What the blinking flip is the Woodville Parish Council you might ask (not unreasonably)? Woodville Village is the setting for my new Witches of Woodville books, and not a completely made up place, no siree. It is here that you will find everything you need to know (or at least everything we’re allowed to tell you) about the strange goings on in the village of Woodville.
On the Notice Board you’ll find all the latest blogs from me.
I have a little exclusive treat for you. Sign up to the Woodville Parish Council Newsletter for all the latest news and a to get a sneak peek at the first three chapters of The Crow Folk (along with a special introduction from village librarian Araminta Cranberry). This is only available to subscribers to the Woodville newsletter, and comes in Kindle, ePub and PDF formats, so sign up now.
And that’s not all! In the coming months there will be more short stories (and a recipe for jam roly poly as featured in the novel) including one story that will give a unique perspective on the events chronicled in The Crow Folk, and a quartet of stories that will reveal the truth about Miss Charlotte’s murky past. Sign up to the newsletter and get your free eBook here.
Ever wondered how to market your book? Or how to promote your book on YouTube? Join author and screenwriter Mark Stay and video creator and marketer Jeremy Mason as they create (and implement) a video book marketing plan for Mark’s upcoming release.
Will their book marketing strategies work? Will their efforts garner the all-important pre-orders they need, before the book launch in Feb 2021? Join them each week as they dive headlong into video marketing, putting YouTube book marketing strategies to the test.
In this latest instalment, myself and Mr Mason look at keywords, how Google can be your friend, profiling your reader and much, much more…
Here’s a fun drinking game: Every time Jeremy says “That’s great!” then points out everything I’ve done wrong, take a shot… You’ll be legless in five minutes…
In-depth YouTube book marketing strategies using video marketing
A detailed real-time YouTube channel review
Creating engaging YouTube Video titles & YouTube video descriptions
YouTube channel engagement hints & tips
Facebook video tips
WHY video thumbnails are important
Profiling your audience
Fleshing out the book’s audience & WHY it’s important
Keywords & keyword research
HOW it allows you to understand MORE about your book
HOW to mine Google for content ideas
Brainstorming book marketing video content ideas
WHY you MUST get your videos transcribed
How can we deal with ‘haters’ and online rejection?
WHY YouTube Channel keywords & video tags are SO important
WHY relevant video tags are CRITICAL
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to week three of the book marketing challenge. I am not going to sing the jingle this week,
‘Cause we’ve had complaints.
Due to literally one or two complaints, actually there weren’t, I’d like to think they might have been.
Yes, yes. I’m joined as ever by my good friend, Mark Stay. who’s an author and screenwriter. We’ve given ourselves the slightly, some may say, foolish challenge of marketing Mark’s new book, which is coming out in February, 21. It’s a new fiction title. We’re fusing the worlds of digital marketing and video marketing and authoring and book writing and seeing what happens in the process. It’s basically a real life case study to see what we can do with our skills, such as they are, to try and give a little juice to Mark’s new fiction offering. So Mr. Stay, please tell me what marvellous updates you have for us this week?
Well, since we last spoke, we launched the Halloween video that I did which was lots of fun and Simon Schuster got behind it on Halloween and plugged it and all sorts of stuff. So, since then I have gained, well, I’m up to 36 subscribers. I think we had 30 last time we spoke, so that six new subscribers. The video got over a hundred viewers on the first day, we’re up 136 views up to today, so it’s just, where are we? We’re Tuesday when we’re recording this, so just a few days later. So we had a nice little spike but it only resulted in one extra pre-order of the book. Now, we’re a long way out from publication, it got people chatting about it, but I’m getting a feeling I’m preaching to the converted. Anyone who’s already interested in the book has maybe already pre-ordered it, though last week we did talk about that seven touches of marketing things, so this is another step on the road to touching people, not allowed to do that anymore.
Not so much, not so much.
It’s only seven times, but just reminding people, prodding people, no, we can’t do that anymore. And moving on. But the other thing I’ve done is I’ve got a video that’s going to go live today which is the first of the more typical videos, which is just me talking to camera. And this one is about on the road to publication. So I have my page proofs from my publisher a week or so ago. I’m talking about the process of what I do with the page proofs, how I use them. This is because I think a lot of the people who follow me on Twitter, on Facebook, and hopefully on YouTube as well, will know me because of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and the experience and expertise I have in the world of publishing. And so, what I’m planning to do with these videos is alternate between me talking about the process of publication with stuff about the book. So the next video I’ll do after that will be about my hero in the book, Fay Bright, who’s the protagonist of my book. So I’m going to flip between publishing stuff and stuff about the book, and hopefully as we go along and head towards publication, we’ll start figuring out who my readers are, this is something we’re going to talk about later, and draw them in and entice them with publishing nuggets which they might enjoy, but also stuff about the book. So does that make sense?
Yes, it does, it makes perfect sense to me. Shall we crash into YouTube and your YouTube channel? ‘Cause we did do a little bit of work on that, I say work, but you’ve done a little bit of sort of implementation stuff. By the magic of computering and telly, we are looking at Mark’s YouTube channel, which is excellent. Now, obviously last week we were talking all about the banner, which you’ve amended, which is fantastic. Ignore these stats. They are part of a thing called TubeBuddy. That is something that we may talk about later. So Mark, you were talking about this here video.
Weren’t you? Let’s have a look at that then. I don’t want to blow the gaff there, so let’s just let people discover that in their own time. You see, with things like TubeBuddy, on the right-hand side here you get all sorts of really juicy stats, and if you’re trying to get into the sort of world of YouTube and if you’re doing a lot of content, I would suggest you do get something like TubeBuddy, or there’s another one called vidIQ, basically this is a vidIQ sort of thing here, it just gives you really, really useful pointers in terms of, kind of almost like checklists, things to do, to make sure that you’re optimising your videos in the right way. So, let’s have a look at Mark’s latest video, 136 views, not very bad at all there. 17 likes, that’s great. Immediately what I’m seeing here as well, which is really positive, is two things, A, quite a lot of engagement and our little widget on the right hand side here is saying your social engagement is incredible. Exactly, for the French viewers out there. The really important thing with comments is to always reply, which you’re doing, which is fantastic, because you want to get that engagement, you want to foster engagement with people on YouTube. That’s what it’s all about. YouTube wants engaged people on their platform so that they can serve adverts up to them and keep them on the platform as long as possible. So you’re doing all the right things here, Mark. Let’s have a little look at two things. Firstly, we were talking a little bit last week, weren’t we, about the title side of things.
Now, I think that possibly we could do something, because if I don’t know what “The Crow Folk” is, if I’m turning up to your channel for the first time. That’s great. I think we need to give some kind of, I mean, I know that you’ve said it down here, whether there’s a way of doing something on the end so that when you’re looking at the, when you’re scrolling through on your mobile device for example what “The Crow Folk” is, that would be one comment with that. Let’s have a look at your lovely description. Transcript city, right. Now, I’m not sure, this is going to be really interesting to see how, I wonder if that’s just too dense and whether you actually need your transcripts in the description. Why don’t we leave it there and see what happens, and then, I’ll tell you what we’ll do, in maybe in these upcoming videos you’re doing Mark, let’s do some with the transcripts and some without. My sense is that it looks very dense when you’re looking at it. Do you see what I mean?
