Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 6, 2010

Day 53 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 – Writing, The Drinking Game
  • Marketing Topic – The Death of Independence?


Writing topic – Writing, The Drinking Game


As it’s Friday, and since I still don’t have June sales numbers from my publisher, I took a moment to reflect on why so many of our great writers were also some of our great drinkers. Do the two need each other? Were they also waiting on their publisher to get them their sales numbers and decided to take the edge of with a few cold ones? Stephen King supposedly wrote Cujo while lit like a Christmas tree. In fact, in his memoir On Writing, he states that he barely remembers writing it! Is there something that emerges from an inebriated brain, or perhaps staggers forth from the pain of the hangover that propels the writer to write? In my research, I came across the Reader’s Drinking Game and thought, why not put a little twist on it for the Writer’s Drinking Game?  It’s the beginning of the weekend, a perfect time to test this little game out. Will your writing improve after a few cocktails? Or, much like driving after a few too many, will your writing weave all over the path of your story?


If you’re worried about the health effects of tying one on, a new study in Self magazine (come on, you know you read it) that tells us beer is our healthy friend. I’m picturing a bottle of Fat Tire in Spandex right now. While this game is geared toward us novelists, it could be altered to fit those of us who write short stories, articles, book reports, or copy down the recipe for your mom’s Chili Verde, which you need to send me.


Here are some introductory rules:


  1. Chug a beer after you come up with a title (a good one, not just some lame filler to be changed later)
  2. Drink at every new paragraph
  3. Drink at the end of every page
  4. If your novel’s setting is anywhere south of Dallas, Texas, make a mojito (here’s the video)


turn on some Tito Puente (RIP) and dance around while you finish it. North of Dallas? Enjoy some Scotch to Led Zeppelin.

  1. If there’s a redneck character in your story, shotgun a Keystone. If it’s a woman of means who knows who she is, perhaps the matriarch of the family, how about sipping a Rob Roy?
  2. Any 5 syllable or more words? Drink whatever’s handy. Not vanilla extract. That’s a little too desperate.
  3. A semicolon deserves half the beer; a colon: down the whole thing.
  4. If you’re sitting in a Starbucks while you’re working, get up, go to the nearest bar that has wi-fi (for research, not to watch movies or go on Facebook while your half in the bag) and get 3 shots of Cutty Sark and a PBR tall boy (which now costs $44 in China!) and just let all that ride over you for the next hour or so while you bang out four pages of excellence.
  5. I’m going to stop and let you guys take over here….to the comments!


Marketing Topic – The Death of Independence?


Cue Freddy Mercury and Queen – another one bites the dust. Legacy Books, a ginormous and super cool independent book store in the swanky Shops at Legacy in Plano, Texas is closing it’s doors. After only 21 months. Sad. Got some thoughts about the independents? As far as marketing goes, the independents are typically more likely to show the great unwashed, struggling, starving writers that are we the love we need to bootstrap our own successes. Does this mean that our marketing efforts are more and more limited as more independents bite the farm? Do we switch to marketing our eBooks on the Internet now that they outnumber the books being sold on Amazon?


If you have a story about an independent store closing near you or how you might change your marketing approach in light of this news, please share in the comments.


Also, just a reminder that I will be on the “Books n’ Authors” radio show on QXFM tomorrow morning (Sat 8/7) at 10am. While I’m sure most of you can’t get QXFM on your radio, you can listen live on www.qxfm.com. And if you’re going to be in Weatherford, Tx tomorrow from 11am-1pm, please stop by my book signing at The Book Case at 109 Main Street.


Have a great weekend, o’ kings and queens of the written word, o’ masters of your universes. I can’t wait to hear how Writing, The drinking Game comes out. Just be careful, don’t drink and drive, and please no drunk dialing, texting or facebooking. That’s just never pretty. And try not to get your picture taken during your little weekend experiment. Lord knows you don’t want a photo like this floating around the Internet:



The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  



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