Locals only!

Book signings. I love them. I love running my mouth, so any chance I can get to talk to readers and, more importantly, listen to what they like and dislike about books they’ve read (“There were too many characters to follow”, “I had to wade through 60 pages of boring stuff before the story got interesting”), it is an opportunity to get priceless information that I use to continually evolve as a writer.

However, not having a name that ends in “ing” or “isham”, sometimes it’s hard to schedule a book signing. It involves extra work for the staff, and a commitment from the store to buy and stock your books. But, there is another option to get yourself a book signing. It’s called, “An Evening with the Authors.”

Last night, I participated in such an event at the Hurst, Texas Barnes & Noble. Myself and two other local authors were the featured scribblers. Granted it was a slow Wednesday night (it would have had a better turnout on a weekend for sure) but still, it was yet another chance to talk to potential fans and lay another brick in building the brand. 

So, the next time you ask your local book store about hosting your book signing and you get a little pushback, suggest that you’ll participate in the local author event. If they don’t do one, suggest they have one. Events draw customers into stores and, in turn, to you. A true “win-win” all around.

BTW, below is the article I did on the event that I sent to our local paper. I included the same pic as the one above. Enjoy!  

Hurst Barnes & Noble goes local

The Barnes & Noble book store in Hurst recently hosted an “Evening with Local Authors.” Three local authors, Kevin Cook, Mark Fadden, and Jan Leland signed copies of their latest books and spoke to customers about the writing life. “The publishing industry is in such a dynamic flux right now,” offered Fadden, whose latest book, The Brink, uses the recent financial meltdown as the foundation for a taut suspense thriller. “More and more people are talking about eBooks and eReaders. More and more authors are talking about going into digital self publishing. I think that to really connect with your readers and to get the much needed feedback about your books, it is still vital to make the book tour rounds, sign actual books and establish relationships with your audience and with the book store staff.” 

Carol Scalzo, Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble in Hurst echoed Fadden’s point about establishing relationships with authors. “We were thrilled to feature these local authors. Barnes & Noble is always seeking to feature local talent. We were excited to represent their latest works and hope to work with them again soon to help promote their future works.”  

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING

The evolution of self-publishing, a webinar

 

With all the changes in the publishing industry, and many scratching their heads to figure out where we’re all headed, self-publishing (aka taking matters into one’s own hands) is exploding. Many writers see it as a way to cut out the middleman (traditional publishers) and keep more of the money themselves. Others, like myself, see it as a springboard toward a traditional publishing deal. Still others still see it as  “vanity press” where the author can have at least a few copies of his book on display in his office to impress his clients with, or the 24 year old blond marketing assitant that was just hired.  

Whatever you view it as, self publishing isn’t going away. Here’s a link to a recent webinar on Digitalbookworld.com about the evolution of self publishing. The panelists had many different viewpoints/thoughts to offer, as well as tips to consider if you’re thinking of going the self-pub route. It’s about an hour long, so grab a beer or glass of wine, find a comfy chair and enjoy!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING

Who’s reading you?

One of the great stories of the publishing world has to be the one about how Tom Clancy was discovered. He was an insurance salesman who penned a manuscript entitled, “The Hunt for Red October,” about a Russian submarine captain who wants to defect to the U.S. Living in Annapolis, Maryland, he published it through the Navy’s press, which is located there. This was after many rejections from the traditional publishing houses. It was around Christmas time and someone put a copy of it under a very special Christmas tree. A few weeks went by and one young reporter saw a book tucked under then President Ronald Reagan’s arm as he strode out to the Marine One helicopter. “Mr. President, what book is that you’re reading?” the reporter asked. Reagan held it up telling the reporter that it was called The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy and that he’d received it as a Christmas gift. It’s “the perfect yarn,” Reagan was quoted as saying. “It’s unputdownable.”

In previous posts, I’ve talked about the “Rule of 250.” It’s the rule stating that the average person knows 250 people. Among those 250 people, you probably know someone that is influential or someone that works with or for someone influential. If you haven’t send them a signed copy of your book, you better be going to your local 99 cent store today for the bubble mailers (much cheaper than at the office supply stores) and use it to mail them a copy of your baby.

But even if you don’t know any Mr. or Mrs. Big Stuff, who says you can’t mail them a copy of your book anyway? Like any business, you as an authorpreneur need to realize some marketing expenses. Take 10 or 20 copies of your book, sign them, and send them out to local celebrities or influential business people. If it’s a book about current events, whether fiction or non-fiction, why not send a copy or two to some national news anchors or the show producers? Now, I don’t want you to land on any FBI watch lists, but you can even send one to the president and see what happens. At the very least, you may get a letter apologizing that he doesn’t have time to read it. But that letter will be on very cool stationary.

And who knows, you may just get discovered this way. Stranger things have happened. Just ask Tom Clancy.  

Thoughts? Comments? To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!

Bye Bye Borders?

And then, there was one.

Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday. While filing Chapter 11 does allow them to keep in operation and try to overhaul its business in order to survive, they are closing 30% of their stores. Is one near you closing? The one in my town is. Here’s the list so you can check. 

As a writer, one of the questions that we all are asking is, how will this event impact us? After all, Borders is one of the two Big Boys on the Block in terms of national bookstore chains. For me, my local Borders was very supportive of me. They not only hosted my first book signing on my recent book tour for my latest thriller, The Brink, they also hosted my ribbon cutting ceremony when I joined the local chamber of commerce. As I have no storefront, it would have been be pretty weird having all those people in my little home office. Plus, I probably would have broken something with the giant scissors.

