I don’t like to repeat myself, but long time has passed since I’ve published the last blog article. Well, not only has the time passed—it has done so rather quickly!
Nothing new in this department either—time always flies by when you are free, and when life feels good.
February and March brought to my life some opportunities to speak in front of young audiences. Two speeches took place at high schools, and one time I was invited to speak during a special Christian gathering, a weekend the believers spent together in a very nice locality in the nature, ‘outside of civilization’.
Sharing my story
I don’t mind doing this for free, even paying the travel expenses. Selling books for the very same price I purchased them for from the Slovak publisher, there’s really no room for making any profit for me on such occasions.
It’s a wonderful opportunity anyway, a chance to share the lessons the solitary confinement taught me, and something I consider my mission. Many people in the audience become the readers of the University of Solitude afterwards—and I can’t get a better reward, believing in the message of the book, and how it can impact the reader.
I really wished to have this opportunity with the English print as well—the chance to speak…. It’s so different to anything else you can do for “marketing your book”.
Even if nobody bought a signed copy at the end of the meeting, it still would be positive—since the message was shared, the people heard the experience, they got some food for thoughts, a kind of thoughts they’re not going to get either in their families or in schools, or in churches. I made many friends along the way, and am convinced that the meetings made a positive difference in some lives.
45 opportunities to speak…
Sales of the Slovak edition might be sleeping right now—many new titles have been published since we published it back in 2014, it’s an old title, and my publisher does absolutely nothing to push it forward anymore. But the book is still alive, and I still get new invitations to speak, and am very grateful for the opportunity.
When I counted it quickly, there were already more than 45 such occasions, and I didn’t organize a single one—always someone asked me to come and speak. Libraries, prisons, secondary schools and high schools, non-profit organizations, charity groups, Christian gatherings, private art festivals, nursing houses….
If you published a book that carries some important message, if you are not afraid to talk in front of people, you should go out to places and speak. And while I got invitations, you can take the initiative and try getting some yourself. Believe or not, many libraries or schools will be more than happy to welcome you—they want to report some activity, want to do something special for their students, clients, or readers. You just need to get in touch and start!
New Manuscript Ready – The Outsider
From 10th January to 10th March, I managed to improve and translate my new manuscript. The book will be called The Outsider and I already know it will be super tough to market it and gain the first readers. But I don’t mind, I’ll publish this one anyway, but I’ll do it low cost (no professional translator or cover designer this time, just a native proof reader).
Actually you never know what tomorrow will bring, and in what position you’ll find yourself in five, or let’s say in ten years time.
It can be the same position as today, you can die until then, or, perhaps, you may have new options to market your works of art, and suddenly people will be reading something you’ve published many years ago….
I still consider myself young enough to have plans and dreams in various areas of life (actually you should never feel old to have dreams!), and some walks of life may provide new opportunities to bring my work in front of broader audiences.
If nothing else happens, I know that the book will be unique in a way, that I won’t add just another useless title to the already super-crowded book market that features millions of titles, from which only ten percent were really worth publishing (or perhaps even only five percent….).
Grammar doesn’t matter anymore
Reading a lot of books, visiting websites that attract millions of visitors each month, and publishing a lot of content in my internet marketing projects (some of them dating back to 2010, when my English was much worse than it is today), I came to a simple conclusion: Once you reach certain basic quality and readability of your content, further improvement of language, syntax, or grammar won’t lead to any improvements in the terms of conversions, or copies sold.
It would obviously be beautiful to have all your works translated, edited, proof read five times, blessed by the pope, etc., but it all takes time and cost money and eventually won’t make any difference for 95% of all book readers.
I received thousands of FB likes, Tweets and Pinterest shares on all kind of content I published around the internet five or six years ago. The grammar was poor and syntax terrible. Today I would be ashamed for publishing those articles again….
I once even published a YouTube video (in the second half 2011), as a part of SEO campaign. I never planned to attract any visits to that particular video (just planned to embed it in some spun articles published on places that nobody would every reach, but which served well for ranking a money site back in 2011—that strategy definitely won’t work today!).
It actually took me less than an hour to make and publish the video from scratch. Doing it in rush, and not caring about the final outcome, it was just terrible in terms of grammar. You could find spelling errors on basically every other slide (it was a PowerPoint style video, with some nice music in the background).
But I didn’t care, since I didn’t plan to receive any views for the video, and didn’t even publish it with my real name….
Long story short, the video attracted nearly 900,000 views during its lifetime, and though some people complained in the comments section about terrible grammar, it still received more than 2300 likes and just 180 dislikes….
The lesson one can learn from this example?
As long as people find the information (or the emotion) they are looking for in the content, vast majority of them don’t care about the grammar….
Great English didn’t attract more readers
Experience with University of Solitude helps us to look at things from different angle. I cooperated with Martina on this project, a great translator, and we had a native proof-reader Dennis Wise, a creative writing teacher that works at the University, and received many honors and awards for his work in the field of literature. I believe that the book could hardly be translated better….
Did the great translation, however, help us to attract more readers?
