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How I got shortchanged by those biased and unscrupulous advertisers?

Marketing_Book

Although I have been writing since 2009, my actual literary journey started just a year and half ago and it has been going well since then. Before anything else, I want to make one thing very clear. I am a self-published author by choice and I chose to become one for mainly two reasons. One – I don’t write for money or fame, I only write for my charity and I can take it as a hobby or a serious venture as I like. Two – I have really worked hard in my entire life and I want to spend my latter half of life doing something meaningful that comes directly from the heart. I also want to have the freedom of steering my own ship as I like and don’t worry about anything else. And I am more than happy to declare that I have not yet even contacted one agent or publisher hitherto and I have no plans whatsoever of doing that as well anytime soon.

I know how important marketing is for any professions and books were no different. Especially to the new ones like me, it was paramount and I did nothing but only marketing for the last one and half year. Despite my experiences from my previous jobs, I knew almost nothing about books and had to start from the scratch. I needed some headway at the beginning and understandably paid services were obvious choice. Needless to say, there was abundance of choices, almost everyone was promising an instant bestselling status, and I had to remain cautious on selecting them. I did try almost a dozen or so and here is my true verdict and the reason why I felt that way.

As in every trade, the service providers were as willing and responsive as they possibly could at the beginning and every email was swiftly and politely replied. Thanks to internet, the whole world is interconnected and anyone can do businesses from one part of the world to others at any given time. All self-published authors can attest that social media is not only the main but also the only viable means of book marketing for many of us and social media has lot to do with our marketing strategy. Most of the ads I had bought were inevitably through social media and I got to join those special groups in their designated platform as it came with the package. After following those special groups for sometime, I knew something was not right and decided to investigate more in details which was much easier than I initially though. All I had to do was to read through the posts and comments left by fellow members and God, people really talked. My initial doubts were eventually justified and I was fully convinced that I was somehow not treated the same way as others. Why? The answer was right there in front of me from the very beginning and I needed sometime before I could see it.

As I come from Hong Kong/China, my Asian face did give it away from the very beginning and they had always taken me as a naïve or inexperienced guy, if not a fool, and that somehow changed their perspective towards me. The moment the deal was confirmed, they became complacent and took a rather relaxed approach. But what they didn’t know was I was already an experienced businessman with international connections and I could know right away when I got a raw deal. I had to dig in more, find out more about what the others were getting from the similar deal that I was buying and had to ask for it in an individual basis.

Here are some examples of how I got shortchanged by those unscrupulous and biased service providers from the West.

– My posts were deliberately ignored. I had to submit twice and particularly ask for it before my book was finally featured on their website as promised.
– One of the service provider guaranteed a money back policy if it failed to sell less than 842 books in a six months period but I only sold a dozen. I didn’t ask for money back but wrote to them anyway but no response.
– One company promised 500 book sales but I didn’t even manage to sell one. They didn’t even finish the press kit as promised in an entire month.
– One agency didn’t even include my book on the montage that was supposed to promote the genre it was making and had to ask for it. They only promote those books which were already in the bestselling list and I haven’t even seen my book being promoted for once within the last six months.
– I subscribed to a particular paid group but I had to stop at the end. It was like a group of elitist who would only talk, support and provides comments to certain circles of people only like a high school girls’ gang and won’t tolerate outsiders.
– The worst one was this particular one, who did only react when I asked for money back through pay pal, and eventually got my book promoted. But it was a completely wrong book as he intentionally did it for vendetta.

Of course, it was not all gloomed and doomed. I still managed to find some very nice, helpful and professional people along the journey and we have become good friends. I am certainly not going to name names here but if you still want know them, you can contact me anytime. As I am here to help new and indie authors, sharing information, good or bad, is good for all of us, and I am here to be helpful. I also write about my book marketing experiences on my blog in a regular basis and hope that they can be useful for other writers as well.

You might say, I am overreacting, but you won’t believe it unless you have experienced it by your own. Had I not been from Asia, I might have different things to say here. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with me or not. But as far as I am concerned and you know, I always write from my heart and sadly, that is my reality.

Last but not least, most of those paid ads simply don’t work. The best way is always doing it by your own and perseveres until to the end. Remember, there is nobody in this world who knows your books better than you.

