Jim Webster’s cunning (marketing) plan

Jim WebsterEvery writer has a problem. It’s not writing books or even publishing books. It’s getting the books seen. I have thought about this a lot. Some people crave ‘reviews’ on Amazon. They’re nice, I’m always grateful if people leave a review. But to see the review the potential purchaser has to find the Amazon page. How do you get people talking about you and get them to look at the page in the first place?

Frankly I don’t know. So I decided to try something. One day, when thinking about it, it struck me that my genres of choice, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, are the ones which exploded in the days of pulp fiction. Published in magazines so cheap the paper never even had its edges trimmed. Sold for pennies in the midst of the Great Depression, they were here today and gone tomorrow. A lot of what they published was rubbish, a lot they never paid for, but out of that system emerged some of the greats.

I’ve also noticed that when I release a new book, I often get a boost in the sales of other books. So the more releases, the more boosts? So rather than just releasing something every year, how about releasing something more often, but on a regular schedule so that people are waiting for the next one? That too harkened back to the magazine model. It also set a size limit on the ‘book’ because there is a limit to how much I could write in that period.

Another way I’d go back to the ‘pulp model’ was to keep the price low. In Sterling terms I wanted to hit that 99p price tag. Again this limited the size of the book I was willing to sell for 99p.

Now I had my idea, but how to develop it? One successful model from the past was the serial. Each episode ended with a cliff-hanger. The cinema used that for many years with children’s cinema clubs. Yet reading discussions on Goodreads and elsewhere I don’t think that is a model that works now. I’ve known people give 1 star reviews to books, purely because they end in a cliff-hanger and you have to buy the next book to find out what happens next. I suspect that in the world of the boxed set where you no longer need to wait for next weeks exciting episode, the day of that sort of serial has passed.

I also felt the more conventional series wasn’t for me. Listen to the comments made about Game of Thrones where the author is chastised for not extracting the digit and getting the work finished. Again I’ve come across a lot of people saying that they’ll never buy a book in a series until the entire series is published. They don’t want to commit to reading a series that might never end.

So I looked backwards once more and borrowed the model used in the Sherlock Holmes stories. These stories were written and published in a certain order, but you as a reader can read them in any order without losing anything.

So there was the plan. Now for the execution, I had to write them. Eventually I wrote six stories. I had them edited and proofread and they were all ready to go. Next I made arrangements for them to be released at four monthly intervals. That was the next two years organised. I’ll fit in the releases of anything else I write around them and hopefully this will build interest and even better sales.

Flotsam coverOh, and the stories themselves? Each is a ‘detective’ investigation set in the city of Port Naain. Yes there are fantasy elements but the stories do not need magic to prop up the plot.

So far so good, but then the project grew beyond my control. The first story in this project has been published. ‘Flotsam or Jetsam’, it is available from Amazon (the second of the stories will be out on the 1st December). But one of the characters in the book, Tallis Steelyard, is a poet. Being a poet he is prone to dropping lines of verse into his conversation. My editor, Mike Rose-Steel, is also a poet and emailed me asking if he could borrow Tallis and proceeded to write ten poems.

I then had one character write the background to these poems, and Mike had another character write a literary criticism of the work. We looked at it and published it as Lambent Dreams.

Well, once you’ve got a published poet, he needs a blog. So Tallis Steelyard now writes a blog at https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com. There’s even a Facebook page!

So will the project work? I don’t know. I’ve tried to provide it with depth, enough room for people to ‘lose themselves’ in it and still want to spread out to trying my other books. These you can find on my Amazon page.

If that’s not enough Tallis has even produced more of his poetry…

The bottles sprawl unheeded
The discarded valiant dead
Their sacrifice accepted
Sobriety has fled
The truth it surfaced briefly
But shrugged and went to bed.
Will you walk again beside me?
Will you tread the path I tread?
The wine it made me wordy
The truth when poured was red
I didn’t mean to speak them
But I meant the words I said.


*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently half price! ***

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You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

Morgen’s Editing and Critique Service

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Although currently booked out until end-September 2014, I welcome fiction manuscripts for…

Full editing (content, copy editing & line editing): In-depth ‘firm but fair’ editing with feedback which will include grammar, punctuation, story structure, character depth / dialogue, highlighting potential copyright issues, fact checking, chapter structure / order, narrative drive… the whole shebang. This comes in the form of an edited manuscript together with separate commented document. Suitable for all writers, regardless of experience.

Charged at the competitive rate of £5 (€6.5 / US$8.5 / CA$ & AS$9.5) per 1,000 words. To work out the cost, multiply your word count by 0.005 / 0.0065 / 0.0085 / 0.0095 respectively (so a 100,000-word novel would be £500 / €650 / US$850 / CA$950 / AUS$950 respectively).

This is the type of editing I do mostly and you can read my clients’ feedback here.


Line editing: spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage (e.g. stationery vs stationary, story vs storey), repetition, clichés, sentence construction, consistencies. Here the concentration is on sentences and paragraphs instead of pages and chapters. Suitable for more advanced writers.

Charged at £4 (€5 / US$6.5 / CA$ & AS$7.5) per 1,000 words. Multiply your word count by 0.004 / 0.005 / 0.0065 / 0.0075.


Proofreading: a human spell- and grammar-checker, concentrating on individual words rather than the context. This is the option to take if you are confident of your characters, plot, structure and layout etc. but you want someone to go through it before you submit to an agent or publisher, or self-publish.

My non-fiction writing is about writing so I concentrate on fiction but have proofread non-fiction manuscripts, some poetry and provided feedback on a number of scripts.

Charged at £3 (€4 / US$5 / CA & AS$5.50) per 1,000 words. Multiply your word count by 0.003 / 0.004 / 0.005 / 0.0055.


The above three options are carried out via Word Track Changes (click here for a video on what this means) and for more information on the different types of editing, click here. Another option is…

General feedback: no proofreading / editing, no changes to the document itself, just a typed summary report. This is useful if you’re not sure whether the story is working, your characters (or plot) are believable or you’ve not edited it yet but have sent it to beta (first-round) readers and the feedback you’ve received makes you wonder whether you want to progress it. I’ll be honest and tell you, although for most authors who have taken this option, I have seen promise with their work, they’ve just needed a steer in the right direction.

Charged at £2 (€2.50 / US$3.50 / CA & AS$4) per 1,000 words. Multiply your word count by 0.002 / 0.0025 / 0.0035 / 0.004.


Regardless of the option taken, the first 1,000 words are free  (usually returned within 48 hours), given as the ‘full’ editing service for your free sample, unless you advise otherwise. This is sent to you first and there is no obligation thereafter.

Prices valid until January 2015. Fees agreed in advance of any work undertaken, and more importantly, stuck to (payment options below).

Please note: For projects over 10,000 words, e.g. longer short stories / novels, I am currently booked until late-September 2014 (I’m also the creative writing tutor for Northamptonshire County Council Adult Learning). NB. Items, unless for free sample, to be sent complete, not in sections.

There are two formats:

  • I use Word’s track changes (see picture immediately below as generic example) as it keeps the file size small and the feedback in one place.
  • For authors without Word, and therefore the facility to use track changes, I can usually convert whatever I am sent (Open Office, rtf etc) into Word then do the track changes and save it as a PDF so you can see the changes I suggest.
track changes example

example of track changes (not by Morgen)

** First c.1,000 words offered free as a sample.**

For more details including testimonials from my clients, take a look at this blog’s Editing and Critique page.

Whatever your requirement, you can email me at morgen@morgenbailey.com.