Vocus Social Media Strategy App – very Cool and very Free

Social media is perhaps the only way that we unsung heroes of our own life stories, aka the novel writer, has a chance to shout out our worthiness to the world. “Here I am! Here’s my book! It’s won awards! It is worthy of your time, trust me!” Dallas/Fort Worth’s own social media guru Kristen Lamb, who is the writer’s best friend when it comes to social media, probably put it best about SM for writers: “Another key tactic to managing social media is to create friendships and community. When we all work together, creating a platform is far easier. We can rely on others to help us if we actively seek to help and support them. I liken it to a barn-raising. When we all do a little for each other, big jobs suddenly become more manageable. Since we aren’t doing everything alone, we need to spend far less time on social media to still be effective.This is one of the reasons that using traditional marketing tactics on social media is so ineffective.”

Because understanding SM and using it effectively is such a HUGE deal for us writers, I wanted to take these next two days to talk about the VOCUS social media strategy App. Vocus took the best of their social media research, including their 2010-2011 benchmark reports and turned it into an interactive tool that lets the user create a custom strategy tailored exactly to our needs. Here’s a description of the app in a nutshell: “In just six steps, you drag–and–drop your goals, answer questions and select the route and resources that are right for you. The tool does the rest, building you a 35–page workbook with a detailed plan based on your choices. You’ll find insight, next steps, worksheets, links to resources, and data that shows you where you stand compared to your industry peers.”

I’ve already done this and it gave me multiple articles and pdfs to research for my specific goals. So, go ahead and try it out, it takes about 10 minutes and its free. Like me, you may be surprised at what your SM goals are versus what they should be. We’ll go over my results in tomorrow’s post. Happy strategizing!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Tools for Tuesday – I’m on Twitter (finally) and ohhh, it feels so good!

Like many folks approaching 40, I do not have a deft hand when it comes to the social media. In fact, to show my social media awkwardness, I just got on “the Twitter” as Betty White calls it a couple days ago and I’m still a tad gun shy about using it. Today, I got an email about a fellow writer, Don McGraw, who is now following me. My first follower! I’d do the Cher line here from the Oscar’s all those years ago, but it’s way overdone. Don has an impressive Twitter page and he Tweets as one of his characters (Will Hogarth). Pretty cool idea.

Have you been on Twitter yet? I first dismissed it as a way for bored teenagers to tell the world just how bored they were. But, after surfing it a bit I’ve found that it’s a great way for authors, or anyone who not only sells a product, but to build a relationship around that product with customers. I just tweeted about the Atlantic Monthly article I read and blogged about yesterday on the Casey Anthony trial and why the media covers certain mysteries while others get no coverage.

There’s so much to talk about on the Twitter topic, we could talk about it every Tuesday and call it “Twitter Tuesday.” But, alas, Kristen Lamb, social media for writers guru extraordinaire already has that title spoken for. So let’s keep it Tools for Tuesday. If you’ve got a great story of how you’ve used Twitter to reach your readers, do share!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

The future of publishing, part 2 of 2

As I blogged about yesterday, and to give a nod to Mr. Mark Twain, the rumors of the publishing industry’s death are highly exaggerated. With advancements in self publishing, eBooks and social media, there are simply more ways for more players to get into the game. What does that mean for us? It means that we have to make our product the BEST THAT IT CAN BE if we want to gain the attention of agents, editors and, ultimately, readers. In other words, first write a damn good book (DGB).

After writing the DGB, if you believe what the presentors, editors, and agents talked about at the 2011 DFW Writers Conference, there are a few paths you can go down:

1. Traditional book deal – the first step in this process is to get an agent. How do you get an agent? You query an agent with a letter, synopsis and sample chapters. At the conference, they set up a “gong show” and had a volunteer read actual query letters from conference attendees while both the audience and agent panel listened. At any part of the letter, the agents could bang their gong; three gongs would bring an end to the evaluation, and then the moderator would question the agents why they gonged. Surprisingly, the answers revolved around three main complaints: 1 – too much stuff going on in the letter. The agents all said that writers should get in, talk about how many words their manuscript is, whether it’s completed or not, talk about the main plot (not subplots) and the main characters and get out. Don’t drone on how it’s a vampire mystery with a little romance and YA stuff thrown in. Oh, and by then way the heroine has cancer or some funky disease. Too much too soon. 2- don’t be cheesy. Just don’t be cheesy. 3 – keep it to one page. I got the impression that agents think of query letters like a first date. Don’t come on to strong, don’t bathe in Aqua Velva, and always, always leave them wanting more.   

