Marketing a Book on Youtube – Part Two

I’m going to be using Youtube to help drive pre-orders/awareness/buzz and other such marketing jargon for my forthcoming novel The Crow Folk. Between now and publication in February, myself and Youtube marketing guru Jeremy Mason will be chronicling my endeavours (here’s episode one if you missed it).

In this second episode, Jeremy inspects my Youtube channel homepage and tears it a new one (though since recording I have followed his advice and spruced it up considerably). We discuss why banner art, playlists, captions and links are so important on Youtube.

We also discuss…

The importance of NetGalley and Goodreads.

Why early reviews are critical and how to get them.

How to use Facebook groups to find your tribe.

Investing in cover art, using keywords and much more!

Sit back and enjoy…

The Little People Movie Has Wrapped

The news is out! The Little People has wrapped and the cast has been announced.

And what a cast: Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp, The Stranger), Douglas Booth (The Limehouse Golem, Loving Vincent), Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien!!!), Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (Derry Girls), Chris Walley (Young Offenders) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor!!) — The press release left off Niamh Cusack (Heartbeat), who is a bit of a legend in our house*.

And what a crew! The magnificent Jon Wright is directing (and we worked on the script together and it’s one of the happiest writing gigs of my life). Producer Piers Tempest optioned the script in March and suddenly we were shooting in September – just incredible.

I was only set for a few days, but I can tell you that cast and crew were working in the most extraordinary circumstances, under strict Covid guidelines, but they were tireless, always professional, courteous and good humoured. I’ve been able to watch the dailies and assemblies and they’ve knocked it out of the park. It looks incredible, the acting is sublime, and I can’t wait for you to see it.

IMDB has most of the cast and crew here… Have a look at some of their previous credits. Here be legends.

*When I was about 17 my aunt Marion wrote to Niamh asking for advice for a young actor (me!)… and Niamh replied with words of encouragement. It meant so much to me and I was delighted to be able to tell Niamh when we met on set.

The Crow Folk are on NetGalley

There’s no escaping The Crow Folk! They’re now on NetGalley, so if you’re a subscriber you can read my new book right now by clicking here. Enjoy!!

Click Here to find The Crow Folk on NetGalley

A New Mad Challenge! — Marketing a Book on Youtube

You know how I like a ridiculous writing challenge (see last year’s disastrous attempt to sell a thousand copies of The End of Magic by burning money on Amazon ads), well here’s the latest… As you may know, my new book The Crow Folk will be published in February 2021, and I’m going to be using Youtube to drive awareness/pre-orders and good vibes.

I’ve been spurred on by my old chum Jeremy Mason, a filmmaker of great talent and experience, who has been dabbling in the dark arts of Youtube Marketing. He will be my guide and we’ll be chronicling this in real time over the next three-and-a-bit months.

If you’re a writer who wants to use Youtube to build your readership, then grab your popcorn and join us on this adventure. It could end in glory, or be another of my celebrated car crashes…

The Crow Folk Book Trailer

Thanks to Kai Newton for the camera and edit, Dominic Currie for the music, Emily Stay for directorial assistance, and George Stay for putting on the costume in such stifling heat. And apologies for my scary lockdown hairdo…

Transcript (or click on the Youtube CC button for subtitles):

“England June 1940. Three bickering witches are the only thing standing between us and the evil forces of the supernatural. Oh, and there’s a war on. The Witches of Woodville chronicles the wartime adventures of three witches. Faye Bright is an apprentice who learns about magic from a book left by a late mother. She’s helped by the prim and proper Mrs Teach and the enigmatic Miss Charlotte, and they all live in the village of Woodville, deep in the heart of the Kent countryside. The village is besieged by the Crow Folk. Living scarecrows led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead. Faye must unite the Witches of Woodville,using her magic, wits and some aggressive church bell-ringing. The witches will argue and drive each other mad, but they will remain resolute as our last defence against supernatural evil.”

And here’s where you can order it in paperback and eBook (audio will be coming too!)…

Waterstones UK

The Book Depository for free international postage and packing

Support your local UK indie bookshop and order from The Hive

Blackwells

Amazon UK

Kobo

Apple

A note for readers in the USA and Canada:

We haven’t sold the North American rights yet, so your best bet is to order via The Book Depository. They offer free postage and packing worldwide.

Stay tuned for more reveals about the book soon!!

The Crow Folk are coming…

My new book The Crow Folk is coming on 4th February 2021, and here’s the gorgeous artwork…

Here’s the blurb…

For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett comes this delightful novel of war, mystery and a little bit of magic…

As Spitfires roar overhead and a dark figure stalks the village of Woodville, a young woman will discover her destiny…

Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations… a witch’s notebook.

And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities. 

Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. Armed with little more than her mum’s words, her trusty bicycle, the grudging help of two bickering old ladies, and some aggressive church bellringing, Faye will find herself on the front lines of a war nobody expected.

