65×65 will become a collection of photographs and haikus that appeal to their creator, Martin Wilson. This afternoon my twitter feed contained a link to a review of Pat Boran’s latest book which just happens to be a collection of photographs and haiku. I immediately thought of Martin’s project and shared a link to the review of Pat’s book on his Facebook page. Within minutes Martin posted a comment “Thanks Frank, I will enjoy this, I’ve ordered a copy.” Surely a serendipitous turn of events!