Monthly Archives: May 2014

Adventures in Independent Publishing: Part 3

Launch Day

Market primed, you can finally hit ‘publish.’ The KDP service allows you to utilize various promotional offers, such as discounted pricing or offering your book free for a limited time. With X: A Collection of Horror, I opted for the latter.

Why would you choose to give the results of your hard work away for free?

To raise your profile, that’s why. You might also garner some favourable reviews from the buying (or free downloading) public, which will help boost sales in the long term. Some of them may like your stuff enough to swing by your blog, or even buy something else you put out.

Promotion, promotion, promotion!

I quickly learned that even if your book is free, you still have to promote it. Otherwise, nobody knows its available and it sinks like a stone amongst all the other free books. The obvious thing to do is bombard your Twitter and Facebook accounts with links and updates. This is a perfectly reasonable, but limited strategy, because unless you show a little initiative it’s quite difficult to reach beyond your existing circle of friends. A great way to make new friends (read: potential buyers) is to be active on Goodreads. This is the social networking site of the dedicated reader. And writer. So get involved – leave reviews, rate books, comment on threads. Engage potential readers. Of course, there are many other social networking avenues like LinkedIn and Instagram. Exploit these as much as you can but in my experience, they have limited marketing potential. The two biggest are Facebook and Twitter, so lets look at them in a bit more detail…

Facebook

A lot of people are very selective about who they allow on to their ‘friends’ list, often preferring to keep it to people they know in real life. That’s fine. Unless you are a writer, then you have to unlock the huge marketing potential of Facebook and use it to your advantage. At the last count I had 1,168 ‘friends,’ only around 15-20% of whom I would consider actual friends. The rest are other writers or publishers with whom I have loose relationships, friends of friends, and random people with whom I share similar interests. Plus, if a reader ever emails me directly to say they liked one of my books, I invite them to add me on Facebook. These are the people that make up my target audience, and probably the ones most interested in my writing endeavors.

Don’t rely solely on status updates. Be aggressive. And no, that doesn’t mean threatening to pull people’s heads off if they don’t be your Facebook friend. It means being proactive. Facebook is like a worldwide meeting place. A bar without the booze (unless you bring your own). It has literally millions of groups, places where like-minded people flock together to exchange views and opinions. Find the ones that apply to your chosen genre and live in them. They are not difficult to find, just run a few searches. If your book is about Teddy Bears with Uzi’s, there’s probably a group devoted to that. This is your audience. Talk to them. They won’t bite. After that, target the groups about Teddy Bears, then the ones about Uzi’s, then the ones about guns in general. You get the idea. A word of warning; don’t simply repost the same book link over and over again, or you might find yourself losing friends rather quickly. At least try be a bit creative about it.

Twitter

Building up a Twitter network is a long, laborious process that requires some level of dedication. Appropriate use of hashtags can help target specific groups of users, and some writers swear it has good marketing value. Others, like me, are yet to be convinced. It all seems rather disposable and lightweight to me. Whatever I think, with a reported 243 million worldwide users, its potential reach is immense. Utilizing it is another matter. Tweeting is very in vogue at the moment, especially amongst the celebrity fraternity. If you ‘follow’ anyone with large amounts of followers, especially other writers, it won’t hurt to send them a tweet asking for a retweet. Sometimes you’ll get lucky. I tried this approach when promoting X: A Collection of Horror, and was lucky enough to be retweeted by several notables with several hundreds of thousands of followers. My Twitter activity did garner me a few new followers but from what I could tell, this had absolutely no impact on sales whatsoever.

Blog Posts

If you take writing seriously, you should have a blog. If you don’t have one, get one. There are a lot who offer basic packages for free. I use WordPress. Presuming you already do, make good use of it. Post regular updates, and always try to include something of value instead of just random thoughts or book promos. If you are stuck for something to blog about, just write a simple book or film review. The best way to build on your blog following is to visit and comment on other blogs. You may also find that people you ‘meet’ in the blogosphere will very often add you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter.

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/

Listings

There are numerous sites that list free books, and even send out newsletters to their subscribers, which often number in the thousands. Some charge the writer a fee, others are free services that are presumably sustainable through advertising. A Google search will throw up dozens. Have a look around, and find out which ones work best for you. Here are two that I used:

http://thedailybookworm.com/

http://addictedtoebooks.com/free

My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IGHTFC8

Part 2 of Adventures in Indie Publishing, covering advice on editing, cover art and priming the market, can be found here:

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/adventures-in-independent-publishing-part-2/

Part 1, featuring an overview of the industry and an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing, can be found here:

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/adventures-in-independent-publishing-part-1/

Advertisements

The Literary Hatchet

Some things are better left alone…

My short story, What Happened Afterwards, is featured in issue 8 of the Literary Hatchet, edited by Eugene Hosey & Michael Brimbau.

The Literary Hatchet 8

The Literary Hatchet 8

Also featuring fiction by, amongst others, Trevor Denyer, Stanford Allen, Santos Vargas and Wayne Scheer, the print version is available here:

https://www.createspace.com/4788663

And the FREE download here:

http://lizzieandrewborden.com/HatchetOnline/LiteraryHatchet/downloads.htm

What Happened Afterwards is the sequel to What Happened to Huw Silverthorne, which was recently featured in the Trinity Gateways newsletter.


Cardiff City FC – What Went Wrong?

