Are you a writer who’s struggling to get your book seen online? Are you looking for new book marketing strategies? In this series, we cover the basics of marketing your book, social media marketing for authors and all sorts of book marketing strategies and tips for authors.
This week, Jeremy and I are joined by filmmaker and animator Kai Newton who shot and edited the book trailer for my book The Crow Folk. We cover the video production process from beginning to end – covering script development, video shoot planning, how to make a YouTube video on a budget – and plenty more book marketing advice to boot.
Want to write a novel, but juggling a day job, commute and other such commitments? I’ve written novels and screenplays while shuttling back and forth to London, and here are five tips that helped me make the most of my limited time…
Are you a debut author or seasoned writer needing to know HOW to market your book? Or HOW to promote your book on YouTube?
In this in deep-dive, they talk candidly about WHICH video marketing strategies have worked, and which have not been as successful. WILL they hit their 1000 target for pre-sales before Feb 2021? WHICH digital marketing techniques will they enlist? WHICH book marketing strategy will be put to the test next on their ambitious (some may say foolhardy) quest?
In Episode 6 you will learn:
The definition of a blurb and how a few words on your book cover can make all the difference.
How to run a blog tour (or get someone to organise it for you).
Why categorisation is important, but ultimately it’s the reader who decides.
The kind of pre-publication publicity that a publisher can organise for you, including features in trade magazines like The Bookseller, and interviews in store magazines like Booktime.
Why an author should be a “squeaky wheel”!
And we take a look at other AuthorTubers and why they are so successful.
Blurbs are hard and I’ve been tweaking mine (ooh, Matron!)…
Hello folks, Mark Stay here. I’m sure you’ll be delighted to learn, I’ve been tweaking my blurb. Ooh, Matron. What does that mean? Well, the blurb is the book description. It’s that three paragraphs that you see on the back of the paperback or on the online retailers’ book description. And it’s one of the most powerful selling tools you have, because it’s usually the first thing that people see, and it helps them make up their mind if they actually want to read on and buy the book, and what have you. So, I got some feedback from Simon and Schuster’s sales department. They felt the blurb was reading a little bit too young… skewing a little bit too young. Let me just read it out to you to give you an idea. So here’s the blurb as was, and then I’ll talk about how I’ve tweaked it and how it’s changed.
So here’s the original blurb: 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 bell ringing, Faye will find herself on the front lines of a war nobody expected. Now, the things that jump out there are references to jam roly, poly, which is in the book, and the word spiffing.
I felt they may be felt a little bit too Famous Five. This all sort of begs the question: who is this book for? You know: do you want it read by a YA market or middle grade market? And let’s define what they are: middle grade is kind of up to about… Sort of from about eight to about 12 years old. YA is anywhere from mid teens, right up to mid thirties. Actually that older, mid thirties market I think would really, really enjoy this, but you don’t want to put off a whole corner of the market that might read that and think, Oh, that’s a bit young for me. It’s a bit childish, perhaps. I mean, this book doesn’t have any swearing, because of the period really, uh, there’s, there’s no violence. Certainly not as violent as my previous books.
There’s no sex. So it could genuinely be read by anyone from the age of 10 upwards. But, it does deal with the second world war. There are demonic forces at work here. So, you know, you don’t want to put people off, but you want to sort of capture the tone of the book. So I went back and forth with my publisher on this. We removed those words like spiffing, words, like jam roly poly, and tried to make it just a little bit darker. We went a bit too far with some of our efforts, but then we dialed it back a bit. So, here’s what we got. So, uh, this is the new blurb: War rages in Europe, but in a quiet village in rural Kent, there is another battle to be won. Faye Bright has always known she was different, but when she discovers her late mother’s diary, she realizes why. It’s full of spells incantation, runes, and recitations.
It is a witch’s notebook and Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities. Just in time too. The Crow folk are coming. And they want that book. Led by the charismatic pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. Armed with little more than her mum’s words, the grudging help of two bickering witches, and some aggressive church bellringing, Faye will find herself on the front lines of a war with demonic forces. So you see, there are slight differences. You know, we got rid of jam roly poly, spiffing. We’ve got demonic forces in there, so it’s darker, but not too dark. And hopefully this will have that kind of crossover appeal. What’s really helped in the last week or so is I’ve started getting quotes from other authors, which is just amazing. So we’ve got a quote from Rowan Coleman. Thank you, Rowan.
