In my experience, writing a book is relatively easy. Choose your subject, write one page every day for a year, and hey presto, after a year you have a book that is about 365 pages long. Agreed, it may take another year or two to edit, correct, amend, etc., but essentially that’s all there is to it.
These days it’s also fairly easy to publish a book. If you can’t find a publisher but are prepared to invest some time and effort (or money), you can get published with relative ease by uploading your book to Amazon, and letting it take its chances from there.
But marketing, yes, marketing, aye, (or perhaps aiee!), there’s the rub.
There are ‘experts’ out there who claim that for a fee they can market your book and even get it onto the bestseller list. But that is debatable. Sometimes these things work and sometimes they don’t. Not even the leading publishers always know which books will sell and which won’t. Just think how many prominent writers have been rejected by publishers, including Marcel Proust and A.K.Rowling, to name but a few.
So it seemed like a good idea to try and do a bit of marketing myself. Among the various sites that promote books and reading there are several that organize promotions, free giveaways and other marketing ploys. Amazon itself is one of the foremost among these, but it is far from being alone.
Disappointed by the weak sales of my latest novel, ‘Levi Koenig, A Contemporary King Lear,’ I decided to attempt one such D.I.Y. marketing ploy. My previous novel, ‘Time Out of Joint, the Fate of a Family,’ did quite well when it was first published over a year ago, and has been selling steadily, albeit not spectacularly, ever since. Sales on Amazon consist primarily of downloads of ebooks as well as pages read in the framework of a borrowing arrangement. Paperback versions of books are also sold, but I’m not aware of any similar promotions offered by Amazon through its Createspace arm, where paperbacks are on sale.
As well as promoting recently published books, the site known as Goodreads offers authors and publishers the chance of specifying a number of books they are prepared to give away for free, and also to offer an additional enticement in the form of a prize, if they so wish.
I did not so wish, but decided that in order to encourage interest in ‘Levi Koenig, A Contemporary King Lear,’ I would give away twenty copies of the book in the course of a week. I didn’t realize at the time that this involved taking hard copies, putting them into envelopes, schlepping these to the post office and sending them to various parts of the world. It so happens that I did have about fifty hard copies of the book in my possession, so that would not have been too difficult to manage. But suddenly twenty books seemed a very large number to deal with, so I quickly adjusted it to ten, and excluded Australia from the list of countries to which I was prepared to send them, leaving Europe, the USA and Canada in the running.
While I was waiting for the result of the campaign I agonized for days on end. What if no one at all wanted a copy, even if it was free? What would this say about me and my book? Would I ever be able to hold my head up again, or even think about writing another word?
A couple of days ago I received the result and to my surprise over 500 people entered the competition. I was sent a list of ten names and addresses and told to send a copy to each one. So, for the past hour or so I’ve been addressing envelopes, putting books in them (making sure to sign each book before doing so), and tomorrow they’ll all get sent off to the lucky winners. I hope they enjoy the result, and that they might even write nice reviews on Amazon.
Whether this will help to boost sales of the book remains to be seen, but it’s been an interesting and gratifying experience. Even if I don’t get to sell any more books as a result, the project has helped to boost my self-esteem. After all, five hundred and twenty-nine potential readers are not to be sneezed at.