The story behind our stories

Advertisers have been doing it for years, using popular celebrities to sell their products. The reason? You probably like the guy that just won the Super Bowl, or you might like their team’s story, (see New Orleans Saints) and you find yourself rooting for that underdog. If the quarterback from that team turns to the camera with trophy in hand and shouts, “I’m going to Disneyworld!” you might just want to go there, too.

But what about authors? While we are spinning our stories, we each have our own life story that influences how and what we write. But how much influence does our life story have on how popular our writing is?

The latest viral video sensation is Ted Williams, the homeless man with a golden voice. He will probably get the second chance that he’s been vying for all these years. Why? Because we like stories of redemption and second chances. He seems very genuine and we want to give him that chance. We like women like Susan Boyle that get to finally live their dream by showing the world their talent. We read JK Rowling, not just because her stories are fantastic, but because we know how she struggled before they were published.

But why do the backstories of these people matter? Do we feel sorry for them? No. We identify with them. We support them because we are them. If we were to fall like Ted Williams did, we would want someone else to help us back up. If we had a talent like Susan Boyle, we would want the opportunity to show the world. If we were a struggling author like JK Rowling was (and many of us are), we would want the chance that she got when her story got into the right hands.

We’ve all struggled in our lives and we like to hear stories about how those that struggled finally acheived their dreams. It is those stories that keep hope alive. And it is those stories that are more important than anything any author could ever dream up.

Agree? Disagree? To the keyboards!

Author’s Note: Speaking of life stories, mine has taken a twist recently. My mother passed away on New Year’s Eve, so please forgive the lapses in blog posts over the next few weeks as my family and I sort out her matters.

2011 Writing Resolutions Continued: Becoming a Brand

Wouldn’t you love to be the Lysol of the publishing world? Think of it…a person wanting a thriller goes into a book store. They find their helpful book store associate and instead of asking, “where’s the thriller section?” they ask, “where can I find Mark Fadden books?” It’s the same principle as going into your grocery store and trying to find the Lysol rather than the “disinfectant spray.” Why? Good old fashioned branding.

It’s the same thing with Kleenex, Coke, type of beer you like, etc, people are loyal to brands. Why? Because they know what to expect. People keep buying James Patterson novels for two reasons, 1 – he churns them out like they’re magazines, and 2 people know exactly what they’re getting when they buy his books – a fast paced thriller with short chapters and lots of suspense.

One of the bloggers I follow is Kristin Lamb. She covers all the writing bases from writing technique to social media. Her recent post also talked about branding and here’s a brief snippet:

Our blogs and our tags serve to define our brand. The content and tags associated with our name are important. What potential consumers, an agent and an editor see associated with our name is vital in how they mentally define us. Are they going to define us as Quiche Lorraine or Dear God! Who Let the Kids Cook?

As an example, here’s my list of tags:

Kristen Lamb—Kristen Lamb, writer, author, speaker, teacher, social media, publishing, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blog, blogs, blogging, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, branding, marketing.

Notice all the tags were simple. These tags were all nouns that, if typed into a search bar, would serve to help someone else’s little codependent genie find me FIRST. Generally with writers I see one of two errors. Either they don’t use tags (or don’t use enough tags) OR they use tags that are so obscure they are ridiculous.

And yes, notice I put my name in the tags. Why? Because I want to become a brand name. I want that when people think/say, “social media for writers,” Kristen Lamb comes up first.

As people continue to use the Internet to search for All Things Important, we need to continue to work on our SEO (search engine optimization) to become the next great publishing brand. But that is a subject for yet another 2011 Writing Resolutions entry: Making sure our websites are working for us. Hint, Hint – it’s tomorrow’s topic.

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My latest novel, The Brink, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Special Collection for a second time! Check it out at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210485/?cds2Pid=24451

Decreasing your bounce rate

Bounce rates are important. Don’t know what a bounce rate is? You should. In the words of John Grisham, “never forget that writing is a business,” and bounce rates are the heartbeat of today’s author’s online platform. Whether about a website or a blog, your bounce rate shows you the percentage of people who bounce off to other websites or blogs rather than surfing more content on your site or blog. Chances are if you have a high bounce rate (high percentage) then folks aren’t interested in your site and they aren’t interested in your book. If you sell copies of your book on your site (and you should) then a high bounce rate is an area of concern. As soon as you finish reading this post, you should go fix your site or blog to lower your bounce rate. Don’t know where to find your bounce rate? Check your site analytics or blog statistics information.

How to lower your bounce rate? I got these ideas from Karan Labra’s article on techfudge.net:

Target the right audience.

