Mystery Monday – The Cold Case Center, guess which bestseller uses it?

Sorry this is a day late. I was experiencing a “Migraine Monday” yesterday. Man, do those things hurt. Anyway, here’s the Mystery Monday post a day late…

As I’m sure all you writers have out there, I have been asked more than once, “Where do you get your book ideas from?” For me, it continues to be a mix of the good old-fashioned newspaper, TV police shows and the internet. For a new book that I’m researching, I am looking into how a certain cold case that one investigator could never let go might finally be solved, and how that affects him. So, I googled “cold case” and came across this site called the Cold Case Center : http://www.coldcasecenter.com/cold_cases.htm#New  On it, there is a listing of cold case and missing person sites from all 50 states, Canada, and Interpol.

As I fooled with it, I stumbled upon the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department website on their “Jane Doe” case http://www.sbsheriff.org/mw/janedoe.html.  Not only does it tell how a FBI Forensic Reconstruction Artist was brought in to create a rendition of Jane Doe’s appearance, but  best-selling author Sue Grafton based her novel, “Q” Is For Quarry, on the SBSD’s investigation into the murder.

What kind of information will you find at the Cold Case Center? Better yet, if you find something, let the rest of us know how it might inspire your writing. To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author. Bestselling author Sandra Brown recently had this to say about Mark’s latest novel, The Brink: “[The Brink] is a hell of a read. The chemistry between [the main characters] Danny and Sydney is terrific. The action sequences were heart-pounding!” Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at www.markfadden.com.

The Brink is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle  and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

Locals only!

Book signings. I love them. I love running my mouth, so any chance I can get to talk to readers and, more importantly, listen to what they like and dislike about books they’ve read (“There were too many characters to follow”, “I had to wade through 60 pages of boring stuff before the story got interesting”), it is an opportunity to get priceless information that I use to continually evolve as a writer.

However, not having a name that ends in “ing” or “isham”, sometimes it’s hard to schedule a book signing. It involves extra work for the staff, and a commitment from the store to buy and stock your books. But, there is another option to get yourself a book signing. It’s called, “An Evening with the Authors.”

Last night, I participated in such an event at the Hurst, Texas Barnes & Noble. Myself and two other local authors were the featured scribblers. Granted it was a slow Wednesday night (it would have had a better turnout on a weekend for sure) but still, it was yet another chance to talk to potential fans and lay another brick in building the brand. 

So, the next time you ask your local book store about hosting your book signing and you get a little pushback, suggest that you’ll participate in the local author event. If they don’t do one, suggest they have one. Events draw customers into stores and, in turn, to you. A true “win-win” all around.

BTW, below is the article I did on the event that I sent to our local paper. I included the same pic as the one above. Enjoy!  

Hurst Barnes & Noble goes local

The Barnes & Noble book store in Hurst recently hosted an “Evening with Local Authors.” Three local authors, Kevin Cook, Mark Fadden, and Jan Leland signed copies of their latest books and spoke to customers about the writing life. “The publishing industry is in such a dynamic flux right now,” offered Fadden, whose latest book, The Brink, uses the recent financial meltdown as the foundation for a taut suspense thriller. “More and more people are talking about eBooks and eReaders. More and more authors are talking about going into digital self publishing. I think that to really connect with your readers and to get the much needed feedback about your books, it is still vital to make the book tour rounds, sign actual books and establish relationships with your audience and with the book store staff.” 

Carol Scalzo, Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble in Hurst echoed Fadden’s point about establishing relationships with authors. “We were thrilled to feature these local authors. Barnes & Noble is always seeking to feature local talent. We were excited to represent their latest works and hope to work with them again soon to help promote their future works.”  

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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

Do writers make good publishers?

With the advent of eReaders, it seems that everywhere you look, there are opportunities for writers to become their own publishers. Amazon.com has Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Barnes & Noble has PubIt, and Borders has a deal with BookBrewer, which also has deals with amazon.com and iBooks. 

In a previous, shortened post from January 20 entitled “Escape from New York” I linked to an article about how many authors are choosing to go the self-pub route because they keep more of the money. In that same post, I mentioned that one of the publishing house reps said that pubishing houses were “venture capitalists for authors.” More than the fact that they can help us market our books through their long established marketing channels and relationships with the big book chains, literally thousands of independent stores across the globe and therefore millions of book buyers, lets not forget the editing staff. Will the ability to self pub an ebook for free muddy the waters of the publishing world with horribly written books filled with grammatical errors, typos, and just plain wandering amounts of crap? Yes. Will it, like American Idol has done, provide a platform for those few talented and hard working authors that may have gotten missed by the publishing houses to show their stuff? Absolutely. Welcome to the brave new world of publishing.

Your thoughts on eBook self publishing? The wave of the future? Or will that wave drag in with it a bunch of hidden crap into the pristine white sands of the literary beaches? To the keyboards!

Tomorrow’s post – why you should, absolutely, positively, self publish an eBook in 2011…in the words of an internationally known author.

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Signed copies of The Brink are available 20% off the cover price at www.shop.markfadden.com.

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8.

The 4 writing commandments

So, at 12 days into the New Year, how are your new years resolutions? More specifically, how are your writing goals going? Writing 2,000 words a day? 20 pages a week? Or are you exhausted after work, sitting in a bean bag chair in the nude eating Cheetos by the bag full? I haven’t done that, mind you. I’d scare the bejesus out of my kids if I did.

