Friday, October 9, 2009

The Gonzo Guide to Marketing

So marketing. Techniques to build a platform that isn't a gibbet...

As said, one half-hearted blog and some posturing on peer review online communities wasn't really going to cut it in drumming up much interest. Okay, the video promos were in pre-pre production, but that was about the size of it so far.

Step 1 courtesy of the wonderfully informative Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes on Twitter, website In one of his many product tested and recommended columns, Dan spotlighted, A free service in which you can display all or as much of a sample of your book as you chose, in a form where readers can have the virtual experience of turning pages like a real book. So superior to uploading inflexible Word documents for your MS. You can upload your ISBN number and copywright it on site. You can post links to websites, YouTube and a link will add you to's marketing tweeting, though having just joined Twitter haven't caught my name in their despatches yet. You can follow the number of readers both statistically and plotted on one of those easy on the eye graphs. Readers can leave comments or become fans. Did I mention all this is FREE?!

Step2 build a website. Meh. Made the decision I was going to devote the website wholly to the novel. It would tie in directly with posts expanding on specific themes or sources solely to do with the book. My more instantaneous and responsive posts would be made on my blog (see below). Now I will admit to a real dislike to opening up my thought processes behind the decisions that went in to the writing of the novel. To me these are the scaffolding that holds up the edifice while it is being constructed, but which comes down once the edifice is up and complete. I don't think they are inherently interesting in themselves, especially if you haven't read the book when they must seem impenetrable. If you're doing a reading and a Q&A to an audience some of whom will have read the book, then it is a different matter. But the website is intended as the first point of call for people to get information about the book which may or may not influence them to buying it.

So instead, after the fairly straightforward intro and plug stuff, I write more about some of the themes in the book in a wider context that the book couldn't really go into. Some of it still related to the craft, such as how I came by the character's names and a wider consideration of naming in literature, but some range over the incendiary themes in the novel (the novel swipes at British culture in the 'Noughties'). For example, binge drinking is an ever present in the novel, so on the website I give the subject a fuller and more rounded consideration than the Cyclopean view represented by my main character. I can opt to do several of these sorts of spotlights, since there are a myriad of such themes throughout the book. The website is still under construction.

Step3 Twitter. I'd held off both Twitter & Facebook as something for the kids. As a writer devoted to the word, I couldn't begin to imagine myself firing off 140 character bulletins and making any legible sense. A very sassy and sussed writer friend, Deborah Riley-Magnus threw down the Twitter gauntlet (and her wonderful new writer's showcase site and some personal hectoring on her part, saw my will weaken. A conversation with a techie non-writer friend of mine, who consumes his literature by podcast, planted the notion that I could Twitter as my fictional character which intrigued me. The ever trenchantly wonderful Nicola Morgan on her blog sheared the last frayed threads of my resistance and I signed up. Initially I just had one Twitter account in my heroine's name and character, but while I could range freely over 'what she was up to right now', I was struggling to maintain real time and real people communication. So I signed up for a second account as the writer behind her.

As of today, I have been on Twitter 13 days. The amount of information I have got from being pointed at people's blogs is huge. I have entered the various debates I've come across that are pertinent within the writing community. In doing so my desultory blog has taken on a new lease of life as I find myself writing every other day or so and posting. I am conducting my own internal debate online through my blog. So many aspects of marketing and self-publishing I'd never even thought about are now whirling around my head. The use of video not as marketing but as part of the literary 'text' itself (through 'vooks') being one of them for example. Thanks to the wonderful pioneer @namenick and innovative @revolucion0 on Twitter for igniting my appreciation of the possibilities. Namenick's blog can be found and revolucion0 her WIP and the craft.

But apart from the information available and the steers towards them from other people, the increase in traffic to my blog and sample are incredible. Now these may drop off, but in 13 days I have tripled the visits to the bookbuzzr sample of my novel. Of course they might not read more than a sentence, but even so a hardened old technophobic cynic like myself is suitably impressed.

Also the instantaneity of Twitter is amazing. Spotted an Open Mic possibility last Sunday. 24 hours later I was doing a public reading. Saw a call for 10 line flash fiction in the US, by the time I was going to bed I was published online on their site. Am currently engaged with another author I'd never even met 10 days ago in an interactive writing project online. I had sworn to myself that I would write nothing new for the 6 months I was giving over to publishing and marketing the novel. In the last 7 days I've never written so much new stuff, albeit not all of it creative fiction. These new media demand you to pick up your own pace. I readily admit you need to invest a lot of time in order to maintain a presence in all these social media and that this week I have been privileged to be on leave from work and have been able to apply myself fully. This will inevitably drop off when I return to my day job next week. There is also a valid consideration that an unpublished writer pontification on their blog might be somewhat on the self-indulgent side. All I can say is that reading other writers' blogs, not all of whom are professional, has given me lots to cogitate on and evaluate my approach to the whole panoply of what writing involves. If you do post thought-provoking peices, it augurs well for attracting more people to your platform. I aim to be shooting my first video, not of a reading, but of a consideration of craft this weekend. Just waiting for some props to arrive through Amazon to illustrate the argument on video...

The quality of the information, the intensity of the interactions, the constant refreshing of one's own visibility, represent a huge step up from the polite shadow boxing that are online peer review sites such as YWO and Authonomy. It represents a step up in class, to playing with the big boys, the professionals and the semi-professionals, as against the hobbyists of the writing communities.

Oh and did I mention, all the above are FREE to the user. There are no economic barriers to entry.
Weebly (website)

There is no excuse. Not even being a technoninny like me. The above are all simple enough to engage. I've set most of them up within the last 2 weeks, so there are not even huge time implications. I'm sure there are far superior versions for websites and the like, but I'll leave those for you to hunt down. These were navigable by me and job's a good'un as they say oop North.

Next post back to Legends Press progress report

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