Marketing and Promo for ‘On The Seventh Day’

I’m not a marketing or promo expert, not by any estimation.

Whilst I kind of enjoy marketing, I hate promo. I really, really hate it. So much so that I haven’t done any significant promo on my last three books (since dEaDINBURGH: Vantage for anyone who cares).

 

Why?

I find that most book promo is repetitive, exhausting, uninspired, tantamount to begging in some cases and very often fruitless.

For me, Twitter is the least effective way to promo a book and comparable to throwing pieces of paper into the wind with your book name on one side and ‘pwease buy my bwook’ on the other.

 

Unfortunately, at some point, promo is necessary. With my latest release, On The Seventh Day, I accepted the inevitable need to promo, and sat down to have a think about how I could make the process more tolerable for me, engaging for potential readers, able to generate somewhat of a buzz, and perhaps even enjoyable.

I wanted to engage people, not panhandle the fuck out of them.

 

Having recently launched the book (on 15th November 2015), with a two month pre-order period, I feel the most positive I ever have about the promo process and had a tremendous amount of fun during it.

 

For the first time, I feel I’ve succeeded in making readers part of the process without selling to them and have generated more interest in the book than I would have with a more conventional promo process, eg, blurb, quote-tweet/Fb repeat. Press releases, review chasing, advertising etc.

Has it had a significant impact on sales? Ask me in a few days for a yes or no (I don’t share sales numbers publicly, mainly because I think it’s crass as fuck to do so). So far, I’ve had better first day sales, and I’ve had a lot worse, but I’ve never enjoyed the promo and launch experience more.

 

Below are some of the steps and strategies I took and employed:

 

 

Marketing:

Marketing on this novel had been a bit of a no-brainer. As the novel is essentially a split between a comedic plotline (second coming of Jesus) and a more theological plotline (Satan relaying the history of creation and evolution and being mankind’s representative in Heaven), I had a firm idea of how to market and whom to early on.

 

7th day was always going to be a love/hate book, simply because the strong language, religious irreverence (and sometimes disdain), mixed with fairly in-depth evolution and theological discussion isn’t gonna be everyone’s cup of tea.

 

I placed it in the satire, dark comedy, religious fiction, mashups, alternative history and parody sections. And then wrote a product description that was deliberately inflammatory (to certain people) and reflective of the novel’s plot, whilst containing keywords I hope will bring in readers searching for similar works. Time will tell on the effectiveness of this.

 

Blurb:

“God hates you. Regardless of religion, race, sex, sexuality or nationality. He hates all of you. Basically, you are fucked.”

Irreverent dark humour from the author of Lanarkshire Strays and the dEaDINBURGH series.

God is pissed off.

He has run out of patience with humans and decided that our time is over. We’ve had our chance and it’s back to the drawing board. “Fuck the lot of them” is his newest gospel.

Mo, and Jay, best friends who’ve fucked up in the past, beg him for one more chance to get the humans back on track. Alongside Mr Saluzar, the head of a global charity foundation, and Nick, The Fallen Angel, they hurtle towards Armageddon and their one chance to prove God wrong.

They have seven days to save us.

On The Seventh Day contains strong language and religious irreverence which some may find offensive.

Praise for On The Seventh Day:

“If Irvine Welsh’s ‘Glue’ got The Bible up the duff, you’d have On The Seventh Day.”

“Seventh Day is the book that John Niven’s ‘The Second Coming’ desperately wanted to be and failed.”

 

I figured that the language and (apparent) blasphemy in the blurb would keep away the kind of reader who wouldn’t enjoy the book, or piss them off enough to leave a shitty review without having read the book, which for me is promo gold.

 

Cover and images for marketing and for promo came next.

I designed a few different covers using images from stock image sites. Here’s a few examples and the final cover:

 

 

I brought in my usual beta-readers but invited some readers who were religiously-minded as well as those who would enjoy the more comedic elements.

I had a proper mixed bag of comments, which was to be expected and no doubt will reflect reviews to come.

Normally I engage half a dozen or so beta-readers who I know will give me brutal and constructive feedback. With 7th Day, I had fifteen people beta-read. As always some did not make a return, but only three failed to do so, not a bad return. As a result I’m two days after launch with 12 honest reviews already live for the book.

 

8 of these were up whilst the book was still on pre-order. To do this, you need to have the paperback available, pre-order kindle books cannot be reviewed.

 

I’m still undecided on whether having the book on pre-order helps or harms launch sales. With this book I enjoyed the process and most of it wouldn’t have been possible without the pre-order in place, so I guess it paid off this time in terms of building engagement and enjoyment. I’ll try a future release without the pre-order for comparison.

