Any book lovers in the house?

Like a good college student does with so many different things, much of my online advertising is about experimenting. The blog has been a success. Faceb00k campaigns at Christmas time, also a homerun. But, FB ads haven’t been doing great lately, and now, it seems Google Adwords are failing me, too. At least when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

I thought I had a good ad:

  • Unique Valentine’s gift?
  • Get the heart pumping with an award
  • winning, signed thriller – 20% off!
  • shop.markfadden.com
  • It gave all the pertinent info, attempted to solve the customer’s problem with something unique, and on sale to boot. The ad had over 63,000 impressions, and was clicked on 42 times. Now, here’s the kicker, the cost on this ad was waayyy higher than what I’m used to with my Google ads. They averaged $1.25 each, where I’m used to paying about $.15-$.25 each. Plus, I got not one sale from it. So, it’s back to the drawing board.

    But, maybe it’s time to look at not the ad or the delivery service, but where my potential customers are going. I mean, I had 42 people that were willing to take the time to visit my website. From the ad, they knew they were going onto a thriller writer’s website. But, alas, I couldn’t close the deal. Or is it my site not closing the deal?

    As CEO of MarkFadden.com, I’m making the executive decision to get a real website developer to redesign my site. I did it myself with the help of godaddy.com site builder software and I’m the one that updates it. But I need something better. It is, after all, my storefront, and I need to make it look like I know what I’m doing. It needs to be a pleasant, informative, and exciting experience, or else people won’t stay. They won’t hang out. They’ll go visit James Patterson’s site, and his, I’ll be honest, is really cool.

    So, I’m taking the rest of February to find a designer. Hopefully, I’ll have him or her in place by March and, by the grace of the big guy upstairs, the new and improved MarkFadden.com will go live April 1, and that ain’t no April fools.

    What about you? Do you wish your website was better? How? Was it DYI? Did you hire a designer? Has it evolved over time?

    To the keyboards!

    **********************************************************************

    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 Valentine’s Day gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!

    ‘Tis the season to rock your website shopping cart

    Jingle bells, batman smells… Can’t you almost hear the little neighborhood cherubs lighting up that classic? Yes, Christmas is still almost 3 months away, but put it another way, CHRISTMAS IS LESS THAN 3 MONTHS AWAY!!! And let me ask you this question, my fellow authors, are you selling your books online at your website? I can almost hear the responses. No, Mark I’m not. In fact, my website can’t handle ecommerce. It’s for information purposes only. All of you that don’t have a way for folks to buy your books online at your website, please send me your addresses. I’ll be right over the slap some sense into you.

    In the spirit of evolution (both the ‘Earth is millions of years old’ kind and the ‘Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs just days after the Earth was created a few thousand years ago’ kind – hey, whatever you believe is find with me, the last thing I want to do is offend anyone, I need all the fans I can get!), I am once again changing up the old website, http://www.markfadden.com. Currently, I have my Paypal account linked to my site and people can go through that to buy books. But it’s an involved process, and I’ve found out that I’m losing customers because of the hassle. Therefore, I purchased the ‘quick shopping cart’ module from my webhosting service, godaddy.com. Yes, brothers and sisters of the pen, I have looked into the eyes of Jillian Michaels, the new Godaddy Girl, as she silently taunts me from the godaddy.com homepage to be a better man. I can almost hear her yelling, “being a better man means selling more books, jackass!” Selling more books online means buying a shopping cart module for my site.

    Now, like I did with my kid’s playground, before I bought it, I read through the ‘Quick Shopping Cart’ customer reviews like, “I installed my shopping cart add-on and had it up and running in no time!” and I thought, “Cool. This should only take me a half hour, hour at the most.” Let me just say that, like said playground, it ain’t going quite a quickly as promised. I’ll get back to you when I’m done, but we’re holding at 2 hours right now. Maybe I should call Jillian over to help.

