Friday, 20 April 2012

Slang & Marketing Your Novel as a Self-Published Writer

Hello - tad later today folks and what a day I have had.  I have spent the last 3 hours trying to fix my computer after being infected by an anti-spyware programme.  However, I have prevailed. What it does mean though, is that there has been no writing progress today - boo!  Will get stuck in tomorrow.  Apologies again to anyone who tried to access the site on Wed and saw the IT meltdown I was having. The blog layout is still a work in progress, so if you see anything odd anytime you visit, check back shortly afterwards. I will have normally begged someone to help me fix it by then!

Use of Slang and Dialect
Now, let's look at the use of slang and dialect in novels.  Being Scottish, we have lots of slang and dialects which often can vary from town to town and this is especially true of city to city.  I thought everyone knew a Weegie was a Glaswegian, but apparently people who aren't from the central belt of Scotland don't necessarily know that.  So, if I were to use this term in dialogue for example, I would then have to subtly explain in the narrative the meaning.  Still staying with a local theme, in Aberdeen, they call girls 'quines' and boys 'loons'.  What?!  Now, apparently it's from the local dialect, Doric. My point is, even within my own, small country, there can be huge variations. So, unless I decided to write in Scots, I need to be aware that my audience might not necessarily understand the slang or dialect. Increasingly it's the case that words I thought were used UK-wide are not and vice versa. Carry that over to USA and Canada, clearly even more so.  My aunt mentioned, although she couldn't remember the phrase which I used in Sign of the Times, that it was very Scottish. Even after ten drafts, obviously we missed something!  I remember having to check if it was ok to say, 'I'm mortified,' meaning 'I'm embarrassed'.  Often it's just a usage thing - I know we say it here a lot, but I can't imagine Americans using it.  So, as Rosemary Kaye said, the other day on the blog commentary (and I paraphrase) you need to be careful that you are being true to the type and nationality of the language you are speaking.  No point having a 100% East End Londoner talking about eggplants and sidewalks!
Parting shot - unless the whole work is written in slang or dialect for a reason, I would stick to using it only in dialogue, with a brief explanation where necessary.

Marketing Your Self-Published Novel
Well, who knew there was so much work involved?! I self-published 5 weeks ago and for the first 2 weeks I didn't really do much.  I wasn't accustomed to using Facebook and I had never used my Twitter account.  I was sceptical about being a writer trying to convey anything in 140 characters quite frankly.  I am not known for my economy with words (my other half in particular will confirm this!).  However, I have to confess that I am quite enjoying Twitter now and am becoming a Twitter addict. I have met lots of new and interesting people and through followers' tweets, I am reading articles about books, writing and publishing, that otherwise I wouldn't have gone looking for.  Who knew that everyone thought chick-lit was apparently a dying genre? News to me. I buy them all the time.  There was naturally another report negating this story.  I have read lots of forums with very good tips on how to market your novel and there are actually too many to list today, but perhaps once a week, I will drop in a few more tips.  After all, I am still learning. What I can say is the guys over at had some excellent tips, particularly their article 'How do Amazon rank e-books?', from 16 Apr. I am sure most Amazon authors would learn something from this.
Use the forums on Amazon Author, to ask questions. These are only for authors and deal with what we think about KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Some of the regulars on the forums are excellent sources of information.  One thing I would like to say, is, prior to marketing your novel, make sure it is marketable. Not that I am an authority, far from, but I am a reader and writer. For me, apart from a story being poor, if the punctuation is ropy and the syntax is repetitive and the text doesn't flow, I give up.  There is only so much time in one lifetime and so many books to read.
I also read some authors say that when they offered their books for free, after the promotional period, their sales dropped in the paid ranking and stayed down, contrary to what they had hoped for.  Each author has to make that decision themselves, but many ebooks are already very cheaply priced, mine included at £1.53.   Let's face it, the cheapest I could ever buy a new paperback for is about £3.50 on a 2 for £7 deal.  So, why give it away for free? I read an article this morning, which said that some of the 1 million copies + ebook authors are still giving their books away at 99 cents.  Why? Surely that's devaluing all the work they have put in.  I also read the other day, something akin to 'if you say you only want to write, you'll never sell many books as an independent author, because only you can do the Marketing'.  Of course there are companies, even for ebooks, who you can pay to promote your work, but in general, only the author of the ebook pushes the book, as they have no publisher/agent etc.  There are so many ways to promote your work.  The vast majority of ebook authors sell less than 200 copies of their book. I for one, have no intention of being one of those....

Next time, Creating Drama and Tension, plus hopefully I will have put pen to paper and be able to reveal a bit more about the progress of my latest novel. Have a great weekend and remember, if you are stuck for something to read,
 Sign of the Times is already available on Amazon - only £1.53 or (for customers outwith UK - price varies)
Have a great weekend, Sooz

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the mention. Dan did speculate a bit on that post ( but Amazon are as secretive as Google when it comes to algorithms, and it's a pretty well educated guess. Glad you found it useful, and thanks again for linking back to us.
    Sean and Dan