Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 26, 2010

Day 73 of 365

Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Violence in Children’s Books
  • Marketing Topic – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

Writing topic – Violence in Children’s Books

I follow Nathan Bransford’s Blog. It is a fantastic resource for writers, has won many industry awards, and just has some great, and timely, topics. For example, today’s topic was on violence in children’s books. While he mentioned the Young Adult (YA) hit Mockinjay in his blog, he also invited people to comment about the topic. So I did. Here were my thoughts:

I’ve actually been wondering the same thing. Is there a line, but like anything else where you are making choices for others, who gets to draw it? And where does it stop? For my next novel, I want to combine a murder mystery with a coming of age story, which would be targeted for both the adult and YA market. Is murder too young for YA readers? What about something that, in my eyes, is just as bad, like rape? If so, then the classic To Kill a Mockingbird should be stricken from all the YA school reading lists across the country. Sadly, violence is something many kids experience every day. If these kids read about violence as part of a greater story, a story that digs deep into their inner thoughts, maybe then they can begin to understand the context behind it. More importantly, maybe they can read one of these books and finally understand the horrific sights they see every day or the scary sounds that lull them to sleep every night. It is only when we truly understand something like violence that we can truly escape it. And it is books that help us understand the world around us.”

As writers, it is our duty to push the envelope and to make people think. My approach is very laissez-faire, let writers write what they want. Ultimately, a book is like any other product, if it’s a good product and people want it, then it will do well in the market. If it’s crap, then the market will ignore it. As far as children’s books go, my thoughts about what children should read are the same about my thoughts on what they should be watching, where they should be hanging out, who their friends are, and how they’re doing in school: it’s up to their parents to decide what’s appropriate.

Thoughts? Comments? To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

If you don’t know what Google Alerts are, they are free alerts you set up that will email you anytime the alert word or phrase is mentioned on the Internet. For example, if your name is Tom Jones, and you set up your Google Alert for the phrase, “Tom Jones” and you set it as an email alert every day, you’ll get an alert emailed to you every day with the link where the phrase “Tom Jones” was mentioned.

I did this with my name, “Mark Fadden.” However, as the Internet has been lighting up lately with buzz about the secret society that is in my latest novel, especially since Rush Limbaugh and Fidel Castro recently commented on it, I decided to create an alert for that group, “Bilderberg” and some of the phrases associated with them, like “New World Order” and “One World Government.”

How does this help you sell more books? Like David Meerman Scott stated in his social media bible The New Rules for Marketing and PR, news releases are a great way to promote your book. He also says to create a news release for anything newsworthy about your product or service. Well, what a better way to know what’s newsworthy about your product than if it’s being talked about in the news or blogosphere? Google Alerts to the rescue. And even if you don’t have the scratch to send out news releases on PRWeb everyday, you can put up new news releases that feature the info you culled together from your Google Alerts on your website (like I did on mine), in an email marketing campaign, or send it out to your local news outlets.

BTW, we will be covering getting the attention of local news outlets in one of next week’s blogs. Until then,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 25, 2010

Day 72 of 365

Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Bringing Characters to Life
  • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 4

Writing topic – Bringing Characters to Life

One of the first things I do when I’m about to begin working on a new novel is to get the character list together. Some writers sit down in front of a blank screen and just begin where they think the story should start. That’s how I first started years ago, but over time I found out that it’s a HUGE time saver to approach writing a novel like your writing a business plan. I even use Microsoft Excel to do my outline because as the story evolves, scenes change in the timeline (But more about outlining comes later). In any business plan, you have to know what you’re trying to “sell” (the type of story) and who is going to do the “selling” (the characters). So, I think about all the characters that are going to be in the story, and I write a paragraph about their back story. Nothing big, just a couple sentences describing them and what it is about them that adds drama and moves the story forward. Since stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, are all about relationships, I then do a flowchart to show how all these characters interact. It’s a pretty cool exercise and you can really get into how all the different characters can have an affect on each other without even knowing it. Plus, it gets the brainstorm juices flowing about how each character has the ability/possibility to manipulate others. Stephen King’s Needful Things was a chilling play on how this phenomenon can work to an evil end.

What about you? Are you a throw caution to the wind and just start typing kind of person? (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Or do you take more of an analytical approach to beginning your writing project? If so, what’s your technique?

Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 4

The ads are doing well. The “Bilderberg ad”

got 19 clicks today, maxing out my $10 a day budget. My second ad tied to the upcoming Labor Day holiday was:

and I changed it to the following ad because it was sucking eggs with 0 clicks:

It’s gotten 9 clicks so far and is scheduled to run through Aug 26. It’s linked to my website home page where there’s a banner about getting the book on Amazon for 22% off and it will get to the customer by Labor Day with standard shipping.

Since starting the Google ad campaign, I have seen a 26% rise in traffic on my website. On Aug 24, two days ago, I had over 800 hits, a 53% increase in the number of hits from the day before. Aug 24 is when I started the Google ads, so there must be a correlation between the two. But, does that in turn mean higher book sales? With a 2 month lag time until sales numbers come out (August come out in Oct from the publisher) it’s too soon to tell.

I promise this is the last post about Google AdWords. Tomorrow night’s marketing post will be a lot more exciting. Here’s a sneak peek at the title:

Marketing Topic, Part Deux – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

Until then,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…