BTW, don’t worry about me! I have come a very long way since then. I do receive quite a substantial number of friend requests these days that I can afford to become even choosy sometime and don’t have to send any friend requests anymore. Isn’t that great?

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

Why We Almost Never Retire in Asia?

retired_homes

The word ‘retirement’ might be a common one in developed nation and won’t stir much interest among people. But it is a privileged word here in this part of hemisphere and only a few very lucky ones can actually afford to have one. People almost never retire here in Asia. Of course, we have many reasons of our own and here are just the few to name it.

Unlike developed nations, Asia is not a welfare state and most of the countries pay almost nothing to its citizens including elders. Only a few rich places like Hong Kong and Singapore provide government subsidized housing, hospital and schooling. But they are overcrowded and most choose for the private ones. Most of the other nations almost provide nothing for free and the general publics are mostly left alone to fend off their own. Therefore, people have to keep on working just to get by and only a few lucky ones can afford retirement.

Family plays a great significance in our life here in Asia. A working adult will not only work for himself or herself but to his entire family and it involved many generations. I generally called it a rule of five generations consisting of yourself, your children, your grandchildren, your parents, and your grandparents. In short, we don’t work for ourselves alone, we also have to work for two generations back and two generation forward. Unlike Western countries, you are never at your own and you are always with your family. As a result, we will never have time for retirement.

Social status is another anomaly of our society that hindered us from moving forward. We care so much so about our social status in Asia that it almost enslaves us. Perhaps it is because of our family oriented society. After all, we live in a very close and knitted society and this unquenchable urge of always being better than your peers never let our guards down. No matter what, we have to look richer, nicer and successful than our neighbors and the competition is on for life. Such mentality is so much so deep-rooted into our mind that the whole life would slither away but we will never be able to get out of it for life.

Greed, ego, jealousy and ignorance also play great role in our society. We simply don’t know when to say enough is enough. Unlike Western culture, the significance of enjoying life is not a priority here and most would end up working for life. The practice of going on holiday is still a rich man’s thing for many. It has only been a few years since the middle classes here have started holidaying and it is still a very new thing for many here. Work, family and career are still our main priorities here and people hardly have time to think about retirement in their entire life.

These are the main reasons why we almost never retire in Asia. As life has started to improve, maybe it is about time we start thinking about ourselves as well and live a happy and meaningful life. Hope things will start changing for good soon.

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

50 ways to market your books as a new writer!

Book Marketing

If you want to be a writer, writing book alone is not enough. You must either know how to market them or find some experts to market it for you. Because without a proper marketing plan, you are going nowhere and your dream of becoming a good writer will die even before it started. As I have always said before, I never write as an expert and I am only writing about my own experiences here and nothing more.

Having said that however I have spent the last one and half year on book marketing alone and those were the ways I actually used as the marketing tools for my books. I am going to list them here for you so you can have a look, thanks!

