I so want to write about politics. About how it’s driving me just a little bit demented. How Brexit has gone from ‘sunlit uplands’ to, ‘don’t worry we’re not going to starve’. And I could write a couple of pages on His Orangeness’s visit to El Paso yesterday. You may not have seen the clip (it’s on Twitter), but his team have made a campaign video about him walking around the hospital where they are holding those injured in one of the gun attacks. And there are selfies with hospital staff and one, with some poor injured girl. It’s horrible.
This is where we are. Oh well.
Instead I’m going to pitch my own plan: I am going to become a successful writer. That is, and for those of you who have followed me through thick and thin you’ll be familiar, for me that means consistently selling 10 books a day. And I am going to do that by this time next year. Promise.
Good question. First let’s start with what we have. I have a proper series – five books. We have a beginning and, whilst I’ve no intention of making it so, an end (don’t worry, it’s more of a pause … Sam is alive, although …). The reviews are very encouraging and often eloquently so. I know I do get a good number from friends and family, and they will always over-egg their enthusiasm, but I also have over 100 reviews from the US from people I could never have met. And they are consistently above 4.0 stars and, whilst there are a small number who could leave the series alone, many are v positive about those they read.
And, do you know what? I like them. Really like them. I enjoy rereading them and I do think the writing gets better each time.
But, I am in no doubt that Unsuspecting Hero is a slightly naive book, written in a bit of a rush and not in my true voice. There are a number of reasons for that which I haven’t got the energy to go into, but it is so. Importantly, as the first book in the series, it really needs to be a springboard – a hook – to capture the reader and propel them into my fantasy world. I’m not completely convinced that that is the case.
And I think I have some stats to show that – now that I’ve paid attention to them. I get an hourly update on books sold, via the internet … including which country. Last month I had a 1 to 3 success rate between Unsuspecting Hero and the second in the series, Fuelling the Fire. I don’t think that’s bad, but it needs to be better. I need to up that to at least 1 to 2, if not better. To make that happen I have to rewrite UH and republish it. That is Job Two. Timeline: by Christmas …
… Job One is to reread Fuelling the Fire so that I don’t base Sam and her pals’ characters on where I finished in book 5 which is fresh in my mind. Instead I rewrite her based on where she sets off at the start of book 2. Characters grow over a series, and I have to get that transition just so.
Then it’s marketing time (Job 3). And I have no idea what that means. It will certainly include some Amazon/Facebook ads, and there are plenty of on-line tutorials on how to get those right. It could well mean approaching an independent book store(s) in Bristol and seeing if they could take the series. That would likely mean I would need to print some of my own copies, which I could do cheaply (certainly for less than £5 a copy … currently Amazon charge over £10 for a print on demand copy). I fancy a trip to a bookfair with my own stand? And there’s our local library and book clubs. And, and …
The ambition is 300 books a month from September 2020, onward. And, key, I must not be spending (on marketing) more than I am earning.
This means continuing to grow my on-line presence. Currently I am just shy of 500 followers on Instagram. I get between 100-150 discrete hits on this blog every week. And my Twitter following is 370. None of those are big numbers, and they do need to increase. Of course the way to get the numbers bigger is to write and post decent stuff. ‘Well, do that!’, I hear you shout. Ok, then.
Finally, on the marketing vein linked to book sales, I have made some progress. And that’s on Twitter. Sales of the original four books have stagnated at about 20 a month over the past year. However, I have seen a small upturn in the past 6 weeks and it’s been with Unsuspecting Hero. Normally I sell 5/7 copies a month of UH. Since I have become more active on Twitter that increased to 16 copies last month – outselling the other books 3-fold. This month, unsurprisingly, I have sold a splurge of On The Back Foot To Hell to my ‘known’ readers, but that will (and should) calm down. However … and this is key … in the first 7 days of this month I have sold 7 copies of Unsuspecting Hero. And the only thing I have done differently is to be active on Twitter. I am sure there is a correlation.
Anyhow … that’s where we are. And where I’m going.
For the record, Bex came down to stay – it was so lovely to have her with us – and we took her to the airport yesterday where she met up with Steven (who’d been saying cheerio to his family). We are unlikely to see her again before Easter next year, which is sad, but they have a fab life and we wouldn’t want to put a brake on that in any way.
And Doris has just had her oil changed, which means in the last two months I’ve changed her oil, her fuel filter, her brake discs and her air filter. Fab. Next stop (with her), Scotland for four weeks in a couple of weeks time. Hurrah!
Must go. I have a plan to get on with.