philip stephen rowlands


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Get Your Characters To Market Your Book

user image 2016-02-08
By: philip stephen rowlands
Posted in: Guest Articles

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Apart from writing one of my great passions is lawn bowls. I suppose it was inevitable that eventually I would combine the two and write a fictional novel about the game I love. The result was 'Jack's High'.

'Jack's High' was first conceived as a six part comedy drama centred around the hapless exploits of a Welsh Valleys' fictional lawn bowls club called Penypont. The BBC liked what they read but were not convinced that lawn bowls was a compelling enough vehicle for comedy and asked me to write about something else. I declined.

Some of you reading this will probably think me mad. The truth is I have always believed in staying true to what you believe in and I believed in the characters I had created. They were real to me and I was not prepared to abandon them.

How real are your characters to you? 

Seth Solmes recently posted on a Google+ forum:

  "Is it possible to be afraid of your own characters?"  

Seth is writing a novel about a particularly dark serial killer. It seems to me Seth is on the right track because his character has come alive to such a degree he actually gives Seth the shivers! More about this later.

To some extent the BBC was right. Bowls is not viewed as a 'sexy' sport even though it is played globally by large numbers of people like myself. Humour on the other hand is universal but how could I convince the general public at large that a novel about bowls could be both sexy and funny? Step forward Vernon Algernon Lewis.

Vernon is one of the characters from 'Jack's High' . His uniquely insensitive and  uncompromising attitude to life can frequently be described as outrageous. He is one of those people the ' politically correct brigade' would love to clap in irons. The point is Vernon can speak and behave in a way that would get 'real' people ostracised or worse!

It seemed a 'no brainer' to appoint the unsuspecting Vernon to the position of marketing director. One of the most effective marketing ploys is to give something away for free although we authors possibly flog this tactic to death when we keep giving away books that we have slaved over for months if not years.

The presumed logic is that somehow this will result in more sales. Instead why not provide teaser material that increases interest and a desire to find out more by actually buying your book? 'Jack's High' is a 346 page novel set around a bowls club. It is highly unlikely anyone is going to rush out to buy it unless they can be persuaded it actually may be quite fun. Which brings me back to Seth's very dark serial killer.

Why not get this warped individual to write a short eBook describing 'My Top 3 Favourite Kills' from his own perspective. A bit grisly and probably in bad taste (apologies Leslie Jasper) but you get the idea. The eBook becomes the hook that catches you readers without having to give the book you slaved over away for free. Does this make sense? But be warned, your character can begin to take over your life!
Vernon has stepped out of  'Jack's High'    to write something of his own. A much shorter and more specific eBook entitled:
"7 Top Tips for Top Skips" . This is the ' lead magnet ' that will be made available to potential readers. If they like it you are well on the way to selling another copy of your novel. If they don't then what have you lost? The importance of providing quality material cannot be overstressed. It must also stand on its own merits. A sloppily written ' lead magnet ' will do infinitely more harm than good!
Vernon now features on:

WARNING! This only works if you are writing about something you feel passionate about and enjoy doing for its own sake regardless of the positives that will flow from it.

The call to action  on Vernon's blog has already begun to attract subscribers who are more likely to turn into fans prepared to purchase 'Jack's High' because they have begun to 'bond' with Vernon.

CLICK HERE to visit Vernon's Landing Page and see what you think?

Isn't it time  you got your characters working for you?


Ceri Shaw
02/08/16 03:57:27PM @ceri-shaw:

Diolch for posting Phil :) How do you find the new editor? It has a few more features than the old Ning setup. Anyhoo....must talk again soon about eto :)