Are the conversion rates on the book landing page better than conversion rate I experience in other projects of mine, where the English is terrible compared to what Martina and Dennis achieved with the University of Solitude?
The answer is no. The conversion rates aren’t better, and we didn’t attract more readers….
I don’t think it’s necessary to write anything more to the subject.
Don’t be a perfectionist, and don’t spend more time and money than necessary on your first book. If you’re native, you probably will do well completely alone—no need to hire editors or proof readers for your very first book. And if you are not, hire a proof-reader and that should do the trick.
If you become popular over time, you can always have your initial work edited and proofread later, and come up with a second edition—this time a perfect one. But believe me that 95% of readers won’t mind the imperfect.
Marketing of the University of Solitude in February and March
I’ve finally completed the private blog network I was referring to in a few previous articles. It took a lot of time and cost about 800 euro, but I hope that once the scheduled posts are published, landing page of the book will rise sharply in the Google search results for targeted keywords (all kind of long tail keywords related to “true inspirational story”, combining for more than 10,000 monthly searches in total).
If it happens, it will result in a dramatic increase of organic traffic from Google, and that should result in an increase of book sales as well.
To make everything look natural, I didn’t publish the posts immediately, but rather scheduled them to be published between now and the end of June. This should look more natural to Google and bring in better results at the end.
Covering the expenses for PBN building
Eight hundred euro may seem like a lot of money to you, and it certainly is a lot for a marketing experiment with an uncertain end result.
The most expensive part of building the PBN consists in purchasing hosting accounts, since you need a unique IP address for each domain in the network. Serious hosting packages cost anything from $30-$150 per year, and for a small PBN of ten domains you will need ten of those!
Most of them, however, allow you to host more than one domain for the same price, or for just a little more (+$10/year). In order to cover the expenses for this marketing experiment, I built a simultaneous private blog network, using the same hosting accounts I purchased for University of Solitude PBN.
Built to bring in money
This second network of PBN domains should help me to boost the rankings of one of my older domains, which should generate decent profit from product sales and advertising once it reaches top 10 of Google for desired keywords. It’s a for-profit project.
If it really happens, the extra money I will make from that money site will very easily cover the expenses for the entire experiment, plus bring in some additional cash.
We will know if the experiment succeeded or not at the end of June, or beginning of July (once all scheduled posts are published and indexed by Google, and the rankings reflect the changes).
Since I did many things differently (and better) than most people do when building their PBNs, I hope for a good result. But nowadays in SEO you never really know. Anyway, if the result arrives, I’ll explain the steps I took while building the network in detail, for all of you guys who’d like to try the same thing to market your book or businesses.
Plans for documentary movie, more traveling
At the end of January I met with an Iranian film director (living in exile) who’s interested in making a documentary about my case, imprisonment in Evin, and life after prison.
We had a long fruitful session of meetings together in the Slovak capital, and came with a decent plan for making the movie.
There’s one problem, however—the budget. Budget, that’s always the biggest concern 🙂
We came to a certain number, and I prepared a project plan and presentation for potential investors/sponsors/donors/film funds.
I sent it to the director; the ball is in his hands now. The film would be his creation, I’d be just the main protagonist, and I know nothing about making a documentary movie. Therefore he should be the one who approaches potential sponsors and film funds, trying to raise the money so we can start working on the movie.
So far he has done nothing….
Of course I would be happy if we shot the documentary. It would definitely bring more attention to my story and consequently to the book, and the message it contains. But I can just wait how things develop and hope that the Iranian director actually takes some action. So far it hasn’t happened, but we’ll see. If we don’t shoot the document is not the end of the world.
Backpacking on Iberian Peninsula, improving the new manuscript
Next week I am leaving again and will spend some time backpacking in my favorite country—Spain. I’ll walk down old pilgrimage routes and visit a couple of national parks along the way. Hoping to walk more than 1,000 kilometers during this trip, and not having any exact plan for the journey, I don’t have a return ticket.
Let’s see how things turn out and when I will come back.
Anyway, I am taking the manuscript of the new book with me (printed) and will work on further improvements and hopefully finalize it until the end of the trip. Then I will just hire a native proofreader and design a simple book cover myself. If everything goes well (and if I return from Spain sound 🙂), I will publish the new book by the end of September.
As you can see, though not updating the blog, I’ve been working a lot since coming back from Nepal.
Writing the new book, building a high quality private blog network to help improving the awareness of the University of Solitude, accepting invitations to talk in front of local audiences, trying to arrange things with Iranian film director, and working on many other smaller for-profit and non-profit projects that I do not map on the pages of this blog, there was hardly time to spare writing new blog updates….
Even now, when I am heading to travels again, I’ll continue working, editing the manuscript of The Outsider and trying to finalize it by the end of the journey.
I hope that you will also find motivation to work on your projects and marketing efforts, and won’t let the current situation on the book market discourage you. If you believe in what you do, if you don’t do it only for money, you will enjoy the process, regardless of the hard work or results.
That’s it for now friends, have a great time, enjoy the spring (or autumn if you live in Australia) and see you in a month or two with the next update!