Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 9, 2010

Day 56 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 – Writing, The Drinking Game – the results
  • Marketing Topic –  Radio, Radio, where for art thou? Does thou even matter to scribes henceforth?

 

Writing topic – Writing, The Drinking Game – the results

 On Friday, I shared the thought that wrapped around my head as I waited to hear from my publisher about June’s sales #s. (Got an email late today – since most sales came from 3rd parties and not direct from publisher, the lag time is 60 days!!! That means Sept for June’s #s! There’s got to be a better way.) Why are many of the great writers also great drinkers? I came across the Reader’s Drinking Game and thought I’d put a twist on it to come up with the Writer’s Drinking Game. To review, here are some introductory rules:

  1.  Chug a beer after you come up with a title (a good one, not just some lame filler to be changed later)
  2. Drink at every new paragraph
  3. Drink at the end of every page
  4. If your novel’s setting is anywhere south of Dallas, Texas, make a mojito (here’s the video)

turn on some Tito Puente (RIP) and dance around while you finish it. North of Dallas? Enjoy some Scotch to Led Zeppelin.

5. If there’s a redneck character in your story, shotgun a Keystone. If it’s a woman of means who knows who she is, perhaps the matriarch of the family, how about sipping a Rob Roy?

6. Any 5 syllable or more words? Drink whatever’s handy. Not vanilla extract. That’s a little too desperate.

7. A semicolon deserves half the beer; a colon: down the whole thing.

8. If you’re sitting in a Starbucks while you’re working, get up, go to the nearest bar that has wi-fi (for research, not to watch movies or go on Facebook while your half in the bag) and get 3 shots of Cutty Sark and a PBR tall boy (which now costs $44 in China!) and just let all that ride over you for the next hour or so while you bang out four pages of excellence.

9. This one was for you to come up with, call it a homework assignment…

Okay, so I must admit, I didn’t follow through with even attempting this game this weekend. I had a radio show (subject of tonight’s marketing topic) and a signing, then a 25 mile bike ride sponsored by our town’s newest bike shop, and then some work to catch up on Sunday afternoon. Did anyone else try it? There’s no shortage of reading drinking games, but I do believe this is the first one for us writers. We are breaking new ground here people! Making history if you will.  I’m talking Wright brothers and Neil Armstrong territory. Don’t think of it as a waste of time, think of it as the great literature experiment. I’ve got 2 signings this weekend, so maybe next weekend would be the perfect time to experiment. If you’ve got a free day tomorrow, try it tonight. And let us know how it goes in the comment section.   

 

Marketing Topic – Radio, Radio, where for art thou? Does thou even matter to scribes henceforth?

 

Does anyone listen to the radio anymore? I’m not talking the Top 40 kind that has a playlist of six songs and Ryan Seacrest seems to be talking on it most of the time. I’m talking about the community, non-profit kind that has shows like “The Trading Post” where people can call in and go on the air with what they’re selling or wanting to buy. How about “The Noontime Jamboree”, or “Nighttime Noir.”  Radio is yet another format in which to spread our message for not a lot of money. Simply contact your local community radio station and see if they have a show where they interview local authors. Get booked and go on and talk about your masterpiece. But you may be thinking, “No one listens to community radio anymore. Why bother?” For several reasons, my young Jedi. One, many people listen to community radio in our digital age. Two, GET A COPY OF THE INTERVIEW AND TREAT IT LIKE THE BAR OF SOLID GOLD THAT IT IS. First, put a version of the interview on your website so people can listen to it. Many readers want to know what makes an author tick. The more interviews you can put on your site, the better. Second, write up a news release about the interview and send it out to the local papers. Make sure to take a picture of yourself with the headphones on in front of the mike like this one:

 

  And then make sure to include it in the news release. Here’s mine I did after my interview:

The next economic crash is subject of former resident’s latest thriller

 

