Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

July 29, 2010

Day 45 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

 

  • Writing topic – Does setting matter?
  • Marketing topic – News Releases, the evolution

 

Writing topic – Does setting matter?

 

In the wake of international blockbusters like The Da Vinci Code and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’ve been thinking, does setting matter? Do novels need to cover sweeping areas of the world, like vast portions of Europe (as both of the aforementioned novels do) and do so in mindboggling detail to hold a readers interest? Then I think of Faulkner and Eudora Welty, who both focus on the simple worlds of the Deep South and then I think no, it’s the story that matters.

 

My latest thriller, The Brink, takes readers on a race from the wilderness of northern Mexico, to the center of power in Washington, D.C. The settings include the US-Mexico border where a firefight takes place as the hero and heroine try to cross the Rio Grande on a hand-powered ferry, and a D.C. bar I used to frequent in my mid-20s where our dynamic duo hold up for the night. Here is your chance to chime in, dear reader. Like clothes making the man (a cliché I don’t believe in), do settings make the story? And does the author need to have intimate knowledge of that place? Or like JK Rowling, do writers only need to depend upon a dynamic imagination to paint the setting for their reader? To the keyboard, dear reader!

 

Marketing topic – News Releases, the evolution

 

I just sent a news release to my former boss at the Weatherford Telegram about my upcoming radio interview and book signing. I haven’t done many news releases lately (August is my PRWeb month – more in August) but they have evolved. Here’s an early version:

Local author’s latest thriller chillingly current

Mark Fadden readily admits his new novel, The Brink, could be the most controversial book of 2010. Not only does it feature a lost Constitution article, it uses real-world economic numbers to weave an intricate conspiracy tale that takes up where the recent financial meltdown left off. “Great fiction should inspire us to challenge the status quo,” Fadden said, “especially when the status quo involves our country’s truly dangerous financial situation.” It is this dangerous financial situation that becomes the focus of the story after fugitive lawman Danny Cavanaugh helps a woman running for her life, only to get sucked into a secret society’s plot to create financial Armageddon.

The Brink is Fadden’s third novel and is a continuation of his first novel, Five Days in Dallas. Published in 2003, Five Days in Dallas received critical acclaim and Fadden himself was even called a “masterful storyteller” by a Writer’s Digest reviewer. Fadden then began working on the follow-up in 2006, which eventually became The Brink. His agent, Tris Coburn, shopped it around to several publishing houses in 2009, but couldn’t find it a home. Undeterred, Fadden decided to publish it with iUniverse, the world’s largest independent publisher. “It’s been quite a journey since I began writing in 2001. It took a long time just to find an agent who believed in me enough to pound the pavement with my manuscripts. Now, with the economy the way it is, the big publishing houses are being very conservative with what they will greenlight. But it’s great that there’s an outlet for people to publish something that they believe in.” With Fadden winning both the Editor’s Choice Award, which is only awarded to the top 10 percent of the 5,000 books iUniverse publishes annually, and the Rising Star Award, which is only awarded to the top 2 percent and will therefore be presented to national, regional and local booksellers as part of a nationwide sales campaign, it seems that he is right to believe in The Brink.

“I’m really proud of it,” Fadden said. “It explodes off the first page and maintains that supercharged pace to the very last paragraph. It delivers the level of suspense that thriller readers have come to expect with a plot that couldn’t be more current. There’s great chemistry between the two main characters. They’re both strong personalities, but each struggles with deep inner conflict that has shaped who they are.” While The Brink allowed Fadden to navigate the complex world of economics and politics, it’s his lead character that he’s still trying to understand. “Danny Cavanaugh is an interesting guy. He has this unstoppable desire to help his fellow man, but he has also done certain things in his life that have put him in a precarious position. When The Brink opens, he’s hiding out in Mexico contemplating suicide; not exactly a typical hero’s situation, but that’s what makes him relatable. We’ve all faced situations where we want to give up, where things seem insurmountable, but something deep inside keeps us going.”

Starting in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where he lives, Fadden will conduct a book tour promoting The Brink this summer. Readers can log on to markfadden.com for tour dates and locations. The Brink is available in hardcover and paperback at most major book stores and online booksellers. The eBook format will be released this summer. The first 22 pages can also be read at markfadden.com. 