1. Start marketing your book at least 1 year before you start writing the first page.
2. Start telling your friends, families and co-workers.
3. Write a very good book.
4. Find the list of bookshops and libraries in your local area.
5. Find out if you have any friends or relatives on the local media.
6. Find out if you have any friends or relatives in a very powerful position.
7. Join the social networking sites, FB, Linkedin and Twitter should be okay.
8. Open two separate accounts on FB – author page and private one.
9. Join more books related groups but remember the word READERS not AUTHORS.
10. Start interacting with people by reading and commenting on their post.
11. Create an official website and start filling up necessary details.
12. Start blogging; write anything about your book, life and hobby.
13. Search for online papers and start contributing in a regular basis.
14. Look for voluntary works that can help enhance your networking.
15. Hired a professional editor, proofreader and cover designer.
16. Prepare a nice and pithy PRESS RELEASE
17. Start collecting e-mail addresses from the day one.
18. Use apps like Hootsuite, Buffer or Socialoomph to send multiple posts.
19. Find beta readers through Wattpad and other sites.
20. Find reviewers through website, newspapers and other journals.
21. Hire a publicist through media firm, if you can afford.
22. Arrange events such as book launch and ask people to take action.
23. Check with your local TV/Radio stations and see if they want to have you at their shows.
24. Buy at least one promotion package for a head start.
25. Use at least two # hashtags on each post to maximize exposure.
26. Post short and sweet quotes from the book in a regular basis.
27. Use motifs with your motivational quotes for more visibility.
28. If viable, make your books available on both digital and print version.
29. You can publish your e-book on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Smashworld, Apple, Google etc, but my preference would be KDP Amazon. It offers higher royalty as well as your book will be made available in 14 different countries including China.
30. Put your books in Goodreads and use their authors’ friendly services.
31. Create an author page at Amazon and make sure that they are regularly updated.
32. Words of mouth are still the best way of marketing through friends, families, classmates and colleagues.
33. Check with your community, church/temple and school to spread word.
34. Use paid services like Bookbub, Book-Gorilla and EreaderNewsToday and host of others if you can afford.
35. Provide free books to reviewers using services like booksgosocial, choosybookworms and others.
36. Run free books promo at Amazon. If you are on Amazon KDP, you can do it once in every three months’ period.
37. Run free giveaway at Goodreads. But you must have print version.
38. Advertise on Amazon’s PPC (Pay per click) platform
39. Use Bookbutterfly while running a free promo, they guarantee certain numbers of download per package and it is affordable.
40. Advertise on Goodreads’ PPC platform.
41. Subscribe to as many free promotion websites as you can find out there.
42. Participate on book fairs.
43. Take part on book tours if possible.
44. Use videos to promote your works through Youtube.
45. Do audio books for podcasting.
46. Exchange guest post with fellow authors.
47. Use freebies such as bookmark, mug, and keychain to spread words.
48. Do it as a business not a hobby.
49. Repeat the whole process again and again in a regular basis.
50. If not, hire someone to do it for you or just change the profession.

I must have tried almost all of them except book tour and video/audio and somehow managed to sold/downloaded approx. 7k books in total by now. Having said that however it is not guaranteed by any means that it will work hence caveat must be hereby given in advance. One should make your own choices according to your liking, budget and time. If you are lucky, doing half from the list should be enough to generate good sale. Meantime, it is also possible that you will have no big changes in sale even after you have tried them all. All in all, there is no silver bullet that can make you a bestselling author overnight and if anybody says so, he/she is a fraud. But one thing is guaranteed – if you don’t do anything on marketing, nothing will happen for sure.

I have spent thousands of dollars, one and half year of my precious life, and bucketful of efforts to learn the trade. As I don’t write for money or fame and only write for my charity, I want to help other new writers out there and share my experiences.

If you want to know more about any particular subject from the list, please write to me directly and I will explain. If many people asked for the same question, I will write a piece and post it on my regular blog. Sounds interesting?

All you have to do is sign up at my website – http://www.timigurung.com

All the best, take care and keep writing!

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

35 things that I have learned so far as a writer!

Books by the great TIM I GURUNG

It is almost one and half year since I jumped onto the bandwagon and became a fulltime writer. But what I have learned during this period about the literary world is a lot more than I have ever dreamt of and I am going to share it here as honestly as I possibly can. Did I tell you before that honesty is my sobriquet, I always talk from the heart and you will get nothing but the truth!

1. Writing is probably one of the least attractive and appreciative professions.
2. Almost 80% of writers don’t earn enough.
3. Books are novelty, not necessity like food, clothe or furniture. Many people can live on without it for a very long time.
4. Only big name sells.
5. The rest survives on providing related services to fellow writers.
6. If you don’t have time, passion and money, don’t bother. It is a marathon, not a 100m dash.
7. The completion of a book is not the end but just the start of a real work.
8. Without proper marketing, nothing will happen.
9. Marketing should start at least 1 year before you start writing your first book.
10. Social Media is a necessary devil.
11. Having friends/relatives in powerful position is a great asset.
12. Make sure your community is book friendly.
13. Everybody thinks self-published books are crap.
14. Be ready to be treated like lepers if you happened to be a self-published author.
15. People actually judge books by cover.
16. Have a thick skin, humiliation is part of the job and learn to live with it.
17. Make sure you write a good book, hire a good editor and have a nice cover.
18. Make sure you are a computer literate and know few tricks of your own.
19. Social networking is not for using but networking.
20. Not all in the virtual world are what they said they are – be vigilant.
21. You cannot please all, not everyone will like your book.
22. Giving and taking is the mantra of social networking but most won’t follow.
23. You are just a Nobody until the readers found you. Writing even 50 books won’t make any difference.
24. Bestselling Author at Amazon means nothing. If you can choose a rare category, 20 copies of sale can earn you that title.
25. Don’t be afraid of readers, your competitors come from the within and some of them are pretty nasty and ornery.
26. Reader, not author is the word you should look for when joining groups on social networking.
27. Most of the paid ads simply don’t work.
28. You need both e-book and printed book to sale more.
29. Location matters.
30. Bad review can be a blessing in disguise.
31. Read a lot.
32. Success entails hard work, do your utmost best and be happy with the result.
33. Criticism is part of the job, take it positively and learn from it.
34. Be grateful, remember your friends and persevere.
35. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all!

