Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

Ahhh, vacation. Alas, it was with the kids, so not a real vacation, merely a “trip.” Anyway, vacation is over. Did you miss me? I hope not too much. I’ll stop yammering because we’ve got two great topics tonight…

September 13, 2010

Day 89 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Characters, Story and Sly Stallone
  • Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery

Writing topic – Characters, Story and Sly Stallone

One of the “best of” blogs tonight on WordPress was from Kristen Lamb’s blog entitled, “What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.”

Lamb makes several very interesting points about J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movie, including that:

  1. Star Trek proved that imperfect characters resonate with audiences.
  2. Star Trek perfected showing, not telling
  3. Star Trek employed parsimony.
  4. Star Trek showed character via relativity
  5. Star Trek relied on character and story

Basically, Lamb reminds us that no matter how much CGI or how many gadgets are in the story, it’s still ABOUT THE STORY, and the characters. We should never forget that.

Lamb also invited comments about other movies that are good examples of keeping the focus on character and story. I wrote the following reply:

I know I’m going to get A LOT of grief for this, but I’m putting it out there anyway. You want a movie(s) that are all about characters and that are concentrate on the story between them? How about the Rocky series? Better yet, except for Stop or my Mom Will Shoot, how about anything done by Sylvester Stallone? Go beyond the muscles and the one-liners of the Rocky movies and even Rambo, and you will find movies that explore the depths of REAL human emotion – love, anger, regret, despair, ambition, and achievement. Rocky is basically a love story, first with Rocky and Adrian and then with Rocky and his family, especially his son (in the last one). Talk about flawed characters…Rocky starts out as a leg breaker for a local loan shark who gets a once in a lifetime chance to use the only skill he has to pick himself up out of his rotten existence to make something better for himself. He is someone we cheer for because, like Kirk in Abrams Star Trek, he is the underdog, a short, slow, southpaw with only his incredible will and heart to keep him going. In the Rambo movies, Stallone shows us a man who is a perfect killing machine. Rambo recognizes this characteristic in himself and, when he tries for any kind of normal existence, he is not allowed to have it because of his fate. Time and again, when the powers that be call on him to come to the rescue, he begrudgingly does it because he realizes that war is his home, killing is what he does. In Cliffhanger, Sly must deal with the pain and regret of dropping his best friend’s girlfriend during a high mountain rescue, which leads to her death. After hiding out in another life for years, he comes back for the woman he loves and decides to help stranded climbers, and ultimately faces his fears and his friend, a tale of regret evolves into one of forgiveness…with a really cool story about thieves among the backdrop of some incredible mountains. A fantastic combination that makes for a heck of a story.

I will go on record as saying that Sly Stallone is one of the greatest storytellers of modern time! Once you really think about many of his movies, you might find yourself agreeing with me.

Comments? Thoughts on my sobriety after reading the above entry? A fellow Stallone fan? To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery

Since things are still heating up on the global financial crisis front lately, with the Bank of Japan warning it’s going to do something big soon to help save the country from deflation, and many other countries trying desperately to keep themselves from going Greek, I’m trying to keep The Brink in the news by creating news releases with a financial, if conspiratorial, angle. In my research about the financial crisis, I came across a book called Currency Wars by Song Hongbing. Released in 2007, it sold over 200,000 copies in China and was even bedtime reading selections by some of the highest finance and government officials in China. To quote an article on the book, Currency Wars, “After all, the root of the world’s problems for nearly a century – from the Great Depression to the Asian financial crisis – is Wall Street’s manipulation of the global financial system, he says. China should be prepared to fight ‘bloodless wars’ waged by ‘evil forces’ like the US Federal Reserve aimed at destroying the Chinese economy, Mr. Song’s book concludes.” The book has also had a recent resurgence of popularity. So why all the Chinese attention? Because economic nationalism is at an all-time high in China. Many Chinese think that their country should flex its economic muscles to become the world’s leading superpower.

So, how does this situation affect little old me? Google. It always comes back to Google. I am targeting a Google AdWords campaign in China with the following ad:

I’m doing the ad for 2 days, with a CPC of $.40 and a $25 daily budget. So we’ll go fishing and see what we get. Since The Brink covers similar topics from Currency Wars, it only makes sense to use that relationship in the marketing effort. People are always looking for books on similar topics, and using other book titles is a great way to do a little marketing piggy-backing.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

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