Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 18, 2010

Day 65 of 365

Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

In this issue:

  • Finally, June #s are in!
  • Writing topic – Your first words
  • Marketing Topic – New Google AdWords campaign
  • Something Funny – Finally, ‘Beer Goggles’ phenomenon explained!


Finally, June #s are in!

After waiting almost two long months, June’s sales #s are in. 89 books for the month brings us to a grand total of 246 for May and June. Not bad, but we can and will do better.

Writing Topic – Your first words

Your first sentence. As writers, we’ve been told it sets the hook. It opens the door to the world we’ve created. It could mean the difference between a reader moving to the next sentence or putting your book back on the shelf and moving on down the row.

But how important is the first sentence, really? Does it set the hook, and the tone, for the entire novel? Or, much like a baby’s first words, could it just be a forgotten series of letters by the time your reader gets into the meat of your story?

Here are the first sentences from my novels:

“Joel Basher crashed through the front doors of the Library of Congress.” – The Brink

“A jumper with a death wish.” – Five Days in Dallas

“The blood wouldn’t leave.” – The Campaign

Here are some rather awesome intros, otherwise known as best first sentences:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Anna Karenina – by Leo Tolstoy

“I was born twice: first as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” – Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Mark was eleven and had been smoking off and on for two years, never trying to quit but being careful not to get hooked. He preferred Kools, his father’s brand, but his mother smoked Virginia Slims at the rate of two packs a day, and he could in an average week pilfer ten or twelve from her. She was a busy woman with many problems, perhaps a little naive when it came to her boys, and she never dreamed her eldest would be smoking at the age of eleven.” – The Client by John Grisham

“All children, except one, grow.” – Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

Now, here are some rather plain first sentences from some powerhouse novels:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.” – from The Lovely Bones by Alice Seibold

“Call me Ishmael.” – Moby Dick by Herman Melville

“Call me Jonah” – Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Call it. How important is the first sentence? To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – New Google AdWords campaign

Last month (July 2010) was Facebook ad month. While I did have several ads with high click-through rates, I won’t know if that translates into books sold until the end of next month (2 month time lag for book sales reports)

This month, I’m turning to Google AdWords. AdWords is set up very similar to Facebook ads, with that little Google something extra. Not only does it allow you to track how many people click on your ad, but it allows you to determine which tags are getting action and which are sitting on the sidelines like a third string punter.

As I just set up my ad last night, today is my first full day running it. I’ll let you know how Day1 goes tomorrow.

BTW, here’s the ad:



Something Funny – Finally, ‘Beer Goggles’ phenomenon explained!

I can’t believe they actually did not one, but two studies on this, but scientists have finally explained the “beer goggle” effect. The best part about it is that they researched “drunked college kids” and consulted a professional periodical called the ‘Journal Alcohol.’

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  


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