Once we have learnt about something, once we consider we understand it, think we have mastered it, we like to run with it, to keep it.
We are often loath to stop, to give it up… to alter anything.
Many of us are resistant to change, of losing the little comfort zone we made for ourselves. One can liken such to the reluctance of a child giving up a blanket, or a soother.
If we do make the move, we find it easier to be weaned, to slightly adjust, little by little, so we don’t notice the change, or at least that is how we convince ourselves.
The problem is, by the time our situation has evolved in a way which assuages our reluctance, we find we are far behind the madding crowd, so far behind we have little chance of catching up.
In these days of high tech communications and internet connectivity, it is now more obvious than ever before.
Only the fearful and desperate cling to what once was,.
Only the backward and slow reminisce and wish for those ‘good old days‘ when a Facebook post actually reached ALL your ‘friends’ and not just the 3 to 10% they do with today’s algorithms.
The same is true of your book promotions. This is why your sales do not exceed the minimal expectations you tell yourself are reasonable goals, let alone your wishes and dreams to become a consistent bestselling author.
To give away a book for free is an archaic, outdated and outmoded marketing model. One which no longer holds any credence, but one which so many still cling to with dying hope, like a gambler sliding deeper into depressive debt.
Paying another organisation to give your books away is a sign of utter desperation. A despondent cry for help, for someone, anyone to read your story.
In reality, it is authorship suicide; one you may never recover from financially and one which could leave your reputation in raggedy tatters, before you even start.
Book launches and parties no longer pull the crowds. They are a nice way to spend a few extra hours chatting with those you regularly talk to every day; to hear them say nice things about you, your book and “what a marvellous cover” you have.
But such events no longer attract readers. They have been overdone and done over, like an ancient, wrinkled whore, they no longer hold any attraction whatsoever.
Thunderclaps, Headtalkers, Daycause are little more than a (mostly) unseen flash-in-the-pan. A quick blast of tweets and public post which disappear down the scrolling stream faster than Usain Bolt running a hundred meters.
Authors, you NEED to find new ways to promote your works, ways which offer longevity rather than the promise of making a ‘quick buck’ or selling a few more copies of your latest tome overnight… for one night only.
You need to find a simple, ongoing promotional aid which is always working for you, even when you’re not working.
A low-cost way that won’t break the bank, or better still, a way which will pay you a return, a royalty, on your promotional material.
Now wouldn’t that be wonderful…
If only such a thing existed…
Well, such a thing does exist, but only for those who are prepared to move forward, to see the changing lights (mostly red ones) as social media platforms are brought to task and the hyper highway of freedom and unlimited possibility become more crowded, slower and, well… limited.
A small, but growing group of indie authors, are moving forward into the new dawn of altered perception, of interweb reconstruction and publishing future.
It is a group which, (at present), still has its doors open to welcome a few more indie authors inside. Authors with great tales to share, who are well crafted in penning a wonderful story. Authors who are serious about writing, about selling their books, about being authors.
So, what is this group and who are these indie authors?
Simple, we are Electric Eclectic. The book brand which is sweeping the internet.
Before you ask, yes, this is about sci-fi and Robots… but it also about crime fiction, fantasy, steampunk and many other genres. It’s about understanding, imagination and the muse… so read on…
Like all fiction genres, Sci-fi and its many sub-genres must evolve with the times, writers must look to the future. (pun intended)
Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot”. It is said his brother suggested using a derivative of the word robata, which means literally “serf labour” and figuratively “drudgery” or “hard work.”
No wonder the robots usually want to revolt, to take over our world. To turn the tables on us!
But, long before the word “robot” was invented, the ideas of mechanical or artificial men was in our ancestors’ consciousness. Early ideas of robots or automata drew inspirations from early writings and figures in mythology, who were described as anthropomorphic and crafted from stone or metal.
Described in the Argonautica as a giant man of bronze forged by the smith Hephaestus, Talos is tasked with patrolling the island of Crete and fending off pirates.
However, he is still partially organic, as is shown in the description of a single blood vessel that runs from his neck down to his ankle. Much like with Achilles and his heel, the vein of Talos is his weakness, and he dies in the story from exsanguination.
This developed into ‘other’ forms of automata,
In ETA Hoffman’s short story, The Sandman, the main character Nathaniel falls in love with the daughter of one of his university professors.
While she is beautiful and elegant, Olympia speaks very little, only responding to conversations with “Ah”.
She is also often motionless for long periods of time.
The people around her find this disconcerting, and it is eventually revealed that she is a lifelike doll.
Enter the early days of Sci-fi as we recognise it now,
Edward Ellis’s Steam Man is an early example of the Edisonade genre of science fiction.
Derived from Thomas Edison’s name, the genre describes stories that feature an ingenious young American inventor, who uses his inventions to go on adventures, solve problems, and defend himself against his enemies. The invention often has many purposes, such as weaponry and transportation.
In this case, the teenage hero is Johnny Brainerd, who creates the steam man and uses it to pull wagons that can carry passengers. Despite its large size, the steam man can run quite fast, and Johnny uses this to his advantage (such as, for hunting buffalo).
An imitation of this story was written by Harry Enton in 1876, called Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, which also features a young inventor and his robots. Frank Reade’s steam man improves upon the first, with a much more efficient engine due to improvements in hydraulics and use of lighter-weight alloys. Thus, it is faster and stronger. Frank Reade’s son, Frank Jr., would eventually go on to create Steam Man Mark III, and replaced the use of steam with the use of electricity.
This and Steam Man of the Prairies were dime novels, popular fiction that is much like the comic books of today.
Dorothy finds the mechanical man, Tik-Tok, with a printed card suspended from the back of its neck.
The card provides directions for ‘using’ Tik-Tok, such as how to make him speak, think, and move by winding the clockwork in his body. Tik-Tok needs to be periodically wound like a toy to function, as he cannot wind himself up.
Tik-Tok has been referenced in other fiction, and his benign nature subverted into something more sinister, such as in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.