 

 

And here’s the one I just sent to WT. Notice it’s shorter and the part about my agent not finding it a home and blah, blah, blah. I yanked. I realized I needed to make it shorter and to keep it positive:

Local author to sign his latest “chillingly current” thriller at The Book Case

Mark Fadden readily admits his new novel, The Brink, could be the most controversial book of 2010. Not only does it feature a lost Constitution article, it uses real-world economic numbers to weave an intricate conspiracy tale that takes up where the recent financial meltdown left off. “Great fiction should inspire us to challenge the status quo,” Fadden said, “especially when the status quo involves our country’s truly dangerous financial situation.” It is this dangerous financial situation, which Fadden spent years researching, that becomes the focus of the story after fugitive lawman Danny Cavanaugh helps a woman running for her life, only to get sucked into a secret society’s plot to create financial Armageddon.

The Brink is Fadden’s third novel and is a continuation of his first novel, Five Days in Dallas. Published in 2003, Five Days in Dallas received critical acclaim and Fadden himself was even called a “masterful storyteller” by a Writer’s Digest reviewer. Fadden, who lives in Colleyville, then began working on the follow-up in 2006, which eventually became The Brink. “I’m really proud of it,” Fadden said of his latest thriller, which has won two awards from its publisher. “It explodes off the first page and maintains that action-packed pace to the very last paragraph. It also delivers the level of suspense that thriller readers have come to expect with a plot that couldn’t be more current. There’s great chemistry between the two main characters. They’re both strong personalities, but each struggles with deep inner conflict that has shaped who they are.”

While writing The Brink allowed Fadden to navigate the complex world of economics and politics, it’s his lead character that he’s still trying to understand. “Danny Cavanaugh is an interesting guy. He has this unstoppable desire to help his fellow man, but he has also made some bad choices that have put him in a precarious position. When The Brink opens, he’s hiding out in Mexico contemplating suicide; not exactly a typical hero’s situation, but that’s what makes him relatable. We’ve all faced situations where we want to give up, where things seem insurmountable, but something deep inside keeps us going.”

Fadden will be signing copies of The Brink on Saturday, August 7, 2010 from 11am to 1 pm at The Book Case, located at 109 N Main Street in Weatherford. Fadden will also be a guest on QXFM’s Books n’ Authors show on Saturday, August 7, 2010. The show will be broadcast at 10:00am on 89.5 KYQX and 88.5 KMQX radio, and on the Internet at www.qxfm.com.

The first 22 pages of The Brink can be read at markfadden.com.  Fadden has also created a blog about writing novels and book marketing using social media entitled “The Nightstand Diaries,” which can be read at markfadden.wordpress.com

 

 

Again, this is supposed to be an interactive blog, so your thoughts (positive and negative) are highly sought after.

 

I’ll be doing a book signing at the Allen, Texas Borders book store tomorrow night (Friday 7/30) between 6-8pm if you want to stop by, so the next post will be Monday 8/2. Till then,

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

July 28, 2010

Day 44 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

 

  • OMG, I’ve gone viral! An example of what can happen when clever meets timely
  • Writing topic – they say “write what you know” but really it’s still who you know that counts
  • Marketing topic – The importance of keywords

 

OMG, I’ve gone viral! An example of what can happen when clever meets timely

 Earlier this week, I promised I’d show how the Old Spice video was linked to libraries. At a social media workshop given by Leanna Cowan of the Alvarado Public Library, Tina Hager of the Little Elm Public Library and Melissa Jeffrey of the Arlington Public Library, they showed the video below of the BYU library spoofing the Old Spice Super Bowl commercial:

 

 

Very clever, right? Now BYU obviously spent some bucks on the video, but I’m sure that if a writer were to put his or her mind to it, they could come up with something similar with low or no budget. I mean, just check out the parodies of the Beyonce video “All the Single Ladies” that I’m sure were produced on the cheap:

 

 

Writing topic – they say “write what you know” but really it’s still who you know that counts

 

This one’s for the mystery/thriller/detective writers. Most of the manuals out there say, “write what you know.” But I’m a firm believer in “know what you write.” For instance, I’m sure all the thriller and mystery writers are innocent of murder, yet they conjure up some of the goriest murder scenes humanly imaginable. How? While they didn’t kill someone, they imagine how to do it. They know what they write. But 9 times out of 10, they talked to someone who has seen grisly murder scenes to suspend their readers disbelief. So, how to do that? Simple. Talk to your friendly neighborhood police officer.

