Sunday, September 3, 2017

Where's the Conflict?

It’s about fifteen years ago. I’m in the shower, washing my hair and I’m thinking, write what you know … hmmm … I know about stuttering. How about that? I had started a creative writing course and it was time to attempt a short story. Perhaps I could write a story about a woman with a stutter who has to speak in public – a school girl maybe, with an assignment. Okay, good. But, so what? Our week's lesson was on creating conflict. So where was it? She doesn’t want to speak? Well, obviously she doesn’t. But who cares? Er … there is something she can gain by speaking – a prize. Ah, she’s won a competition and she must recite her wining slogan/poem at a press conference/on TV - there'll be cameras - terrifying. So why do it? The prize is a lot of money … or tickets to see her favourite band ... So, she goes through with it and it’s unpleasant, but worth it. The End. Where’s the conflict? Er, maybe she DOESN’T go through with it … I was on to conditioner by now, leaving it in my hair for a few minutes, as you do ... I know! She asks her friend to pretend to be her! Her friend gives the speech, collects the tickets and hands them over! ... SO WHERE’S THE CONFLICT? ... Her friend wants something in return for doing the speech. Something our protagonist doesn’t want to give up. Hmm, that's interesting. What do teenage girls care about? Teenage boys. There’s a boy, see. He’s cute. Both girls like him. Our girl has to introduce him to her so-called friend and encourage a date ... Conflict! What will she choose? To brave humiliation and do the speech herself, but still have a chance with the guy? Or will she give up the guy because she can’t face public speaking? 

What I learned from the exercise is that creative writing is about giving a protagonist a choice and giving the reader enough information to speculate on what they would do - that's the hook that makes them want to read more.

It was a productive shower, because my short story about Siobhán and her best friend Lisa got an A. If you’ve read Beverly, you’ll know that it is a grown-up adaption. Beverly has to do a presentation at work in order to win a lucrative contract, or she faces a bad reputation in her industry. When she recruits her best friend Ella for help, it comes at a high price.

Every time I start writing something new, I play where’s the conflict. What techniques to you use?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Advertising: The Results

If you remember, I paid to advertise Beverly during a promotion back in May and promised to share the results. It turns out the results are not that exciting. In the previous freebie week, Beverly was downloaded 1,100 times. In the week I paid for advertising, she was downloaded 2,700 times. Over twice as many hits. Pretty good. But I was not impressed.

I thought the cheap options were okay. These sites advertised my book during the freebie period and contacted other sites to do the same. This is something I could have done myself if I had put the time into it. The expensive sites have a large amount of email subscribers whom they email at the start of the promotional period. This, I believe, is what doubled my numbers. 

BooksGoSocial interviewed me (via Your Book Promoter) and the link was heavily retweeted. Looking at the accounts that did the retweeting, I noticed they all had something like 50k followers, 100k followers, etc. They were following around that many too. And I thought: if everyone retweeting the interview is putting it into a stream following about 100k accounts then it's still only reaching a flooded market - which was the problem I had when I wasn't paying for advertising. No one commented on the interview and I notice, with a quick check, there are not many comments on other BooksGoSocial interviews.

On a side note, when I'm followed by someone who has about 100k followers and is following the same, I don't follow back anymore because I don't feel the authenticity. It's different for a celebrity account following about 100 people while thousands or millions follow it. But if a non-celeb can amount that many followers, I wonder how they spend their time - is it spent building connections? If not, the numbers must be somehow contrived.

Having said all that, the fact that every few months, 1,000 people or so read Beverly or Orla's Code is fantastic. And I appreciate being able to reach people through Free Kindle. It got me thinking about that audience. Who are the people checking out the Free Kindle bookstore? What kind of books do they read? I guess they're avid readers across a broad cultural spectrum, with varying tastes - was my first thought. But then I realised that I just had to look at the top 100 free books to answer the question. Ahem, it's all porn. Sorry, erotica. Ok, there's paranormal porn there too. This is what you see when Beverly or Orla's Code makes it into the top 100: Columns of semi-naked men and buxom women, and in the middle, Beverly or Orla looking very dressed. There's a little bit of sex in Orla's Code and Beverly. More in Beverly, if you want to know. 

I need to rethink how to reach my market. I'll report on progress...

Monday, May 1, 2017

FREE 27th MAY

I heard about this author who self-published through a self-publishing company, and once he got his book into a book store, visited the store with a plate of biscuits, offering one to those who picked up his book. Another self-published author featured a real hotel in her novel and then was able to enter her readers into a competition for a meal for two.

If only I was this clever at marketing. But my creativity does not seem to extend into this arena. So this bank holiday weekend, I'm promoting Beverly the old-fashioned way - with money.

Both Beverly and Orla's Code are exclusively e-published on Kindle which allows me to do a free promotion every three months. But I have found this isn't enough. Amazon is a noisy market and getting into the top 100 free books doesn't have a lasting effect on my overall sales ranking.

On looking about the internet, I have found some good advice on book promotion sites and where to invest. There are a lot of sites that will give your book a shout out during a promotion. I ended up enlisting Beverly here:
https://yourbookpromoter.com I paid $121
http://booksends.com I paid $165
http://www.ebookbooster.com I paid $35
http://awesomegang.com I paid $10
The more expensive sites offer services like tweeting, exposure to book review clubs, promotional emails to subscribers and a featured page. The cheaper ones just advertise your book during the freebie time. I'll be sure to provide pre-promotion sales numbers and post-promotion numbers. We'll see if the investment works. As the heading of this post says, Beverly will be free from the 27th May, for five days. Don't be afraid to distort the numbers - remember to download your copy!


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