Reaching Out Overseas – October 2013

Reaching Out Overseas from October 2013.

A frequent concern of new and existing authors/writers, including me, is how to get readers to read our books preferably having purchased a copy from any retailer. The endless methodologies for marketing have been discussed in lots of blogs and forums. The independent and self-pub writers are just as desperate as mainstream publishing houses but without their advertising budgets. Of course those budgets are limited both in value and access and talking to some properly published authors the ability to access those funds is limited to an elite few.

I have previously commented that publishing houses seem to be little more than glorified marketing companies. Despite the constant streams of abuse about how poorly edited/written self-pub books are mainstream books still suffer from the usual round of problems. David Jason biography in a Bridget Jones novel anyone?

But I digress, this is not a rant about that endless argument over quality, the cost of editing etc, this is supposed to be about one aspect – getting overseas customers.

My books have not been translated into non-English languages, they haven’t even been translated into US English, they are in what we British like to call proper English – no comments please about grammar, typos, dialects, etc – actually comment all you want. There is a very large English (in it’s various forms) speaking/reading population, so how can I access these readers? My various retail outlets, Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu provide the self-published author with lots of sales statistics and each time I look – it’s a habit I should break.

I can see where my books are selling or more frequently not. I now know that Australian and New Zealand sales are included in, Canada has its own site as does India. Regardless of where the sale is registered how can I reach these readers and potential buyers? Is there something in my stories I should include much as the BBC include American actors in its dramas so that they can sell to the USA? How do I generate more readers in these countries? won’t even list reviews from other sites and those other sites only show reviews from after the description. It shows the book as un-reviewed.

Surely, a review is a review! A star rating is a star rating, but on all the other Amazon sites the book appears as unread, un-rated and un-reviewed regardless of it’s sales or reception elsewhere in the world. Amazon are losing out as well, after all a sale for me, is a sale for them.

For the readers out there (ther must be some) do you look for a setting, a scene or a character from your own country that might make the story more appealing? It doesn’t matter to me where a book is set although it might limit the scope of the story. For a character the main concern for me would be dialogue or cultural references, but that can apply in country just as much as overseas. Is there any point to running an advert in those countries. trying to generate sales or should I have to wait for a groundswell of US and UK reviews to attract attention? Yes, social media can spread the word but there are lots of words being spread in a very thin layer.

Do I have an answer? No. I include scenes and settings in locations that fit the story that I want to write. My third book, The Persuasive Man, has multiple international locations and extended scenes in Honk Kong, Dubai, and Caribbean locations along with New York and for non-English France and Shanghai. It’s not a travelogue but a tale of dodgy business. My other books vary, the first, An Agent’s Demise, has several international locations, whereas my second To The Survivors barely has any. Excluding free downloads my second is the best seller worldwide. Why is that, it is very UK focused in its story? Perhaps that is what attracts it to other English speaking parts of the world.

The whole conundrum of what attracts readers continues to baffle me and the tens of thousands of new writers out there. Overseas sales just adds to the bafflement.

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