Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The 19% Solution

Just to keep you all abreast* of the life and times of Gibbous House, a debut novel from a nonentity author. (That's me, by the way). Unbound- or PenguinRH who handle distribution - managed to get a physical manifestation of my book in a total of 5 branches of Foyles (Yaay!) in the London area (Booo!). If you click through PRH's Gibbous House page using the "Buy From" button, you will see that GH can be ordered from Waterstones,Hive,WH Smith and Leviathan - I mean Amazon -  on-line.

Now, an optimistic estimate of how many books have been sold since publication is about 20. Yes, twenty. I know of five or six here in Spain and the other 14 are an attempt to make sense of Amazon rankings, in the absence of sales figures. This number does not include all the special editions that the generous people who supported the novel on its journey to being a physical book are lucky enough to own. Well, obviously, I'm a writer without an agent, I have no PR team and, yes, let's be honest I am just one of Unbound's authors, who must now number in the hundreds, if not, they soon will. If you have any other Unbound books check the spine for a number, it will tell you what number book it is in Unbound's catalogue, (I think). Gibbous House is number 89.

Neither do I have a generous trust fund to finance appearances at Hay-On-Wye or Frankfurt Book Fair, even if I could get invited to such a thing. So I promote Gibbous House on line. I have a page on Facebook dedicated to my writing. Unfortunately,  I think the sarcasm from Please Allow Me may put off more than it encourages, I find the daft posts of my alter-ego very therapeutic in what is a really frustrating business. I tweet occasionally and like to retweet authors I know and the posts of fellow Unbounders, especially those still in the long funding process. I join book review groups and promise to review others books in the hope that they'll review mine. Of course, I am a book snob. I want what I review to be well-written, free from solipsism and dangling participles. This doesn't help my efforts to get Gibbous House reviewed. If you are an author and you'd like an honest review for your book, send me a final proof or an e-book and I'd be pleased to look at it. My only condition is that you have worked with (and listened to) a competent editor. Contact me here

Notwithstanding the above, my Facebook followers and twitter audience do not increase and therefore the echo chamber effect is noticeable. Many have already bought the book, in fact. Not many people share or retweet, usually it's the same people and grateful though I am, it would probably more effective if more people shared or retweeted one thing about the book per week. Or so I am told, who knows?  

Anyway, regarding the 19% solution, that's the discounted price for Gibbous House on Amazon today. I don't think it will promote sales, somehow.  I am looking into some local radio here in Spain, but, I doubt they'll be very keen since Gibbous House's only connection to Spain is the fact that I live here. Even the local free English press aren't prepared to do a review, although I offered them a hard copy to do so. (Can't imagine why they weren't tempted!)

Well, that's a lot of my chest. Never mind, I'll post something more positive later in the week!

*Ooer missus, have you noticed how the BBC prefers "across" plus a direct object? What are we, nine years old?

Monday, 17 April 2017

Everything Must Go! (Amazon's Marketing Strategy)

I was stunned to learn this morning that Amazon is heavily discounting Gibbous House... by 9p! Seriously, is this really going to garner any more sales? What are they thinking? I've had 3 months at full price, so I get it, only 8 reviews and my sales must be under a certain number (who knows what?) so the algorithm kicks in and... Eight pounds 90 p vice 8.99.

I was hoping I'd get six months to a year at full price, but you know, without knowing how many sales there actually are, it hardly seems to matter. Oh well, live and learn.

Anyway, those of you out there who have read it, I would be so grateful for a review. 10 words or a 110 both equally welcome.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Well, I Never...

A picture of me holding a copy of Gibbous House was posted on one of those "What's on in..." Facebook pages. It got me 3 sales on the day it was posted. I'm pretty sure that it's a one off opportunity, though. I am thinking of holding an event in the local area. I have about 15 copies that a reviewer is never going to see, so I could take along a lap-top and convince people to buy a copy on-line when I run out of these too. Ha! Ha!

Anyway, I think it may have achieved more than Please Allow Me's efforts on my behalf. However, it's hard to tell because Amazon don't release any sales figures, not even to publishers.

Reviews help, of course, I've had a good one from a Blog-based reviewer here. What I particularly liked were the headings like the one below, if you've seen the cover of Gibbous House you'll realise why.

A nice touch from the blogger, no? They are different for every book reviewed. Many thanks to Little Bookness Lane. Amazon rating had a twitch on the 30th March too, it's no coincidence that this was the date the review appeared.

Well that's all folks, except to say, do keep a look out for more nonsense from Please Allow Me, he's sure to come up with something less fit for purpose than Boris Johnson. However, in the meantime this is the most fun so far for my money... ("What money?" says PAM)

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

It Started Out As A Joke...

Honestly, it did. I set up a Facebook page several years ago to promote my writing. Please Allow Me, I called it. You may recognise the words from the Stones' Bulgakov-inspired classic, Sympathy for the Devil.
It was also the title of one of the collections of short stories I was promoting at the time. The other collection, loosely based on experiences in Cold War Berlin, also got the occasional plug. I confess it was all a very dilatory business, mainly due to the inordinately long time it took my novel Gibbous House to move from acceptance to publication.

When I realised, after publication, that I needed to promote the novel almost single-handed I began to try to boost Gibbous House's profile. However, being me, I was unable to remove my tongue from my cheek. Besides, my expectations were extremely low. This was one of my first posts post-publication on the Please Allow Me page:

This reached 453 people. Previous posts reached an average of 20 people. Now, of course, Please Allow Me's page does not have Bieber-like numbers, but it is a significant boost.

Please Allow Me now has a life and personality of his own. He lives in a fantasy world where he has invented the concept of Fakevertising (He has not), going so far as to invent a slogan for the entirely fictive Please Allow Me Inc. brand.

"Never Knowingly Oversold"

Never one to be discouraged, PAM has faked celebrity endorsements with looky likeys such as the infamous Brant Pidd Cricklewood Poster campaign pictured below. I believe this actually generated a visit to a local book-shop. Still, as PAM says, "If people will believe fake news, why shouldn't they believe Fake Advertising, or, as I like to call it, Fakevertising".

So far so predictable. I have found it exhilarating to put words in PAM's mouth, especially when it comes to discussing the merits - or otherwise - of Gibbous House. Equally satisfying is to disparage his efforts at promoting the novel. For they are feeble, how could they not be? I have absolutely no money with which to promote my book. So I make this token effort and hopefully make a few people laugh along the way. So, PAM is my "sock-puppet" of sorts, so if you meet him, have some sympathy and some taste. Not that he merits it, of course.
But PAM does have some integrity. He believes there should be truth in Fakevertising. So much so that this picture was captioned "Brant Pidd in Cricklewood", just so people knew that a certain Hollywood actor has absolutely no idea that a novel called Gibbous House, or indeed  a place called Cricklewood, even exists (Facebook reach count 329). 

Indeed, PAM's latest assault on Mount Marketing, could not be more honest. The pages do turn in this latest multi-media marvel

Gibbous House is a page turner, maybe they don't turn as fast as this, but almost.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

This Little Piggy...

... went to market. Or perhaps it was a goat.

About six months ago, I remember reading one of Jack O'Donnell's posts about the post-publication experience. Hmm... I thought, bit negative. I thought he'd be over the moon at having a real book with his name on the cover. To tell the truth, I have no doubt that he was. The thrust of Jack's post was that publishing was all very well, but it really was all about sales. And marketing. Because marketing = sales (if x = y, where x is the author and y is very, very lucky). Furthermore, if you don't do any marketing there won't be any sales at all, because no marketing = no sales who- or whatever x or y are.

Anyway, post publication, your time is subsumed in writing:

a) twitter posts that no-one reads because you don't have the secret hashtag that ensures your tweet is read by every prospective buyer of books in the world.

b) Facebook posts which all your circle of friends "like" but never share because, well, of course, there is no cat on your picture illustrating it.

c) blog posts that the three people who follow your occasionally diverting blog don't plug or comment on.

d)  e-mails to independent bookshops begging them to stock your book (they won't answer so you can assume they won't. Honourable exception : Cogito Books, Hexham (link is external) who replied and did).

In addition, you lose hundreds of hours grappling with new skills like photo-shop so you can find out that you can't even manage to make an image like the one above. Then you discover a web-site which will do it for you.

So what you don't have is time to write.

All this aside, Unbound have an agreement with The Three Marketeers - Laurie Avadis, Jack O'Donnell,& Yours Truly - and ABCTales, wherein ABCTales gets a cut of the profits. Now I don't care about what money I make, and I seriously doubt whether Laurie or Jack do either. What we do want is to have our books read by as many people as possible. Buy one of them, buy an e-book (although all three books are beautifully designed and a pleasure to own, even if you didn't write it), or buy from one of the cheaper suppliers the Amazon page links to. Every sale will keep ABCTales going. Go on, give it a go, make it worthwhile learning how to get my novel's cover artwork in a picture with some goats.

Ewan (link is external)

Jack (link is external)

Laurie (link is external)

Sunday, 5 March 2017


My fellow crowd-funded Authors at Unbound have a "Social Page" on Facebook. It's an informal group, where we have lively discussions and provide each other with a great deal of support over the course of the ups-and-downs of a campaign to get our books published. I can't tell you how much I wished I had known about the page when my campaign was "Live". My book, of course, has been published now.

Yesterday, a thread began concerning marketing of books (our books, naturally). One of the most experienced of Unbound authors (thank you Stevyn Colgan) gave us a few home truths about what a debut (or any) author can expect in the way of help from their publisher. However, what I found most interesting was this:

"if a publisher wants to promote a book in a book shop, they have to pay substantial fees; those ‘featured’ books and the ones put out on tables aren’t there for free."

Now, maybe you can remember the Payola scandal in the USA which implicated Alan Freed, the pioneer of Rock and Roll on the radio.  DJs and radio stations took payments to play artists' records and the USA found this to be illegal. UK radio has ever since been very frightened of any accusation of this kind of thing, but they tread a very thin line, which just stops short of Pay for Plays. Actually this gave rise to DJ's in Anglophone countries having to play music from the playlists. (Incidentally, how does an indie band get on those playlists?) Last.FM will only play debut bands if they pay for the privilege. 

How is the model quoted above different? I think we need to get ourselves an Under-Assistant West Coast Promo Man  

buy my novel here

Friday, 3 March 2017

Authors Are Marketers, Discuss...

There is no discussion required, in truth. Only if you are Stephen King, do you have no obligation to promote your book, but that won't have been the case in the 1970's when that best-selling author started out. First premise, no-one, (NO ONE!) outside your immediate social  circus circle could care less that you have written a novel. If anything, it's probably more difficult to market your deathless-prose nowadays with self-publishing and indie-publishing flooding the market with more books than anyone ever can read.

 Self-published books: marketing = author's responsibility
 Indie-published books: marketing = author's responsibility pretty much. Funds are limited in  these small companies. They need a "unicorn" just as much as a tech start-up does. That is unlikely to be your book. To tell the truth, the indie gang don't know which of their titles it's going to be, any more than one of the giants like Penguin/Random House does.
 Large Publishing House-published books: marketing = part of the deal struck, most likely, with the author's agent. The large publishing house deal used to include an advance if they were willing to take a risk on you. That's why it was so hard to get published. It must have taken a brave soul to risk 10,000 smackers of the publisher's money on a debut novelist. One would suppose that very few advances are paid outside of the Vlogger and Celebrity deals nowadays. I would think a story like Jo Rowling's (and it was no overnight success by the way) will become rarer and rarer in the future

However, it is easier to publish a book. Self-publishing can be done by anybody, and, cruel though it may be to say, whilst everyone probably does have a book inside them, in the vast majority of cases, that is probably where it should stay. In this vast flood of dross your book is bobbing about like a cork in the Atlantic. No matter how many tweets, hashtags, facebook posts, vimeo videos, or linkedin articles you post, that will probably remain the case.
Crowd-funding and indie publishing is also slightly easier. For a start there is a better than even chance that someone will eventually read a manuscript, this is the most fantastic fluke at somewhere like Little, Brown or Penguin/Random House. But the fact remains, that your indie-published book, however good it is, is no more than a slightly bigger cork and it's still in the ocean of books.