homespungreyOr, how to be paranoid about marketing your eBook before you have even begun.

Homespun Threads (A Patchwork of Fairytales) has now been available to buy on the internets for a week (at Smashwords or Amazon).  I’ve read a fair amount of advice on how to market it, all of which requires a lot of time and effort which I am applying in fits and starts – that’s what happens when you have a day job, alas.   Here are some of the main bits of advice that have come up:

Know your audience, and don’t waste time targeting the wrong one.

So, who is our audience?

Some of our tales are quite dark, whilst others are more child friendly, but I think on balance this is a book for adults.  As far as I’m aware there aren’t too many children with e-readers, and when contributors asked how dark they were allowed to go I pointed this out.

I know some grown ups think fairy tales are for kids, but there again look at the popularity of magic in fiction, from Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman to Ursula Le Guin and Stephanie Meyer.

Use social media channels for more than bombarding people with requests to buy your product – chat, answer questions, RT other people and build up relationships.

OK fine, but where is the line?  As a regular Twitter user, I often see people tweeting how annoying it is to be sent private messages by pushy authors that harangue them to buy a book, so I haven’t done that.  But I follow and interact with a lot of readers and writers – the issue might not come up at all if you use your account just to follow breaking news, or Jedward, or whatever.

And whilst on one hand I’ve seen some people getting really narked with the hard sell online, I was talking about the book with a real life friend the other day who hadn’t even registered it was out yet.  I haven’t been really overdoing it with online adverts, then, if they passed him by completely.

There’s also the point that people are online at different times of the day and have different volumes of traffic to sift through.  Some skim Facebook once a week, others check it every ten minutes; some are very active on Twitter during work hours whilst others are on there mainly in the evenings or at weekends.  Our target audience is probably a mixture.  How do we ensure everyone sees things whilst remaining careful that our constant updates do not become really, really annoying?

Getting ahead of ourselves?

At the time of writing we have sold 10 copies of the book, which is a good start, but rather implies we have not quite reached saturation point with the online advertising.

Or is it just because people don’t know how easy it is to download and read an eBook?  In the UK at least, e-readers don’t have the same clout as they seem to in the US, and I think there is a little bit of mystery around them. A lot of people I’ve spoken to seem to think you need to have a kindle or other e-reader to download an eBook at all, when in actual fact they can be read on laptop and desktop computers, tablets, smart phones and iPod touch.  If you can read this blog post, you can definitely read an eBook.

Or, is it just because it’s nearly Christmas and people need to keep hold of that £6 so they can buy 6 chocolate oranges (seriously, in Tesco right now, buy one get 2 free), or a bag of tinsel, or a drink on the work night out?

Keep calm and continue working at it

The thing about self publishing, it seems, is that it very quickly makes you feel neurotic.  It’s blog stat watching turned up to 11, even though when I take a step back I’m thrilled to have sold any copies at all.  If we get as far as a sale for each of the 35 contributors, I will be utterly ecstatic.  The way to do this, I suspect, is to talk to people about the book, explain how it came about, and hope those who have already bought it post glowing reviews all over the place to help spread the word.  Homespun Threads may not be an overnight success, but with any luck it will be a slow burning one.

Buy the book on Amazon or Smashwords for £6.17 (which is just under 18p a story) and help a children’s theatre company tour their show in 2013!