In the new landscape of publishing, it’s always interesting to hear what different authors are doing to get their books noticed. Today Matthew Turner of Turndog Millionaire is with us to show how he used a short story to build momentum for his book, Beyond Parallel, a coming-of-age story that flips between two parallel lives.
Standing out can be difficult, and Matt’s background in Strategic Marketing means he has some great experience to offer. Enjoy!
Writing is hard! … Editing is excruciating! … Finishing is torture!
However, none of these are the hardest part about writing a book. The hardest part about being a modern day writer is becoming visible in a very invisible world.
When you’re a debut novelist (like moi), trying to get noticed is your main priority. When you’re a self-published debut novelist (again, like moi), it’s imperative you don’t become part of Amazon’s black hole.
When I was planning the release of Beyond Parallel I started to think about how I could stand out from the crowd. I wanted readers, supporters, and email addresses. I needed people who would read and share and express their feelings, no matter how good or bad they were.
This plan had many facets, but it was a short story that was the most intriguing. Not only was it a way to improve my writing, but it allowed me to reach potentially thousands of readers who hadn’t previously read my words.
Would you like to learn how I did it?
A Short Story To Kick Things Off
In October I released Tales From A Tiny Thai Table, a 5,000 word prequel that’s set the night before Beyond Parallel begins. It’s a short story that introduces the main characters, provides and insight into what to expect, and is jam packed with behind the scenes info about me and the book.
These are the benefits my short story offered:
- It got the reader excited about Beyond Parallel
- It was further practice for my writing
- It allowed me to offer something for FREE (give before you take)
- It gave me emails and names for future releases
- It was a dummy-run of the publishing process I learned the ins and outs of Amazon and Smashwords I was able to practice some launch day ideas
- It allowed me to share behind the scenes info
- I was able to extend the story of Beyond Parallel
Of course, this was potential only. It could totally backfire, but I felt it was worth the risk. A crazy risk? Maybe, but I did do a few things to help my cause.
Removing The Risk
I wanted to take this process very seriously, just like I would any book/launch. It wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t tick all of the boxes I had hoped for. However, it was an amazing experience and I’m happy to share my thoughts:
1: Professionally Edited: My editor, Susan, edited Tales From A Tiny Thai Table. It was important to make sure the quality was high. I wanted to showcase my skills, not an un-edited piece of awful! I didn’t stop here though as I asked three people to Beta Read for me. This allowed me to take it to the next level and produce a piece of work that was worthy of the world.
2: Created A Launch Plan: As a marketer my Book Plan is rather detailed. I created a mini plan for Tales From A Tiny Thai Table, and overall approached it like I would any other launch day. I knew things would go wrong (they did) and I knew I’d learn a lot (I did). I wanted to go all out, though. It might have been FREE, but I wanted it to reach as many people as it could. If I simply released and hoped, it would have been a waste of time.
3: Advertising: I decided not to spend any money on advertising, but I did utilize dozens of Free Directories that showcase Free Ebooks. This took a few hours to find, and a further few to fill in the necessary details. It was totally worth it, though as I reached hundreds of people I wouldn’t have otherwise reached. You’d be amazed at what the internet offers if you do some searching.
4: Persistence Is Important: Don’t SPAM, but at the same time don’t let your book become invisible. Keep Tweeting and sharing your Short Story. Make it easy for people to download and approach as many people as you can.
I had a couple of months between Tales From A Tiny Thai Table and Beyond Parallel. Prior to 2013 I wanted people to download the short story and get a taster for what was to come. It also allowed me to talk about Beyond Parallel without feeling like a dirty salesman 🙂
Was It Worth It?
It didn’t bring the results I had hoped for, but the lessons learned were invaluable. You can read about Smashwords and Amazon, but it isn’t until you see it first hand that it really makes sense.
I encourage you to read my Post on getting your Book on Amazon on FREE and avoid the mistakes I made.
The results: I received well over 500 downloads, many of whom didn’t know me beforehand. Few signed up to my mailing list, so I’m not sure what the long-term benefits will be. It was far from a roaring success, but it did reach as high as No.6 on the Amazon Short Story Charts. That’s pretty darn cool 🙂
I love to give before I take, and this was a way to offer my readers a FREE sample before the big day. I’m not sure whether a short story would work for you, but it’s certainly worth considering.
What are your thoughts? I’d love you to share them below…
Matthew Turner is a young writer from Yorkshire, England. His debut novel, Beyond Parallel, is a coming-of-age story about two young twenty-somethings. In the mould of Sliding Doors, it’s set on a parallel timeline; one story follows Bella and Clark as a couple, the other as if they never meet.
What I really like about Matthew’s usage here of the free story is that he released it prior Beyond Parallel, rather than offering it months afterward as many other authors do. I think this was a really smart way to pull potential readers into the world of BP beforehand, and to showcase his storytelling style! And as a side note, I think the concept of his book is compelling–don’t all of us wonder what our lives would be like if we made different choices, and followed different paths?
A big thank you to Matthew for hanging out with us today. If you want to find out more about this book and how he helps writers, check out Turndog Millionaire. And if you want to keep track of Beyond Parallel, you can add it to your Goodreads List right here.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.