Yeah, you see, actually I think for me it seems like it’s the wrong way round, because actually if I’m just popping onto your video, I don’t want to read, you’ve gone massively detailed here, which is fine, but to me, I would put this stuff here all about your blurb effectively.
Put that at the top?
Yeah, because that’s what I want to know straight away. You want context first and then I would do context and then obviously the credits and everything, and then I would do almost a transcript as the last thing but it’s like a Brucey bonus kind of thing. I think that would make more sense to me.
I mean, I guess I used Subly to do the subtitles, so I uploaded an SRT file. So I’m guessing Google’s little spiders from Mars are going to pick out the text anyway, aren’t they? So they don’t need–
I mean, to be honest, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve never heard of anyone putting an entire transcript in their description. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t work. I suppose the only thing that it might do is it might skew the kind of SEO angle of it, because obviously, you’re talking about Prize-winning oranges, all sorts here, which isn’t actually relevant to the content of the video in a sense. Do you see what I mean? I mean, I know the content to you reading it.
Hey, the orange market is huge, huge I tell you.
I know it’s a massive niche and I know it’s one you want to go after. But yeah, I think I would say–
I think that’s a fair point. I think it’s a fair point, yeah.
So I think that’s what I would do is probably, I mean, we can definitely try it and see what happens, but I think it feels like there’s an awful lot of stuff there to read. And definitely that needs to go at the top because as I say, you want to go and know exactly what you’re looking at. Be careful about that though there, because that’s taking people away from the platform straight away. And do you remember I said, you can do that once your video’s been up there for a period of time then, and only then, do you need to then start. Because what will happen is a YouTube looks at that and goes, Oh, hang on, he’s straight away, he’s only just uploaded it, and he’s trying to send people off to his own website. And in some respects, yeah.
Yeah, they’ll go, oh, we’re not sure about this. So I would actually, do you know what for now? Leave it there, but for the new videos have a system where you do this, you absolutely do this, but you do that sort of two to three weeks in after the videos have been on for a while, just so that the algorithm knows that the materials there. And also the other thing as well is that you can get away in a sense with doing that kind of stuff earlier on in that process if you’ve got 500 videos up there, because you’ve established a record with them and they know the kind of how engaged your viewers are and all the rest of it. So it’s sort of one of those things that it’s not a black mark, but it’s sort of something that will probably make the algorithm go oh, hang on, at the end of the day, like I said they want people to stay on the platform. So anything you can do as a creator to create great content, valuable content that will grab people and put them onto YouTube, but then you need them to stay on YouTube. I mean, that was like we were saying last week with the stuff with the videos I do when after a while I then put links to other YouTube videos. That’s the sort of thing that they appreciate. But actually, do you know what? I think what’s amazing, again looking at this, you’ve got some great Facebook engagement. Also, the other thing that’s hugely important from a YouTube perspective is inbound links, i.e., it’s not just us creating a buzz on YouTube, that platform itself, obviously YouTube loves it when you’re getting links in from platforms like Facebook, but also don’t forget Reddit, Reddit’s really powerful. Do you use Reddit at all, Mark?
You see, I wonder whether that’s something that we look at actually as a strategy, and I imagine there will be thousands of groups all about authors and it is a very, very active platform and also they’re very engaged bunch of people on there. So I would have a look at that. And if you haven’t already, create an account because I think those, particularly because of what you’re creating in terms of stuff to do with writing and publishing, it’s genuinely useful information, and there will be lots of people looking at Reddit feeds about that kind of stuff I would imagine.
Okay, I’ll have a look at it.
Yeah, have a look at it.
Just to say a couple things. One, the transcript I have been using ’cause I embed the YouTube video on my blog and I put the transcript on there as well, ’cause just from a WordPress point of view, it’s useful. So I’ll get rid of the transcript on here, I think you’re right about that actually, it is too much, but put the blurb in as well. But it’s interesting to see so much engagement from Facebook because Facebook doesn’t like YouTube, YouTube doesn’t like Facebook, so when you go on Facebook, if you put a link to a YouTube video it’s one more click to get through to the content. So I’ve always felt, oh, maybe I should just upload the video straight to Facebook and play by Facebook’s rules, but actually having the card that I created on Canva saying a Halloween reading and stuff like that, that actually, I think it made it a lot more enticing and interesting to click through, and also I put it on my personal page, I put it on my author page, I put it on the Bestseller Experiment group pages, and I think maybe a couple of author groups as well. So it’s interesting–
That’s stunning though, 100, that’s a really good rate of engagement and if you look at that, 20% YouTube, 80% Facebook. So imagine if you were to, again, get involved with say Reddit and I think that would be a really good thing to do. But no, Facebook’s really good. And actually, I’d also say it might be worth with Facebook actually, doing like an AB test, I.e., do what you’re doing with linking to YouTube, but maybe every other video do some way you natively upload it and see what the difference in engagement is because the sort of received wisdom is, and I’ve got no, I mean, it seems to chime with my sort of experience on that platform, is that they do prefer video content that’s embedded on their platform, that’s hosted by them, and again, it’s one of those things, same as with YouTube obviously Facebook want people to stay on their platform, anything you can do any, any content that’s sticky that you can put on their service that then encourages people to stay there, they’re going to reward you for it. But I mean, with all these things, like I said last week, it’s sort of a little bit of a sort of trial and error type thing to a degree. So, I would, I mean, certainly personally, when I upload stuff, well when we get stuff uploaded to Facebook, we alternate between doing native uploading, I.e., uploading it to the platform, and that’s exactly the same strategy as I use for LinkedIn as well. Not that we’ll ever use LinkedIn for your book stuff, but, it works for LinkedIn as well, because again, they will boost those posts, those video posts. So, it’s worth bearing that in mind with all the social networks, at the end of the day, it’s all about for the networks, it’s about them keeping people, keeping eyeballs on their platforms, that is what they want. So if you could do anything to help that, of course, they’re going to reward that behaviour. So, no, I think this is a really good start, Mark, really. And as I say, just a slight tweak on the description side of things and just kind of carry on doing that I would. And again, if we go back to your kind of home screen, something that obviously we were talking about as well is creativity.
I did my playlists.
You did do your playlist, which is brilliant.
I did it.
Well done you, gold star.
See me later though, obviously. Anyway, moving on. What I was going to say though is there’s no description under here. Is that a deliberate thing on your part or did you forget to put some words under it?
I forgot them, sorry.
