Why I’m withdrawing my Parenting Books

It’s been a difficult decision but one that I’ve thought long and hard about. At the end of the year I’ll be withdrawing my two parenting books from Amazon. These are “Kids’ Clubs and Organizations” and “Great Places for Kids’ Parties”. I still have a few print copies in my loft but, apart from that, they’ll cease to exist. There are several reasons for this but, before I go any further, I want to recap on what led me to publish them originally.

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My plan was always to publish novels eventually and I had SLUR on the backburner for many years. Prior to publishing Kids’ Clubs, I knew that the independent author market was taking off but didn’t know much about the promotional side of things. I therefore decided to test the market by starting off with something small. This would also give me an opportunity to learn as I went along. However, I underestimated how much work would be involved in the parenting books in terms of the amount of research and promotion.

As a new author I absorbed as much information as I could. Unfortunately not all of the information out there is good but as a newbie you have no way of filtering the good advice from the not so good advice. Somebody on a “Linked in” group advised that it was much easier to market non-fiction than fiction so I decided that I would start with a small non-fiction book. Perhaps the marketing advantage may apply for certain types of non-fiction but it didn’t prove to be the case for the type of non-fiction that I was producing.

Limited Market

I put myself at a disadvantage to start with as my market was limited to UK parents of mainly 1 – 12 year olds. Although this is still a sizeable group, I eventually concluded that parents of children in this age bracket are far too busy with the process of bringing up a family to spare the time to read about all the exciting opportunities that are available for their children.

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Both of my parenting books were well received by parenting magazines, mums’ blogs etc. (including a feature on the Netmums website) but very few parents actually bought the books. In fact, my biggest customer was UK libraries.

I had hoped that some of the organisations featured in the second book would help with sales by stocking the book in their gift shops. Had I gained their co-operation it could have made a huge difference as some of these attractions have vast numbers of visitors every day. Unfortunately this didn’t come to fruition, with the exception of one organisation who stocked a small number of books.

I was at a further disadvantage in running Amazon promotions because a lot of the free promotion sites were reluctant to feature the books. I presume it was because they weren’t targeted at the US market.

Input versus Rewards

I have now tried most avenues relating to promotion for these two books and feel that I have taken them about as far as I can. It’s a shame because the bulk of the feedback I have received has been positive. The only negative feedback suggested that the first book would work better as a website because the information could be more readily updated. This is something that I haven’t ruled out for the future but it would be a mammoth task and I would need input from various organisations.

When I produced the books I knew that the information was time sensitive and I therefore intended to update them every couple of years. As the first book has now been on the market for over two years and the special offers in the second book expire at the end of 2014, these factors have prompted me to make a decision. The amount of time that it would take to check all the factual information and make updates just isn’t worthwhile in terms of the potential gains. Therefore, rather than let the content become increasingly outdated I would rather take the books off the market.

Focus on Fiction

Having released my debut novel SLUR three and a half months ago, I know that I want to concentrate on fiction in the future. I already have a short story book planned for release early in the New Year and am currently carrying out the research for my second crime thriller. SLUR is a much more marketable product than the parenting books and, in fact, it has already sold more copies than both parenting books put together.

SLUR

Another reason that the parenting books don’t quite work with my fiction books is because my novels contain a degree of violence, sexual references and bad language. Marketing these books alongside the parenting books doesn’t sit comfortably with me as the two aren’t really compatible. I could overcome this problem by writing under a different name for each genre but, in view of the other factors referred to above, I still prefer to withdraw the parenting books.

I am looking forward to releasing other fiction titles and getting involved in more promotional activities in the New Year. From all the marketing books and blog posts that I have read I believe that it is easier to sell more books if you have several for sale which fit into the same genre. I therefore feel that having more fiction books on the market should increase my chances of success.

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What’s Next?

It’s been such a busy time since the book launch party for my debut novel SLUR so I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the position to date and look at what direction I will be heading in next. First, a little bit about the launch party:SLUR

I have to be honest and say that if I was to look at the launch party solely in terms of financial gain, then I haven’t recouped the rewards for the efforts that I put in. However, for me it was about more than that. The launch party was a way of celebrating the culmination of many years of effort. It was a really fun couple of days and I want to extend a big thank you to all the people that took part including those that entered the competitions. I’d also like to thank the people that featured the launch on their blogs and helped to get the word out through social media.

Although a novel is the end product in terms of the creative process, it is only the beginning when it comes to promotion. I am therefore viewing the launch party as not only a celebration but also the first step in my promotional efforts for SLUR. This isn’t the first book that I have published but the non-fiction books cater to a different readership so in a way it is like publishing a first book. So at the moment SLUR has to stand alone until I follow it up with more fiction books.

Having said all that, SLUR has made a good start. I had hoped to reach the top 20 in each of the categories I had chosen so that the browsing public could spot my book, but I didn’t quite achieve that. However, at its peak SLUR reached around 11,500 for all paid books on Amazon UK (out of over 2.5 million) and number 76 in one of my chosen categories. So, with a few more sales I would have reached the top 20. I am planning to follow up the launch party with further promotional activities as follows:

Book Signing Event

I will be signing copies of SLUR at my local book shop on Saturday 11th October. The local press have promised to feature the book signing so hopefully this will boost sales.

Goodreads Giveaway

SLUR is currently being featured as a Goodreads Giveaway where readers can win one of two signed print copies. Here is the link if you would like to enter: http://bit.ly/1vKnLvh. The closing date for entries is 22nd October 2014.

Reviews and Blogs

I haven’t submitted my novel to as many of these as I should but I find it a very time consuming process. I always check the blog or website first to see the type of thing they publish and then send them an email together with details of my book. This invariably takes up some time but unfortunately only about 50% of them reply. Of those that reply, many of them already have lengthy reading lists so they are unable to take on any more work. Therefore, when I am planning promotional activities I tend to find other things to do that are more productive in terms of the time expended. I wonder if anybody else has had this experience.

Free Promotion

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I’ve decided to run a free promotion on both of my parenting books. Whether this will have any impact on sales of SLUR remains to be seen as the readership is different (as mentioned above). I hope there may be some chance that readers downloading the free parenting books might also spot the novel but, if not, there’s nothing to lose by trying. The promotion applies to Kindle copies and is set to run from 23rd till 25th October.

Libraries

I’ll be approaching libraries to stock my novel as I did with my parenting books. I don’t think that the appeal will be as nationwide for my novel as it was for the parenting books though. Libraries tend to go for anything regional and with the parenting books there is something for all regions. As my novel is based in Manchester I will concentrate on libraries based in the northwest. I think it is still worth doing because not only are there the initial sales to consider, but also public lending rights as well as getting my name out to a wider network of readers.

Promotion is very much an ongoing process but once I’ve completed the main thrust of activities I’m anxious to get back to some writing. Apart from writing articles and web copy for clients, I haven’t done any other writing for weeks. I’m hoping to publish a blog soon revealing my plans for my next book writing venture. Watch this space!

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