I was asked to provide a blog to Western Fictioneers the first Monday of every month during 2015. Since I had never hit that regularity with my own blog and since I wanted to be a good WF member, I committed. It took until last Tuesday — yes, after three-months notice, but six days to do the work — before I knew my topic. Obviously, my biggest challenge should be my topic. What I wrote is shown below. The blog had some graphics from this website, so I do not repeat them here, but if you want to take a look here.
In preparation to take up the first Monday of every month blog, I read prior WF blogs. I have read every December blog and I have set the year-long intention to read all 257 blogs from 2014 and the current ones. December blogs averaged 879 words. Two-years worth will amount to some 520,000 words, 5 or 6 Western Fictioneers’ novels! A massive array of topics and approaches led to the question: what am I going to take up on my first Monday? To zip through the reasoning process, I am going to take up an Odyssey – my quest to market my books and build a brand. I am not all that sure I want to become a marketeer, I already have as much as I can handle in trying to become a good writer of novels. At the moment, between Scylla and Charybdis seems to be my only choice.
I count it lucky that the blog is the first Monday of every month. One of the principles to establish for myself and this blog is to use the first Monday of very month to review what we will do this month and this year to market our work and promote our brand. “Do” for our purposes means: create the marketing plan, implement the marketing plan, and reap the results. I invite you to watch over my shoulder, share your ideas and suggestions, and participate all along the way. As Tom Rizzo said in one of his blogs, consider this a participatory blog. In the Comments section below, leave your questions, recommendations, stories, and tips.
Create the Marketing Plan. It could be that a few may read this blog who have the same problem. I have no idea how many writers, particularly Western Fictioneers writers, know how to market the work, sell the books, and write the next one, keeping all tasks miraculously in balance. Probably many of you are out there. I have met at least one of you – well, one pair of you: Kat and L.J. Martin.
Anyway, a year has passed since I responded to Cheryl’s request for a Friday Five. I had no idea, then, how much would happen in the year. About that time, I had a manuscript out to two publishers – eerily similar to my current situation. A month later, Pen-L Publishing committed to publish Every Soul Is Free. Duke and Kimberly Pennell fulfilled their promise to get it published in time for my 50th Reunion last May. I created an ambitious marketing plan that touched all the bases.
Caveat before we go any further: It is more likely that I will be learning from you than vice versa. Along the way, I will try hard to pass along information that I have found helpful (like James Altucher’s podcast with Hugh Howey). My suspicion is that the most helpful information I will turn up will help authors who self-publish, publish with print-on-demand publishers or independent publishers. Since I despair at the prospect, I doubt anything I turn up will help my readers crack the agented and New York publishing house market.
As Charlie Steel so adroitly observed of us as a group, I am one of “us [who] are old.” You might have guessed that with the 50th Reunion reference. For the most part of my life, I did business things. Now that I am in the business of writing I am not at all opposed to author effort. In fact, I welcome it. What I find impossible is coming up with the marketing ideas, channel pursuits, and implementation as well as writing and doing the author effort. I realize that I have been given handbooks and suggestions that, somehow, did not take.
Implement the Marketing Plan: Seven post-publication months have, so far, rolled out from days measured by four hours of joyous writing, two hours of consulting work that pays the mortgage, and four hours of terror and torture that defines my afternoon and my efforts to market my book and build my brand. Six days a week! (Not on Tuesdays because of work to pay the mortgage and not on the weekend because Anne thinks the weekend should look different from the weekday, so only the morning hours of joyous writing go on Saturday and Sunday.)
After three months, I realized I could not do it myself. So, I tried my hand at hiring somebody who would do all the tasks and set up the opportunities for me to come in and make the sale, read the book, give the talk, or sing and dance, whatever it took. They couldn’t do it either.
Reap the results: Website (www.edwardmasseybooks.com); Social media (Facebook, twitter, linked-in accounts); Book store (Barnes and Noble, New Haven (1)); Marketing materials (Cards, postcards, bookmarks); Book club presentations (Connecticut (1)); Evening of reading and discussion (18 high school classmates in Utah (1)); Outreach (Proposals to County School Board re literature from local high school graduates); Award (League of Utah Writers’ Gold Quill for Best Novel Published in 2014; Talk (Providence Art Club: the “Nexus of History and Fiction”(1)); Interview (Emil Franzi on “Voices of the West”; Podcast (Entrepreneur on Fire.); Theme based marketing (Proposals to 3 organizations to promote their themes based on Every Soul Is Free); e-mails and Press Releases (3 blast-e-mails and signed up for PR Wire and BusWire); initiatives that led nowhere (innumerable characterized by no call back.)
This list is in this format because I could not manage the WF blog software, but it is here, at all, because it is the whole list of my marketing results.
That four hours of joyous writing did result in completing my third novel and I am very happy with it. It is not a Western; it would not qualify under the Peacemaker or the Spur Award rules, but it is set in the west and it deals with what I think the west is all about – a man’s values and how he balances career with commitment to family and community. A publisher has shown an interest. The way he expressed his interest was to tell me to submit the full manuscript along with my marketing plan. So, this blog has some real-life meaning.
What Charlie Steel further pointed out is how prolific some WF authors are with 60 to 600 books and a few 35s and even some 10s and 20s thrown in. I think the clear conclusion from Hugh Howey to Charlie Steel is that if you have to choose between marketing and writing. Write! So, although the goal of this year’s blog will be to lay out the program and focus on how to make it happen, the fallback position will always be – end the torture and write!
One learning I have already achieved (by reading all the WF blogs) is that the reason for doing a blog is to get to the end where you make a pitch for your books and your brand. Every single one of them did it. I am cheered.
One of the tasks this blog will force is work on my bio. Here is the starting point: Edward has published a novel, Telluride Promise, five short stories, and Every Soul Is Free. Telluride Promise gained the quarterfinals in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. The League of Utah Writers named Every Soul Is Free the Grand Prize winner for best novel published in 2014, awarding Edward the Gold Quill. His third novel is finished and he is at work on his fourth.
All social media accounts set up but not really working. Implementing them will be part of this blog.