The perfect holiday for book lovers

“Book lovers.”

The term has been around as long as Romeo and Juliet, or maybe even Adam and Eve. Well, what better way to sell your book than to sell it to a book lover. And what holiday is just around the corner that’s all about love?

As I’ve stated in past blogs, I’ve given up on Facebook ads to drive people to my online storefront. The popular notion is that once people are on FB, they want to stay there. I’ve been toying with a new FB ad about driving more people to my FB author site, but that’s for another blog entry.

So, in order to drum up some sales for Valentine’s Day, I turn to old faithful, Google Adwords. Here’s the skinny:

1. Keyword tool – through using Google’s keyword tool, I found out that terms like “gift book”, “valentine book”, “valentine gifts for him”, and “valentines books” have high monthly searches and low competition.

2. Ad creation – I created a text ad, here it is:

  • Unique Valentine’s gift?
  • Get the heart pumping with an award
  • winning, signed thriller – 20% off!
  • shop.markfadden.com
  • I think it’s pretty good, the title is addressing the person’s concern about wanting a unique gift, it gives them info about the fact that my book is a thriller that won an award, and it’s 20% off.

    Today was the first day to run the ad, so we’ll see how it goes.

    What about you? Are you planning any special Valentine sales campaigns? If so, do share…To the keyboards!

    Special note about the blog – From now on, new “Beyond the Book” posts will go out  on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

    A writer’s secret weapon

    As writers, only the boundaries of our imagination can contain our actions. But, our actions in the book marketing world is a very different story. We have a daily Google Adwords budget. Or a weekly Facebook ad budget. We probably have a budget for how much we’re willing to spend on an ad in the local newspaper to promote a book signing. We probably compare the quote from prweb.com and inewswire.com to see how much bang for the buck we can get on our latest news release. Because we are working with small budgets and razor-thin margins, it is like finding the Holy Grail itself when we discover a HIGH QUALITY way to promote ourselves to our readers that has a SIZZLING ROI (return on investment).

    A FANTASTIC tool to use to introduce yourself and your latest book to people that will very likely want to read it is www.meetup.com. The website is a network of local groups, anything from Beer Lovers (of which I’m a member) to a number of book clubs. All you need to do is register, type in your zip code and the words “book clubs” into the search window and viola! You can see which clubs would be interested in reading your book and even contact them. And did I mention that it’s FREE to join meetup.com?

    I’ve met several organizers of book clubs through meetup.com. While, in my email, I give the synopsis of the book, I also always ask the organizer if he/she would like a free review copy of my book to see if they would be interested in their club selecting it for an upcoming meeting. To increase your chances of getting your book selected, make yourself available for the meeting when they review it.  Book club meetings are fantastic! You have access to people that will provide quality feedback, wine and/or beer is typically served and the snacks are usually kick ass, even better than a sheep strapped with a rocket launcher.  Seriously, if you haven’t already, join meetup.com. You’ll be very glad you did.

    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

    September 14, 2010

    Day 90 of 365

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

    In this issue:

    • Marketing Topic – The only constant is change
    • Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery – the results of Day 1

    Marketing Topic – The only constant is change

    I completely changed the look of my website, and added a shopping cart that allows people to buy signed books straight from me, since I just got a big shipment of books in. By allowing people to buy straight from me, not only does it give me a larger share of the profit on each book, it allows me to track my sales in real time, which allows me to better manage my advertising campaigns.  

    Check it out at www.markfadden.com and let me know what you think.

    Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery – the results of Day 1

    Last night I shared my latest ad campaign, aimed squarely at the Asian countries. In my research about the financial crisis, I came across a book called Currency Wars by Song Hongbing. Released in 2007, it sold over 200,000 copies in China and was even bedtime reading selections by some of the highest finance and government officials in China. To quote an article on the book, Currency Wars, “After all, the root of the world’s problems for nearly a century – from the Great Depression to the Asian financial crisis – is Wall Street’s manipulation of the global financial system, he says. China should be prepared to fight ‘bloodless wars’ waged by ‘evil forces’ like the US Federal Reserve aimed at destroying the Chinese economy, Mr. Song’s book concludes.” The book has also had a recent resurgence of popularity. So why all the Chinese attention? Because economic nationalism is at an all-time high in China. Many Chinese think that their country should flex its economic muscles to become the world’s leading superpower.

    Anyway, I’m hoping to capitalize on the popularity of this book and I placed the following ad in a Google AdWords campaign:

    The results? I got 150 clicks today and maxed out my daily budget. Again, I’m going to start selling signed books straight from the site through a Paypal shopping cart, so we will now hopefully see sales numbers in real time, which can help determine what kind of advertising is working.