Definitely, yeah. I mean, again, as you can see, so, it’s much better organised than it was, which is fantastic. But yes, and do you remember, ’cause we were talking about three lines, do you know what I mean? Just to kind of say what it is, what you’re doing here so that people can literally land on this page. It’s again, like I said, I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but basically with all of this stuff to do with YouTube and optimising the channel, your trying to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they’re looking for and to say, and leading with. So, what they’re going to gain why should they be on your channel? What are they going to learn from it? What are they going to get? Are they going to get entertained? what do people gain from it? What’s in it for them, always, always think about your audience first. It’s not about us as creators. It’s about we are serving them. So with all the copy and the same with the description as well write it from the perspective of them, the audience, what will they gain from watching that piece of content? That’s what you need to bear in mind all the time. The other thing I’d say is thumbnails is a good thing as well. Now, obviously I’ve been tweaking our thumbnails and I’m a terrible tinkerer. So I’ll always be doing AB testing things Oh, this might work better or whatever. But the thing to do is to, with all of these so for the end of magic, I would be tempted to stick with one or two designs or thumbnail, Mark, just because it looks, I mean, I don’t know. I might be being a little bit pernickety, but to me it looks a little bit scrappy. The other thing as well, which are, this is brilliant because it’s got your gorgeous face in it. And there are stats to back up the fact that with thumbnails people respond well to human faces in them. And so they tend to get more click throughs. So that is something to bear in mind. And that is something I’m going to be trialling on our thumbnails here later, which we maybe could look at at another point. But yeah, so I would, I think really once it comes to these kind of Bestseller Experiment and all of that, I think I would try and create thumbnails even if they’re pretty generic just to make it look kind of uniform and a bit tidier. Does that make sense?
Yes, in some ways, that’s the past, man that’s the past.
No, no, I know, I know.
I’m concentrating on the future. But again, that’s something me and Devaux have been talking about, funny enough, since we’ve started doing these Devaux’s been a lot more interested in YouTube. So we may get around to doing that anyway. We know that we’ve not really done YouTube properly with the podcast.
You know you might be missing a trick there in terms of-
Oh we are definitely, but there are only so many hours in the day I can move to Mars where there’s one extra hour in the day, but the broadband isn’t as good up there.
Well you say that it’s probably no worse than the internet we’re getting here in the rural Hampshire anyway. But no I mean, generally I think you’ve done a really good job of that, so good. Definitely good boy biscuits in order there. So in terms of like you were saying about the, what the publishers were doing what did they actually do once you did your kind of your release of your Halloween video? What kind of backup, if you like, did you get from them from a marketing perspective?
There was a whole bunch of tweets on Saturday which were good. And they were hashtag up the wazoo. We’ve agreed on a hashtag, which is “The Crow Folk” are coming, which I think is great. It gives people a sense of anticipation but it was essentially for them day one. So no one knows me from Adam or whatever. So it’s that thing, that was the first touch and then there’ll be more to come after it. And they’re very engaged in terms of what I’m doing with the videos. So they’d like to know when they’re going live, when they can use them and do similar. So hopefully, I mean, Halloween is obviously a big peak. There’s a lot of competition for space on that day. Everyone’s going to, every publisher has horror novels that they want to sell. And that’s the other thing as well I’m promising something that’s coming in February, so there’s nothing really yet to show them. I think what will make things a lot more viable is when the website goes live and I’ll be giving away an ebook with the first three chapters of the book, which the publishers agreed that I can do. So I’ll be able to say, then if you’ve enjoyed this here’s a taster, sign up to my newsletter for more. So that’s still not up and running yet. That’s coming soon hopefully in the next sort of three or four weeks. And we can have be interested in seeing how engagement picks up once that’s up and running. But of course, when the website is up and running, I’ll have all these videos on there too. So I’ll be joining people from the website to YouTube and back and forth again there’s the whole matrix of connections, man.
So that’s the thing it is about kind of creating that web, like you say, that net, and it’s all about gathering people in. I think this is a good time to talk about your audience actually, because like you said earlier on, so the sense of the moment is that so far you’ve been preaching to the choir a little bit in the sense of you’ve got an existing digital footprint which it absolutely makes complete sense to go for the low-hanging fruit. Let’s call them that first. So what’s your sense in terms of your other audience, have you done any sort of thinking about the sorts of people that might read your book and where they live online and that kind of thing?
Yeah, I think primarily they will be Pratchett fans, fans of humorous kind of fantasy and stuff like that. So I kind of know where some of those people live but like I said, the problem you have is that if you tell them all this is a bit like Terry Pratchett, there is an immediate well, Terry was one of the finest writers of the of the last sort of 30, 40 years. How dare you compare yourself to him, that sort of thing. So it’s a tricky one. It’s a tricky one. But I think I know where that market is. We’re putting stuff up on NetGalley. That’s the other thing that’s happened, the books gone up on NetGalley. We’ve not had any reviews yet, but my editor was telling me there’s been a great reaction to the cover art. People are liking it. So hopefully we’ll start seeing some reviews there. So I think, that’s where my readership is. I think I would imagine. And this has made plucking things out of the air just from seeing people at conventions and stuff like that. I imagine the readership will skew a little more female than males, maybe 60, 40 female readership as well. And this is a book with a female protagonist and actually three very strong female characters at the centre of it as well.
What kind of age demographic are you thinking? I mean, or is it a very wide?
Well, again I think we’re looking at sort of mid twenties to mid forties, maybe older. I mean, this is a book that, and I will do a video about this actually, because my previous books have been quite either quite sweary or quite violent.
What does that say about you, Mark?
And this doesn’t have any swearing. How long have you got? But yeah it’s, I think this is quite different. This is definitely rated PG.
Was that a deliberate thing on your part, to write like that, or is it just a sort of evolutionary thing?
I think the setting of the book, it’s June, 1940 so it wouldn’t be a very sweary society. It’s a rural society, and certainly the tone of it. I’m going for that kind of Pratchett-y tone. There’s going to be very little in the way of effing or jeffing. So yeah, it was a deliberate choice. It was a deliberate choice. I think it’s just tonally. If I was to start putting that kind of stuff in it, it just would be wrong anyway. Whereas when I was doing “The End Of Magic”, you’re dealing with a kind of almost a grim dark fantasy genre where readers want the headings and a little bit of blood lust and some swearing and what have you. So yeah, it was very much a choice, you know children could read this. Absolutely, you got a protagonist who’s 17 years old, on the verge of becoming an adult, it’s a coming of age story. And certainly the first three books will be about her becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world. So yeah, it could be read pretty much by anyone, but I think certainly from going to conventions like YALC which is the Young Adult Literary Convention in London that is not technically a YA book, but why not? I think they’d enjoy it, and Pratchett fans would enjoy it. So that’s kind of where I have an idea of where the readership lives, the publishers have compared me to authors like Lev Grossman, who wrote “The Magicians”, which is fantastic novel about people discovering magic and using magic for the first time. So that helps as well give me an idea. So yeah, I think this is going to be a bit of a journey of discovery. I have quite a big Venn diagram of who my readers are, but as time goes on, I think the idea is to is to whittle it down and get a much more accurate perception of who they are. I guess we’ll get that with the feedback when we get from Goodreads and reviews, you’ll see people who do like it, people that don’t like it, and then you go, okay let’s these people don’t like it let’s leave them alone. Let’s find out who these people are vector in on them.
