[What Luke J. Kendall has learned, so far, about self-publishing]

Friday, 1 May 2015

Marketing, initial thoughts

Marketing

By happenstance, I've recently gained the opportunity to spend most of my time writing, rather than just small slivers of time.  I've been working out a kind of career plan for doing this, with the help of Karen Tisdell at the Chandler MacLeod Group.  I had my last session with her yesterday, and we reviewed this blog among other things.  She noted in particular that there's no mention here of the book I've written, Wild Thing,

which I hope to self-publish by the end of May.   Now, I started this blog with the intent to create a resource for others; and if it turned out to be useful, perhaps it would also indirectly promote my own work.  Fair enough, I hope you think.  But since my book is the very reason I'm trying to learn about self-publishing, it does seem something of an oversight to not even hint at its existence. (Insert sheepish grin here.)  Anyway, here is my current blurb:

“Raised in isolation at the Institute for Paranormal Dysfunction to test a heartless researcher's theory of magic, Sara later trains as a covert operative. Unknowingly stalked by a magical construct which evolves as it hunts her, seeking the victim it needs to 'correct' human nature itself - is her fate to be experimental subject, assassin, or humanity's doom?

Or can a 17 year old girl prove strong enough to forge her own Path, instead?”

If you're signed up with Amazon WriteOn (if you have any sort of Amazon account, I believe you can join: though note that it's intended for authors), you can see it there at Wild Thing.

Karen and I also found it hard to leave a comment on this blog, so I also plan to investigate that soon and write about it on this blog

Okay, so with that bit of self-promotion (pre-marketing?) out of the way, and fitting in with today's topic of Marketing, over in Anne's Support for indie authors group at Goodreads , Jessica recently ran a poll: What is the best way to drum up sales? Since this is one of the topics I planned to investigate, now seems a good time to put down my initial thoughts.  I'd previously mentioned CoPromote, and had been mulling that idea over.  From my rough understanding, it's designed to function as a cross-promotion system using Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.  It provides a link to the stuff you want to promote, along with a Recommend button.  If people check out your stuff and like it, they can easily Recommend it – which I think shares the CoPromote link to your stuff via their social media.

I consider this blog itself a marketing tool in a way, too.  If people find what I've written here useful or even interesting, they may be inclined to check out what else I've written.

Similarly, by offering my honest reviews of the books I've read, then if some people find them interesting, or think, “Hey, I enjoyed a lot of the same books as Luke, perhaps I'll enjoy what he's written, too?”

Of course, once you have a book published, you can create your Author page at Goodreads, as well as doing the same kind of thing with whatever site you've used for self-publishing.  Amazon has an Author Central Account, and I assume some at least of that will be visible to your users.

I think it also makes sense to use the social media you're active with, to promote your work.  In my case, that's just Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

I also think that probably a recommendation from a more well-known author is likely to be of enormous help in making people aware of your book(s).

Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing programme has a couple of marketing tools: if you sign up for the Select programme, then in return fro granting Amazon exclusivity, you have a couple of options for lowering the barrier for readers to check out your work: a few days of reduced pricing, or the occasional day of free pricing.  I imagine the reduced pricing is the newer model: the idea being that people are more likely to go ahead and actually read your book if they've paid for it, in contrast to squirrelling it away for possible future reading if they ever get around to it....

These are just my initial thoughts – I know there's much more I need to learn about this particular topic.  So please stay tuned as I climb the marketing learning curve.

4 comments:

Jon Edgell said...

Interesting blog Luke - (I came across it via Goodreads). It seems like you are at a very similar stage to me in the journey, with me potentially a month further on (my first tiny story is live on kdp amazon now). A few random observations:

I agree, there is so much to learn, and mostly "time does tell" and you learn from experience. My actual story took a week or two to write (it's only 1300 words) but to fine tune it, format it, load it up to amazon, then learn about marketing it took a few months. I wrote a blog entry about my experience with my first Free kdp week which is here... it concurs with some of the stuff you've been saying ... http://jonedgell.blogspot.co.uk/

The socials can be a huge timewaster. I do think the amazon kdp program is good - it's a relatively easy way into the market, but as such the market is very saturated. During the free week I tried I had 83 downloads but practically none before or since. There are so many free books available at any one time. But as I read somewhere else, maybe on your earlier post, free encourages people to just click away without buying into the product - I doubt many of those 83 have actually read the book.

