Last month I told you why I considered all the little positives I could muster relating to my writing were signs of progress; regardless of whether actual sales were improving.

This month I’m older and maybe wiser. My wife and I spent a very warm and relaxing week on holiday celebrating my seventieth birthday. I did virtually nothing towards my writing or my social media platform. A few things suffered, but by and large the world kept turning.

In the days before my holiday, while we were abroad and in the days since we returned home, shivering to a chilly autumn in England, I’ve been contemplating what to do next. How do I adjust my strategy in order to improve sales, release more free time for writing and reduce the reliance on massaging social media to make even a modest ‘breakthrough’?

When you step back from the ‘coal face’ you see a different picture. You also question whether it’s worthwhile digging any further. I wrote to a mentor who has helped a lot over the past eighteen months. I was at a crossroads.

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Should I finish off the next Phoenix book ‘Nothing Is Ever Forever’ (which I planned to start last Monday!) and wrap up the series as a trilogy. I could chase as many reviews as possible; promote it with adverts on Goodreads and Facebook and use a couple of other Twitter based outlets too. Perhaps maintain my website until the domain name is next up for renewal and gradually reduce the promotion and walk away, leaving nine books on Amazon.

Alternatively, I could stick to my mantra – NEVER GIVE UP – and plough ahead, using different tactics. His initial reaction was not to say ‘Please don’t go!’ nor was it ‘Do what you feel is right for you.’

His opening comment was that having received my email he had looked at my Amazon Central Author Page. He congratulated me on the significant improvement since his appraisal of it several months ago. He reminded me that he didn’t hand out praise lightly. I tried to remember whether that had been one of the little signs of progress I had itemised last month.

Some of his other questions seemed strange at the time. Clearly he didn’t want immediate answers; he was cleverly persuading me to continue to contemplate; to analyse what I was doing and why. In the past seventy-two hours I have arrived at my conclusion.

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The books I write are good enough to be sold in larger numbers. My average of 4.6* across all of my titles suggests that they stand comparison with books that DO sell well.

I write about things that interest me; things that I know and things that a lot of people like to read. I have a character at the heart of five books (including the one I’m about to write) that has similarities to characters created by famous writers. Let’s take one example.

Dexter Morgan (created by Jeff Lindsay) – Dexter is a vigilante serial killer who targets other murderers who have evaded the justice system. He follows a code of ethics which hinges on two principles: Dexter can only kill people after finding conclusive evidence that they are guilty of murder, and he must dispose of all evidence so that he doesn’t get caught.

Colin Bailey (created by Ted Tayler) – The Phoenix targets criminals who have evaded the justice system. He used to work alone, planning his murders meticulously, leaving no clues. He now works for a secret organisation whose aim is the same as his own – to clean our streets of those who appear to be above and beyond the law.

These two anti-heroes have something else in common. We don’t want them to get caught; even though we know that their methods are wrong.

My conclusion is that The Phoenix will continue to right wrongs for several more adventures. There will be significant changes to my website; my book promotion methods and to my social media presence. I’m going to spend the next two years hitting that wall harder than at any time since I started in 2011. I make no apologies. I owe it to The Phoenix to make every effort to get him into the consciousness of many more readers. He deserves nothing less.

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Categories: The Long Hard Road