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Monday, 21 April 2014

The Easter weekend

Morning all

 So the first bank holiday weekend has come and gone and i thought I should share some of the joy with you.

Of course the opposite to joy is what depression, anger, frustration, boredom. All four were part of the selling experience this weekend. It was my unfortunate experience to encounter one really sad man who wanted to vent his own negativity on those near him. Initially I tried to rise above his tiresomeness but eventually at the Hop farm I came to realise what he was feeling. While at Chilham our frustration was simply down to the organisers lack of motivation. Which was strange because at their previous fairs they had been so upbeat and positive. I know as humans we are all due down days but when running a business you have to reflect a persona of positivity even if your hurting inside. As one of my fellow stall holders said, "negativity spreads like the plague," and by God did it spread yesterday.

  Very bad signage was the first indication of what to expect, that and the word from those who had been there before that it never got going before noon made the first couple of hours daunting. Steadfastly your hero stood, smiled and greeted the few visitors who trickled in. While our hosts sat and drank tea and chatted with their friends and family. What they do is their own business, but when we had paid to be there the least we could expect were a few cheery words and some motivation. They should look to their selves and the way the run such events before they lose what good name they have.Still the fudge people kept me happy, Mick and Kaye were lovely while their samples were divine.    

  Eventually customers began to arrive and beneath the withering glare of the other stall holders Kaye and myself fell into our spiel. Perhaps this was wrong, maybe we should have sat silently and waited for the customers to come to us? Not how I work, you have to be out going and draw people into a conversation. Remain silent and seated and you portray an impression of not being interested. The two of us were kindred spirit, we worked the crowd, we began to make sales. As many of you will know I am an ex plumber not a salesman but I can speak to people, once I have engaged with them it is me that either makes or losses the sale and that I can live with. Usually I can convince enough that Dead Men Lie is worthy of reading. I will never convince those with short arms and deep pockets, or those who perhaps can't understand the concept of buying books direct from the author. They are beyond convincing but I can live with them, I simply smile, say thank you and look for the next customer.

    What galls me are the young, the intelligent who say "I don't read" then stand reading the literature about the book before moving on. A simple "thanks but no thanks" would suffice. I can even appreciate the talker, those who desire to extol the merits of what I am doing, who discover all about how the book was devised and how I wrote it and even the size of my underpants before saying, "thanks I 'll think about it". Half an hour wasted while other potential buyers have passed by. However one poor soul who appeared unable to raise the cost of a cup of tea did so engage with me. Eventually he did walk off without buying, but this morning he had sent an e-mail ordering five copies of the book. So the time spent with him was indeed worthwhile. We had some laughs as well, one lady appeared interested was about to buy, I had her in the palm of my hand when she spoke. "Oh I wish I hadn't bought this child's cardigan because the two will make my bag simply too heavy to carry."  Come on I know DML is a weighty tome but its not that bad.

   During a lull in the influx of customers (an hour) Mike and myself went into Chilham to drum up some interest. We found them, lots of potential buyers sitting in the sun drinking tea and beer totally unaware that 200 yards away we were struggling for customers. Bad advertising once again had done for us. Our organisers should have been doing what we did.

 So overall what of the weekend, well thanks to sales yesterday we were in profit, we sold fourteen books handed out lots of leaflets and will have to wait to see if E-book sales increase. Would I go back to either event, no. craft fairs are a little clique of friends who are more interested in catching up with what everyone is doing than actually selling. One woman sat all day without selling a thing. Why because her stock failed to arrive? Why she remained and didn't simply go home was a mystery until you realised this was her day out seeing her mates. Thankfully Kaye has e-mailed me details of events they attend which she thinks would be beneficial to me. I will rethink my strategy and reorganise. DML is too good a story to languish in the bargain bucket bin. I shall get the new stall built which will give the book some visual impact. Personally I must rethink my selling technique, after three fairs I realise that I sometime's stumble on that initial "Whats it all about" I need a one line hook with which to draw the reader in. It will come, hopefully not too late for this summer. Oh yes and one last buyer was a new author gathering tips. I am afraid he got more than he bargained for when the told me he was going to give a couple of hundred books away for free. Why do people do this? I hope I talked him out of it. Even Kaye said she would never give away fudge, samples yes but not an entire book full.

