After finishing my comedy-thriller novel, I made a marketing plan. Then Covid-19 hit and the world changed. The experience makes a neat little planning case study, as well as a reminder that a marketing plan is never really finished, it’s a work in progress.
Book marketing – Feeling the way
At early draft stage my plan concerned all the usual culprits, mainly publishers and agents, the traditional route to book publishing success. But I quickly changed tack. My book isn’t mass market. Nobody is going to make their fortune publishing or promoting a story this sweary, with such a revolting anti-heroine. It’s a niche product, which means my novel is an obvious candidate for Amazon Print On Demand, where you put the book on Amazon-KDP and if a punter wants a printed copy, Amazon prints and fulfils it.
Pinning down the niche
You can’t do proper marketing without knowing who’s most likely to buy your product. So who would read my book?
In a nutshell the target market is ‘Viz readers’, whether or not they actually read Viz. The Nurse’s writing style and content is inspired by Green Wing, Ben Elton’s novels, ‘Fuck It‘ by John C. Parkin, Modern Toss‘ cartoons, the Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys, and all sorts of oddball comedies including classic Monty Python. Overall, the style fits what Wikipedia says about British humour, but with more – and worse – swearing than most. Think Roy Chubby Brown then turn the dial up to eleven:
British humour is shaped by the relative stability of British society and carries a strong element of satire aimed at “the absurdity of everyday life”. Themes include the class system and sexual taboos; common techniques include puns, innuendo and intellectual jokes.
Where does the target audience hang out?
Viz magazine itself is the obvious place to start. There’s a pandemic on but hey, why wait? I sent a copy to their head office anyway, addressed to the main man, Chris Donald. And a printed copy went to Fatboy Slim because he lives in my old home town, Brighton, where much of the story is set. He’s enormously influential and he might just find The Nurse’s story a giggle.
One went to Modern Toss at their home address, a bit cheeky but as my character The Nurse would say, bollocks to it. At best they might like it. Norman Cook might sing The Nurse’s praises far and wide. And Viz might turn The Nurse into a cartoon strip. The worst that can happen? They despise me forever and throw my book in the bin. I can handle that. After all, as an author, I need to develop thick skin.
‘Out there’ marketing ideas
It never hurts to let your imagination run wild when planning a marketing campaign. Would The Nurse Diaries make an adult graphic novel or animated film? A horror movie? A musical (now there’s a thought that makes The Nurse grin with amusement).
How about leaving printed copies, guerilla-style, in cool places in Middlesbrough and Brighton, the settings of most of the action? Closer to home, do any of my friends and contacts know someone who might be interested? It’s all going on the list, all worth exploring.
The book marketing story so far
I’ve got a small stock of smart printed books ready to send out to influencers. It’ll be available via Amazon from 1st December 2020. The Nurse is on Twitter and Facebook, and she has her own web page on this site. I’m serialising the book via this blog, complete with a PayPal donate button for every chapter: one or two chapters a week until December 1st. And I’m making Facebook adverts to advertise the serialisation across Brighton and Middlesbrough.
At the same time I’ll be tweaking the marketing plan, adding new ideas, ticking things off the list, and doing everything I can to get The Nurse Diaries out there in front of as many of the right kind of people as I can.
Volume 2 of The Nurse Diaries
While all this is going on, I’m working on Volume Two. It looks like my alter-ego has not quite finished with me yet.
If it’s going to happen at all, Volume 2 – assuming Volume 1 ever gains enough of a head of steam – is the stage where old-school traditional book publishing might come in. Pigs might fly. As an author you need to be a realist as well as an optimist! But there’s no harm in giving it a go…