I think though that it might be wise before, rather than waiting for those results to come in, which I think that is definitely a good thing to do. I think before that point, I think what we should do possibly, and I hate to give you homework but it’s sort of is a little bit of homework is to sort of almost formalise those Venn diagrams and those, because already you’ve mentioned the young young, the literary festival. YALC, yeah. You know, and then also previously we were talking about I know it’s a tiny, tiny audience, but you’re effectively part of this book’s job if you like is to persuade the publisher that actually the series is a viable series as well. So you already got a number of these kind of sets of people coalescing around, you know so you’ve got the young, the young kind of younger crowd. You’ve got your publisher that you are obviously trying to work persuade that it’s a viable kind of ongoing series. Then you’ve got the Terry Pratchett people and they’ll no doubt be other blood, Lev Grossman, all those sort of things and how they intersect. But that I think the danger possibly if we leave it until we start getting a sort of significant quantity of data from the likes of Goodreads is that by that point, we’ll have created a lot of content and the content needs to be speaking to someone. And that’s the thing, now at the moment, I’m not that worried about that, because actually, for example your video, that’s going to be released shortly which talks about proofreading and stuff like that. It’s pretty clear who that’s targeted at. And that’s great, but in terms of trying, I’m just thinking it’s going to take a while to gather momentum and get traction in terms of outside that bubble of people who already know you, do you see what I mean? And so I think that would be a really worthwhile piece of work to do kind of now-ish is to actually spend a bit of kind of brain power on really, really sort of diving into who these people are. For example, I mean it might be if you’ve got a comment, not that Comicon would be somewhere you’d go, but festivals like that if you’re doing something that would resonate to the people that go there that could then inform some kind of marketing activity that you could do there, or even even if it’s just, you end up putting YouTube ads in front of the people that look for Comicon 2021 or whatever, do you see what I mean? So if we know earlier on, and then what we’re using Goodreads for, and that data is to basically back up our suspicions, do you see what I mean? I think it would be a better way of doing it. My worry would be, if we leave it, you’re then reacting and it’s you’re then chasing your tail a bit.
Yeah. I mean there are publishers are generally quite bad at this. I mean the number of meetings I sat in where they’d have some romcom fiction or whatever, and they say this is for all women age 35 to 40. Well, obviously not all women, you can’t, and so there’s a lot of tarring with the same brush, a lot of assumptions, that kind of thing. There is a piece of software I’ve got, which I use for Amazon advertising, which is called Publisher Rocket. And they have just done an update so that actually works in the UK. It was really designed for authors advertising their books on amazon.com. So basically you put in a north I like Terry Pratchett it would send the spiders out to amazon.com and gather all this data saying, Hey, people that like Terry Pratchett also like to bumpty, bumpty, boom, and you get this long grid of authors. Now they have just done an update which includes UK authors. Now I’m not planning to do Amazon advertising with this. If my publisher wants to do it, that’s great. I’ve already wasted enough money on Amazon advertising. But actually what I think I will do is run a report on Publisher Rocket, if it does scrape UK data and have a look at that. And then, then what do I do with that though? do I use that to do YouTube advertising further down the line? Or do I start looking for Facebook groups of authors who like these kind of people. Or do I just use those as keywords on the YouTube channel- and you know all of it,
All of the above, I think, Mark, all of the above with that. I think it’s brilliant that actually there’s, I think let’s I would definitely do that piece of work and then next session let’s for our lovely viewers let’s have a little look at how that piece of software works. We’ll go into delve into it. This will be a really good point actually, to talk about keywords I think. Obviously when people are typing queries into Google and Yahoo or whatever, Bing or whatever search engine they’re using that data is absolute gold from our point of view because what we want to try and do, and as I said, this is slightly different for what we’re doing here. Just because you’re not a product, well you’re a product but you’re not a service provider, but effectively what the mindset we kind of need to get ourselves into is it may be for example, someone is looking for a gift for someone who likes Terry Pratchett. Do you see what I mean? I’m imagining that will be super, super, super niche. But as Mr. Desvaux always says, niche is the new big. Three times every episode, we mention that. But it’s true, actually. That is absolutely true. So obviously we’re on Google now. I’m going to type in exactly that search phrase book for people who like Terry Pratchett. Is that how you spell Terry Pratchett?
Two T’s at the end.
Two T’s at the end.
There we go.
So immediately Google is doing some amazing work for us, right? Now obviously these are ads, but you start to get a sense of now I don’t know these may be completely wide of the mark, I’ve no idea.
Tom Holt’s a good one. Steven Baxter, who is a lovely man by the way, I met him many times, is more science fiction and he co-wrote a series of books with Terry, Neil Gaiman’s on the money. Yeah, that’s good.
But you see what I mean, so you’re immediately getting a sense of your not your competition, but kind of you said last week about you’ve got to visualise as an author where your book sits.
And you got to bring it out of your mind, it’s that thing, isn’t it. Now the brilliant thing about Google obviously is when you’re typing in things here, it will auto complete. Now this is a very specific long tail. What is known as a long tail key phrase. So there’s probably not, but if you books for people, it will then start to auto suggest stuff. That’s absolute gold. And particularly when you’re dealing for example, more when we’re talking maybe more about how to publish my book and those kinds of phrases, you’ll get a lot of auto suggesting kind of phrases. These are actual, not this one, particularly but the auto suggesting ones are ones that are based on actual people’s searches. So in terms of creating content and answering questions I’ll think of answering someone’s question who’s on Google, always look at the auto suggested stuff because you could do a lot worse than start there, also this lovely box here again, brilliant. What is the best Terry Pratchett? I mean, there is nothing to say, for example Mark, this is just something that popped into my head. You know, maybe one of you, but one of your videos is about you’re a massive Terry Pratchett fan. I know it’s not, it’s not directly selling your book but actually the whole point with YouTube is you need to build up like this library of kind of goodwill if you like with YouTube and you need to kind of, it’s not all hard sell, sell, sell all the time. In fact, it’s the opposite. But actually this is a question that obviously people ask, you’re a Terry Pratchett fan, you also happen to be an author. That would be a great thing for you to talk about I’m thinking. In fact all of these questions might be something, obviously you don’t want to do all four and then literally drop one video, drop another video. But if you mixed it up it just gives you great ideas for content that’s relevant because obviously it’s relevant because you know the book you’re writing is hopefully going to be liked by people that like Terry Pratchett, do you see what I mean?
Absolutely, and if you scroll down there as well that number six there authors hang on, you’ve gone too far on number six, authors similar to Terry Pratchett. So Goodreads do lists as well. So I imagine that’s a really handy list of authors similar to Terry. So again, that’s going to, that’s going to help me. And again, if you’re an author watching this and you write, say like Stephen King, or you write like Michael Conley crime novels they’ll have lists like that on there. This process works for everyone.
