Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 25, 2010

Day 72 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Bringing Characters to Life
  • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 4

Writing topic – Bringing Characters to Life

One of the first things I do when I’m about to begin working on a new novel is to get the character list together. Some writers sit down in front of a blank screen and just begin where they think the story should start. That’s how I first started years ago, but over time I found out that it’s a HUGE time saver to approach writing a novel like your writing a business plan. I even use Microsoft Excel to do my outline because as the story evolves, scenes change in the timeline (But more about outlining comes later). In any business plan, you have to know what you’re trying to “sell” (the type of story) and who is going to do the “selling” (the characters). So, I think about all the characters that are going to be in the story, and I write a paragraph about their back story. Nothing big, just a couple sentences describing them and what it is about them that adds drama and moves the story forward. Since stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, are all about relationships, I then do a flowchart to show how all these characters interact. It’s a pretty cool exercise and you can really get into how all the different characters can have an affect on each other without even knowing it. Plus, it gets the brainstorm juices flowing about how each character has the ability/possibility to manipulate others. Stephen King’s Needful Things was a chilling play on how this phenomenon can work to an evil end.

What about you? Are you a throw caution to the wind and just start typing kind of person? (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Or do you take more of an analytical approach to beginning your writing project? If so, what’s your technique?

Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 4

The ads are doing well. The “Bilderberg ad”

got 19 clicks today, maxing out my $10 a day budget. My second ad tied to the upcoming Labor Day holiday was:

and I changed it to the following ad because it was sucking eggs with 0 clicks:

It’s gotten 9 clicks so far and is scheduled to run through Aug 26. It’s linked to my website home page where there’s a banner about getting the book on Amazon for 22% off and it will get to the customer by Labor Day with standard shipping.

Since starting the Google ad campaign, I have seen a 26% rise in traffic on my website. On Aug 24, two days ago, I had over 800 hits, a 53% increase in the number of hits from the day before. Aug 24 is when I started the Google ads, so there must be a correlation between the two. But, does that in turn mean higher book sales? With a 2 month lag time until sales numbers come out (August come out in Oct from the publisher) it’s too soon to tell.

I promise this is the last post about Google AdWords. Tomorrow night’s marketing post will be a lot more exciting. Here’s a sneak peek at the title:

Marketing Topic, Part Deux – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

Until then,

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…