As I never write as an expert, I am simply expressing them here as my own experiences and nothing more. If anyone finds it helpful, I will take it as a compliment at my part and I will certainly see you again next week. Until then, take care, keep on writing and God bless you all.

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

The differences between writing fiction and non-fiction books!

fiction nonfiction

When I started writing in 2009, all I did was nothing but to write and it was almost freeflow writing. I didn’t publish my books until 2015 and by the time I was ready, I already had 8 books in my collection. I published 6 books all at once in the early 2015 and the remaining 2 books were brought to market in early 2016. Since the publication of my first 6 books, I did nothing but book marketing and didn’t even write a single page in entire 2015. During the entire year, I did not only write blogs in a regular basis but also contributed articles on various platforms and gave interviews as well.

As I was so busy and preoccupied with book marketing, I couldn’t start a new book during 2015 and whatever new ideas I have had last year, I had no choice but to keep it locking up at the back of my mind and wait. The wait was finally over now and I am very pleased to inform you all that I have restarted writing new books again. So much so that in order to clear my head, I have to start 5 books all at once and I write one each on every week. I am hoping to finish them all by the end of 2016, so help me God.

As I have already said above, what I did during the period of 2009-2014 was just writing. But what I have learned from my experiences during 2015 was in such great extent that my whole perception of writing has already changed by now and my future books will certainly change for good. All of my books are always based on serious global and social issues and I have no intention whatsoever of aberration from it. I am not going to change the style of my writing just to sell a few more books and you can be assured of that. However, the difficulty I found while writing fiction and non-fiction was quite profound and I am here to divulge my experiences through this piece.

While writing a fiction, it is all about imagination and I can take the story wherever I want to and whichever way I want to describe it. It is like a free bird flying above the sky without having to worry about clouds that carry rain and thunder. My writing can be poetic and as emotional as I want. Writing becomes creative by itself as dream and I can touch the moon and come back without paying much attention to failure. I can cry, laugh and dance with my characters, encourage them to achieve great things in life and feel proud with them when that actually happened. Writing simply becomes limitless.

In contrary, non fiction writing is almost the opposite of fiction writing and it has more to do with facts and reality than the imagination. It restricts creativity. Writing has to be loaded with facts and numbers and it limits expression of human’s emotions that are so essential in fiction writing. Punch-line is one way that allows creativity to flourish in non-fiction writing and good writers can score big here. But one must have plenty of experiences as well as talent even before trying out. What’s more, you also need to do a lot of research works and need to know the subject of your writing pretty well.

After writing non-fiction works for the entire 2015, I found it pretty hard to go back to the fiction writing again. The creativity was there but it was not as free-flowing as it was before and it felt like shortchanged. Comments from critics such as fellow authors, reviewers and readers certainly have a great impact on my new writing and I am trying to heed and improve accordingly. But my fictional writing is greatly affected by my non-fictional writing at least for the time being and I will need sometime before I can get back to my previous standard of writing again. I just have to remain patience.

In order to keep the balance, I should keep writing both fiction and non-fiction all at the same time. And that is precisely what I am doing now. It must be just a matter of time before I can start writing both without any difficulty. As I have always been saying, I don’t write as an expert, I only write it as my own experiences and nothing more. All the best and keep on writing! Thank you!

TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com

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