 There you are a few lessons learnt and if I have shown the errors I made to you the potential new author than my work is done. Writing is easy, its the publicity and the apathy which we have to overcome, that is where the hard work begins. Those lucky authors who have agents, publishers and publicists never have to experience what we, the self publisher, have to endure. One day perhaps I will reach those heady heights, if I do, I hope I will never forget the hard work that was involved, or the amount of apathy I had to break down to get a book known. Until the next time my friends keep writing


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

I do not need negativity in my life.

Morning all

 Sorry for the absence but it is busy busy busy.

So many fairs fates and book signings to get organised for , e-mails to answer and books to dispatch I really do wonder where the time goes.

For all that positivity there are always those ready to rain our you parade so what to do about them?

My advice and this is just my opinion ignore them, I know its not easy but remember if they have nothing good to say about you or your book they are either troglodytes or perpetual moaners who have nothing better to do. Of course on the other hand as I have said before if their advice improves your work in anyway then you owe it to yourself to consider their remarks and either take it on board or ignore it. What I refer to here are those that try to drag you down. They are not worth the worry and heart ache.

 This week I almost got suckered into an argument with some person who commented on my book in a derogatory manner. I could have ended up in a full scale row but I remembered some sound advice and asked them politely what was the title of their last manuscript and who published it. Red faced they scuttled away, obviously no such work existed and they didn't desire to admit that fact.We write, therefore for some reason we are easy targets for those who cannot. Of course I was annoyed but only for a little while another sale quickly calmed my fury.

I still await the review by that person who stole a copy from our first fair perhaps they are still trying to work out some of the big words like 'and' and 'that' Oh I can be cutting. But the negativity is eating away at me as we speak. With less than 6 weeks to go i begin to worry if anyone will turn up for the book launch. I keep telling myself that if only those who are truly interested appear then we will have achieved something. But then little Jimmy speaks again and tells me that all these famous authors have hundreds turn out and they don't have to work half as hard as i do. "So what Jimmy they have myriad helpers doing the work for them all they have to do is write and draw their pay packet while you are creating." I can understand that but is so frustrating at times when you read of their exciting lives and i am still plodding away selling my books at fairs and wherever.

    Which is why as Easter approaches Mrs P is a little miffed that I will not be here for three of the four days. Nor was she pleased this afternoon as we took our granddaughter out I spent a few moments plugging the book and persuading the owners to take a few brochures and posters. I am sad but hay books do not sell themselves (unless you are very lucky) Dead Men Lie has to be seen it has to be touched and read, I have always said that if we can get copy into readers hands the majority of the time those readers like what I have created. The few that do not, well I can't please everyone can I?

Whatever you do make sure you do it with as much conviction and passion as you can muster. You are the masters of your own destiny and when the money begins to flow along with the Kudos and adulation you can look yourself in the mirror and say "Through my own hard work I did this and I am proud of what I have achieved." I know I will

Until another day remember the next book sold could be the key which unlocks the floodgates to all manner of things.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

My errors of judgement.

Hello one and all

 Yes its me again, with another dollop of trash and trite. What thorny issue should we deal with today? I have something in mind but I think I have visited the subject before. However, I believe we should look at it again because it can cost you, the author, both time and money.

When we complete our work and are prepared to show it to the world  we have various choices to make most of which we may never have contemplated when we began this journey of discovery called publishing. Certainly most of us, and I include myself here, will have had little or no knowledge of publicity marketing and promotional work. Perhaps I was a little lucky in that I once ran  plumbing business so had a modicum of experience, but plumbing and publishing are different beasts entirely though both require people skills.

So we have done it your book is ready and after sending thousands of requests to agents and publishers and you have papered the entire house in rejection slips like me you decide to embark on the self publishing route. It can't be that hard can it have some books printed upload the file to Amazon and wait for the millions to role in. How long did it take you to realise it wasn't going to be that easy? Weeks, months we all get there our friends and family can only do so much. Therefore we have to do something else to sell our work, we all congregate on Facebook twitter goodreads and every other site we can think of we go where we think we will be heard but thousands of others are already there doing exactly the same thing. We become lost in the crowd and still the books sit under the bed gathering dust.
 What other mind blowing strategy can we try? We are so desperate to make a favourable impression we leap in without regard for or respect of the implications. Only in hindsight can we determine if our choices were good or bad. I cannot say which is ideal for you, all I can do is tell you what errors I made and point out another route. You then have to determine which is best for you and your pocket.