    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

    Ahhh, vacation. Alas, it was with the kids, so not a real vacation, merely a “trip.” Anyway, vacation is over. Did you miss me? I hope not too much. I’ll stop yammering because we’ve got two great topics tonight…

    September 13, 2010

    Day 89 of 365

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

    In this issue:

    • Writing topic – Characters, Story and Sly Stallone
    • Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery

    Writing topic – Characters, Story and Sly Stallone

    One of the “best of” blogs tonight on WordPress was from Kristen Lamb’s blog entitled, “What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.”

    Lamb makes several very interesting points about J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movie, including that:

    1. Star Trek proved that imperfect characters resonate with audiences.
    2. Star Trek perfected showing, not telling
    3. Star Trek employed parsimony.
    4. Star Trek showed character via relativity
    5. Star Trek relied on character and story

    Basically, Lamb reminds us that no matter how much CGI or how many gadgets are in the story, it’s still ABOUT THE STORY, and the characters. We should never forget that.

    Lamb also invited comments about other movies that are good examples of keeping the focus on character and story. I wrote the following reply:

    I know I’m going to get A LOT of grief for this, but I’m putting it out there anyway. You want a movie(s) that are all about characters and that are concentrate on the story between them? How about the Rocky series? Better yet, except for Stop or my Mom Will Shoot, how about anything done by Sylvester Stallone? Go beyond the muscles and the one-liners of the Rocky movies and even Rambo, and you will find movies that explore the depths of REAL human emotion – love, anger, regret, despair, ambition, and achievement. Rocky is basically a love story, first with Rocky and Adrian and then with Rocky and his family, especially his son (in the last one). Talk about flawed characters…Rocky starts out as a leg breaker for a local loan shark who gets a once in a lifetime chance to use the only skill he has to pick himself up out of his rotten existence to make something better for himself. He is someone we cheer for because, like Kirk in Abrams Star Trek, he is the underdog, a short, slow, southpaw with only his incredible will and heart to keep him going. In the Rambo movies, Stallone shows us a man who is a perfect killing machine. Rambo recognizes this characteristic in himself and, when he tries for any kind of normal existence, he is not allowed to have it because of his fate. Time and again, when the powers that be call on him to come to the rescue, he begrudgingly does it because he realizes that war is his home, killing is what he does. In Cliffhanger, Sly must deal with the pain and regret of dropping his best friend’s girlfriend during a high mountain rescue, which leads to her death. After hiding out in another life for years, he comes back for the woman he loves and decides to help stranded climbers, and ultimately faces his fears and his friend, a tale of regret evolves into one of forgiveness…with a really cool story about thieves among the backdrop of some incredible mountains. A fantastic combination that makes for a heck of a story.

    I will go on record as saying that Sly Stallone is one of the greatest storytellers of modern time! Once you really think about many of his movies, you might find yourself agreeing with me.

    Comments? Thoughts on my sobriety after reading the above entry? A fellow Stallone fan? To the keyboards!

    Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery

    Since things are still heating up on the global financial crisis front lately, with the Bank of Japan warning it’s going to do something big soon to help save the country from deflation, and many other countries trying desperately to keep themselves from going Greek, I’m trying to keep The Brink in the news by creating news releases with a financial, if conspiratorial, angle. In my research about the financial crisis, I came across a book called Currency Wars by Song Hongbing. Released in 2007, it sold over 200,000 copies in China and was even bedtime reading selections by some of the highest finance and government officials in China. To quote an article on the book, Currency Wars, “After all, the root of the world’s problems for nearly a century – from the Great Depression to the Asian financial crisis – is Wall Street’s manipulation of the global financial system, he says. China should be prepared to fight ‘bloodless wars’ waged by ‘evil forces’ like the US Federal Reserve aimed at destroying the Chinese economy, Mr. Song’s book concludes.” The book has also had a recent resurgence of popularity. So why all the Chinese attention? Because economic nationalism is at an all-time high in China. Many Chinese think that their country should flex its economic muscles to become the world’s leading superpower.

    So, how does this situation affect little old me? Google. It always comes back to Google. I am targeting a Google AdWords campaign in China with the following ad:

    I’m doing the ad for 2 days, with a CPC of $.40 and a $25 daily budget. So we’ll go fishing and see what we get. Since The Brink covers similar topics from Currency Wars, it only makes sense to use that relationship in the marketing effort. People are always looking for books on similar topics, and using other book titles is a great way to do a little marketing piggy-backing.

    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 24, 2010

    Day 71 of 365

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

    In this issue:

    • Writing topic – To Prologue or Not To Prologue?
    • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 3 and Yippee!

    Writing topic – To Prologue or Not To Prologue?