As I spoke of in the opening paragraphs of this post, the term Robot arose thus…
This famous play, which was successful in its time, describes a factory that makes artificial people or roboti, from synthetic organic matter.
Less like robots and more like androids or cyborgs because of their biological nature, these synthetic people work for humans but eventually organize an uprising, causing the extinction of humans.
Karel Capek’s play is influential for being the first to use the word “robot”, replacing “automaton” or “android”. It is also worth noting that “robota“in Czech means forced labour, of which the robots in the play were made to do.
“Robot:We wanted to be like people. We wanted to become people.
Radius:We wanted to live. We are more capable. We have learned everything. We can do everything.
Robot:You gave us weapons. We had to become the masters.
Robot:We have seen the mistakes made by the people, sir.”
Which basically, and with a giant leap of literary faith, brings us to the time when robots were simply robots, like Robby from ‘Lost in Space’. A time when Isaac Asimov penned ‘I Robot’ and hope for humankind lingered.
We all knew where we stood.
Then along came James Camron who introduced us to Skynet, and all hell broke loose.
So, where does that leave us, how can we tell new, inventive and genuinely futuristic tales of machines, androids and automaton now?
Maybe, a little closer inspection of where we stand now will help us, if we stand on tiptoes and look far over the rising horizon…
Robots are all around us, toiling away in factories and warehouses, busting a gut in landfills and working in hospitals. The NAO model introduces school kids and students to programming and robotics and it also teaches children with autism. Another model, Pepper, was created to work in the service sector; its tasks include attracting potential customers and consulting with buyers.
As the IOActive team discovered, to seize control of NAO you only need to be on the same network as the robot. Experts found vulnerabilities allowing commands to be remotely executed, effectively giving over full control of its actions.
To demonstrate how these vulnerabilities can be exploited, the team forced NAO to demand bitcoins from its human interlocutor.
But real criminals would be limited only by their imagination and programming skills. What’s more, it’s not just NAO that can be infected with ransomware; the more business-oriented Pepper is just as vulnerable, and other models probably are as well.
Just imagine if one fine day a robot teacher or store clerk, in full view of John Q. Public, started swearing and insulting people before going on strike or picking a fight.
You never know.
But why would anyone hack a robot?
What do criminals have to gain here? Won’t it just spoil someone’s day or their life? That might be enough incentive for some hackers, who often do such things just for fun.
But there’s another reason: money.
The profit motive is simple. Buying a robot costs about $10,000; and if it breaks, it must be repaired or replaced.
Both of those require a fair bit of cash, but factor in the downtime cost and reputational loss of having a robot threaten customers and the sum rises considerably.
If an industrial robot is hacked, it can pose an immediate threat to employee safety or production quality.
An attacker compromising a robot in one of those ways might offer a quick solution to the problem, (which they caused), pay a ransom and everything will be just fine.
But, as you might guess, cybercriminals don’t always keep their word. Of course, the vulnerable robot might be hacked again, requiring another payout.
And then, another,and another…
What can be done?
Robots are here to stay (and multiply), so avoiding contact with them is not the way to go. For that, you’d need to invent a time-machine and go back a long, long way as mentioned above.
Instead, users and manufacturers need to be sensitive to robots’ weaknesses to ensure these devices do not go from cutting-edge to catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
Robot creators need to think through security issues in advance before production starts. Today. Better still, yesterday.
Then, after product release, all ears must be kept firmly to the ground to respond promptly to reported vulnerabilities and get them fixed.
…Or some sort of mayhem, a type of life-shattering, civilisation ending apocalypse may just leap from the pages of a book and into reality…
Or maybe that is just my way of stimulating your muse… think on, but carefully and you could join the ranks of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov.
You see not all sci-fi which includes rouge robots must be apocalyptic, that idea has been done, and done, and done to death. Now it is time for a differing approach.
Take your favourite crime-based books or film, or a combination of both media. Choose a story without any robots and select a character or two.
Now, think of your chosen characters as automaton, combine those two or three films/books plots. (If they are Hollywood or from mainstream publishing, it will not be a difficult task because they use a five, or seven-point, plotline… its what makes mainstream boring and predictable.) and start writing. Don’t copy… No plagiarism allowed; simply let your muse write the story guided by the basic (combination) of the plot(s) outlines.
You will have a brand-new crime story, but one which includes robots. It does not even have to be set in the future or on another planet, it can be urban fiction, steampunk, fantasy… you decide.
What you will have is a cross-genre fictional work which can be promoted to a wider, but targeted audience. That means greater sales opportunities and a much larger readership potential.
Why not make your robot a stooge, a fall guy? Have the reader fall in love with it, empathize with it.
Alternatively, have your robot(s) as the victim, the missing link to solving a situation… not all robots are bad, not all are good, some simply have frailties, others damaged personalities, why, some are even human… aren’t they?
Whatever you do, have fun and visit my website HEREI have a load of crime fiction and other ‘stuff’ you will just love. But don’t just take my word, go and have a look now.
It is some time since I wrote a ‘Rambling’ Rambling on this blog.
Partly, this is because of the large number of commitments I have undertaken recently. Commitments which have left little time to indulge myself in creating an informative and entertaining Ramble.
Which I hope this post shall be, (at least if you read on from this point.) Although this post may seem to ‘go around the houses’ to reach its point, bear with me. It will be worth it in the end… Honest 😊
My last Rambling style post was a bit of a rant, but one which shares the truth about how ineffective giving away free booksis and how doing so is damaging all indie author’s prospects.
This post sort of follows suit regarding ranting… maybe I am becoming a ‘Grumpy old man’ or maybe I am already one?
The basic theme here is “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.” In fact, I think I’ll use that phrase as the title of this post.
First, the ‘whining and whinging’, the consistent, droll, mind-numbing drivel I am hearing from too many indie authors recently.
“My sales are bad.”
“Facebook doesn’t help anymore.”