This is amazing. She says it’s full of magic and delight, and we’ve put that on the front cover. And Julie Wassmer, has said it’s warm, witty, witchy, wartime fun, which again adds the fun element to it. So we don’t have to put that in the blurb. So you’ve got those two things working together. You’ve got the kind of the darkness of the blurb, but reassuring voices, other authors saying: you know what, it’s fun as well. So, yeah, we’ve also put a little shout line on the cover as well, which is: June, 1940 rationing blackouts, witchcraft. Which again, you know, combines all the, all those elements of the story. Blurbs are hard. They’re really, really hard. I mean, we’ve, uh, we’ve gone back and forth on this for months and they’re never kind of set in stone either. They’re things that evolve over time. Certainly my robot overlords blurb, has been updated recently with references to quarantine… Rather than being stuck inside. You know, you are in quarantine, lockdown, they’re using words that are very topical. That just happened. I didn’t have anything to do with that, but I think it’s very smart on the part of Gollancz to do that. So yes, blurbs: ever-evolving, ever-changing. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, hope you find it useful and, uh, speak to you again soon. Bye.
Are you a debut author or seasoned writer needing to know HOW to market your book? Or HOW to promote your book on YouTube?
In this 5th episode author Mark Stay and video marketer Jeremy Mason reveal more book marketing strategies and tips for authors.
WHICH of their video marketing strategies have worked so far? WILL they hit their 1000 target for pre-sales before Feb 2021? WHICH digital marketing techniques will they enlist? WHICH book marketing strategy will be put to the test next on their ambitious (some may say foolhardy) quest?
In Episode 5 you will learn: Lots of book marketing strategies, finding the route to market for your book, insider hints and tips that will help you with marketing your book. We talk about: Tweetdeck, Canva, Goodreads, BookFunnel, Groovepages, book events, pre-orders, book signings, pitching yourself for publicity and more…
As you may know, at the start of my forthcoming book The Crow Folk our young heroine Faye Bright finds a book left to her by her late mother. In this book are spells, recipes, incantations… and a recipe for Jam Roly Poly (translation for non-British folk: Jam Roly Poly is a much-loved pudding that has the same density as a sock stuffed with pastry, but filled with jam and tastes lovely with custard).
I am delighted to announce that the recipe featuring rationed ingredients from 1940 is finally available for lovely subscribers to my newsletter. It was compiled by Miss Burgess, a baker of some repute in the village.
Ever wondered HOW to market your book? Or HOW to promote your book on YouTube? Join the 4th outing of author & screenwriter Mark Stay and video creator & marketer Jeremy Mason, as they implement a video book marketing plan for Mark’s upcoming release.
One month in – have ANY of their video marketing strategies worked? WILL they hit their 1000 target for pre-sales before Feb 2021? Time is marching on. WHICH video marketing techniques will they enlist? WHICH YouTube book marketing strategy will be put to the test next on their ambitious (some may say foolhardy) quest? In Episode 4 you will learn about YouTube Channel Optimisation, VidIQ, Tube Buddy, Captions, rev.com and Subly.
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.
New to Terry Pratchett? Which book should you read first? I’ve been reading Terry’s books for over 30 years and will give you a quick guided tour of the best places to start with Terry and the Discworld. I also acknowledge the influence of Terry’s writing on my own work and my new book The Crow Folk.
