Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 23, 2010

Day 70 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?
  • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords – the only constant is change

Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?

I was actually going to talk about the topic, “Should novelists try to educate through their work?” But after going back through old posts, I realized we already covered that one. But as I was researching one of the greatest ‘teaching novels,’ To Kill a Mockingbird, I came across a fascinating word: bildungsroman. The official definition of bildungsroman in Wikipedia is, “is a genre of the novel which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood.” We Americans refer to it as the ‘coming of age’ story. Now, the YA genre is filled with novels dripping with bildungsroman: the aforementioned To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson novels, and Great Expectations, just to name a few. But, does that mean that it must only occur in YA novels? I never found the German word for adult novels where the characters also “come of age” during the story, but as I thought about it, I’ve always connected with those characters that mature psychologically and morally during the story. What about you? Are the flawed heroes your favorite? What are the books that contain their stories?    

Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, the only constant is change

Last week, I started doing ads on Google AdWords. As I mentioned in a previous post, while Facebook allows you to include a pic with your ad, Facebook doesn’t track which keywords are working for you, and which aren’t. Facebook only allows you to send your ad out to one group of people, say ones that listed, “reading” as a hobby. With Google, you can get really specific. For example, my ad last week was:

The keywords I listed, in order from most to least clicked were: “double-dip recession” 7 clicks; “financial crisis” 4 clicks; “award winning thriller” 2 clicks; “best political thrillers” 0 clicks; and “US bankrupt” 0 clicks. My daily budget is $10, and I have a maximum bid of $1 per click.

I’m changing up the ad and the groups of people that will see it.

Here’s the new ad:

The Bilderberg Group, which is the secret society referred to in the novel, has been in the news lately. Both Rush Limbaugh and Fidel Castro are talking about them. Anyway, I’ve changed the keywords associated with this new ad to “Bilderberg”; “Bilderberg Group”; “New World Order”;  and I’ve kept “financial crisis”; “award winning thriller”; and “best political thrillers.” I’ll have some new numbers for this ad in tomorrow’s post.

Until then, I’ve got to go play tooth fairy tonight. Anyone got a good idea about the going rate for the 2nd tooth?

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 18, 2010

Day 65 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Finally, June #s are in!
  • Writing topic – Your first words
  • Marketing Topic – New Google AdWords campaign
  • Something Funny – Finally, ‘Beer Goggles’ phenomenon explained!


Finally, June #s are in!

After waiting almost two long months, June’s sales #s are in. 89 books for the month brings us to a grand total of 246 for May and June. Not bad, but we can and will do better.

Writing Topic – Your first words

Your first sentence. As writers, we’ve been told it sets the hook. It opens the door to the world we’ve created. It could mean the difference between a reader moving to the next sentence or putting your book back on the shelf and moving on down the row.

But how important is the first sentence, really? Does it set the hook, and the tone, for the entire novel? Or, much like a baby’s first words, could it just be a forgotten series of letters by the time your reader gets into the meat of your story?

Here are the first sentences from my novels:

“Joel Basher crashed through the front doors of the Library of Congress.” – The Brink

“A jumper with a death wish.” – Five Days in Dallas

“The blood wouldn’t leave.” – The Campaign

Here are some rather awesome intros, otherwise known as best first sentences:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Anna Karenina – by Leo Tolstoy

“I was born twice: first as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” – Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Mark was eleven and had been smoking off and on for two years, never trying to quit but being careful not to get hooked. He preferred Kools, his father’s brand, but his mother smoked Virginia Slims at the rate of two packs a day, and he could in an average week pilfer ten or twelve from her. She was a busy woman with many problems, perhaps a little naive when it came to her boys, and she never dreamed her eldest would be smoking at the age of eleven.” – The Client by John Grisham

“All children, except one, grow.” – Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

Now, here are some rather plain first sentences from some powerhouse novels:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.” – from The Lovely Bones by Alice Seibold

“Call me Ishmael.” – Moby Dick by Herman Melville

“Call me Jonah” – Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Call it. How important is the first sentence? To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – New Google AdWords campaign

Last month (July 2010) was Facebook ad month. While I did have several ads with high click-through rates, I won’t know if that translates into books sold until the end of next month (2 month time lag for book sales reports)

This month, I’m turning to Google AdWords. AdWords is set up very similar to Facebook ads, with that little Google something extra. Not only does it allow you to track how many people click on your ad, but it allows you to determine which tags are getting action and which are sitting on the sidelines like a third string punter.

As I just set up my ad last night, today is my first full day running it. I’ll let you know how Day1 goes tomorrow.

BTW, here’s the ad:



Something Funny – Finally, ‘Beer Goggles’ phenomenon explained!

I can’t believe they actually did not one, but two studies on this, but scientists have finally explained the “beer goggle” effect. The best part about it is that they researched “drunked college kids” and consulted a professional periodical called the ‘Journal Alcohol.’

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…