    So now that my kids are back in school, and I have some more peace and quiet around the house (I work from home, which meant a lot of late nights during the summer to churn out freelance projects while I was “Mr. Mom-ing” it during the day – but I wouldn’t have given up a second of it.) That means it’s time to start churning out the next novel. My main intention of this blog was to provide a chronology of my book marketing efforts so you could see which worked well and which crashed and burned. However, since I’ve decided to write another novel this year, I will be blogging about that effort in the “Writing Topic” section. So, if you are a budding novelist, or know someone who is, I’ll be kickstarting the old noggin tomorrow to get it in shape for the next novel.

    That brings us to tonight’s topic – you lika da prologue-a? Prologues typically set up the main story by providing some backstory info. Sometimes, it will be an event that happens later in the book, like a juicy murder scene or some breathless action event. Some critics say that prologues are signs of a weak book. Like a crutch, the prologue props up an otherwise lackluster story that can’t stand on it’s own. It is the prologue that hooks the reader, and then drags them through misery for the next 400 pages.

    I vacillated back and forth between prologue or no prologue for the next book. It’s a murder mystery and the opening murder scene was, I thought, some of my best work. It was its own separate scene, so I decided it must be the prologue. Then, I thought about what Stephen King said in On Writing, about how you should “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” The scene really didn’t fit because the pace wasn’t there and it had no ties to anything else in the story, so out came the sickle and slice! Thank you again Mr. King for lighting the way.

    Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 3 and Yippee!

    Yesterday’s post mentioned that I changed up the ads. And viola! It seems I may be getting better at this AdWord stuff.

    Here’s the new ad:

    I got quite a lot of hits pretty quickly and my $10 a day budget was topped out before I knew it. Here are the keywords associated with this new ad and the # of clicks for each: “Bilderberg” 9 clicks; “Bilderberg Group” 4 clicks; “New World Order” 18 clicks. Again, the sinister secret society in the book that our hero and heroine are running from are based on the real-life Bilderberg Group, which is said to be planning a One World Government through a combination of efforts including bankrupting the world and social engineering. During the Xmas holiday season, I’ll ramp these ads up a bit.

    I also created a second ad. With Labor Day right around the corner and people looking for a good Labor Day read, I am trying to direct them to my amazon page where they can get the book 22% off and get it shipped in time for Labor Day.

    Here it is:

    Why the “finish it on your vacation” part? Simple. One thing that people have been commenting on about The Brink is that it’s so fast paced and “unputdownable.” One customer review stated that he finished it in a day and a half!  If people are looking for something to take them away over Labor Day, which is only 3 days, they want something they can finish. It makes them feel like they accomplished something in those three days. If not, they feel like its yet another task on their to-do list if they have to finish it once they come back off vacation and into the real world. Of course, that’s just my theory, and it could be a naive one. I guess only time will tell if the ad works or not.  

    Keywords on this one include: thriller books, crime thriller books, new mystery books, mystery and thrillers, and good mystery books. I just created it in the past hour, so no info yet. Stay tuned until tomorrow’s post.

    There is one problem, though. Since the ad is small and doesn’t allow for many words, I can’t tell customers that once they order it, they can then go to markfadden.com to get their book signed for free. And ad about buying a signed book will also be a huge part of the xmas ad campaign.      

    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 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…  

     

    August 19, 2010

    Day 66 of 365

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

    In this issue: 

    • Writing topic – Trapped in the ‘Net
    • Marketing Topic – First day of Google AdWords was a scorcher!

    Writing topic – Trapped in the ‘Net

    We all know that Big Brother’s been spying on people over the Internet since they were doing it to Sandra Bullock in the 1995 thriller The Net. When I say the word ‘cookie’, you probably know it’s 1) a delicious treat and 2) it’s a tidbit of information stored on your computer that tracks where you’ve been on the Internet. But do you know about ‘beacons?’ They are other intrusive trackers that try to determine why you are on a page. On NPR’s Fresh Air program today, the show was “Tracking the companes that track you online.” They were talking about Internet privacy, cookies, and beacons. Now, if you’re a conspiracy lover like moi, there are all sorts of ways to incorporate this story into your novel. Or maybe take it to the next level with a new kind of Internet, one say 20 years from now that has evolved using this tracking technology. What would it look like? What kind of crimes could be committed using it? How would our hero in the story figure out whodunit?

    Marketing Topic – First day of Google AdWords was a scorcher!

    Well, I hope I’m not a one hit wonder. On my first day with Google AdWords, I got 1 hit. Kick the tires and light the fires! My ad budget is $10/day and my default bid per ad is $.75. Here’s the ad:

     And here’s a screenshot of the ad’s performance:

     

     

    The keyword “double-dip recession” got the most impression and also got the hit. If you remember, my Facebook ads were getting in the tens and hundreds of thousand of impressions per day. On Google, I got 1,032. I’m going to up my bid and see what happens, especially since most keywords got very little impressions. More tomorrow night as the Google AdWords campaign rolls on.

     

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

    Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…