A Public Declaration

We had a pivotal episode of the Bestseller Experiment podcast this week. We finally revealed if we made our target of ten thousand copies sold of Back To Reality by the end of Glastonbury weekend. You can listen here…

EP208: Glastonbury Or Bust – Did We Make It?

It’s not much of a spoiler to say that we didn’t make it. However, if failure is a teacher then we learned an awful lot. Here were the big lessons for me…

  • Write a series – It’s much more difficult to sell a standalone book using advertising tools (Amazon Merchandising Services, Facebook Ads, Bookbub, Publisher Rocket) that are best designed to sell more than one product. So guess what I’m writing next…?
  • Not being able to use AMS in the UK hurt our chances of success. Yes, I know some authors have managed to use loopholes to run ads in the UK, but that wasn’t available when we signed up. I did ask Kindle’s Darren Hardy at the London Book Fair when it might be available and he said it was coming soon, but couldn’t give a fixed date. I’m not holding my breath. Back to Reality is very British in its humour and tone — and it’s been great to get such a wonderful reaction from readers all over the world — but it would have been great to sell more effectively to our Amazon readers in the UK.
  • It might just be that I’m bad at marketing. This is very likely my biggest issue… I did the Mark Dawson course, I read the David Gaughran books, I did everything I was supposed to… but marketing is a skillset you have to develop over years, and I was hardly going to master it in a few months.
  • Genre and readers are key. Back to Reality is a little bit of humour, a little bit contemporary fiction, a little bit science fiction, and a little bit rock n roll, so pinning down one genre was nigh-on impossible. And it’s tricky trying to identify just who your readers are, especially when your “also boughts” on Amazon are mostly for non-fiction “How to write” books (a byproduct of the podcast: our first readers were our listeners who are all writers). Compared to straight-down-the-line thrillers or romance, our novel wasn’t quite as straightforward.
But I’m not complaining!

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (I guess that makes every author insane). With that in mind, I’m going to repeat this experiment with The End of Magic, but I intend to make ALL NEW MISTAKES!

We’ve long banged on about writers making public declarations on the podcast. They put a fire under your bum and, combined with a firm deadline, can spur you on to great things.

So here goes with my NEW PUBLIC DECLARATION:

I will sell 1000 copies of The End of Magic by Christmas 2019

A few caveats…

  • I can only do this in the USA… Unbound have the UK rights and I have no visibility on sales other than the twice yearly statements.
  • I’m going to stick with Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
  • I’ll be counting both Kindle and Paperback sales.

Wish me luck! I’ll chronicle my progress here on the blog and in my newsletter. I’ve already started with a couple of AMS ads and Bookbub newsletter ads. I’ll let you know how they get on. Current sales are zero. The only way is up…

If you want to help, why not buy a copy right now? It’s right here.

You are cordially invited…

… to the launch of THE END OF MAGIC!

Come and join me at the wonderful Harbour Bookshop in Whitstable for the launch of The End of Magic!

There will be special guests, magic, booze* of some variety and cupcakes (free while stocks last… though if no one turns up I will stiff my face with them).

*Probably wine… not magic wine… but then who knows where the evening will take us…?

And it’s for charity! For every copy signed or sold on the night, I will donate a pound to Nordoff Robbins, a charity that does wonderful work in music therapy. They also organised one of the best gigs I ever went to, so it’s time to give something back.

RSVP by commenting below, or check in on the event page on Facebook. And tell your friends!

I’m really looking forward to seeing you there. All the best and thanks as always for your amazing support.

Mark

I’m leaving Orion

After fifteen years, three months and eighteen days I will be leaving the good ship Orion for the rocky shoals of freelance life.

Why? When? Who? What??

Well, long story short, there was a big sales restructure here and with it came the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy and I grabbed it with both hands. It was just too good a chance to pass up. I have a very long list of things I want to do and now is the time to do them. Like what? Well, the Bestseller Experiment podcast for a start. We’ve had a tricky second year to say of the least, but leaving Orion will afford me the time to do all the things we’ve been wanting to do in the last year, including REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED on a big stick with a sponge on the end.

Orion is an incredible publisher with a genuinely passionate team and some of the best authors in the world (that’s not hyperbole, that’s just bloody true and I can prove it with two felt tip pens and a whiteboard). I have made some incredible memories that will stay with me for a lifetime and I’ve met many of my personal heroes. It would be terribly bad form to drop names, but as Michael Palin said to me once, “Show me those photos of you with Keith Richards, Nick Mason, Richard Wright and David Gilmour.” To which I replied, “Sorry Mikey baby, I’ve loaned them to Christopher Lee, and Judi Dench wants them after that…”

When you have a 9-5 day job you see more of your colleagues than your own family some weeks, and I’ve been fortunate to be working in what is simply the best sales department in publishing. I don’t want to start reeling off names because I would inevitably forget someone, but special mention must go to Jo Carpenter, Dallas Manderson and Ian Diment. Ian was my line manager at Orion and the sweetest man you could meet, with a passion for music and books and a unique dancing groove that was the sensation of many a sales conference. His passing in 2010 devastated us all, but also brought us together in grief. We will never forget him.

Dallas is a one-off. A gentleman of publishing whose negotiating technique is to to deploy Wodehousian courtesy combined with an astonishing attention to detail. I never wanted to disappoint Dallas. Not because I feared his wrath, but because I knew he cared and worked harder than all of us combined to ensure that our authors got the best sales possible. Publishing hasn’t been the same since he retired.

And Jo Carpenter has this uncanny psychic ability to know when something is wrong and she was always the first to ask if she could help, and I’ve lost count of the number of times she’s been my advocate and saved my butt… Oh, and she gave me the job based on little more than my ability to do terrible impersonations of Michael Caine and Sean Connery (it was a different time).

I’ll be gone by the end of the year. Orion have handled this really well. My Mum was made redundant a few years ago and her employers did everything wrong and it all ended up in a legal mess and was horribly stressful. Orion have played a very straight bat with me and for that I am very grateful.

So what will I do with all this spare time? I want to write, I want to be my own boss, I want to earn money doing it, and I especially want to REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED on a big stick with a sponge on the end.

Wish me luck. I reckon I might need it…