Creativity / selling / writing

Writing Wednesday: You Have to Sell It

Goals are going pretty well – my story rotate back to market in 7 days or less,  ePublication every 4 weeks continued with “Baastards’ Revenge” last week. I put up my three blog posts. And I started reading my fifth book (Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.)

I wrote 4,585 words, all of it on Herc Tom #5 (that makes FIVE WEEKS IN A ROW of making my 3,000-word quota, which I haven’t done before in the five-plus years of setting the weekly goal. – all of it since I added my 300-word per day goal; GOALS MAKE A DIFFERENCE!) I thought I would finish the initial draft last week, but even with all that writing it’s still not done at 13,900 words – will probably hit 15,000. WOULD YOU BELIEVE that it wasn’t until 13,000 words that I realized who dunnit? Like I’ve said before, my stories can be a surprise, even for me. Since it’s still not done, I’ve only completed 8 of my 12 stories for this year. I was going to move onto Swordsmaster once Herc Tom #5 was done, but another story popped into my head this weekend (“In the House of the Neon-Blue God”, which feels like a 1,500-word effort), and that will probably insist on being done in the next week. That means I’ll have 10 of 12 stories out of the way by the end of this month.

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Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing puts out a newsletter, and there was an interesting piece on Five Things Your Book Description Says About You (and more importantly your book.) For someone who has a glaring weakness around marketing, I found it very helpful.

Let’s start by admitting that I have a VERY HARD TIME asking people to read my stories, and this makes self-promotion a challenge. It’s difficult to toot my own horn, and it feels like bragging to say you’ll enjoy my writing, and presumptuous of me to expect anyone to spend their time (and money) on it. Sales is NOT my forte. I once spent a week in training to sell vacuum cleaners (it feels like everyone has done this at some point in their lives), and even though I knew it was a phenomenally good machine at a fair price, I couldn’t bring myself to go into people’s homes and ask them to buy it. This was forty years ago, and I haven’t changed much.

I’ve had a fairly consistent method to creating book blurbs since I started writing and submitting to market. Chronologically, I started submitting my stories to publishers in 2008, and didn’t begin ePublishing until 2012. When you submit to markets, they usually ask for a very brief cover letter – publishing credits, a little about yourself, maybe a “hint” of what the story is about. The “hint” might change a little as the story went from market to market, but the basics stayed intact. I also try to make some clever tie-in between my semi-biography and describing the story (for example, when submitting “The Voices”, I mention that I am “very happy with my own voices, thank you.”) I actually give them what I think would work as an intro (or afterword) for my story if they publish it.

When you ePublish, you have to provide a blurb – a description for your book that will be displayed to potential readers/customers, and this, the front cover, and a sample reading are all you have to peak the readers’ interest. Smashwords asks for a short description (400 words or less) and a long description (up to 4,000 words), while Amazon just asks for the long description.

I usually start with the story hint/description that I sent to potential publishers, without the semi-bio that ties me in with the story blurb, and maybe tweak it a little to take advantage of the 400-word length. I don’t usually exceed 400-words, except on collections, mainly because I’m selling individual short fictions, and exactly how many words can you use to describe it when my average story length is under 3,900 words?

Still, I could do a better job of making the blurb interesting, and even the simple act of saying – as suggested in the article – “scroll up and buy to start the adventure today” has been beyond me, and yet it’s so simple I’m kicking my genius-self for not having thought of it. “Bill, you have EIGHTY ePublications out there now – why are you putting them online and then not doing everything you can to get people interested in reading them? This is SELF-publishing, who are you expecting to take care of this?”

This is going to take a lot of time to do right, so I’m going to ease up on my ePublication goal. Instead of releasing the next eBook on August 28th, I’ll be revamping all my blurbs.

Sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve just gotta do. Just saying…

<<<>>>

BaastardsRevengeCoverLast weekend saw the release of “Baastards’ Revenge” – the fourth story of my Herc Tom series:

Champion of the Empire Hercules. Tom thinks this is a mere diplomatic mission to Baast; little does he know what the Baastards have in store for him. But don’t worry – this cat has proven time and again that he has more than the usual nine lives.

“Bastaards’ Revenge” is available at the usual places online, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/upload/details/736440

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073YDXMLY

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VictimlessCoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing, including his previous publication “Victimless”, can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):  https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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