Dispatches from the literary trenches

September 21, 2010

Tonight’s Topic – Writing News Releases out the Wazoo

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll notice that I’ve been pumping up the number of news releases that I’ve been sending out lately. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Almost on a daily basis, more information comes out from credible sources including Ron Paul, Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, and the Congressional Budget Office that the United States is in a severe financial crisis, and the main cause of this crisis is the country’s debt load, which is the foundation of the financial conspiracy in The Brink.
  2. I went back and re-read David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR last week and was reminded that, for authors anyway, there is simply no better bang-for-the-buck promotional piece than the news release.
  3. My schedule of signings and appearances has ramped up lately, so I’ve got more news to release. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please visit http://markfadden.com/appearancesandpress.html for a schedule of upcoming events.

Remember fellow writers, you can write your own news releases (you’re writers after all, right?) and you can post them in blogs, on websites, on your Facebook, Twitter, Shelfari, and Good Reads pages. You can also email them to the local newspapers to see if they’ll give you some ink. In the case of doing a signing or an appearance in a local store or local library, those are great stories, and exactly the kind most community papers are looking for. If you’ve written a professional news release and included a high-quality pic (or several for them to choose from) then you’ve saved the reporter a couple hours work, something that is always appreciated in a business where deadlines are cast in stone.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

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

“He’s 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 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 unique gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html

 

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…  

 

So what does it take for a virtually unknown author to sell books? Get a front row seat as Mark Fadden blogs about his marketing hits and many misses on the way to sell 5,000 copies of his latest thriller, The Brink, in one year.

July 21, 2010

Day 37 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:

  • FB ad round-up – let’s look at the numbers  
  • More changes to the website and a preview to search engine optimization

 FB ad round-up – let’s look at the numbers

The “economics” ad just a keeps on suckin’. Here’s the FB ad that was targeted at users who like economics:

 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.

 And here are the numbers:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/21/2010 1,072 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/20/2010 7,011 2 0.03 0.57 0.16 1.14
07/19/2010 684 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 8,767 2 0.02 0.57 0.13 1.14

 I think folks from as far away as Russia (oh yes, according to my godaddy.com site analytics, I’m huge there) could probably smell the stench of failure on this ad. But, it’s staying up until the end of the week, because I said I would keep it going that long, and by Neptune’s trident I am a man of my word!

 Fortunately, my other ad is still going strong. Here’s the ad:

 Electrifying new author

Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

 And here are the numbers as of 10:45pm tonight:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/21/2010 133,158 15 0.01 0.59 0.07 8.90
07/20/2010 87,886 36 0.04 0.56 0.23 20.00
Lifetime 221,044 51 0.02 0.57 0.13 28.90

 51 total in two days with 15 new today. The CTR % (click through rate) dropped off, but that’s to be expected since the same group (people who like books) are seeing it over and over (by the way, there are 560,900 people in that group). I asked the question last night how I can leverage the seeming popularity of this ad. I didn’t have a chance to give it much thought today, but it’s still pinging around inside the old melon.

 

More changes to the website and a preview to search engine optimization

I took the opportunity to look at my godaddy.com site analytics last night and saw something interesting. There was a steep drop in the number of visitors over the last few days. It started around the time I changed up the language on the site to reflect more of my personality, which sounded like fantastic advice coming from my social media Moses David Meerman Scott in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR. So, to make the sight more fun, I sprinkled the site with what I thought were snarky, smart assed, and what I thought were funny comments here and there. But, when people are looking for at a thriller writer, they don’t want Flopso the Clown. Like I said in last night’s post, they are looking to you to solve their problem. They need a good book. They want a thriller to thrill them. They don’t want a thriller writer trying to be funny.

My website is something that I, like many other people that use primarily websites to broadcast their information, continue to struggle with. There are in the neighborhood of 124 million sites on the Internet and literally billions of web pages. We want to stand out and we stand out by providing great content. But how?

I was thumbing through the July/Aug issue of Inc. magazine today and it was like the editors were reading my mind. There in front of me was a whole pull-out section on website search engine optimization, or “SEO.” How to get your website seen! Drive more traffic to your site! Fantastic. I’ll need some time to really dig into it, so that’s hopefully a topic for tomorrow night. Until 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 14, 2010

Day 30 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  
  • Podcasts – How can we use them to sell books?  

