While I was at Mom’s last week, I read The Final Ride to her. Because of her macular degeneration, she’d never be able to read it herself, which is reason enough to read it to her, but I have another, more selfish reason: Reading my story aloud helps me catch mistakes and awkward sentences, and, in getting Mom’s reaction to certain scenes, lets me know if the scenes will get the emotional responses I’m after.
I know, I know–a relative isn’t a good judge of your work. That is why I have several others go through it too. But Mom’s no push-over. We’ve argued over things as simple as word choice to things as major as characterization. She has learned over the years how to be a valuable critique partner. Darn it. I would love to have at least one person who’ll just sing my praises and tell me I’m wonderful, but no, everyone’s a critic.
I came home from her house with a print-out version of the novel that is covered in red marks and tons of notes of how I can make this thing better, meaning I am officially in the editing stage. As I’ve said before, because I edit as I go, there isn’t a lot to do, but my primary weakness is word count. I tend to write short books. They’re not short enough to be novellas, but not really long enough to match the full-length novels expected by most publishers. So, my editing phase usually entails finding places to crank up the word count.
While I’m editing this, I’m also keeping in mind that I’ll have to launch it next year and I’ll have to market it in all the years to come–at least until I just get sick of it and give up. Hopefully that won’t be for a long time. Anyway, in preparation for this, I’ve found a book that is different from other marketing books.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve read a lot of books about “getting out there.” I’m beginning to consider these tomes to be more about building a platform than about actual marketing, and they all say pretty much the same–have a blog, be on social media, be friendly and accessible, don’t be in “sales mode” 24/7, etc, etc, etc.
Then I found this one–and I forgot who tipped me off about it. So far, I’ve read only the prologue, but I already love it. In Let’s Get Visible, David Gaughran focuses on sales for self-published authors, but I can see how it’ll be great even for trad-pubbed authors. He discusses how to work Amazon: how to work the sales rank, recommendation engine, best seller list, etc. And he discusses strategies–is “free” a good idea? What are the benefits of running a sale?
Everything he’s mentioned here is a mystery to me. I hate this part of the job, and would rather focus on writing–just like almost every other writer I know. But unlike every other writer I know, I’ve avoided having to learn this and am suffering the consequences of my ignorance.
But not anymore. I’m diving in.
I belong to several groups that specialize in marketing and sales strategies, but you really have to stay on top of them. Some are organized enough to have notes on file pertaining to the discussions they’ve had on different sales topics and techniques, but, organized or not, they still tend to be a bit helter-skelter. I need something more like Gaughran’s book. At least to start with. I need to learn the terminology and the very basics of this mess.
So–what’s next? Editing and studying and scheming out a marketing plan. We’ll see how effective all this is in about a year.