Category Archives: Marketing

Writing a Book is Only the Beginning: It Needs to Sell

Writing is Selling: Ideas

Writing is Selling: Ideas

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realise it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it. D. Sedaris

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in my English Lit class when I was, like, sixteen. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog it was in that class I received an F grade for the first time. It stung. Moreover, it still stings. Since then I have tried to improve my writing with a long and constant effort: not entirely successfully (so far), but mostly I would say it has been worth it. I give a lot of thought to what I write, but it does not always return an equal reward. The fact of the matter is that I am getting better and I have published my first novel. Now, that may seem like a triumph, and it is in a way, but what really counts is the book sales – and writing the next book, of course.

I find selling books a more difficult task than writing. I was advised early on with my writing ambitions that in the modern world of publishing it would be more effective to write and publish my own books – not as a “self-publisher” as such, but rather as a small independent publisher. The world of book publishing is changing. A leaner more focused and flexible approach would be needed if I wanted to find my books on the bestseller lists – never mind my personal goal of seeing what I write translated onto the big screen. Creating my own publishing company was about keeping control, being nimble and quick to respond to the demands and opportunities of the market place.

The Black Sea, my first novel, was a long time in the making. It took years of work – and not to create something anyone would want to call a literary masterpiece, quite the contrary, I consider myself an entertainer. I want to write books for the moment that allow people a moment of escapism – an easy read and a good story. I have not learned enough to even get close to writing a book that would be considered something literary: although it is my ambition to do so one day. That day, however, remains in the distant future as I focus my efforts on writing quality thrillers. Now, my first effort has had some earned some good comments from most people who have read it. And, no, I do not mean from those closest to me: quite the opposite really. Those closest to me have been the hardest on me and thankfully so. I am lucky enough to hear the good, the bad and ugly about my work from those closest to me and inevitably, that makes me want to be a better writer. The people around me have been amazingly supportive in my work but that doesn’t mean they’ve been easy on me.

For some would-be authors, their efforts to become a writer are mocked by those closest to them. Sometimes, because they do not really want to see others succeed or are dealing with their own demons, insecurities or financial pressures.  This type of person frequently tries to plant seeds of doubt that often plague, entrepreneurs, actors and other such “dreamers.” However, if you have the right people around you, it is more likely that they want to help – and that is what I have found. I am very lucky in that regard. Not everyone has constructive help and criticism to guide their progress. There are many naysayers out there who will try to hinder you, but the best practice is to listen and reflect on what they say. If you find their comments helpful, take the advice and improve yourself. If it is destructive, ignore it, much as you ignore a wasp or a bee hovering over the food on your table. Do not pay it attention: just allow it to pass through and avoid the sting.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. M. Gandhi

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Black Mary Press, Book Launches, Bookselling, Bookstores, Getting Published, Independent Publishers, Marketing, New Authors, New Novels, Novelists, Novels, The Black Sea, VP Von Hoehen, Writing

and so the story goes…

PvH the Viscount Perran Von Hoehen

PvH the Viscount Perran Von Hoehen

Did you know that KFC branches have about 40-80 company centric advertisements in a branch? (on a side note: why KFC bothered changing the name is beyond me… who on earth thinks that KFC is healthier than Kentucky Fried Chicken? Anyway I digress.)

The other day caught I was walking by a KFC which, despite my attempts to embargo all types of advertising, couldn’t be avoided.  It hit me like walking into an IMAX screen.  It must have occupied the entire peripheral vision of anyone remotely near Europe or flying over it.

KFC by Terence Ong

KFC by Terence Ong

Avoiding advertising is I believe is, in principle, a good idea – as eliminating it is virtually impossible.  Living in a large cities requires the acceptance of a certain amount of advertising in your day to day life.  Don’t get me wrong,  I do believe that advertising can add value such as education but think about it when was the last time you saw a commercial that made you feel sufficiently informed about a product or service – enough to buy it to buy I mean?

What do you think if I tell you this is an ad for condoms? photo by PvH

What do you think if I tell you this is an ad for condoms? photo by PvH

No, what is more common is that we look at commercial or ad, as we say in North America, and the advertising is directed more at sex, drugs (alcohol to pharmaceuticals), and rock and roll (associations with songs and lyrics that are supposed to be meaningful for your demographic).

Think about your favorite adverts.  It is must admit that most of what are memorable ads are in fact memorable ads, but they don’t help to us to remember what product they are advertising.  These are the ads that usually win the awards too. Think about it, the most memorable ads – most people can’t even remember what they were selling and that has been a global phenomena not just a local one (eg. Get upba… get upba…wasn’t that a great ad for Orangina??? Can you remember without thinking to hard, was it really an Orangina ad???)

If you think about it, it is hard to come up with more than a few examples of ads that are information led.  As a result everyone tries to spread their message by more and more and ever more placement which eventually spirals into giant screens screaming out to you KFC’s offers of the moment.  Because bombardment and not actual education has become the goal of the advertising industry, the industry looks for more and more ways to throw their brands.  If advertising allowed for 33% branding content and 67% information I believe that both image and content.

So instead of having an educative value they rely on the rule that most people need to see a brand (anything for that matter) 26-28 times before it will stick in the long term memory.  But, now there seems to be a race to achieve that number rather than think about how the product or service is going to make our lives better.

City living gaurantees a certain amout of advertising: photo by the Viscountess

City living gaurantees a certain amout of advertising: photo by the Viscountess

I started out with the objective of an advertising embargo.  Realistically, living in the center of London I have had to cut that back to meet the demands of living in the center of a city like London.  Now, I have gotten about, what I think must be, 80% of advertising out of my life.  When I try something like this I always give it a 6-8 weeks to see if it really makes any difference to my life… like when I gave up meat, or diet cola etc.  Most of my experiments have yielded little in the way of a result that made me think it was worth continuing ie. becoming a vegetarian (which I did not because I love animals, but because I hate vegetables).   This experience has proven to me that there is more to life when I consume less advertising.

I know that advertising isn’t going anywhere but honestly, when does it all end?  When businesses start calling your house at all hours with recorded messages, adverts on your phone, in your email, in your snail mail, on the TV, on transport and park benches on the wall in front of your car as you park, airplanes drag banners and enormous CO2 omission across the sky, in planes, trains and automobiles, in the taxi, on the tube, buses, parks, T-shirts, magazines, condom machines, urinals, business cards, texts, websites, newspapers, your wardrobe, schools and educational materials, look at how the launch of BING made its way on to the television shows that we are watching that are no supposed to have product endorsements – C.S.I Miami to name just one example on the BING gravy train.   What is next?  Where do we go from here?  When you are wiping your ass with toilet paper endorsed by hemorrhoid cream?  Is that exaggeration?  Ask yourself how deep and intimate advertising already is in your life, before you think I am losing the plot.

Manchurian Candidate from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Manchurian Candidate from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

I, for one, am going to monitor what advertising what comes into my life and continue to ignore the vast majority of it.  I have had enough.   It is getting crazy.  And given what we know about subliminal messages how can anyone ever really say in this day and age that The Manchurian Candidate is a work of fiction?

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising, Consumerism, English, Fasting, Goals, Hypocrisy, Journalism, Marketing, Media