 

As I always do, I ran a few ideas by my writing-wife, Bracha, as well as including links to his book in the rear matter of mine. We do this as a standard cross-promo. Does it help? See how closely we are linked on amazon for your answer.

 

The lad Bracha and I have also been waiting for a while to put together a Double A-Side type project. Bracha’s The Switched and my, On The Seventh Day have mated and are available as a collected edition titled Parental Guidance: A Transgressive Double A-Side.

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Cover by Ryan Bracha

 

Will the extra exposure affect sales in a positive or negative way? Time will tell. For the meantime we’ve a happy coupling of novels, producing a demented bastard child to hopefully help drive traffic to each other’s work.

 

Promo:

 At the beginning of the writing process I had a good idea of the overall plot of the

Novel. This isn’t always the case, more often than not I sit down with a vague concept and see where it goes. The advantage in having a better idea of the overall story allowed me to plan ahead and begin engaging readers early in the process.

 

I’ve made a habit over the years of using (with permission) real people’s names for characters. I feel it makes the books more meaningful to me and gives friends and families a connection to the book, that personally I love, and in the market place means they assist in an honest and enthusiastic manner when promo time comes.

 

An important plot mechanism for the novel is the reaction to events on social media.

I wanted these reactions to feel real and asked reads and friends to allow me to use their twitter handles in the novel to compose ‘fake’ tweets that appear in the book.

On launch day I asked these people to tweet their ‘fictional’ tweet to my fictional character (Jesus), who I’d named after a real person (Garry Crawford). Each tweet was directed to Gaz’s twitter account as he is the main character in the book.

 

The tweet team also tweeted some outraged comments about the book to organisations like Westboro Baptist, just for the fuck of it.

 

I really enjoyed taking the fictional tweets and seeing them tweeted in reality and the readers emailed me many times saying how thrilled they were to be part of the process and have their tweets appear in as such a significant plot point in the novel also. I think it gives the reader an ownership of the book, which is great, all readers should feel that way to an extent when reading, but to have a personal attachment to a book, took it to another, more personal place. Business-wise this gives me a team of people who are invested in helping promote my book I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Better still, they have an honest love for the book, which is fucking priceless.

 

As always, I wove a few short-stories, featuring people I know, into the overall plot and narrative also.

 

Essentially, I’ve been able to take a back seat and allow other people’s excitement at the project form a more natural buzz about the book than would normally be accomplished.

 

During the writing process I also created a few promo images with quotes from the book and some blog posts with early extracts. Standard stuff for me when I’m in the writing phase. Occasionally I’d make a trailer also, but not for this book.

 

As always, I ran a giveaway on Goodreads. In the past, these have ranged from 2500 entrants to 250 for my books.

Why bother?

Mainly to raise the book’s visibility whilst it is on pre-order, but also so that I can then contact around 50% of the entrants (those most likely to enjoy the book and review it, based on their reading history) after the giveaway has ended and offer them a free kindle or pdf copy of the book as a consolation prize.

This is not something I would do on Goodreads in the normal run of things, but after a giveaway I have a list of people who were interested in my book, so I’d be a fool not to use that information.

Typical uptake is around 40% with around a 60% actual return from that pool in terms of reviews.

 

I also research and approach readers who have read similar books to mine, but am very careful to select only those readers that I genuinely believe will enjoy the book, based on their reading habits. General I find a book that I like and is a similar read.

 

This strategy has been key to review building on my dEaDINBURGH series, but I use it only on specific books and carefully targeted readers. A scattergun approach is futile and annoying to readers. Do not piss off Goodreads reviewers.

 

As well as this, I set up an event page for an online launch on FB.

Uptake was pretty good, but I was careful to never actually try to sell the book on the event page.

Instead I shared daily pictures and stories and memes, all poking fun at religion. Lots of comments and engagement came, and those involved were into the satire, having never been sold to.

Every person commenting or liking these posts in the event, was helping me promo across their newsfeed as the likes and comments, obviously popped up in their newsfeeds.

Here’s a selection of images I used and people posted in the event page:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I also ran a competition to win a Kindle fire HD7, some signed paperbacks and kindle editions of the novel. I took a FB Ad for this (£20), a ‘Like and Share’ deal. Engagement was good and clicks (and subsequent sales) more than covered the cost of the prizes (which I’d sourced cheaply).

 

This for me was a much more engaging and genuine way to get people to share my link around and again made those participating feel a part of the buzz that was building.

 

Overall I’m delighted with the fun I had promoting On The Seventh Day and have come out of it having generated some positive buzz, increased visibility of my back catalogue as well as the new book (definite sales bounce on my other titles despite a price increase) and most importantly, I don’t feel jaded simply because I have been having fun and not selling at people for weeks on end.

Will any of the promo or marketing actually affect sales in the short or long term?

