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!

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

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 12, 2010

Day 59 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 III – in 3D! only if you have a computer screen that does 3D
  • Marketing Topic –  marketing genius or foul play?

Writing topic – Getting inspired part III – in 3D! only if you have a computer screen that does 3D

Like Jaws 3, some tales just don’t need 3D. Like Jaws 3 and Rocky 5, some tales shouldn’t be told at all. But here is one franchise that I hope goes on and on and on.

Case in point is the Vidocq Society, a group of detectives, forensic experts, and journalists that have been meeting once a month for 20 years. They meet at an old Victorian dining room in the middle of Philadelphia to eat lunch and solve crimes that have perplexed investigators for decades. There was a story about them on NPR today, which has a fantastic book review page on their site. Talk about inspiration. Again, this is for the mystery/suspense/thriller crowd, but killers are people too, right? You romance novelists could find some kind of quirky character in here somewhere.

Marketing Topic – Selling to everyone you meet – marketing genius or social faux pas?

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 Borders 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.

Is there such a thing as too much promotion? Should you shove your business card, or in our case, your bookmark into every hand attached to every person you meet? Should you take said bookmarks to any and every public outing/event/party/meeting that you attend so when that inevitable question comes up when you meet someone new, “So what do you do?” You can whip out that trusty bookmark and SMACK! “There’s your answer, sir or madam. I am writer! Hear me type! Now read my damn book!” Or do you simply say, “I’m a writer,” and mention your website, only to have the site address get lost in the frontal lobe of your new acquaintance in record time.

John Grisham once said that writing is a business. In business you sell. If you’re new to selling, you read books on selling. I’m currently reading one titled How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard. He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Greatest Salesman.” Why not start with advice from the top, right?

I don’t think Girard, who sells cars, would look down at the passing out bookmarks to everyone you meet. After all, here’s a guy who at sporting events throws up handfuls of his business cards whenever people get up to cheer (p.63) Odd? Maybe, but if you’re looking through the ROI (return on investment) lens, he’s already at the game, and if one person buys a car from a card they pick up, that’s probably around a $35,000 car (with a commission to him in the high hundreds or even a couple thousand dollars) from a few bucks worth of business cards.

Remember, most of the people that you meet can read. Why shouldn’t they be reading your book? No reason. Giving them a bookmark is simply a tangible reminder of what you do, same as a business card. A bookmark is simply a business card for writers, and business cards are always being passed between people at initial meetings. So I say stock up on bookmarks and go for it!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 19, 2010

Day 35 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – Did I pee in FB’s Pepsi?  
  • Wikileaks – the perfect site to prime the plot pump

 FB ad round-up – Did I pee in FB’s Pepsi?

As you may recall from the last posting, I went with the following ad on FB to take advantage of the Borders July 16-19 25% off sale.  It incorporated last week’s video interview with the Girls in the Stacks (GITS):

 Need a good book?

Check out Mark Fadden’s latest interview about his new award-winning thriller and get the promo code for 25% off his books.

 

So I check in with the results over the weekend, and I see something funny; FB ain’t showing it:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/17/2010 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/16/2010 40,397 4 0.01 0.46 0.05 1.83
             
07/19/2010 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/18/2010 27 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 40,424 4 0.01 0.46 0.05 1.83

 

FB, doth mine words offend thee?  My bid was in their suggested bid range (it was even on the high end) but the love wasn’t there. What gives? I’ve got an email in to FB HQ to solve the problem, but I’ll keep chugging on, because it’s FB ad month here at Author Mark Fadden central.  Here’s the next ad going out this week:

 

Could a novel come true?

A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

 

I thought I’d change the target audience up a bit, so the audience is people who like ‘economics.’ You might laugh that some people actual admit to liking the dismal science, but there’s 93,940 of them. We’ll see. I’m gonna let this ad roll for a week.

 As always, if you have any suggestions for tweaking ad copy, please email ideas to mark@markfadden.com.  

