In the interests of procrastination – because I believe that no deadline should be met without the cold sweat of guilty panic on my brow – I have been researching every aspect of Benchwarmers rather than writing it.
There are plenty of How-To’s out there, and everyone has a different Must-Do, so I’ve been sifting through to find the bits of advice that feel like they might help my ultimate aim: write and self-publish an ebook that sells a minimum of 50 copies at 99p each. Hmmm…
Check the title is available: I’ve been here before with my first horrendously executed effort (which went nowhere but the bin) and as I’ve taken to describing my schedule as ‘freelance’, ‘on shift’ and ‘Benchwarmers’ I thought I’d better make sure that I wasn’t getting inappropriately attached.
The Benchwarmers: The Private World of the Powerful Federal Judges: Joseph C Goulden (1976)
Benchwarmer: Mike Resnick, Lezli Robyn (2009)
Benchwarmers: Love & Other Negotiations Part 2: Matthew Gness (2012)
Benchwarmer: A Sports-Obsessed Memoir of Fatherhood: Josh Wilker (2015)
You know what? I’m good with this. Benchwarmers is general fiction revolving around a softball league. It’s not non-fiction, concerning imaginary friends, a romantic short story or a memoir, so I doubt there will be any issues.
Wordcount and motivation: I wanted to know what to aim for (the Writers Workshop broke it down most cleanly through genre) so I could figure out how many words per day I needed to get on the page, and the best suggestion I’ve seen so far with regards motivation is to treat the whole thing like a job where the paycheck is pending.
For me, that means calculating based on timescale (6 months) minus editing period (1 month) minus fuck-up period (2 weeks) minus formatting period (1 week) minus wiggle room (1 week). If I hit the count early I can call it a Snow Day and go back to the couch or, if it’s going well, keep writing and maybe come out ahead of my deadline. I’m going to aim for a highly unlikely 2000 words per Benchwarmers day.
AIDA: this operatic acronym is the basis for all successful marketing campaigns and I always think of it as awareness of the pub, interest in the bartender, desire for a pint, followed by the action of stepping through the door. If you add price to the process, then you’ve another way to persuade someone to put their money ‘here’ rather than ‘there’. Which leads me to…
Advertising: it might be a surprise to those who know me, but I’m not actually comfortable making a deliberate spectacle of myself. Incessant social media updates are beyond me and I don’t have a budget, which leaves me with theredoubtable as my only advertising tool. I need to make people aware of The Benchwarmers, garner interest in the process, encourage a desire to read it and make it cheap enough to justify taking the action of buying it – all through a relatively anonymous blog. Hmmm.
Price: book reviews vary so significantly on how value-for-money is judged that it’s practically impossible to decide what will work best. I’ve found new-to-me authors because they gave the first one away in order to gather interest in the series (I highly recommend the Jack Randall books – I spent good money on the other three due to this tactic) but you have to trawl through an immense amount of chaff as there are thousands of self-publishing authors out there hoping to hit it big. I bought one of John Locke’s titles to see what the first self-published author to sell 1 million titles was doing right (marketing, I think, because the one I read involved the use of horse liniment as a sexual lubricant and left me speculating about his pain threshold/personal proclivities) and I thought Amanda Hocking’s success after years of rejection was wonderful, not least for the motivating factor of her Jim Henson obsession.
Famous authors like Stephen Leather can charge at least £1.49 for a very short story; unknown authors have to hope they catch someone’s eye. Because Costco frown on shoplifters and I need toilet paper, I’m going with 99p for a full length novel.
Standard pitfalls: unless on recommendation, I go with the quantity and quality of reviews before deciding to download an unknown. If you check Amazon or Goodreads you see spelling, grammar, plotline redundancies and poor attempts at phonetic dialogue flagged time and again. To try and avoid all these I have a crack team of beleaguered ‘volunteers’ who are all excellently placed to provide useful critical analysis. Poor bastards.
This, of course, all depends on me actually writing the book and it being readable and it being judged, on average, worthy of a 99p punt.
So I say once again, hmmm…