Fuck knows. Writers don’t like to admit that a breakout novel is likely a result of bundles of cash being invested or pure blind luck combined with fortunate product placement or inking to larger works.

 

Having said that, if 7th Day is an international bestseller, I’ll be talking shit about how great my marketing and promo was and giving my own genius full credit for the ‘success’.

 

Mark is the author of eight fiction works and one non-fiction book. You can find Mark and his books at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing or at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five free books from the PDP Catalogue

Grab yourself five FREE kindle books from Paddy’s Daddy Publishing’s catalogue. On promotion from 20th November 2013 until the 22nd November 2013. We hope you enjoy the novels and consider leaving reviews once you’ve completed them.

Amazon US:

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Sneak Preview – Nae’body’s Hero, Chapter 23

The following is a pre-edit excerpt from Mark Wilson’s second novel “Nae’body’s Hero”; due for publication in late February 2013. Copyright Mark Wilson 2013

Kim has tracked down someone she’s been looking for for two decades:

Chapter 23 

Kim

Kim, back in her spot on the roof took aim at the first of the three agents/bums huddled around their fire. It was kind of them to huddle so close together, it made her task so much simpler. She looked down the sights, took a breath and squeezed the trigger three times rapidly. The three darts found their marks and the men lay huddled once more on the ground this time, their disguise looking more convincing than ever. The darts should put them out for eight hours or so. It was seven and a half hours longer than she needed.

 Kim pulled her black baseball cap down low, slung the rifle strap over her chest and descended the fire escape. A final check of the perimeter and she was ready to move in. Drawing her pistol, Kim stepped inside the unlocked entrance to the firehouse. She followed procedure and entered the rooms one at a time, silently checking each one and working her way to the room on the second floor. Kim encountered no one. The guys outside seemed to be the entire guard detail. This wasn’t unusual but she had expected to find someone inside the building. Perhaps an interrogator. Reaching the door without incident Kim wiped the sweat from her eyes with the back of her gloved hand then slipped the same hand into her small satchel, producing a flexible-fibre camera. Slipping the camera under the door she viewed the inside of the room on the little monitor.

Clearly once the firehouse’s bunk room, it was now empty except for one bed and some medical monitors. Strapped to the bed was a person, restrained in a fashion which suggested a highly dangerous individual. His head was covered with a dirty white cotton bag. This guy’s being lined up for some serious questioning. Almost the instant Kim wondered why the person on the cot wasn’t moving she noticed the mask protruding under the bag and the line to a canister with a name she didn’t recognise. They’re keeping him sedated.

Content that the room was empty save for her target; Kim took a few seconds to compose herself and try to slow her thumping heart. It didn’t work. This is it. Kim entered the room slowly, carefully, confirming that it’s restrained and sedated occupant was the only person present. Kim raised her gun; aiming at the bag-covered head she approached the sleeping man. Finally.

Kim approached him, pressed the gun to his temple through the bag, cocked the gun and whispered to him like a lover. “Goodbye you sick son of a bitch”. Kim Baker said a silent prayer of thanks and began squeezing the trigger.

Book Cover

Follow Mark on twitter or on Facebook at:

@markwilsonbooks

or

http://www.facebook.com/markwilsonbooks

Mark Wilson’s Debut novel Bobby’s Boy is available now on kindle and as a paperback:

UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356892513&sr=8-1

US:

http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1356892853&sr=1-1&keywords=bobby%27s+boy


 

Meet the Cast

I’m in the final 20 percent or so home stretch of my second novel Nae’body’s Hero and thought I’d give you a wee look at the characters. I love when they do this at the start of Star Wars novels, they call it their “Dramatis Personae”.

If it’s good enough for Lucas/Walt, It’s good enough for me:

Nae’body’s Hero

Dramtis Personae

Rob Hamilton, Gifted Scotsman and hero.

Arif Ali, English-Pakistani and double agent.

Kim Baker, Lead agent in CTA and badass.

Frank and Mary McCallum, Rob’s foster-parents.

Cara Hamilton, Rob’s twin sister and school teacher.

Mike O’Donnell, Homeland Security.

Mr Bendini, Mike’s boss.

Jack Foley, CTA agent.

Azam and Mimi Ali, Arif’s parents.

Latif Ali, Arif’s cousin.

Zulifkar Raheem, Handsome terrorist. Member of a fledgling Al Qaeda.

Frank McCallum Jr, Government worker.

Special guests:

Tom Kinsella, Rob’s childhood best friend.

Paddy Carroll, Infant

Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda leader and architect of 911 attack.

 

Nae’body’s Hero, coming early 2013.

You can read my debut novel Bobby’s Boy here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354646802&sr=1-1

Working cover for Nae'body's Hero

Working cover for Nae’body’s Hero

 

Music and Stories

For me, music has been a constant soundtrack to my life. Key events, loved ones, hard times and great times all have a song or album as a soundtrack. Books and movies are no exception.

