Friday, January 17, 2014

Stage 3 - A Big Mistake

An unusual admission yes but the whole purpose of writing this is to try and help new Authors avoid some of the pitfalls ahead.
I want to talk about 'marketing'. Here is where I think I made one of my biggest mistakes of this whole journey. It was through ignorance as opposed to stupidity but I believe it was costly. My total focus was on creating the finished article, my novel, and to get it published. I should point out that I had finished writing the book, in fact it had been finished for three or four weeks by now. When I say 'finished' I had completed from 'Once upon a time...' through to 'The End'. Judi (my proofreading professional and publishing guru) had introduced me to a few  lesser considered additions that were my responsibility:

Author's page

The list just kept growing...... and I struggled with a lot of it!

Writing 'Russian Redemption' had been quite easy because all I had done was lend hands and a keyboard to where ever the story came from, just a conduit; but now it was very different. I had to give a lot of thought to things I knew nothing about; the structure of it all, key words, 'hooks', detail (too much or too little) and a whole lot more. I invested hours and hours, probably days, utilising my friend Google trying to get an idea of what makes a good introduction, or an Authors Page, or a preface - and again I discovered that there are so many schools of thought behind the right way to do each one, and they all profess to be the only way to do it. Fortunately Judi came to my rescue, don't get me wrong she made me do the writing, but she guided me, gave me some ideas but still maintained that it had to be MY style.

I'll talk more about the above list in detail as we go on but back to that 'big mistake'; Marketing! It's not that marketing frightens me, it doesn't. I've spent a lot of my life in a sales and marketing environment, I'd learnt the basics, and fortunately I'm blessed with a modicum of common sense so I wasn't worried; EXCEPT I'd left it far too late before I started thinking about it. 

If you want to give your book the best chance of making a statement, a big splash, when you launch it, you need to start your marketing strategy from the moment you decide that you have the resolve to see your dream through to the point of publication. 

Social Media is a good place to start except I knew nothing at all about Facebook (other than the fact the kids seemed to spend an eternity on it and IT and mobile phones would probably be the death of verbal communication in the future!). The whole concept of Facebook frustrated me. But I knew even less about Twitter. And as for building websites, well, lets just say it was going to be a case of ‘old dog and new tricks’. The challenge was that the 'budget' for marketing, in fact the budget for the whole 'adventure’, was set by the bank manager, at zero! Every dollar earned had a dozen more important places to call home so just about everything had to be done on a shoe string. The one exception, the one area that I would not compromise, was Judi, and to this day she was worth every cent invested. So, I had no choice, I had to learn. Again, many many hours, and many lonely nights were invested searching Google's 'how to...' sections. Oh God, the frustration. How can a kid on the internet make something look so easy and yet me, no chance! It was an horrendously stressful time, (no doubt for those around me to) it sapped my energy and enthusiasm considerably. BUT thankfully, I did have a degree of success: or  or
stand testament to perseverance. I'm not saying they are great, I am saying that they are functional.

Do you remember that quote from Judi "Writing the book is ONLY 10% of the work..." I can honestly say I was starting to 'get it'.

So, my advice would be (if you don't have the budget to employ people to do this for you) do the hard yards very early in the book writing process. You should try and build a base of fan's, of interested parties, of contacts. I wish I had also invested more time is seeking reviews from influential people. It's a thankless task finding volunteers that will review an unpublished novel but they are out there, and it is beneficial. 

You have to be disciplined when it comes to 'marketing' and you have to be patient. Get used to the idea that momentum builds slowly which is why it's important to start early - I'm ok with marketing but 'patience' unfortunately, not my strong point. The lack of early marketing meant I was playing catch up, rushing around trying to build interest far too late. I wanted a successful launch, and for me that was a launch that got my book onto Amazon’s Best Seller list – I’d got ambitious.

There were so many component parts to bring together to make a 'successful' launch, marketing is only one part of it, but a very important part. If you build the momentum early then it takes little time or effort to keep it going, freeing you up to focus on the other components. If you don’t have 'momentum' then the effort needed to get it going is almost superhuman, and that devours time, time you need todeal with the other aspects  - you really can’t do it all in the last few weeks, something will suffer.

All that said, even with the very late run on marketing, I managed my dream, the book launched and achieved ‘Best Seller’ status but imagine what I could of done IF I'd started the marketing earlier. That is why it was my 'mistake', don't let it be yours.

Five months after its launch 'Russian Redemption' is up and down in the Amazon charts, but not doing anything exciting. The main reason for that is that I have spent most of my time since the launch retrospectively building the marketing strategy, the momentum, including this blog - had I done this BEFORE the launch, as one of the many concurrent activities needed, I believe my book would have been much further progressed. It's a setback, but this whole brain to book journey has been, and continues to be, such a steep learning curve mistakes were bound to happen. 

If YOU can learn from my mistakes remember me when you are rich and famous! :-)


  1. What a goldmine of information for all aspiring authors!
    Andy, you have done a huge favour for anyone who takes the time to read this well written article and heed its advice. I'm going to post this on the ProofreadNZ website and FaceBook page as well - so hopefully a few more folks will see it.
    And, by the way, thanks for all the kind words :-) it's really been exciting to watch your rapid progress and your willingness to share the experience with others.
    The next launch will be easier . . .LOL

  2. Thank you for the link shared AJ WILSON and JUDITH... Timely advice for me... I shall be taking on board your good advice....

  3. Glad it is of use to you. Good luck with your project.