“Things are getting worse.”
“People don’t even want my free book.”
“Nobody leaves reviews.”
“Adverts are so expensive and don’t reach enough people.”
And so forth. All one must do is read the comments and posts in various social media groups and pages to find a torrent of such remarks.
Now, I may or may not agree with all the above. Okay, the first three are stupid statements, the last three have some if little, merit.
But this wave of despondency seems to be sweeping the internet at present and gathering momentum as it does.
Fuelled, no doubt, by the rumours about CreateSpace, Amazon and Goodreads along with the recent and forthcoming changes and alterations to Facebook.
Don’t ask me for details, go read Gisela Hausmann’s books on the subject, she is far better informed than I. Read more Here
Now, nobody said writing a book would be easy. Nobody told me marketing and selling would be a cinch.
It takes commitment, persistence, patience and determination… and lots of it. I said lots of it, that’s much, much more than you are considering or believing right now. So, treble the difficulty factor and then multiply that by the power of 92 and you could be approaching reality.
Calculate the exact opposite for difficulty and obstacles. The resultant sum should reflect the starting point of your journey into the realms of authorship.
Bilbo Baggins exploits were a simple walk in the park, in comparison of what you shall have to endure.
That is why we love being indie authors.
However, (for those who may not be familiar with my Ramblings I love the ‘However’s’.)
So, to continue.
However, I cannot take this downhearted view as one expressed solely by the Indie community, or for that matter, one voiced on social media alone.
I think this mood or at least the pessimistic and depressed expression of disappointment and negativity concerning the present and, more so, the cynical distrust of the future is something which is sweeping our society.
This attitude has now reached such proportions everybody has to have ‘a condition’, be it a simple skin complaint, a dietary need or speech impediment, let alone a major physical or mental syndrome.
As an alternative, or as an added factor, one must also be a survivor… of sexual or mental abuse, a victim of crime, a recovering drug user or alcoholic with latent effects of reoccurring PTSD… and so forth.
Nowadays everyone must have an underlying ‘Backstory’ to be accepted as part of our modern society, however truthful or however factitious that may be.
Personally, I blame Simon Cowell and the XFactor… which traumatic experience I have survived, by the way.
I am an exexfactorbackstorysurvivalist, in tentative remission.
NOW… don’t get me wrong. I am not speaking of genuine suffers from such disorders, I am speaking of the media hype and their insatiable appetite to present all who become ensnared in their tentacles as some form of miracle entity. A god or goddess-like warrior who has fought off the evils life has thrown at them.
Such influence affects us and our children’s perception of ‘normality’ in the most ambiguous ways. It is this seeking of constant sensationalism which clouds many of the authors and writer’s minds when they complain about how difficult it is to sell their books.
Instead of ‘doing something‘ to alter the situation it is far easier for many to shout “I am a Victim” and “Facebook is abusing my rights” and such like.
This is where, if you are still with me, I refer you back to the title of this post. “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.”
I shall finish with one simple and short example-
I recently launched an initiative for indie authors called Electric Eclectic. I doubt very much if you have not seen at least one blog, post, comment or advertisement concerning such.
Electric Eclectic allows indie authors a way of using, or recycling, short stories to market and sell their prime titles. This is a form of promotion which actually earns the author money while working as a silent salesman on their behalf.
I have offered, both on major social media sites and by personal email invitation, the opportunity for a limited number of other authors to join us.
The take-up has been dismal, even though our own authors have seen sale generated via Electric Eclectic already and indications of ongoing success.
YET, I have seen some of those who know about this opportunity continue to whinge and whine about sales, the cost of promotion and the ‘state of the market’ while ignoring the offer from Electric Eclectic and other genuine initiatives.
My suspicions are these people enjoy the attention their complaining creates and, I wonder if, they like to ride the current media bandwagon of portraying themselves as victims, casualties and wounded sufferers of circumstance?
Thank you for reading this Rambling. Paul.
To find out more, or to request becoming an Electric Eclectic author, visit the website HERE and use the contact page to message Electric Eclectic.
This year 2017 has seen some seismic shifts in the publishing and advertising industries as major issues such as transparency (Note Facebook revealing their loss of Data a short while ago. This note added April 2018) and brand safety have taken centre stage. Next year is shaping up to be no different, as the industry looks ahead to key issues which will dominate the news agenda over the next 12 months and beyond.
“GDPR will hit in May 2018 and with just seven months left to be ready, many within the industry are only just learning about the implications. People are spending more time online across a wider array of devices and are becoming smarter at consuming online content. Consumers are hungry for real content and will be looking for ways to cut out fake news and time-wasting content by seeking out better quality content providers and starting to pay to access the best content.
2018 will continue to deliver opportunity; we all need to think about building interactive audio relationships via Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice controlled devices, and how virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR and augmented reality via the latest generation of iPhones will affect the way we communicate brand messaging to our audiences in new and innovative ways.”
“Native advertising has rapidly gained momentum this year and will continue to do so in 2018. With native ad spend expected to reach more than €13 billion across Europe by 2020, it is safe to say it is no longer just a buzzword, but an essential part of the marketing mix that is finally getting the recognition it deserves from the industry.
“As publishers look to focus on brand safety, transparency, and the user experience, I expect we will see more of a migration to native as developments in creative technology bring more flexibility. By harnessing the capabilities of programmatic, the scale and efficiency of this flourishing format will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Electric Eclectic books incorporate aspects of Native Advertising in their marketing strategy assisting indie authors book sales. The amazing thing regarding Native Advertising is most people will not recognise or notice it occurring because it is an almost subliminal method of carrying your brand message.
THE CONTINUED RISE OF INDIE AND HYBRID PUBLISHING
Traditional publishers may offer prestige, but also limited creative control and royalties. In recent years, independent publishers have accounted for an ever-larger share of the market, with the help of high-quality cover designs, writing, and marketing plans.
Last year, data showed for the first time the share of self-published books and books published by small publishers, at 42 percent, was larger than the market share of big-publishers, at 34 percent.