Little wonder that my own debut novel was so driven and influenced by the music pof the times it’s set in and passes through.

Here are the three songs I chose for each “Act” of the book and why:

In part one I quoted Huey Lewsi and the News “The power of love” :

“Make a bad one good.

Make a wrong one right.

The power of love will keep you home at night.”

Partly because I love the track but mostly because the era that part one of Bobby’s Boy is set in is encapsulated so well in the memories that this song envokes. All the good stuff and all the bad are brought to the fore of my mind’s eye in the openeing 5 seconds of this song. The quote also evokes the love I wanted Tommy to encounter and be changed by

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NMph943tsw

The second act of the book was introduced with the quote

 

“Oh I would never give up and go home,

 beaten and broken.

 No, I don’t know who I am anymore,

But I’ll keep on chasing those rainbows.”

 

from “The Only Enemy that Ever Mattered” by the wonderful Hopeless Heroic. At this stage of the book, tommy was departing on the trip of his life, but he was every bit as much running from his past as he ws barrrelling towards his future.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eau7ojfX7_E

The last song I used was intended to show the wish to start all over again. Tommy’s been fantasising for so long, and he now lives in a world once more he wishes wasn’t real , but is. The video is a perfect fit also.

Coldplay – “The Scientist”

“Nobody said it was easy.

No-one ever said it would be this hard.

Oh, take me back to the start.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWLpTKBFcU

Bobby’s Boy is on FREE PROMO until tomorrow

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347132445&sr=8-2

 

 

I

Parallel-The Awakening by Paul A Rice Book Review

This is not a book that I’d normally pick up, being in the genre that it is, but the author seemed a good bloke on twitter so I gave it a bash.

Within 2 chapters, I hated the book. I was confused as to what was happening and felt no real interest in the subject matter, but as I said, I’m in unfamiliar country with this genre and  something kept me reading, (namely the fact that this guy can write)  and boy I’m glad that I did.

Paul Rice brings humour, action, heart, pace and honest to God excitement to the reader with this novel. Paul describes scenes with no nonsense, succinct sentences, giving exactly what you need to paint an image of the scene, setting or character in your mind, and not a lick more.

Paul makes the two main characters in this book, Mike and Ken (never thought I’d read a story with an awesome hero called Kenneth in it, don’t they usually collect stamps or something those Kenneth-types?), real and vulnerable and the confusion they share about their predicament helped push me onwards.
The most visible villain of the piece, Red, is one nasty good ol’ boy, who’d be just at home in the gator-filled swamps of wherever, picking his teeth with the rib of an unidentified animal while gloating about what deep shit you were in. Loved this character. the fight scene with Red and Ken was fantastic and reminded me of the great sort of description you’d find in a Try Denning light sabre duel scene.
My only real beef with this book is that I wanted to know more about the characters, as not much of a backstory was supplied. Having said that, doing so may have affected the perfect pace of the book adversely. I’ll look forward, hopefully to meeting these guys again in later books and finding out a bit more about them.
The ending of the book (which I won’t spoil) was perfect, and as anyone who has read my own book will know is right up my street. Paul executes what could be a let down of an ending masterfully, and the tone is just perfect.
In lesser hands a book of this type in this genre would have lost me very quickly, not so with Paul Rice’s wonderfully book.  Sneaks up and grabs you by the gentleman regions.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005FL2I9K/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

 

Book Review – Thrift by Phil Church

Teacher writing a book, oh god not another one, except this guys actually got something fresh and insightful to add to the usual parade of “aren’t kids so funny” and “isn’t this a cringeworthy situation” books that teachers and ex-teachers tend to shite out.
Two things made this book enjoyable for me:
Firstly; Phil Chruch’s characters reflect The reality of some schools wonderfully. Ineptitude, poverty, alcoholism, failure, apathy, the need to appear interested/functional/competent. These things make his characters come alive in a way that most writers fail to do when basing a novel in their workplace.
Secondly; Phil can write. He doesn’t try to ingratiate his characters with the reader he has no real hero in this book, in fact I didn’t like any of them, instead he presents us with a very funny, very human cast and story, filled with great examples of  triumph (when maybe failure would be just), failings, the ability and desire to BS through a tricky spot,  and a good solid look at the life of a school through the eyes of the worlds worst teacher.
I agree with another reviewer’s assertion that the book was more a diary of events than a plot-driven story, but really, it’s kind of obvious from the product description that this would be the case.
I’d like to see Phil stretch his legs a bit on his next project and graduate from school. He has the skill and insight to write about something a bit further outside his comfort zone and I for one will happily spend money on  his next novel.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005L9VJYQ/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img