Who’d Have Thunk It?

There I was, strolling down the road to visit my daughter, when I spotted something yellow in the distance which hadn’t been there before. What was it, I hear you ask?Anticipating this question, I altered course just a little and went to examine it.

It was a box, standing on its own sturdy legs, which looked as though it contained books. Could this really be? I opened it to find out and, sure enough, there were the books.

So what was going on here, what was the idea? The answer was to be found on the side.

Authors might not like this idea so much. If books are provided free without even having to go to a conventional library, they’re not going to make much money. Although, when you think about it, most of us don’t anyway.

So let’s hope the locals make good use of the Little Library. We shall see.

Two against the tide

I give you Grace and Fred, both self-published authors here in the YUK. Grace has organised a print run and now has several boxes of books to sell. Fred has taken the POD route, so though he has no boxes he is facing the same task.

If their books had been published by traditional publishers they could easily be ordered in bookshops. The truth is they would have to be ordered, since bookshops are unlikely to be stock them. Grace and Fred can’t even cut a deal with Waterstones, a national bookstore chain, because if a book is self-published it’s up to the manager of each store whether or not he or she decides to take it.

Which means our authors have to sell their books themselves since bookshops won’t do it for them.

But Grace and Fred aren’t too sad. They know that many traditionally published authors find they have to do this too. In fact, they have read somewhere that some publishers now check prospective authors to determine whether or not they have an effective electronic presence. Why? If authors market their own books publishers won’t have to. Saves them time, money and effort.

So if Grace and Fred are going to market their books themselves they may as well aim for the largest possible audience. (We’re talking world-wide sales here: Patagonia, Vanuatu, Greenland, Ecuador.) Which means using those pesky social media because their reach is world-wide too. And if they’re going to use social media they might as well go for it. Why use one platform when ten will do?

Grace and Fred review their positions. They have blogs and websites already, but they’ll have to think bigger than that. And behold, lo, what beckons from the wings? Goodreads, Shelfari, Twitter, Google+ and fifteen other social networks. And most demanding of all, they’ll have to set up a Facebook author page and learn to distinguish between their profile pages and their book pages, and when a LIKE looks like a LIKE but isn’t a LIKE really. (Thanks for that one, Mark!) Confused? If they aren’t now they soon will be.

Yet much though Grace and Fred still have all their own teeth, they are no longer in the first flush of youth. They find all of this daunting, time-consuming and terminally tedious as well. At which point they flirt with temptation: one or more of the several businesses aiming to take the social media business off their hands for a modest fee. They read the ads. They are impressed. No doubt these people at Marketblitz will do exactly what they say they’ll do. They’ll fire off 10,000 press-release emails on their authors’ behalf.

But how many of these will be read, and of that number, how many acted upon? What Grace and Fred want to know is not what these companies say they will do but what are the outcomes they have achieved for their authors after they have done it.

Outcomes, there’s a word! And these should be easily measured in sales. Looking through the company websites, though, Grace and Fred are puzzled to find this information lacking. How can this be?

Not to worry. The testimonials are encouraging. Sydney  Owen Jones is very happy with the publicity given to Breath of Fire, the first of his Dragon’s Lair trilogy, and Julia at Marketblitz couldn’t have been more helpful. And if they go ahead they’ll have their Marketblitz bookmarks just in time for Christmas!

So, dear reader, what should Grace and Fred do? They really want to know.

I dedicate this book . . .

Many authors dedicate their books, often to named people that readers will know nothing about but will assume are important to the writer .Sometimes it is clear that book is dedicated to a husband, wife, son, daughter or parent.

But for the first time in my long reading career I have come across a writer dedicating her book to herself. She writes: This book is dedicated to me.

Has anyone else out there ever come across such a thing and, if so, what does it tell us about the author?


Authors’ Bios

I’ve just been reading a selection of these, some in the first person and some in the third. I think I prefer the first, though there may be marketing reasons I don’t know about to go for the third.

The third seems a little stiff and formal to me, reminiscent of the way people used to speak to customers in stores: ‘Would madam care to consider our latest range of camisoles, straight from our suppliers in Liège?’

It seems particularly strange if you know, or have reason to believe, that the bio wasn’t written by a third party at all  but by the author him or herself.

But I appreciate that an author’s bio written in the third person may give an impression of objectivity and so be deemed more reliable.