On the 11th March 2011, www.Bookstogonow.com a Seattle based epublisher released The Lazarus Experiment on to the US and UK Amazon Kindle stores and the Barnes and Noble Nook Store. It remains a great point of pride to have someone look at your work, edit it with you and want to publish it (and publicise your talents). I have enjoyed the experience of going through the revision process with them – a first for me as my work for Ether Books didn’t go through a third party editing process. I had been nervous about it, not being sure how far I could push the defence of aspects of the story against the editors axe. I wanted to be published, but I wanted it to be my story that was published. The Seattle company were fully understanding and engaged on a reasoned debate. I gave on certain issues for them and they accepted my defence of other passages. The finished story, available to buy today, is undoubtedly superior, tighter and more polished than the one that debuted as a free Tuesday Serial in January. Publishing a story is only half the battle.
Does anyone actually want to read it?
I have an ideological perspective on this question. If you are interested, somebody else will be, its natural. It boils down to finding that person and getting that story in their hands. The big publishing houses will blanket advertising hoardings, subway trains, bins, web advertising, television and radio slots to find those people who are interested. For most of the small outfits and the Indy publishers, they don’t have the luxury of such a war chest. The strategy becomes refined even further to targeting each individual sale. I have used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Shelfari so far to promote The Lazarus Experiment. I have discussed it with strangers and friends of friends in bars when watching Champions League soccer and seen a direct consequence of it being a sale. They in turn have discussed it with friends and lecturers at the local University. I have reached a lot more people than I had thought possible on an advertising budget of £0.00. Not being the publisher I do not have sales figures but have been able to use the Author Central websites for the UK, US and German Amazon sites to track the sales ranking.
My Amazon.co.uk sales ranking has looked like a dodgy heart monitor, stuttering up and down every week since publication. The good news is this tells me that there are sales being made, that if I link the days when I spike (to a highest of 9,271, low of 81,363 and as of posting current rank of 26,502) then I can relate it to my marketing activity. The Amazon.com sales figures sailed consistently down since publication, giving me the distinct impression of irony that my story which was published by an American company wasn’t selling in America. That changed this Thursday when I must have shifted a fair few downloads as I lifted from an all time low of 346,821 to a four week high of 66,511.
I have learned two things from this. On the one hand not to despair when the blue line seems to be going consistently down, you won’t lose your shelf space after all, when the customer turns up they will find it. Secondly, twitter is an incredibly powerful niche marketing tool. Yes we’ve heard it before, social media is great for marketing. Its still nice to have proof in the return of dollars/euros/pounds though isn’t it?
I embraced the book trailer rather after the fact and more as an experiment than any serious effort. I realised that having a discussion page on Facebook and an advertising/networking platform on Twitter was great, but I had no presence on that other behemoth of social media – Google’s YouTube. I have no software besides the abysmal Windows Movie Maker, and no funds to purchase images so I was limited to using just the book cover, scrolling text and a voice over.
I scripted several voice overs to dramatize the plot without giving anything away and lucked out in being able to turn to my voice over producing, international DJ, father Jonathon Wesley over at www.cjmq.fm. We worked back and forth for a week on getting the sound and pacing right, his voice certainly lending considerably more credibility than my squeaky pitch. I then put everything together and published it to my Facebook profile and YouTube account. It was a good learning experience. What do you think of the effort?
I mentioned the German Amazon website. I have to thank the Mad Pulp Bastard Bill Cunningham over at Pulp 2.0 for pointing out that his recent release Frankenstein Lives Again! had surprisingly gone live on the German kindle store. I had a quick search and found my own baby The Lazarus Experiment on sale there too! I will be sure to nudge my publishers to ensure that their eBooks go out on the other Amazon sites. Even without translation there is a large English speaking audience just waiting for our material in those countries.
That pretty much sums up my activities promoting The Lazarus Experiment in the last couple of months. Remember if you are having a story published or publishing one yourself – never stop marketing it, the problem particularly with ‘streams’ is that your audience may simply not be looking one week when you plug your baby. Be proud of your accomplishment and don’t let modesty get in the way of a possible sale when your out and about. Writing is like having a kid. Takes you a set amount of time to create the thing, but your left being responsible for it for the rest of your life. Don’t neglect it!
Do you have any suggestions for ways/places I could be marketing The Lazarus Experiment?