For my action plan, please keep scrolling down.
I recorded my thoughts as I went along, including the exercises I've completed so far:
Ideal reader exercise, book description, and author bio.
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This is my first foray into publishing fiction, so this is quite a challenge working out the angles, especially related to media pitching, but I'll give it a go!
I have 2 non-fiction books published on my specialist subject (dressage training) and I've done a fair bit of marketing of those, from carrying them with me everywhere I go and selling to anyone with even the slightest interest who will stand still long enough for me to beat them over the head with why they need them, to arranging book signings, and leaving postcards at appropriate venues. My publisher did the media side (for the most part) although as a regular contributor to one magazine I arranged my own features with them.
So I have some experience as a non-fiction expert. As a writer of fantasy action adventure, I have no such credentials. And fantasy, but its nature, doesn't lend itself to the usual angles of location, time, or anything else grounded in the real world. So I'm open to any suggestions!
THE PRINCE'S MAN is a fast-paced action adventure fantasy about two spies discovering that it's not what they do or their surface personas that define who they are, but the real personalities they have hidden beneath the shells they've built to survive their damaged lives.
The back cover blurb (still not finalised):
Award winning novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN, has been described as ‘James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’ - a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.
Rustam Chalice, hedonist, dance tutor, gigolo and spy, loves his life. So when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master, Prince Hal, teams him up with a beautiful assassin who despises him.
Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god - and each other.
They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.
For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.
This novel won a UK Arts Board award (a one week residential writing course) and gained me an agent in the US, but eventually went on the backburner as it still didn't sell. Hence the decision to publish it myself.
I'm planning on a summer release, and am currently working my way through Laura's 3 month checklist ebook in preparation.
So, the project.
1. Ideal reader exercise. Yep, going to do that now.
2. Book description. Working on it (see above). I downloaded Mark Edwards' 'How to Write a Sizzling Book Description' months ago, and I'm still wrestling with it.
3. Cover, title, subtitle. I'm going to leave this one aside for now - my cover is almost done (picture above is where we were at a few weeks ago) and I'm happy with how its coming along.
4. Author Bio. I write my non-fiction books under my own name (Debby Lush), but I'm using a pen name (Deborah Jay)for my fiction, so I need a competely new bio, and will need a second Amazon Author Central, so this one is definitely on my 'to do' list.
5. Media angles. This is the one that's giving me headaches, but I feel I need to have a go at it. So far my thoughts are around the appeal this novel may have to Lord of the Ring fans, and with the high visibility of The Hobbit from the recent and impending films, I think I should chase down this angle, maybe including the New Zealand link (where the films are made), having just been there on a LOTR pigrimage!
6. Media page/kit. Never did this for my non-fiction, so I need to start from scratch, but as I want to find reviewers/bloggers/magazine/website coverage, this will be time worth spending and something I feel I can do without collapsing with stress!
7. List out dream coverage. Connected to the above. Likely to be a short list!
Beyond this I'm a bit hampered by the fact the book is not yet out there, but that's 5 definite and one 'ish' that I might or might not include in my final list once I've chosen from the Week 2 menu.
So here is my ideal reader's journal entry:
Entry in the journal of Jane Smith, 26, legal secretary, SWF, still looking for ‘the one’.
Seriously boring day at work. Again. I want some excitement in my life.
Plans for the weekend: take my pony for a little ride – thank goodness I never grew too tall as I’ve had her since I was 14 and she isn’t very big. She’s only up for a little light hacking these days but it’ll be nice if the weather holds.
Then on to meet Karen for a good long walk, maybe even a bit of a scramble if the promised rain doesn’t arrive, and the peaks stay visible – I’ve been lost once in fog and I’ve no intention of doing it again.
That load of exercise will help work up a great appetite and then, yes! Indulgence time! Time to ditch the diet for the weekend.
Chicken Korma – found a new recipe I want to try out. And then I’m going to light the fire and curl up with a movie. The Hobbit or James Bond? I just wish Mr. Bond would show some character development. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Or even the extended version of Lord of the Rings?
Whatever, it’ll go down well with wine and chocolate.
And so, to bed. With a good book, of course.
My job is boring, and the real world is so often tragic – I want to be entertained. I want a gorgeous man to drool over (seeing as I can’t find one elsewhere) and a beautiful but unassailable woman, who needs him to jump through all the hoops I’d love to set, just to be really sure he loved me. Of course, in the end they’ll have to get together – but only at the very end.
I want to be transported to a world far from this mundane one, rich with princes and princesses, horses and dragons, history and magic – something completely different to my everyday life. I want to lose myself in their exciting, lavish lives, and if they have to suffer along the way, so be it – I want to watch them develop and change, I want to be there when they discover they have abilities they never knew, that they have secret histories, that they are not who they always thought they were. I want to see treachery and fighting, and an impossible goal that there is no way they can achieve, and yet they’re going to. And I’m going to be surprised and awed by how they do it – before that final kiss, of course.