FB ad round-up

The “chillingly current novel” campaign did very well yesterday, but dropped off today. Here are the numbers:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/14/2010 44,950 3 0.01 0.47 0.03 1.42
07/13/2010 132,073 46 0.03 0.43 0.15 20.00
Lifetime 177,023 49 0.03 0.44 0.12 21.42

After further analysis, the bid range yesterday was $.49-$.59, then I noticed tonight that it had changed to $.72-$.92. I’ve never noticed bids to change like that before. But as you can see, there were far less impressions today then yesterday. So, I sucked it up and changed my bid from $.50 to $.72. Let’s see if the action ramps back up again. And so you won’t have to go back to last night’s post, here’s the “CCN” ad:

 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.

 Both “Next James Patterson?” and “Read a thriller anywhere” were big goose eggs. So, what do we do with eggs around here? Maybe make them into Eggs Carver like Danny’s accomplice does in The Brink?  (Scramble them with some chorizo and serve them on Cajun-spiced hash browns? No, we fry them like they were on death row in Huntsville circa 1980. They’re out. Here they are below. I’ll give you a second to say your goodbyes:

 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.

Podcasts – How can we use them to sell books?

So I’m doing my first podcast tomorrow night about the book for girlsinthestacks.com. It’s an online book review site run by two very nice ladies that just want to inform readers about the good books that are out there. Isn’t the Internet a great place full of nice people?

To prepare, I’m brushing up on my podcast rules from  New Rules for Marketing and PR by DMS (I refer to the first initials in his name now because I read so much of his work, I feel I know the guy) and came across the story of ‘Grammar Girl.’ This is a woman who uses podcasts to “provide short, friendly tips to improve writing.” When I Googled “grammar”, her site was #7 in my results. Not bad for such a generic search word. By providing tips (i.e. valuable info) to people, her FB fans have grown to 26,365 as of today. That also translates into fans of her book Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Here’s her quote from NRFM&PR about how the podcasts allowed her to have an existing fan base, which affected (or is it “effected?”) book sales:

 “When I went out on my book tour, the crowds were much bigger than expected, and I believe it is at least in part due to all the groundwork I laid on social networks for over a year before the book came out…A lot of people who came out were people I connected with on Twitter or Facebook, and I posted messages about where I was going to be on both those services multiple times.”

 When thinking about your book, what could you podcast about it? I’ll agree that fiction is a little harder to podcast about than, say, a non-fiction topic like how to perform your own house energy audit and then, a year later write a cool book about it. But, you could select a topic from your novel, and talk about that.  Like during tomorrow night’s podcast, I’m going to highlight the fact that The Brink uses real-world economic theories and financial numbers to propel the plot forward. What about you? What topics propel your writing forward?

 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 book marketing

 June 29, 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 16 of 365

 In this issue:

  • MFFA – My First Facebook Ad – Day #2
  • Getting ready for Stop #3 on the book tour

  MFFA – My First Facebook Ad – Day #2

 With the month of June coming to a close, thus ends my stint on the barnesandnoble.com Rising Star award winner page. The buyers at B and N use the results to see what books they will give store book shelf space to, what I like to call “the most expensive real estate in the world.”

 Therefore, as a last ditch effort to pump up my numbers, I am doing a 5 day Facebook ad campaign. Yesterday, my ad read “The Brink by Mark Fadden. Uncover the most staggering conspiracy of our time and discover an electrifying new voice in suspense fiction.” There was also a cover pic. I set my budget at $20 day and chose the Cost Per Click (CPC) option. I only pay when someone clicks on my ad. With that ad, I had 15 clicks out of 19,858 impressions, which translates into a Click through rate (CTR) of .08%. Time to change the ad! I changed it to read “The Brink by Mark Fadden. Uncover the most staggering conspiracy of our time. “A masterful storyteller” – Writer’s Digest and I selected people interested in ‘author James Patterson’ rather than ‘political thrillers.’ Hope my CTR will rise. Stay tuned.  

 I checked in with my publisher, iUniverse, to see if there’s a way to see in real time if the ad led to more people buying the book online, but there’s no way to do that. In fact, I won’t know any sales #s until the end of July due to paperwork processing times. Holy $#(%$#  *&#!!!!

 With Facebook ads, it seems that people either love them or hate them. They either work really well or not at all. Again, if you want another in-depth story of doing Facebook ads, here’s a great account of another first time Facebook advertiser: “My First FaceBook Ad Campaign: The Good, Bad, & The Ugly.”

