Dispatches from the literary trenches

September 15, 2010

Day 91 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Writing Topic – Going outside your comfort zone
  • Marketing Topic – Library Presentations

Marketing Topic – Going outside your comfort zone

Recently, I met a man at a book signing who told me that he had an interesting life story. Not wanting to take up my time at the signing, he told me a few details, which set his “hook”, and then we agreed to meet at a later date so that he could tell me the rest of his story.

Without going too much into it, I sat for 2 straight hours and was absolutely floored with his life story and his struggle, which took him halfway across a very foreign and scary world, all in pursuit of an education. Since then, we have met for another 2 hour meeting and we’re still not all the way finished.

I spoke to my agent about this story and he agreed it was very compelling and for me to move forward with trying to make this a book. This will be my first foray into the non-fiction side of the book world, and it will throw a wrench into the writing schedule for my next novel, but there’s something that feels right about it.

What I’m trying to say is two things: you never know who you’ll meet at signings or appearances, so try to do as many as you can. And two, even though some writing projects may be out of your comfort zone, it’s still an opportunity to write, to make it on to your reader’s nightstand, and that’s why we all do this.

With this project, my blog entries will be sparser, probably a few a week rather than daily M-Th. I hope you’ll stick around, because while I don’t know what’s around the corner with my writing career, I hope I can pass whatever happens along as a learning, or at least a laughter, experience.  

Marketing Topic – Library Presentations

I will be presentingGetting Your Book Read: how writers must think like entrepreneurs if they want anyone besides their mother to read their books’ tomorrow night at 6:30pm at the Little Elm Library in Little Elm, Texas. I’m doing a Powerpoint presentation on using websites, signings, news releases, reviews, and social media to market books. If I can figure out how to post the presentation on my blog, I will do so on Friday. I’ll also provide a review of the presentation and the signing I’m doing afterward. Should be fun for all. That being said, no post tomorrow night, but look for one on Friday.

Till 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

July 28, 2010

Day 44 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:


  • OMG, I’ve gone viral! An example of what can happen when clever meets timely
  • Writing topic – they say “write what you know” but really it’s still who you know that counts
  • Marketing topic – The importance of keywords


OMG, I’ve gone viral! An example of what can happen when clever meets timely

 Earlier this week, I promised I’d show how the Old Spice video was linked to libraries. At a social media workshop given by Leanna Cowan of the Alvarado Public Library, Tina Hager of the Little Elm Public Library and Melissa Jeffrey of the Arlington Public Library, they showed the video below of the BYU library spoofing the Old Spice Super Bowl commercial:



Very clever, right? Now BYU obviously spent some bucks on the video, but I’m sure that if a writer were to put his or her mind to it, they could come up with something similar with low or no budget. I mean, just check out the parodies of the Beyonce video “All the Single Ladies” that I’m sure were produced on the cheap:



Writing topic – they say “write what you know” but really it’s still who you know that counts


This one’s for the mystery/thriller/detective writers. Most of the manuals out there say, “write what you know.” But I’m a firm believer in “know what you write.” For instance, I’m sure all the thriller and mystery writers are innocent of murder, yet they conjure up some of the goriest murder scenes humanly imaginable. How? While they didn’t kill someone, they imagine how to do it. They know what they write. But 9 times out of 10, they talked to someone who has seen grisly murder scenes to suspend their readers disbelief. So, how to do that? Simple. Talk to your friendly neighborhood police officer.

I was talking to a police officer today that knew I was a writer. He said he has always wanted to write a novel about what he’s seen over his 25 year career (It’s an item on his bucket list). Right there is a fountain of information for me and I am a resource for him about the writing process. Win-win, right? Every city and town has a police department. Chances are there’s a veteran there who has some great stories to inspire your writing. Go down to the department and see if you can do a “ride-along” with one of the officers. If they don’t offer that, see if you can join a civilian group that supports the police department. It will take a little time to network, but sooner or later you’ll be sharing war stories over a beer with one of your city’s finest that could be the plot to your next masterpiece.


Marketing topic – The importance of keywords


What’s a better keyword for people to find a novel in which America’s staggering national debt is used to produce global financial Armageddon: ‘national debt’ or ‘financial Armageddon’? (BTW, if you’re new to this blog, that’s the gist of the plot from my latest thriller, The Brink) Do you think more people are searching for the term ‘national debt’ or ‘financial Armageddon’ these days?  

Keywords continue to mystify me, as they do most people. There’s an art to picking them and timing seems to be the most important part of using keywords.

How do you use keywords? We’d all love to know in the comment section.  


The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…