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What a Life

The Book Pedlar

From the moment I picked up your book

until I laid it down, I was convulsed with 

laughter.

Some day I intend on reading it.

Groucho Marx 

There is so much pleasure gained by turning the musty pages of a book. The rustic smell as each page is turned brings joy. It is just not the same for me, at least to be reading on one of those new fangled electronic devices. There is no comparison. From my personal sales it seemed many Britons agreed with me. 

All the hard work was done. The publishing house had accepted the book. First, there was the writing followed by multiple drafts to read. The big day arrives. The book is finally published and available to pre-release buyers.

No one had told me that the book would not be on the shelves at bookstores. It seemed few debut books make it that far unless sales exceed expectations.

Nonetheless it was a pivotal moment for me. Out came the champagne, the corks popped with delight. Time for a decent cigar to accompany the fizzy drink. I smelt the scent of success.

Later the same day I received an email. The publishers were advising  me how I should market the book.What? I thought that was their job. I felt I should write back to them suggesting I was a medic not a book pedlar! It would have made no difference. My immediate hopes started to fall apart.

However, in a subsequent email Austin Macauley sent me details of their role the marketing process. They did much of the necessary market research and demographics required to determine who the purchasers were likely to be. Created the necessary promotional materials of which I received some too. Lastly, they would be taking the book to a variety of book fairs and similar events. My optimism once more increased. Suddenly life didn’t seem too bad after all.

Marketing is really all about 

sharing your passion.

Michael Hyatt 

I began the arduous task of thinking about marketing. The publishers had told me about blogs, Amazon ads, Facebook ads, social media and several other possible outlets. It was all well and good to offer all these potential opportunity’s. However, with the exception of social media there was a cost involved. For me, the cost was  not easily absorbed since I was working with a very tight budget. I could not afford to get a media team behind me. It was impossible to persuade media personalities and book reviewers to offer any sort of review. The local rag refused a five minute slot for my book. Suddenly this was not a mountain to climb, it was scaling Everest.

When everything feels like an uphill struggle, think of the view from the top.

Unknown

First of all I set up accounts with the major social media sites. It soon became apparent to me that regurgitating the same old words lost any benefit gained in the early days. My usage of keywords was also random. I had not given myself any real direction. I was going round and round a roundabout without knowing which exit to take.

Having suffered a serious knock to the head three yars ago, my memory and concentration were lacking. In particular my ability to deal with technology bar emails was substantially impaired.

Despite my handicaps, I ventured to set up a WordPress site. Despite good help from their support agents I found it near impossible.The writing was  not a big deal because many of the blogs were based on Sleeping with the Gasman. The particular problem was adding images to the blogs. However much I tried I could not do it.  After about five months of failed attempts, I eventually found that there was no choice but to employ a third party  The sums wanted to develop my site were mouthwatering in Britain. Eventually I found a company, mhdeveloperwebs who produced this site for me. Their developers were extremely communicative and full of ideas that I had never considered before. A website is a tangible and visual piece of work. I could see the product afore me. I was very pleased with the outcome.

I shall definitely use whdeveloperwebs again.

The advertisements themselves, Amazon ads, Facebook ads and TikTok I had to pay people to do for me. Whilst I could see the results and sales they seemed to be effective in the short term. I threw in my own tuppence worth in via social media. Further ads included those in medical journals and the local newspaper. I could see that these had a positive sales impact. That impact would soon disappear. Meanwhile sales waxed and wained.

There remain other pathways to explore.

I recalled a quote that often rang in my ears during my thirty year career in hospital medicine, anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine;

Never, never, never give up.

Winston Churchill 

What to do next??

I was very much at a loss as both the paperback and ebook disappeared into oblivion. The publishing house (Austin Macauley) had suggested that I needed to be both patient and persistent with marketing. With the best will in the world I felt despondent. Realistically I could do no more.

The greatest pride,
or the greatest despondency, of the greatest is the ignorance of one’s self .

Baruch Spinoza

I, me had never given up with any project in my life. This time I had a dichotomy of choices. The first was to just give up and sit on my arse. The alternative was to jump the hurdle I had been working against. Having exhausted myself psychologically with marketing, I decided to take a week off and think of my alternative options.

After much deliberation, I realised that I had this fantastic website and had done so very little with it in terms of writing blogs. The few I had written were sketchy at best. I had read several articles about writing blogs. I just couldn’t remember what these experts had advised. The best I could offer was to start writing based on Sleeping with the Gasman. I could not just churn the book out. Who would want to buy the tome if they could read the book from my blogs?

I decided to take a different path, That would be my personal stairway to heaven. The decision was to write from a personal perspective as I could possibly manage. I would also write posts about issues regarding what was good for people and that which was not. Many issues that people had taken for granted without realising the potential for good or bad for them.

To be an author had become my third career. Anaesthesia had been my first. I had combined that successfully with photography. Sleeping with the Gasman could never have been written without the help of people close to me. I was letting them down as myself. From my perspective the only mark of success was book sales. I had read somewhere that a book would be regarded as a best seller if it sold more than 33,000 copies. Right or wrong? I had absolutely no idea. At that time nor did I care. 