    But here’s a serious part to the shopping cart/ecommerce equation: what about the sales tax? Godaddy even gives you options like the ability to skip the sales tax or charge sales tax depending on your situation. Again, Google to the resecue. I did some research and found an interesting article on the Yahoo! Small Business site. It seems that sales tax should be charged to customers that live in your same state, but there may be a loophole here. Also, there’s a bill in Congress that might just create a national Internet sales tax. Here’s the link to read the article for yourself to determine what you should do for your site: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/r-article-a-2604-m-2-sc-59-sales_tax_on_the_internet_who_pays_it_who_doesnt-i

    Regardless of the tax situation, you need to be selling your books on your website. Especially since the Christmas season is ramping up. Tis the season, let’s all sell some good books!

    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

    “[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.

    Order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate one-of-a-kind gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html

    Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

    August 5, 2010

    Day 52 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:

     

    • Writing topic – Timing the ‘market’
    • Marketing topic – Revamping our websites

     

    Writing topic – Timing the ‘market’

     

    It happened to Dan Brown. And Stephenie Meyer. And Tom Clancy. Financial advisors say that if you try to ‘time the market’, or try to predict when the stock market will go up or down as the basis for your investment philosophy, then you will always lose. Many people have been trying for years, and while some have been lucky, their luck never holds.

     

    But what about the writer’s market? The three aforementioned authors are examples of great writers, but they also were in the right place at the right time. Brown sold a few thousand copies of his first novels and then – bam – along comes a little tale called The Da Vinci Code that highlighted the Opus Dei sect inside the church, just as the scandal about Catholic priests abusing children, which was tied to Opus Dei as well, broke all over the world. Divine intervention not withheld, people across the globe immediately became intrigued with the scandal and they had a book they could immediately turn to that could further their interest in other conspiracies involving the Catholic Church. Meyer’s tale about vampire (and werewolf) love that has spread across the world was started by Anne Rice and even the movies like the Blade trilogy has helped keep our fanged brothers and sisters in the collective consciousness. Was it Meyer’s intent to use characters that have stood the test of time in pop culture? Judge for yourself:

     

     

    And finally Tom Clancy. I love the story of how he came to be one of the most read novelists in history. During his presidency, Reagan was asked what he was reading, and he mentioned an obscure book about a Russian sub captain defecting to the US with the sub in tow. Till then, The Hunt for Red October was a little read novel published by the US Naval Press. News outlets latched onto that story and almost overnight, Clancy was a household name.

     

    While that was an example of pure luck, The Hunt for Red October played on our fears of an escalation of the Cold War, which was still raging at the time.

     

    Timing – how important is it? Should starving novelists, like hungry investors, try to time the next current event to tie in to their novel, or should we say to heck with it, if I want to write about a love story between lepers in the 13th century, that by God I will!  To the keyboards!

     

    Marketing topic – Revamping our websites

     

    My website blows. Okay, that’s a tad harsh. It’s not the best. Being a one-man show, I used one of GoDaddy.com’s templates for the design aspect, and I need to change it. It just doesn’t captivate the look I’m going for. I’ve been looking at James Patterson’s site, Sandra Brown’s site, and Dennis Lehane’s site to get some ideas in order to spruce up the old girl. Some things I’d like to are:

     

    But I have no idea how to do it. I’d call Jimmy, Sandy or Denny, but I seemed to have misplaced their cell numbers. Besides, I’m thinking they have people that run their websites. So what’s a lone wolf to do?

     

    One word: intern.  I’m not talking pulling a Kramer from Seinfeld and hiring an intern at Kramerica Industries (Fadtasktik, Inc. does have a certain ring to it, though). No, I’m talking about getting some fresh out of college kid who’s willing to spruce up the old resume with a website redevelopment project. Now, to find said fertile, IT minded soul who will work for that most coveted word, wait for it, experience. Google ‘website development project’? Ad on monster for a website programmer? Craigslist for web designer? Local college newspaper want ads? Networking with the locals? One of them has to know a kid who could inject some pizzazz into www.markfadden.com. I’m sure the Russians, and now Indians, that are visiting the site in high numbers would love to see some new, cool effects. And, dear reader, if you know anyone, send them my way please.

    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…