Reluctantly, I am back to the marketing theme. Recently, my publisher had to close down (much to her regret) and so, with lots of help from her during the transition, I’m now a fully fledged Indie. And one of the first things I noticed when I saw all my books listed in the KDP sales charts was that one of them has regularly been selling over three times more copies than its nearest rival in the list. This could, of course, mean that it’s so brilliant that the rest are dross in comparison. But, until its nomination for the Booker proves me wrong, I know objectively that it’s no better or worse than they are. I should quickly add that I’m not talking of sales levels that would enable me to buy Mustique. But I do like the idea that some hundreds of people are actually reading my stuff. So I need to find out why that particular title is getting the attention and try to deflect some of it onto the others. And to do that I need to understand marketing strategies.
But I don’t. Understand them, I mean.
I’m not thick, I’m intellectually curious about many different disciplines. I'm no economist, but I know George Osborne is being pigheaded in the face of advice from the majority of experts, even erstwhile supporters, and adversely affecting the lives of people who don’t have his access to a fortune. I know that some politicians and policemen have attitudes to rape that would appal a Neanderthal, I know scientists are now storing data in DNA because it holds helluva lot more than conventional storage systems. I keep trying to understand quantum physics but can never retain the occasional eureka moments I get about it. And yet it still excites and fascinates me.
But marketing? Zero.
But marketing? Zero.
But the realities of marketing are more subtle, not to say impenetrable. Another example. Most people loved last month's Olympics. I watched them having constantly to suppress tears and swallow the lump in my throat. And now, I’m still seeing many of those wonderful athletes and sportspersons on my screen in the commercial breaks. But does anyone believe Michael Phelps or Mark Cavendish's claims that a particular shampoo makes all the difference to their performance? What sort of idiot rushes out to buy something to get rid of their dandruff thinking that it’ll also make them swim faster or burn up the road on their bike? And does seeing Usain Bolt and Mo Farah wearing fake Richard Branson beards cause viewers to cancel their Sky subscription and switch to Virgin? (I’ll resist the temptation to point out how much that demeans the two of them and sort of tarnishes their achievements because they’re both terrific, admirable people – and I’m happy to see some of the profits going to them.)
It defies logic and yet the companies involved must have paid millions to get their endorsements, so it must work. So, what I obviously need to do is get Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Sir Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie and the rest to tell every interviewer how much they enjoy reading Bill Kirton’s wonderful novels. I bet if I did that I could write any old crap and make a fortune.