By Matt J Pike
Matt J Pike is the author of Kings of the World and Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor (stay tuned for a review of that excellent book). Pike won an award for his book Kings and has agreed to share his insights on the process.
The wonderful Sabrina has asked me to jot down my experiences when entering my first ebook – Kings of the World – in a book awards competition last year. So, here goes.
THE AWARD DETAILS:
I entered Kings in the 2013 Global Ebook Awards.
There are several competitions around – you may find the price/category list/entry deadlines of other awards preferable. Here’s a good list to get you started http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/50-book-awards/
Entry was approximately $75, with discounts available for early registration and entering multiple categories – it’s pretty standard and not exactly cheap if you’re a first time author.
Why did I enter?
I guess this is a multifaceted question. The answer I’d give if anybody asked was three-fold – exposure, credibility and sales. But, in truth there was a fourth motivation, I also wanted to see how my work stacked up. I guess that’s a curiosity/fear many first time authors have.
Aside from any validation/vanity issues, it is pretty clear that success as an indie author requires you to get people to discover your work. Exposure and credibility leads to sales – that seems like a pretty logical equation to me.
It’s tough enough to get people to discover your book (or more specifically, your book’s Amazon/iBooks etc page). Once a potential buyer is there you only have a few seconds to persuade them to buy. Title – Cover – Description – Rating/Reviews – there are only a few areas where your book product can make that impression. This is where I feel an award can make a difference. When a book has been critically assessed and acknowledged this can be only a positive for readers. If they like the cover, are intrigued by the description and the reviews are favourable, then the award can only seal the deal.
Also, the awards process itself is a reason to keep your book (and news about it) current. Entering, making finalist, achievement – these are reasons to tweet, email and post about your work.
It was easy enough to enter – just a form, some details and a payment. From that point it was out of my hands, off to judgment land. In the meantime I was sent a series of emails from the organisers with hints and tips* about promoting both my book and myself through different online/local media channels. Some of these I had already considered, but others I hadn’t, so I felt this info was a good value-add for my entry dollar.
It’s not the Oscars though, there’s no awards night, no A-list-paparazzi-feeding-frenzy-glamour machine, so don’t expect the virtual red-carpet treatment. In that regard there’s a slight disconnect between sending the entry out and receiving the result, but, ya know, what did I expect?
*I won’t detail the ideas here as that’s probably breaching some of the organiser’s IP.
Instead of organising my suit I followed the promotion tips they’d sent me and I waited until…
And the winner is… drumroll…I was lucky enough to win the gold medal in the Teen Literature Fiction category.
I was stoked! My lil’ ole book had been acknowledged as gold medal winner. Sure, there was no orchestra playing, there was no glamazon presenting me with a gold statue, no 20 seconds broadcast time to thank my family and agent (I don’t have one) before the band drowned me out and the non-existent glamazon ushered me off stage.
Despite all this, my book had a shiny gold seal of approval – a ticket to the bigtime. With my award in the bank surely I could brace myself for a gazillion sales now, right? Amirite? Get around me people! Make an orderly line at my book’s Amazon page – plenty of copies to go around. Whoa, back-it-up Hollywood, give me some breathing space to sift through the offers.
Spoiler alert: this didn’t happen.
What actually happened
Nothing… and everything.
The mega sales, well, they didn’t come my way. A few extra copies sold, that’s it.
I did make a couple of contacts though the award site after I’d won. Not that they came to much but it was good to know the process was being watched and noted.
People who knew I was a writer (and hadn’t yet read my book) now probably think I’m half decent at it.
I know what you’re thinking – underwhelming, right? Let’s call the above list the ‘nothing’ component of what actually happened.
It’s the ‘everything’ part of things that is the biggest and most valuable lesson I’ve learnt to-date as an indie writer.
It’s all about the marketing. You see I now have an award-winning book (tick vanity/validation), it now has more credibility (tick) and more exposure (tick) than it did before I started the process.
What I didn’t realise at the time is that no person or event is going to sell my book for me. There are no shortcuts in this indie author world. I learned some valuable lessons – I needed to follow the guidance other, more successful, indies were giving me. I needed a better online presence – twitter, better website, active blog. I needed to engage more and I needed to keep writing. It wasn’t just going to happen.
For me the experience was a big success. I have just released my second book, Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor – and it’s selling far better than my first because I learned the lessons I had to make that happen. I’m an active participant online, my website is looking good, if I do say so myself (www.mattpike.co).
But the award has had a more tangible impact. It’s opening doors for my second book – I’m getting more traction with reviewers, several other promotional opportunities have come my way, I’ve also started teaming up with other authors and illustrators on new projects, local media is easier to connect with.
None of which is directly down to the award necessarily, perhaps what I have become as a result of it – I’m a better prepared author, I’m doing the things I need to do to sell books – to become noticed – to make a career out of this.
Right now I’m preparing to submit book#2 to an award or two. Nothing more – it doesn’t make financial sense. But, should it do well, this award-winning author will know what to do!
About Matt J Pike
Like the legendary R M Williams, Matt was born in Jamestown in rural South Australia. But that’s where the remarkable similarities between these two end. While Reginald went from bushman to world renowned millionaire outback clothing designer, Matt is a complete dag who was lured by the city lights of Adelaide. Kindergarten in the big smoke was a culture shock, but it is here he first discovered his love of storytelling.
In high school that love found an outlet in a series of completely unflattering cartoons about fellow students and teachers alike. He survived long enough to further his art into a successful career in multimedia design but, like a zombified leech, the lure of the written word gnawed at him, forcing him to pen his first novel, the award-winning sci-fi comedy epic, Kings of the World. It was followed the next year by Amazon Australia dystopian sci-fi best-seller Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor.
Matt donates part proceeds of each book sold to find a cure for Rett Syndrome, a neurological condition the youngest of his three children, Abby, has. As a gorgeous Rett angel, Abby cannot walk, talk or use her hands in a meaningful way. So, not only is each of your book purchases a ticket to fantastically rounded, character driven, hilarious and poignant sci-fi awesomeness, it wraps you in a warm feeling that you’ve made a difference to people who deserve your help the most. Like the zombified leech it’s a no-brainer.