Author seeks readers

CofusedAsk any indie author what their least favourite part of the job is and they are likely to say “marketing” or “getting people to read my bloody books”.

There seem to be an infinite number of tried and tested marketing strategies, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Joining social networking sites, acquiring a huge following of fellow authors and touting your wares at them on a daily basis.  This method seems to work best for the self-publishing how-to books that expound the virtues of it.
  • KDP Select Kindle promotion days when you give your work away for free. The disadvantages of this method are that you cannot sell your books in digital form anywhere other than Amazon for three months and, perhaps more frustrating, that the free promotion days themselves have to be promoted!
  • Having a large portfolio of work for sale and keeping one title permanently free so as to attract new readers who will, hopefully, like your writing so much that they will buy all your other work. It works particularly well with the first in a series of books and is a great way for talented writers to demonstrate their skill and build a fan base. Alas, even this is not without its problems. Firstly, there is the difficulty in getting the books free on Amazon (a significant player in the game whether we like it or not) as it can take weeks to get them to price match. The downside is that the author really does need a significant portfolio to make it worthwhile. Nevertheless, still probably the best option if you can do it.
  • Getting all your friends and family to write glowing reviews and generally doing all kinds of other things to skewer the ratings of your book. Do I even need to say that this is the least likely to succeed in the long term? Readers are becoming very good at spotting desperate marketing tactics and are likely to be put off no matter how good your writing is.

There are any number of articles that analyse the relative success of the various methods and so many of them conflict that I have come to the conclusion that doing nothing might be just as effective as anything. I wonder if I have the nerve to give it a try.

Ok, I’m Over It

I’ve been fairly quiet for a while.  This has been, in part, due to me being busy doing fun, family stuff but there has also been an element of needing to recover.

The Lighthouse took it out of me.  The whole process of writing it, and especially editing it, was gruelling.  When it was over and I’d finally, reluctantly kissed it goodbye and hit the upload button (ok, buttons because one cannot yet distribute to Amazon and the other major outlets through a single process), I started to wonder why this one had been such a big deal.

I’m not suggesting that I didn’t care about the other titles that I’ve published, I did, and everything I’ve written has been painstakingly edited.  It’s just that, this time, painstaking doesn’t cover it. I agonized over every sentence.  Why was it so painful?

I think the answer lies in the subject, the theme.  I had to get it right.  Ann Barford is a fictional character but she is a character that I have lived with for a long time.

In order to write a character convincingly, I believe that the author needs to believe in that character.  To me, Ann Barford was real.  I got to know her, to understand her and to care about her and, finally, to (well, I guess, that would be a spoiler).  Suffice to say that on every read through (and that went well into double figures), I cried.

I cared about Ann Barford but I think the reason for that was, at least in part, that I knew that, in the world that I live in, there are thousands of real Anns, going unnoticed and unheard.  I had to do them justice.  I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility.  I felt the responsibility of avoiding stereotypes and of accurately representing one of the many and varied reactions to childhood abuse without suggesting that it is the only reaction.  I hope that I achieved that but, mostly, I hope that the message was clear.  Silence may be golden but all that glitters is not gold.

So what now?  Well, I’m going to spend a few days reading other people’s work.  I’ve got a couple of titles that I need to write reviews for and I’m also part of a working group for the editing process of what promises to be a fantastic novel.  I’m also going to be writing a piece of flash fiction for a horror fiction website, by which time I should be ready to get back to work.

The novel is a long way off –– at least a year.  In the meantime, there is the anthology of shorts and a series of short stories based around Txt –– more on that later.

Busy times but (to quote a phrase) I’m loving it.

Just one thing, if you ever hear me suggest that I’m going to write about something that matters, stop me.  I don’t care what you do, hid the laptop, tie my hands behind my back, whatever it takes — just, please, for my own good, stop me.