I was talking to a police officer today that knew I was a writer. He said he has always wanted to write a novel about what he’s seen over his 25 year career (It’s an item on his bucket list). Right there is a fountain of information for me and I am a resource for him about the writing process. Win-win, right? Every city and town has a police department. Chances are there’s a veteran there who has some great stories to inspire your writing. Go down to the department and see if you can do a “ride-along” with one of the officers. If they don’t offer that, see if you can join a civilian group that supports the police department. It will take a little time to network, but sooner or later you’ll be sharing war stories over a beer with one of your city’s finest that could be the plot to your next masterpiece.

 

Marketing topic – The importance of keywords

 

What’s a better keyword for people to find a novel in which America’s staggering national debt is used to produce global financial Armageddon: ‘national debt’ or ‘financial Armageddon’? (BTW, if you’re new to this blog, that’s the gist of the plot from my latest thriller, The Brink) Do you think more people are searching for the term ‘national debt’ or ‘financial Armageddon’ these days?  

Keywords continue to mystify me, as they do most people. There’s an art to picking them and timing seems to be the most important part of using keywords.

How do you use keywords? We’d all love to know in the comment section.  

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

Here’s your chance to rip apart a book marketing campaign and caress its beating heart

July 27, 2010

Day 43 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • A new blog format
  • Writing topic – The Breakup of the US
  • Marketing topic – Amazon.com drops the ebook bomb

 A new blog format

While I created this blog to discuss the adventures of trying to market a book, there’s been some interest in also talking about the writing side of producing a book as well. So, we’re starting a new format here at ND that might just inspire some more interaction. ‘Cause you can’t market something that ain’t been written down, right?

So, for the foreseeable future, the posts will be broken down into two topics – one on writing and one on marketing. As always, comments are always welcome. So let’s jump “write” in with a couple doozies…

Writing topic – The Breakup of the US

Michael S. Rozeff is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York and the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire. He posted this article on the break up of our national government states, i.e. the states shouldn’t be “united” any longer. Now whether you agree with this or not, as a writer, this idea should immediately sets forth a slew of plot possibilities, setting possibilities, etc.  While this article hits somewhat close to home with my latest novel, The Brink, some other questions that popped to mind are:

  1. Could these individual states go to war? Could this spark a war with the other countries that we owe money to, seeing that with no more federal government, there’s no one to pay our massive bills.
  2. Fast forward 100 years. Are certain “staters” restricted from passage to other states. What would that mean in terms of character relationships? (the whole Romeo and Juliet thing)
  3. What if it happened and then one person tried to make the USA come together again? What factions would want to stop him or her?
  4. As far as settings go, would an end to the federal govt mean a beginning of total societal chaos? Would it be like the post-apocalyptic world in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road? Or would it be business as usual?

 Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions? Comments? Let’s bring it people!

 Marketing topic – Amazon.com drops the ebook bomb

A recent Wired magazine article stated that, “Amazon sold 180 e-books for every 100 hardcovers last month and it sold three times as many e-books in the first six months of this year as it did in the first half of 2009.”

Besides the notion that based on that info, I should change the topic of this blog to “ebook” marketing, rather than “book” marketing, what does the notion of ebooks being the wave of the future mean for our book marketing efforts. Should we stop promoting the hardcovers and paperbacks? Should we even do signings in stores anymore? Or should we concentrate all of our marketing efforts for the ebook crowd? Could there be a way to “sign” an ebook? Or maybe make a video intro for an ebook made by the author that readers could watch before reading the ebook?

Tonight’s topics are like Mike Tyson giving you the one two punch and then chomping on your ear for a bit, huh? I told you they’d be doozies.

 Let the comments begin!     

