book promotion, writing technique

What would you do?


In my last post, I wrote of my tribulations regarding the release of Perfume Island, which effectively put a halt to the whole process, forcing me to come up with another strategy. (Writing that, I realize I’ve made progress: at least I had a strategy. With One Green Bottle there was none.) Having read of the pulling power of reader magnets, I thought, ‘Yep, that’s the way to go. Offer something free to draw readers in, so then they’ll buy the rest of the series. And while I’m at it, make it permanently free and run a few Facebook ads to promote it.’

I could do that with OGB, my publisher having kindly returned the rights to me. But hey, it was a lot of work, so while I’m happy enough with the idea of periodic giveaways, I balk a little at making it permafree. A novella, on the other hand, would be perfect.  Less work, and people don’t need a full length book to see if they like your writing. 30,000 words is plenty.

So that’s my current, top priority WIP. Closed Circle, prequel to OGB. A 15-chapter murder mystery. Magali isn’t a detective yet, but she’s right there in the thick of it.

A novella, I’m discovering, isn’t easy. You’ve got to cram it all into half the space. In this case, a dozen characters of more or less equal importance, the usual twists and surprises, and above all an in-depth insight into Magali herself. After all, she’s the mainstay of the whole series, so the reader has to connect with her and like her enough to continue.  Technically, all that is a challenge. My initial breezy assumption that I could dash it off in a month has been drastically revised.

Still, assuming I manage to sort it out more or less satisfactorily, it might be ready for release in January or February 2017. So my question is this: when do I release Perfume Island?  I could do it tomorrow if I wish, but as things currently stand, it would go pretty much unnoticed. So I like the idea of having Closed Circle ready first. Is there a logic to that? Not really. But if I’m going to promote anything (and bearing in mind that Facebook ads cost money), it seems to make more sense to concentrate on promoting the free magnet.

Now, I could of course do that later, but do I want Perfume Island to be met with the resounding silence that greeted OGB?  Obviously not.

So there you have it – my marketing dilemma in all its glorious confusion.  Any advice will be welcome!


18 thoughts on “What would you do?

  1. GD Deckard says:

    One thought is it may personally be more effective to concentrate now on Closed Circle.
    Another way to look at it is since ads cost money, it makes sense to release Perfume Island at the same time as Closed Circle and advertise both in the same ad. Shucks, throw OGB into the ad on the grounds that readers who have not heard of you need to see that you offer them a series to get into.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for pointing out the tag,GD. You’re quite right there are very few readers of detedtive stories – not a popular genre at all. And it might indeed be a good idea to advertise the whole series – though there’s very little space on a FB ad, so getting the design and copy right is a major challenge. But definitely food for thought there – thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tend to side with GD here. Chuck the lot at them, and the more free the better. You’re trying to rope in readers, and I think mystery readers in particular like to know there’s more where that came from.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Atthys. Certainly an option to consider, one I hadn’t thought of before. Ideally one would run several different ads but my budget won’t run to that so there’ll no doubt be some hard choices to make.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mimispeike says:

    I tend to think: advertise the freebie novella only. Don’t overwhelm a potential reader with talk of a series until he/she inspects and likes the sample. Place links/ descriptions of the additional stories at the end, or maybe as promotional inserts at random in the read.

    Of course, I don’t take my own advice. On my website, I tout the to-come, again and again, but as a joke.

    My answer is, I just don’t know. Follow your gut.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That was my initial thought, yes, and one I may return to. In the end it will of course be a gut decision but it’s great to have various options to consider. Even if the novella has swept aside other projects and wasn’t at all planned for, I’m glad I’m doing it, as it provides an extra marketing opportunity, and I don’t mind making it free. Certainly links to the other stories are vital at the end, and I’m thinking of an epilogue which will both tie up the loose ends in the novella and foreshadow events to come in the other books.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mimispeike says:

    It used to be, or at least I think it used to be, that people wrote a series after a book was a success. That makes sense to me.

    Promote the hell out of your novella. Bury a link halfway along: Whoa! You’ve made it this far. You must like this thing. Here’s a follow up. Sorry, this one’ll cost ya. But not much.

    Something like that. A bit off hand. Even better, whimsical. Whimsical is always good. In my book.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like whimsical too. I’m not sure how easy it would be in the novella, a bit out of tone perhaps, but I haven’t quite got far enough to figure out the type of links, so I think that’ll become clearer a bit further down the line.
      Thanks for all the input, everyone. You’ve answered my question wonderfully!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I don’t know… could be anything. Theoretically, that is. In practice, we each set our own limit, which I haven’t yet decided upon. FB ads can be done for $5 a day, so running three or four for 10 days each wouldn’t break the bank. I’m thinking along those lines at present. Then it’s a matter of seeing how effective they are.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Perry Palin says:

    Wish I could help. I live in different genres and a different world than you guys, though your discussion is helping me. My giveaways have been articles and stories in newsletters and journals that mention my books in bio information, and a short story from the second book printed and tucked into hand sold copies of the first book.

    Some of my short stories involve trout fishing, and when I know a buyer of one of my books is a trout fisherman/woman, I’ve given him/her a half dozen special trout flies. This small and inexpensive (to me) gift has been an effective marketing tool in my little world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s not something I’ve done yet, but I’ve been advised by writers with more experience on the online writer’s group I’m a part of, Absolute Write, that if you’re going to self-publish, the important thing is to get a lot of titles lined up–edited, covers and all, and then release, usually in three month increments. Apparently, a steady publishing schedule is good for your career.

    Just passing it along in case you find it useful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that input, Cathleen. Certainly having plenty of (decent) content is an asset. Every three months is a tall order unless, as you say, you have them all ready beforehand. Which may indeed be the way to go, even if one is naturally keen to get a book out rather than sit on it for a couple of years.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel you on that one. I’ve got eight novels written, in various stages of editing,along with three short story collections in the same place. Ugh. And a partially completed novella.

    I end up feeling like, “Is this just a complicated way to never accomplish anything at all? That’s not the kind of person I’ve spent my life trying to be.”

    But it helps that I’ve grown as a writer while drafting and editing the others. Every editing pass, every beta swap, makes me better, and I’ve applied those lessons to my early novels. So I’m hoping it will be time well spent, because frankly, the waiting is driving me a bit nuts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m impressed at your patience and discipline! But studies have shown that children who resist eating a sweet straightaway in order to get two sweets later succeed better in life. So maybe it’s the same with publishing. Either way, I wish you all the best in this rather mad endeavour we’ve chosen.

      Liked by 1 person

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