Absolutely, and the other thing to say as well, is when you’re creating that content. I mean, obviously we’re talking here about it’s all video based, but the thing to think about is to reversion. Always reversion your content. So for example, like you did exactly, like we saw you got that transcription done for the video always get your videos transcribed or you get captions done, you need to do that. But then that becomes a great blog post or depending on what it is you can make it into a lead magnet if you will which is something that you obviously for people that don’t know, it’s stuff that you exchange in exchange for name and email address that kind of thing to build your strengths. If you’re wanting to build up a really good, well qualified email list. So all of this stuff here I think is absolute gold. And until this point, I hadn’t even thought that actually, do you know what that is something that in terms of content and variety of content but again, it fits in terms of the audience profile. And again, that sort of goes into the reason why we need to develop that idea, those ideas and the focus on specific groups of people that we are targeting so that we can do exercises like this and find those questions that people are answering. Sorry, those questions that people are asking so that you serve up a few videos around these queries, then guess what, that video will be after you’ve produced you’re talking about a sort of quantity of videos, typically for a long tail phrase like this, books for people like that Terry Pratchett, you may well get, ’cause the other thing to say I know I’m kind of darting around the place a bit but this doesn’t have a video carousel in it yet. A lot of search terms, what you get is around about here somewhere, there’ll be a load of videos. Now, if you create 10 to, I know this sounds a lot, but if you imagine, if you over the next four months we create a load of Terry Pratchett related videos. Then anytime anyone looks for Terry Pratchett, books for people who like Terry Pratchett then Google will create a carousel and you’ll occupy it because it’s relevant content for people that are looking for that thing. And then what happens is that as you’re creating, as you’re, like I said before, as you’re creating more relevant content and you’re building that relationship with YouTube and YouTube is looking at you going, okay, Mark’s uploading two videos a week. They’re getting great engagement because you’re engaging with all the people on your you’re replying to all the messages, you’re doing all the great work on the optimization. You’re making things look good. There’s no other way in terms of organic SEO, that you, it would be really difficult and take months to get anything on. This is page one of Google for this particular search term. I mean, it’s, this is it. You want to be on page one, right? ‘Cause after page one I think it goes down something like 30% per page. It might even be more than that, but it’s basically the real estate is all all here. And obviously as I say, if you’re then create, get video stuff on here in your own carousel and you own this keyword this key phrase here, that’s absolutely, it may not be a huge amount of volume coming through, but it’s super relevant. And it establishes you, starts to establish you as like an expert in that field as well. So it’s doing good things. And like we said before a lot, it’s a long game. This is not going to happen overnight. So, and the other place to look as well very briefly is these obviously searches, related searches, always look down there as well. And that’s all gold. So you don’t really need to invest in flashy bits of software. I would definitely though saying that, do that sorry, the Amazon thing you were talking about, Mark. This this piece of software here is called Keywords Everywhere. And that is absolutely fantastic. It’s it’s about $10 for you get charged per search that you do, but it’s something like $10 per hundred thousand searches or something. So for a cash-strapped author or whatever, I think it’s worth doing. So I know this isn’t a particularly amazing search term but you get the idea that effectively it gives you loads of related keywords. What other people, and let’s have a look here look, Jasper Ford, I presume he’s an author. That’s a very, very decent. And the other thing with this particular piece of software is it you can do global, you can do UK, US, so you can target particular sort of territories with it. See, this is great, 1600 searches. So imagine if you take that, this guy is an author and you start doing stuff. Now I have no idea whether it’s relevant for you, Mark, but if you were to do something around Jasper Ford for example that’s a lot of traffic. The other thing to look at here is CPC. Cost-per-click, now the very fact that people are paying money to rank for that keyword suggests that people buy stuff to do with Jasper Ford. That’s the other thing to think about you want to see that there’s commercial intent if you’re trying to sell stuff and this is all really interesting and useful information. The competition thing as well, that’s obviously worth looking at, that’s not very much competition at all, which is good. So, but with all of these things you imagine you do three or four authors and create content around these. That’s a lot of traffic you potentially could be tapping into. I mean, let’s just have a look at Terry Pratchett on his own. Because the other thing to say obviously is if you initially start creating content around long tail keywords like this eventually after you sort of become regarded as an expert by YouTube, it will start optimising putting you out on keywords, shortened versions of this. So you’ll start to rank for stuff like just Terry Pratchett. So let’s just have a look quickly at Terry Pratchett books, let’s say, wow, okay. Do you see what I mean, look, you got auto complete here. So okay. Terry Pratchett, “Discworld” 1900 per, this is in the UK Mark on its own, 1900 per month. Terry Pratchett books, nearly five and a half thousand. And this little thing here is basically this sort of trend. So you can see it’s going up or down. And actually what’s great is these are kind of I mean, I know they’re going up and down a bit, but they’re sort of relatively stable, best Terry Pratchett books. Again, you see this would have buying intent I think because why would you search for best Terry Pratchett books? Unless somewhere in your head, you were thinking I might buy one. Do you see what I mean? And then you’re thinking or we’ll be thinking, okay, if people are really in that purchasing mindset, at that point they’re looking for best Terry Pratchett books. Maybe those are people we need to be putting ads in front of. Do you see what I mean? So all of this stuff all feeds in to that kind of mindset that you need to kind of get into.
It is a mindset because the thing that’s going through my mind at the moment is how dare I, how dare I compare myself to Terry Pratchett? The guy I started reading when I was a teenager and met a few times, got a few signed books and worship and cried on the day that he died. You know, how dare I, but I think that’s where my readers live. So I have to go there. And I know because I belong to some of these Facebook groups, how passionate these people are. And I know that simply by putting, stepping into that ring, I will piss off any number of them. But the flip side to that is if I can get 1% of Terry’s market then it’s toys for Christmas for everyone.
You know, you raise a really interesting point about annoying people.
I’m good at that.
What I am not advocating is basically poking the bear of social media, like we talked about before. But if someone is annoyed with you or that is not a bad thing in the sense that it’s still an inter, I mean, this sounds really cold and quite heartless, but it’s still an interaction. So if someone’s laying into you, it’s still an interaction
This is how flat Earther’s have got traction. This is how Trump got elected people piling in, it’s just, it’s generating a conversation? So I’m not saying we should go there and do that but it is generating data.
I think there’s a whole thing around it is a thing obviously, we’re creating content. For example, someone, I think there was one thumbs down on the video last week. And I was like, oh-
What, on our video, really?
Yes, and it’s difficult. I’m 48 years old. I should be above this. But I would be lying if there wasn’t some little part of me that just went, oh really? This is a complete, and why it’s sort of a mindset thing as well, because, and this is where Desi sort of comes into his own because you think why am I obsessing about that one thumbs down which could have been, how about all the other really great conversations we’ve been having with all these amazing people that are sort of following us is, and we’re really grateful for you guys, by the way. So thanks for joining us in this slightly mad quest of ours, but the upsetting people or people not liking what you do I think may be a way around that is to kind of take a step back and go, yes, but it’s still engagement and kind of take the sting out of it and go okay, if someone’s having a go or going how dare you, which, by the way, you’re not, ’cause you don’t kind of pile in there I’m imagining sort of going, hey guys, I’ve just written this book and it’s as good as Terry’s.
I’m the second coming of Terry Pratchett.
That’s going to go down well.
