In this article, I discuss the product itself in terms of building a strong brand identity, brand personality and brand image. I do not want marketing to take over completely, so will focus on the book — writing style, tenses, editing and reviews!!
Since the launch of my first book at the end of March 2016, I reflect on how much I have learned about book marketing. I started this process pretty much in the dark! The world of online strategies is a technologically determined nightmare for the novice. However, in five months, I have managed to set up my own website, created a book video and continue to establish my brand on Facebook and Twitter. What I found helpful was to set up two accounts under Marshall Hughes on Facebook. I keep one for my readers and the other to join book groups, connect to other authors and have just set up my own page called WriteStuff (open forum) which I am going to launch within the next six months. This page is for authors, artists, photographers, reviewers and bloggers to write stuff on anything they wish, but you will be delighted to hear — NO predatory advertisers allowed!!
Tips: Focus on book marketing, but do not let it take over.
In the previous two articles, I discussed book marketing and my own social media strategy to include Agents/publishers, Amazon/KDP Select, designing your own website and You Tube videos as well as my social media strategy (Amazon, Facebook and Twitter). If you have not already done so, and want to read these articles, here are the links.
So, now to the product itself. In five months, I have come full circle, back to my book. The most important issue of all is the product itself! I feel like I have regained my sanity and no longer feel I am on a deadly conformist march to promote my book through the insane world of book marketing. Having said that, it is important to maintain a consistent, online brand identity, brand personality and brand image.
God knows why I decided to write a trilogy, but that is the decision that I made? I suppose it allows a consistent theme to emerge across the three titles. The books in the Revenge Trilogy are called Out Of The Dark, Into The Light and Back To The Dark. Written in the first person present/first person past, the main character (Jayden Edward Scott) is also the narrator, inviting the reader into the life and mind of a serial killer. For me, this writing style suits the character's story and if I had written it in the third person past (which is the most common way to write), it would be too detached. The book blurb is also written from the point of view of my character, personalising the message to the reader. I prefer that style, but realise it is not for everyone.
Considering the nature of the book and its dark but compelling content, building the brand identity was a natural progression (dark, sinister, gipping, suspense-laden, passionate, tantalising, page-turner). However, confusion between my brand, the main character and my author was a dilemma that seems to have resolved itself. I convinced myself that my serial killer character (Jayden Edward Scott) was more important than Marshall Hughes and proceeded to set up multiple social media sites under both these names. At this early stage, it appears that people (in general) find it difficult to relate to a fictional character, but most certainly connect to an author. As such, the Marshall Hughes brand emerges, triumphantly, over my main character.
Therefore, my efforts have focused on building a brand personality through the use of suspense-laden language, images, colour and trying to provide engaging content marketing through my online presence. This identity is hopefully perceived by the audience to reflect a strong brand image with a consistent message:
"Marshall Hughes has incredible talent in the first installment of The Revenge Trilogy. The first-person approach really gives you deep insight into Jayden's darkest thoughts and warped perspectives of revenge and justice. The writing style is dark and intense with its short sentences and dark use of vocabulary. The way Hughes describes love, sex, murder and revenge truly keeps you engaged. This book... has a a huge punch of twists and darkness." (Amazon UK)
Tips: Build your brand identity through the use of appropriate language, images, colour and content.
Everyone has a unique writing style. It is an identity in its own right — like a fingerprint. I read all the tips on creative writing, received advice from colleagues (all with a different point of view!!). At the end of the day, you will decide upon your own writing style. I use a mixture of "show and tell" and my descriptions are not overly described through the use of "overkill." One Facebook reader commented that "the writing style is tense and yet it all flows well. Tense, as in your short sentences keeps the reader in suspense."
That is my style and you will find your style. As such, I do not claim that my book is a work of literary genius, because it is not!! It is a piece of commercial fiction and hopefully a good read!! That is what I want. For readers' and reviewers' to enjoy it.
Tips: Find your style and stick with it!!
As mentioned previously, the book is written in the first person present/first person past. To add to the suspense, I also decided to include multiple narrators. For example, the first four chapters of the book are told by my main character, then the next chapter flips to another narrator, then back to my main character and then another This happens on several occasions throughout the first book. I make it clear, early on in the chapter, as not to confuse the reader. It also helps the reader to understand other characters' points of view and interweaves the storyline together, but from a different angle. I also think that the names of the characters are important. Jayden Edward Scott (Serial Killer), Edward Scott (Jayden's father), Carolyn Scott (Jayden's mother), Reverend Charles McIntyre (Jayden's local minister), Kristina Cooper (Jayden's love interest and criminologist) and Inspector Nicholas Canmore (Jayden's nemesis) are just some of the characters. I know this is simple advice. Keep your characters 'real'.
"I gave this book a five star rating because the characters in the book felt real, they got into your head and you were left wondering what is coming next. I love this type of suspense when I read and look forward to the follow up book in the set." (Amazon UK).
Tips: Find the right tense that suits your writing style, characters and your book.
Editing your book is a gruelling process! I wrote my first book in eight months and edited it for a year and a half. It drives you mad! I did get other people to help, but at the end of the day, only you can spot the mistakes at that fundamental level. I have a love/hate relationship with cliches, ellipsis and hyphens. On relfection, my book was ful of ...'s. Not sure why? No one, no-one or noone picked up on this — i.e. proofreaders. I have cut this back as much as possible and sorted out the hyphen issues! My favourite one is split-second (adjective)and split second (noun). Oh and the use of adverbs. There is a snobbery surrounding the use of adverbs. I think careful use of these (actually) adds to the description. I constantly refer to my book as a "disturbingly good read." There, I used three adverbs in two sentences!! Edit your book as much as you can or pay someone to do it, depending on your budget. I have a zero marketing budget, so that answers that question!!
Tips: Edit to the best of your ability or pay someone to do it!!
Through my own experience, I feel that marketing has taken over and it is now time to concentrate on the book itself. The marketing surrounding the product is a necessary evil, but if the marketing is great and the product is crap, then it is never going to be a success. Out with my own Amazon reader reviews, I am at the stage where it is imperative to get my book reviewed by 'official' reviewers. To me, this is a make or break moment, because what people think — counts! The first review is a postive one. However, I wait, wait for the other reviews with excitement and trepidation.
Tips: Take the plunge and get your book reviewed. Reviewers and bloggers are the social media press!
I am now at the stage where I need to focus on the next two books to complete the trilogy. I have set a deadline of March, 2017 for the next book and March, 2018 for the final installment. Better get writing Marshall Hughes.
I hope you have found this helpful. Please feel free to comment. I have endeavored, as much as possible to edit this post, but there is always some kind of mistake.