Matthew Turner: Using A Short Story To Rock My Novel

In the new landscape of publishing, it's always interesting to hear what different authors are doing to get their books noticed. Today Matthew Turner of Turndog Millionaire is with us to show how he used a short story to build momentum for his book, Beyond Parallel, a coming-of-age story that flips between two parallel lives.

Standing out can be difficult, and Matt's background in Strategic Marketing means he has some great experience to offer. Enjoy!

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Writing is hard! … Editing is excruciating! … Finishing is torture!

However, none of these are the hardest part about writing a book. The hardest part about being a modern day writer is becoming visible in a very invisible world.

When you're a debut novelist (like moi), trying to get noticed is your main priority. When you're a self-published debut novelist (again, like moi), it's imperative you don't become part of Amazon's black hole.

When I was planning the release of Beyond Parallel I started to think about how I could stand out from the crowd. I wanted readers, supporters, and email addresses. I needed people who would read and share and express their feelings, no matter how good or bad they were.

This plan had many facets, but it was a short story that was the most intriguing. Not only was it a way to improve my writing, but it allowed me to reach potentially thousands of readers who hadn't previously read my words.

Would you like to learn how I did it?

A Short Story To Kick Things Off

In October I released Tales From A Tiny Thai Table, a 5,000 word prequel that's set the night before Beyond Parallel begins. It's a short story that introduces the main characters, provides and insight into what to expect, and is jam packed with behind the scenes info about me and the book.

These are the benefits my short story offered:

  • It got the reader excited about Beyond Parallel 
  • It was further practice for my writing
  • It allowed me to offer something for FREE (give before you take)
  • It gave me emails and names for future releases
  • It was a dummy-run of the publishing process I learned the ins and outs of Amazon and Smashwords I was able to practice some launch day ideas
  • It allowed me to share behind the scenes info
  • I was able to extend the story of Beyond Parallel
Of course, this was potential only. It could totally backfire, but I felt it was worth the risk. A crazy risk? Maybe, but I did do a few things to help my cause.

Removing The Risk 

 I wanted to take this process very seriously, just like I would any book/launch. It wasn't perfect, and it didn't tick all of the boxes I had hoped for. However, it was an amazing experience and I'm happy to share my thoughts: 

1: Professionally Edited:  My editor, Susan, edited Tales From A Tiny Thai Table. It was important to make sure the quality was high. I wanted to showcase my skills, not an un-edited piece of awful! I didn't stop here though as I asked three people to Beta Read for me. This allowed me to take it to the next level and produce a piece of work that was worthy of the world.

 2: Created A Launch Plan:  As a marketer my Book Plan is rather detailed. I created a mini plan for Tales From A Tiny Thai Table, and overall approached it like I would any other launch day. I knew things would go wrong (they did) and I knew I'd learn a lot (I did). I wanted to go all out, though. It might have been FREE, but I wanted it to reach as many people as it could. If I simply released and hoped, it would have been a waste of time.

3: Advertising: I decided not to spend any money on advertising, but I did utilize dozens of Free Directories that showcase Free Ebooks. This took a few hours to find, and a further few to fill in the necessary details. It was totally worth it, though as I reached hundreds of people I wouldn't have otherwise reached. You'd be amazed at what the internet offers if you do some searching.

4: Persistence Is Important: Don't SPAM, but at the same time don't let your book become invisible. Keep Tweeting and sharing your Short Story. Make it easy for people to download and approach as many people as you can.

I had a couple of months between Tales From A Tiny Thai Table and Beyond Parallel. Prior to 2013 I wanted people to download the short story and get a taster for what was to come. It also allowed me to talk about Beyond Parallel without feeling like a dirty salesman :)

Was It Worth It? 

110% YES!!!!

It didn't bring the results I had hoped for, but the lessons learned were invaluable. You can read about Smashwords and Amazon, but it isn't until you see it first hand that it really makes sense.

I encourage you to read my Post on getting your Book on Amazon on FREE and avoid the mistakes I made.

The results: I received well over 500 downloads, many of whom didn't know me beforehand. Few signed up to my mailing list, so I'm not sure what the long-term benefits will be. It was far from a roaring success, but it did reach as high as No.6 on the Amazon Short Story Charts. That's pretty darn cool :)


Would I do it again? YES!

 I love to give before I take, and this was a way to offer my readers a FREE sample before the big day. I'm not sure whether a short story would work for you, but it's certainly worth considering.

What are your thoughts? I'd love you to share them below...

Matthew Turner is a young writer from Yorkshire, England. His debut novel, Beyond Parallel, is a coming-of-age story about two young twenty-somethings. In the mould of Sliding Doors, it’s set on a parallel timeline; one story follows Bella and Clark as a couple, the other as if they never meet.

What I really like about Matthew's  usage here of the free story is that he released it prior Beyond Parallel, rather than offering it months afterward as many other authors do. I think this was a really smart way to pull potential readers into the world of BP beforehand, and to showcase his storytelling style! And as a side note, I think the concept of his book is compelling--don't all of us wonder what our lives would be like if we made different choices, and followed different paths?

A big thank you to Matthew for hanging out with us today. If you want to find out more about this book and how he helps writers, check out Turndog Millionaire. And if you want to keep track of Beyond Parallel, you can add it to your Goodreads List right here.  

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Matthew is giving a copy of his book, Beyond Parallel to one reader, so leave us a comment with some contact information and you're in the draw!

30 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Matthew for sharing your outside of the box marketing tool. It sounds like a great idea. And it's important that we all think of ways to stand out that will work for us. Good luck with your book.

Al Diaz said...

