Friday, 9 October 2015

Pre-Orders, Book Marketing And, Ahem, A Decent Bomber

English: A post card from the 19th century sho...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Quinlan passed out; a merciful release.
He should have expected them, should have seen the signs of quickening interest in his daily movements. The tailing moped; the sallow, bearded fellow he never saw before and then glimpsed all too often.
They came when Deirdre took the girls for a sleepover with their wee cousins. He had just poured a whiskey when the doorbell rang. His hand flew back from the latch as the door burst open. Their silent, brutal assault buried him under a flurry of expertly dealt blows. They pinioned his hands with nylon ties.
The torture was methodical. Quinlan shrieked himself hoarse, flailing around tied to the kitchen chair until he hurled himself to the floor. They righted him and beat him as dispassionately as they’d pulled out his thumbnails.
And not one word. Not a question. It made it all worse, to think there was nothing they wanted he could give them to make it stop.
They started on his fingers. He called to God, he called to his dear, dead mother. He begged them. Dear Jesus, how he begged. They beat him again to shut him up. His mind slammed down to buy him respite.

And so starts A Decent Bomber, my fourth serious novel and the first not set in the Middle East. I've been making a wee fuss about it being on pre-order and (sorry if you follow, know or are somehow linked to me. It'll go away if you buy the book, honestly) will continue to do so for a while.

Why am I so bothered about pre-orders? Because on the 5th November, when the book publishes, every pre-order will count as an order on the day. If you collect enough pre-orders, the book rockets up the sales charts and comes to the public notice. Briefly, probably not in a chart topping sort of way, but nevertheless in a more attention-getting way than shouting 'buy my book' from Dubai will do.

Book marketing in general is something of a nightmare for the self-published author. And, actually these days, for publishing houses, too. There's a lot of noise out there with all this self-publishing lark and a lot of people trying to find ways of getting their book in front of people. As the 'traditional publishing' model breaks down (catalogues and sales teams knocking on bookshop doors to flog this season's new offerings), even quite large publishers can be found on Twitter retweeting every time a reader says a given author's book is quite nice. There's a hint of desperation in the air.

It's hard to get horses to water and drinking, especially in today's online world. McNabb's Law of Clicks refers - thousands of impressions don't necessarily mean sales. Book bloggers have 'To Be Read' lists stretching for months ahead. It's amazing how many go out of business, breathless blogs with 'I love to read' in their headers shuttered and strewn with cobwebs, that aspiration to share great reads submerged in tottering piles of desperate authors pushing their dubious wares. Tracking coverage in Middle Eastern 'major media' shows a distinct lack of correlation between media coverage and book sales - even rave reviews in national media.

One challenge in marketing A Decent Bomber is that the book is set in Ireland and the UK. Without a Middle Eastern angle, its target market is really in the Western world - where I am not. Anything I can do to get people in the UK/US talking about the book, sharing it, recommending it or otherwise focusing their attention long enough to click on an Amazon link to swap $2.99 for 350 pages of mayhem will be considered.

Funnily enough, you can help. Tell the folks back home about it. Encourage them to tell their friends and family about it. Share a link to the book on Facebook. Let's face it, the sooner you do, the sooner it'll go nice and quiet around here again...

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