When I began, I had a few pound to spend. How best should I use that small investment, should it go on an editor to mould my work into how they desired it to be or should I plough on regardless and leap into the unknown? I chose the latter. I went with a large vanity publisher, paid them a fortune and got an inferior service. In hindsight I now realise the product, while being a good story, needed a professional editor to guide me through the faults that existed. Harsh lesson learnt

After nursing my injured pride and depleted bank balance (I sold precisely five copies and gave away a dozen) I eventually began writing again and Dead men Lie is the result. it is however far different to the original draft. Unwilling to be taken for a fool a second time I discovered a lovely lady who has edited my book for me. When we began we were both novices, we learnt as we went along, we listened and became better. We failed a couple of times, almost got suckered by another so called publisher and I vowed then and there that no one apart from me would determine the destiny of my work. But the leeches still exist, even now we are occasionally fooled, not so often, but occasionally another plausible rogue crosses our paths.           
 How to get reviews? We all desire them, apparently it is what readers look at first. Do they, certainly some do but are they all important? Go into a bookshop and what do you look at first, the front cover, the back spurge or the authors name do you rush home and examine the reviews on certain sites before parting with your hard earned cash. I know that's being simplistic and the world had changed. But the principle remains the same we buy what we like first and foremost. We have to have reviews though, even me for my  apparent disregard devour every review eagerly to see what someone has said about my work, its human nature to have nice things said about us. So how do we get these elusive reviews?

  Certainly never ever pay anyone for a review. if you do you are prostituting yourself at the door of suspicion.Ask yourself if you can be sure that the review such people give is honest or even if they have read your work. Certainly I have my suspicions that some, not all, and certainly not the majority, but some reviewers cobble together their copy from the work of others. Maybe I am being unjust to the majority of honest and dedicated reviewers, but these are simply my uncorroborated views. I suspect though there is a modicum of truth in what I say, because in every level of society there is a under belly of rogues. So never ask for reviews certainly never pay and as i discovered never plead for reviews. I did that just recently, I got suckered into asking my friends to aid me with three reviews for a specific purpose. Guess what not one responded, therefore point proved, its far better to wait for genuine comments from genuine readers. They do come and I would rather have those than twenty sub standard reviews.   

Now I fear we come to my pet hate. How do we, the self publisher, sell more copies of our work? Some will give work away, this is their prerogative but personally I despair at this tactic. Why I hear you ask. Consider this, name any other profession that charges nothing for their work I do not include charities in this. Bet you can't, as an ex-plumber I never undersold my talent. It took too long to earn my certificates to undermine my training by doing something as idiotic as underselling myself. To write a book takes time and effort so why should anyone expect to get my work free. If they want it, make them pay, charge a smaller price but for Gods sake make a profit, even if its a penny. I fell into this trap (Not the freebies) by giving my book away to people to review, I didn't get one back, all I did was lost the cost of ten books. You learn that those who down load free books simply move onto someone else when yours comes off offer. They win, you lose, what's the point? Oh I hear some authors laudably proclaiming they are number 1 2 or 3. in some chart or another but within a week they are back where they started and God knows how many copies out of pocket. That is my point of view, personally I would love the practice to stop but I doubt it ever will.  

As I said at the beginning, this is my view on life, you may agree, you may disagree. That as they say is your prerogative, as for me, I may not be rolling in cash but  I sleep soundly in the knowledge that Dead Men Lie, no matter how well it does or doesn't do, will happen through no fault of either it or its author. We have tried our best and will continue to strive for, if not perfection, than at least as near as we can get and we will have achieved it through our hard work and diligence.   

 here endeth today's rant hope you have enjoyed it if so perhaps someone would like to leave a comment would be nice to hear what others think occasionally.

Cheers D

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Today's thoughts

Morning all

  Like me I suspect you hope to please everyone....fact is we cannot. The hard truth is for all your social media friends and connections, most are simply doing what you do, trawling the internet attempting to sell their work.

