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

July 8, 2010

It’s named “The Nightstand Diaries” because in terms of publishing a book, it doesn’t mean squat that we’re published. It doesn’t mean squat that our book is on a bookstore shelf. It’s only when someone takes our book home and reads it – as a way to relax on a lounge chair, pass time on a subway, or as the last mental exercise before putting it on the nightstand and going to bed – that we become a part of our readers’ lives. With this notion in mind, I invite you to come along as I try to do that very thing. My goal is to sell 5,000 copies of my new novel The Brink over the next year using mostly social media with a limited marketing budget. And this is an interactive blog, so if you have good marketing ideas, or want to critique mine whenever I do something stupid, let’s hear it! So, without further ado, let the book marketing madness continue…

Day 25 of 365

In this issue:

  • More Facebook campaign changes  
  • How important is book cover design?
  • Make your book current – The looming banking crisis, round 2

More Facebook campaign changes

If the number of folks that have clicked on my FB ad about the Lewisville, Texas Borders signing this Saturday actually show up, we’ll sell out of books and I just might go 2 for 2 as far as having the most successful signings at 2 different Borders stores! Here’s the running total:

Campaign Daily Budget Clicks Impressions CTR% Avg. CPC Spent
Lewisville Signing $20 40 155,632 0.03% $0.62 $24.83
US Const Article Found $40 1 22,505 0.00% $0.72 $0.72

Lewisville Signing – I got 29 out of the 40 clicks today, so I decided to change my budget for tomorrow to $40 (since it’s the last day). I also changed the pic on the ad to my mug shot from the book cover.  The copy is the same:


Lewisville Borders Book Signing


Like thrillers? Need a unique gift? Visit Lewisville Borders Saturday, July 10, 1-3pm and get the year’s best thriller signed!

 The other ad was a complete DOG!  A reminder of what it looked like:


 I got 1 stinkin’ click out of 22,505 impressions!  That sucks! So I changed it to this:


US Const. article found!


Join a fugitive cop as he discovers the unthinkable link between a lost Constitution article and a plan for global financial Armageddon

  I stayed with the “reading” target group and when they click on the ad, they will go to my site, but they are not taken to the home page. Rather, I’m taking them straight to the preview page where they can hopefully get immersed in the story right off the bat and then click on one of the store links at the bottom of the page to purchase the book.

 How important is book cover design?

 Tonight I must again reference the “Pimp My Novel” blog. Eric asks a great question in his blog today: Just how important is the book cover? As a publishing industry insider, he comments on everything from size of the cover to the artwork affecting how it will get show on store bookshelves. I, for one, think people can, and do judge books by their covers. Covers need to show a lot about the book, but not give away the kitchen sink. For The Brink, I wanted to show that, at its essence, it’s a story of two people running for their lives. So I’ve got the man and woman running in the center of the book. Pull back from that, and you see the shot of the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C. looking ominous in the shadows. There’s a reason for that, but you know why I can’t tell you. Then, if you look hard enough, you can barely make out the script from the U.S. Constitution. That’s there because the book starts off with a secret article of the Constitution being found, and almost stolen. Finally, the gold and silver colors of the lettering were used for a reason, those colors mean something to the plot. I was very pleased with the design folks at iUniverse. I emailed them what I wanted the cover to look like with all these elements, and they hit it out of the park.

 My advice is to spend A LOT of time thinking about your cover…draw it out in pencil on a piece of paper, then put it away for a few days, let the image marinate in your mind.  Come back to it, make corrections, then show it to some friends you trust will give their HONEST opinion. Show it to your agent, editor, and maybe even take it to your local bookstore for a “man on the street” survey. Like Eric the novel pimp says, the cover’s gotta pop!

 Make your book current – The looming banking crisis, round 2

 Before I started writing The Brink, I noticed that novels that sold well took advantage of current events. Case in point, one analyst said that one of the reasons The Da Vinci Code sold so well is that it came out just as the stories about the Catholic priest abusing children started breaking. The Hunt for Red October did so well because it came out during the height of the Cold War, and when asked, then President Ronald Reagan said it was the book that he got under his Christmas tree that year. (Talk about right timing!)

 I’ve always been interested/horrified at our country’s financial leadership, or lack thereof. I thought that one of the ways I could make people take notice of just how bad our debt situation is, was to write a thriller about it. I mean, how many people would read an economist’s 400 page thesis on the Ticking Global Financial Time Bomb? But, how many people would want to read a thriller about two people running for their lives as they try to uncover a global financial conspiracy? I’d take door #2 as well.

 If you want to follow the looming disaster that is our current international financial system, a great blog I found is The Baseline Scenario. The blog’s authors also wrote a book entitled 13 Bankers. I’ve yet to read it, but it’s on my list and will hopefully be on my nightstand soon…     

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…