Hello, folks Mark Stay here In the description of my new book, The Crow Folk, the publisher has written “For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett,” and a bit further down there’s lovely quote from the author Ian Sainsbury, who says “Pratchett fans will love this book,” which is a comparison that both thrills and terrifies me. I’ve been reading Terry’s books since I was 14, 15 years old, which is over 30 years. It’s safe to say that no writer has come close to capturing my imagination in the way that he did. I’ve not got everything he’s written, but I’m fairly close. And like any fan of Terry’s work, my first reaction when someone says, “This this is just like Terry Pratchett!” is, “Yeah, yeah, right.” So what I want to talk about today is the debt that I owe to to Terry Pratchett, and how I’ve come to terms with that comparison. But I’m also aware there are people out there who won’t have read any Terry Pratchett, and they will look at all the backlist and… It’s a bit bewildering and thinking, Well, where do I start? It’s probably one the most common questions from any new reader. So let’s have a look at some entry points for new readers to the Discworld and Terry Pratchett. The Discworld, as its name suggests, is a flat disc of a world on the back of four elephants on the back of a giant flying turtle floating through space. And it’s a wonderful precinct for every kind of story. Terry’s stories combine magic with wry humour, and a humanity that I think you don’t see a lot in fantasy. At least, you didn’t until Terry came along. And as the series have evolved, various story threads have evolved, various kind of distinct series within series and fans have their favourites, and it started with The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, pretty much you know, the first book and a sequel. These two really do tie in, and it covers the story of a cowardly Wizard called Rincewind. These are fun. It’s not Discworld at its best. It’s still something of a parody, at this point, of regular fantasy, and it’s interesting… you compare them to the later books how far the books have evolved over time, so… These are great. I wouldn’t say start with these. Some of the most beloved books are the stories of The Watch. The City Watch. There’s a city,Ankh Morpork, and there’s a city watch led by Captain Vimes. They all started with this book Guards, Guards, which is written in tribute to… in any other fantasy story, the poor guards who run into the room and are slaughtered by the hero straight away. These are terrific fun, really, really good fun. There is a TV show coming which doesn’t… it shares some of the DNA of the books, but frankly… It’s one of those things… Good Omens aside — we’ll come to that in a minute — I’m not sure you can adapt Terry’s books for TV and film, because the things I love about Terry’s books the most is the writing itself, the prose and the characters. The stories are good fun, but I don’t think they lend themselves to TV adaptation in the way that other books do. This is just magic. This is a great one to start with. The other ones are the books that feature Death. I mean Death features in every single one of Terry’s books. He’s the one recurring character that crops up all the way through. This was actually the first book I ever read in the Terry Pratchett canon: Mort, which I absolutely adore. Death takes on a young apprentice, and it’s just brilliant, very moving in places as well. Death was such a hit in this one, it’s probably the first time he really came to the forefront in any of the stories, he started getting his own novels, and this again, is a huge favourite. Reaper Man, where death essentially takes a holiday. Definitely worth recommending, but start with Mort if that’s your kind of thing. There are all kinds of stand-alones as well, within the series. Books like Soul Music, which is about rock and roll, Moving Pictures, which is about movies. Pyramids, which is set in a kind of Discworld version of Egypt. They’re all good fun. Probably don’t start with those. They’re kind of atypical. They’re the ones that you discover once you love the series. Of course, the one stand alone, probably even if you’ve never read Terry, you probably do know, is Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman, back in 1990 Signed! Which, again… Just one of my absolute favourites. It’s about the apocalypse, on the face of it, it feels like a parody of The Omen and that kind of genre. But again, there’s so much more to it. So much more fun to it. But the books I love the most, and this is where I do owe Terry a debt, are the witches series which feature three witches… it evolves over time, in a kingdom called Lancre, which is this kind of, it’s, like, cliffs tumbling across farms, and it’s it’s a wonderful, magical place. Ostensibly, it starts with this one, Equal Rights, but in the same way that The Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic aren’t quite fully evolved Discworld. Granny Weatherwax, the lead witch, she first appears in this. But it’s not quite the Granny Weatherwax that that we come to love. It’s a lovely book. It’s a really, really lovely book, but it’s not quite… It’s not where I’d recommend you start. For that, I’ll send you the Wyrd Sisters, which is essentially Macbeth, but from the witches’ point of view. And then you get our trio of witches: Granny Weatherwax, the hilarious Nanny Ogg, and Magrat, who is kind of their their drippy apprentice. This is huge fun and my favourites of all of Terry’s books, probably are the Witches ones. And there have been a number of them, where they go off on various adventures. I’ve got a soft spot for this one, because I remember reading this in hospital when I had kidney stones, so this was a bit of a lifesaver. And there are all sorts here, which are just wonderful, magical stuff. He then did something very clever. He introduced a new witch, in a book called The Wee Free Men, called Tiffany Aching, who has gone on to have her own series. They started, as you see, slightly smaller hardcovers. They started as children’s books and then folded into the mainstream of the Discworld canon essentially, and it’s rather fitting that Terry’s last book featured Tiffany Aching: The Shepherd’s Crown. I know a lot of people who can’t bring themselves to read this book I completely understand why, and it’s… it is a difficult read I did get very choked up… I’m getting choked up. just thinking about it. It is a tough read, but it is wonderful. One of his best books, actually… I’ve learned so much from reading Terry’s work: the importance of character over plot, that use of language and vernacular language. But most of all, the importance of being yourself as a writer. The comparisons, “This is like Terry Pratchett,” it’s only ever meant as a guide. So am I trying to write like Terry? Bloody hell, no, no, I could never do that. But has he inspired me? More than he could possibly know. And he continues to do so. And if you’re new to him, hopefully he will inspire you, too