I’ve just finished reading an article in The Telegraph about Val Dermid, and how she believes if she started off her career today as a novelist she would certainly fail.
It is certainly an interesting article which goes somewhat into discussing the trials and tribulations of a published author whose work is more a slow burn than an overnight success.
Ah, but there’s that word again: PUBLISHED. It means so much to so many. To the ranks of the unpublished, or the self-published, it means the world, the universe. I’m not sure if McDermid appreciates the fact or not (she probably does), but she DID get published. She DID get that second or third attempt to impress the literary minded public hungry for their next murder.
As a crime writer myself, I wonder how many innocent fictional people must die before I’m accepted into the mainstream world. But should I be so desperate to join the ranks of the mainstream published authors? Perhaps I should be proud to be standing alone, shouting about my novel while the social media wind blows my words back into my face. Question: In an empty online book forum, if a self-published author screams, did he or she make a sound?
Who is actually hearing me anyway?Just other self-published writers shouting about their books who are too distracted to even hear me- that’s who.
Now, I come to another much spoken about phrase: Word Of Mouth. That phrase, I’m afraid, is sometimes the self-published author’s only friend. And let’s face it, sometimes that friend uses foul language. And most of the time he’s talking about a subject no one seems interested in. Should the crime book buying public be interested in my book? Yes, they should, because I think my novels are pretty good. Well, I think a lot more of them than that but I don’t want to be accused of being egotistical; I’m not a confident person, in fact, I know I’m pretty much useless at anything else apart from writing. Oh, and I can draw pretty well. Oh, and I can do just about the best Michael Caine impersonation you’re ever likely to hear, but that’s about it. I’m laying myself open wide here, baring my soul. I’m a writer, and that’s all I’m good at. And I’m at the mercy of the vocal chords of the online crime book buying public, waiting with baited breath for them to turn to their friend, who also likes a good murder, and say: ‘You know who you should read? Mark Yarwood. He writes really good thrillers.’
And so I occasionally give away my books for free in the forlorn hope that I’ll gain a fan and that fan will introduce someone else to my books and…
You probably don’t know this but I used to work in sales. Not for very long, but long enough that I picked up a few things, like ‘word of mouth’ is everything- Which it is, but it helps if you’ve got a good marketing strategy, and money behind you in the first instance. You’ve got to be able to reach your target audience first and let those people, now infected by the amazing disease that is your book, pass on the bug. Sounds very easy, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’re a self-published author and you know that it’s anything but. It’s hard to get people to talk about your book, because they have other things to talk about, like the footy last night or the murder that happened in Eastenders. It’s hard to get reviews, and even harder to get enough so that potential customers, who happen to see my product page, are impressed by all the gold stars and decide to take a leap of faith.
Word Of Mouth can also be your enemy too. What if you’ve made mistakes, and the first book you ‘put out there’ isn’t all it should be? I’ve been there. I made the massive error of publishing my first two books without the care and attention they were due. I didn’t polish them, and I didn’t understand editing, and so they went out into the world with myriad mistakes. And I’m still paying for it. But I’ve learnt my lesson; I now employ a professional editor and cover designer. And they make all the difference to the presentation of my books. Yes, I’ll keep making mistakes, but hopefully I’ll be forgiven. Val McDermid also commented, in the article I read, that when she started out mistakes in publishing were forgiven. I hope that’s true of the self-publishing world today, because I could do with some forgiveness. Couldn’t we all?
So now I’m going to ask you, if you do happen to download the work of a self-publish author, and you enjoy their work, share the experience with a friend. Or do what my mother does, just go up to complete strangers who are reading Kindles and tell them about this amazing book she just read. Anyway, please share the experience. Every time you don’t share, a book fairy dies!


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