Saturday, 27 February 2010

Amazon A-No-Go

Well, as expected I didn't get selected for the second round of the book contest, but that was hardly a surprise. A rush job at best on my part in order just to get the full submission in on time, from looking at the number of next-round contestants it would appear that selection was based pretty much on who could come up with the most intriguing 300-character storyline pitch.

In other words, this part of the filtering process is more about marketing than anything literary, where a snappy title and a few buzzwords are probably all that could be required to fox the panel. Good luck to those who made it through, but I do get the feeling that an awful lot of rather good stuff has probably fallen by the wayside simply because the writer wasn't quite able to come up with the kind of advertising tag-lines that seem to be required nowadays.

Which has made me think, that the marketing side of FB hasn't quite been allocated as much time and attention as the works deserve. It's all very well knowing that the stuff is out there for the world to see - and copies are selling, now and again - but I do still need to do more. Everyday I get a Spambox filled with junk from US-based businesses trying to screw cash out of me for book promotion, guaranteeing me reviews in high-brow publications and exposure to trade: all for a price, of course (in USD, via credit card). This is the backside of promotion, where it's assumed that somebody vain and rich enough to publish their own book is also willing to be ripped off blind for the possibility of "getting it noticed", for a price. I have no doubt that "the Trade" are perfectly well aware of such companies and how they operate, and I don't believe for a minute that they treat many, if any, books which come via those channels on the same level as real-world published works - in much the same way that all known "Vanity Presses" are blacklisted by stores worldwide. (On a side note, Vanity Publishing - paying a third party, usually on the strength of exuberent promises, to publish and promote a book used to be equated with self-publishing - simply going it alone. In the last 10 years, the advent of DTP, DIY web-publishing and POD services have helped to distinguish between the sharks, and the writer-creators).

With more works planned for later this year, and FB also looking to branch out into other media, marketing is going to be big on the agenda. How much promotion and marketing is enough? To be honest, there's probably never enough. There are always new avenues and openings to be explored, though finding the balance between being a laid-back lazybones and a pushy nuisance probably takes trial and error. I feel awkward about pushing my work at people I know, and slightly intimidated doing the same to total strangers. It's not easy, though I do understand the background theories of sales and promotion - possibly because it's my works that I'm pushing, for my own benefit, not somebody else's. Had I been busier with the promotional side of things up to this point, things may have turned out better with the Amazon contest - I would already have had a half-dozen juicy pitches, tag-lines, and 2-line soundbite Tweets or Twits or whatever the hell you call the things people post on that website, all good to go and geared up for grabbing the attention.

But nobody said going it alone was easy...

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Of Books, and More

Taking a break from commissions and artwork for a moment (okay, for a whole day...), Mr. Chaz decided to get back to basics and get some more Wolfish "product" out there. The old shop has had a new batch of stock added, including greetings cards featuring lowbrow comic characters Arf and Mo in their first piece of merchandise their debut small-press comic of 2001 (at the Fenriswulf shop, here). This is but the beginning of what Chaz is intending to be Arf and Mo's renaissance year, with the duo's comic strips repackaged and rebound for a whole new audience (insofar as there was ever an old audience...). Art prints and other items featuring one-off characters and concepts are also up for sale there, and more will be added in months to come. The limitation of the free cafepress store is that we can only produce one design of any particular item. If sales allow, we will consider looking at a premium package but at the moment, overheads need to be kept to a minimum. I'm a bit bummed that cafepress don't have lower prices, but I'm still shopping around for the best long-term deals.

This month we notched up another couple of US sales of "Maranatha", not long before entering that same book in's Breakthrough Novel Award, a contest for unpublished and self-published works. It may not make the grade as all the supporting material for the entry was written and thrown together the night before the closing date, finding out about it only by chance while cleaning out my spam email folder. Still, never having previously considered entering any such competitions in the past, it gave me the idea of actively looking for more in future.

In other news, Mr. Frang, Fenriswulf artist and contributor to the "Surfeit of Mandrake" anthology, has joined Chaz on his commercial commision adventures due to the arrival of an unexpected, but rather welcome, deadline. So everyone has been busy with artwork of late, and the end of March may see a little relaxation and the commencement of some serious work on the Arf & Mo volume for production.

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