Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Strategies and wishful thinking:-

As August threatens to dawn there is the sudden realization that Russian Redemption hasn't yet been published a full year, in fact it's only ten months since it was made available - and yet it seems like an eternity ago. OK - I have been doing a lot of writing, invested a lot of time in website and FB development and generally building a solid base. So, a lot has been crammed into that ten months, but it still seems like an eternity.

I've learnt many lessons over that time, some good, some not so good, and have tried to share those experiences to enable others to learn from my own mistakes.

The 'Year One Strategy' was designed to manage my own expectations (which weren't that high to be honest). There was no 'publish book, become rich, sell movie rights etc etc - although that would of been a bonus - the truth is I honestly didn't know what to expect, so I expected nothing. 

Russian Redemption is a story of brutal times, times that most would much prefer never happened, and even more like to remain blissfully ignorant of, and that is fine; I knew this was the case before the book was published. It mixed up a few topics that a lot of people didn't like; graphic violence, child abuse, murder and some very dodgy human rights infringements. The story was never going to be a 'popular' read with the masses because it contains too much of the stuff that people don't like. If there is anyone from a marketing back ground reading this you're probably thinking that I was stupid to publish it as it could never be 'successful' if it didn't appeal to the masses, and I can understand that thought process. But, and this is a big but, I don't care. In the greater scheme of things, main stream commercial writing is not where I see myself as an Author. Russian Redemption is not a cheap book to buy in either format because I don't want people buying it for $0.99 and then complaining it's too graphic, or too 'dark', or suing me for scarring them for life. I want my readers to have given serious consideration to its purchase, to have researched it a bit so they know what they're getting into. Again, this is not a strategy designed for short term success. 

I spent a lot of time monitoring the Amazon forums, contributing to the discussions occasionally, but mainly just watching. Like any society there are some unpleasant characters that loiter around these forums, but there are also some top people! The whole Ann Rice thing with her petition to force reviewers to give up anonymity that just happened to be around the same time as she was launching her new book has pretty much fizzled out, she's ridden that PR wave as far as it will take her. In fact the whole BBA (Badly Behaving Author) and BBR (Badly Behaving Reviewer) argument seems to be the lifeblood of many a discussion, even if it isn't titled as such. I learnt a lot, and am very grateful that I am in the second half of a century of age, I'd hate to have found the forums when I was younger and far more impressionable.

People have been very kind and offered advice by the bucket load, but the vast majority seems to be based around mass marketing preferences. I agree that a book has to be 'out there' to find it's reader base but at the same time I don't agree with forcing it down peoples throats. I'm quite happy to stay well under the radar as I develop as an Author, as I slowly and deliberately grow a customer base of like minded readers. I figure that by the time I've published my tenth novel I should be in a position to break even on it's costs, anything more than that will be a bonus. And this is where I consider myself lucky; I don't rely on my book sales to pay bills - and this is probably just as well as I'd have no electricity or gas connected, and the cupboards would be fairly empty! And that brings me to the one question that I believe EVERY Author should ask themselves before they even think about publishing - What is the motivation?

In simple terms I would answer that as follows:

'I write because I have a passion for writing. I publish because I want to share my stories' And that's it! Anything and everything else is a total bonus. 

I would be really interested to hear from other Authors on this subject and offer a 'guest blog' spot for any that want it - just drop me an email ajwilsonbooks@gmail.com 

As an entirely unrelated thought for the day - I believe in life after death, if, when I die, I'm wrong then who's going to tell me?

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