2. Self-publish – I’ve self published 2 books, my latest one, The Brink, was self-published through iUniverse. With 90% of novels selling less than 500 copies, I can tell you that I’m in the other 10%. But, if I ever self publish again (my goal is to get a traditional deal) I won’t go through a self-publishing company. I’ll do it myself. Fort Worth Star Telegram columnist Dave Lieber, who as the Watchdog Nation founder, is like DFW’s answer to John Stossel, showed us how he does it, and even gave us the numbers that make self-publishing by yourself or becoming a publisher yourself makes the most sense if you choose to self publish. Want more info on it? Well, I wouldn’t be a good suspense thriller writer if I gave it to you now. More on Dave’s presentation next week.

3. eBook publishing – Mark Hollingsworth, a rep with Barnes & Noble, taught a class on how to publish for free with B&N’s new Pubit platform. It really is simple to do, and depending upon the price point at which you choose to sell your novel, you can keep up to 70% of the profits. If you want to hit all the eBook publishers at once, you can do it for a fee through Smashwords. A note to PC users, if you want your book on iBooks, the only way to do it is to go through Smashwords.

I could have written much more about what I learned about the future of publishing at the DFW Writers Conference, but as Kristen Lamb taught us in the blogging class, keep your blogs short. I’m at about 600 words here, so I’ll just mention a few words about the new format. Starting next week, Mark Fadden’s blog will come to you Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and we’re going to have themes:

Mystery Monday – Since I’m a mystery/thriller  author, we’ll discuss all topics mystery related including infamous murder cases (and what made them that way), forensics, and possible plots.

Writing Wednesdays – We’ll talk about the craft of writing and all things “authorpreneurial” including marketing and promoting our books.

Finance Fridays – Since my latest thriller, The Brink, uses the current financial meltdown for it’s foundation, we’ll talk about the cluster**** that is our nation’s current financial condition. Trust me, there is no lack of topics for this subject.

So, that’s the new format. I hope you’ll like it and tell others about it.

Questions? Comments? To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Check out his novels at www.markfadden.com.

The single biggest thing you can do for your writing career (besides writing the books)

Yes, that’s world famous author Sandra Brown with your’s truly. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s talk about some serious stuff. I attended the DFW Writer’s Conference this past weekend and holy crap, my world will never be the same. It was completely inspirational and motivating. I also learned that I have so much more to learn about the publishing world, especially now that everything is changing, and yet, so much is staying the same.

First, I’ve been making alot of mistakes in my approach to being an “authorpreneur.” But, by definition, authorpreneurs are those folks that take risks. They take it upon themselves to make things happen, so of course we’ll make mistakes in the beginning of our careers. We will continue to make more mistakes well into our careers. But whoa be it if we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. I’ve learned about the mistakes I’ve been making and will not continue those same mistakes in the future.

Case in point, is my blog. The conference was a weekend long thing, with many classes on social media including blogging. I got to meet Kristen Lamb, whose blog I’ve been following, with thousands of other writers, for many months now. Red Bull needs to sign her up for an endorsement deal. I not only hung on her every word during her classes, but I also watched her interact with other conference attendees as she chit-chatted with several of them. One thing about conferences, everyone’s enthusiasm seems to lag as the conference drags on. Not Kristen. She was just as inspiring, genuine, and had this intense focus with everyone she met from the opening session to the last moments of the conference late Sunday afternoon. She digs writing and loves her fellow writers. Plus, she knows her stuff when it comes to using social media. I learned alot about how to blog correctly. I humbly submit myself to her cult of personality.

