Monday, 21 October 2013

Hints on promoting your book.


Hints on promoting your book and much more. This is a true story of an experience with a publisher and then my life as an indie.

It was such an incredible time when a publisher noticed my book on a writers website.  Overjoyed, I replied I hadn’t finished my book yet, but would send her the draft of what I had. Promotion then, was a foreign word, and one I did not even think about. All I had to do was sit back and watch my baby sell in its thousands.  I think some of us know that feeling, an unbridled delight and enthusiasm, that innocent expectation that we are the next big find. 

The launch day arrived; I was up early to click onto Amazon to see the rank, shooting its way to number one.  There was nothing – not one sale. On the third morning of gut wrenching dismay, sleepless nights and no appetite, an email arrived from the publisher: ‘Whoopee Katy, you’ve sold!!!xxx.’ Eagerly I went over to Amazon to see a rank of 56,000 appprx. However, the next day the rank dropped to over 75,000 apprx. One day rolled into another, a sale here and there. Now I was so thankful for that.  I was praying for one sale, just one sale, please God – please.

Another email arrived, ‘Katy; we're having a media blast on Twitterxxx’  Hurray, but what was a media blast?  I hoped now I’d see some action. Going on Twitter, my eyes widened; the list consisted of  just two entries, my publisher’s.  

The horror was yet to come, the reviewers. The one star reviews came thick and fast, with comments such as, ‘typos’ – ‘boxes instead of question marks’ – ‘who proof read this?’ – ‘get a copy editor.’  Then came the big guns, the ones who tear your book into shreds with a two-line review; some screaming they didn’t even want to give one star.  To save my sanity, I did get a few five stars, but even they had words about the punctuation and formatting.  The book was falling and falling. How could that happen? The book was copy edited and formatted so why? I ground my teeth, biting back the tears. Thank God, I had veneers otherwise, I wouldn’t have any teeth left.

Then an angel looked down.  An indie author wrote to me privately and told me the book was  brilliant but to get it copy edited. It was a mess. I went straight back to my publisher and found to my dismay; she'd made a mistake and uploaded  my first unedited draft M S on Amazon, instead of the final edited edition. So the book was sitting on Amazon all that time in rough draft form. Now I could understand the reviews; I couldn’t blame them. The publisher tried to make amends and uploaded my copy edited file. It’s hardly believable, but she repeated her mistake and again uploaded the unedited draft copy.  On emailing her on this, she immediately rectified it. However, it was a nightmare; she put the book on again under the wrong name. I now had another author on my book cover and title page. My new indie friend showed me the way out of the contract, but my book lay in ashes. I unpublished it

So, what’s the upshot of all this?  The indie author pulled me through and urged me to write another book.  I ’m now an indie and thank God for it. Through interacting, and  commenting on website owners posts, I’ve made some close friends. But promoting comes with a warning. When I first started establishing  a working network, I surfed the net, building up Twitter, Facebook, a website and two blogs, Blogger and Wordpress. Then it was a case of finding followers, posting  articles and photographs along with pics of the  books linked to Amazon and Smashwords. I also studied Wordpress, which has a mine of information on building up followers, presenting a more attractive blog and embedding apps and so on.

I also searched the forums of Wordpress, Blogger, KDP and Smashwords  for hints and clues on other avenues of promoting. They’ve certainly saved my bacon a few times This researching would go on into the early hours of the morning. At the same time, I was writing, copy editing and teaching myself Adobe Elements 10 for the book covers. Then there were the pitches and blurbs for Amazon and Smashwords. One day, I looked in the mirror and saw a female Al Pacino looking back. You know – the film ‘Insomnia?’ Happily,  early nights and some face cream helped.

So please don’t surf and click your way into a nervous breakdown; believe me, it does happen. Now I try to balance it all out. Using ‘a critical path’ as they say in the business world. I map out future work, and what I could reasonably achieve in one day and stick to it. That’s hard I know, as there are occasions when I stray, but it is so necessary to try to strike a balance, planning and timing writing, editing, promotion, forums, articles and posts for the blogs.

Another tip, have the 'sticky notes' up on the screen, type in websites when you come across them immediately.  I enjoy reading the forums, sometimes lurking and sometimes interacting. The posts from authors really do help, with lists of websites, writing hints, promoting info, and most importantly, support.  Many writers on the Net genuinely want to help others.  There is a lot of friendship and grace on the author sites.  So do search and interact.

Writers are a cheerful, hopeful, idealistic bunch, and I’m not being  slushy here, as I experienced it first-hand. As I wrote, when I was drowning with my first book, some authors reached out to me and pulled me through. So I can say, there is a lot of love out there; reach for it. Put out that virtual hand and someone will hold it. I have made some wonderful and close friends from all over the world. They are still with me and even though some people would argue they’re virtual; I love them. After all what’s virtual? You can’t see a heart or a soul, but you can feel them in the words on the screen.