I love writing but hate marketing. When my main career was working in a bank, I enjoyed the customer contact, was good at record keeping and pleased when a plan came together and a problem was solved to everyone’s satisfaction. Occasionally, even giving bad news could be turned into a positive experience. If a customer came in with a request for an overdraft which was refused as it didn’t meet the criteria, we could still offer advice. Paying off a credit card with the minimum payment at exorbitant interest rates wasn’t the best way to get out of debt.
Working out an income and expenditure budget can sound mind boggling, but a simple list of ins and outs helped to identify easy ways of overcoming the stress associated with trying to make ends meet. A loan at x% over y years with a fixed amount every month gave the prospect of a breathe again date, rather than being sucked into an endless battle.
As manager of a business centre I met a variety of both start-up and established companies. Some were pie in the sky, some needed help, and some were too stubborn and self-opinionated to realise they were living in cloud cuckoo land. I always thought of it as the ‘fountain in the foyer’ syndrome. The guy who owned a flash car, wore a designer suit, and spent money on bling to enhance his status, was never as successful as the one who was able to provide figures for his major competitors, knew his stock levels and could identify the problem areas. He knew his staff were a major asset, and there was a totally different friendly vibe when you entered the premises, even if they were in a practical and less salubrious building. If I was offered a smile and coffee in a mug, I’d do my darndest to get them back on track.
What has all this to do with writing? I loved my job but over time it changed from finding solutions and ‘customer service’ to ‘if it moves, sell it a product.’ I hated the sleazy marketing aspect then, and I still hate it now in my new career as an author. It’s been many years since IPP became ‘flavour of the month’ and we were set ridiculous sales targets. For some customers it was appropriate, but with the passing of time and the need to refund premiums for those wrongly sold, there is little satisfaction in saying ‘We told you so,’ all those years ago.
You know your books are better than some of the dross which becomes No 1 in their category of best sellers, but how do you get them noticed? Who would believe the careers of banking and being an author had so many similarities?
It’s useful to keep records. Bombarding the same person with constant emails might get your name known, but for totally the wrong reasons.
Have a plan but be flexible; life has a way of throwing curve balls despite you having covered every eventuality. Who would have imagined a worldwide virus would cause the cancellation of so many book signings, launches and similar arrangements.
Be aware of trends but don’t be a lemming if you can help it. A crystal ball is often useful in these circumstances. 😀 A short while ago, the romance and women’s fiction categories were inundated with titles including ‘The little…by the sea’ or ‘The girl….’ Now the flavour of the month seems to be murder/mystery. I was ahead of the game with my W.I.P. (work in progress), provisionally entitled ‘A Murder of Changes.’ Unfortunately, the evil procrastination spirit became involved, and it’s still not ready. Perhaps that’s a good thing as it appears next month is going to be a major release date for thousands of new books, which have been put on hold while the world went crazy.
True to form, I’m still useless at marketing. I’ve read all the books, watched all the videos, and could explain all the principles, but when it comes to actually asking someone to buy my books I chicken out. Just in case I’ve gained your sympathy vote, here’s a cyber box of tissues to mop up the tears, and the link to my Amazon author page.
Has this blog post been informative? Probably not, but it has given me a genuine excuse not to get on with editing my book. See you next week.
© Voinks August 2020