But what about bookstores in general. One MSNBC writer suggests that Borders loss could be the independent bookstore world’s gain. Many people will be blaming the advent of eReaders and digital books that caused the Borders bankruptcy. Personally, I think growing digital book sales and fierce competition from other big sellers (Barnes & Noble, Amazon) had a lot to do with it. One other big part is overhead. The Borders in my town is 23,000 square feet. Most of their other stores are similar in size. That’s a lot of space to pay rent on, to heat, to cool, and to keep lit.

So, while bankruptcy is a bad word, it could be the best thing that ever happened to Borders. The company could emerge as a leaner, more adaptable organization. Because the publishing world is at such a crossroads, Borders could invent a new business model that succeeds, and everyone else will follow. Let’s hope the phoenix can rise from the ashes, because no one ever gained anything from having fewer books around.

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!

Groupon: the next book sales frontier?

If you don’t know what Groupon is, it takes the idea of collective bargaining and puts it on the web. A deal, say 50% off on a facial at your local spa, is emailed to you. If you want it you can sign up for it. If a certain number of people sign up for it, say 100, then the deal is activated and you get your groupon.

As the fastest growing company EVER (Forbes, Aug 2010) , Groupon is widely seen as one of the best ways to get your product or service in front of the faces of thousands of customers. With that goal in mind, I decided to investigate selling my book, The Brink, on it. I mean, Borders and Barnes and Noble already deeply discounts our books, why not do it on Groupon for ourselves, right? So, I sent an email into Groupon explaining that I would offer 40% off on signed copies of my book. While they were fast with their reply, they basically said that books are not the kinds of products for which their service is intended.

Not to be dismayed, I contacted some of the other collective bargaining website, livingsocial.com, buywithme.com, and they all said the same thing.  In fact, here’s a piece of the letter I received from the buywithme.com rep:

” We are excited to have a chance to promote your business to our network.  However, at this time, we are not able to schedule a time to run your feature because we have not determined the best way to merchandise in your category.  

If the situation changes, we will be certain to be in touch with you. Please feel free to reach out to us again in the future as well.”

Again, I’m not knocking these sites, they know what sells and what doesn’t. But I think what works for a deal on a facial or a dinner for two at a restaurant will also work with books, especially for those people wanting to buy books written by local authors.

Your thoughts? Is Groupon missing the boat by not including books? Are books a different animal than a facial or a restaurant meal?  To the keyboards!  

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!

Copyrights and Trademarks

As our world gets more social, and the more thoughts and ideas we put out there, it seems there’s a greater chance that we can step on someone else’s toes when it comes to each other’s work. Case in point, I got an email from a gentleman that wanted to talk about my using “Beyond the Book” as my blog title. His podcast about books was also called ‘Beyond the book’, and he had a registerd trademark on it.

We talked on the phone and he asked me politely to consider changing it. I had never heard of his podcast and I truly did make up “Beyond the book” out of thin air. But, not wanting a big fight about it, and the fact that I was considering changing the title anyway, I changed my blog to “Behind the Book.” While this case was not a big deal, it brings up a very good point: what’s the legal black and white when it comes to copyright and trademark law in the blogosphere?

First, because I do get the  following questions often, let’s take a look at a couple copyright laws at they pertain to your books and/or manuscripts:

1. Do I have to buy a copyright for my manuscript or book?

The simple answer is no. The copyright for your material was secured as soon as you created it, or when it became fixed in a manuscript for the first time. No publication or registration or any other official act is required to secure copyright. Your publisher may offer a Library of Congress copyright and that is something which you may have to pay for (especially if you self pub)

2. Can I use a quote or  a character from real life in my book without getting permission?

While there is no defined rule about the number of lines or words that can be used without permission, you will probably be protected under “fair use” if you use just a few lines. If you want to use a person in real life, say for instance President Obama, as a character in your book, you can because that person is in the public domain. But if you do, then you have to be careful about libel when referencing anything that could be considered negative about that public figure. If you have any questions about what’s cool to use and what’s not, consult an attorney.  

There is also the issue of works considered to be “in the public domain.” This means that a work’s copyright has expired or lacks proper notice. Works in the public domain are not copyright protected and are free to use without permission. However, determining if a work is truly in the public domain can be tricky because of new versions of older works and their protection status in foreign countries.

So now, what about blogs, copyrights and trademarks? Since the medium is still so new, there is alot of gray area out there. A good reference article on Blog Herald focuses on the blog entitled “Palintology,” which is about Sarah Palin. As the Palintology case points out, alot of it depends upon how valuable the word or phrase associated with the blog is. Before she was tapped to run as a VP candidate, the Palintology blog wasn’t that big of a deal. But then, almost overnight, it became one of the go to sources for information about Sarah Palin.

What are your concerns about copyrights? Does trademark law keep you up at night?  To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!

Why you should self publish in 2011

Yesterday, we talked about some of the possible negative effects of self-publishing will have on the publishing world. Today, a more positive view of it. Here’s a link to thriller writer J.A. Konrath’s blog post on why he thinks you and I should self publish (hint: it’s all about the Benjamins!). It seems that his post has hit a nerve, with 427 comments and counting…

Your thoughts about self-publishing? To the keyboards!  

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Here’s what people are saying about Mark Fadden and his latest award-winning thriller The Brink:

“A masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest
“He’s the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas                                                                                                                 
The Brink grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final page.” – film producer Don Phillips

Send Mark an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!