Let’s not beat around the bush, it has been a disastrous foray into the Premier League for Cardiff City. A season beset with controversy and off-field problems is finally coming to a close and the end can’t come soon enough for some long-suffering supporters. At the end of March, Cardiff fought back from 2-0 down to salvage a 3-3 draw at West Brom, a result and a performance which temporarily re-lit the fires of optimism. Only for them to be mercilessly extinguished a week later by way of a 0-3 home drubbing by relegation rivals Crystal Palace, a side who until that point had only scored six away goals all season. A narrow, and very fortunate win at Southampton kept Cardiff in the mix a while longer, but more points were dropped in a home draw with Stoke. Even then, largely due to other sides being even more inconsistent than them, they still had a chance of staying up. The end game was simple; win at Sunderland. They lost 0-4, and were finally relegated after a listless 0-3 defeat at Newcastle, slipping back down to the Championship with barely a whimper.

Ben Turner and Steven caulker leaving the field at St James Park

Ben Turner and Steven caulker leaving the field at St James Park

Since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was officially handed the manager’s job on January 2nd, City have won only three Premier League games and lost eleven. The most embarrassing of these defeats arguably being a 0-4 home drubbing by Hull and a 3-0 massacre at Swansea. City also managed to bomb out of the League Cup after being outplayed on their own patch by Championship side Wigan Athletic. These kinds of numbers do not lie. Something is drastically wrong. When OGS arrived at the club most fans, though upset at the senseless dismissal of Malky Mackay, were upbeat about the club’s future. Hovering just outside the relegation zone, the club were looking reasonably solid and tough to break down. OK, most of their goals came on the counter attack, or as products of set pieces, but they all count. Then, something changed. Though OGS promised more creative and attacking football, his constant tinkering with team selection and formations mystified even the staunchest supporters, and robbed the team of all fluency and cohesion. Any confidence drained away, and they went into freefall.

Take those two must-win games at Sunderland and Newcastle, two clubs in turmoil. When we played them Sunderland were bottom of the league, and Newcastle had lost six on the bounce. Cardiff made both of them look like Real Madrid. OGS played what looked like a defensive 4-5-1 formation with a solitary striker (usually Fraizer Campbell) who was often isolated and hopelessly outnumbered by defenders. The back four would hit a long ball toward him, and even if he could get a touch the midfield were too far away to offer any support. If I, and many other supporters, could see what we were doing wrong, why couldn’t OGS? In his infinite wisdom, one of the first things he did upon arrival was swap Peter Odemwingie with Kenwyne Jones, who has never been the most prolific of strikers. Jones has been disappointing to say the least, scoring a just one rather fortuitous goal on his debut. Odemwingie, on the other hand, has been playing out of his skin for Mark Hughes at Stoke.

OGS also brought in free agent Juan Cala, who conceded a penalty and got himself sent off at Sunderland, and Manchester United Duo Fabio and Zaha, the latter on loan (thank God). Neither of those have exactly set the world alight. Under Mackay the team was midfield-heavy, a problem OGS addressed by buying three more midfielders; Jo Inge Berget, Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Mats Moller Daehli, for combined fees of around £5 million. Out of the Norwegian trio, only 19-year old Daehli looks any good. Eikrem seems average at best, and in his few appearances to date, Berget has looked way out of his depth. Is it just a coincidence that each of the three players share the same agent as OGS, I wonder? The manager has said they were coming to the end of their contracts so were good investments. But with neither player able to get near a squad that was relegated, who on earth would want to buy them?

Without doubt, the best Cardiff City player this season has been goalkeeper David Marshall, which tells its own story. The club would do well to keep him for next season, along with other saleable assets like Steven Caulker and Gary Medel. It’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to hold on to them all.

In the aftermath of the Palace defeat, OGS used the press to accuse certain unnamed players of defying tactical instruction and lacking loyalty. This was particularly disappointing, as it reeked of someone ducking the blame. Most managers worth their salt take the blame for a team’s performance. After all, they are the ones getting paid a lot of money to decide the team line-ups, formations and tactics. It was also suggested that team news was leaked to former Head of Recruitment Iain Moody, now performing a similar role at Palace. Indeed, a staff member was sacked by Cardiff following an internal inquest. True or not, this kind of thing just adds to the media circus currently surrounding the club. How can the players and management possibly concentrate on the job at hand when all this is being played out in public? This is not an isolated incident. Cardiff City have rarely been out of the news all season. There was always something to debate, and not much of it very positive.

Tan the Man

Tan the Man

In recent pole in the Welsh media, the vast majority of fans laid the blame for this season of discontent at the feet of owner Vincent Tan, rather than OGS, Malky Mackay or even the players. Certainly, Tan is responsible for the bulk of the off-field distractions. Without doubt, the single most damaging thing he has done since assuming control of the club is to change the colour of the shirts from blue to red. I was one of the silent majority who saw the colour change as a necessary step to secure the promised investment. Red or blue, it’s still Cardiff City to me. I’m sick of hearing about it. But what the colour change did was cause unrest amongst the fans. It’s not unusual to see the red and blue factions argue and even fight amongst themselves. That in itself is nothing new to any long-term Cardiff supporter, our fans have never been what you would call united. But the endless off-field shenanigans this season and the resultant media attention have splintered and divided the fan base like nothing else before.

So, what went wrong?

The short answer to that question is ‘everything.’

My book, From the Ashes: The REAL Story of Cardiff City FC, is available now:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ashes-Real-Story-Cardiff-Football/dp/1845242130


%d bloggers like this: