Saturday, January 18, 2014

Back to THAT list...

I'm going to try and squeeze a lot into this one so pay attention. To recap, I've written a book and the 'marketing' got kind of messed up, recap over.

My 'goal' has been updated, it's no longer enough to just publish my novel, I want an Amazon Best Seller. This came as no surprise to me, or anybody that knows me; as soon as the dream looks like becoming a reality it's no longer a dream so the goalposts get moved to take it back to 'dream' status. It's a new challenge. And I'll tell you how I achieved it later.

It's took 20 months to get to this point. It wasn't the writing of 'Russian Redemption' that took the time, it was being able to find the spare funds for the proofreading budget. As I have said, that is the one part of the whole process that required very specific skill sets that a) I didn't have and b) I couldn't learn. The time soon past though, I was in a new Country, a new job, we moved house 3 times! There was plenty going on.

Anyway, back to that list:

Cover/Jacket - What you have to remember is that the cover/jacket needs to stand out on a page of 30 other thumb nail sized covers. An awful lot of the book covers you will see are pictorially excellent and clever but  in thumb nail size this detail is lost. Initially I argued this point with Judi but was obviously proved wrong. A long way back in my life I was quite into photography, the latter stages of my military 'career' involved photography and I carried the interest on into civvy street, mainly in wedding photography using medium format cameras, long before the digital age! Russian Redemption is a story set to the back drop of war torn Russia so the cover had to present a 'clue' of the content to the would be reader. It had to say "tension, suspense, cloak & dagger" as opposed to "Romance, kiddies reading or Dungeons & Dragons".
I knew what I wanted, a smoky interrogation type representation. But I also wanted to tailor it toward the theme. During my research for the book I had identified the standard issue firearm for a Russian Officer as being the Tokarev T33. As pure luck would have it there was exactly that model available on TradeMe/Ebay in Replica BB format, and that is what is in the picture. (Nobody in their right mind is going to give me a working firearm!) You'll be amazed what you can do with a little imagination, the photograph used was taken in my own front room! Even though I had a good knowledge of photography and access to the equipment I would of needed I opted to bring in a friend, Brent Topine, to do the actual picture taking bit. It was much easier to be objectively critical when viewing the digital images from an 'outside' perspective, than it would of been from behind the lens. I set it up, I knew exactly what I wanted the end result to look like and I was a little uncompromising, sorry Brent!

Some people use photo images from internet Stock sites, the problem with this is that anyone can buy them, and if it's a really good picture the chances are quite a few people have already bought and used it. The probability of your book ending up on a book shelf next to another book with the same cover picture is unlikely, BUT it is possible. I wasn't going to risk that. Also, although Brent was a friend I 'bought' the rights to my pictures from him, and got him to sign a contract relinquishing all rights at point of payment. It's just good practice. Once we'd got the picture that I wanted (and will one day become the wrap around jacket of the hard copy) Judi and I worked on it's integration into the E-book front cover. The font for the title is also important, it needs to be a little different to draw attention. I like what we've achieved and for me, it's apparent simplicity is representative of the era I am taking the reader to. Now that sounds pretty simple and straight forward hey, oh IF ONLY!

Acknowledgements: Writing a book may well be a single persons activity but getting a good quality novel published involves a number of people. By the time Russian Redemption was published I had cashed in many favours, imposed upon many peoples time and taken advantage of other peoples knowledge, the very least I could do was thank them for. And that's what I wanted to do in the acknowledgements. However, be warned, it can get a bit like a wedding guest list in so much as it can get out of control. You can also end up upsetting people by omission. My advice would be keep it short and sweet, only those that have actively contributed need be mentioned. "Oh and I'd like to thank Fuji Xerox for providing the photocopier and paper, the National Grid for providing the power and Uncle Tom Cobbly....." Not Good! I thanked my family particularly for understanding the space and time I needed to write the book, smart move on my part because I'm riding that one in order to get the second book written, major Brownie points!

Dedication: Oh this got ugly! As an ex-serviceman I wanted to do something that could be of benefit to ex-servicemen and women. Only ex-service people or their dependents can fully understand this really, it was a very personal choice. Mixing this with 'marketing' I decided it would be a great idea if I ran my e-book on a promo day so that anyone that bought the book on this day would be donating to those charities. Amazon allow you 5 'give away' days so the plan was to sell the book at a discounted rate and all profit went to the respective charities. I selected three charities, all with the 'forces' in mind, with the intention of giving them all one day apiece. Working with them to maximise the opportunity, agreeing a date so they could canvass their members to push the initiative. Like I said, ALL profits were to go to them, the benefit to me was exposure. A win/win situation?! Nope.
I wanted to use a few poppies and the phrase 'Lest We Forget' to underline the actual dedication wording. Seemed simple enough. Except one particular UK based well known charity I was offering a promo day to told me I breached their Trademark Registration by using said poppy and they also believed that 'Lest We Forget' was synonymous with their organisation therefore not available to me.

"As  I thought the poppy image you are using is trademarked within the European Union by The Royal British Legion so we cannot unfortunately allow this image to be used. WE are currently looking into the phrase ‘Lest we Forget’ and will get back to you early next week."

That phrase comes from a very famous Ode of a Laurence Binyons poem. Anyway, we had a bit of a spat and the end result was - yes please send us some money but we're not going to help, or associate with the book, if you don't mind, thank you, yes, don't forget the money.... (that's how I interpreted the response anyway)

My next choice was the 'Help For Heroes' charity - Long story short - the message was along the lines of 'we don't want to upset the RBL so no thank you kindly, but please feel free to donate in other ways'. hmmmmmm

To be honest, by this point I had ran out of time so I gave up on the idea. Unfortunately the Returned Services Association (NZ) didn't get the chance to say no.

You will notice that I did use 'Lest We Forget', and I did use poppies, just not the ones that were covered by the RBL's European Trade Mark.

More of the list next time..

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