 Getting ready for Stop #3 on the book tour

 With a little less than 2 weeks to go before my 3rd signing event at the Lewisville, Texas Borders bookstore, here’s what I did today to get ready for  it:

  1. News release (please see below) sent to the following: Dallasnews.com (Dallas Morning News online portal) Guidelive and metro desk, Lewisville Leader , www.hellolewisville.com
  2. Okayed postcard invitation proofs (to be sent to Lewisville City Council) and picked up signing posters at my local FedEx Office. They’re fast, open late, and super nice staff.  That place rocks! 
  3. Contacted Lewisville Chamber of Commerce about putting news release in their weekly enewsletter.
  4. Contacted Lewisville book club members. 2 groups have Facebook pages!
  5. sent email to Friends of Lewisville Library & Lewisville library staff members inviting them to the signing
  6. sent event info to Dallas Observer through their event posting site.
  7. sent Greater Lewisville Newcomers Club an email about the event. Why? I saw on their site that they sponsor a book club.

 Kenny Green, the Lewisville Borders Sales Manager, said the 40 books he ordered are already in, so I’ll see if I can drop by tomorrow with posters, flyers, bookmarks, and see if I can sign some books to maybe do a little pre-sales.

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

June 28, 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 15 of 365

In this issue:

  • Have you created your Google Profile yet? Get on it!
  • The Brink is now out in eBook! Where oh where to market the eBooks???
  • MFFA – My First Facebook Ad – Day #1

 Have you created your Google Profile yet? Get on it!

 So without little or no money, how do you get people to find you online? Participate in the discussion. The internet is all about content, and content doesn’t always have to be news releases and email marketing campaigns. Sometimes, you gotta just be there for other people. Once again, I turn to David Meerman Scott and his advice from The New Rules of Marketing and PR. From page 65, “One of the currencies of social media is that when you participate, people find out who you are. When you leave a comment on someone else’s blog post, you can link to your profile on the Web. All blogging tools have a place where you can leave a virtual calling card, your own web URL where people who read your comment can find out who you are and perhaps contact you.” He goes on to suggest that the best “virtual calling card” is to create a Google Profile and then use that as the URL for people to go to when you are commenting on other people’s blogs. Best of all, it’s free.

 I made the mistake, like many writers do, of going into sites like GoodReads.com and amazon’s book club sites and in the “looking for a great thriller” forum, just typing in “hey, if you want a great thriller, check out my new book, The Brink.” That’s like shouting what you do for a living at the top of your lungs at a cocktail party. Major faux pas. Anyway, now I know better. I’m going to start going onto other writer’s blogs this weekend and join the conversation with my Google profile as my URL. I just hope they like me….I mean, I really, really hope they like me!

 The Brink is now out in eBook! Where oh where to market the eBooks???

 The Brink is now out in eBook for the Kindle and the Nook. While that’s awesome, how do we writers find people that actually have eReaders? I’ve yet to see them at my gym or on airplanes. After my current Facebook ad campaign is over (more on that in a minute) I’ll do one just for ebook readers and see how it goes. In the meantime, I went online and Googled in “ebook marketing” and the best hits I got were “start your home-based business making $300k a month by writing a real estate buying eBook” and “money-making super secrets” where you write an eBook to attract people to invest in your Nigerian black money-type scam.  Oy vey! I just tried to set up a Facebook ad and when I used “eBook” as the criteria by which the ad will be sent out, there are only 620 people out of the 113 million above 18 years old on Facebook who are interested in eBooks. Rat farts! Back to the drawing board.  Any suggestion from y’all would be awesome.

 MFFA – My First Facebook Ad – Day #1

 With the month of June coming to a close, thus ends my stint on the barnesandnoble.com Rising Star award winner page. The buyers at B and N use the results to see what books they will give store book shelf space to, what I like to call “the most expensive real estate in the world.”

 Therefore, as a last ditch effort to pump up my numbers, I am doing a 5 day Facebook ad campaign. I don’t know how familiar you are with them, but I knew nothing about them before I created my ad yesterday. It’s a simple process to walk through it. My ad reads “The Brink by Mark Fadden. Uncover the most staggering conspiracy of our time and discover an electrifying new voice in suspense fiction.” Once someone clicks on it, they are sent to my website. I set my budget at $20 a day and chose the Cost Per Click (CPC) option. I only pay when someone clicks on my ad. What I pay is a rate that I bid on, which was kind of confusing at first. I chose $.50 per click at first where the suggested rate was between $1.10 and 1.63. For the first half of today, I has something like 5 impressions, which meant my ad only went out 5 times. So I changed click bid to $1.15 and damn if the numbers didn’t jump up! Currently, Facebook has run the ad 6,301 times and I’ve had 3 clicks. Not exactly setting the world on fire, but I’ll reassess the ad tomorrow and make edits if necessary. In the meantime, here’s a great account of another first time Facebook advertiser: “My First FaceBook Ad Campaign: The Good, Bad, & The Ugly.”