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

Here’s your chance to rip apart a book marketing campaign and caress its beating heart

July 23, 2010

 Day 42 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  •  The library conference – making connections the old fashioned way
  • The Hastings Incident
  • Links to the most important blogs you’ll ever read

 The library conference – making connections the old fashioned way

 “Libraries will be extinct by 2020.” That’s what North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS) Executive Director and self-proclaimed futurist Adam Wright said during his keynote speech at the NTRLS conference in Decatur, Texas this past Saturday. He was paraphrasing what fellow futurist Richard Watson had said regarding the future of libraries. There has to be some strong opinions on this one. So here’s your chance to sound off in the comments! And speaking of extinction of things, Watson’s extinction timeline is on fellow lover of libraries Christine Rooney-Browne blog.

 As far as the conference went, I suggest, fellow book-writers, run, don’t walk to your local library, do whatever it takes to get your librarian to contact their regional local library supporters group on your behalf and wrangle up a table at their conference. There was so much good information, from using social media to promote books, to promoting things on a shoestring budget. Here’s the link to the site where they have all the presentations posted. Most of it is for library staff, but those same ideas can be used for us writers as well.

While I was at the conference (I had a table there with a display of my books, bookmarks, and a flyer titled “Have a Local Author talk to your group! Here’s the flyer pic:),

 

I used that old fashioned, outdated, and “extinct” form of communication, you know, the actually holding of another person’s hand and shaking it while I hold their gaze with my own and engage in small talk and witty conversation to build a relationship. I know, sounds crazy these days doesn’t it? But I talked to 9 different representatives of libraries and Friends of Library groups that want to have me come and talk to them about my experience as a writer. That means that 9 meetings where I can sell books.

Don’t forget about your local library when you’re putting together your marketing plan. They are a valuable resource. And I think most of them will still be around after 2020.

The Hastings Incident

Book signings are like kids – no matter how hard you try to make them turn out right, sometimes, for reasons beyond your control, they just don’t turn out the way you want them to. Okay, so that’s a little bit on the “epic” side of things, but what I’m trying to say is that sometimes book signings go bad.

Case in point, my Hastings signing in Denton, Tx was not a success. I sold one book to a nice lady who wasn’t that much into political thrillers, but I told her how there were clues to the mystery in The Brink hidden in the front cover. Actually, they aren’t hidden in the cover, they are right there plain as day, but the important thing is that she thought that was cool.

 There are two take away’s from my failure:

  1. It wasn’t actually a failure because I must have passed out 30 bookmarks. That’s 30 people who may go online and preview it then decide to buy it, or by the ebook, or pass the bookmark to a friend who likes political thrillers.  
  2. Case the joint better than I did. Hastings is primarily a music store that sells some new books, but also buys used books and sells them as well. Customers going there in a college town (University of North Texas is in Denton, Tx) are primarily college-aged, and want to buy music or a used book, not a full priced book by an author they probably haven’t heard of. I should have done my research better and I will next time I do a signing at an independent store.

 Links to the most important blogs you’ll ever read

 I’ve already linked my blog to some blogs I think share some valuable info among us writers. Here’s a few more that I’ll link to:

  1.  John Scalzi’s Utterly Useless Writing Advice
  2. The Rejectionist – today’s post is all warm and fuzzy
  3. Next Day Flyers.com blog – good info on using social media. This is the company I used for my bookmarks (5,000 for somewhere around $160 – a hell of a deal)

 Ahead this week – a library parody of the Old Spice Guy (the power of viral) – and what does Amazon now selling more ebooks than regular books mean for us writers?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

So what does it take for a virtually unknown author to sell books? Get an insider’s look at a book marketing campaign using social media.

July 23, 2010

 Day 39 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  •  FB ad round-up – the goose egg X 3
  • Library conference networking
  • Looking for readers? Let’s get viral

 FB ad round-up – the goose egg X 3

 All three FB ads laid the big goose egg today. I don’t even want to talk about it.

 Library conference networking

Tomorrow is the big North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS) conference and I’m very excited. This is a chance to meet the movers and shakers of all the libraries in North Texas. So, what have I done to prepare?