Barry Pratchett. Because that’s not what you’re saying anyway but I think it is a big topic for discussion and it is something that we all have to kind of grapple with in our own way, in terms of the haters, the keyboard warriors and all of that sort of thing. But I think if there’s a way that we can mentally like I say, go in quite a kind of detached and cold way. Yeah, but actually this is all good engagement and weirdly will feed into the algorithms and hopefully something good can come out of this nonsense. I mean, like I say, absolutely do not court controversy in that sense. I mean, there’s some people that in terms of the digital marketing arena who deliberately go out to antagonise and I’m not talking about doing that. ‘Cause I think that is a really dangerous game to play. And I just think it’s a bit disingenuous in the end and why create any negativity where there doesn’t need to be any, right? I mean that’s what I think, but, but yeah. So I think that little exercise there it’s actually buoyed me up quite a lot. Cause I think there’s a lot that we could do with all that. And that was just with, admittedly, a massive author and someone who’s got a massive amount of pedigree, but I think that’s really, really positive. Don’t you think, Mark?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s got me thinking about doing a short video. I’ve got all my books up there. I’m thinking I could do five minutes talking about Terry, which you know, the ones that are a bit like “The Crow Folk” that you might enjoy if you’ve enjoyed those. And then maybe not even talk about my book at all, but have the card at the beginning and the end and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s got me thinking
I think definitely that’s that’s for that sort of content. It’s almost awareness stage what you’d call it at the top of funnel. We can talk about all this nonsense at another point, but effectively the stage we’re in at the moment, it is about raising awareness that a, that you exist and who you are and what you do, and actually the doing a list of the best Terry Pratchett books, in your opinion or all that kind of stuff is a great way actually of providing service and serving the audience without selling your book, which on the face of it, isn’t really a service you’re like you’re just going, I’ve got this book, it’s really good. I’ve written it, please buy it. Whereas actually there are ways that if there are ways that you can put goodness out into the world and actually help people, and then like you say, brand it up a bit, put it all kind of, by the way this is what I’m doing, but really, really soft sell, don’t not be properly subtle about it. And actually I think the thing is when you’re done, maybe I wouldn’t put anything on the front of your video about your book. I would do it at the end just because it’s that thing of you’ve then given people some really useful information and then you kind of go by the way people don’t tend to mind if you’ve given them some value then go by the way guys, this is what I’ve done, you may like it, and literally leave it at that. You know? So I think that’s really good. And in terms of other keywords, so that was that that Google exercise, I think is a really good one. And it really gives you a sense very quickly of the kind of area, your sort of competitors I suppose, in some senses, but the area of that bookshop of your mind that you will be occupying.
Yes, exactly, that bookshelf, we’re on the same shelf kind of thing. And that is important. And like I said, whatever genre you’re writing in there will be an author like that. And why not pick the big one, and then drill down as you discover who your readers really, really are. But yeah.
And I think there’s something before we go onto sort of a little bit more kind of keyword tools and stuff. I’ve got a few kind of little great little tools that I’m going to share for people to have a look and to again, drill down into those searches for ideas of content, I suppose, but also if you’re creating videos, you’re going to need to tag them up. In fact, we could possibly talk about that quickly as well, before we go. So I’ve already talked about keywords everywhere. I’ll put these links, everyone in the description. So you can have a look at the software in your own time. There is a great, this play, this right, is a fantastic game. You can see I’ve been there several times, Answer the Public, have you heard of this, Mark?
You showed me this and it is brilliant. I did use it to get, to generate some blog content actually, it’s really, really useful.
So now we’re kind of, cause we’ve been talking about the sort of creating content and obviously that Google exercise earlier on starts you down that kind of funnel going, oh, actually I could create this. I love this guy being very menacing and picking his, yeah. So basically, it’s answerthepublic.com. What this does, is it scrapes all the questions, data from Google, from Bing and all the different search engines and collates it in one place. So I tell you what, what should we, in terms of what we’re talking about here? Let’s say let’s just for the sake of argument, publishing a book, type in a key phrase, or a sort of topic area that you are interested in creating content around. You, press that now. So this is about, because it knows where I am, it’s England and GB. And obviously the date, because obviously this data’s constantly changing. So it’s just having a little think about it. But this is a very, I use this all the time. And obviously like you said, Mark, you’ve done it too. This is an amazing resource for collating, sort of the different forms of questions and sort of allied topic areas for the search term that you’ve plumbed in. So it’s already, so it’s come up. Now, what you get is this fantastic visualisation. So publishing a book where, where to start publishing a book, can publish it in this. Maybe you could answer this, Mark, can publishing a book make you rich?
That’s quite a short video there, guys. But, you get the idea. So many amazing ideas in here. Now the grades of green here are obviously tips when publishing a book that’s got a lot of traffic to it, less traffic cost in publishing a book, but this is such a phenomenal resource. If you’re looking to create content that is based on people’s searches, right? So you’re answering questions people are asking, this is an amazing resource. And I use it all the time to create really relevant content that is going to help people. This is where you get those ideas from, one of the places. So you’ve got the what, the where, can, why, when type questions, prepositions as well. And then you get the comparisons here. All of this stuff is absolutely brilliant. And you can just, I mean, the great thing as well is if you then like, I’ve got keywords everywhere on this machine. So you’ve then got all the sort of in alphabetical order, but then you see I can go through and you look here and you go, okay well publishing a book cost that query there. If we did something around that, Mark, and I don’t know whether that’d be relevant or not,, search volume of 140, and that has got quite a lot of commercial intent behind it because people are paying just under two quid per click for that. And you can see the it’s doing all right. you just get really useful data from all this. So that’s pretty good that one there, 140, publishing a book Amazon, smashing it, over 1300 per month. So I would spend some time having a look at this, using this tool. Basically it is free. I think there’s a limit though to how many times, how many search terms you can use per month, because it knows, obviously it tracks you. It knows how many times you visited and then you have to wait a couple of weeks, I think, and then you can try again. There’s also a tool that I looked at the other day which I liked the look of, which is keywordtool.io. Let’s have a quick look at this. And the thing with these is with keywords and stuff, you can kind of it is a little bit of a rabbit hole right? You can kind of go and in and in and in, but with all these things with doing your basic Google search using answerthepublic.com and these, it’s sort of about cross-checking the information as well. And all of the time you’re kind of going to get ideas as to hang on, that seems to be coming up a lot. That keyword seems to have a lot of search queries and it will just start things off in your head as to potential kind of ideas.
I think how this helps authors is they’re always thinking what can I put out there? I think we mentioned this last week if you’re starting a newsletter or a blog or a YouTube video you’re thinking, well, who cares what I think? But like I said, if you discover the questions that people are asking so if you’re just starting out, maybe put in a search term along the lines of starting writing a novel and see the questions that people are asking there. And maybe as we said before the best teacher is the one that’s one step ahead of the class. So if you say, well, I’ve just started writing a novel and I’ve learned this from it, it’s the kind of thing that will help you generate the kind of content that will get momentum going for you.
