Well, I set up a page on Farcebook since that seems to be the most likely successful marketing strategy. It costs nothing to try that so it seems like a good place to start. I have also spammed my friends list with the link. Hopefully one or two won’t just respond with ‘get stuffed’.
Thanks to everyone who responded to the last post. I’ll try to respond individually but there are a lot of you. You’re right. Spending a lot on throwaway stuff isn’t going to help. As several have said, I, too, have an attic loaded with free bags and all sorts of things from companies I’ve worked with, given talks and consultancy to (not for free, of course) and spoken with at conferences. None of it has influenced any later buying decisions.
I’ve gone ahead with the business cards, those seem likely to be useful, and had a small number of mugs made for family to show off to visitors. Random strangers would simply add them to the mug cupboard, family are more likely to show off what their lunatic relative is up to now.
Some months back I tried out the Twitter book promoters. It was only $10, not a big risk, but it did nothing. Not a thing. Took me a few days to realise that everyone does what I do when faced with five or six consecutive tweets pushing one book. I just fast-scroll past them all. Twitter, I think, will only work if I can insert a mention of a book into a relevant conversation. Someone talking about Jacobites? I could mention Mark Ellott’s ‘Rebellion’. Someone talking about grooming? Margo Jackson’s ‘The Mark’ is relevant there, even though the ‘grooming’ part is not as clear cut as you might think.
Cafepress, Zazzle and the new one on me, Spreadshirt, could be good places to set up merchandise. Not just the Leg Iron Books logo, maybe some book covers too. I’ll look into that. Vistaprint, who do the business cards, will do T shirts but I’d have to buy them first. They don’t sell direct. What sizes do I buy? How do I sell T shirts? I have no idea… that’s best left to the merchandise sites. If I can make money from merchandise I can further cut my percentage of profit from book sales and send more of it to authors. I’m currently on 30%, a few T shirt and mug sales and I could drop to 20%.
I still plan to work up a printed catalogue, well, a leaflet at this stage. That would be vital if I can get to a book show. I might not sell any books but ‘take one, it’s free’ should do well. Other than that, really, bookmarks are still on the cards. Not much use for eBooks of course but people do still like real print books.
There will also be ‘box sets’. I can’t yet make real boxes for box sets but I can do it with eBooks and I can, if I have several books that aren’t very thick, make a one volume omnibus edition. Why? Because the set, say three books, will be cheaper than buying all three individually. It appeals to latecomers who want a set but don’t want to pay for them all.
I should soon be able to make a Mark Ellott collection and I’m working on piling all my own short stories into one volume of misery and despair. I cannot go back and do annual omnibuses of the anthologies unless I get a new contract from every author. The contract is explicit: I get to use the story once. I can’t use it again. However, I will include that omnibus use in contracts from now so it’ll be in the Easter (Anthology 8) contracts. This changes nothing from the author’s point of view, they still get all rights back on first publication, it just means I can make a combined omnibus edition at the end of each year.
So, if I can manage to drink enough and think crazy enough, I’ll have marketing nailed eventually. For now, the marketing budget is limited but will rise if book sales rise. The two are inextricably linked.
It won’t be easy, but then I have something of a reputation for not taking the easy route 😉