This post is both encouraging and enlightening. Thank you for sharing and the best of lucks

Al Diaz said...

Forgot the contact info. My mail is veryultimatedragon at yahoo dot com

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks Mathew for sharing your marketing strategy. Writing is indeed hard work, so is getting published and marketing.

Miranda Hardy said...

What a great idea. I love this concept of giving before receiving.

jennifermzeiger said...

Thanks for sharing! It's hard to come up with a way to stand out, so good job at making the 'give before receive' idea work in the process. Good luck with your writing=)

cleemckenzie said...

Excellent advice for writers. I've published several short stories that I've been considering pulling together into an anthology. That might be a perfect tool to help launch my next book.

Thanks Matthew and hurray for being so resourceful.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm kind of part dragon, so I also forgot my contact information.
cleemckenziebooksATcomcastDOTnet

I'd love a copy of your book.

YelenaC said...

I love the creative concept behind this idea and, like someone else said, the outside the box thinking! Thanks for sharing.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I have a short story that periodically jumps up and down on the Amazon short story sci fi list. I have no idea how to track how many times it's been downloaded. I'm such a newb.

Becca Puglisi said...

Like Angela mentioned, I love the idea of releasing the free short story BEFORE the novel. Great idea. Thanks so much for sharing, Matthew. Marketing ideas are always welcome :)

Medeia Sharif said...

Excellent advice and thanks for the marketing tips. I wish Matthew much success. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

sharif(at)sharifwrites(dot)com

Jordan McCollum said...

I love this strategy! I'm hoping to do the same thing if I self-publish this year (though I've been stalled halfway through my accompanying novella for almost a week, which isn't helping). Thanks for the resources!

Romance Book Haven said...

At 5k words, it sounds more like a novelette than a short story.

Great idea.

Maria

Turndog Millionaire said...

Huge thanks for all the responses everyone. I only just got back from London last night, hence my tardiness.

It's been an interesting strategy though. I won't pretend it's resulted in the masses flooding to my direction, but I do believe it will have some long term benefit.

I want to keep doing it in the future though too. It's been a very interesting ride :)

Matthew

Turndog Millionaire said...

@ Maria: quite possibly. I'm not too sure about where a short story ends and a novelette begins. Either way, it's a great way to connect with people

Matthew

Turndog Millionaire said...

@ CleeMcKenzie: it sounds like you have the perfect basis to do this :)

Great job

Matthew

Kelly Miller said...

Thanks for sharing your time and wisdom. I was thinking of releasing a short story between book 2 and 3 of a series. To keep interest in the series because of the long time frame between when they're released but also to feature a different style. My book, "Dead Like Me", is more hard boiled crime fiction. However, my readers want to know if things will ever heat up between two of my characters. In my book series, they won't. It kind of skips over the courtship and starts with them after the breakup. But I thought a short story to read about what they missed in the book might be interesting. Though I'm still up in the air about it as this would be a genre change.

Traci Kenworth said...

I've thought about doing this for my books in the future, something to whet the appetite for what's to come. Thanks for the info and showing us how it's done!!

Melissa Pearl said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Matthew. That was really cool to read :)

Beyond Parallel sounds pretty cool. Adding it to me TBR now.

Might just check out that short story too ;)

Melissa Pearl said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Matthew. That was really cool to read :)

Beyond Parallel sounds pretty cool. Adding it to me TBR now.

Might just check out that short story too ;)

Angela Orlowski-Peart said...

This is an excellent advice, especially because I am currently working on an anthology of short stories that introduce some of the facts for my already published novel, Forged by Greed. So, I'm doing pretty much the same as you did! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and advice. It couldn't be more timely for me :-)

And yes, I would love to get a copy of your book. Here's my address: angela (at) angelapeart (dot) com

All the best.

Powerone said...

You might try setting up a website and then post your short story on that. I do that often, usually about the same time I come out with a new book, I post a short story to get my readers attention. Not sure how many books I sell that way, but I do get about 30,000 unique vistiors a month to my website, though I have had it for 7 years. It takes a while to attrack a sizable audience.

You can do the same thing with a blog. Very easy to do and you can sell your book as well.

I even have a publisher, I do not self publish and the author is still responsible for selling their books.

Powerone

Turndog Millionaire said...

@ Kelly: I think this is a great idea. I know Veronica Roth did this with the Insurgent series. She created a short story from another character POV to give an insight to the reader that they would never get from the books

Matthew

Turndog Millionaire said...

@ Melissa: thanks very much :)

If you do get round to reading please let me know what you think. Always good to hear some honest feedback

Matthew

Turndog Millionaire said...

@ Powerone: Yes, I like this idea. I may use a website in the future. It's certainly a good way to get exposure out there.

I'm also trying to get into Wattpad, another source which I hear is a good way to share short work. It all helps, right?

Matthew

Linda A. said...

What a great way to put yourself out there prior to publication. I have a friend who created a blog about her work-in-progress prior to publication. A short story is a terrific way to lead into a book. Thanks for sharing your approach!

Miranda A. Uyeh said...

Matthew, loved your strategy so much! Such a unique way to draw attention to your book. Thanks for sharing.

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NyNy said...

Nice post! Actually, is it possible to maybe include ReadWave.com into your "More Short Story Blogs" or write a post about the site so more short story writers can check it out?

On ReadWave, you can build up an audience around your story by starting small writing short stories now and allowing your readers to download and share with others. If you are aiming to be an author, novelist or writer, this is a great way to start marketing your stories online. Please check out the site here: http://readwave.com or you can email me @ nyashaoliver93@gmail.com

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