Yeah, absolutely. So in this, so let’s do a writing a book. Let’s see what that comes up with. So what this is good for now, obviously you’ve got a, oh trend you see, obviously you’ve got the option, if you want to make these or you get the data like that. If you want it, you have to pay a little bit of cash for that, but what this is, what I liked about this tool is the fact that you’re getting for any particular shorter tail key phrase, you’re getting loads and loads and loads of options here, which again might, and if there’s one that you think oh, well, I’ll give that a go. Then what you could do is if you have keywords everywhere is to copy that put it into Google properly. And then with keywords everywhere it would give you this data anyway. But it’s just, it’s a great way of finding out longer tail versions of the short tail bit that you’ve put in. And again, it’s all those kinds of little sparks of inspiration in your head about, “Oh actually”, it’s about uncovering niches actually at the end of the day, niche keywords because there’s topics that you may not think oh, that particular topic is so specific. You may not think that it’s that lively, but actually it is, and also with things like the trend data you can see oh, loads more people are talking about it now or fewer or whatever. So you can really focus in on what the effective keywords for your, and this goes for optimising your YouTube channel. Obviously when you’re doing blog posts, sprinkle all this keyword goodness, sprinkle it throughout your blog posts all of that good stuff make sure that the header’s on your website. For example, feature keywords that you know people are looking for and you know that are relevant to your kind of subject area, it all helps make your content, whatever it is, blog posts videos, or website, it all makes it really relevant. And ultimately read by the right people.
And it never goes away. Here’s an example just from this week, sadly, Sean Connery passed away this week. And about five years ago we were on holiday in Spain and we happened to be, we went to a place in Almeria, where they make lots of movies. And I dragged my family to this town where they made “For A Few Dollars More” and all these great westerns. I was in the gift shop looking at the books and there’s a bit in “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” where Sean Connery gets his umbrella, scares these birds and brings down the Messerschmidt. And he says, I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne. I let my army be the birds. And I dragged the family in our little hire car over this place, which was like the surface of the moon. And I dragged them out and we found that rock. We found that rock and I recreated that moment. And it’s a blog post from years ago and Sean Connery passed away and suddenly this blog post boing, the most popular thing in my blog by miles. So this stuff is evergreen as well. It always, always stays there. And it’s so weird, stuff you completely forgot that you blogged about, whenever “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves” comes on the telly, I wrote a blog post about what that film means to me that still pops up whenever it’s on Channel 5 or wherever. So it’s definitely worth doing it and getting it right. ‘Cause you never know when it’s going to pop up again.
Well, that’s the thing. And also again, like you say, spend the time on making sure you’re optimising all your content in the right way because what you don’t want to do is create a load of stuff. And then it’s you’ve got 20 or 30 videos that you need to then go back to, go through, trawl through, optimise in the right way. This is all part of the creating a sort of sustainable kind of production model, if you like so that you have a little process that you follow, and then you, like you say, there’s all these little pieces of content are out there all the time. And people will come into contact with them at various different points. But if they’re optimised in the right way they will be attracting the right people for you. that’s the bottom line.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just as an experiment years ago, I put up a blog post that just says, how old is Milo Parker? Milo was the young boy in “Robot Overlords”. And he’s basically the same age as my son. So I know how old he is but I know that whenever you’re watching a TV show, ’cause he’s done tonnes of TV and films since. And again, barely a week goes by where someone hasn’t put in a Google tab, how old is Milo Parker? My blog is the top search result in which I do not answer that question.
Well, that’s a shame, isn’t it? So let’s scoot quickly back, Mark, to your YouTube channel because there is something that we haven’t looked at yet which I mentioned just a minute ago. And I think maybe this will be our sort of parting gift to our lovely viewers. Now, what I would say is immediately now we’re talking we’ve just done a lovely discussion about keywords. There are no keywords in here. So I would have a look, that is something you need to do when you go in and you log in yourself, it is in manage channel. Channel key words again, do all that Google searching, have a think about you don’t need loads and loads. You probably need about I don’t know, five, five to eight, something like that. Keep it relatively, and one of the search terms, it might look like you’re being a bit egotistical but genuinely your name could be a search term because your channel is about you. So that could be, I know that it’s not like authors or whatever, but wise putting that in, because as hopefully things build, you will get searched for more and more. And it’s one of those things that channel keywords tend to get forgotten or not updated particularly that often. So definitely do that because that will allow YouTube to basically categorise generally your content and what it’s about.
Well, there is a town in Canada called Mark Stay Warren, which comes up when you Google me. And there is also a brand of, I think it’s used in engraving and it’s called Mark Stay. So I’m up against that.
Well, that’s probably what the competition’s for. I mean, I’d love to think, Mark, that it’s to do with your superb authoring, but I think it’s probably the buffing tool.
Whatever it is.
Disappointed when they see me pop up.
Exactly, so I’m just going to pop back into your video quickly, video tags. Did you do any tagging? Yes, you have, well done.
I did, yeah.
How did you get hold of these tags?
I plucked them out of my brain.
Okie dokie. These now you can either again, use something like TubeBuddy. Now there’s a free version of TubeBuddy, and there’s a free version of vidIQ, which will allow you when you’re in your kind of the backend of your YouTube channel when you’re uploading and all the rest of it, it’ll give you the ability to type in a few tags like you did, Mark, from your head. I would probably be a little more kind of tending towards have a look on Google first, have a think about search terms that look like they’re doing something. And then what it will do is it will suggest tags that have traffic. I mean that you could do a lot worse than just typing in book readings on YouTube and see what comes up. Do you see what I mean? And see what’s getting traction. That isn’t that many tags you’ve got, you’re allowed to put in I think it’s something like 500 characters. So you could put a few more in there. So for example, if there are other authors other than Terry Pratchett, maybe put a few of those kind of guys in, just because again, people that are looking at Terry Pratchett-based videos and actually again, you see if you’re creating content like we were talking about earlier, that is my favourite Terry Pratchett books or whatever, then that’s golden then, because you’ve then got the tag on this video. But you’ve also obviously got other videos which are talking about Terry Pratchett as well. The thing with tags is you need to, they do need to be relevant to that video. You can’t be too far. Now, I think you’d get away with that, but you can’t do things that are too kind of if you’re not ever mentioning Terry Pratchett in there and you’re constantly doing that, time after time after time, video after video, people will go, why have you optimise for that? It’s got no relevance at all to what’s in your video. You know what I mean? So for example, if I did, I like Terry Pratchett and I know Terry Pratchett’s a really good search term but then I do a video about accountancy. Clearly that’s not great from a viewers point of view because they’re wanting accountancy based stuff, sorry, they were looking for Terry Pratchett stuff. And I’m banging on about how to complete a tax return. It’s got nothing, it’s again, it’s coming back to making it as user friendly as possible.
You’ve actually done this, haven’t you? Have you actually done it?
I did, yeah. Yes, I am the creator of the Terry Pratchett accountancy fan club channel. But yeah, so I would look at a few more tags, but yeah, you definitely need to tag your videos. It’s basically telling YouTube quickly what you’re talking about, so that it can serve your video up to the right people. And what happens as well is as we start creating, as you start creating more and more videos as well, Mark, on your channel, YouTube starts to experiment and will show your videos to, for example, Terry Pratchett fans. So that’s the reason why you need to have relevant tags, because it may do a day of showing you suddenly to thousands of people that look at Terry Pratchett videos and it will track obviously how you do. And if you’re getting no engagement or people are disappearing after two seconds on your video, then they know something’s up. So it’s a way of them testing the quality of the content and the value that people are getting out of it. I’m conscious of time as ever. And we’ve done a sterling job of running over, I think again.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you ever so much for bearing with us. I hope you’ve got some really great value out of this, stuff that you can take away and implement in your own book marketing journeys. Mark, thank you as always so much for sharing your ear holes and your expertise with us. And let’s do this again next week on the slightly unfortunately monikered Book Marketing Challenge. You see, second time and I didn’t even sing it then either. Ladies and gents, have a lovely week, Mark have a lovely week, and we’ll see you again here very shortly. Ta-ta for now.
