Invention City Publishes a Novel

Treated book like a product, did Brutally Honest Review and said, "Yes."

Dead Tide by Jane Marks
Available on Amazon

A year ago, my daughter Jane was nearing completion of a murder-mystery novel and wanted Brutally Honest feedback to either be crushed and told to give up on writing or encouraged to try and make a career out of it. One of the first things I tell inventors is to get feedback from friends and family. In this case I didn't feel qualified because I don't read woman-oriented murder mysteries. And Jane's mom is too nice. I mentioned this to my friend, Jo Ann Colker-Arison, a serious lover of books and movies, who volunteered to offer honest feedback. After reading the rough draft, Jo Ann said some kind and encouraging words ("don't give up") and then gave Jane a hard kick in the butt to do better - which Jane subsequently did.

The next thing we did was a survey. "Let's treat this like an Invention City product and see how a synopsis and cover surveys. Expect to be crushed."

So I created a cover, she wrote a synopsis and we did a survey. The results shocked me. I turned to Jane and said, "if an inventor submitted this to Invention City, with this survey result, it would be a yes." The unfiltered responses were encouraging: 20% said they'd buy it today and another 20% said they'd probably buy it in the future. But the filtered results were fantastic. The book is loosely inspired by the movie Jaws, you see, and when filtered for people who love that movie (the kind of thing we can target when promoting), 46% said they'd buy it today and 17% said they'd probably buy it soon. That's a 63% "yes" result according to I-City's way of looking at things. It doesn't predict actual sales, but it's a good rough guess at hotness. When a product gets a 50% "yes" in one of our surveys we often say "yes" to licensing the product too.

Her next move was to try and find an established publisher. First time novelists have a rough road. It's like inventing. Almost no one wants to hear from you until you've proven yourself and the handful of publishers who have open doors are overwhelmed. it's also a long process. Writers are encouraged to submit to just one publisher at a time and 99.9% of the time they hear "no." I thought our survey results would encourage publishers to give the book serious consideration. In the event, Jane tried a couple of publishers, heard "no" and became impatient to move ahead without a standard publisher. As for the survey results, the publishers she contacted didn't care at all.

After much discussion, rewrites, feedback and editors, and then more rewrites, feedback and editors, Invention City decided it would publish the novel through Kindle Direct Publishing. I-City would do the back end stuff, setting up the account, managing money and giving advice. Jane had to take the lead on marketing. Her first job was to get blurbs for the cover. She worked like a demon and sent out scores of cold emails to authors and influencers. One of the authors she reached out to was Catherine Coulter, a well respected murder mystery writer with many books on the New York Times bestseller list. Ms. Coulter responded with wry humor and asked Jane, "Have you read the Elements of Style by Strunk and White? ...Which edition?" Jane answered "Yes! 4th edition" (it was on the shelf at the friend's house she was visiting at the time). Jane sent the manuscript, Ms Coulter then read it and gave a fantastic blurb.

Almost a year after the writing was "finished", DEAD TIDE is published and available at Amazon. Now Jane's marketing efforts begin in earnest.

Would we do this for other authors? Ask us in a few months.

- Mike

share this article: facebook