Keeping Up Appearances

All the marketing advice in the self-published space states, that building a following and regular posting is essential. This creates an audience that might, just might read a book. To achieve such a following the marketeer (the author role has disappeared for now) has to use the various social media outlets and/or advertising paths to raise awareness.

Now alongside being a writer, the skills of social commentary have to be added. In addition, the writer has to become technically familiar with all the different outlets. These vary from a simple blog like this on WordPress to Twitter, PinIntrest, YouTube, Facebook, Google+Instagram, etc,etc. Then there are the sites like Amazon’s forums, Linkedin or Goodreads. I’m sure there are lots of how to books and site FAQs that can explain the best way of using a particular platform but who has time to read them!

If you are like me you will stumble through and try to figure out the best way to make use of the different functionality. You may link sites to each other as I do so that this blog appears on Linkedin and Goodreads whilst a link appears on Twitter.

Now that I have created a wonderful commentary even if limited to Twitters’ few words, which will enthral the world, people will flock to my site. As my latest offering goes viral the sales will naturally follow and soon I will have to hire a publicist, web-master etc. just to keep up. One tiny, tiny problem with this plan. The cat or dog or baby video, celebrity trending tweet, scandal or my own problem.

I simply do not have enough time in the day to read or watch all this stuff. At work I now have email, Intranet, extra-net, Instant Messaging, conferencing and a Facebook replacement called Yammer, occasionally I get some work done but normally only after responding to the email, and IM message asking why I haven’t responded to the Yammer comment.

At home when I should be writing the next chapter of my book I am reading Goodreads, occasional other blogs and trying to follow some Twitter and of course updating linked in writing and professional forums all in an attempt to get me noticed. To keep up the appearance of activity and interest in the hope that this will be reflected back. Then comes the killer blow. Nearly everyone I am in contact with is another author trying to do the same thing. Yes we are all readers too so we try and read and review and offer helpful comments.

Somewhere out there is a true reader that might write a glowing review. What? They write a review, but now they are a writer too. There are hundreds if not thousands of review blogs, all this writing and communicating all this social commentary and interaction is overwhelming. Yet this week I had one of the most pleasing and odd experiences a personal appearance at a book club. I talked to my readers! Whatever next direct social interaction the next thing you know people may use there electronic devices to phone someone. Now I need to get this published and word spread, it will go viral if I add sex or a picture of a kitten won’t it!

Kitten-prays

From http://catsinflats.com.au/adopting-kitten-cat/

 

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The Blog I Should Be Writing

I should be writing a blog.  A blog that allows me to link to my books in some way or adds to the greater good (IMHO) with a commentary on passing affairs.

Yesterday I had an idea about writing one describing the reasons why I have given up playing golf, perhaps another day.

I could add more on a whole variety of subjects that I would like to write about, Scottish Independence, the NSA, more on the hacking trial, even the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight.  Lots of things to talk about.  Instead what have I done?  Editing of my sequel to An Agent’s Demise (managed to get a link in somewhere).  I have lost track of how many times I have read and re-read sections, trying to hone the plot, justify character’s actions and get rid of the allowed for aloud stupid mistakes. I of course have written about this before, here, but, now I have an editor.  I hope I have also learned some rules even though some go against what I was taught years ago.

For example starting sentences with conjunctions like and and but is apparently allowed (not aloud). I was always taught to use two spaces after a full stop (not a period – sorry USA it’s called English for a reason) but apparently that means I am a dinosaur left over from the typewriter age. Professional publishing with its typefaces never used two spaces anyway, allegedly.  Now we have serif and sans serif fonts to worry about. With an ebook the publisher has no control over what font the reader uses on whatever screen resolution, in whatever colour (It has a u in it WordPress, Goodreads, et al) or not is used.  The quick brown fox Microsoft Word test is always fun in different fonts.

I’m rambling again, I still have another five chapters to edit in An Agent’s Rise before a Beta Reader test then an edit or three.  I’m also waiting the return of To The Survivors from a professional edit of the MS.  Then I have The Persuasive Man to send off and The World of Fives  .  I think it’s ready, having incorporated some Beta reader feedback. Maybe one more read through, then I’ll have to start Part Two of the series.  I was again asked if I would write a sequel to To The Survivors.  I am still not sure, I have to have an idea for the sequel, where does it go? The story I mean, I’m in need of inspiration.

