Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 11, 2010

Day 58 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 – Getting inspired part II – searching the news for juicy stuff
  • Marketing Topic –  All writers must be bloggers


Writing topic – Getting inspired part II – searching the news for juicy stuff

So yesterday, I talked about getting inspired by your local newspaper. A great, and convenient, source is your local paper’s website and their crime time blog.


A second way to get inspired is to just keep your ear to the ground and listen around you. Grisham tells the tale that he was inspired to write A Time to Kill after sitting in the audience waiting for a trial he was working on and listening to the trial of a black girl that was raped by two white men. While you may not have access to your local courtroom, dramatic stories abound in…you guessed it, your local newspaper. People ask me how I came up with the conspiracy portion of The Brink, and I tell them that it stemmed from an article I read about the Federal Reserve is not subject to an audit by our U.S. government. The vision of an unscrupulous cabal controlling the Fed formed in my brain right then and there and I was hooked. I had to find out more about the organization, how it works, and if, in fact, there is something to the amount of authority the US government has over a seemingly secretive organization that has such an enormous impact on each and every one of us.


There are all kinds of websites out there to get your ideas flowing. One I happen to like is The Drudge Report, because the news on it is so compelling and inspires great plots. Case in point, I found two fantastic articles today that pertain to the plot of The Brink; one is a WSJ article about the US going deeper yet into debt, the other is from CNBC about the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and managing partner at Wermuth Asset Management stating that America is a “Mickey Mouse economy” that is technically bankrupt. Articles like these are gold mines because one, they are extremely current, and two, you can post links on your website and tag them. People will be looking for the information, because it is so current, and, walah, they find your site.  



Marketing Topic –  All writers must be bloggers


Again, before we get into the marketing topic for tonight, I’ll do a little shameless self promotion and let you know I have two signings this weekend, one at the Dallas Uptown Border on Friday, Aug 13 from 5-7pm and the other at the Mesquite Borders on Saturday, Aug 14 from 3-5pm. Hope you can make it.


 One of the blogs that I read is “Pimp my Novel.” Even though this is a “rerun” post, I think it bears repeating. If you are a writer, you need to be blogging about your book. If it’s non-fiction, blog about your topic. Fiction is a little harder. Maybe do something like I am and just talk about the writing life. Or blog about the topic of your story. Whatever. You need to blog. And here are the 10 Commandments of Blogging from the “Pimp my Novel” blog:

The Ten Commandments of Blogging (Rerun)

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 07:00 AM PDT

Work abounds, mes auteurs, so another blast from the past (this one from last September). Enjoy! — E

Episode: “The Ten Commandments of Blogging”
Originally aired: Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

1. I am thy blog. If you’re an author, you should already have a blog. If you’re not yet published, now is the time to start.

2. Thou shalt have no other blogs before me. We all love reading blogs—we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t—but yours comes first. Write your own posts before you spend all afternoon reading someone else’s.

3. Thou shalt not make of thyself an idol. Keep your ego in check; you always want to portray yourself positively in your blog. Your reputation is all you’ve got in this business, and if you earn yourself one as a likable person as well as a great writer, you’re a golden calf.

4. Remember thy Schedule and keep it, wholly. You don’t have to write a post every day, but keeping a regular schedule is a courtesy and a sort of unwritten contract between you and your readers; they’ll know when to expect new content and will come to appreciate and respect you for that.

5. Thou shalt honor thy agent and thy publisher. You couldn’t have done this without them. Give props where props are due.

6. Thou shalt not commit character assassination. Everyone has authors or critics they don’t like, sometimes personally. Don’t pull an Alice Hoffman. And, I guess, don’t try to kill anyone in real life, either.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery, but thou shalt pimp thyself. No one sells you like you do. Facebook, Twitter, &c. The more pervasive your presence, the more likely it is that people will buy your book.

8. Thou shalt not plagiarize. Always quote. Always cite your sources. Always link back to them if they’re on-line.

9. Thou shalt not deceive thy audience. Never post anything you don’t believe is true, and be sure to provide links to any research you’ve done. Always be sure to clarify whether a point you’re making is an opinion or a fact.

10. Thou shalt monetize. I don’t do it because I don’t consider blogging a part of my livelihood, but you, as authors, should consider self-promotion as part of the job. Let Google or whomever run a few relevant ads on your blog and make a little cash on the side. (Unless you’ve got a large readership, though, it probably won’t be much.)



The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…