Marketing in Shorts …

Don’t panic … the shorts in question are of course short stories.

How do you market in shorts?

A good question and I’m glad you asked. If you don’t already write short stories you have a couple of straightforward options:

1. You could opt not to try your hand at writing them.

If you choose this option, then I believe you are missing out on what can be an enjoyable writing discipline, and also a wonderful training ground for tightening your regular creative fiction.

2. You could try writing short stories, put them out there for folk to review, and when you think you’ve got the hang of it, compile an anthology of your work.

In which case, depending on the time available for writing, if you care about the quality of your output it might take anything from months to years.

3. You could look at a short story as a way of attracting readers to your name, and then your longer work.

This is my favourite choice, and not only because I get involved, but because I get to help fellow indie writers to get their name and their writing in the public eye.

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Where do we go from here?

A Time for Courage - 1Another good question.

I have recently mentioned in this blog and on my author website about my intention to produce two themed anthologies. The first will be sci-fi stories, and the second will be military stories.

At the moment, my intention is to publish the sci-fi collection in January 2016, and the military collection in March 2016.

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How do I fit another story into my present writing workload?

Oh, how I love the easy questions. Prepare yourself for a simple writing exercise.

Stop reading at the end of this sentence and write down the first idea that comes to mind for a sci-fi themed story.

Okay, I know most of you wouldn’t have taken the opportunity, but that’s how easy it is to get started, or on the other hand to miss an opportunity. You’re sorry you didn’t do it now, aren’t you? Yes, I thought so. I’m going to give you another chance, but with a twist – so be careful. Let your mind run free before you read on.

Are you ready?

When you get to the end of this sentence, write down the first idea that comes to mind for a military / armed forces themed story.

I know it took a couple of minutes, but for those of you who took the opportunity the second time, I’m pleased for you. Leave your new ‘idea’ aside, but we’ll be coming back to it.

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I’ve found ‘opportunity’ a key factor in creative writing. As writers we may:

1. Write about anything.

2. Write short pieces, or long pieces.

3. Write when we can, or only when we really feel the pull.

(Personally, this is every second that I don’t have a coffee in hand, but I’ve now mastered holding my cup in my left hand).

4. We can choose to write whatever we enjoy and tell nobody.

5. We can also choose to establish ourselves by taking every route available to get our name, and our work out there.

The list is endless.

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Hey, what about fitting a short story into my workload?

A few minutes ago some of you wrote down an idea. Yes, I realise only some of you did.

Let’s say you enjoy producing a quality piece of work, so you occasionally leave it aside. It might be after a paragraph, a chapter, or at some other point, but you will leave it aside to let your mind refresh and revitalise.

During those ‘breaks’ of minutes, days, or even weeks is when you could take the opportunity to work on something different to your primary work in progress (WIP).

1. A short story is a good way to do this.  The Welcome

2. A short story is not too taxing on time.

3. It can be left aside without worry.

4. It will improve each time you come back.

5. It’s still creative writing.

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The more astute among you will now see that we’ve come full circle and we’re heading back to my two anthologies. If you would like to make use of an opportunity please read on, and make notes where you deem it necessary.

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Guidelines for anyone interested in inclusion in one of my next collections:

1. Guest authors should be members** of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group on Facebook.

2. Stories must be a maximum of 3,500 words.

3. Stories should be completed to final edit and submitted to me by the following dates:

31st December 2015 – for inclusion in the sci-fi themed collection.

29th February 2016 – for inclusion in the military themed collection.
(If there is interest but the timing is too tight, I’ll be happy to extend both deadlines).

4. Copyright will remain with individual authors for their stories.

5. Any author who contributes will have the opportunity to include a short bio (50 words), and two hyperlinks of their choice, to be added after their story.

(Please remember, there is no requirement to have been an astronaut, an alien, or have served in the armed forces).

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However this article has left you feeling, I sincerely hope it’s made you consider writing short stories, and reconsider how often we as writers let opportunities slip away …

Thank you for reading.

Tom

**I reserve the right to add a new indie author who is not yet a member of the IASD.

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The Wallpaper Effect – Part 1 of 2

WallpaperWhere am I going today with my opinion?

Marketing, and more importantly – self-marketing.

I’ll explain ‘The Wallpaper Effect’ later in this short post, but before we get there I’d like to address what is probably one of the biggest headaches for indie writers.

An indie writer spends months, or perhaps a year or more working on a book. My average is between eight months and a year for a novel, and longer for a book of twelve short stories.

Having taken every care to get the book ready for the world, the writer is then hit with a variety of issues.

Where to publish?
What price to sell the work?
Where to advertise?
How often to advertise?
Produce it in paperback?

That is a short list, but I think long enough to make my point, so let’s move on.

There are those who believe (as I once did), that we should get the book written, publish it, and then plug it at every opportunity, on every available social network, and as often as possible.

I am not an expert, but trust me – that is not the way to go.

Why not?

There my dear reader is where I believe ‘The Wallpaper Effect’ presents itself.

The book is seen so often that it effectively becomes a ‘regular’ sight, so rather than attracting attention – it is ignored. Think of it as negative marketing.

Where did I come up with this theory?

I will use two previous careers to demonstrate my point.

We’ll look at ‘blending in’ versus ‘standing out’.

1 – In my military career, I had to ‘conceal’ my large radio truck in woodland by ensuring I broke up the square edges and straight lines with camouflage. I made it blend in, so it wasn’t seen. If I was on foot, I’d camouflage myself so that I blended in – unseen.

It was desirable to have The Wallpaper Effect.

2 – I now work a couple of days a week as a sales assistant, but before stepping down – for twenty years I was a retail manager, and for five of those years I worked as a ‘support’ manager.

My role encompassed many aspects of the trade, but one challenging area was pointing out to store managers why an in-store display or window display didn’t produce sales. Sometimes it was just badly done – but in many cases it was the ‘wallpaper effect’.

The display had been the same for so long that it became invisible. It had once caught the eye, but sadly no longer.

It was not desirable to have The Wallpaper Effect.

I’d suggest changes were made – and the product caught the eye once again – and sold.

Changes don’t have to be drastic, but we’ll cover that in Part 2 with regards to self-marketing for indie writers.

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In Part 2 of this post, which will be with you in a couple of days, I’ll write about my most recent (and successful) strategy. I will also mention a couple of ideas I’ve incorporated into that strategy.

How do I judge ‘success’?

During the past month I’ve had five days when I had no sales. I’m not big on statistics but I thought I’d throw in that small one. Okay, so I suppose that’s no big deal, but it gives my morale a boost.

For now, in summary I would suggest to the daily, blanket coverage, campaigner – ease off a bit, relax – and get onto your next title. Yes, still go for blanket coverage, but only once a week.

If you want to see what type of hornet’s nest can be stirred up when dealing with this topic, please check out fellow author and blogger Andy Updegrove‘s article.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again on Wednesday or Thursday.

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P.S. How subtle is that graphic at the top!  😀