Then maybe in a month or so I may be ready to publish my fourth and fifth books, different genres once more. Cover design, formatting, uploading (Smashwords I’m looking at you) then marketing.  I was not going to do any links but here I am.  A page of non-blog rambles with links to all my current and next two books neatly embedded.  Anyone would think I had done that deliberately.  Now where’s those badly used discarded golf clubs, I hear there are good prices for scrap metal!

Advertising for the Self-Published Author

Accoring to some sources there are 9,000 new books being published each month.  Most of these are new books from self-publish authors like me.  Sometimes we get called indi’ authors as in independent, but whatever the tag line we all face a huge challenge in getting out masterpiece noticed.  Lots of other companies vie for our trade to take our promotions further.  From blog sites like WordPress offering named domains to Publishing companies offering to promote the new tome for a fee.

For this blog I wanted to review my own experiences of several of these services in relation to my different books.  Like all reviews it’s my own opinion.

An Agent’s Demise

My first book received no publicity at all on launch as frankly I didn’t know how.  I did create a Facebook page and set up my website, but there were no Ads.  It was enrolled in KDP Select and had over 3,000 downloads on its free days.  It even got to number one in its genre in the USA for a couple of days.  After it was no longer free it disappeared from the rankings, currently number 272,000 in the rankings on Amazon.com.  More recently it did share advertising space via Project Wonderful.

Result – No publicity worked, no change in sales with Project Wonderful – I put this down to beginners luck and a popular genre. I am now looking to re-edit professionally, if I can justify the fee.

To The Survivors

When my second book launched I was on Goodreads and I joined Bookdaily.  The book has sold steadily.  It has featured on the Project Wonderful Ads and I even did a You Tube Trailer.  Sales have been steady, currently ranked #12,935 the UK Kindle Store and #43 in it’s genre.  It has never been in KDP Select although it did launch at the 99c price point.  The only formal push through advertising was Bookdaily, although it was featured with accompanying articles on two blog sites, which prompted the creation of this site.

Result – Despite a more realistic price and no further advertising, the book continues to sell.  I am now looking to re-edit professionally, if I can justify the fee.

The Persuasive Man

For my third book I have tried, Project Wonderful, Ask David (Twitter), and it has even featured on Goodreads.  It is in KDP Select but sales have been exceptionally disappointing, even with free days on KDP.  Given the amount of publicity I hoped to at least get several hundred free downloads, but no less than 100 worldwide.  It’s now at 99c on KDP.  I have joined Twitter, blogged and talked about it. If I had done nothing there would be no change.  It has one 4-star review, not from anyone I know, and that’s it.

Result – Unclear, it may be the genre that makes it a difficult pick up, perhaps the cover, who knows.

The Methods

KDP and KDP Select –

The jury is out, yes I had a lot of downloads with An Agent’s Demise but virtually nothing with The Persuasive Man despite the publicity.  In the end what is the point of free downloads if it doesn’t generate future non-free sales or lead to reviews.

Project Wonderful

Budget set and controlled by me – 232,000 views of my ads, 81,000 unique, 51 clicks – no attributable sales

BookDaily

Fixed price per month – Featured book in emails, two months of cover to 23,000 emails.  1,500 allegedly read my exert – no attributable sales

Ask David

Cheapest method – 10 tweets to 19,000 followers each Tweet, – no attributable sales

Goodreads

Most expensive per day – 56,000 views of ads, 20 clicks, no increase on to-read lists, no more reviews – no attributable sales

Others

I have looked at vanity publishing houses, paid reviews, author exchanges and most look like scams with no solid results.  Lot’s of blog review sites all fighting for the same audience.

For one of my new books, I am trying a different approach with a story background blog already in place.  Just got to get some people to look at it let alone buy the book when it comes out.

Conclusion

It appears that advertising is a waste of money with these services.  Your advert cannot compete with the expensive adverts from the publishing houses on Goodreads let alone Amazon.  The list of services for Self Pub authors is expanding but getting a reader of a web site to actually purchase is not something any of the advertisers want to talk about.  For the Author it’s very much buyer beware.  The services mesmerise you with statistics on followers, viewers, page impressions, but don’t tell you the results.  The only information needed is how many people buy the book as a result of the advert.  On my evidence it’s virtually none.  Save your money.