Tag Archives: marketing

Move along there citizen, nothing to see

 

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Move along please, move along. No rubbernecking please, no stopping to gawp. Move along move along. Ain’t you people got homes to go to?

 

OK so it’s a blog. Never seen a blog before? Admittedly finding one sprawled on the pavement isn’t usual, but what did you expect? One minute the fast life, a hundred hits on a good day and then suddenly it’s lying in the gutter wearing somebody else’s underclothes and cordoned off by incident tape.

 

You see it was never meant to be like this. It all started off so innocently. I wrote a book. Nothing strange about that, everybody’s doing it now. Trust me in that one, everybody’s doing it. There’s so many folk out there trying to sell books I’m thinking of setting up as a professional reader. Not so much ‘Brother can you spare a Dime’, more ‘I will read your book for money. (Reviews extra, terms strictly cash in advance.)’

Anyroadup, I wrote a book see. It gets to be a habit to be honest, there are four out there in paperback, but that’s beside the point. Once you write a book you’ve got to sell it. This all means you have to ‘be’ on facebook and writing a blog and telling the world how good your book is.

So I’d write a blog. Do you have any idea how many people want to read a blog telling them how good my book is?

Given that my mother is no longer with us and the rest of the family are probably sick of me telling them, I suggest that the figure, in round numbers, is so close to zero as to make no difference.

So I write about other stuff. In a world degenerating into hysterical introspective madness as a chunk of the population discovers that it isn’t just nice people like us who have the vote, I’m supposed to write something light, frothy and incidentally, sell my book.

 

Oh yes, and ideally the selling the book would be done so subtly that people wouldn’t have to notice. It’s fair enough, you wouldn’t want your blog to degenerate to the level of the drug addled vagrant who stands too close to you and breathes the stench of cheap drink and rotting teeth into your face until you give him money to go away.

 

No, we’re looking for a certainly delicacy here, a certain tact and charm. I have come to suspect that the perfect blog is the equivalent of the expensive courtesan who will graciously condescend to reach out with an elegant and beautifully manicured hand to relieve you of your credit card.

Personally I think a more workable option is to pitch the blog as the perfect girlfriend. You know the sort, your mum is convinced she’s a nice girl, and you know better than that.

 

But anyway, cannot stand here chatting. Some of us have work to do, sheep to feed, a door handle to fix, books to sell.

 

Browsing? Or should I wait here while you make up your mind? Tell you what, just leave the money on the table and I’ll collect it when I get back.

 

 

 

 

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Stereotypically me?

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I was walking across town last night on my way to a friend’s house. Suddenly there’s a shout of ‘Hey you’ and a transit van pulls up next to me.

It turns out the driver is a lady from away. She’s going to start work at 5:30am tomorrow for one of the big building contractors and wisely has decided to try and find the site now. Anyway I wasn’t sure exactly where her site was but I knew where the main gates were for the company that the contractors were working for, so I tried to direct her to them.

After five minutes I gave up, got in the van to act as navigator, took her there and recommenced my walk to my friend’s house by a different route.

Now when you stop and look at this you can immediately see the gender stereotypes at work. Women cannot read maps but do at least ask for directions. In the reality she had a satnav, and whoever had given her the postcode got it wrong so her map got her to Barrow but no further. As for asking directions, she did that. I’ve done it in the past, but being male you only have to see the nervousness in the eyes of a woman you stop at random to become far more selective about whom you ask.

But what is it about stereotypes. Obviously we have gender stereotypes, but there’s a lot more out there. What are they for, why do we use them?

Some of it, at a crude level, is a ‘power’ thing. The stereotype is used to belittle, dehumanise and marginalise the group stereotyped; normally to the advantage of the group doing the stereotyping.

You know the sort of thing, “Men are all rapists.” “Women are all tarts.” “Brexit voters are all stupid.” “Trump voters are all billionaires or retards.”

It puts the speaker in the position of power, allows them to crush their enemies, to see them driven before them, and to hear the lamentations of their women. Actually it’s quite a popular technique at the moment. Admittedly a chap did suggest that you “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you.” But sheesh why do that when the current method of stereotyping them is working so well?

 

So who uses stereotyping? Well obviously the advertisers. They aren’t actually bothered about putting people in boxes, they’re merely interested in shifting however many fizzball combat monkeys as possible. So they’ll pull whatever levers are available and if the lever works then they’ll pull it. They don’t make the lever.

As an aside, putting some toys in pink or blue packaging is similar to the way publishers give different covers to romance, fantasy and thriller novels. It makes it easy for people looking for stuff to find it. They’ve effectively put their stereotypical view of their readers to work.

On the other hand there are others who use stereotyping. Those who want to retain influence over the group they regard as their client state. If you can stereotype a group as victims, then it makes your virtue signalling so much easier as you wade in heroically to defend them.