 While some will engage, might even buy your work most will promise the world but do little while expecting you to aid them in their quest for world domination. Does that sound terrible?

  The hard truth is you are seeking what>>>>> To be successful as a writer we are looking for approximately 100,000 sales. Not many in the grand scheme of things and when we consider the worlds population of God Knows how many Billions why worry about those who don't want to know seek out the interested ones discard the uninterested and move on.

I have reached a milestone in my advertising campaign, if it doesn't work stop doing it, if those who say they will aid and assist you and don't discard them, seek out only those who really do come through for you and reciprocate. Build a unit of like minded assistants and forget the rest.

 I have lost track of those who say one thing and fail to deliver, the people who tell me they will buy a copy of my book yet want a freebie in return for some idealistic promise which never materialises.

Now perhaps i have become hardened to what I must do, but if a promise is made that person gets a few days grace. If they do not produce I move on and that is what we must do. Stop chasing the rainbow and hunt for those 100,000 people who will give you what you desire freedom to pursue your dreams.

 This isn't written in a fit of pique, nothing has occurred over night to upset me its simply a awakening to the fact that no one will do it for you, if you want success you must look for those who can aid you and not waste time on those who cannot.

There endeth today's Procter lesson.

 have a good and successful day in whatever you do. I trust uit will become the first day on your own individual path to where you want to go.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Our First Fair.

Good morning

 Saturday has come and gone and I have reflected upon what occurred. Was it a success? of course it was. Hythe came out in force and was most amenable to both myself and Dead Men Lie. Unfortunately there are no pictures, i was alone and not knowing anyone didn't have the nerve to ask anyone to take a few snaps of the table but next time i promise there will be evidence.

 Always in fear of the unknown I approached the venue with a sense of trepidation, it was a church hall in a backstreet a most unfavourable position, or so I thought, how wrong was that. Almost before we were set up the first visitors began to arrive and from early on until about 2 pm there was a steady and eager crowd flowing through the venue.

 Like all these fairs there are the lookers and the interested and you begin to sense one from the other. What I didn't spot was the thief who made off with a copy, but that was a lesson learnt and one I will not be making again. That aside we sold seven copies handed out a lot of literature and spoke to so many people that I trust I made an impression. apart from the sales many expressed an interest and one person actually downloaded the book from Kindle there and then which is always a bonus.

 One lovely lady spoke to me and expressed her interest, her voice betrayed her identity and when i asked she mischievously said "oh I am always being mistaken for *** ***** " The reason is because it was her. Not sure if being recognised made her hurry away but she did look back, smile and hold up a leaflet so perhaps we have a celebrity reader watch this space.  

Another stall holder purchased a copy of the book and started to read it, she sat silently devouring each page and I waited for her reaction, always a terrible time. Then she closed it stood and walked towards me. What is she going to say? Is she going to tell me it was rubbish in front of customers I do hope not. Of course not she smiled and said "Bloody brilliant couldn't pout it down read three chapters already."

There you are not much else happened, spoke to one elderly gent who had spent thousands publishing his book with a vanity publisher and sold ten copies. it was a sad story especially when it was all about his life with his now departed wife in India. But his is a story we hear of so many time s when will people learn the best way is to print on demand. If anyone asks for money to publish your work you are obviously in the wrong place, but that is a story for another day.

As for the first fair it was well worth the effort. I booked more with them that day and from that have found other more exciting places to showcase my book perhaps this is the start of a massive surge of interest in Dead Men Lie. Certainly the review that was posted overnight on Sunday was also a great fillip for my somewhat battered ego.

A women said to me on Saturday as I handed out leaflets, "You have the ability to do well, you are not afraid to get out and tell people about your work. While others sit and wait you make it happen people like you deserve to be heard. I wish you well." She didn't buy a copy but she might and that is all we can hope for.

 Therefore if you are relying on Facebook for your sales it will never happen, go to those places where customers lurk, find your niche and work it for all your worth. If you are personable and your merchandise is sell-able you will become noticed and that is what we all seek after all isn't it.

Good luck my writing friends . Now I have to amend my sales technique, and point of sale material. because that is another thing I discovered . If you have lots to offer, customers are drawn to you to discover what is all about. All I will say is my reindeer worked better than I thought.

Speak soon friends