I have finally decided to do some marketing. You are surprised? How do you think I feel?
I have redone the copy on the first two pages of my website. The first page is now about independence. The second is about vulnerability- childhood abuse and mental illness.
I have done a slogan – a sort of mission statement in four crisp adjectives. Oral, universal, episodic and non-linear. I have changed the email signature to include a version of the slogan. I have been paying attention, as you can see, to what the email says about the ‘message’.
And I have been on Amazon collecting the names and email addresses of reviewers. That’s the big thing.
I don’t like social media and I’m not good at it. I don’t want to rely on social media as the main way of selling books. I wanted something more direct. I remembered something about offering free copies to popular reviewers. I couldn’t remember how to do it.
I went on Google. I found not one answer but two, and I found them straight away.
I rejected them both. There was a clear and practical piece on Joanna Penn’s blog by a guest author about finding the most popular reviewers. That is obviously what you need to do if you want bestsellers, and probably what you need if your book is quite general. Mine are specialist. That isn’t going to work.
I was quite excited by a site called Jungle search. It’s a way of doing advanced searches on Amazon. Then I realised it was set up for Amazon.com and there was no way I could change it to Amazon.co.uk. what I want right now are English readers. World domination can wait awhile.
Jungle search however gave me the key idea. I could search by genre and sub-genre. I could find broadly compatible books.
I went on Amazon.co.uk. I clicked on Books. I clicked on Science Fiction and Fantasy. I chose Science Fiction. And then I clicked on Dystopia.
I looked for books that interested me. I looked on the right of the page for books with five stars. I looked for books with over a hundred reviews.
When I found a book that met my criteria and opened it up. I scrolled down. I clicked on See all customer reviews. I clicked on See all positive reviews. Then I scrolled down until I found a long review. I didn’t bother reading it. Length was evidence of literacy.
I clicked on the reviewer’s name, and brought up their profile page. Some listed emails. I noted the email, the name and the book they had been reviewing on an Excel spreadsheet I happened to have handy. I need the title of the book will enable me to personalise the email.
By the time I started going obsessive-compulsive I had thirty emails. I reckon I need a hundred for a useable test. That’ s going to take another few hours. Then there’s the business of sending them out.
I’ve already got the copy. I think I’ve got two sentences to get their attention, and another two to persuade them.
I’m going to offer a free copy of the eBook edition of In the Night the Men Come, the first novel. You can’t gift books on Amazon.co.uk. You can on Amazon.com. What I will have to do is download the the HTML file from Kindle Direct Publishing, as if I was going to make corrections. Then I can send them that.
I think the ratio of emails to reviews is going to be about twenty-five to one. I have no idea what the ratio of reviews to sales is going to be.
If I get two to five reviews it will make sense to repeat the exercise with The City that Walked Away. I will need to trawl Amazon again for fresh emails. If I get one or none I don’t know what will make sense. I do know I’m not a quitter.
I can do something similar, only this time collecting web addresses. I can visit the sites, and check out the book bloggers. That should enable me to do something more focused and selective. Whether the results will be any better I don’t know.
I am a bit worried about what happens next. I will be publishing Flame Deluge, which is about Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, in a few months. The promotion for that will be very targeted.
All this feels like heavy lifting. I can do it once. I don’t feel I can keep doing it, and the next novel is probably three to four years off.
In one of the How To books I remember reading a comment about self-publishing being like publishing straight to the back list. That makes sense. But how do I keep sales going, year on year.
The only thing I can think of is word of mouth. So the question becomes, how do I get some word of mouth going?
Photo via Visual hunt