I Am No Marketeer

Guest Blog by Rosemary J. Kind

Last time I left you with the question ‘What would I do differently?’ Ah, the benefit of hindsight. I now know I am no marketeer. It is not that I can’t market my book. I can and I do. However, every phone call is nerve racking, every negative response leaves me playing the tragic hero and every success justifies a war dance round the office and a glass of wine. I should perhaps add that the negatives call for a consolatory drink, but I’d hate you to go away with the idea I am an alcoholic!

My book, ‘Lovers Take up Less Space’, is a humorous review of travelling on London Underground. The BBC promptly ran a whole six week series looking at the Underground and naively I thought with this to piggy-back then I couldn’t fail. The BBC showed the serious side of the Tube. It showed the dedicated workers. The true complexity of managing such an impossible infrastructure and instead of providing me with a platform it left me with two thoughts. Firstly, it was the sort of programme watched by geeks and secondly, I felt guilty taking such a light hearted look at something so many other people took so seriously. It was a bit like writing a sit-com based in a crematorium. There were definitely going to be those out there who thought I was being a little irreverent. Is this the best point to tell you about the time I went to the wrong funeral? I should perhaps simply apologise publicly to Elsie’s family for bursting into hysterical laughter at the point I realised I was in the wrong one.

In any case, you can see my problem. There is a time and a place for humour and the BBC programme was neither the time nor the place. I crept away to lick my wounds.

It’s not all bad news. I am selling books. The Evening Standard and Metro may have declined the opportunity to run sections of the book for the edification of their readers, but I have managed to have some pretty decent book reviews in other newspapers and picked up sales on the back of it. I’ve got the book on the shelves of a number of bookshops around London and need to devise a strategy to capitalise on the Olympic rush in the summer. I am finding it always pays to have a book, on your person, available for sale and a pen available for signing and ironically the hard copy has led to a boost in the e-book sales.

Newspaper reviews of a book definitely bring in readers, as long as the reviews are favourable. It is worth being prepared to send a significant number of complimentary copies to reviewers and don’t underestimate the power of the local press. This is no time to be snobbish and think you need to hit the nationals. A good local review, backed up by a local stockist and an internet presence can yield a good volume of sales. However, do research your local press first. Sending a book to a free paper that is almost entirely advertising is not likely to be an investment. Choose papers that do regular book review slots. Their readers will be used to looking out for titles which are worth their while reading.

I’m thinking a stall on Camden Market might be quite good, but I don’t live anywhere near Camden and I think the stalls are probably already taken. I may have to settle for a stall at our village Fun Day, where they are most likely to wonder why I’m trying to sell a book about London while living in North Yorkshire. There really is a time and a place for everything. Now, if only I could get the time and place right at the same time I could make a fortune.

Rosemary J. Kind is the author of ‘Lovers take up less space’ a humorous guide to travelling on the London Underground, it is available through bookshops, Amazon and direct from www.alfiedog.com. She has also written ‘Alfie’s Diary’, ‘Alfie’s Woods’ and ‘Poems for Life’ which are available as e-books. Alfie’s Diary is available on a daily basis at www.alfiedog.me.uk

I’m crazy. I’m mad. I’m a Self-published author.

Guest Blog by Rosemary J. Kind

 

If you went into hospital and the person on the reception desk, having checked you in, then put on a porter’s cap and wheeled you to your operation, removed their porter’s cap and put a white coat on, scrubbed up and told you they were your surgeon for the day, you wouldn’t stay long enough to find out who the anaesthetist was. However, when you set out to self-publish a book that is exactly what we authors are doing. We can employ specialists to do the work for us and if we are self-publishing just to see our book in print and not doing it to earn money that is most definitely the best route, but what happens when you want to earn your keep through writing?

Most of the books I have written do not sit neatly in a standard genre. I’m not famous. I don’t have connections in the industry and I haven’t got publishing houses beating my door down, contract in hand. On the upside, I do have more determination to succeed than is strictly sensible and enough people telling me they love what I write to stop me from giving up.

I started with the easy option of e-publishing. I did my own editing and friends proof read for me. I put together an acceptable layout. E-publishing formatting is less demanding than for the printed form. I sent out my press releases for the e-book, but when you start getting enquiries of where people can buy the paper copy you start wanting to deliver what your public wants. That’s when I started getting quotes for printing. I put a business plan together which told me how many books I would need to sell, at which levels of discount, in order to break even. I factored in a significant number of review copies and the postage to send them out. It was only going to work if I did every step myself.

It isn’t a small project and certainly not for the faint hearted. Most Sundays’ find me giving myself a pep-talk about what I need to do in the coming week and much of that work is outside my comfort zone. I don’t want this to be a one-off venture so I looked at the best way to set myself up. I decided that in the long term I wanted to publish work for other authors so I started by setting up a company, Alfie Dog Limited and buying a web address www.alfiedog.com . I then realised if I was going to be a company I needed letterheads, logos, compliment slip and all sorts of records of my activities, so I frittered several happy hours designing my ‘brand’ and behind the scenes systems. I made a loan to the company that was enough to see my initial business plan through and opened a company bank account. Apart from making it easier to take on other authors, the company structure provided me with a better vehicle for tax purposes.

With the company out of the way, I began to prepare for publication. I was fortunate enough to place the winning bid in the ‘Authors for Japan’ auction for a professional book cover design and am delighted with the result. The cover for ‘Lovers take up less space’ is exactly what I wanted and has had a lot of favourable responses. The two most important things for publication are the cover and the ISBN number. You must have an ISBN to be stocked in bookshops and taken seriously by anyone.

Of course, layout of the book, content and print quality are all important factors too. I lost sleep worrying about my margins. I don’t mean if I was making money, I mean the distance from the printed words to the edge of the page and leaving enough on the inner edge for binding. Thanks to an article in Writing Magazine I reconsidered the font size and learnt how to put section headers on the tops of pages. I read up on what went on the copyright page, or ‘title verso’ as I learnt it was called.

I had a last minute panic when I realised the spine wasn’t in the right place on the book cover for the width the book made when printed, but fortunately was able to sort that out with the designer and get the cover reformatted before sending it to the printers.

I had the courage to order 1,000 copies. I can get a reprint with a three week turnaround. Ominously, on Friday 13th January, a week and a half ahead of schedule, ‘Lovers take up less space – an alphabet guide to the Tube’ arrived on a pallet from the printers. I spent ten minutes jumping up and down with excitement, rang my Mum, rang my husband and then came down to earth with a bump. Printing is only the beginning of the process. Now I had to sell them and before that I needed to move a quarter of a tonne of books from outside the front door!

I’ll come back in a few weeks to tell you how the marketing is going. I’m already in a number of bookshops and sales are going well, but I’ll save that for another time. In the meantime, what would I do differently? Not very much so far. I might have a matt cover instead of a glossy one, but otherwise it’s going rather well and my ‘smiling dog’ imprint most definitely has something to smile about.

Biography note

Rosemary J. Kind is the author of ‘Lovers take up less space’ a humorous guide to travelling on the London Underground, it is available through bookshops, Amazon and direct from www.alfiedog.com. She has also written ‘Alfie’s Diary’, ‘Alfie’s Woods’ and ‘Poems for Life’ which are available as e-books. Alfie’s Diary is available on a daily basis at www.alfiedog.me.uk