[Narrator] Thanks for watching. We really hope you got loads of value from this episode. We’d love to hear from you too. So if you have anything you’d like to know about or any topics you’d like us to look at, just ping us a message in the comments below. Please do like share and subscribe. We massively appreciate your support and we’ll be back next week with the next step in our exciting journey. So join us then.
What are page proofs? And what should an author do with them? In this quick and easy video, I’ll show what I did with mine when they arrived last week. You’ll learn what they’re for, why I read them out loud, and why I back them up to a master document.
TRANSCRIPT: Hello folks. I’m Mark Stay. I’m an author and a screenwriter. And in the run up to the publication of my new book, The Crow Folk, which is coming February 2021, I’m gonna be posting regular updates here. There’s stuff about the book and the story, but also behind the scenes stuff about the process of publication and particularly all the fun stuff that happens in the run up to the big publication day.
And just recently, I got my page proofs from my publisher. So I’m going to talk about what I do with those and how I review them for my publisher. We’re a little over three months away from the publication of The Crow Folk and the proof pages were sent to me as a PDF. This is how the printed book will look on the page. They used to come as a big wodge of paper, but now, for various reasons – economical, environmental – they’re sent as a PDF. I did look into getting them printed locally, but for a 352 page document, it would’ve cost about 35 to 50 quid, depending if I wanted it one-sided or or two-sided.
Now the proof pages are an author’s last opportunity to really spot any errors and make any changes. Not big changes, either. This is not an edit. The edit is done. This is not the time to decide to move that pivotal scene in Act two into Act One No, no, no… What you’re looking for are typos, formatting errors, clunky sentences. And that’s about it. I read them out loud. Why? Well, when I was at Orion — I worked for the Orion Publishing Group for many, many years — the audio director, Pandora White, said she wished all authors would read their proof pages out loud. And the reason is that by the time they came round to recording the audio book, the proof pages had been done and sent off to the printers. So if they ever spotted any errors — and they often did — it was too late to do anything about it. So y’know, that’s why I read it out loud. I know authors who use speech software to have their computer read it back to them, which is a good way to spot typos and clunky sentences, but you miss homonyms. So y’know there are at least two I can recall from this book: draft and draught, and hole and whole. You miss fomatting errors. You can’t hear when the formatting is wrong, y’know. So I had a question mark slip off the end of the line and end up at the beginning of the next line on this ones, so I was able to pick that, so to catch that. So I read out loud. I make the words as big as possible on the screen, because I’m one of those people who tends to speed, read and skip ahead, and that’s how you miss stuff.That’s how you miss the little tiny details, and you can’t make that mistake when the words are so huge. When I read, I do so in a soft voice and try not to make it too dynamic or dramatic. You know this process can take as long as a week, and I need to save my voice. There’s a fine line between a soft voice and monosyllabic.
I mark-up the pdf as I go. I read for about an hour a time, and then I usually take a break, do a little bit of housework or something just to get the circulation going again. I generally find I can only read in the mornings. I’m just too drowsy in the afternoon and I miss stuff.
At the end of each session, I go back to my original document, which is a Scrivener document. You may use Word or similar, and I go and make those changes. All those mark-ups that I’ve made. I go and make them in my original document. And I did that for the edit, and the copy edit: any changes go back into a master document so that I have a master doc with all the updated changes. You’d be amazed how few authors do this and that’s not unreasonable. Why should I do this? The publisher is making those changes and putting it out there. But at some point in the future, you may need that document. You may part company with your publisher, you know, authors get the rights back to their books, and I may want to self publish it in 20/30 years’ time or whatever. And the last thing I want to do is have to go through this process all over again. And also, you know, you can’t just ask the publisher for those files. They’ll charge you for them. They spent money creating them, and they will charge you. Sometimes it’s hundreds of pounds, and if you got a whole series that can really, really add up so, you know, create an archive, back it up, get into the habit of creating an archive. So that’s it. That’s reading page proofs.
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!)…
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…
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…
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.
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…
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!
Howdy, this month’s chicken centrefold is Giz. Say hello to Giz…
We’ve learned quite a few things on the Bestseller Experiment podcast, but the one lesson that’s really chimed with me is the importance of a deadline. And not only a deadline, but a big, public bastard declaration of a deadline that you can’t go back on without making yourself look a complete pillock and suffering big heapings of public shame when you don’t meet it.
During the meanwhilst, our novel has been through an edit, another rewrite, and is currently with our copy editor. She’s currently getting forensic on its ass, and we look forward to getting a document riddled with notes pointing out our poor grammar, punctuation and identifying massive plot holes.
It’s also with a couple of advance readers. Just a handful at first, then we’ll take on their feedback and widen it out to others. The truth is, we don’t have much time, so if they come back with ‘It stinks, rewrite the whole thing and set it in 12th century Mongolia,’ then we’re kind of screwed. Fortunately, so far we’ve had ‘This isn’t what I expected, but I’m really enjoying it,’ comments (it really is unlike anything I’ve written before).
We’ve also had our first meeting with our cover designer, which was incredibly exciting and promises to be the most enjoyable part of the experiment if for no other reason than it’s our chance to torture a fellow creative. There will be some kind of cover reveal in the next month or so. Follow us on the Twitters, Facebook and Instagram to be the first to know.
I’ve also gone back to look at a couple of projects that I put aside in order to concentrate on the Bestseller Experiment. The first is a middle-grade science fiction adventure novel. I finished the first draft of this almost exactly a year ago, and I’m happy to say that it stands up to scrutiny pretty well. I’m giving it a light polish before sending it to my agent. My hope is that this will get picked up by a children’s publisher and be the first in a bestselling series, leading to big budget movies, action figures and inordinately expensive Lego kits.
The other project… Well, maybe it’s time for a big, stupid, ballsy, public declaration of a deadline? This project started as a book in 2008, then became a TV pilot script, then went back to being a book again, then was reduced to a treatment for another version of a TV show. It was an idea in search of a format and was in danger of being completely abandoned, but whenever I went back to it I knew that it had such rich potential. Another big lesson learned from the Bestseller Experiment is that a good series can be hugely successful. And it occurred to me that this project didn’t need to be just one book and it didn’t need to be restricted by TV and film budgets. It could be a series set in a single precinct, much like Robert Rankin’s Brentford, or Terry Pratchett’s Discworld where anything could happen. A kind of Midsomer Murders with magic, with a roster of characters and situations that will allow me to write about pretty much any theme I want to. It’s current working title is The Woodville Project after the school where I grew up (my parents were the school caretakers and I had the run of the fields and adventure playground… it was bloody brilliant).
So, my big, stupid, ballsy, public declaration is that I will write and self-publish three Woodville novellas in 2018. The first one in, pfft, I dunno… shall we say April? Fine, that’s a deal. Here we go!
Shit, what have I done?
Till next time!
PS. Of course this could all be scuppered by a really good film or TV deal coming along. I reserve the right to sell-out to Hollywood.