First, an update. About a month ago, I sent an email to Palm Beach Research Group in response to an invitation in the Palm Beach Daily e-letter about how they could help their readers do better at building wealth. I received an email back a few days later from Mark Ford himself (by way of customer service). Today, the January issue of Creating Wealth, one of the Palm Beach Group’s newsletters that are part of my Platinum subscription, came out–with my original email and Mark’s response showing in the Inbox (specially selected letters by subscribers). What all the other subscribers to Creating Wealth will see is the following:
“I’m currently on disability leave from work due to a broken foot. I’ve read many of Mark’s books over the years, and I’m working on his principle of Ready, Fire, Aim to market the 20-some novels I’ve written over the years. All are available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. Using marketing tips from CreateSpace (Amazon’s self-publishing service), I’ve created a blog, livingthedelphianway.com and linked it to my author page at Amazon. I’m brainstorming other ways to increase my visibility online. I could use some encouragement that I’m headed in the right direction.—Infinity member Theresa H.
Mark’s Response: Theresa, 20 novels! Very impressive. I’m going to order one. Please write to me and let me know which you would recommend. You’re headed in the right direction—in fact, you have a great head start. You should feel proud about your accomplishment. Keep up the momentum.
Just the kind of encouragement I needed! So I sent him an update on what I’ve been doing since in the way of marketing, not just for the novels, but for a couple of other potential sideline businesses I’m looking into.
The reason I bring this up now is that by nature I’m an Angel driven Monkey dominant. I have to deal with Monkey’s utter distaste for selling, and even wealth creation, every time I even think about sharing my creative work with the world. For Angel driven Monkeys dominants selling is distasteful because they hate being ‘forced’ to pay for anything, even knowledge. Even worse, they hate ‘begging’ others to buy their creative works. That’s one reason there are so many ‘starving artists’ in the world. They’d rather share their work with people willing to give them what they need. That’s perhaps one reason why the patronage system arose back during the Medieval and Renaissance days, where the Church, or assorted princes and kings, supported composers like Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in 18th Century, to say nothing of folks like Leonardo Da Vinci and other well-known artists.
More recently, processes of marketing creative works have included subscriptions, agents to interface between the creator and the publisher or other provider to the potential audiences (e.g. producers of operas, theater owners, book publishers, art galleries, and so on). These have allowed the creators to concentrate on doing what they love to do while allowing others to serve as salesmen for them.
I did have an agent for about a year back around 1990, and she did her best to market my masterpiece (Hunting the Red Wolf, not currently available) to Berkeley Science Fiction. The editor she worked with took a year to come back with an answer, which was, “She writes very well, but I didn’t understand the story…” The agent gave up and went into a different line of business. I tried a different novel (The Hero-Tree), but the editor didn’t like that one either. So I set that dream aside for the time being since it seemed painfully clear that going through a standard publisher was not going to get me where I wanted to be, which was self-published, so I could tell the tales I love to read.
I concentrated over the next ten years or so on other projects related to my long-term dream of the House of Tomorrow Project, “Enabling the Revelation of the Heavenly City.” These included promoting space exploration, development, and settlement (including making the acquaintance of everyone from Buzz Aldrin to Robert Zubrin, founder and president of the Mars Society). I worked with friends on trying to get a spaceport built here in Colorado (no luck on that yet), and met Dr. Bill Gaubatz, Program Director for the Delta Clipper X, the first fully reusable rocket. Inspired by him, I wrote several novels, one of which, Trial By Fire, is now available, and which I dedicated to Dr. Gaubatz, who, sadly, passed away last summer. I also designed the Village of Tomorrow, Starfield Valley, during the mid to late 90s as the latest incarnation of my perfect house. I even showed the plans to Al Feinstein, an architect here in Colorado Springs who had designed the James Irwin Center. He found the designs interesting, but since I couldn’t pay him for helping me turn them into a reality, that contact went nowhere at the time (or since). I learned a lot from that conversation, though, as well as from all of my space-related activities, including attendance at several space conferences over the years.
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that I’m a visionary whose ideas are at least fifty years ahead of the times, even now. Another fascinating insight is that making history is much harder than writing about it–and requires a lot of patience, as well as the self-awareness to be able to jump on any opportunity that presents itself. Although I’m hard of hearing, and used to be a bit shy when it comes to meeting people like Buzz Aldrin, I’ve learned that nothing happens if I don’t make the first move, swallow my sense of inadequacy and introduce myself, then ask a question of interest to whichever hero I’m talking with.
Meanwhile, even as I worked on other aspects of the House of Tomorrow Project, I continued to write novels, particularly the Starfield Valley Tales. Finally Amazon developed the Kindle e-book reader and a way for authors like me to self-publish without any upfront costs at all. I started making my tales available online, but didn’t do much in the way of marketing at the time (for a variety of reasons I won’t go into). Finally, at the beginning of this year, CreateSpace became usable for self-publishing in paperback without any upfront fees. After finishing a new novel in The Delphian Chronicles, then finishing Call Me Cassandra, I took a deep breath and buckled down to preparing as many of my completed novels as I could for publication through CreateSpace. All this while working full-time. It’s been quite an experience to learn the details of self-publishing on a shoestring by using all the resources provided by CreateSpace.
But writing and publishing anything is still only the first step. The second is to find ways to let the world know that your work is out there and worth buying and reading. Which, of course, brought me up against the problem of marketing my work essentially on my own.
Once upon a time, I signed up for American Writers and Artists, Inc., a course set up by Mark Ford (though I knew him then by his nom de plume, Michael Masterson). It concerned learning how to write sales letters of various kinds so that one might eventually make a living doing so. I quit about halfway through because I found the whole process quite painful. This is because the course is geared toward Lizard driven Monkey dominants, for whom persuading buyers to exchange money for value comes naturally. It’s all about trading resources for other resources. The most effective sales letters play upon the most basic of emotions–fear, greed, and lust–depending on the item being sold. As an Angel driven Monkey dominant, the whole idea of writing such letters made me feel sick to my stomach.
That made it painfully obvious to me that I needed to find some other way to let people know about my tales. I finally read Make Market Launch IT this fall, went through several of the exercises, and realized (again) that I am my target audience. I write what I want to read because there isn’t enough of what I consider really good science fantasy to satisfy my sometimes insatiable need to visit other lines of reality. That doesn’t mean I’m my only audience, of course. It only means that I need to look for people who like the kinds of stories I tell, which always end well, no matter how frightening the doomsday scenarios I may write about.
So, since I find it impossible to write a sales letter the way AWAI teaches it, and I hate asking for the sale, but I love giving things to people, I decided the logical solution for me in developing a marketing plan was to set up this website/blog so I can share myself with you, my audience. Once I did that, I linked it to my Author page on Amazon. Now I let people know about both sites on Face Book as appropriate while sharing my insights in comments on their posts. And since it was coming up on Christmas that gave me the perfect excuse to send assorted novels as Christmas gifts to those who have inspired me. That has cost me some money, but because I ordered the books through Amazon so I could personalize the gifts (and get free shipping), I will get my royalties back, which reduces the cost significantly.
How well this form of marketing works remains to be seen. I will certainly post the results. The main takeaway is that each personality type will find a different way to deal with the problem of sales and marketing. So one shouldn’t be surprised to run across at least three different methods of sharing the existence of a new product.