A message for the fan(s)

We’ve established what this is all about. I’m writing for no one (I’ll keep banging on at that one until I have evidence to the contrary) in order to build some sort of a base. Why do I need a base? Because I’m trying to sell books. Why am I trying to sell books? Uh, for fame, money and prestige, I guess. Stop asking me questions.

I wrote a book and now I need to cultivate an audience for it. The clever people offering guidance on this sort of thing say you have to have a social media presence and you have to blog. Build a base, throw them some crumbs now and then and they’ll be loyal followers and buy your book. Okay, sounds reasonable.

The thing is this: how do you get on that merry-go-round? No one has heard of my book, so why should they seek out this blog? And no one has heard of this blog, so why should they seek out the book? Well, before you get to thinking it’s like some wise Chinese proverb the plain dumb answer has to be you just jump on. Build it and they will come, as it were.

My book, Ephialtes – available for pre-order on Amazon and worth every last penny – has had some sort of a web presence since around 22 June this year. That’s when I put it on Amazon and made a Facebook page and Twitter account. Of course, that was starting from absolutely nowhere. No prior publicity, nothing to provoke interest. Just a book from another schmuck throwing his hat into the ring.

An I idea I had to drum up interest was to write a short story retelling one or two scenes from the novel from the perspective of a very minor character (think one of those guys in an orange jump-suit from an early eighties Bond movie). I did that, and used KDP Select to list the story as free for a few days. Thirty copies of it were ‘sold’ during the free promotion, which I was pleased with. Going from a standing start, it seemed like pretty good going.

Of course, I tweeted about the promotion and put in on the Facebook page (which has six likes. Six!). And I paid Amazon to run an ad campaign for it, which was stopped soon after due to ‘low relevance.’

Which, if any, of these things worked I don’t know. But on 14 July someone placed a pre-order for Ephialtes on Amazon.com. I’m English, based in the UK. I had two pre-orders already (a couple of blokes from work), but this third one was from America. I don’t know any Americans – not ones who are based in America, anyway. So this pre-order had to be from a total stranger. Someone who, for whatever reason, looked at the Amazon page for Ephialtes and thought, ‘I think I’ll get that.’ That seems almost incredible to me, and I feel a bit humbled by it.

So the merry-go-round may be starting to turn. So slow as you might not notice it yet, but it has turned just that little bit. And maybe someone might read these words and be intrigued, and that might turn it just that tiny bit more.

Could you describe someone as a fan, just because they bought one unknown book on the off-chance? Because it serves my purposes I’m going to say yes. And since I now have at least one fan (by my very slack definition, anyway) there’s something I need to say to them / her / him.

Thanks, fan(s). You’re what it’s all about.

So, what happened, again?

I’m writing this because I feel I have to. No, it’s not a question of unburdening my restless soul, it’s just that the beast demands content.

I decided a while back that I am a writer. I thought I’d write a book. I chose the sci-fi genre as I thought I could get away with doing minimal research. My book is set in the twenty-third century, so anything that appears ‘wrong’ can just be explained away like this: no, that’s right, in the twenty-third century. If I’m curating that fictional universe what I say goes. I did wonder, for a bit, about extending that idea to spelling, then I realised that would be pushing it too far (of course, they would spell that ‘two far’ in the future. The one I create, anyway).

I did some research, in the end. The book is partly set on a future Mars inhabited by humans, so I had to find out a bit about Mars; its history, geography and so forth. It was quite interesting to read about, and some of it made its way into the finished novel. I tried not to ladle it on too heavily. I came across that in another book I glanced through, like the author was resentfully spewing out all the damn Mars facts he could, because he’d had to research the damned thing and he was determined to put all that sunk time to work.

I arrived at the sci-fi genre and I thought up a story. Originally, I had an idea about a huge spacecraft that gets damaged and left adrift. Order inside breaks down as shortages and deprivations take hold, and it becomes a sort of hellish island in space. Elements of that idea remain in the novel I eventually wrote, but only at the periphery and to a hugely scaled back extent. My story became about a war of secession. I very, very loosely used the American Revolutionary War as a template, and transposed it to Mars.

I can’t remember how I developed the story. I wrote a long ‘history’ of future Mars exploration and development, and then refined the main story according to that. I do know that I had the major and minor plots before I had characters; they came towards the end of that process.

Once I added characters I found them subtlety reshaping the story, which is how it should be. And then, I began writing.

Fifteen months later I have a final draft (of course, it’s never final. There will be some sneakily evasive typos in there, I’m sure of it). Now I’m setting off into the publishing and publicity phase which, according to one guru I came across, should start three years before you begin writing. Oops!

So that’s what happened. I thought I’d be a writer, now I are one. Boof!

Hello to No One

They say you have to cultivate a readership by signing up to social media sites, tweeting and all the rest of that.  So I find myself here ‘blogging’, like its something I would naturally fall to do.

It isn’t.

The reason I’m here is to promote my book series, the Ephialtes Trilogy, and I  guess as part of that to promote myself.  I have to be honest, I wouldn’t be here otherwise.  The oddest thing about it is that, right now (and maybe right up to the bitter end) I know there is no one with the slightest interest in reading this stuff – I’m quite literally writing for nobody.

So here goes nothing.  Hello to no one.