 Wikileaks – the perfect site to prime the plot pump

 If you haven’t visited wikileaks yet, go there ASAP. If you’re a mystery or thriller writer, drop everything and go there right now. It’s chock full of the stuff that will make your mind wander in luscious fields of conspiracy. A truly great source of inspiration. It was the recent topic of NPR’s show Fresh Air, and the founder of the site is supposedly wanting to build the headquarters in Iceland, where he can run the site free from persecution.

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller

July 16, 2010

Day 32 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – a new Borders coupon means a new ad for this guy        
  • Having fun with Girls in the Stacks.  

FB ad round-up

You gotta love the big bookstores. Like waves rolling into the beach, one sale ends and another is right behind it. Borders has been good to me, letting me sell myself at their stores around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, so I’m sticking with them for the Facebook ads. Here’s the new one I created as part of their July 16-19 25% off sale. It incorporates last night’s video interview with the Girls in the Stacks (GITS):

Need a good book?

Check out Mark Fadden’s latest interview about his new award-winning thriller and get the promo code for 25% off his books.

I’m keeping my $20 a day budget and I did a $.49 bid CPC (cost per click).  By the way, the 25% off promo code for Borders.com is BHN7798F. Enjoy! But hurry, sale ends 7/19.

Having fun with The Girls in the Stacks

When doing an interview, you couldn’t ask for a better duo than Stacy and Nancy. The Girls in the Stacks (GITS) asked great questions and the Colleyville Borders bookstore was extremely generous in letting us use their store for the venue. Plus, Stacy used a Flip camera to film us, a way cool little gadget. If you’re not familiar with them, it’s a plug and play video camera – just record your video, flip out the USB adapter and voila! Your video’s on the Internet! Okay, there’s a few steps between those, but if I went into them, I couldn’t have used voila! Here’s the link to the video:

While we covered the items that I suggested in an email prior to the interview, they also wanted to know what’s in my “stack.” I am currently reading Heat, an awesome book about a guy who spends a year being a cook (read “slave”) in Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant. He also tells the stories of some of the other cooks and how they dedicate themselves to their craft, (i.e. spending 6 months at a restaurant in Italy for no pay just to learn how to make pasta the right way) Anyone who cooks would love this book.

But back to the interview. Stacy sent it to me this morning and I put it up on my website ASAP. (As you’ll see, I also changed the headline of my site to reflect the new Borders coupon.) Video is extremely important, and an interview shows a more human side to you. The more people that watch you on video and see who the human is behind the name on the book cover, the more likely they are to buy a book.  Unless you come off like a complete ass, so don’t do that.

By the way, how’d you do on your homework assignment? Did you do your list of 5 uses for videos to sell your books? Did you get 10?  Nice work!

I also emailed the video to my contact at Good Morning Texas. In a previous post, I mentioned how I’m trying to get on that show, hopefully on the same day I’m doing a signing at the Dallas Uptown Borders store (can’t you just smell the cross-promotion?) Why did I do that you ask? I wanted to show her that I wouldn’t crash and burn in front of a camera.

By the way, the interview cost me nothing to do. As Stacy remarked, GITS is a “labor of love” for them. God bless ‘em.

As always, I hope I’ve presented information today that you can use. If you’d like more, or have a question, by all means send it to me at mark@markfadden.com. 

Have a great weekend. No signings this weekend, but next weekend I’ll be busier than a cow’s tongue in a salt lick. We’ll talk on Monday. Till then…

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 13, 2010

Day 29 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • Hello, my name’s Mark, and I’m a FB ad-dict
  • Changes to the website 
  • Double-dip recession – will it make The Brink prophetic?  

Hello, my name’s Mark, and I’m a FB ad-dict

My day started with creating two FB ads. By tonight, I got 6 hits on one (The next James Patterson?) and zero on another. So I took out the dead weight and changed back to my most successful ad so far (Read a thriller anywhere!) and created another one. So, I’ve got three running currently. Here they are:

Chillingly current novel

Preview the year’s most controversial thriller and get a 40% off coupon at your local Borders bookstore good through July 17th.

Read a thriller anywhere!

Get the most controversial thriller of the year delivered to your desktop, laptop or smartphone in seconds for $7.13. eBooks rock!

 The next James Patterson?

“Action & heroism keep readers turning pages.” – ForeWord Review. Uncover the most staggering conspiracy of our time, & get it 28% off.