First, I have a table at the conference and while I can’t sell copies of my books, I am using this opportunity to promote the book AND most importantly promote myself as an author. We will do the full recap on Monday, but in the meantime, here are the things I’m doing:

  1. Handing out as many bookmarks as I can. I was going to design a bookmark suit where people could just pull off bookmarks themselves, but that would be a little too obvious on the shameless self promotion o’ meter.
  2. There are going to be several lectures and workshops and I will attend them all, acting like a sponge and trying to absorb as much info as I can. I’m especially looking forward to the social media workshop and I will post all the exciting news.
  3. Here’s a copy of the flyer I created to hand out at my table. Again, I’m not selling books here, I’m selling myself as an author in the trenches who can share his experience with others that these folks know (book club members, other writers) that I can give a lecture to. Again, talks and lectures are great ways to sell books:

 I’ve also got a signing in Denton, Texas tomorrow at Hastings from 6-8pm, so if you’re in Denton, I’ll be at the Loop Hole Tavern enjoying a beer with my chicken fried steak beforehand. Swing by before going to the signing and the first round’s on me.

 Looking for readers? Let’s get viral

 By now, some of you are probably saying, “Mark, all this work you’re doing is great, but it seems like an assload of work for not very much return. Why not do a video that goes viral with millions of views?”  Great idea. And I’m working on it. In fact, we all should. To inspire you, here are two that went viral and got millions of views:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnUEcG4iH34 – Banned 2007 Super Bowl Bud commercial

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI – Double Rainbow – Oh My God!!! He’s really excited about the double rainbow.

 So, what can you make that will make millions watch? Ponder that one over the weekend and we’ll talk again Monday night with results of the library conference.

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

So what does it take for a virtually unknown author to sell books? Get an insider’s look at a book marketing campaign using social media.

July 22, 2010

Day 38 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – the numbers look like our 401ks, new book signing ad  
  • Another fantastic literary blog (really, it’s won awards!)

FB ad round-up – the numbers look like our 401ks, new book signing ad

I won’t even bother with a fancy chart this time for the “economics” ad. It’s another goose egg today. I can’t wait to yank it tomorrow.

The other ad’s numbers are also taking a dive. I would use the term “market oversaturation” if I really knew what it meant. But I will guess that my target audience have already seen it, (it has been posted over 250,000 in 3 days to the dame group.) Here’s the ad:

Electrifying new author

Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

 And here are the numbers as of 10:45pm tonight:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/22/2010 14,413 3 0.02 0.62 0.13 1.86
07/21/2010 148,407 16 0.01 0.60 0.06 9.54
07/20/2010 87,886 36 0.04 0.56 0.23 20.00
Lifetime 250,706 55 0.02 0.57 0.13 31.40

36 to 16 to 3 clicks today. I still think the verbiage in the ad works, and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it work in later ads.

I’ve also got a signing in Denton, Texas this Saturday at Hastings from 6-8pm, so if you’re in Denton, swing by and we’ll have a beer before or after. I also have a booth at the North Texas Regional Library System conference that day, so Monday’s post should be filled to the brim with all kinds of interesting tidbits and networking hints that I pick up that day. I’m working on a flyer for conference attendees that I’ll post tomorrow night.

Back to the signing. I did a FB ad for the signing targeted to people who like “reading” within a 10 mile radius of Denton, TX. That’s a whopping 600 people. You might think that’s a small #, but if even 10% of those folks show up, Hastings would be way sold out and I would have to revert to the signed bookplates (large mailing stickers with an open book pic watermark and my website address on it) that I take to signings, just in case the store does run out or if someone that I talk to wants to buy a book, but doesn’t have enough scratch at the time. I sign the bookplate and hand it to them, hoping they will in fact buy the book online later and slap the bookplate inside it.

 Here’s the ad:

Local author book signing

Like thrillers? Need a unique gift? Visit Hastings in Denton this Saturday, July 24, 6-8 pm and get the year’s best thriller signed!

 It links to my appearances & reviews page. $20 daily budget on this bad boy and FB is charging my $.50 per click, so I’ll get about 10 clicks per day out of it. I know you’ll be waiting with baited breath for the results tomorrow night.

