Breakthrough

At the moment, for financial reasons I’ve been unable to make my work into a paperback. This will change soon. We’ve encountered a challenge that we are in the process of resolving. We rent out an apartment (my previous home before Sarah and I married and merged our belongings), and our tenants have recently moved out, leaving the place in a bit of a mess. Repairs and improvements being a priority, we have had to walk a financial tightrope while paying a hefty mortgage with no rental income – that’s in addition to the mortgage on our own home – while also paying for the work to be done to the property. It’s a temporary blip, and I expect to be able to move on with the book soon. I’ve also approached publishers to see if any of them would take on my book and bear the cost themselves. It’s a long shot for an unproven author like me, but nothing ventured, eh?

Last week I was in touch with a trainee nurse on Twitter. She informed me that excerpts from my book were read out during a lecture at her university, in the geographical area that I had recently targeted! I was shocked and flattered (probably in equal measures). After picking myself back up off the floor, I thanked her for telling me this. She said that it was received with great interest and the lecture room fell silent. She also said that she would try to promote the book for me.

Although I’m confident that the book would be of interest to a huge number of people, this conversation has served to reinforce the faith that I have in my product. My current goal is to spread my name and book title as widely as possible so that when I go in for the big marketing kill, many people will have already heard about it. If it was used in a university lecture, the lecturer must have discussed it with others beforehand and since. The students must have talked about it amongst themselves. My Twitter tactic has clearly worked. As yet, it has not yet been reflected in sales, but the seed has been planted. I need to forge my way forward in the same direction and plant more seeds.

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American Skies (self-composition)

This is a slide show of some of the stunning scenery from our Route 66 adventure. The guitar music is a composition of mine. I hope you enjoy it and find it relaxing.

Please visit my website http://www.markdpritchard.com

First sales, reviews and student nurses

During the first week I sold about 20 copies. Most of my sales were from people who know me. I used Facebook to let everyone know that it was now available for download. For about a month before publication, I’d been amassing followers on Twitter. In January I had 20 followers. By the end of February I had more than 1,000. I’ll explain my Twitter tactics in a future blog very soon. A few Twitter followers told me that they were waiting for the book to be published and would download it as soon as it became available.

By the end of the week, reviews began to come in on Amazon – each one a 5* rating. The comments that were made assured me that I had achieved my objectives in my writing. It was described as compulsive reading. Those who’d started it said that they couldn’t put it down – a page turner! There are some sections in the latter half of the book that I was concerned would be less interesting than the other parts, to the extent that I worried that people may become bored with it. However, that proved to be untrue, and I was clearly being too harsh in my own judgement of it.

The biggest breakthrough was from someone I’d only known for a short period of time. I was unaware of the fact that he had been an intensive care nurse some years ago. He admitted that he rarely read any books, but once he’d started it he couldn’t stop reading it until he’d finished. His daughter was about to start training as a nurse, and he was going to recommend it to her as something that would help her to understand things from a patient’s perspective. All reviews so far are only available on http://www.amazon.co.uk , NOT on http://www.amazon.com.

After just one week of being on the market, I had inadvertently stumbled across a target audience – student nurses. It was a stroke of good fortune and an accidental piece of market research. Sarah’s son, Gareth, works as a sales rep for a medical firm. He gave me some advice on setting targets and sales objectives, helping me to break things down, as I was becoming a little overwhelmed with excitement and developing headless chicken-like behaviour. He suggested that I should target student nurses in a small geographical area, trying to contact as many of them as possible.

As it was only available as an e-book at the time, I figured that I’d use Twitter as a tool to connect with the medical profession.

Pricing

I was lucky that I was able to produce the whole book without any outside help. In 2008 I completed a proofreading course, with the intention of finding some work in this area. However, it was very soon after this that I suffered my brain haemorrhage. Although it didn’t affect my intellectual abilities, it did change my focus on life, and I no longer had the urge to expand my horizons in this direction. Incidentally, the same happened with my bass guitar – something that I purchased only a couple of months beforehand. I’ve hardly picked it up since my illness; the thought of it takes me back to the evening that it struck, in a disturbing way.

So I was able to proofread the book myself. I found it extremely difficult to objectively proofread something that I was so deeply involved in. Deep down I felt it needed a fresh pair of eyes, but I persevered and eventually got there. The system set up by Amazon that enables you to create and publish your own e-book is remarkably effective and free, although they have to take a cut. Someone rolled their eyes in disgust at me recently when I mentioned the cut that Amazon take, as if the internet Goliath was ripping off poor little David. But come on, isn’t it just wonderful to be able to write something and share it across the globe with no set up costs! I have no complaints about the whole cost or procedure.

I decided to set the price low. In the beginning, all I really wanted was as many reviews as possible – preferably good ones, but that’s the chance you take, of course. I set the price at £2.50 ($3.74 US at the time) per download. With their cut, my share would be £1.44 for each sale. My goal – 200,000 copies.

Now, all I had to do was to market the product. Simple, eh? …

The Big Click

First of all, I’d like to explain something about my name. You may think, “Why the ‘D’? Why not just be ‘Mark Pritchard’?” It may look a little pretentious. But there is a very good reason for inserting my middle initial (which stands for Derek, incidentally). There is another author out there with the same name who writes books on erotica. That is not me, and I figured that I should make some differentiation.

