Marketing Department – Two Drink Minimum

That title was from a Dilbert cartoon (You must have come across Dilbert by now, surely? Our managers used those books as instruction manuals in the 90s) some years ago. Dilbert, an engineer, was sent to the marketing department as part of some scheme to get the engineers to understand that their developments must be marketable. Naturally they didn’t like it.

Well, books are marketable. I’ve been trying to learn how. Admittedly I don’t like it either. I have a book on marketing that is, shall we say, not exactly an engaging read. Okay, it’s duller than a Scottish December evening. I will force myself to read it, probably with the help of an entire case of caffeinated fizz, while I am in this down time after putting together two anthologies in three months. The latest, see previous post, went through all hurdles with no problem. It is complete. Now we wait… but that is the wrong thing to do. Waiting achieves nothing. A single book on Amazon is as lost as the 0.5 mm Allen key you put down safely three minutes ago. They need flashing lights and sirens to get noticed.

I have seriously considered deliberately provoking someone litiginous to get Daily Mail shock-horror look-at-this-filthy-bastard coverage. Best advertising you can get. Look what it did for 50 Shades of Grey. It could turn out expensive if I lose though.

Maybe put out something so inflammatory that the usual suspects try to get it banned. Worked a treat for Spycatcher and The Satanic Verses but hiding from death threats can be tiring.

I think I’ll try the three stories that are a prelude to Panoptica. I’ll put them together and maybe add one more that actually takes place in Panoptica. The latest prequel (Waking Santa) is in the Christmas book and well, we’re just about there. In real life we’re only a story or two behind but the story is still just ahead of reality. Just.

This will be eBook-only and will be a freebie. It will list all the Leg Iron Books in the back and for this one, you won’t find a ‘back to contents’ link at the end of the last story. You will find it on the next page, at the end of that list. So it won’t be on Amazon – I can’t make it free there unless I make it public domain (give up copyright) or give them an exclusive. I will not do either. As long as I get through Smashwords’ hurdles, it will be out on everything other than Amazon.

Smashwords has sold nothing for me in the past three months but the free stories I put on there are getting picked up. Well, ‘free’ involves no risk. Those free ones have to carry advertising and the content can be updated. That’s the next plan.

I also can’t make it print because then it won’t be free. But then the three stories are in The Good, the Bad and Santa, Six in Five in Four and the latest, Christmas Lights… and Darks so they are already in print. The new one might appear in a future anthology, maybe number 8, or I might add these to the start of the final book. Or both. That’s in the future.

Leg Iron Books is developing a decent catalogue of really good stories by some excellent, but unknown authors. It is the aim of this business that those authors will be snatched away by big publishers. That is the whole point. I’ll negotiate with the big publisher who wants to buy out their contract so I’ll make a few beans and the author will get the publicity machine of a big publishing house to get them going into the big time.

As for me, I’m staying at the bottom of the heap. I have no plans to ever rival Random House or any of the others. I’m really enjoying finding these great authors who haven’t made it to the big time yet. Making the anthologies is sometimes hard work – especially with the close proximity of the Halloween and Christmas ones – but it is always worth it.

See, I don’t need a yacht or a Lear jet or a Maserati. Although I have thought about getting a Ferrari one day, leaving cigarette burns and skidmarks on the seats, fitting boy racer bonnet clips, and brush painting it with three colours of Hammerite just so I can leave it in my will to someone I don’t like. But that’s not likely to happen. Really, the world is better off if I never get rich. Imagine what I could do with Bill Gates’ riches…

I have tried the Twitter book boosters. They only charge about $10 so I thought well, okay, I’ll try it.

It was crap. If you’re thinking of pushing your own book this way, don’t bother. I tried it with one book and it sold not one copy. Why? Because, as I realised, everyone else scrolls past that batch of 4 or 5 identical book ads on the timeline just like I do.

Yeah. They put it up 5 times a day, but in one minute. It is not spread through the day. It’s just an irritant. Nobody will click it. Better to develop a real persona on Twitter and mention the books in betwen real conversations.

Same goes for Farcebok, if anyone still uses it. Although, apart from linking these blog posts, I don’t go there much. It’s too… silly these days.

I think, if this is going to really take off, I need to get the Daily Mail style ‘shock-horror’ mob excited and vociferous.