 The James Patterson ad is targeted at people that like James Patterson, about 360,000 people. The other two are targeted at people who like to read, about 4 million each.

I went on my godaddy.com (my web host company) account and tried to look at the site analytics to see if the facebook people are buying books once they leave my site, but I have yet to find information on that. UUGGHH!  Does anyone know how to get that info?

Anyway, all told, I’m in for about an hour on jacking around with these ads today, which includes creating them as well. Budget is $20/day for each. I promise I’ll let them ride until tomorrow’s post so we can analyze the numbers.

Changes to the website 

I also visited my godaddy.com search engine optimization page last night and today. What a butt whoopin’. 3 hours of slogging through the steps to get the right keywords associated with the site so that search engine “spiders” will recognize them when people search for books. You might say 3 hours seems like a lot for just coming up with keywords, but I’m old and I have to learn what the heck I’m doing before I actually do it.

I also made some changes to the site, mostly the home page to make it more like my personality. I reread some of David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR last night and today and he said that you should put some of ‘you’ into your site. So I did. Check it out and let me know what you think.   

Double-dip recession – will it make The Brink prophetic

Take a look at this recent article from Robert Reich about the probability of a double dip recession. If that happens, it will cause the U.S. government to come to the rescue with more bailouts, and that means more deficit spending and more debt.

Without giving too much away, (I already gave a huge hint as to who’s involved in the conspiracy in the book on the front cover) the double-dip resembles the ‘event’ the bad guys in the book use to begin their plan to take over the world. Funny how life resembles art, right?      

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 12, 2010

Day 28 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  • Recap on the Lewisville Borders signing
  • A new FB ad with a new angle
  • Good Morning, Texas!  

 Recap on the Lewisville Borders signing

 First, the numbers:

2 hours (1-3pm) – time spent at the signing

# of books sold – 10

# of stars of the restaurant where I could take my wife for dinner with my profits from the signing – 3, but we went to Twisted Root Burgers instead and saved the rest for running shoes to run off the fat-tastic calories of said meal.

But, here are arguably the most important numbers:

# of bookmarks handed out – 38

# of news outlets that got the following news release after the signing – 4:

 Lewisville is on ‘The Brink’

Lewisville Borders hosts local author for a book signing

 

Stephanee Talley of Lewisville with Mark Fadden

Even though there’s already a copy of Mark Fadden’s latest thriller in his house, Bret Talley had to buy his own copy. “My wife already read it, and has been on me every day, telling me I’ve got to read this book, but she keeps lending it out to other people,” Talley said. “So I came here to buy my own copy.”

As part of his summer DFW book tour, author Mark Fadden stopped by the Lewisville Borders book store on Saturday to talk about and sign copies of The Brink. In it, a fugitive cop and a brilliant beauty must race from Mexico to Washington, D.C. to stop a secret society’s plan for global financial Armageddon. The plot, which relies on real-world economic theories and financial numbers, took Fadden over a year to research before he started the rough draft. “I wrote the book a few years ago after I began listening to economic experts telling us how dire our country’s financial condition is. It’s truly frightening how some of the aspects of the book are actually coming true as the condition of the world’s economy gets worse.”               

The Brink, which is Fadden’s third published novel, is not only enjoying stellar reviews from critics and readers alike, the book has won two awards from its publisher and Fadden has been called a “masterful storyteller,” by a Writer’s Digest reviewer.

 “The signing went really well,” said General Manager Marion Orso. “Mark sold several copies and brought in a lot of traffic.” During the Lewisville Borders visit, Fadden talked with several customers about the writing process. He also got many questions about what he’s doing to market the book, a subject that he covers in his blog The Nightstand Diaries, which can be read at www.markfadden.wordpress.com. “While getting a book published is an enormous achievement, it is only when our books become part of our readers’ lives, when they enjoy them during their commute or read them as part of their ‘me’ time ritual before going to bed, that we as writers have truly reached our goals.”

The Lewisville Borders staff already invited Fadden back during the month of October, when people begin shopping for Christmas. Fadden has several more stops throughout DFW on his book tour, including The Book Carriage in Roanoke and the uptown Dallas Borders store. Readers can log onto www.markfadden.com for tour dates and to preview Mark’s books.  