 Another fantastic literary blog (really, it’s won several awards!)

 I know last night I talked about researching search engine optimization (SEO), but the clock was against me today. I promise I’ll look at the Inc. magazine SEO article over the weekend and we’ll discuss next week.

In the meantime, I found a new blog that is a tremendous source of info to us writers. It’s by a literary agent, it’s won some industry awards, and it truly rocks. Check it out at http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/07/open-thread.html. I also linked my blog to it, as well as the Pimp My Novel blog, which is where I found a link to Nathan’s blog. So if I did it right, you should see those links in the right hand column on this screen. Just keep scrolling past the sales pitch ads and you’ll see them. 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

So what does it take for a virtually unknown author to sell books? Get a front row seat as Mark Fadden blogs about his marketing hits and many misses on the way to sell 5,000 copies of his latest thriller, The Brink, in one year.

July 21, 2010

Day 37 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – let’s look at the numbers  
  • More changes to the website and a preview to search engine optimization

 FB ad round-up – let’s look at the numbers

The “economics” ad just a keeps on suckin’. Here’s the FB ad that was targeted at users who like economics:

 Could a novel come true?

A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

 And here are the numbers:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/21/2010 1,072 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/20/2010 7,011 2 0.03 0.57 0.16 1.14
07/19/2010 684 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 8,767 2 0.02 0.57 0.13 1.14

 I think folks from as far away as Russia (oh yes, according to my godaddy.com site analytics, I’m huge there) could probably smell the stench of failure on this ad. But, it’s staying up until the end of the week, because I said I would keep it going that long, and by Neptune’s trident I am a man of my word!

 Fortunately, my other ad is still going strong. Here’s the ad:

 Electrifying new author

Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

 And here are the numbers as of 10:45pm tonight:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/21/2010 133,158 15 0.01 0.59 0.07 8.90
07/20/2010 87,886 36 0.04 0.56 0.23 20.00
Lifetime 221,044 51 0.02 0.57 0.13 28.90

 51 total in two days with 15 new today. The CTR % (click through rate) dropped off, but that’s to be expected since the same group (people who like books) are seeing it over and over (by the way, there are 560,900 people in that group). I asked the question last night how I can leverage the seeming popularity of this ad. I didn’t have a chance to give it much thought today, but it’s still pinging around inside the old melon.

 

More changes to the website and a preview to search engine optimization

I took the opportunity to look at my godaddy.com site analytics last night and saw something interesting. There was a steep drop in the number of visitors over the last few days. It started around the time I changed up the language on the site to reflect more of my personality, which sounded like fantastic advice coming from my social media Moses David Meerman Scott in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR. So, to make the sight more fun, I sprinkled the site with what I thought were snarky, smart assed, and what I thought were funny comments here and there. But, when people are looking for at a thriller writer, they don’t want Flopso the Clown. Like I said in last night’s post, they are looking to you to solve their problem. They need a good book. They want a thriller to thrill them. They don’t want a thriller writer trying to be funny.

My website is something that I, like many other people that use primarily websites to broadcast their information, continue to struggle with. There are in the neighborhood of 124 million sites on the Internet and literally billions of web pages. We want to stand out and we stand out by providing great content. But how?

I was thumbing through the July/Aug issue of Inc. magazine today and it was like the editors were reading my mind. There in front of me was a whole pull-out section on website search engine optimization, or “SEO.” How to get your website seen! Drive more traffic to your site! Fantastic. I’ll need some time to really dig into it, so that’s hopefully a topic for tomorrow night. Until then… 

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 20, 2010

Day 36 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  •  The Diaries get a facelift
  • FB ad round-up – Did we finally hit a winner?         
  • Making Friends work for you

 The Diaries get a facelift

You’ll probably notice that I’ve changed my blog’s appearance. I received a few comments that it was hard to read before with the light text on the dark background. I have to admit the old color scheme wasn’t my favorite either. So I hope this new look is easier on the eyes.

 FB ad round-up – Did we finally hit a winner?

Okay, so here’s the ad I created last night that went out to the “economics” crowd on FB:

 Could a novel come true?