Ascendant is the phenomenon of hybrid publishing, which includes a variety of publishing models which straddle a middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Veterans of traditional publishing have left behind their larger companies to bring top skills and experience to the world of independent publishing.
More and more authors are opting for hybrid publishing, which allows them to hold on to creative control and royalties while benefiting from the best of the traditional publishing world.
LONGER SHELF LIFE WITH EBOOKS WILL MEAN INCREASED COMPETITION
With the rise of digital book listings, we are seeing a change in the lifecycle of books. When keeping books available depended on a limited quantity of physical shelf space, it meant books that no longer sold well were removed from shelves as soon as possible.
With digital retailers, there is no such premium on shelf space. With books remaining discoverable indefinitely, authors and publishers may want to take a fresh look at “legacy titles” – books published in the past that are no longer a focus for your attention.
Consider reinvesting in a new cover, book description, and marketing resources to revitalise these titles.
Remember, in this age of digital ebooks and kindle, the more books you have available, the better chance you have to grab your share of the crowded eBook market.
This is one reason you should have a minimum of three marketing branded books working for you and all your prime titles. Electric Eclectic (part of CQ International) is the fastest growing and most inventive brand. Take a peek at their Website.
MORE BOOKS, STAGNATING READERSHIP
According to Pew Research Center, about 73 percent of Americans read at least a book a year.
This is a figure which has remained stagnant since 2012. Meanwhile, the number of books published in the US has grown exponentially since 2010. Self-published titles have grown from 133,036 in 2010 to 727,125 in 2015, an increase of 446.5 percent. (latest full figures available.)
Getting your books to readers has, therefore, become an increasing challenging.
Authors need to work towards “discoverability”, working to develop their own audience as an author and creating strong brand marketing for their books.
Many self-publishing authors also face criticism for poor editing and packaging – with more books on the market, the pressure to create and maintain high-quality presentation is becoming paramount. Pay special attention to your design choices; editing and marketing can help self-published books rise above the rest. But a great cover is your first opportunity to attract readers to your book. A professional cover will help you gain sales. Check out PeeJay Designs by Paul White. They offer a professional, but friendly and communicative service HERE
AUDIOBOOKS ARE GROWING
Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the publishing world.
In 2015, the audiobook industry was valued at 2.8 billion dollars. 43,000 books were released that year alone, compared to 36,000 in 2014 and just 20,000 in 2013. (Latest full figures available.)
Since audiobooks do not follow the same agency model as eBooks, publishers have been more willing to experiment with distribution models for audiobooks. In particular, subscription models, such as that of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited platform, are on the rise. In a similar approach to Netflix or Spotify, the service offers unlimited access to 2,500 audiobooks.
While the cost of creating an Audiobooks is higher than most forms of book creation, including many hardcover formats, it is one of the publishing trends to seriously consider.
As with all relatively new markets, audiobooks platforms, production and distribution methods are only in their infancy, so invention and initiative are prime.
PUBLISHING TRENDS 2018 – SUMMARY
The publishing trends of 2018 are likely to follow the broader patterns seen throughout the decade; the rise of small publishers, digital platforms and new formats.
In other ways, the publishing world will continue to see a backlash to traditional, restrictive and controlled marketplaces during in 2018.
Keeping an eye on such trends can help publishers and authors get a sense of where things are headed in the years to come. The future will be about development, choice and ‘canny’ marketing.
The data reveal what some might consider a surprising generational pattern in book reading.
Young adults, those aged eighteen to twenty-nine, are more likely than their elders to have read a book in the past twelve months.
In 2014, there were more hugely successful movies based on young adult books than ever before. Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Book Thief all appealed to a younger audience and may be causing this surge of interest.
We’ll have to wait to see if this is a passing phase or a longer-term trend.
The survey also noted women are more likely to be the book readers in a household. The average woman reader read fourteen books in the past year, compared with nine books for men.
In 2014, Pew reported that 50 percent of Americans have a dedicated handheld device, either a tablet computer like an iPad or Kindle Fire, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, for reading digital content. This is up from 43 percent in September 2013.
While tablets are still the most popular electronic way to read digital books… at present, last month The Wall Street Journalpredicted they may be pushed aside by smartphones in coming years.
In the first three months of 2015, 41 percent of ebook buyers read digital books primarily on their tablets, according to the newspaper (citing Nielsen data), and 32 percent read ebooks primarily on their e-readers. However, the publication also reported on a Nielsen survey from this past December that found 54 percent of ebook buyers read on their smartphones at least some of the time. In 2012, that number was just 24 percent.
Fortune cites reasons for the adoption of reading via smartphone:
“Convenience, of course, as well as ramped-up technology that makes reading on mobile phones a more pleasant experience. Smartphone screen sizes, too, are getting larger.”
Okay, that will do for today.
There is a mass of indicators which will need your careful consideration when deciding which tactics to adopt in your overall marketing strategy.
Chose carefully and wisely, invest well and reap the rewards.
Thanks for reading another of my rather out-of-character serious postings… my normal, regular Ramblings shall resume shortly.
If you have been following Ramblings from a Writers Mind, or if you have scrolled down, looking and reading many of the posts, you will notice they fall into two main categories.
The first, those where I share my experience and attempt, in my rather haphazard way, to impart and to clarify certain aspects of wordsmithing, along with tips and ideas you may wish to try or adopt.
The second Rambling posts are ones where I express my opinions and beliefs about being an indie author. Many of these articles create controversy amongst the varying schools of thought running through the indie community. I do not see this as a bad thing, but one which stimulates discussion and debate, a great platform to exchange views and examine convictions.
This is the first of two posts regarding two current controversial topics.
This one is about of giving away free books, an activity which is damaging the entire indie book market and something I am adamantly against.
So, without further ado, let’s get stuck into this wonderfully heated issue of free books.
