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Saturday, 21 June 2014

To market, to market...

To market to market went my Uncle Jim,
somebody threw a tomato at him, 
tomatoes are usually soft to the skin, 
this bugger hurt - it was still in the tin.

One of those daft ditties that you hear in the school-yard and they hang around in the back of your mind, waiting for the prompt to pop out, and the nudge came thinking about marketing.

It does what it says on the tin, a wood preservative manufacturer used it recently and a variation is floating around as a verbal guarantee that something is genuine; it is what it says on the tin.

Marketing is not the favourite subject for many independent authors, and probably for a number of traditionally published writers who market their own works, but it is important. Pushing the novel to a point where it is noticeable. David Gaughran has a good piece about discoverability. Readers don't have a problem discovering books they want to read, the real headache is finding the time to read the massive list downloaded. So marketing must be about pushing the book to the top of the stashed list of down loads racked up for the days on the beach, lazy summer evenings with a nice wine, good beer, whisky, coffee or your personal choice of favourite beverage and nibbles.

Website and Blog links are straightforward, have a look  at cheekyseagull.co.uk  particularly the skyscrapers on the book pages. I have reduced the clicks to reach the point of purchase to a minimum. It takes a little while, but the effort is worth it. 

One of the links goes to Feedbooks.com, a source of traditional and self-published books. For the self-published author the deal is you can publish your book but it must be free.  With a selection of books available through retailers and toying with the idea of setting one at free on all channels this can be a useful site to add to the list. (Don't put your only book permanently to free, but if you have a series one offered as a taster may be worth considering.) Newly published novels are featured for a month after release; easy for yourself and the readers to find. The results can be reassuring, Iceline was posted in the New Year and in the first month netted over five hundred downloads. 

The analytics include a world map with downloads pinned by country and number. The daily download graph isn't 100% reliable, but a bit of simple math will give you a reasonably accurate total. They give an interesting picture of where a traditional British thriller was being picked up and enjoyed. 

Publicity will involve press releases,  (list of free PR sites here) ask the question and a host of search engine responses will leave you stuck for choice, an alternative might be to ask around on your favourite blog site and see what they can offer. A successful author is as good a place as any to start looking, the press release will have played it. The hook, well baited is what grabs the attention and we've already seen what such a hook can do to the unwary author looking to publish. If the horror stories are making you hesitate about taking the plunge, remember, you're not. There are hundreds, thousands of writers who have been where you are now and...jumped in!

"There is no stigma to success" is RjCrayton's call in her recent blog on publishing, a self-published author who enjoys success will be hunted by the traditional publishers (You are probably already familiar with the roll call of Hocking, Howey, Locke and others). She also comments that "There is a stigma to slow sales in traditional publishing," but definitely not in self-publishing. As a self-published author you have control, time is your ally not an opponent. The dearth of immediate post publication sales will not see your work remaindered or pulped.

There is time to reflect on what worked and what didn't, and the marketing doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. I carry business cards, contact details on the front, book links and a discount code on the back. Vistaprint has some good designs and ideas, or you can upload your own image or book cover. Originally supplying business cards they now offer a range of materials. Brian Marggraf offers a few pointers and an encouraging post about guerrilla marketing, a low key approach fuelled by your ingenuity.... after all, you are the best advertisement for your book.

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