Is Content King?

It’s almost a month since I published [book:Doctor How and the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy|20335596], which is a promotional taster for the whole Doctor How series. Last weekend I ran a four-day Kindle freebie promotion for it. I set myself a ludicrous target for downloads, which I came nowhere near achieving.

Am I disheartened? Not a bit of it. I’ve failed before in marketing novels, but I’m failing just that little bit better this time. You can buy any number of courses on Kindle marketing, and read any number of books on social media. In the end, just two things matter. Here’s the big reveal [SFX: drum roll]:

  • Learning what works for you
  • Applying that over a reasonable period of time

Ta-da! This means that marketing books is exactly like any other business. Or, indeed, pretty much any other human activity – from getting fit to getting a degree. It’s what the management gurus call an iterative process. In other words, you have to keep trying and slowly but surely narrow your activities down until they are time-effective and cost-effective for you.

Time is my biggest constraint, despite the fact that I have a four-day workweek. I’m able to get my marketing and social media stuff done because I work to a strict timetable. I have a critical path in a spreadsheet to remind myself of what needs to happen at what point in order to meet my deadline of publication on March 13th for [book:Doctor How and the Illegal Aliens|20600191].

I have a daily task list mainly composed of smaller tasks on social media. The big things – website redesigns, artwork, etc., I need to tackle at the weekends. And that’s my main problem: I’m a content person. No, no – a content person: a person who likes producing content; not someone who’s happy no matter what his circumstances. I love writing and creating. And I’m an introvert. So weighing in on social media really is hard work for me. Yesterday was tough. I read through [book:Doctor How and the Rings of Uranus|20627055] for one final edit before publishing, and I practically wept because I missed writing fiction so much.

However, things do get easier with time. This week I listed my first Goodreads Giveaway. Yesterday I found a really fantastic free service to convert files into epub format so that I could get free downloads up onto Goodreads. These were one-off learning experiences, and were time well-invested. On the plus side, a couple of hundred people are already interested in that giveaway, and for some reason seven people decided to follow me on Twitter yesterday. And if you’re wondering what the odd [book:NUMBER] thing is, it’s my little experiment to see whether the content of this post links properly when automatically posted in Goodreads via RSS. It’s a one- off experiment which will either make my post look awful, or might just make an incremental difference. (Linking my blog to Goodreads was last Sunday’s experiment.)

I know there are things that I have to do in the next few weeks which will put me squarely outside my comfort zone in terms of finding a readership for the Doctor How series – for example, approaching blog-owners about guest-posting. I’m gritting my teeth at this stage and going through the process. This is because I really am beginning to find out what works for me and my writing, and what I can reasonably manage. And, after only two months (five weeks if I’m really honest) of properly trying to engage, I’m beginning to see results – however small. I know that, once I’ve got the launch of Doctor How and the Illegal Aliens out of the way I’ll be able to spend a much bigger chunk of my time being content creating content. Content may be King, but marketing is the master.

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