Fall in love with the extraordinary world of Faye Bright – it’s Maisie Dobbs meets The Magicians

And here’s where you can order it in paperback and eBook (audio will be coming too!)…

Waterstones UK

The Book Depository for free international postage and packing

Support your local UK indie bookshop and order from The Hive

Blackwells

Amazon UK

Kobo

Apple

A note for readers in the USA and Canada:

We haven’t sold the North American rights yet, so your best bet is to order via The Book Depository. They offer free postage and packing worldwide.

Stay tuned for more reveals about the book soon!!

Rewrites ago-go (and other updates from the writing desk)

You may recall that I have a movie on the way! The last few months have seen some fun and frantic rewrites prompted by the usual pre-production budget and scheduling shenanigans. During all this I’ve seen concept art, storyboards, set designs, creatures and all kinds of exciting stuff. I’m hoping to be on set soon (once I get my COVID test results) and I reckon I might have some fun stuff to reveal to you all… 

New Books…

Apologies for being so cagey, but I do have a new book series on the go… It hasn’t officially been announced yet, so I’m not how much I should tell you, but if you were to, say, click here you might find out a little more…

I’ve just finished a draft of the second book in the series and it’s going out to a couple of trusted readers for their brutal feedback. I’ve also been shooting a trailer for the first book in the series. I hope it conveys the fun spookiness of the books, though I suspect the scariest thing in it is my lockdown hairdo. Here’s a still from the video and I hope to have the finished edit for you soon…

“Keep ’em peeled…”

The Bestseller Academy

The other thing that’s been keeping me off the streets is The Bestseller Academy. The brainchild of my co-presenter and m’learned colleague Mr Mark Desvaux the academy is a mix of craft and inner game coaching based on everything we’ve learned in nearly four years of the podcast. Our first intake is completely full, but if you want to know more you can sign-up with no obligation here…

Speaking of the Bestseller Experiment podcast, we’ve had a great run of guests recently, including Sadie Jones, James Swallow, Adele Parks, Rachel Winters and Patreon Deep Dives with Caimh McDonnell, Paul Ardoin and more. Have a listen and get inspired!

What’s Been Keeping Me Sane… 

Books

I’m still doing a lot of comfort reading and I dipped back into Pratchett again with GOING POSTAL, a book I didn’t really enjoy first time round. This was released at peak Pratchett, with two or three books coming out a year, plus spin-offs, and I think I took them for granted and whizzed through them. I gave it the time is deserved and it was a much more enjoyable read. Worryingly prescient too, what with certain orange-hued world leaders tinkering with the post office…

I was partly inspired to re-read Going Postal by Marc Burrows’ excellent biography The Magic of Terry Pratchett, which really reinvigorated my love of the man’s writing. Highly recommended if you’re a fan.

I also really enjoyed Ian W Sainsbury’s Bedlam Boy series. Released as three novellas in quick succession these are pacy and super violent and grimly satisfying.

Film & TV

I loved the first episode of Lovecraft Country, which ticks so many boxes for me: monsters, social commentary, monsters, a mysterious quest, monsters… I’ll definitely be watching more.

My son and I have been rewatching the James Bond films in order. Favourites so far are From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, and The Spy Who Loved Me. Octopussy is up next… ah well it was a good run.

Music

Did you know that Janelle Monáe write science fiction concept albums? I only just discovered the joys of Dirty Computer. This track is like Prince crashed the set of Tron and Bladerunner and I love it…

Neil Young’s Homegrown is a time capsule from his Harvest days and it’s truly magical…

And I’ve been brainstorming ideas to the score from Tales from the Loop by Paul Leonard-Morgan & Philip Glass. It’s as hypnotic as you’d expect…

Stay tuned…

Coming soon: shots from the set of The Little People, news on my book series, and a recipe for jam roly-poly. Tell your friends!

Till next time…

Mark

I Done Wrote Another Movie!

The Little People are coming…

BIG NEWS! My monster movie screenplay THE LITTLE PEOPLE is going to be a movie. I worked on the story with director Jon Wright (who I cannot praise and thank enough), and we have a dream team to make it. There’s more here in the Hollywood Reporter…

I’m Writing A Sequel (no, not that one)

I’ve got my writing groove back. After finishing a screenplay at the end of March I was feeling pretty knackered and then along came a certain pandemic (you may have seen some mention of it on the news) and it fairly took the wind out of my sails… but then I got some news that got me going again.
I can’t really say much about it other than it looks like I will have a book out next year — the beginning of a brand new series! — and it will be the first of three, if not more. And if you want some clue as what it’s about, here’s a pic of some of the books I’ve been reading for research…
Magic, war, pubs… this book will have it all!
The first book in the series is written and is currently getting the red pen treatment from the editor. In the meantime, I’m writing the sequel and, in a departure from my usual method, I’m writing by the seat of my pants. I’ve always been a big planner, but this time I decided to just, y’know, make it up as I go along… and I’m loving it! I blogged about it recently and you can read more here.

What’s Keeping Me Sane…

Books

I’ve re-read Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies, which I pretty much picked at random off the shelf. This is Discworld at its peak for me. Effortless to read, very funny and full of wisdom. I’ll be going back there again soon.

