I might not have said before but I come from a commercial back ground. In 2003, I sold a multi-million pound company and ran away to a remote farmhouse high in the Brecon Beacons. Writing started as a bit of fun. My first book was a business help book which I self published and distributed through seminars and on line, via Amazon. It was never cost effective because I didn’t regard the book as a proper business. From there, I progressed to writing a series of five walking books published by a mainstream publisher. The publisher was responsible for promoting and marketing the books so I sat back and waited for the royalties to pour in. Guess what? They didn’t. The first years royalties were just £174. It taught me a valuable lesson. Publishing through a mainstream publisher guarantees nothing. Unless you have a blockbuster and a publisher with a well connected marketing operation you will probably be disappointed. I have two more books committed to being published with a mainstream publisher but have decided to publish my first novel myself. To be truthful, I believe a well motivated author, proud of his book, will do a much better job of promotion. So without further ado, let me introduce, ‘Garnlwyd Publishing’ named after the farmhouse we live in, the new publishing company which will market my work. Garnlwyd Publishing has a massive team of staff; myself and my wife – she’s the one who says, ‘are you sure this is a good idea?’ and does the accounts.
Years ago, I learned that if you get the supply side right , cost price, quality and service, the rest of the business will follow, so the first thing we need to look at is where the books are coming from. Initially, I used lulu.com to print and distribute the paperback copy of ‘The Iron Masters’. Short print runs and free listing with retailers suited me. Their service is fast but has one flaw; the price. Shopping around I found a printer quoting £2.95 to print each copy of ‘The Iron Masters’ against nearly £6 which I was paying Lulu when buying 120 copies at a time. The drawback is I have to order a minimum of 1000 copies to get the better price, something I’m not prepared to do without being confident that retailers are prepared to take the book. If they are, I now have a book to offer that will give them and me a satisfactory profit margin. Profit is rarely discussed by writers. It’s almost a dirty word but I have moved on from writing as a hobby. From now on my writing is a business and to survive in business you must make a profit.
Armed with a copy of the book I began visiting key resellers. ‘The Iron Masters’ is a book that will appeal to people interested in Welsh history, particularly those visiting Wales, so I concentrated on holiday visitor centres, museum shops and tourist venues such as Brecon Steam Railway. The reactions were encouraging and I came home with a briefcase full of orders. The manager of one outlet gave me details of an organisation called ‘The Welsh Books Council’ who promote books about Wales and have a turnover exceeding £4m a year. I approached them and, after examining my book, they agreed to promote it through their sales team and placed an initial stock order for 50 books. Then I discovered two snags. The Welsh Books Council demand 55% discount and take 12 months credit. It’s decision time; whether or not to order 1000 books. If I don’t, the Welsh Books Council deal is unprofitable and everything unravels. The question is, do I have faith in my book? I placed the order for 1000 books this week.
A couple of weeks ago I emailed a press release and picture of myself to various newspapers and got some free publicity for ‘The Iron Masters’. If you’re interested here is a link to the press release. I sent out different versions to different newspapers. As a result, I got a number of enquiries including a particularly significant one, asking me to speak at a Rotary Club Dinner. I took a pop up display and enough books to cover a table with me and talked about my journey from novice writer to published author. I’m told the talk was well received and judging by the number of books sold, the evening was a success. There are 68 Rotary Clubs in South Wales who have now been offered my services as a guest speaker. Other organisations who are always looking out for speakers are Women’s Institutes, Probus (an organisation for retired business people) and an assortment of historical societies. I’m still looking for other similar organisations. My Tip of the week. Don’t hesitate, get stuck into your marketing. The old saying, ‘He who hesitates is lost,’ applies.
I’ve started collecting useful links and resources together here some free and other cost but they all have value. The list will continue to grow.
Next time I want to discuss the trick I discovered this week used by experts for using SEO (search engine optimisation) to get themselves to the top of the Amazon search pages and seen by readers. In the meantime, if you know anyone who may benefit from my blog please let them know about it. If you have any great ideas to share, want to add a comment, ask a question of suggest a topic please let me know and don’t forget to click the follow link to read future posts. I promise not to spam and will only post once a week with something worthwhile.