Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lessons in marketing

The first book of my novel - The Great Scottish Land Grab - has been on sale for over a month now and I've been spending a lot of time trying to market it. (in between completing book two!)

As I've blown my budget for this book on solicitor's fees (more about that in another post), I'm limiting my marketing to £100 in total and am finding what a lot of self-published authors seem to find - marketing is a tough world.

I've emailed every member of the Scottish parliament asking if they would give a review or feedback. Six have requested a free proof copy. Less than five percent.

I've lost count of the number of emails I've sent out to newspapers, TV and radio stations offering free copies. The Shetland Times did interview me using the former local boy angle. Apart from that, not a peep. However, one media encounter I had - naming no names - did reveal the pressure the media are under due to the referendum. They can and will be fined if they fail to give unbiased coverage - something certain Yes and No supporters will deny and claim there is clear evidence of bias. As a result many media outlets are nervous about what they produce.

I had a T-Shirt made up. The book cover with text above it asking: Yes? No? Vote for...

I've worn that while handing out those business cards.

I had 750 business cards printed up. I asked for feedback through my author Facebook page and you can view the design there. Front had the book cover and the back gives details of how to buy the book.I've given out over 400 of these cards since they arrived. 300 individually. Through Amazon KDP's wonderful reports I can see exactly how much impact giving out 300 business cards individually has had... I've sold ten books!  Three percent return on investment.

Here's where I'm really struggling. I can't afford to buy advertising space on bill boards and in newspapers or on TV or radio. There are over four million potential readers in Scotland, forty million in the UK. The novels premise is of decreasing interest the further away from Scotland one goes. But there will be people throughout Scotland and the world that will enjoy this book so how do I reach them?

There have been a couple of interesting articles on the subject of marketing and investment over the last week.

Ian Hallett wrote an amazingly inciteful post on how many people your marketing efforts reach: 0.005% is the magic number. It begs the question whether the time I spend on Facebook or Twitter engaging with people is worth the effort. I do enjoy it though. Discussing, asking, answering, commenting, sharing... These are all things I want to do as a writer anyway and I absolutely want to be involved and engaged in the lead up to the referendum on Scottish independence.

The BBC also had an interesting article: The dos and don'ts of pitching for business investment. There are probably three things writers can take from this article:
  • Being recommended is the best possible way to sell a book.
  • Having written a previously good book will make it more likely someone will buy your new book.
  • Continuing to write and publish good books over time will convince people you are worth investing their time and money in by buying your latest book.
It will help when I've published book two. The story is far closer to being complete and questions I couldn't answer when I was marketing book one will be a lot easier to answer.

But going back to those 300 business cards I've given out. I've done this three times at events round Scotland, from Cumbernauld to Tarbert in Argyll and as far North as Unst in Shetland. I've also handed out cards to people on trains going from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Interrupted conversations and readers deeply engrossed in stories on their Kindles. I've been seen in supermarkets handing cards to check out staff and embarrased my kids on several occasions with my willingness to speak to complete strangers.

But... I'm not naturally confident at talking to strangers. I've left many encounters thinking, I really didn't handle that well.

I came across the book Body Language by James Borg. It's made for painful reading!

I don't want to manipulate people or deceive them but the books premise is that body language is a skill like any other. I can learn to interact better with strangers, to become a better salesperson.

Going back to Ian Hallett's post. He refers to Kevin Kelly's article on having 1,000 True Fans - a fascinating read for anyone wanting to make a living from creative work.

I'm on a marketing journey. These have been some of my experience so far. Are you marketing something? Would you like to share some advice? I'd love to hear from you ;)

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