I set about rewriting the blogs I already had some on the site. Some I had lost by making idiotic errors. It was frustrating. At times I felt myself crying. Irrespective of my emotions, the blogs had to be done. It took time but I was getting there. What would normally have been just a few hours work was now taking over a week to complete. Even then I had to have extensive notes because I could remember so little.

The blogs combined with Amazon ads seemed to be my most successful pathway. I continued with my own social media campaign too.

The problem with social media was that a whole lot of people followed me. They then would try and sell one marketing tool or another. The following statement described my predicament succinctly;

I’m pissed off with Book Marketing Experts.

I’m pissed off with Event Organisers who guarantee I can make a live speech in front of 500,000 people. (Must be a big stadium).

I’m pissed off with Podcasters and Influencers who guarantee millions of views (at a reasonable fee) when they only have 79 followers.

I’m pissed off with those that waste time with questions that attempt to flatter before the big sell.

So this is a message to all those “Experts” who trained for hours, days, or maybe weeks on line for a certificate they print themselves.

Don’t contact me. I’m not interested.

Courtesy of Lawrence Wray

Best Selling Amazon Author

I got to know that sentiment quickly and well. 

Many of these comedians started off with a, “Hello. How are you today”. Others went for the instant kill, by going straight to the point looking for instant financial gain. They would offer me the world for a few hundred dollars. Definitely not for me! Some began with, “Are you a published author?”. The worst excuse for me was that some claimed to be an author. I could find no publication in their name.  If it wasn’t these comedians, young women made contact with me. They would be asking for a date somewhere or other. I could easily been the grandfather of all of them. How pathetic!! Generally speaking, they had no followers. Followed as many as they could. Clearly something seemed suspicious about them. That was a no, no too. Blocked! 

The problem with so many of these “Experts” also known as cowboys, is they think our heads are buttoned up the back. Eventually the only way to get rid of  these people off my back was to block them. I took Lawrence Wray’s advice seriously. 

The results were there for me see. There would be some awful days and then a some great days when sales surged. For a few days it was the paperback rising with grace. Then it was the ebook. There was at times considerable drift in the wrong direction for both formats. Given the struggle with my health, the days when both versions of Sleeping with the Gasman drifted out of the Amazon charts, I would lose faith once more, but still have no self pity. It was not just case of the book rising in the charts. Now it had become a case of maintaining that success. That was not easy. At that point the publishers words of wisdom regarding marketing, patience and and persistence rang loudly in my ears. I continued to persevere, hard work though it was.

Throughout the process of marketing Sleeping with the Gasman, I had learned exponentially. Particularly so for my next book. I should have blogs ready to go on a new website. Elements of the marketing should be in place before the pre-launch date. More advertising can be added in at a later time.

As you perhaps have gathered, it was a great feeling of satisfaction and reward as sales improved. 

During those early days of doom and gloom, I felt that I should be walking up and down the High Street with a sandwich board over my shoulders. I could have a loud bell in one hand shouting , “Hear ye! Hear ye!! The other hand would carry some token leaflets. There was also the alternative of getting a horse and cart, like the scrap merchants Steptoe and Son. That would attract attention! The last available choice would be for me to pack a few books and leaflets in a suitcase and off I would go flogging my wares from door to door as the pedlars did in the 1950s and 1960s. Of course people would probably have their dogs bite my ankles. The other get out clause could be, “Sorry mate, I don’t carry cash anymore” as we drift towards a cashless society my choices seemed limited.

Trying to sell my book by whatever means, at times, really did make me feel that I was a book pedlar!

I developed Amazon trigger finger as I called it. This was checking sales many times a day. It was a terrible habit. Every time I looked, the fear of the outcome left me with dread. I always had an obsessive compulsive disorder throughout my career in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine. Checking every physiological parameter hourly.This also applied in theatre, except it was constant. Some might have concluded that I was a fruitcake. I regarded it as conscientiousness. Sleeping with the Gasman was different. It was my first book. I wanted to see it successful. It took time to quit Amazon trigger finger. I don’t know how, but I eventually escaped the habit. It came to be a case of what will be, will be!!

Beware the racketeer, marketeers. They promise much, take your money and run!!

Do as much as you can yourself unless you can afford professionals. It is worth learning about advertising and marketing. Look at big pharma, their marketing budget is often considerably higher than their drug development budget. I wonder why?  

Was it worth all that hassle? YES!!

Would I do it again?? ABSOLUTELY, YES!!!

The book salesman should be honoured

The book salesman brings to our attention,

as a rule,

the very book we need most and neglect

most.

Confucius

Very much like Sleeping with the Gasman!!

 

Sleeping with the Gasman 

amazon.co.uk/dp/1398415278

Thank you for reading this post.

Kindest regards 

Jazz Pal-Kerr

 

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6 Responses

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for your kind comments. Yes I was a consultant anaesthetist for over 20yrs. The views.
      I had to stop working because of an injury.
      The views are mine and entirely honest.
      Future blogs have been delayed due to ill health. Nothing serious and I am recovering.
      The best way of learning all I have to say, which is plenty, is by reading the book and spreading the word. Many people like it but it is difficult at times to expose the world to my views. People should read them.
      Kindest regards
      Jazz

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