About once we were fiction

I am an English teacher, tutor and aspiring writer

Tim Grahl, Story Grid, marketing

Tim Grahl, author of 'Sell Your First 1000 Copies'.

Tim Grahl is the marketing brain behind the Story Grid podcast. He has worked with the likes of Hugh Howey and Dan Pink.

Listening to Tim and Shawne on the Story Grid podcast recently got me thinking, not only about writing stories that work – the main focus of the project – but also about marketing books that sell. And marketing books that sell is something that Tim Grahl knows a thing or two about.

 I guess it was the podcast that made me purchase Tim's ebook from Amazon: YOUR FIRST 1000 COPIES: THE STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO MARKETING YOUR BOOK. I thought it might be useful to me with this Blog. Hmmmm – time will tell on that one! Anyone who has listened to the Story Grid podcast will know that Tim, despite some pretty impressive achievements in his field is refreshingly arrogance free, and has a laid back persona that is welcoming and inclusive. And in Your First 1000 Copies we find that Tim's persona on the page is equally accessible.

With his work on the Story Grid project with partner, publisher and story charmer, Shawn Coyne, Tim's profile is on the up. Now I've never written a novel (more of that later) but my dad has (more of that later too). I'm sure he'd be the first to admit that like so many self-published writers in an increasingly competitive market, his sales so far have hardly set the world alight.

In Your First 1000 Copies, Tim outlines what he calls the CONNECTION SYSTEM, which basically means that in marketing what we need to think that everything we write is all about building long lasting connections with people and that we do this by being relentlessly helpful.

How to do it:

1 Permission

Connecting with people directly and regularly is key to the Connection System in Your First 1000 Copies and for Tim this means building an email list (do sign up to ours!). The argument is that only email connects you directly with an audience that is already receptive to what you are doing as a writer.

To build an email list you will need: a web presence, an email marketing tool (like MailChimp for example), a clear and prominently placed email sign up form, something to give away.

And of course when your email list grows, you need to keep that connection with relentless and regular content.

2 Content

One of the sub-headings in Your First 1000 Copies is, tellingly, To blog or not to blog. Tim's answer to this is to celebrate the potential of the blog, but also to warn of the challenges that blogging brings with it. In this book Tim recommends making use of others' platforms as a first priority, be that through columns on major websites, guest entries on other people's blogs, and publication in magazines and anthologies.

Whatever mode of internet presence you choose, Tim's approach to content can be summarised in two words: sharing and adventure.

By sharing we mean to share both what you are doing and what you have. Whether that be extracts, or plans, permafrees, or supplementary resources like reading guides. Long lasting connections depend on being open with your audience. If you think you're sharing just enough, you need to share a little more is the mantra here.

Adventure means that life can be be every bit as engaging as fiction, and that what sharing what we already do – sharing our own learning process – is almost certainly going to land with a lot more people than we think that it will.

3 Outreach

If we want people to notice what we are doing we need to be the best influencers that we can be. And just as in the Blog or not to blog section, Grahl suggests that working with other proven influencers can be the best way to build our own following. And how do we get to work with great people like this? By being helpful of course!

Don't ask for help; offer your service.

This is the section where social media comes in. To do that we need to understand our readers or potential readers and give them what they want too. To this end choosing the most appropriate Social Media platform can be key. If you write Young Adult, shouldn't you be on Instagram already?

Don't forget, though, that the best way to connect is always to meet face to face. So go to events and do this whenever and wherever you can. And no, folks, I do not think that this does include Skype.

4 Sales

The final ingredient of successful book marketing is sales, and sales Grahl reminds us, is not a dirty word. In Your First 1000 Copies reminds us to be our own fans. Be positive and enthusiastic about your work. Enthusiasm is infectious.

Make it easy to buy your book. In email communication, give your audience clear and repeated opportunities to buy your book. And don't be afraid to ask for the sale either. Remember that your customers gave you permission to contact them.

They want to know what you have to offer.

In summary

Obviously, this article contains a condensed version of the ideas in Your First 1,000 Copies, and to get the full version you can buy the book and read it for yourself. I found the book compelling and the ideas engaging. It's not expensive and it's a pleasant and uplifting read.

As I mentioned at the start, my dad is a self-published author with only limited sales. It'll be interesting to see whether applying the principles of Tim Grahl's Your First 1000 Copies can help him with his next project.

1,000 copies would certainly be a great start.

ALL NEW Bridget Jones
Bridget Jones' Baby to arrive after a phantom pregnancy

Those of us around in 1996 will remember the mega-phenomenon that was Bridget Jones's Diary – the novel that emerged from Helen Fielding's 1995 column for The Independent newspaper. The iconic everygirl was everywhere and everyone either knew a Bridget
or, just as likely, was one.


And the good news for Bridget Jones fans is that Jonathan Cape have just announced that there will, after-all,  be a new release to tie in with the release of the new film, Bridget Jones's Baby, which is due for release in cinemas on the 16th of September.


The new book, Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries, is to focus on Bridget's first pregnancy, some time before the events of the most recent novel – Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy - in which Bridget's children are all grown up and husband, Mark Darcy, is dead.


Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries, is set to be published on 11 October and is available for pre-order on Amazon.


NEW NEW Harry Potter
Cursed Child breaks more records for Rowling.

Anyone visiting a supermarket last Sunday will no doubt have seen half-emptied display stands with the last few copies of the Cursed Child playscript by Jack Thorne and JK Rowling.


The book launch has been marked by midnight openings, special discounts and record-breaking pre-orders with chains like Amazon and Waterstones. This Special Rehearsal Edition of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script book contains the script used by the cast in crew in development of the stage show, along with further details about those involved in the stage production.


This current rehearsal edition is to be available for a limited time only, and will soon be replaced by the Definitive Collector’s Edition. This will contain the finalised, definitive script of the play, and other extras related to the production.


The book has received four stars in The Telegraph, 6/10 in The Irish Times.


NEW OLD Harry Potter
Hogwarts Houses for everyone - except you muggles, not for you.

The 26th June 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, which Bloomsbury will mark with an unprecedented year long marketing campaign.


The occasion will see special 'Hogwarts House Editions' of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for each of the the four Hogwarts houses. There will be shields on the jackets, extra content, and edges sprayed in house colours.


There will also be an exhibition on the magic of Harry Potter run in partnership with the British Library, set to open in October.


Longer Lives For Readers
 reading, longevity, long life, health

The New York Times reports on a study that links reading with longevity in the Elderly. The study reported in Elsevier journal Social Science & Medicine, found that those readers who read up to three and a half hours a week were 17% less likely to die in the next 12 years,
with those reading over 3.5 hours 23% less likely to die.


The results suggest that readers live on average approximately two years longer than non-readers, even after adjusting for gender, wealth and education.