An Update (with news of a freebie)

The Elevator

I published this short novel (or long novella) in 2016 under the title The Elevator: A Novella. It had been intended as a standalone, but a couple of things nagged at me after it had been published: what happened to one of the main characters, Jack, after the novel ended? And what of the being who appeared as a monk, who seemed to have a hand in most of the weird places visited by the elevator? I wanted to know more and the result is two sequels due to be published in early 2018: Jack’s Tale and The Lord of the Dance.

Having made that decision to publish sequels, I had to rename the original to make it clear it was the first in a series. Long story short, I had to unpublish the first edition and publish a second edition with a new subtitle, Book One. If there’s anyone looking in who has read the first edition, there’s no need to go looking for the new one – nothing’s changed except for the title and the front and back matter. The main body of text is unaltered.

I have taken the opportunity to publish the book wide so it is now available at places like ibooks and Kobo – see the book’s page on the sidebar for links.

Freebie alert: I have also made it available as a free download here. The idea of doing so is that readers who download the book also sign up to my mailing list, which is sorely in need of expansion. (See Marketing for Muppets – Part 3.) However, I have not made signing up mandatory so you can pop along and download the book if you wish without joining my list. Please, though, consider subscribing – you can see my privacy statement and uses I will make of your e-mail address on the side button ‘Stay in touch’, where you can also sign up to my list. (I’ve been running the list for a little over a year, during which period I’ve sent two e-mails. Just two. That will increase shortly when the sequels are published, but you’re hardly likely to be inundated with e-mails if you join.)

Edit: since (perhaps unsurprisingly) most people who’ve downloaded a free copy of the book haven’t joined my mailing list, I’m going to have to change it so that signing up is compulsory as otherwise the giveaway is not serving its purpose. This is the last chance to grab a copy without having to join a list – I’m going to change it tomorrow, 17th November 2017.

Ghosts of Christmas Past & Other Dark Festive Tales

I published this collection of dark, Christmas-themed short stories towards the end of October. It hasn’t yet gained much traction, but it’s early days for a Christmas-themed book. By the same token, the window for such books to gain visibility is narrow. To try to boost visibility, I’m experimenting for the first time with Amazon Marketing Services. I shall report on success or otherwise in a future instalment of Marketing for Muppets.

P.S. No regular post this week because I’m otherwise engaged on Friday afternoon (the time I normally complete my weekly blog post) on a jolly involving food and beer and a talk from an England rugby international from the 70s. I could try to write the post Friday evening, after the event, but suspect that anything I write won’t make much sense (or, if you prefer, even less sense than normal).

Marketing for Muppets – Part 3

In the last instalment of Marketing for Muppets I wrote that Part 3 probably wouldn’t appear until the New Year. Hmm, so much for foresight. As you’ll see if you read to the end, this wasn’t intended to be Part 3 but sort of morphed into it when the subject of marketing insisted on inserting itself firmly into the narrative like a persistent salesman and wouldn’t be shifted. But on with the post…

In one of the online forums I frequent, a perennial question posed to the indie author community who gather there is, “What does success mean to you?” I don’t normally involve myself in the ensuing threads, but when I saw the question posed yet again it got me thinking.

The answer, of course, will vary from author to author, depending on the reasons why they write and the stage they have reached in their careers.

The person with a deeply personal story they need to tell, or someone approaching their twilight years wanting to share their life story with family and close friends, may regard completing the work as success; selling it to the wider reading public may hold no appeal to them whatsoever.

Contrast the writer with perhaps a dozen or more titles to their name. Success to them may mean nothing less than maintaining a four-figure monthly income from sales of their work.

Then there are the writers who seek validation, for whom only a deal with a traditional publisher will do. There are others who are willing to self-publish or publish through the small press, but for whom reaching the number one spot in their genre is the Holy Grail.

Whatever floats your boat.

I suspect for most writers the meaning of success is a fluid concept. When I first bundled together ten short stories and let them loose on Amazon with only a placeholder cover, short-term success to me meant one person who didn’t know me buying the collection.

However, in the back of my mind where it had been nestling since my late twenties was the desire to make a living from writing fiction. No matter how much my short-term concepts of success have shifted like sandbanks over the ensuing five years, that overarching goal has remained as constant as granite.

“May we give you a hefty wad, enough that you’ll never need work again, for the rights to make movies of your books, Sam?” Of course you may, and thank you very much. But back in the real world I’ll be happy if I can make a steady income, enough to give up the day job altogether and spend the remainder of my working life writing fiction.

If you’re a writer struggling to make your way in today’s over-saturated market, it might be worth taking a moment to consider what success means to you. If your answer is a little vague, like mine, it might help to formulate shorter-term goals, ones that can be more easily quantified in terms of words written, or sales numbers, or new subscribers to your mailing list; whatever works for you. Doing so can inform marketing tactics, ones that might help you reach those smaller goals on your way to the larger one.

This didn’t start out as a post about marketing. Its original title was The Meaning of Success, until I got this far and realised that it’s difficult to discuss success without touching upon marketing since, after all, in most cases one is likely to be the precursor of the other.

As I might have mentioned previously, I’m not good at promoting my own work. Useless. A muppet. Yet, it seems impossible to escape the bloody subject. I guess we have to suck it up and get on with it. And this is an opportune moment to state the third proposition I believe to be true about marketing:

Proposition 3: When a writer defines success to include any element based upon level of sales, marketing is inexorably linked to that success.

To try to achieve my measure of long-term success, I’ve broken down my aims into smaller, achievable ones. For instance, publish more works. With a Christmas-themed collection of horror stories coming out today, and the final two novels in a trilogy on course to be finished in time for January publication, that’s going okay. But it’s only one of my short-term aims.

Another one, the most pressing it feels right now, is to build my mailing list. It’s all well and good publishing new works, but without a sizeable body of readers willing to be informed about them and to help make them visible, they will quickly sink to the murky depths, rarely to be seen again.

Despite my misgivings about giving away work in return for signing up to a mailing list (see Marketing for Muppets – Part 2), I’m going to give it a go. Wish me luck. I shall report back in a future instalment.