Rather more worrying you can use it to try and control the group. Create a stereotype which makes the group you seek to control fearful, and then they might listen to you more. “Fear the Jews, they’re taking our jobs.” This technique has the advantage of being easy on facts, in that you don’t need any. So it’s possible to stereotype young women as the victims of assaults, when actually young men of the same age are far more likely to be assaulted. (Have you seen what those young men wear? Dressed like that with that they’re just asking for it.)

 

So what can we do about it? Social engineering doesn’t seem particularly successful, sometimes because the would-be engineers are trapped by the stereotypes. A quote attributed to a number of people is, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” So a lot of the ‘engineers’ try and get to the children. Yet frankly, in the UK at least, most children up until the age of seven are exposed mainly to the influence of their mothers with fathers less of a presence, and in infant and junior schools, male teachers are rare. So if this social engineering works, we have the men a previous generation of women have given us.
The other way to look at it is that stereotyping is just pigeonholing people. You come across a large group of people, you don’t want to have to spend the time dealing with them as individuals so you just lump them all together for ease of contemptuously ignoring. Stereotyping can just be a way of saving yourself the effort of having to think. Even better it reduces the chances that you might be wrong and have to change your opinion. Stereotyping is ‘safe.’

So what do we do about it? Well as a man who never touched a motorbike between 14 and 56 (when work meant I spend a bit of time on a quad) I’ve got two daughters with motorbikes. I could care less about sport, but only by making an effort. So if I’m going somewhere where I might be asked, I always ask my lady wife first for details of Barrow’s latest games etc. Not only that but she’s the one who’s keen on railways. So when dealing with real people I’ve never taken stereotypes seriously. Perhaps the first step in overcoming them is realising that they’re all real people? One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there are no ordinary people.

Anyway what do I know, I’m just some guy who started a blog to try and sell books. Shows you what I know doesn’t it?

Marketing, yeah well whatever.

It’s all well and good having written a book, what about selling it? Not wanting to talk dirty or anything, but seriously people, you’ve poured a lot of time into the who literary process, so it wouldn’t hurt to get a few bob back.

After all, a couple of weeks back I talked about how much it cost to produce this book. (So how much money is there in this book writing job anyway)

 

https://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/so-how-much-money-is-there-is-this-book-writing-job-anyway/

 

So how do you do it?

 

Well frankly I don’t think a lot of Indie author’s actually do any marketing. There was a fascinating article in the Guardian about the Self-Publishing boom.

 http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/13/self-publishing-boom-lifts-sales-18m-titles-300m

 

It made the fascinating comment “18m self-published titles purchased, worth £59m,”

By my reckoning this means the average self-published book nets £3.27.
Even if 6m of the self-published titles are free this means the average purchased on brings in £4.91.

That means that an awful lot of books aren’t hitting double figures in their sales figures. I suspect that this figure probably gives us the number of supportive family and friends self-publishing authors have. Granny will buy a copy come what may, even if she has to buy a kindle first to read it on.

 

And the rest of us; how is our marketing going? A lot depends on genre. Talking to a friend who works in a library, they might lend out five SF books in a month as opposed to thirty thrillers in a day. So choose your genre with care!

 

So where do we market? At the moment ‘on-line’ is everything. Personally I don’t rate twitter. All you end up with is a crowd of authors screaming ‘Buy my book’ at each other. I do have some hard figures. Due to a statistical fluke my first book, “Swords for a  Dead Lady”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swords-Dead-Lady-Jim-Webster-ebook/dp/B006C4C8OO

 

was picked up and massively tweeted. About ten Americans (by their pictures they’re the sort of lady whom some might have described as ‘underwear models’) all tweeted that you buy it. If you clicked on their tweet and purchased it, they’d have got a payment from their Amazon retailer account. I totalled up their combined followers, it was well over 100,000.

In that week I sold one book in the US.

 

Facebook? It can help, especially if your friends spread the word by sharing your links. I’ve had quite a lot of fun giving the planet of Tsarina a Facebook page.

 

Goodreads? Yes, you’ll see sales and you’ll actually get a lot of support, but you’ll have to become part of the community. You’ll have to spend time, interact with people, chat, and just join in. Just spamming them and moving on is going to get you nowhere.

 

The real world? Well frankly my best sales have come after my local paper mentioned the book and my local radio station did an interview. It was as if it made me ‘real’ and gave me credibility. The problem is that to get this level of credibility you really need a paperback to flourish and that will be more expense.  E-books might be gaining market share, but for many people, until you’ve got a book they can hit somebody with; you’re not a proper writer.

 

So I’ve got my new marketing plan. Buy my book or my new sales manager will be round for a frank and open exchange of views.

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