When Amazon’s algorithms changed some time ago, giving less weight in rating terms to giveaways as opposed to paid-for copies, many authors became less enthusiastic.
However, the advent of new players in the giveaway frame, such as BookFunnel and Instafreebie, has added a new way of distributing free books and a new purpose: to build your author database by effectively trading email addresses for free books.
While the jury’s still out on the long-term benefits we discover how many of these subscribers unsubscribe – as is their legal right – or not bother to read their freebies.
As with any decision, we should evaluate any potential short-term benefits alongside the long-term effects on the mindset of our customers/readership.
The vast (vast, vast) majority of free downloads never get read, so giveaways don’t accomplish what they’re intended to do: spread the word, get reviews.
On top of that, many authors pay money to advertise these giveaways, and spring for shipping in the case of hard copies, so they’re actually paying people to get a free copy and not read it.
Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
We’ve all heard that saying. Basically, the meaning behind it is that someone isn’t going to pay for something that is offered for free.
Whether it’s your virtue or your book, the issue is still the same.
When a writer devalues their work to the point of giving away their book, what are they really doing? Giving it away as if it were nothing?
It begs the question, are those authors so desperate to have someone, anyone, read their book, that they are willing to pass them out like pamphlets on the street corner.
Is the book so bad they think no one would or should pay for it?
What about the months, maybe even years, the author spent pounding away at the keyboard creating the book? What about the lost hours spent editing and reworking it to perfection?
Most authors sacrifice a lot to write a book. They give up any and all free time in exchange for getting the story on paper. That must be worth something; certainly, more than a freebie.
Authors tell me it’s a promotional ploy.
Promotion is great and today we must constantly try new angles and ideas to draw in readers. I have no issue with giving away a chapter to entice a reader to purchase the rest of the book, but give away the whole book?
It does not make any sense.
Many, often new or struggling authors, hope by giving away a book, readers will buy more of them or will buy the next book they release.
Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Readers are a very frugal bunch. If they can get free books, why would they pay for yours? They will simply pick up someone else’s free book tomorrow, and someone else’s the next day, and so forth.
The numbers don’t lie
You may disagree with me — maybe your experience is different — but as a publisher, I have to tell you the sales numbers don’t lie.
While a select small number of authors may have seen book giveaways as a clever promotion to boost the sales of their next book, it is rare. Giving books away isn’t making sales numbers climb.
How could it? Free doesn’t equal bigger royalty checks.
Meanwhile, authors have devalued their craft to the point where even they don’t think it should cost anything.
I’ve been to a lot of craft shows the past couple of months. I’m amazed at the price of the handmade pieces people are selling. Then I think about the hours and hours of hard work these artists put into each piece and I must admit, it’s probably a bargain.
Are not authors the same as these other artists? Aren’t authors creators of their craft and shouldn’t they value their work as much as a wood carver or a glass blower does?
“It’s a tough time in publishing for authors but the answer isn’t giving it away. To me, that’s the same as giving up.”
People who get a free copy of your book will not convert to buyers.
You see there are two distinct markets when it comes to anything really: the buyers and the freebie hunters.
I know if I go to Amazon and I’m searching for a book about dogs I click on the top free category, I’m not leaving the free category. It’s already in my mind to not pay for something like that. Even if it’s an absolute hobby of mine, I already have a wealth of knowledge resources I can snag for free.
For instance, there are hundreds of new adult fiction books published every day on Amazon. Hundreds of those books are put into KDP Select and are set to a 5-day free promotion every day. If I’m an avid reader of literary porn and I know I can get new quality erotic stories for free every day, why would I pay for it?
Hell, most of them probably won’t even read the book, depending on the genre.
There was a time when I would go to Reddit’s free eBook page and go on download sprees. I Never read any more than 2% of those books and they were deleted from my Kindle library with the same quickness they were uploaded.
It did not matter, they were free. They held no value.
Your e-mail list isn’t going to grow substantially by giving away a book. Even if you offer another free book for signing up, your list will merely be tainted by freebie chasers. They will hop on your mailing list, snag the download, then unsubscribe.
I can’t help but laugh at self-publishing authors who brag about how many books they gave away in their most recent promotion.
Last time I checked, free never paid the bills.
2,000 free downloads of your sub-par eBook do not indicate any level of success.
If it was not selling more than a copy a week, then you gave it away for a few days before it sprang to a few copies a day, I would say it was worth it.
But no… it never happened, did it?
You see, when you discount your book to zero, it devalues mine too, in fact, it devalues every author’s book by undervaluing and diminishing the entire marketplace.
Please, don’t devalue our publishing world.
Giving away one free book can equal a part of an authors mortgage payment, one of their children’s meals, maybe a new pair of shoes they shall now never own.
The thousands of free books given away mean many thousands of pounds/dollars/euros which should have supported an author and their family has been taken from them.
Giving books away is little different to stealing from your fellow writer’s pockets.
Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
So, okay when would I, if pushed, ever do a giveaway?
Personally, never… but….
It seems to me that the only time to do a giveaway is to brand new authors and salty seasoned veterans.
Even if you have written 10 books, but you get no sales, you’re still new.
The only, vaguely possible benefit, of ever doing a giveaway is most major eBook storefronts have an ‘also bought‘ section which shows which ‘other’ books customers also bought.
This is the ONLY possible ‘money shot’ when doing a free book offer (and ONLY for new authors). The population of this ‘also bought’ section will link your book to other books, (& vice versa) so someone searching for a book of a similar subject may stumble onto your book.
So, there you have it, folks. You might give one eBook away for free when you are a brand spanking new author, or perhaps when you have such a massive following and sell millions of books each month, that giving away a book which was once an all-time bestseller, possibly twenty years ago, does not matter a single jot anymore.
….This is where too many indie authors fall into the FREEBIE TRAP.
Trying to emulate the marketing and promotional actions of major mainstream publishers who market the books of authors who are household names.