Bloggers tend to get high bounce rate because they may not be targeting the right audience. If you get visitors who aren’t looking for the content you provide then you give them no reason to stay on your site and navigate more. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you target the right people.


Know what your visitors expect.

If you are not able to provide what your visitors are looking for then they might not be concerned what else you have to offer. They will simply leave your page if they do not find what they were expecting . Just know what your visitors want and try to fulfill their needs.


Internal linking

Internal linking is a great way to keep your visitors preoccupied with your site rather than letting them think of visiting another website. Interlinking related pages is the best possible way to make your readers aware of the stuff you have to offer which interests them.

Well you can use different plugins like:


Modify your navigation.

Integrate your categories in the navigation itself and make it reachable by your visitors. This will allow them to lookout more content and help them stay on your site for longer.


Have a unique design

Having a unique design makes your blog distinguishable from other blogs and will help your visitors register it in their minds. Moreover the more appealing your design is the more readers will it attract. People would like to stay on your site for longer rather than visit sites with ugly layout and bad navigation.


Engage into discussions

Carrying out healthy discussions on your blog will make it look alive and will make new visitors engage into those discussions too. This will make them stay longer on your site and thus again help decrease the bounce rate.


My concluding words would be that, just keep investigating what your readers are looking for and provide what they are really searching for. Answering their real questions is the key to success. Be informative and helpful and you will see a significant improvement in your stats.”

Good advice, right? More good advice comes tomorrow night as I recap my meeting with the North Richland Hills Lions Club. There’s gold in them there unusual venues, fellow writers! I also got some great ideas on improving our author presentations to community groups. If you follow these steps, you should double your potential book sales. You won’t want to miss these ideas!

Until then,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

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Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“[Mark Fadden] is the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate one-of-a-kind gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html

News Release – Texas author begins book marketing lecture tour

Sept 17, 2010 – Colleyville, Texas – The Internet has changed almost every facet of the way we do business. For authors, the Internet is a powerful tool to reach readers, but few understand how to fully utilize it to maximize their marketing dollars. Fortunately, Colleyville author Mark Fadden is hoping to educate other authors on how to use the Internet, and more specifically social media, to sell books.

“Never forget that writing is a business,” was Fadden’s central message of his Get Your Book Read! lecture last night at the Little Elm Public Library in Little Elm, Texas. Fadden’s latest thriller, entitled The Brink, which was recently published in May 2010, uses the current financial crisis as the foundation of a fast-paced suspense thriller in which a fugitive Texas Ranger helps a woman running for her life, only to get sucked into a secret society’s plot for global financial Armageddon. The book was awarded both the Editor’s Choice Award and the Rising Star Award from its publisher and Fadden had the most successful signing of the year at the Colleyville Borders bookstore. “As writers, we wear the artist hat. We use our creativity to do our job. But, if you want anyone besides your mother to read the book, you must take off the artist’s hat and put on the entrepreneur’s hat. You’ve got to think of creative ways to sell books.” For Fadden, that includes everything from talking directly to area book clubs and showing up at their meetings when they review his books, to being a part of cooking classes like “Pots & Plots” at the Colleyville Market Street grocery store. Students in the class cook a meal from the books they read and then talk about the book as they eat.  

Fadden began developing what the publishing industry refers to as his “author platform”, which is basically his marketing plan, long before the book was actually published. He built a website (www.markfadden.com), created a book trailer, which is similar to a movie trailer, and recorded a video interview that can be seen on his homepage. He also designed bookmarks and had them printed through an online print shop, which he hands out by the handfuls at events. With every signing he does, and every lecture he gives, Fadden adds fans to his email database, a list he has backed up on both paper and a hard drive that are stored in a fireproof safe. “People might think adding one fan at a time is tedious, but you have to remember the Law of 250. On average, most folks know 250 people. If they read your book and like it, they’re going to tell their friends about it. If you meet 4 people at a signing or lecture, that’s 1,000 potential new readers that might pick up your book. Like I stress in my presentations, social media and online marketing is important, but word-of-mouth advertising is still the tops.”

The Brink is Fadden’s third novel. His first novel, Five Days in Dallas, was published in 2003. It received critical acclaim and Fadden himself was even called a “masterful storyteller” by a Writer’s Digest reviewer. Fadden has several book signings and lectures scheduled in the next few months. His event schedule and the first 22 pages of The Brink can be previewed at www.markfadden.com. Email him at mark@markfadden.com to get a copy of his Get Your Book Read! PowerPoint presentation. Fadden has also created a blog about writing novels and book marketing using social media entitled, “The Nightstand Diaries,” which can be read at www.markfadden.wordpress.com.