I'd like to take a look at marketing from a writer's perspective in the next few posts. I don't have any special insights into this and nothing I say is particularly original. Certainly, there will be nothing prescriptive in any conclusions I may reach. Rather I'm going to try and apply what I've learned in business to what is essentially my hobby.
Marketing of course is about more than just selling. It really covers the whole of the business transaction from creation of product to selling it in the market place. In my own business I believe that this process starts with the product itself. If the product isn't world-class and absolutely fit for purpose you won't even get to first base.
Which immediately gives me a problem. I already know that my product - my novel A Half Life of One - isn't as good as it needs to be. Too many adverbs and adjectives, flabby sentence stucture, too dark a tone, lack of colour, underdevelopment of subsidiary characters, and a weak ending mean I've failed to develope a world-class product fit to compete in a crowded market place. I know about these shortcomings because of the feedback I've had from some of the people who have read the book. The rest I can see for myself because after an interval of six months I'm able to look at the book with fresh eyes.
The question is what to do next to rectify this fundamental flaw. I think I have four main options:
1 Abandon the book and start a new one applying the lessons I've learnt.
2 Hire a professional editor to revise the book for me.
3 Do yet another re-write (the twentieth maybe).
4 Accept that I'm never going to be a writer and be satisfied with making loads of money in business. (Gee, that's a tough one. I hadn't thought of that before).
Actually, about a month ago I decided to adopt option number 2. I approached a well-known editor whose work I admire and asked him to look at A Half Life on my blog and give me a price for a full edit. This is what he said:
Sorry I've taken so long to get back to you. I skimmed through much of your posted material, and definitely saw some nice writing there (also saw some "head-hopping"--shifts of point of view--that I have a bias against even though you see it all the time).
I suspect that my input could be useful--there were things such as that long, run-on first sentence and the huge paragraph that followed--where I could help tighten things or break them up for greater readability.
But I think I'll pass, mostly for a personal reason--not long back I went through 5 years of unemployment, and your character's story kept bringing up painful memories.That means, in a sense, that it's successful.
Sorry, but for that purely idiosyncratic, personal reason, I don't think I'm the person to edit your narrative.I wish you the best of luck with it, though.
Now, I'm not sure if the guy was being kind to me in a sort of backhanded way, or if he was just being diplomatic and really saying "You're book is so bad you'd just be wasting your money, pal."
Either way, it kind of scared me off trying to hire another editor. I mean, if you can't even pay someone to read your book isn't that God's way of telling you something about your writing abilities?
Whatever, if this was my own business I was operating (which I guess it is) I would absolutely insist that we got the product right before we attempted to launch it upon an unsuspecting world. So I'm going to choose option (2) and try again to find myself a good professional editor. If anybody out there has experience of one, please let me know.
Continuing with the marketing theme in my next post I'll look in detail at how I tried to promote A Half Life by dreaming up The International Blookreader Award. I'll also let you know how one of the winners of that award is going to use his prizemoney to promote his own book.