The truth is, you do not know what teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy part of the publisher’s overall strategy their giveaway forms part of. It is definitely NOT a stand-alone, individual and isolated ploy, but a small cog of an overall strategy, planned with experts as part of a long-term stratagem focused on future markets and indicated customer trends. A fact every individual indie author I have discussed this subject with was, either not aware of, or did not take into consideration.
My advice, leave it alone.
There are MANY better ways to generate interest in your works.
Take Electric Eclectic books as an example.
Electric Eclectic is where you take a short story, one you may have forgotten and is lying unused and unloved in your files, or maybe you have one which you published in an anthology some years ago. The point is, where your story comes from is not really important.
What is important is your tale must be between 6k and 20K words, a story which you can turn into a Kindle eBook. By publishing your short story, as a novelette under the Electric Eclectic brandenables you to benefit from the brand’s extensive promotions and marketing initiatives, many which reach markets way beyond the regular social media platforms.
While there is a small, one-off licence branding fee for each book, you keep all the royalties and rights… but that is only the beginning. The true advantage of being part of the Electric Eclectic brand is that each Novelette works as your own marketing tool, leading your readers to your prime books and novels.
So, instead of giving your prime books away, or worse still, paying someone else to give them away, your promotional tool, (your Electric Eclectic book) is earning you royalties while gaining you potential readers for those main works. It’s a win, win situation.
It’s time to stop devaluing your books and yourself, make your promotions work for you.
I have been working on an awful lot of ‘Stuff’ these past few weeks.
I am always busy, it keeps me from hanging about on those street corners. But these past weeks I have been busier than most.
Let me give you a clue….
Over the last two weeks, I wrote approximately 630,000 words, 350,000 last week and 280,000 the week before.
I have promoted the November edition of CQI magazine, the Sci-Fi season special. Click on the cover image to read.
I am in the midst of compiling two annual catalogues for CQI, ‘The Collection – a guide to year-round giving’ and ‘The LIST 2018′ a catalogue of commended and acclaimed books.
During which time, I have beavered away at marketing to keep my two latest books high on the Amazon sales lists. Successfully.
I finalised and formatted a further two books, including designing the covers. They are:
Dark Words – dark tales & darker poetry is scheduled for release on the 1st of February 2018.
Within the Invisible Pentacle, a collection of intriguing feminine titles is due out on the 1st of June 2018.
That done, I can concentrate my efforts on completing two other WiP:
Floyd a Novel about an escaped psychopath on a bloody rampage of revenge and…
On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion, which is a rendering of my past blog of the same name, about musings of life, living and our society, with many additional perceptions, formed into a book.
I am hoping to have both completed by the end of 2018… but who knows?
Included in this time, right up until yesterday morning, I have published three new eBooks, Kindle ‘novelettes‘ under the collective brand of Electric Eclectic.
Electric Eclectic books are absolutely fantastic, they enable readers to ‘taste‘ a previously unread or unknown author at the extremely low price of just 1.00 (Dollar/Pound/Euro). HOWEVER… unlike many low-cost books all EE novelettes are vetted to ensure they meet exacting standards, so readers can buy Electric Eclectic branded books with confidence.
EE is a Franchise, where the individual authors benefit from the marketing and promotion of being associated with the prime EE brand itself. Enquiries about becoming an EE author to EEbookbranding@mail.com
My current EE novelettes are:
North to Maynard, a tale of Gremlins in our modern world of high tech.
Three Floors Up, where a psychotic man watches those below until…?
Mechanical Mike, a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi robot story, set in Paris during WW2.
Oh, I have also helped a fellow author to create a fully illustrated children’s book, written by an eight-year-old girl. A project not without its problems, but one where I have enjoyed overcoming the challenges.
I took three days out to travel to Belguim during this time period too.
This post focuses on writing blogs, website content, social media and emails rather than stories and books.
As independent authors, our ability to write such is of paramount importance to our promotional and marketing strategy. Yet the way you write could be alienating those who are not quite as apt as you or me at reading.
A couple of years ago, I had a wonderful comment from a person who suffered from dyslexia about a post.
Although his comments were primarily about the content and not the presentation of the post, he mentioned he found my post far easier to read than many, if not most.
Curiosity got the better of me.
Why I wondered, could he read and understand my posts, when he struggled to read so many others?
Over the next few days, he and I conversed, by email, about his reading on a personal level and Dyslexia in general.
Before I carry on and explain the outcome of our conversations, I think as writers we should all know and understand what dyslexia and some of the most common reading difficulties are. So, I am including the following few paragraphs & bullet points, (which I cribbed from the internet), for clarity.
A formal definition of dyslexia used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states, “It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. “
Unsurprisingly, the International Dyslexia Association defines it in simple terms. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.”
In contrast, Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder, meaning that it relates specifically to how the brain processes the visual information it receives. It is not a language-based disorder and phonics-based instruction will not help someone with Irlen Syndrome improve in the same way it will help someone with dyslexia improve their reading skills.
At its core, Irlen Syndrome is a light sensitivity, where individuals are sensitive to a specific wavelength of light and this sensitivity is what causes the physical and visual symptoms that people with Irlen Syndrome experience. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty reading not because their brains have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds those letters make, but because they see distortions on the printed page, or because the white background or glare hurts their eyes, gives them a headache, or makes them fall asleep when trying to read.
Unlike dyslexia, difficulties experienced because of Irlen Syndrome can reach well beyond just reading. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty processing all visual information, not just words on a printed page, so they often have trouble with depth perception, driving, sports performance, and other areas not generally connected with dyslexia.
Alexia is a form of dyslexia, but dyslexia is developmental, meaning that it does not happen from an occurrence such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Alexia is an acquired reading disability because of an acquired event such as a stroke. It is most common for alexia to be accompanied by expressive aphasia (the ability to speak in sentences), and agraphia (the ability to write).
All alexia is not the same, however. You may have difficulty with the following:
Recognizing words ● Difficulty identifying and reading synonyms ● Difficulty with reading despite your ability to sound out pronunciation of words.