Well, dear writers, fellow bros and sisters of the pen and keyboard, let’s re-commit to the 4 writing commandments, shall we? There’s only 4, it’s not like I’m telling you we need to have another 10 like that shaggy haired dude Moses said. BTW, I read a recent article by Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair where it stated that there were actually several different versions of the 10 commandments were mentioned throughout the Bible in different books (Exodus, Dueteronomy, and a couple others if memory serves), which proves the Good Book was a product of man, but that is a topic for another day. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know that my mom recently passed, and I am certain that she’s smiling down on her little boy from Heaven.

But let’s get back to the topic at hand. The Four Writing Commandments are as follows:

1. Keep to a schedule. Don Phillips, a legendary film producer, and a dear friend, told me once, “write every f***ing day.” It keeps you loose, relaxed, and it helps you whittle away the crap. Because, let’s face it, most of everyday life these days, is crap. As writers, we need to clear that crap away. We need to, as King put it,kill our little darlings. Therefore, you need to put ass in chair and crank out the words EVERY DAY in order to throw most of it away.

2. Hire a professional editor. Not mom. Not Aunt Sue. You need a ballbreaker here. Someone that will take the fat red pen and wipe it across your beloved baby without passion or prejudice. If I may, I recommend my editor on my latest novel, The Brink, for the job. His name is Mark Graham at Markgrahamcommunications.com. He’s expensive, but he is worth every frickin’ penny. He helped me transform the way I write. Go, and do likewise.

3. Promote before you publish. Know your publishing date? Even have an inkling of when it will be published? Start the shameless self promotion tour 2011 right now. Who’s your audience? How do you reach them? Who are the area community relations managers at the area bookstores? Will you publish in traditonal or eBook format? Traditional or self-pub? Talk to area library directors and community groups. Make them your friends. Say you’ll be a speaker. Community groups are ALWAYS looking for speakers. Hone your presentation to these groups.

4. Set your publication date. Your new year’s resolution was probably, “I will get published this year.” Don’t let the big publishing houses determine your fate. Sure, it’d be great if you got a juicy book deal. If you don’t, give yourself one. Self-publishing is a viable alternative, a chance to prove to the houses what you’ve got, you can publish an eBook for free on up to paying several thousand for a “self supported” publishing experience. Whatever direction you go, know that you are the master of your own writing destiny. And we only had to go through 4 commandments to realize that.

The Birth of the Conspiracy Thriller

As a writer, one of the coolest things I get to do is talk about books with people. Inevitably, one of the questions I get asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

Whenever I start a story, my main goal is to create a thriller that people cannot put down. Closely behind that goal is my desire to “edutain” or educate people on subjects that they normally wouldn’t want to read about as the murders occur, chases ensue, and suspense builds.

For my latest thriller, The Brink, I studied Dan Brown’s international best seller The Da Vinci Code. Not only is it a great thriller, it educates the reader on religious symbols and history, something that usually invokes a yawn or two. What Brown did for religious history, I wanted to do with another subject, financial history and economic theory. The Brink uses the story of a fugitive cop who helps a woman running for her life to educate the reader about the history of our Federal Reserve banking system and the fragility of the international monetary system.   When the systems that govern our daily lives are ripe for manipulation and outright conspiracy, it becomes an obvious choice for a novelist to come up with a scenario where exactly that occurs.

Want some more info on the history of the world’s banking system? Here’s an excellent video about the Rothschild family, the world’s first banking family and how they came to be the wealthiest and most powerful family in the world. This is just part 1. Please visit Youtube to see the rest.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

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Get a signed copy of The Brink 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING! Visit www.markfadden.com for more information. Hurry, offer ends Nov. 15!

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

“[Mark Fadden] is 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 for less that $10 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.

Direct mail strategies to sell more books, or, really, anything

 

I know what you’re thinking, direct mail is so… done. It went the way of all relics from the 80s, like these two guys and that ‘Choose Life’ t-shirt that’s in the same box up in the attic with your leg warmers and Walkman.

But, a recent study by Exact Target showed that 76% of Internet users are influenced by direct mail when making a purchase online. While direct mail may not close the sale anymore, it can, at least, start the conversation and/or direct people where to go on the web to find you and the internet storefront that sells your books (or jewelry, or leg warmers that might just come full circle and be the next big thing.)

When you get some time, read the post about direct mail strategies on the nextdayflyers.com blog. I use NDF for all of my printing needs (bookmarks, postcards, business cards) Not only are they FAST printers, they have the best prices I have ever seen. (5,000 bookmarks for $165? No one can touch it) AND they have customer service that knocks the bell off every time.

If you’re thinking about doing a direct mail piece to advertise your book as a Christmas gift, now’s the time. It’ll take a few days to create it, and a couple weeks for the turnaround (unless you go the way expensive, overnight route on printing and delivery). That puts us in November. If your book is available at the online stores, it’ll take a week to 10 days for them to ship it out, and don’t forget that shipping gets backed up around the holidays. So let’s say 2 weeks. Yup. Go ahead and order your midnight oil right about now.

If you’re a numbers person, the conversion rate you should be shooting for in your direct mail campaign is 10%. That’s a really high rate, most only get 3-5%, but your goal should be high, right? So get cracking on creating that direct mail piece. You know you want to incorporate some wisecrack about the 80s in it now, don’t you?  That would be totally rad!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

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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

“[Mark Fadden] is 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 for less that $10 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.

Get 20% off AND FREE SHIPPING when you order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate personalized gift at http://shop.markfadden.com/

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.”