A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

 And here are the numbers:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/20/2010 6,613 2 0.03 0.57 0.17 1.14
07/19/2010 684 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 7,297 2 0.03 0.57 0.16 1.14

 2 people clicked on it. God help me if the cat jumped up on the desk and made them accidentally click it. Not exactly knocking the bell off the book marketing world with that little nugget. So, while I am going to keep that winner in the rotation all week, I stopped for a second and thought about who I’m trying to reach with my ads. I am trying to reach readers, but not just readers, fans of suspense thrillers. Those folks respond to bold language. Then I thought about the thrillers that I’ve read lately. Most of them have been letdowns, all fizzle and no sizzle (oh yes, that phrase will be used in a later ad). I’m sure I’m not alone here when I say that most of the entertainment that I digest does not live up to the hype. And there it was – as marketing people will tell you, customers could care less about your product; they only care about what problem of theirs it can solve. So, I thought what problem would a suspense thriller fan have that my book could alleviate? With that in mind, I give you my pièce de résistance:

 Electrifying new author

Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

 I’d love to take a poll and know what you guys think, but I haven’t learned how to do that yet. But I’ll keep trying and get a poll in here sooner or later.

Again, thriller readers respond to electric language and bold declarations. That’s why they like thrillers! That’s the thing my ads have been missing. And it seems I may be right, because here are the numbers since 4:00 pm today (It’s 10:00pm now) when the ad went live:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/20/2010 72,316 34 0.05 0.56 0.26 18.95
Lifetime 72,316 34 0.05 0.56 0.26 18.95

 34 people! That’s the most clicks I’ve had in a six hour time frame by far and the highest CTR % (click through rate) of any ad I’ve done so far. So, I think we’ve hit on something here. But if I have, how can I leverage it?

 Marketers also talk about revolving an entire campaign around one message. Don’t confuse people with several messages, just deliver one and repeat it over, and over and over. If the numbers for this ad keep going like this, I may have just found the one message that finally fits.  

 Making Friends work for you

 This weekend is chock full of book marketing events. Saturday is the North Texas Conference for Library Supporters. It is an event for members of Library Boards, Friends of the Library and Library Foundations, library volunteers and other supporters, and library staff that work with any of the above. Needless to say, it’s a huge audience of book lovers and a great place for an author to network. I found out about the conference from the director of our local city library and, since I held a lecture for the Friends of the Colleyville Public Library (FCPL), which incorporated a book signing where I donated all the profits from the evening to the FCPL, my registration for the event was free. I will have a table there, and while I am not allowed to sell books, I will have a contest to give away a couple signed copies of The Brink. Contestants only need to fill out their contact info to put their ticket in the hat. (a great way to beef up the email list, no?)  

After the conference, I’m headed to the nearby Hastings in Denton, Texas for a signing from 6pm-8pm. While I performed my normal promotional duties of sending all the local press a news release, I also talked to the City of Denton director of library services about inviting their Friends group to the signing. I am offering them the same deal I did for FCPL: all profits from books they buy during the signing will go to their Friends group.  Bottom line is this: people that get involved in Friends of library groups love book and love their communities. If you’re a local author and do something nice for them, they will talk about what you did and your book to their friends and neighbors. You get that many more possible buyers that otherwise may have never heard of you. Einstein may have said that there’s no force in the universe like compound interest, but there’s no force in marketing like word of mouth.   

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 19, 2010

Day 35 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – Did I pee in FB’s Pepsi?  
  • Wikileaks – the perfect site to prime the plot pump

 FB ad round-up – Did I pee in FB’s Pepsi?

As you may recall from the last posting, I went with the following ad on FB to take advantage of the Borders July 16-19 25% off sale.  It incorporated last week’s video interview with the Girls in the Stacks (GITS):

 Need a good book?

Check out Mark Fadden’s latest interview about his new award-winning thriller and get the promo code for 25% off his books.