Former Weatherford resident Mark Fadden was in town on Saturday promoting his latest thriller, The Brink, on QXFM’s “Books and Authors” radio show. During the show, Fadden shed some light on the enormous, and real, problem that could topple the United States any day, which is the underlying plot of the book. “Many experts predict that the next economic bubble waiting to burst is the federal government debt bubble. The US is $14 trillion in debt. We have a $1.5 trillion deficit. We need to borrow $2 billion each and every day from foreign countries like Japan and China just to keep the federal government running. For a writer, the basic question we ask ourselves is “What if?” So I asked, ‘What if China and Japan stopped their investments? The story, which has evolved along with our own dangerous financial situation, just grew from there.” It is this dangerous financial situation, which Fadden spent years researching, that becomes the focus of the story after fugitive lawman Danny Cavanaugh helps a woman running for her life, only to get sucked into a secret society’s plot to create financial Armageddon.

The Brink is Fadden’s third novel and is a continuation of his first novel, Five Days in Dallas. Published in 2003, Five Days in Dallas received critical acclaim and Fadden himself was even called a “masterful storyteller” by a Writer’s Digest reviewer. Fadden, who now lives in Colleyville, then began working on the follow-up in 2006, which eventually became The Brink. “I’m really proud of it,” Fadden said of his latest thriller, which has won two awards from its publisher. “It explodes off the first page and maintains that action-packed pace to the very last paragraph. It also delivers the level of suspense that thriller readers have come to expect with a plot that couldn’t be more current. There’s great chemistry between the two main characters. They’re both strong personalities, but each struggles with deep inner conflict that has shaped who they are.”

While writing The Brink allowed Fadden to navigate the complex world of economics and politics, it’s his lead character that he’s still trying to understand. “Danny Cavanaugh is an interesting guy. He has this unstoppable desire to help his fellow man, but he has also made some bad choices that have put him in a precarious position. When The Brink opens, he’s hiding out in Mexico contemplating suicide; not exactly a typical hero’s situation, but that’s what makes him relatable. We’ve all faced situations where we want to give up, where things seem insurmountable, but something deep inside keeps us going.”

 The first 22 pages of The Brink can be read at markfadden.com.  Fadden has also created a blog about writing novels and book marketing using social media entitled “The Nightstand Diaries,” which can be read at markfadden.wordpress.com.

  

 

Finally, want to get on your local news station’s morning show but never been on TV before? Send them the radio interview, providing you didn’t suck, to show them that you can talk with a mike in front of you. If you’re radio gold, chances are you’d be TV gold as well.

 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 16, 2010

Day 32 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 – a new Borders coupon means a new ad for this guy        
  • Having fun with Girls in the Stacks.  

FB ad round-up

You gotta love the big bookstores. Like waves rolling into the beach, one sale ends and another is right behind it. Borders has been good to me, letting me sell myself at their stores around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, so I’m sticking with them for the Facebook ads. Here’s the new one I created as part of their July 16-19 25% off sale. It incorporates last night’s video interview with the Girls in the Stacks (GITS):

Need a good book?

Check out Mark Fadden’s latest interview about his new award-winning thriller and get the promo code for 25% off his books.

I’m keeping my $20 a day budget and I did a $.49 bid CPC (cost per click).  By the way, the 25% off promo code for Borders.com is BHN7798F. Enjoy! But hurry, sale ends 7/19.

Having fun with The Girls in the Stacks

When doing an interview, you couldn’t ask for a better duo than Stacy and Nancy. The Girls in the Stacks (GITS) asked great questions and the Colleyville Borders bookstore was extremely generous in letting us use their store for the venue. Plus, Stacy used a Flip camera to film us, a way cool little gadget. If you’re not familiar with them, it’s a plug and play video camera – just record your video, flip out the USB adapter and voila! Your video’s on the Internet! Okay, there’s a few steps between those, but if I went into them, I couldn’t have used voila! Here’s the link to the video:

While we covered the items that I suggested in an email prior to the interview, they also wanted to know what’s in my “stack.” I am currently reading Heat, an awesome book about a guy who spends a year being a cook (read “slave”) in Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant. He also tells the stories of some of the other cooks and how they dedicate themselves to their craft, (i.e. spending 6 months at a restaurant in Italy for no pay just to learn how to make pasta the right way) Anyone who cooks would love this book.

