The Carnival is over, as the song once said. In this case, I’m referring to NaNoWriMo, which finished last Friday. Do you remember that time, at the end of an exam, when you were told ‘stop writing’? I never actually had to, I’d always finished and was looking out of the window in panic long before that point. I tell you that, not to show how hopelessly unprepared I was, or how I was so clever and such a fast writer; but because it actually happened to me this time.
I couldn’t finish my NaNo project this year. I wrote just under 85,000 words but the story is still going strong.
I had to stop, if I hadn’t, I reckon I would still be going now. As it is, I think I’ve written the beginning of a sequel in there as well.
Jackson has lived in the Makewright Orphanage since his parents were killed in an accident. Now, he is selected to join a band of agents under the control of Sir Mortimer Langdon, investigating the murkier side of life in Norlandia.
In this tale, Jackson is thrust into action against a man who would use perverted science to take over the world. Using the latest fantastic creations of Steampunk technology Jackson and his friends must thwart The Master of Automata.
Here’s my certificate to prove it, now I’ve decided to put the story away for a couple of months before I return and start to edit it.
It means that I have to bite the bullet and do what I’ve been putting off forever. The ‘M’ word.
If anyone had said, when I was at an event, or a workshop, ‘hands up if you like Marketing’, you won’t have found my hand raised. In five years of trying to market my work, I think I’ve tried just about every method that there is. I have to admit, at first, I did hardly any, I just assumed that sales would come as my book was somehow spotted. Of course, it never happened.
I had another disadvantage to overcome. I’ve always worked in a place where I had no need to sell my services. Consequently, I had no real idea how to begin to advertise, so in time-honoured fashion, I did nothing and waited for readers to ‘discover’ me. Guess what, I’m still waiting.
I never wanted to shout “buy my Book” anyway. I always hated the sales methods of the cold caller or junk mailer. To balance that out; in the age of social media, I knew that I needed to stand out, create a buzz and make people interested in ME before I tried to sell them anything. And I also knew (even if I didn’t like to admit it), that my reservations counted for nothing. I wasn’t selling to me, with all my opinions and thoughts about what I liked and what I didn’t. I was selling to everyone else.
Just when you might think that I’d got it cracked, that was where my shyness came to the fore. I found that I hated putting anything much about myself online, for fear that it would be boring, or appear boastful. And I disliked commenting, people never seemed to ‘get’ my sense of humour and I found starting or following threads hard. I had experiences with trolls and was on the receiving end of the less pleasant side of the internet as well, which made me even more cautious in how I acted and reacted online.
My marketing strategy, such as it was, turned into a game of trying what had worked for others, I became addicted to trying all the methods I saw others gain success with. Things like paid advertising, creating an email list with a free giveaway, posting things about my life, where I had been, what I was cooking or eating. But although I got a few likes and comments, I still wasn’t selling anything much. It didn’t seem to work for me as it did for them. And I found that, as time went on, the number of subscribers that I had on my mailing list, supposedly the holy grail of marketing, fell until it was hardly worth my while creating a newsletter.
Next, I changed my book’s description and keywords, again there was a little success but not as much as I had hoped. I wrote and published more and more, adding it to what was now a bulging portfolio. Subconsciously, I think that I hoped that, by writing, I could convince myself that I was too busy and could ignore marketing. The reviews that I did get (and was allowed to keep), were promising enough to tell me that I was writing reasonable stories, some people liked them. It was enough to keep me going.
To be honest, I think that I’ve now reached the point where I need a fresh pair of eyes, and a revamp of the whole, sprawling mess that 4Star Scifi has become. So, as a project to occupy me over the next few months, or at last until March when Life and other Dreams comes out, I’m engaging the services of as many experts as I can find, examining each aspect of my operation and dragging it, kicking and screaming into a new way of doing things. That means looking at all the things I do, things like my free offerings, blog and posts. And the things that I’ve thought of doing, a possible box-set, turning my online resources into a textbook, advertising and all the other bits and pieces.
I will be posting about what I find I’ve been doing wrong (I suspect the answer will be most of it!), and the new things that I’m trying to get myself noticed without being too pushy, or spending too much, at least until I’m sure that I can cover the costs with sales. I have a whole list of things to try; without the pressure of writing, I can give them my full attention. And a couple of carefully selected books, from authors who have been successful, to get me going.
The first problem is knowing where to start. Do I optimise my website, start finding new keywords and revise my categories? Do I ramp up my social media, make more YouTube videos and advertising posts? Do I rewrite my author page, my book descriptions? Does my pricing need attention? Should I pay for people to do things or do it myself, free except for the time spent? Do I have the skills required?
There we have the reason for me putting it off, I can never decide where to start, or what order to do things in.
The next problem is this; there seem to be so many different ways to do the same thing. Every ‘expert’ is telling me that their way is the only one? There is so much information to digest.
That’s enough for this week, if I keep typing this, I will never get any marketing done!
New material can take a back seat for a while. My unfinished work can remain unfinished because if I don’t finally get to grips with telling people that I exist and that according to some, I write a pretty good story, writing more and more novels and blog posts that nobody will read is all a bit pointless.
Stay tuned for my reports as I progress and wish me luck, the Showcase returns on Thursday, with another great author.
While you’re here, please check out my portfolio and free offerings by clicking the links at the top of the page. If you have a minute, tell me about your successful marketing methods in the comments below.