I wonder if I can do that? Let’s play a game…




9 thoughts on “Marketing Department – Two Drink Minimum

  1. I’d steer clear of a Ferrari Sir. Right swine to get into and even worse to exit. Tyres cost a fortune and you’ll need new ones every couple of thousand miles. Ground clearance may be an issue on your track to the house – and sleeping policemen likely to rip your undercarriage.

    Oh and they’re an absolute pain to park in supermarket car parks.

    However they’re great for looking at exhaust pipes and the genital area of pedestrians.

    Now this here thing is pretty darned quick, a lot more practical and has similar fuel consumption. Still a bugger to park though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I spent almost 20 years in advertising and marketing jobs. In the end it’s really just common sense.
    (1) Find out what you can make from cheap stuff, easily, and sell for more money.
    (2) Find out who your customers are or might be.
    (3) Show your stuff – or ideas for more stuff – to a few, and ask them if it’s what they would like.
    (4) Persuade a few grocers (or whatever) to stock your stuff for a bit and see what happens.
    (5) Offer your stuff to who you think your customers are.
    (6) Put up notices, for other customers to notice.
    (7) Wait for orders.

    80% of all new products fail inside two years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In regard to my professional advice, (see above)…

      I did not mean, pursuant to may last rather pessimistic comment, that Leg-Iron Books is doomed to failure. Far from it. I was referring to my extensive professional experience of activity in the branded groceries market, what all the Trans-Nationals like Unliever/Walls, P&G, Kraft, Mars etc call “FMCG” or “fast-moving consumer goods”.

      You are not in the same boat as they are. They have shareholders to please, directors to pay vast amounts to, and competitors as ruthless as they are themselves. They must deploy large inventment costs, in for example the form of very very big advertising budgets, which must be funded ideally from a brand’s direct profits, or (if that should fail to come about) from the company’s own cash reserves. They can’t afford to do what I would now call “reinforcing failure”.

      The advertising-to gross-sales-ratio in the 80s, for example, for even a successful brand such as Sunsilk, was often as high as 11%. Persil was I think 8%, and that’s about a century old. A long life for any brand.

      Fortunately for you, it looks as if it doesn’t matter in at least the short term – say a few years – if book sales just trickle quietly along, rising hopefully by a measurable amount each time you issue a title.

      Re our project; Andy’s got a few problems at the moment, with slight health and also time-management problems to do with his business he’s trying to sell on. I’m doing most of the writing but I need his organisational help as he’s better at storyboarding the plot than I am. I can churn out 2,500 words on the trot; he organises what it means. We hope to be ready for your first round of output in 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have really small overheads – I buy copies of the anthologies to give away as promotional items and sometimes copies of the novels too. Other than that, I have no stock andof course, eBooks have no overheads at all. So I won’t go under yet šŸ˜‰

        The last quarter was very bad but with all that’s happening in the world, I doubt many people are paying much attention to books. Still, now I have some time free, I can look into spreading the word.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thinking about this… I suspect the problem is that the catalogue has grown and still grows and I’m still trying to do it all myself.

        Roobee helps out but she has a full time job so I can’t put too much on her.

        So, the past three months I had to concentrate on the anthologies. Everything else went by the wayside. I think it’s time I accepted this can’t be a one man band now. I’m going to have to expand…


  3. A puzzling question is why publishers of really good books fail. Maybe people here have heard of “Blasted Heath”? They had some astounding authors (Ray Banks, Douglas Lindsay, .. and not least Alan Guthrie, who ran it). For a time, a big part of what I read was from them. I used to go and listen to what Guthrie had to say about digital publishing and things like that, if it was nearby: “keep going, somehow, you bastards” was what I thought.

    Wondering why, I’ve two, diffident, hypotheses.

    One: the whole pitch was “tartan noir”. Tartan meaning: you can sod off, you people from Englandshire. Noir meaning, dunno, something fairly snobby, like: unless you’ve the complete works of Charles Willeford on your shelves, this stuff’s too good for you. Literary pretensions,
    quite well justified, but, basically offensively nerdish.

    Two: a fatally conventional, outdated idea of what publishing is. I’m on very flakey ground here, but it sometimes seemed to me like it was modelled on old-school publishers (faber, penguin, whoever), but somehow digital. I’ve no right to say this, but there’s maybe something in the thought. Certainly Guthrie tried. All credit to him, but it didn’t work. No real idea why. A “use case” to be considered.

    The very best of luck to Legiron Books. I’ve got to read some more. Point one, such as it is, may be fixed. Obstreperous, ornery, dark, inventive, incorrect; but not snobby.


    Liked by 1 person

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