Who or what influences your writing?

As a writer, we write. As a writer in the 21st century, we need to market, blog, track sales figures, and do all the things most entrepreneurs do to keep our dreams alive and our businesses afloat. But, at our core, we are writers. And as writers, our writing reflects our experiences, our education, and our aspirations to tell the most believable stories. For fiction writers, research is the key. We get to make up anything we want to in fiction, but we there are rules to suspending disbelief. That’s where research comes in.

Some writers hate research. I love it. In fact, I’m plugged into many enewsletters, I have several Google alerts set to email me when certain terms come up on the Internet that I’d like to keep my eye on. With respect to my latest thriller, The Brink, my alerts are “currency wars, financial crisis, Bilderberg (the evil group in the book), and Mark Fadden (it’s always a good idea to put a Google Alert on your own name, to head off any bad press or respond to any good press ASAP)

One of the books I researched for The Brink is Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. In it, Perkins describes his adventures in several countries as he worked on behalf of the U.S. government to help manipulate the economies of developing nations for the U.S.’s best interests. It was a fascinating look “behind the curtain” into the real world of international economics and helped me craft my plot for the book.

What about you? Do you like research? What books have influenced your writing? Do you use other books/writers to help you craft your own plots/stories? 

To the keyboards!

Facebook or Google – who should get a writer’s advertising dollars?

As a writer of suspense, my inclination is to tease you, twist things, and inject a bunch of mystery before I answer the title question. But fear not, o’ friend of the pen, ’cause I know we’re all crunched for time. So here it is, hands down, it’s Google.

I scheduled an ad campaign that centered on the fact that lots of people were going to receive eReaders this Christmas. Plus, it was the last week of December, and my latest book, The Brink, had been selected to be part of the Barnes & Noble Special Collections during December, the second time it has recieved that award. The more often a SP book is purchased, the more likely it is to turn the head of a B&N buyer, the more likely it is to be given some more shelf space in more B&N stores. I also linked the ads straight to The Brink’s eBook webpage on B&N.

Here are the ads, first Google:

  • New eReader?
  • Try the latest thriller from
  • “the next Dan Brown” for $8.
  • www.barnesandnoble.com/TheBrink
  • This ad was posted 74,560 times, and it was clicked on 466 times. The average cost per click as $0.23.

    Here’s the Facebook ad:

    New eReader?

    Facebook stats: posted 282,299 times, it was clicked 60 times, and the average cost per click was $1.16
    Let’s analyze the numbers. I got WAAAYYYY more clicks from Google for way less money ($1.16 per click on FB; $0.23 on Google) Also, due to the limitations of not being able to see if the people that clicked ended up buying books (I’ll have to wait until my quarterly report is posted from my publisher) I did see that my ranking on the eBook version of The Brink on B&N’s site did go way up.
    While next time I would run these campaigns at different times to really see how much using Google or FB impacted my eBook sales, I do think that people going onto FB are looking more to “hang out” or connect with friends than they are looking for products or services to buy.  Therefore, whenever I do online ads in the future, I think I’m going to stick with Google. I get alot more bang for the buck, and, in advertising, that’s the bottom line.  

    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.

    Making the most of your chamber membership

    I know I said I wouldn’t post again until after Jan 1, but I couldn’t help myself. Plus, the kids are home from school and I’m hiding in my office, so forgive the typos as I’m typing in the dark.

    As an “authorpreneur” you should think about joining your local chamber of commerce. Not only does it give you a chance to meet people who read and might buy signed books as business gifts, it’s important to support your local community. Because pumping money back into your nieghborhood is about the best kind of “being green” there is.

    So, being a newly minted chamber member, I wanted to make the most out of my chamber membership. Having no storefront to stand akwardly in front of as I use the giant scissors to cut my chamber ribbon, I decided to incorporate my chamber ribbon cutting event into a book signing event at our local Borders book store. It was a great success as I sold out of books. At any rate, the press release about it is below. I even sent the press release to the US Chamber of Commerce magazine folks to see if it will cut the mustard and be added to their “Business Profiles” section. Because being a good authorpreneur is not just about supporting the local economy, its also about seeing an opportunity to spread the good word about your books across the land.

    Enjoy and Happy Holidays!   

    No storefront? No problem

    The ribbon cutting event is a rite of passage for new members joining a chamber of commerce. But what to do when you don’t have a storefront? Simple. You improvise.

    “Because I work out of my house, I didn’t think I could do a ribbon cutting,” said Colleyville, Texas author Mark Fadden, who has been out promoting his latest novel, The Brink, for the past several months at book signings, book club meetings and civic group presentations. “But then I thought with a little creativity, it would be unique opportunity to try something different.” Fadden, who recently became a member of the Colleyville Area Chamber of Commerce, contacted Lori Lortscher of the Colleyville Borders bookstore and pitched an idea to have his ribbon cutting in their store, combining it with a book signing event. Being a local author, and the fact that Fadden had already had a very successful signing in the store when The Brink first came out this past June, Lortscher was eager to have him back again. “Mark’s appearance at our store was definitely a hit,” said Lortscher. “He drew in a good size crowd of loyal followers. He interacted with everyone and sold many copies of his book.”