Although you can read words, it is too difficult to read for very long ● Blind spots blocking the end of a line or a long word ● Focusing on the left side of the paragraph or page ● Double vision when trying to read ● Reading some words but not others. Of course, this makes reading impossible.
A stroke survivor with alexia that can read larger words, but cannot read tiny words such as “it,” “to,” “and,” etc. ● Any combination of some of these traits.
My conversations with, (I shall call him ‘Jay’ during this post), led me to take a close look at how I was presenting my blogs, what made them so different and, could I improve them further?
It turns out the style I chose… I was going to say developed, but that sounds arrogant. So, the style I was using at the time was to write in small(ish) chunks, using relatively short sentences and paragraphs, as I have so far in this post.
Unlike the following.
This differed to most blogs and posts on the interweb which were, (and still are), long blocks of continuous sentences and sub-sentences, forming large paragraphs with very little line spacing or breaks. This may be a ‘style’ welcomed by universities and those writing technical/medical/professional and some literary journals. I have seen many papers which follow this style. I have even read a few and I must agree it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. To read such a document, one must concentrate fully and focus on each word of each line. Whenever the eye moves from its forced liner motion, even for a moment, is when the reader finds some difficulty in returning to the exact location they were at previously, often meaning one must, annoyingly, re-read sections already read. Like you have possibly just done when reading with this last long drivelling, over worded paragraph I have written in just such a manner to illustrate my point that it makes for uncomfortable reading, even for those of us blessed with good eyesight and adequate skill. A point which I hope I have now made adequately clear with this paragraph which is representative of many blogs.
Writing in this form creates such a large block of words it becomes challenging to separate them into clear concise ‘bite-sized‘ and manageable ‘lots’ of information.
This is one of the areas of written presentation which was highlighted to me by Jay.
I already used a style of writing which broke long paragraphs into much smaller ones, whenever practicable, but I was not aware of the impact doing so made on the reader. From then on, I broke paragraphs down even further than I did ‘pre-‘Jay’
I was also made aware of unnecessarily long sentences, sentences with too many superfluous words.
This simply meant cutting out all those unnecessary words to make sentences read far more precisely and clearly.
Eliminating irrelevant words.
You see, this is not fictional or creative literature as when writing a novel, or even a short story. This is describing and sharing thoughts, ideas, information and data. Another skill set entirely.
Authors often discover this when having to write a precise about their latest book, like the back-cover blurb, an agent’s query synopsis, or for a promotional activity.
We all know, or at least should, that mixing sentence lengths makes for better reading. But so does spacing and breaking them up, like I have done in most of this post.
Please do not get me wrong.
I am not solely writing or directing my words specifically to those with reading difficulties, but I am looking to be as inclusive as possible and not simply because I am attempting to be politically, or socially correct.
I do it because I want as many people as possible to read my words. That is why I write.
Looking at how one presents their posts on the screen does not take much effort. Neither does adjusting one’s style to make it clearer and easier to read… for everybody, including you and me.
To finish, look at this Git-Hub virtual reality page. It shows how we can best comprehend the way those suffering from dyslexia and associated reading difficulties may see the written word.
My lesson following my conversations with ‘Jay’ is, “We can all learn from others, even those we may have previously considered had nothing to give us. After all, I never thought a dyslexic could teach an established author how to write clearer, even better. How wrong I was.”
Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings. Please subscribe to this blog if you will.
I am open to all comments and try to reply to them all personally.
You have guessed it, this post is all about marketing…
BUT… not marketing as you may comprehend it from a basic level, which is an amalgamation of advertising and promotion, but marketing from a perspective you may not have realised exists.
Have I got your attention?
I do hope so, because I believe having a clear understanding of this view of marketing can make or break your success as an author.
I once worked in hard-copy magazine publishing and spent many hours discussing marketing with prime agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, John Walter Thompson (JWT), BDM & BBDO (now combined with Abbott Mead & Vickers I think,) along with media buying services Zenith, Media.com and OMD and PR companies including Ogilvy, Brunswick and Edelman.
ALL the agents I met were looking for that ‘something’ which would take the target audience by storm. They all wanted to make their mark within the industry by having a campaign which would enter media/publishing/broadcasting folklore. I.E, propel them into ‘the big time’.
Now, I am not one to poo-poo or trying to dissuade anyone from wishing to advance their career, far from it, BUT (I always have but’s in my blog posts), these agency agents failed to notice an overriding fact. The most successful agents, many whom now owned or partnered the companies these agents were working for, became successful by constants and continuity, not by a flash in the pan, however big a bang that may make at the time.
It is this same attitude I find when speaking to many business people, including authors, particularly new and/or first time/wannabe writers.
It is irrelevant, regarding the content of this post, if you write the most amazing, perfectly formed tome ever, or you have hastily scribbled a ‘quick’ novella or e-book novelette.
NO one will buy your book… unless they know about it, so you must tell people you have written a book. Doing so is called advertising, which a division of marketing.
Running a Thunderclap or posting about your book on social media is another area of marketing, like sending emails to friends to let them know you have published your book, BUT (another one), these are only the most obvious and basic parts of what marketing covers.
However, what marketing REALLY is, is EVERYTHING that you do.
Allow me to explain.
Whatever tasks you are working on now, right now, ask yourself this question… “How does this affect my marketing?”
Ask yourself this question at the beginning, during and at the end of each and every task you undertake in your role as a writer and author. Soon you will begin to understand everything has some form of influence in marketing you and your work to the world.
The way you look and dress in a video or podcast… “How does this affect my marketing?”
The images you post on social media. “How does this affect my marketing?”
Your profile image, “How does this affect my marketing?”
Your comments and replies. “How does this affect my marketing?”
How you look and speak at book fairs and events. “How does this affect my marketing?”
The layout and design of your tables and space. “How does this affect my marketing?”
Where, when and how you advertise and promote. “How does this affect my marketing?”
…… and so on.
