Guest post: ‘Marketability – do you have enough to make a self-published book sell?’ by Bill Munro

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of marketing is brought to you by author and publisher Bill Munro.

Marketability – do you have enough to make a self-published book sell?

Are you a marketable author? Will it be your name on the cover that makes someone take your book to the checkout? Or is poor or non-existent marketability a factor in your failure to secure a publishing deal? If you can’t get your book published, then self-publishing is a great temptation. But will your self-published book fail to sell because you are unknown in your genre? Can the public expect your work to be worth paying for?

Marketability is arguably the most important commercial criterion that a publisher looks for in an author. To understand why it is so vital, we must look at the book trade from the buyers’ end. The retail customer relies on the retailer to offer well-written, well-packaged books. In turn, the retailer relies on the expertise of the publisher to supply those quality books. The author’s name is of great importance in promising quality content. The bookseller will trust a known author, whether front- or mid-list fiction writer, authoritative non-fiction author or celebrity. But with unknown authors, a retailer trusts the publisher’s judgement that the work is worthy of investment, and therefore saleable: a publisher would not (or ought not to!) produce the book if it were not. Thus, to gain credibility with the bookseller and the book-buying public, you as an unpublished author must prove you are a good enough writer, both creatively and technically, can analyse your subject effectively and are capable of writing in a style that is right for your genre.

Against the resources of a traditional publisher, the self-published author will never be on a level playing field when it comes to marketing, but if you are considering self-publishing and want the effort to succeed, you should have those aforementioned writing skills, but you must gain some level of profile in the marketplace. This might be through blogging, magazine articles, competition success, your reputation as an expert in your non-fiction field or whatever it takes to get yourself a name amongst the book-buying public. Without it, your books may end up as expensive dust-gatherers.

Quality content and a sound reputation with the public are key ingredients in a successful book. Continue to improve the quality of your work, create something new and original for the market and keep building an audience by any method you can and you will improve your marketability and bookselling success through self-publishing. You will also greatly improve your chances of securing a traditional publishing deal.

As someone embarking on a freelance career, it’s perfect timing, thank you so much, Bill!

Bill Munro is the author of nine books in the motoring and military vehicle history categories, all published by traditional publishers. After successfully self-publishing a further book through his own publishing company, Earlswood Press, he took on a second author.

He has now signed up another and is moving the company from a part-time operation to a full-time one, as well as continuing to write and publish more of his own books. You can find him at www.billmunro.co.uk and http://cabdriverhistory.blogspot.com, and email him. Earlswood’s ebooks are available via Smashwords.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say, “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with fantasy, magic realism and satire author Malcolm R Campbell – the two hundred and thirty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

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Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘red pen session’ no.9

** Please note that I no longer run red pen episodes but do offer critique (first 1,000 words free) via https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/editing-and-critique.** 

This week’s podcast was released yesterday, Wednesday 28th December, the ninth of my episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards.

I run a fortnightly critique group as well as critiquing other authors’ writing which I really enjoy so I thought I’d create podcast episodes doing this. Please remember that it’s only one person’s (my) opinion and you, and the author concerned, are welcome to disagree with my interpretation – I will never be mean for the sake of it, but hope that I’m firm but fair. I also type the critique as I’m reading the story for the first time so by listening to the episode you will have had the advantage of hearing the story in full before hearing my feedback.

Regardless of what genre you write I hope that this helps you think about the way your stories are constructed and that you have enjoyed hearing another author’s work, the copyright of which remains with them.

This episode’s was an extract, from London-based Danny Kemp’s second novel, entitled ‘The Desolate Garden’. I read a short synopsis, the extract, critiqued it and concluded with:

The way this piece is written it’s easy to connect with our protagonist and we can feel sorry for how he feels for his father, although given the insight into his father I can see why.

It’s a very well-written extract with a good mixture of long and short sentences, keeping the narrative drive and providing the action is subsequently forthcoming, I can see it fitting the murder mystery genre and it be of appeal to readers of that genre.

Stories, whether short stories or novels, should start with the action and Danny also sent me the beginning of Chapter which does have action and the story progresses quickly so the extract I read today certainly avoids the dreaded early ‘info dump’. The beginning of a story is called the ‘hook’ and needs to hook in the reader, and although this isn’t the beginning I certainly would want to read on, so a success in my opinion.”

Danny Kemp is a 62-year-old man, but just change the numbers around to find his real personality. He is quick witted with a devilish sense of humour, socially interacting well across all generations. His writing comes from years of diverse experiences encompassing the Metropolitan Police and the Licensed Taxi trade in the Capital. His interests now are divided between his work, his family, especially his three grandchildren, and his new-found ardor of writing.

His second novel, The Desolate Garden, followed on quickly from his first, Look Both Ways Then Look Behind and a third Mitzy Collins is almost complete. It is the first to be published in what he hopes to be the beginning of a new career. He is a member of The International Thrillers Writers.

He says he came into writing literally by accident, or, more correctly as a victim of one. He was stationary in his London Black Cab, one sunny November morning five years ago, when a van crashed into him, effectively putting him out of work for three years. He had time on his hands and his imagination filled the void left empty from his normal days. The enjoyment he derived from the first story he wrote spread into every crevice of his mind and filled those worrying days, so much so that he fell in love with it, and does not want it to end. Me neither, Danny. 🙂

You can find out more about Danny and his writing at http://www-thedesolategarden-com.co.uk.

If you have any feedback on this episode or any other podcasts or aspects of my website or blog, I’d be delighted to hear from you – my email address is morgen@morgenbailey.com.

And if you’re feeling brave enough to email me a short story (preferred) or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) of no more than 1,000-word for these red pen sessions then feel free. I suggest you listen to at least one of the red pen episodes to get an idea of what happens.

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast is available via iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe). Episodes include hints & tips (currently episode no.44) and author audio interviews – see this blog’s podcast page for more information.