Mmm. Can’t wait.
Phrases from Ideal Reader exercise to use in marketing
My job is boring, and the real world is so often tragic – I want to be entertained
I want a gorgeous man to drool over
I want to be transported to a world far from this mundane one,
I want to lose myself in their exciting, lavish lives
Not an original idea, I know, but I decided I needed some sort of system to organise my marketing priorities.
Until now, things got written on a piece of paper and filed in a stack on my desk. They then disappeared under the next items added, and only re-appeared when I thought of them, or tidied my desk (not a common event).
Clearing out a spare room the other day, I came across a cork board. I knew I'd find a use for it somewhere, so instead of going into the skip, it came into my office. It skulked around for a few weeks until - hey presto! I have a use for it!
I've written down individual items that I must action, and pinnned them on. They're easy to move around, so will rise up the board as priorities when I've dealt with those already at the top.
And now I have no excuses - because I can't bury them :)
MAGIC, ACTION, SECRETS...
Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
She shares her life with a pack of dogs and a couple of horses she competes in dressage. Her love for good food is kept in check by the need to button up her tailcoat, and her complete inability to cook. Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands.
The Prince’s Man is her debut novel, the first in a trilogy and winner of a UK Arts Board award. She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published under the name Debby Lush.
Find out more about Deborah at www.deborahjay.wordpress.com or follow Deborah on twitter @DeborahJay2 .
12. Making blogging go further - yes, definitely on my list. I started blogging less than a month ago, but already getting some good reactions. I've started tweeting links to blogposts on days other than the first couple after I put them up and seen an increase in traffic. Will investigate the WP plugin to automate this.
13. Guest posting - again, that's a yes. I have two guests posts lined up, and will start to enlarge upon this by seeking places rather than waiting to be asked.
14. Mailing list - this will be one for a later date for me, as I have only just started my blog and I'm still getting to grips with WP. I do have the 'follow me' widget but that's as far as I've got and I have other issues to settle with the site just now.
15, 16 & 17 Local, and causes etc. Not really relevant to this particular novel.
18. Tagline - yes yes yes! Working on it!
19. Twitter - I'd love to cheat, but it wouldn't help me any. I am already in love with Twitter and my following grows daily, so not claiming this as one of my 10.
20. Paid ads - will instigate once my book is published - have done some preliminary research, but not including in my 3 month plan as no book to advertise yet.
21. Easy tweaks - yup, plenty here I can tackle.
Finalised Action Plan
1. Ideal reader exercise - done
2. Book description - just deciding if this is done. Will complete 1st week of May
3. Author Bio - done
4. Working out media angles - scheduled for 2nd week May
5. Media page/kit - scheduled for 3rd and 4th week of May
6. Get reviews - book will be ready for formatting by end of May, start approaching potential reviewers 1st week of June.
7. Make your blogging go further - work on scheduling notification of blog posts - as soon as I have a moment! Still learning the Wordpress ropes. Task for 2nd/3rd weeks of June.
8. Guest posting - Have 2 guest posts agreed, will discuss content and timing next week. Start reciprocating and finding both inbound and outbound blogspots once a month at first, then review as nearing publication.
9. Tagline - My thoughts are above - magic, action, secrets - but I will spend more time considering how to showcase these in a catchy way, including investigate on the 'associated tagwords' search I've just discovered suggested in one of the marketing books I'm reading concurrent with this class. Will also canvas my Twitter followers. Plan on making final decision at latest by the end of June.
10. Easy tweaks - Check which of these are in place and implement all those that aren't: URL to email signature/on all social media profiles; check ease of contact on blog and website (currently under discussion with a designer), then once TPM is published, add buy buttons all over the site. Also check and add more buy buttons to my professional site for my trad published non-fiction titles. Last 2 weeks of July to cover all these bits.
11. Something new! - Although I took this course with the goal of learning how to market my self-published fiction, it has made me rethink the situation with my non-fiction titles. I carry them with me when I work and sell them directly, and some venues where I work keep a stock for sale. However, I long since ran out of the postcards provided by my publisher, so I have decided to design and have printed double sided leaflets (one book on each side) which I can leave at all the many other places I go where they are only avaliable when I'm there. These 2 hardbacks sell steadily at about 200 a year for each title, but perhaps I can increase that with more direct marketing. I have scheduled this for ahead of the easy tweaks, in the first 2 weeks of July, as I already have an established product to market.
Finally - after 3 months, review what I have accomplished, see what can be further refined or added in once TPM is published, and set a new schedule for the next 3 months.
So that's my action plan - open to revision on timescale, I may yet swap a few items around (using my patented cork board device!) to fit in with my novel release schedule, but at least I have the steps I am going to take confirmed.