I’m not going to bang on about brain haemorrhage and cancer stuff too much in my blogs, as all that is explained in the book. I may, however, encourage people to check for lumps etc. from time to time as my wife and I are now passionate about this. So really speaking, the adventure starts on the 15th February, 2015. This is the day that I published my work as an e-book on Amazon. I have a blog page on my website, http://www.mardpritchard.com, which I only use occasionally. This is the blog I published there on the 21st February. I suppose that we could call this a blog within a blog.

The Big Click

I started writing my book, I’m Never Ill, in November 2012. It was just meant to be a short read for brain injury sufferers to help ease the long, dreary hours in hospital. However, as time went on it became bigger and bigger, until I realised that it was going to be a more substantial read. I’m not the fastest of workers, and if I’m honest, the enormity of the task became a little daunting. But it became a case of “in for a penny, in for a pound”, and failing complete the mission was not an option.

      When I was about a third of the way through it, Sarah (my wife) was diagnosed with breast cancer. She spent almost a whole year undergoing operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I didn’t write a lot during this time. Just after Christmas (this last one), I celebrated its completion. At least, in my mind I’d completed it, but I began to realise that the final proofreading and preparations for publishing my ebook on Amazon Kindle were seemingly endless. It was a little like when you walk up a mountain and the summit comes into view. When you get there you realise that it wasn’t the summit after all, and you have what seems to be a further half a mile to go. And then this process repeats itself a number of times. You know you can’t give up because you’ve come so far, but you feel like you are being sucked deeper and deeper into some endless swamp.

      It was Sunday 15th February when I found myself staring at the “publish now” button. A small era was about to end with one tiny click. Sarah looked across to see what I was doing. I told her. We decided that we should do it together – after three. We planned to do it simultaneously, but I know that she got there a split second before me.

      That night I barely slept. I was worried about how it would be met with its readers. I’ve not sold many yet, but the feedback that I’ve had so far is that they couldn’t put it down. I don’t think that they were just being polite. There are a few reviews on Amazon too. Some people have said that it has changed the way they think about many things. I genuinely feel that I managed to do a good job and achieved what I set out to do – not just to tell our story of survival, but to challenge people’s ideas and ways of thinking. But then, who am I to say? Time will tell.”

So we are now two months down the line – and 62 e-books at £2.50 a time. My cut is £1.44 per sale. Most of the sales have been in the UK, but I have had some sales from the US and Canada. Isn’t the internet fabulous!

 My target is 200,000 sales, which would enable us to give up the day jobs and take it easy.

Please visit my website http://www.markdpritchard.com

The purpose of my blog

I’ve recently published a light-hearted e-book about how my wife and I have coped with our illnesses. I’ve not sold many copies just yet – a trifling 62 at the last count. It’s very early days and I am optimistic that I will sell considerably more. I’ve many marketing plans that just need a little patience and time. This blog, incidentally, isn’t a marketing plan as such, although if I do sell a few books along the way that will be a bonus. After reading my book, I was told by a friend of mine to keep writing, as she enjoyed it so much. The problem is finding something else to write about. I have only ever written non-fiction. I’m not sure if I have the imagination to write a novel, although if I had time I dare say I would be tempted to give it a go.

I just write about things that are, or things that have been, applying my own spin, which people generally seem to enjoy. So I figured that I should write a blog about how I am going about marketing my book – a small-time author trying to make a big-time impact on the world of reading enthusiasts. A blow-by-blow account of my attempts, my failures and my successes, while trying to smash the brick wall that separates me from the thousands of readers who I know would enjoy my book. Maybe I’ll make it, maybe not. I have to keep my feet on the ground (the wife helps with that!) but I have to allow myself big dreams and ambitions. This blog may even turn into a book about a book. I will also be writing about other things. I don’t know exactly what, but I can always come up with something to write about. So this is where the journey begins…

Please visit my website http://www.markdpritchard.com

We survived without any significant disabilities.

When people hear about our illnesses, they generally look at us with sympathetic eyes. However, we are actually BETTER OFF as a result of our illnesses. After suffering a brain haemorrhage, people don’t expect to see you living a normal life. Here are the rough statistics:

Approximately 33% of people die when the bleed occurs. Approximately 33% of people die in hospital shortly after the event. Approximately 33% of survive, but with significant disabilities.

33 + 33 + 33 = 99

That leaves 1%. These are the lucky ones who slip through the net almost unscathed. I fall into this category. This also makes me one of a small percentage of people who can write about it, and about my brain surgery experiences.

My wife, Sarah, recently beat breast cancer. She was only able to do this by having the sense to get her lump checked out immediately. Had she not done this, it would have gone walkabouts. However, it was stopped just as it was walking down the garden path and before it opened the gate. She had the lump removed, followed by removal of the lymph nodes after they’d found a microscopic trace there. Then she had four months of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. We live normal lives now, but we just have to be a little careful. I’m going to have to finish this blog now as it’s a little late. We’ve just returned from our jiving class. We live very full lives. All is good, but my head is a little worse for wear after all the jigging around – it’s not quite as it was.

My first blog post

I have much to share. I’m a brain haemorrhage survivor and an author. My wife is a cancer survivor. I have thousands of pounds worth of platinum in my head keeping me alive, and I intend to use the remainder of my life doing big things. We have a BIG story (inspirational, so I’m told). I have a website that I hope is entertaining http://www.markdpritchard.com. To celebrate our survival we took our ultimate dream holiday – Route66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. We have recently moved to our dream home in the Welsh countryside after moving away from the big smoke of Newport, where we enjoy gardening and looking after our resident wildlife. I’m off to do dinner now while the wife does her favourite job – the ironing. I’m new to this blogging business, so please bear with me while I set things up.