I’m about to start Gray Williams’ second novel Strange Ways. I really enjoyed his debut, The End of the Line, which was a cracking supernatural thriller and this promises to be even more intense, I mean look at that cover with the lightning and the fire and the pointy things…

Music

Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters is one of those albums where you can’t wait to learn all the lyrics so you can sing along with the same conviction she has. Righteous stuff.

For writing music, I’ve tapping along to Torin Borrowdale’s score for Locke & Key, and Anastasis by Dead Can Dance.

Film & TV

I’ve been re-watching long movies over two or three nights: MidsommarAmadeusOnce Upon A Time In Hollywood all benefit from an early night and regular loo breaks. I’m trying to convince Claire to watch The Irishman with me… that might take a few nights.

TV has been less challenging. Schitt’s Creek has been a comfort-watch. If you’ve tried and given up after the first season, do persevere. It’s a joy and the finale had me grinning like an idiot. And the most recent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is a major return to form. I know Larry is an acquired taste, but I love his wry and excruciating way of never knowing when to just shut up.

Oh, and I watched Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker for the first time since seeing it at the cinema (remember them?). I have thoughts here.

More News To Come…

Apologies again for being Captain Vague Pants, but I’m hoping to have more details on the book thing soon, as well news about a movie and a TV show. It’s all exciting stuff and means I will be a very busy boy for the next year or so. If you want to be the first to know, then make sure you sign-up to my newsletter here.

Till next time, stay safe, healthy and keep being groovy…

Mark

I’m Pantsing the Pants Off This (and Loving It)

Or, How I Learned to Write Without a Massive Outline

For as long as I’ve written, I’ve loved a good outline. It comes from my screenwriting where outlines are something of a necessity when dealing with agents, producers, directors, etc. They like to know what they’re getting for their money upfront and it’s not unusual for the writer to put together some kind of pitch, synopsis or beat-by-beat outline ahead of actually writing the thing.

I’ve done the same with my novels. I’ve always liked to write a thorough chapter-by-chapter outline — a clear roadmap, because I’d hate to be halfway through a hundred-thousand word novel and not have a clue what happens next, or discover a massive plot hole. If you’re a regular listener of the Bestseller Experiment podcast, you’ll know that it got me a proper bollocking from that nice Mr Ben Aaronovitch (skip to about 26 minutes in…).

Since the Great Bollocking I’ve had two novels published, Back to Reality and The End of Magic, both heavily outlined and people seem to like them. But… both were well in progress when Ben gave us an earful, so I figured what the hell, I should just finish what I started with them.

I listen back to our old podcasts fairly regularly. Not out of any vanity, but I really do believe we got tons of amazing evergreen advice from some of the best authors in the business and it would be daft to ignore them. One thing that became clear is there’s no single method of writing a novel. Lots of writers love to outline, plenty of them are pantsers (writing by the seat of their pants… a term I had not heard before starting the podcast), many do a little of both. There’s no definite, step-right-this-way-to-success system. You have to figure out what works for you and build on that.

I was happy outlining, but I’ve prided myself on never writing anything the same way twice. Every time I start a project, it’s a little different and I learn something new. I figured it was time for a big change, so why not try and pants a full-length story?

But what about that fear of getting lost? Of getting halfway through a story and not knowing where to go next?

It was another podcast that had a nugget of advice that unlocked it for me. I’m a big fan of Scriptnotes, a podcast for screenwriters (and things that are interesting to screenwriters). In it, screenwriters John August (Big Fish) and Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) discuss craft and the industry, and I find it invaluable. Last summer (2019) they released an episode featuring just Craig who gave a talk that he’s given to screenwriters at festivals over the years.

It’s a brilliant episode, crammed with terrific advice. It’s behind a paywall now, but you can read a transcript of the full episode here.

The advice that stuck out for me was this…

“If you can write the story of your character as they grow from thinking “this” to “the opposite of this”… you will never ask what should happen next ever again.”

Craig Mazin, Scriptnotes, ep403, 41m 50s

A little lightbulb went off in my head. It was the same question I would ask myself while writing an outline anyway, so why not apply it to the blank page of a fresh draft? Would it be any different? Would it be any better?

I’ve been using and adapting this method for one screenplay (written on spec, no outline necessary) and one-and-a-bit novels and I’m loving it. I’ll start with a one-page outline, but with a bigger focus on character and theme. Who is this character? How will they change, and what’s stopping them from doing it? With those two polar opposites in mind, I rough out a very basic story and then start writing. It can be hard at first as you test the water. When I get stuck, I put the laptop aside and start scribbling in a notebook with Mazin’s advice in mind: What’s what the worst thing that can happen? What will stop this character from getting what they want? How will they overcome it?

If I can’t figure it out right away, I might stop writing altogether and get on with my day. More often than not I’ll have a solution come out of the blue while I’m washing dishes, in which case I dry my hands and email myself the note ready for the next day.

It’s working so far. The screenplay has a director and producer attached and looks like it’s a goer, and the one and a bit novels…? I’m hoping to have some good news about them soon.

I’m not saying this is going to work for everyone, but I’m enjoying living on the edge. If you’re a big outliner, why not give it a go? All you’ve got to lose is your word count…