And speaking of people that made an impact at the conference, Sandra Brown knocked it out of the park. She was this year’s keynote speaker and if you were sitting in the auditorium filled with the 500 or so fellow writers that were in attendance and you didn’t love her books before, then you loved them after she held court with us. She was gracious, inspiring, and, above all, funny. She recounted how she got her start and told several personal stories about her writing career, funny stories that we could all relate to. She is a true storyteller, both on paper and in person. She has not only written the book on writing books, she is the textbook example of how a writer makes a public appearance.

With all that I need to tell you about what went on at the conference, and what I learned, I am keeping to my Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday postings this week. But, you will begin to see small changes, starting tomorrow. For example, on tomorrow’s post, you will see a new title of the blog. No longer will it be titled “Behind the Book.” From now on it’s “Mark Fadden’s blog.” Why? It’s all about branding, something we’ll get into tomorrow. Then, starting next week, everything changes, including the days that I blog. No one likes change, but these are necessary.

By the way, if you live in the DFW area, or in any part of Texas, Oklahoma, or Louisiana for that matter, you need to start saving up, get the vacation days off, and do whatever else you need to do to go to next year’s DFW writer’s conference. Besides writing the actual novels, it was the single biggest thing I’ve done for my writing career. If you haven’t been to it yet, I’m sure it will be the same big event for you next year as well.

More about the conference tomorrow on “Mark Fadden’s Blog.” Change, it is a comin’. Saddle up!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Check out his novels at www.markfadden.com.

2011 Writing Resolutions Continued: Becoming a Brand

Wouldn’t you love to be the Lysol of the publishing world? Think of it…a person wanting a thriller goes into a book store. They find their helpful book store associate and instead of asking, “where’s the thriller section?” they ask, “where can I find Mark Fadden books?” It’s the same principle as going into your grocery store and trying to find the Lysol rather than the “disinfectant spray.” Why? Good old fashioned branding.

It’s the same thing with Kleenex, Coke, type of beer you like, etc, people are loyal to brands. Why? Because they know what to expect. People keep buying James Patterson novels for two reasons, 1 – he churns them out like they’re magazines, and 2 people know exactly what they’re getting when they buy his books – a fast paced thriller with short chapters and lots of suspense.

One of the bloggers I follow is Kristin Lamb. She covers all the writing bases from writing technique to social media. Her recent post also talked about branding and here’s a brief snippet:

Our blogs and our tags serve to define our brand. The content and tags associated with our name are important. What potential consumers, an agent and an editor see associated with our name is vital in how they mentally define us. Are they going to define us as Quiche Lorraine or Dear God! Who Let the Kids Cook?

As an example, here’s my list of tags:

Kristen Lamb—Kristen Lamb, writer, author, speaker, teacher, social media, publishing, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blog, blogs, blogging, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, branding, marketing.

Notice all the tags were simple. These tags were all nouns that, if typed into a search bar, would serve to help someone else’s little codependent genie find me FIRST. Generally with writers I see one of two errors. Either they don’t use tags (or don’t use enough tags) OR they use tags that are so obscure they are ridiculous.

And yes, notice I put my name in the tags. Why? Because I want to become a brand name. I want that when people think/say, “social media for writers,” Kristen Lamb comes up first.

As people continue to use the Internet to search for All Things Important, we need to continue to work on our SEO (search engine optimization) to become the next great publishing brand. But that is a subject for yet another 2011 Writing Resolutions entry: Making sure our websites are working for us. Hint, Hint – it’s tomorrow’s topic.

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My latest novel, The Brink, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Special Collection for a second time! Check it out at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210485/?cds2Pid=24451

Giving fellow authors a shout out

A deadline forces me to cut tonight’s post short and give a shout out to a fellow author’s excellent post from her blog. It’s called social media, right? So let’s be social and let people know about the really good blogs that have really good info.

I follow Kristen Lamb’s blog. Not only does she have great posts about book marketing, she has written a best-seller on the writer’s guide to social media. Read her post from today and then “THINK” about it. Don’t worry, you’ll get that one after you read her post.

Also, I attended a very informative and totally frickin scary luncheon today where the guest speaker was an economics professor from DBU. I have two words that should keep you up tonight: “unfunded liabilities.” More in tomorrow’s post.  

Until then….

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

AND HOW ABOUT THOSE MINERS! GO CHILE!

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…