You may notice I have not touched on your books covers, content, banners, advertising material design or so on, yet.
When do you make a paperback or eBook version of that book? “How does this affect my marketing?”
Did you notice I said when? Timing is also critical as an aspect of marketing.
There is an old, but true adage, is say’s, “If you want to sell your [books] you have to sell yourself first.”
Nothing is truer.
Another is, “People buy People”.
I will not argue with that.
These are things we all need to keep in mind. Dale Carnegie should have said, “we have to win friends to influence people.” That saying would sit well in our modern digital world.
In conclusion, we must create a persona as an author or business person. Much like a fictional character from one of our tales.
This character however should not be fake, but a facet of ourselves, our ‘public image’ one we must nurture and cultivate in absolutely everything we do.
The one of which we ask, “How does this affect my marketing?” in everything you do.
Only by doing so, by becoming aware that marketing means marketing YOURSELF, constantly, consistently and at every opportunity can you play the long game, the strategy which will make you an ongoing constant and not another nonentity looking for that great flash in the pan, the non-existent big bang which will propel you into the big time.
I could go on and write more. But… (another but) I would like you to consider this content seriously before I delve any deeper into the subject of marketing.
I often hear authors sound flabbergasted when their books, even their newly launched publication, the one they have been working on for so long and spent a fortune, in both time and effort promoting and marketing, shows as OUT OF STOCK on major bookstore sites.
I mean, how can a brand-new novel, only published yesterday, already be out of stock? Besides, it has been published as a POD (print on demand) so it can never be out of stock… can it?
Why, if it is available from one site, is it showing as out of stock in another? It all seems so confusing.
I have been asked, “Surely if my potential reader sees out of stock against my book, they will simply by another book, someone else’s book… won’t they?”
My answer is “It is a possibility, even a probability.”
So, why can/does your newly published book show out of stock on some site and stores listings.
There are a few reasons. Much depends on who has published your book. CreateSpace, another online book publisher like Babybook.com or a private printing company and who holds your prime stock, if any.
That last part may sound a strange inclusion when speaking of POD books, but some places will/do hold stock, physical stock of POD books… I bet you never considered that before, did you?
Okay, so let me clarify some of this.
First let’s speak of those who may hold actual stock of your books.
These are varied, so this is a general overview rather than a focused statement.
Many high street book stores, even some of the larger chains, do hold some independent authors books. You may have to get ‘lucky’ (or have a proven ‘bestseller’) for your book to take up valuable shelf space which is at a premium at this level of retail, but it can happen.
There are even a few re-sellers and wholesalers who are looking closely at getting more indie authors books in front of the high-street public… but that’s another story (Pun intended.)
Book stores generally order their books on a fortnightly basis, often guided by their sales/buying/distribution agents convoluted algorithms, which are designed to predict purchasing patterns. Hence, if your book has continued/constant high-volume sales on a site such as Amazon, your book could, possibly, maybe, end up on the shelves of your local book store.
This is how the book store, should they have an internet presence, (I don’t know one that does not), may list your book as out-of-stock. This does not mean your book cannot be purchased via that particular site, only that the store does not have it on the shelf, or on their warehouse, but your order will be dispatched as soon as the new fortnights order arrives from the wholesale/re-sale company.
The agent will order your book as a multiple/bulk order and distribute copies to the relevant stores they supply the inventory for the two-week cycle. It is these companies who would, for example, buy from Amazon as part of the ‘Expanded distribution’ should you have enabled that option.
Now, let’s get to grips with the sites that do not hold any, or very little, stock and why they may mark your book as out of stock. (This post is Amazon focused, simply because they are the largest bookseller and I am certain almost every indie has, or has had, dealings with them.)
Historically the biggest times of out of stock, or two to three weeks delivery came when Amazon was solidifying its position as the major book distributor in the world. It had a long ongoing, but quiet battle with Lightning Source and the two main suppliers Amazon used as dropships, Ingram and Baker& Taylor.
As part of the ever-growing Amazons domination it needed warehouse space and to reduce costs, which can spiral, expedientialy even for a massive organisation.
Thus, Amazon reduced its stock levels of all POD books re-ordering necessary stock on a daily basis. But this was not always enough time for POD printers to supply demand in the timespan, hence out of stock messages appeared.
Now, all this and the continued adjustments since, created a shift change in the market place. CreateSpace is now undoubtedly the main supplier of indie books to Amazon. So, for the least chance of having your book listed as out of stock, or as a delayed delivery, CreateSpace is your best bet.
Lightning Source, Blurb, Babybooks, Lulu and so on take a secondary seat in the ongoing war for profits, which is what effects your book sales the most. You cannot blame Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Ingram or anybody else, this is what business is about, maximising revenue and profits.
So, on that basis, not one of these companies actually cares about you, or your book. (on an individual basis). It is nothing personal, your book is just another item of stock/listing among the many millions, which needs to be sold. So, if your POD company does not supply in time, has an issue with Amazon, your book may be tagged as out of stock.
Oh, occasionally it is a genuine mistake, someone clicks the wrong button, but that is far and less often than many would have you believe.
Even if your book is not listed on the major sites, the POD wholesale/agent distribution factors do still influence your books availability.
The note to take from this post, if nothing else, is the misconception most indies have in believing all orders from a POD publisher are printed there and then, to order, on order, of each customer. This is not necessarily true, as I have explained above.
Which is why you could see that unwanted message, ‘out of stock’ on your books sales pages, no matter which site(s) you use.
Finally, as a personal disclaimer, arse covering statement… there are far more book publishers/printers/distributors/suppliers than I have mention here, like TOAD Publishing… oh that’s my own!
The secret is to choose the one, (or the several), which suits you and your needs the best.
That’s it from me just now. I hope this post has been helpful.
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In the meantime, you could sit back and relax with some Tales of Crime & Violence… go on, you know you want too. https://goo.gl/8aY9XR
Choose from volume 1, 2 or 3. Better still, grab all three and save yourself from coming back for another!