But back to the interview. Stacy sent it to me this morning and I put it up on my website ASAP. (As you’ll see, I also changed the headline of my site to reflect the new Borders coupon.) Video is extremely important, and an interview shows a more human side to you. The more people that watch you on video and see who the human is behind the name on the book cover, the more likely they are to buy a book.  Unless you come off like a complete ass, so don’t do that.

By the way, how’d you do on your homework assignment? Did you do your list of 5 uses for videos to sell your books? Did you get 10?  Nice work!

I also emailed the video to my contact at Good Morning Texas. In a previous post, I mentioned how I’m trying to get on that show, hopefully on the same day I’m doing a signing at the Dallas Uptown Borders store (can’t you just smell the cross-promotion?) Why did I do that you ask? I wanted to show her that I wouldn’t crash and burn in front of a camera.

By the way, the interview cost me nothing to do. As Stacy remarked, GITS is a “labor of love” for them. God bless ‘em.

As always, I hope I’ve presented information today that you can use. If you’d like more, or have a question, by all means send it to me at mark@markfadden.com. 

Have a great weekend. No signings this weekend, but next weekend I’ll be busier than a cow’s tongue in a salt lick. We’ll talk on Monday. Till 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 12, 2010

Day 28 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:

  • Recap on the Lewisville Borders signing
  • A new FB ad with a new angle
  • Good Morning, Texas!  

 Recap on the Lewisville Borders signing

 First, the numbers:

2 hours (1-3pm) – time spent at the signing

# of books sold – 10

# of stars of the restaurant where I could take my wife for dinner with my profits from the signing – 3, but we went to Twisted Root Burgers instead and saved the rest for running shoes to run off the fat-tastic calories of said meal.

But, here are arguably the most important numbers:

# of bookmarks handed out – 38

# of news outlets that got the following news release after the signing – 4:

 Lewisville is on ‘The Brink’

Lewisville Borders hosts local author for a book signing

 

Stephanee Talley of Lewisville with Mark Fadden

Even though there’s already a copy of Mark Fadden’s latest thriller in his house, Bret Talley had to buy his own copy. “My wife already read it, and has been on me every day, telling me I’ve got to read this book, but she keeps lending it out to other people,” Talley said. “So I came here to buy my own copy.”

As part of his summer DFW book tour, author Mark Fadden stopped by the Lewisville Borders book store on Saturday to talk about and sign copies of The Brink. In it, a fugitive cop and a brilliant beauty must race from Mexico to Washington, D.C. to stop a secret society’s plan for global financial Armageddon. The plot, which relies on real-world economic theories and financial numbers, took Fadden over a year to research before he started the rough draft. “I wrote the book a few years ago after I began listening to economic experts telling us how dire our country’s financial condition is. It’s truly frightening how some of the aspects of the book are actually coming true as the condition of the world’s economy gets worse.”               

The Brink, which is Fadden’s third published novel, is not only enjoying stellar reviews from critics and readers alike, the book has won two awards from its publisher and Fadden has been called a “masterful storyteller,” by a Writer’s Digest reviewer.

 “The signing went really well,” said General Manager Marion Orso. “Mark sold several copies and brought in a lot of traffic.” During the Lewisville Borders visit, Fadden talked with several customers about the writing process. He also got many questions about what he’s doing to market the book, a subject that he covers in his blog The Nightstand Diaries, which can be read at www.markfadden.wordpress.com. “While getting a book published is an enormous achievement, it is only when our books become part of our readers’ lives, when they enjoy them during their commute or read them as part of their ‘me’ time ritual before going to bed, that we as writers have truly reached our goals.”

The Lewisville Borders staff already invited Fadden back during the month of October, when people begin shopping for Christmas. Fadden has several more stops throughout DFW on his book tour, including The Book Carriage in Roanoke and the uptown Dallas Borders store. Readers can log onto www.markfadden.com for tour dates and to preview Mark’s books.  