And let me share a little nugget here. A few years back, I attended an evening with James Patterson at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. One of the stories he told is about one of the first signings he ever did at the World Trade Center. He was sitting behind a table in the middle of the busy hallway with books stacked around him, and not one person stopped. And speaking of zero sales, my mother clipped an article for me about book marketing. Leon Hale, a long time writer for the Houston Chronicle recently shared this memory of signing of similar success:  “I appeared for a book signing and two people came, and one of those was the publisher’s rep. And the other one didn’t buy a book.” Hale’s blog is at www.blogs.chron.com/leonhale.

I see signings as a way to reach people with more information through 2 ways: one, through news releases and two, periodically wandering through the store and handing out as many bookmarks as you can during the event. Not only can you get coverage from local papers and PR wire services alike before the event, the real money shot comes after. A signing gives you a chance for a photo op with a fan and a quote from the book store manager, which is PR gold. Plus, I updated my FB wall with the news release and had one person buy an ebook from that and it reminded a friend of mine to buy a couple of books as well. The news release is my favorite marketing piece because it works on so many levels.  

All told, I spent around 8 hours on the Lewisville signing, which is broken down as follows:

  • Scheduling the event (time on the phone)
  • Creating the news releases (pre and post event)
  • Creating and getting in-store posters printed
  • Contacting local news outlets and sending them the releases
  • Taking the posters to the store and meeting the staff before the event
  • The book signing itself

 Just remember. The signing isn’t just about the signing. It’s another way to get your name out there in media-world.

 

A new FB ad with a new angle

As July is my Facebook ad month, I ran an ad for the Lewisville signing. And while 62 people clicked on it, not one who was there mentioned anything about the ad. I might try one more for the Borders signing I’m doing in Allen, Texas on July 30, but if that doesn’t hit, then ads for signings are done.

I also changed the “US const. article found!” ad, which went nowhere fast, with the following one:

read a 5-star thriller!

Get Mark Fadden’s latest, a 5-star customer reviewed thriller, in eBook for $9 or get a signed copy at markfadden.com.

 It’s still being reviewed, but it should get some significant #s by tomorrow.

 

Good Morning, Texas!

 A little birdie told me that she and her business partner got on Good Morning, Texas, a TV show on our local ABC affiliate. The birdie’s name is Alicia Segal and their business is called Simply Done Gifts. Anyway, here’s the email I sent to the GMT contact (for the sake of brevity and your eyeballs, news releases are not included, you’ve already read them in previous blogs):

 I’m a local author (Colleyville resident) who is currently in the midst of a book tour in the DFW area. Alicia Segal of Simply Done Gifts has been on your show and gave me your email as the person to contact about coming on Good Morning Texas.

 My latest political thriller, The Brink (published in May 2010), follows a fugitive Texas Ranger as he helps a brilliant beauty race from Mexico to Washington, D.C. to stop a secret society’s plan for global financial Armageddon. While I began the novel over three years ago, including completing a year’s worth of research into economic theories and real-world financial numbers that I use to make The Brink more realistic, the financial firestorm that continues to sweep across the planet dovetails almost directly with the plot. Chillingly current to say the least.

I have a signing coming up on Friday, August 13th from 5-7pm at the Dallas Uptown Borders store and I thought an appearance on GMT that morning would be perfect way to promote it. To get a better feel for an angle you might use in a segment, I’ve included a few recent news items below:

  1. The press release for the Uptown Borders signing.
  2. The latest news release from a signing I did on Saturday at the Lewisville Borders bookstore.
  3. An article about me winning Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Father’s Day Honors” Award in 360 West magazine.

 I’d love to visit with you about a possible appearance on the show. You can check out more about me and even preview the first 22 pages of The Brink at www.markfadden.com. Please let me know if I can provide you with any more information.

 Thanks so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

 Best,

 Mark

 The email took me about an hour to put together, so not much time for what could potentially be a huge ROI. It would be awesome to get on TV. I just hope I don’t puke on the set from nerves…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…