    This isn’t the first time that the Colleyville Chamber has done a ribbon cutting at a unique venue. “The Colleyville Area Chamber of Commerce coordinates many ribbon cuttings in the community for businesses or individuals who do not have a storefront. Ribbon cuttings may be held at the member’s home, at a favorite restaurant, at a friend’s business or even at the chamber office,” said Director of Membership Lauren Duke. “Local artists like Ann Hardy and Lamberto Alvarez, photographers like Vera Crosby and Walt Mills, and great writers like Mark Fadden add diversity and culture to our area. Creative professionals like these benefit from their involvement in a chamber of commerce by exposing their abilities and passion to their very own community. Members and residents alike can get to know these talented individuals on a deeper level and learn firsthand what motivates their craft.”

    An award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink uses the current financial crisis to tell the story of a fugitive Texas Ranger who helps a woman running for her life, only to get sucked into a secret society’s plot for global financial Armageddon. The book, which was written in 2006, has been seen as somewhat prophetic in that several of its events, including the global economic meltdown, the ensuing currency wars and even the recent Washington D.C. Metro bomb scare, have actually come true. Readers can get more information about Fadden and his books, including previewing The Brink, at www.markfadden.com.      

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     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

    Dude, where’s your storefront?

    The Chamber Ribbon Cutting. A tried and true technique to welcome a new business member into the community. But, what about those of us that don’t have a storefront? How can a writer working from a home office have a ribbon cutting?

    How about at the local bookstore? With a little sweet talking you could probably convince your local bookstore manager to hold your ribbon cutting / book signing event at their location. Because, hmmmm…. let’s see, they would hate to have an extra 20 or 40 people in their store that are there for your event. Yes, it’d be awful if they stayed over or showed up early and had to browse the aisles of the store to kill some time, or pick up a last minute Christmas gift for Aunt Linda who just said that she finally decided to make the drive up from Waco for Christmas.

    As an authorpreneur, being a part of your chamber is a great way to network with other area entrepreneurs to not only sell books, but maybe get some ideas on innovative techniques to sell your books. Because what may work for the local plumber, may just work for you,  too.

    Crossing Over to BookCrossing

    Ever heard of BookCrossing.com? Basically, here’s what it is and how it works. You write an ID # on the inside cover of your book with a note explaining that it is a free book. You then leave it in a public place (coffeehouse, restaurant, park bench, etc.) Hopefully, the person who finds it will read it, post a review, how they got it, etc. along with the ID # so it can be tracked. Then, they pass it on. String this scenario out a few hundred times and you’ve got a cool story about how a book has traveled across perhaps the world and touch numerous lives in the process.

    I think you can tell where I’m going with this one. Time to donate a few copies of your books to the wild social experiment that is bookcrossing.com. Everyone is talking about how to grow your fanbase organically. Bookcrossing.com is about as organic as it can get. Plus, it will be really cool if your book winds up being read by our troops in Afghanistan and become part of the first armed book club ever! 

    Speaking of arms, bookcrossing.com doesn’t recommend you leave your book in an airport or other place where authorities are on the lookout for suspicious packages. Let’s not scare anyone this close to the holidays.

    Work on your 2011 event calendar, post haste!

    It’s time to get crackin’ on your 2011 schedule! Don’t get behind in 2011! Okay, that’s all I got for the butt jokes, butt seriously…

    Have you started filling up your 2011 event calendar yet? If not, get to work for crying out loud. Your local book stores are probably dying for some signing traffic in the spring. Plus, I can guarantee the following conversation is happening around this time of year at your local library supporters/lions club/chamber board meeting:

    “So who do we have on tap for speakers next year? We need to do something different.”

    “Oh, there’s that guy who won the eating contest at Big Dave’s Hot Dog Hut!”

    “No, he’s on tour with the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile.”

    “Ooo, what about the lady that shoots herself out of the cannon? I hear she’s a motivational speaker now.”

    “Let’s put her in the possible column.”

    “Let’s do something really different. We’ve done the motivational speaker, the tax guy, the financial expert. Let’s do something that’s timely, that our members would really benefit from knowing more about. Something unique.”

    Never fear, your friendly neighborhood “authorpreneur” is here! Not only would most people like to know more about the mysterious world of publishing (especially these days), I can’t tell you how many people have told me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” Well, here’s your chance to talk about you and sell some books.

    My advice is to start with scheduling presentations to civic groups in your town and move outward from there. In no time, 2011 will be booked and you can start working on 2012. Of course if you believe the Mayans, or John Cusak from the movie 2012, the world will end then anyway and we’re all wasting our time and should be out partying like Prince in 1999.

    So, what about you? How are you planning to promote yourself in 2011?  

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

    Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

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    Final day! The Brink by Mark Fadden goes BOGO!

    Buy one signed copy for you, get one FREE as a gift. 

    Order your copy at http://shop.markfadden.com