Reflections on a week of book promotion

[Originally published 16 April 2013]

Well, I am a week into promoting King’s Ransom. I’ve sent the link to everyone on my various mailing lists, and I already have a couple of friendly reviews. However, it’s now very clear to me that I should have put a lot more thought into the promotion planning before I published. Stupid really, because I keep telling clients that before a product is launched you need to have a clear idea of how you are going to promote it. It’s ridiculous to devote all of the available resources to production without thinking about the product marketing. Meet Mr Stupid.

Fortunately, it’s not too late. One of the key things is to get an author’s blog started, and I am going to copy all of these blogs from my copywriting website to a dedicated author’s blog. I’m also going to set up various other avenues, which I will talk about at more length in the weeks and months to come.

For all that, I am really pleased with the first week. Early days, of course, but I am getting there.

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We have lift-off – at last

[Originally posted 17 April 2013]

The past few days have been really stressful. I’ve had all of the elements in place ready to publish King’s Ransom for about a week now, but I had some problems using the Kindle online publishing system. Some of the issues were my own fault, I think, but others were because the online instructions missed out whole chunks of what was needed.

However, one of the great things about the internet is that it is all out there if you look and ask. I have “met” some really helpful people who’ve given me lots of free advice, including several on a couple of LinkedIn groups that I joined. If you are not a member of LinkedIn, I recommend that you join. I also chatted to a talented and helpful lady called Jo Harrison, who also lives in France and is a virtual assistant. I just wish I had met her earlier, because she could have taken on the whole job.

Soooo, on Sunday morning, I got everything lined up, and pressed the “save and publish” button on the Kindle publishing site. I had to wait about 12 hours until it was actually “live” and as soon as I saw the published book I realised I had made a mistake. Jo Harrison’s advice is not to use too many different type sizes, and I had done just that. Bugger! So I deleted (“unpublished”) the book, corrected it, and once again pressed the “save and publish” button.

Yesterday morning, after another 12-hour wait, I spotted another small formatting problem. It wasn’t a major issue, but having got this far I wanted it to be right, so I hit the delete button again, and went through the publishing process again. And this morning, there she is: King’s Ransom, my very own debut novel. I am ridiculously proud of myself!

I’ve been planning my promotion of the book for the past few weeks, and that’s my next task. Once I’ve got things moving, I will write a blog on the publishing process. Again, watch this space.

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Setting fire to paper in the name of art

[Originally published 4 April 2013]

It’s all getting terribly exciting. I’ve finished revising King’s Ransom, and I am going to give it one last go-through before I publish it. Well, assuming I can work out how to publish it, that is. I’ve been having all sorts of issues with Booktango, so I think I am going to have a go with Kindle directly.

Meantime, I have come up with a new cover idea, and one which I think will work. It’s also using the binary codes for the letters of King’s Ransom, but with a flame burning them. Today was a lovely sunny day, and I spent a happy couple of hours outside on the terrace setting fire to print-outs of the cover design and taking pictures. Not sure what the neighbours would have thought.

If I can find a way of embedding pictures in this blog I will post them. Meantime, I need to do some minor retouching and cropping before getting back to the book formatting.

Updated May 23, 2013: Below are the photos:

Cover experiment 1 Cover experiment 2 Cover experiment 3 Cover experiment 4

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About to publish and be damned

[Originally published, as part of a longer post, 16 March 2013]

I’ve finished revising King’s Ransom, and I am playing around with other ideas. I’ve found a site called Booktango which offers free formatting for all kinds of eBook, and I am going to experiment with that for a while to see how easy it is to get the book online.

I’ve found that I want to keep tweaking the text, and I wonder if this will continue if and when I ever get the thing published. I say “if and when” but I am fairly sure it will be “when”. I’ve been a bit worried that I might be making myself look foolish among those who know and love me (“Why on Earth did Martyn think he was a novelist? Who is going to tell him?”) But I’ve decided that if that is the general reaction, it will be fairly easy to unpublish the book.

Meantime, I have decided that I need to start a new blog specifically for King’s Ransom. Apparently it will be helpful for promotion. More of that anon.

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A ransom that cannot be paid?

[Edited version of post originally published 7 February 2013]

I’m ploughing through the comments on King’s Ransom, and exchanging ideas with Peter, and with Andy, on how things are developing. I’ve hit a bit of a brick wall with one particular issue, which concerns the “ransom” as originally written:  Peter says my idea is something that is simply impossible.

I’ve been trying to argue that it is a novel, so in that sense it’s all impossible, but as Peter points out, even the impossible has to be believable.

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Another critical reader

[Originally published, as part of a longer post, 31 January 2013]

I spent a couple of days incorporating Andy’s corrections to King’s Ransom, which in turn involved rewriting some sections of the book. I then sent it off to brother-in-law Peter, and got an email back saying he was “engaging with it already”. This was great news, and I waited patiently for his comments, which I knew would be different in type from Andy’s but equally valuable for exactly that reason.

I wasn’t wrong. Peter’s corrections arrived today, along with a whole list of suggestions and propositions. In general he likes the novel, but several of his comments will, like Andy’s, involve rewrites – and these are likely to take more than a couple of days. Still, I think it will be worthwhile in the end.

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I am definitely going to publish. I think

[Originally published 17 January 2013]

I had a long chat on the phone this morning with my friend Andy, who has read my revised draft of King’s Ransom. Andy and I met through our shared devotion to Leicester City, and we’ve known one another for about 16 years. His comments were really helpful – both constructive and instructive, as I might have expected. Aside from some literal errors, he pointed to a number of plot inconsistencies that occurred to him as he was reading the draft and – which I found interesting – some language uses that he said were out of character. He also offered a few insights into culture and environments in Asia that will also be helpful.

But he was very encouraging and said I should definitely go ahead – if only for my own satisfaction. Before I do that, however, I am going to get someone else to read it, once I’ve incorporated Andy’s ideas. My brother-in-law Peter probably doesn’t like this kind of book, but he will be wonderfully pedantic about spotting anything that’s not quite right. Just the man for me.

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