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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Climbing the learning curve

This week has been more of a learning curve for me with respect to promoting myself and my craft. My proposed “Book Talk” at the local Arts & Craft shop next month is not attracting people. Whether it’s because there are no potential writers or budding wannabees in the area, I’ve no idea. Let’s face it, not everyone wants to sit at a desk or in front of a computer writing their memoires or the next best seller. Just because I think it’s a great hobby doesn’t mean that everyone else in the parish does. The other part of the learning curve is about advertising and what works, but more of that later.

My book talk is primarily aimed at those people who nurse a desire to write, but need encouraging. And although I can’t teach anyone to write, I can at least open a few doors and let them into the secrets of bringing a book to life in today’s on-line world. Anyone who has written and published might find my talk a bit of ‘old hat’; after all, what can I teach them? If I was a top writer, I wouldn’t have any trouble filling the event, but there is no way I could have it at a local craft shop. In a couple of weeks’ time I will have to make a decision about whether to pull the event or not, and that’s part of the learning curve: how and where does it all go wrong (or right)?

The other part of the learning curve this week is about what sells and what drags its heels in this game. I advertised my latest thriller on Facebook, and enjoyed watching my rankings soar from about 200K down (up) to 19K on the Amazon Author rank chart. I was selling my book at $0.99/£0.99 and seeing sales of about twelve a day. Once I had reached my budget limit, I raised the price to $2.99 and saw my sales drop to almost zero. For a while I thought I would have to suspend the advert until I could come up with another ploy. But my sales lifted to about seven a day, which it the break-even figure for me while I’m running the ad. But advertising on Facebook isn’t simply a matter of putting something there and paying for it, it’s more about the detail and where your target audience is. I’ve already learned that more women buy my books than men. Now I have to understand how to cultivate that audience and at what level I engage with them. I won’t exclude men of course, but if my market is predominantly female, then so be it; that’s where I’ll go. But it isn’t that simple — it never is — I need to understand how to manipulate my ad in order to achieve maximum advantage, and I can’t do that without more study. Fortunately I have Nick Stephenson and Mark Dawson’s excellent FB training videos, which is where I’ll go to improve my technique.

Next week Pat and I have a full calendar, and I may not get too much done on the literary front. I haven’t even started my next book and have no idea where I’ll get my ideas from. Our son, John, came up with a credible plot for me, but I can’t see me sinking my teeth into it. He’ll be disappointed to think his idea hasn’t hit the mark. It was good, but I just couldn’t get enthusiastic about it in the end.

Tonight we are off to see Leonardo de Caprio in The Revenant. Maybe I’ll see something in that to inspire me. Wish me luck!

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