2014 was a very active year, and one in which I made some interesting discoveries about marketing and publishing as I launched my Doctor How series.
Doctor How Series
I’d launched Doctor How and the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy on 28th December 2013 after taking the advice of a Kindle marketing ‘guru’. His idea was to publish two short stories and give them away for free in the two months leading up to the launch of a novel. I knew nothing about Kindle marketing at the start of the year, and I have to say that the strategy didn’t work at all – at least not the way I did it. However, it was great to get such positive feedback from readers. (Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy has been unpublished because it forms a key part of book two: Doctor How and the Deadly Anemones.)
The short story Doctor How and the Rings of Uranus followed on 24th January. Great title, and some more wonderful feedback. As previously, I really had no idea about Kindle giveaways, so it didn’t succeed in its objective of priming the market for the launch of…
…Doctor How and the Illegal Aliens, which was published on March 9th. It’s the first full novel in the Doctor How series. I spent $400 on a top-of-the-range book tour. Unfortunately, Romance books are what sell. Despite my genres being comedy and sci-fi, I ended up in the miasma of author blogs that have become dumping grounds for Romance launches. Since I’d also invested in a Rafflecopter giveaway, it was mostly the same people entering every day – and they were well outside my target market. Book tours take a lot of time to organise – I’d written ten thoughtful articles that were, IMHO, just wasted. I did get one review out of it, but the thing was a waste of time and money. Would I do a blog tour again? Yes, but only of well-targeted sites.
Nevertheless, I’m fairly happy with how things stand for Doctor How and the Illegal Aliens. At the time of writing it has 19 reviews on Amazon.com, the worst of which actually praises the dialogue.
On May 23rd I republished Apocalypse Later on CreateSpace and Kindle. It was originally published in August 2012 as a traditionally printed book. Boy, was that a mistake! The problem was that I’d just not understood the economics and capabilities of modern publishing. I should have gone with CreateSpace, and I’d believed a random comment from someone that ebooks couldn’t handle footnotes (of which Apocalypse Later has an abundance). If I’d followed the CreateSpace and Kindle route back in 2012 I’d have had a hit back then – I didn’t achieve retail distribution, and Amazon couldn’t keep up with orders. Apocalypse Later will get some attention in 2015 because a lot of people who’ve read it believe it has a lot to give the world.
In the meantime, I cracked on with writing Doctor How and the Deadly Anemones, which is the second book in the Doctor How series, and will be published in March of 2015. I finished it back in September, but this time I’m taking the time to things a little differently. For example, a couple of months ago I ran a giveaway for Illegal Aliens, and did it properly. Rather than hundreds of downloads, I got thousands. On the back of it, I’ve received some great reviews, too. And what I’ve learned is that it’s reviews that really count. Personally, it brings me a lot of joy to know that I’ve entertained a stranger. As a performer the feedback was personal but gone in an instant, but with writing it’s a longer-last satisfaction. Plus, when a show’s done, generally speaking the feedback is done too. Novel reviews come randomly and will continue to light up my days for years.
My biggest PR hit of the year was when I photo-bombed the London premiere of series 8 of Doctor Who. If you want something doing, do it yourself: I managed to get a nice spot in City A.M. The new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, is lovely guy and even signed a copy of Illegal Aliens for me!
I spent a lot of time learning Twitter, and it delivered nothing except connections with other authors, rather than readers. What serious reader spends time on Twitter?
Facebook was supposedly a great place to build a presence, and I spent valuable time and money. I built a good following of over 330 fans, but I have to say that advertising on Facebook isn’t the way to go. It’s nice to connect with fans there, rather than as a means of reaching new readers.
New author friends
It’s been a great pleasure to work with a couple of other authors. I helped the lovely and talented London-based Safeena Chaudhry with a bit of editing after meeting her at a London Writers Café seminar. Her novel Companions of Clay was one of my top reads of the year. I’d love to help her market it more effectively in 2015 because I think it’s a wonderful novel with a lot to say. Here’s my Goodreads review.
Nathan Van Coops is a hugely gifted and original story-teller, writing in the time-travel genre. I came across his debut novel In Times Like These in a Goodreads reading group. My Goodreads review is here. I was very flattered to be asked to beta-read the sequel, The Chronothon. Wow! It’s a brilliant novel, and I’ve reviewed it on Goodreads here. Pre-order now because it’s launching on February 2nd. Some sharp-eyed Hollywood scout needs to pick up the movie options for these two novels!
And let’s not forget Goodreads itself. I finished the year with reviews of over 370 books on my profile, some of which I had to add manually, and a few where I was the first to review them. I hope I’ve added value to readers by doing that, and also participating in group discussions. Illegal Aliens and Apocalypse Later both had successful giveaways on the platform.
In all, a varied and successful year. I’ve learnt a lot of valuable lessons about what works and what doesn’t – which means I can move into 2015 with much more focus. My advice to other authors would be to forget the Kindle marketing gurus – their main objective is to sell you yet more advice. Just connect with your readers in the way that you’d like your favourite author to connect with you.