And let me share a little nugget here. A few years back, I attended an evening with James Patterson at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. One of the stories he told is about one of the first signings he ever did at the World Trade Center. He was sitting behind a table in the middle of the busy hallway with books stacked around him, and not one person stopped. And speaking of zero sales, my mother clipped an article for me about book marketing. Leon Hale, a long time writer for the Houston Chronicle recently shared this memory of signing of similar success:  “I appeared for a book signing and two people came, and one of those was the publisher’s rep. And the other one didn’t buy a book.” Hale’s blog is at www.blogs.chron.com/leonhale.

I see signings as a way to reach people with more information through 2 ways: one, through news releases and two, periodically wandering through the store and handing out as many bookmarks as you can during the event. Not only can you get coverage from local papers and PR wire services alike before the event, the real money shot comes after. A signing gives you a chance for a photo op with a fan and a quote from the book store manager, which is PR gold. Plus, I updated my FB wall with the news release and had one person buy an ebook from that and it reminded a friend of mine to buy a couple of books as well. The news release is my favorite marketing piece because it works on so many levels.  

All told, I spent around 8 hours on the Lewisville signing, which is broken down as follows:

  • Scheduling the event (time on the phone)
  • Creating the news releases (pre and post event)
  • Creating and getting in-store posters printed
  • Contacting local news outlets and sending them the releases
  • Taking the posters to the store and meeting the staff before the event
  • The book signing itself

 Just remember. The signing isn’t just about the signing. It’s another way to get your name out there in media-world.

 

A new FB ad with a new angle

As July is my Facebook ad month, I ran an ad for the Lewisville signing. And while 62 people clicked on it, not one who was there mentioned anything about the ad. I might try one more for the Borders signing I’m doing in Allen, Texas on July 30, but if that doesn’t hit, then ads for signings are done.

I also changed the “US const. article found!” ad, which went nowhere fast, with the following one:

read a 5-star thriller!

Get Mark Fadden’s latest, a 5-star customer reviewed thriller, in eBook for $9 or get a signed copy at markfadden.com.

 It’s still being reviewed, but it should get some significant #s by tomorrow.

 

Good Morning, Texas!

 A little birdie told me that she and her business partner got on Good Morning, Texas, a TV show on our local ABC affiliate. The birdie’s name is Alicia Segal and their business is called Simply Done Gifts. Anyway, here’s the email I sent to the GMT contact (for the sake of brevity and your eyeballs, news releases are not included, you’ve already read them in previous blogs):

 I’m a local author (Colleyville resident) who is currently in the midst of a book tour in the DFW area. Alicia Segal of Simply Done Gifts has been on your show and gave me your email as the person to contact about coming on Good Morning Texas.

 My latest political thriller, The Brink (published in May 2010), follows a fugitive Texas Ranger as he helps a brilliant beauty race from Mexico to Washington, D.C. to stop a secret society’s plan for global financial Armageddon. While I began the novel over three years ago, including completing a year’s worth of research into economic theories and real-world financial numbers that I use to make The Brink more realistic, the financial firestorm that continues to sweep across the planet dovetails almost directly with the plot. Chillingly current to say the least.

I have a signing coming up on Friday, August 13th from 5-7pm at the Dallas Uptown Borders store and I thought an appearance on GMT that morning would be perfect way to promote it. To get a better feel for an angle you might use in a segment, I’ve included a few recent news items below:

  1. The press release for the Uptown Borders signing.
  2. The latest news release from a signing I did on Saturday at the Lewisville Borders bookstore.
  3. An article about me winning Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Father’s Day Honors” Award in 360 West magazine.

 I’d love to visit with you about a possible appearance on the show. You can check out more about me and even preview the first 22 pages of The Brink at www.markfadden.com. Please let me know if I can provide you with any more information.

 Thanks so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

 Best,

 Mark

 The email took me about an hour to put together, so not much time for what could potentially be a huge ROI. It would be awesome to get on TV. I just hope I don’t puke on the set from nerves…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…