Doctor How and the Frustrating February

F is for the F in Frustrating February I’ve just had (geddit?).

January had the big learning-curve associated with my first Kindle giveaway, which was for Doctor How and the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy. Not a catchy title, but I was hoping it would hit some keywords in searches. The indications were that I was right, because the ‘also bought’ section in Amazon displays a load of titles completely unrelated to my genre. Keywords work – what a fantastic own-goal by yours truly!

It didn’t achieve anything like the download numbers I’d been led to anticipate from online marketing courses and the experience of others. Clearly I’d done something wrong, and there was something I was missing. I pulled all the stops out for Doctor How and the Rings of Uranus. A great title, no? Certainly one of the wonderful moderators of the Time Travel section of Goodreads thought so when I contacted her in desperation and despair as the title got as much interest as its predecessor. She kindly directed me to where, exactly, I should be posting. The fact that it was a little too late was my own fault. The other problem I have is that I’m British. That means I’m reluctant to be too pushy in forums, so I miss out on the more obvious self-promotion that some others do. I will have to gird my loins and get used to it.

I did experiment with boosted Facebook posts. They were extraordinary. I gained thousands of ‘views’ but, unfortunately, very little ‘engagement’. Partly the problem is that one cannot use an image with more than 25% text. The average book cover is way over the limit set by Facebook. People do respond to images, and it’s a great image. Trouble is that clicking on an image wasn’t the action I wanted. I wanted people to click on the Kindle link and download it for free. I tested a couple of boosted posts, but no dice.

Other things in February were to continue to write a book review a day, which saw me getting to #18 in the UK’s top reviewers at the start of the month. I also finished a promotional video for the Doctor How series, which is now waiting in the wings. It was a labour of love; involving a lot of animation, sourcing and editing of sound files, as well as buggering around with settings in PowerPoint and MovieMaker to get the whole thing to work. I could never have done it without the lessons I learnt putting together The End of the World Show in 2011 and 2012. I’ve also spent endless hours learning how to do a Goodreads giveaway for the first time, converting sample chapters to epub format, and setting up an AWeber account. All very wearing, but the hope is that this is time invested that will pay off at some point.

Book marketing wears me down because it’s full of emotional highs and lows, and also because it’s not something I’m wholly comfortable with. There’s also this terrible fear of breaking the rules on posting in groups. Give me a blank page and I will happily sit alone and fill it with entertaining prose. Interaction with other people is what wears introverts down, whereas solitary activity energises us. Even writing the lows in a story fills me with positive energy because it’s still an act of creation.

Two days ago (Friday 21st) I suddenly found myself writing the opening of book two. I’d hoped to be well into it by now, but the marketing of book one, Doctor How and the Illegal Aliens has delayed me. Boy, the sun came out in my life – I can’t tell you how joyous it was suddenly to be writing fiction again! The following day I wrote a less obvious opening and had a very pleasurable two hours of sitting and letting my mind wander through books two, three, four and five, giggling to myself as I added new layers of stupidity and mayhem to the storyline.

Chapter one completed, and chapter two underway, I must now return to the marketing. I need to converse with more people on Goodreads. Once I get into these things, I love it, and the people on Goodreads are absolutely wonderful – but it’s just getting over that initial getting-to-know-you awkwardness and not feeling like I’m pushing stuff at people. This coming Friday (28th) I have the London Author Fair. Sod’s Law dictates that I have a clash right when the most interesting speaker will be talking. Next weekend I have to prepare the CreateSpace cover for book one: Doctor How and the Illegal Aliens. On Monday 10th of March I start a four-week blog tour for the launch of Illegal Aliens. Four weeks! It took three solid days of writing just to come up with the content for that tour. As a big surprise, I do have that video to release.

I’ve read very widely on Kindle marketing in the last couple of months and I recognise that marketing overwhelm is a serious problem. I have to find out not just what works for my novels, but what works for me personally. There’s no use wearing myself out by utilising every marketing tool at my disposal. In the next couple of months I should be able to find some kind of happy medium, and get back to doing what I love above anything else: writing novels.

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