I have used this first short story as a testing ground for the whole process and it has proved very useful - nothing like doing it for real. I have fine tuned it numerous times live now as that only takes about 10 hours each time and as hardly anyone is buying it, it doesn't matter. The only disadvantage is you can appear to buy it only once yourself so I'm stuck with the first version I downloaded so can't actually see exactly what it looks like on a kindle at the moment. The fine tuning has included changes to the front and end matter more than anything else. Manipulation of the Look Inside section, insertion of links at the back. I also picked up a few good tips on youtube for making the product detail stand out with some html.

Like you say so much more to learn - I've got a huge list of further tweaks to try. All this will be alot easier and quicker second time. Good luck.

Jon Edgell said...

I hadn't heard of copromote (their home page made me feel a bit dizzy) nor Writeon - this is a sort of work in progress depository for peer review?? Personally happy to miss that stage out and go straight to live and risk live reviews but know there are loads of communities and groups and forums where authors will cross review work in progress. Guess it helps alot if you are too close to something to be objective. There are lots of Writers' communities on Google+ but I find it so difficult to use (having said that I have made a couple of good contacts there).

Luke Kendall said...

Hi, Jon. Thanks for letting me know about your blog - I'll be reading through it, seeing what I can learn from your experiences. I see the sense in using a short piece as your testing ground: I discovered through hard experience that learning your craft via writing a full-length novel means that every time you uncover a flaw in your writing style you have have a lot of work to do, to fix it! But I don't generally like short stories, since I love characters and deep plots; and apart from all that, I feel a deep commitment to my main character and her story. I feel I owe it to Leeth to bring her to life. So, novel-writing it is!

Your comment about the socials being a huge time-waster echoes my own fears on that topic. Yet at the same time I can see that when you're self-publishing, you have no giant publishing house's marketing department to amplify what you give them to work with: you're kind of a one-man band doing it all yourself. So my goal with social media is to try to learn to use it wisely - to give good, useful information: stuff that will help those readers who may like my work, to find it.

Regarding not being able to see your updates - that seems very strange to me. If an author updates their work, I usually get to see it, as the version is updated/re-downloaded. Have you tried looking at your work in the Amazon cloud reader, that you just use in your browser? If you can't see it, I'd contact Amazon help to ask them what's going on.

Regarding tweaks, I 'looked inside' Rayne Hall's "Why Does My Book Not Sell" at Amazon and liked it enough to buy it. It has useful tips on a wide range of subjects - you might like to have a search for it and see what you think. (I bought it to go with her "Twitter for Writers" book.)

Luke Kendall said...

Yes, I have no real experience with CoPromote, either, I simply heard about it and I've looked through their site a little. I plan to delve into it more seriously in future. I haven't grasped the concept properly, yet, I'm sure.

WriteOn? Yes, it's Amazon's site where writers can post their works-in-progress, in the hope that other writers will review it as they go and give useful feedback. It's quite new, only coming out of Beta-testing in March I think. I got involved with it because I misread some emails Amazon sent me (as a past ABNA entrant). They sent two emails, one about Kindle Scout, one about WriteOn, but didn't name them as such and I conflated the two concepts and signed up to WriteOn thinking it was Scout. It took me two weeks before I posted a question expressing my puzzlement on a forum there, and learned by chance that I'd signed up to the 'wrong' one. :-)

Come to think of it, I should probably write up a blog entry about that topic – authors workshops. I have one I particularly like, and use two others, too. When they work, they're invaluable: not just because they solve the problem of being too close to be objective, but more importantly because they bring a breadth of viewpoints and life experiences that an individual can't match.

Re Google+: I basically agree. But I've been using it a little more seriously. It shares some user interaction modes with Blogger and Google Sites, so I find that what I learn in one often translates pretty directly across to the others. So I'm getting into it more, and finding it quite good.