 

So I check in with the results over the weekend, and I see something funny; FB ain’t showing it:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/17/2010 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/16/2010 40,397 4 0.01 0.46 0.05 1.83
             
07/19/2010 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/18/2010 27 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 40,424 4 0.01 0.46 0.05 1.83

 

FB, doth mine words offend thee?  My bid was in their suggested bid range (it was even on the high end) but the love wasn’t there. What gives? I’ve got an email in to FB HQ to solve the problem, but I’ll keep chugging on, because it’s FB ad month here at Author Mark Fadden central.  Here’s the next ad going out this week:

 

Could a novel come true?

A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

 

I thought I’d change the target audience up a bit, so the audience is people who like ‘economics.’ You might laugh that some people actual admit to liking the dismal science, but there’s 93,940 of them. We’ll see. I’m gonna let this ad roll for a week.

 As always, if you have any suggestions for tweaking ad copy, please email ideas to mark@markfadden.com.  

 Wikileaks – the perfect site to prime the plot pump

 If you haven’t visited wikileaks yet, go there ASAP. If you’re a mystery or thriller writer, drop everything and go there right now. It’s chock full of the stuff that will make your mind wander in luscious fields of conspiracy. A truly great source of inspiration. It was the recent topic of NPR’s show Fresh Air, and the founder of the site is supposedly wanting to build the headquarters in Iceland, where he can run the site free from persecution.

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller

July 16, 2010

Day 32 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – a new Borders coupon means a new ad for this guy        
  • Having fun with Girls in the Stacks.  

FB ad round-up

You gotta love the big bookstores. Like waves rolling into the beach, one sale ends and another is right behind it. Borders has been good to me, letting me sell myself at their stores around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, so I’m sticking with them for the Facebook ads. Here’s the new one I created as part of their July 16-19 25% off sale. It incorporates last night’s video interview with the Girls in the Stacks (GITS):

Need a good book?

Check out Mark Fadden’s latest interview about his new award-winning thriller and get the promo code for 25% off his books.

I’m keeping my $20 a day budget and I did a $.49 bid CPC (cost per click).  By the way, the 25% off promo code for Borders.com is BHN7798F. Enjoy! But hurry, sale ends 7/19.

Having fun with The Girls in the Stacks

When doing an interview, you couldn’t ask for a better duo than Stacy and Nancy. The Girls in the Stacks (GITS) asked great questions and the Colleyville Borders bookstore was extremely generous in letting us use their store for the venue. Plus, Stacy used a Flip camera to film us, a way cool little gadget. If you’re not familiar with them, it’s a plug and play video camera – just record your video, flip out the USB adapter and voila! Your video’s on the Internet! Okay, there’s a few steps between those, but if I went into them, I couldn’t have used voila! Here’s the link to the video:

While we covered the items that I suggested in an email prior to the interview, they also wanted to know what’s in my “stack.” I am currently reading Heat, an awesome book about a guy who spends a year being a cook (read “slave”) in Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant. He also tells the stories of some of the other cooks and how they dedicate themselves to their craft, (i.e. spending 6 months at a restaurant in Italy for no pay just to learn how to make pasta the right way) Anyone who cooks would love this book.

But back to the interview. Stacy sent it to me this morning and I put it up on my website ASAP. (As you’ll see, I also changed the headline of my site to reflect the new Borders coupon.) Video is extremely important, and an interview shows a more human side to you. The more people that watch you on video and see who the human is behind the name on the book cover, the more likely they are to buy a book.  Unless you come off like a complete ass, so don’t do that.

By the way, how’d you do on your homework assignment? Did you do your list of 5 uses for videos to sell your books? Did you get 10?  Nice work!

I also emailed the video to my contact at Good Morning Texas. In a previous post, I mentioned how I’m trying to get on that show, hopefully on the same day I’m doing a signing at the Dallas Uptown Borders store (can’t you just smell the cross-promotion?) Why did I do that you ask? I wanted to show her that I wouldn’t crash and burn in front of a camera.

By the way, the interview cost me nothing to do. As Stacy remarked, GITS is a “labor of love” for them. God bless ‘em.

As always, I hope I’ve presented information today that you can use. If you’d like more, or have a question, by all means send it to me at mark@markfadden.com. 

Have a great weekend. No signings this weekend, but next weekend I’ll be busier than a cow’s tongue in a salt lick. We’ll talk on Monday. Till then…

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…